Female Horse-breakers (Bereiterinnen)

Discussions on the role played by and situation of women in the Third Reich not covered in the other sections. Hosted by Vikki.
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Heimatschuss
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Re: Female Horse-breakers (Bereiterinnen)

Post by Heimatschuss » 26 Jan 2010 20:42

In private conversation Vikki already suggested that the missing saddles had something to do with training the equestriennes themselves and by sheer luck I found some proof for this indeed.

One of the horse-breakers mentioned above graduated from a Breslau girls' highschool in spring 1944. The girls of her class remained in touch with each other for decades by means of a circular [Rundbrief], a booklet that was passed on and on from on member of the class to the next with each one entering a short letter to it what had happened to her in recent month. This was not uncommon in those days but ironically this very circular was published in 2002 to bear testament for the young women that went into professional and/or family life just after the war. The circular contains two letters of her from her time in Militsch.


Renate Capelle

Militsch, spring 1944
[must be about April 1944]

Dear companions in joy and sorrow!

What has been written so far on these pages here that once surely will be tanned is not so cheerful and so I’ll be the one which starts with reporting friendlier matters. Please follow my example if possible. I’m working here in Militsch as a horse-breaker, am very satisfied and happy. Early at about half past five you have to get up, jump into your riding breeches, gulp some coffee (or not) and stagger, still half asleep, into the stable of your very squadron. Said drowsiness now leaves you very quickly. You saddle and groom your steed and ride half an hour with other sergeants supervised by the Captain. Then you have a break of half an hour while another unit is on the track and then it’s your turn again. Most of the times I ride three horses, a number that will increase to five when the new remounts arrive. That’s just swell!

At 10 o’clock a so-called ‚seat lesson’ starts for us ladies to improve our seat. To do so we have to ride without stirrups and reins and move like windmill sails under the eyes of our beloved Major and to the joy of the assembled sergeants and do gymnastics while riding for an hour. That’s enough for us most of the times because if we gallop up these billy-goats without spurs and stirrups they buck all over the track no matter even if we’d be sitting upside-down on them.

Then we receive our post, go to eat, clean up our rooms that an orderly has already heated properly and at 14:00 hrs [cart] driving starts. There in the beginning we’re chauffeured around on a terrible panje cart with horses rearing and kicking out all the time which shall us teach how to drive. And at 18:00 hrs it’s vaulting time which is a hell of a lot of fun! A horse without saddle gallops at a longeline while we dash next to it and have to jump up, jump down, jump up and in cases stand on it or sit in twos.

That’s the daily schedule! In the evening we have a glass of wine regularly somewhere, that’s still available here, and sometimes even champagne or something similar. When you can party in the evening with music and dance (which often is the case in our amazons’ camp here) service is great of course! We’re then hanging on the horses [the next day] pale and bleary-eyed and have ourselves wearily ferried around over the track like the night owls. Though despite that – paradise on Earth is on the horses’ back!

Food is excellent thank God, we’re eating here all the time. Though despite that you don’t get stout due to the quite demanding work so the rider’s waist takes no harm. Service here is a lot of fun, the female horse-breakers are a merry people despite after a fortnight here completely forgetting their good upbringing and mutating into men. Ladies’ garments, skirts and silk stockings have become just nebulous terms! For us it’s uniform, boots and horses – nothing else.

For all that have a worse fate a motto that hangs above our staff’s horse track: ‘Throw our heart across the obstacle and jump after it!’
I remain with many greetings and a hearty ‘Good luck!’ and “Horrido” in face of upcoming chases
your Cappe

References:
Juliane Braun (Ed.)
Ein Teil der Heimat seid Ihr für mich. Rundbriefe einer Mädchenklasse 1944 - 2000.
Aufbau Taschenbuch Verlag; Berlin; 2004; p.15-17


Original text
Renate Capelle, Militsch, Frühjahr 1944
[ca. April 1944]

Liebe Freud- und Leidensgenossen!

Was bis jetzt hier in diesen einstmals bestimmt vergilbten Blättern steht, ist ja wenig erfreulich, und so will ich diejenige sein, die den Anfang einer freudiger verlaufenden Berichtlage macht! Bitte schließt Euch möglichst meinen Zeilen an. Ich bin also hier in Militsch als Bereiterin tätig und äußerst befriedigt und vergnügt. Früh muß man so gegen 1/2 6 Uhr aufstehen, springt in Reithosen, stürzt Kaffee herunter (oder auch nicht) und taumelt, noch schlafumfangen, in den Stall der jeweiligen Schwadron. Besagte Schlafumfangenheit vergeht einem allerdings äußerst »vite«. Man sattelt und kämmt sein Roß und reitet 1/2 Stunde mit anderen Wachtmeistern unter Aufsicht des Rittmeisters. Dann ist für eine halbe Stunde Ruhe, in der eine andere Abteilung geht, und dann geht der Tanz wieder los. Ich reite meistens drei Pferde, eine Zahl, die sich, sobald die jungen Remonten kommen, auf fünf erhöhen soll. Na Prost!

Um 10 Uhr geht dann eine sog. »Sitzabteilung« für uns Damen, damit wir unseren Sitz verbessern. Da müssen wir uns also unter Aufsicht unseres geliebten Herrn Major und zum Vergnügen natürlich versammelter Wachtmeister ohne Bügel und Zügel wie die Windmühlenflügel bewegen und eine Stunde Gymnastik beim Reiten treiben. Also das reicht uns meistens, denn wenn wir diese Ziegenböcke ohne Sporen und Bügel angaloppieren, dann buckeln die quer durch die Bahn, und wenn wir Kopf drauf stehen.

Darauf kommt die Post, wir gehen essen, unsere Zimmer machen, die uns ein Bursche schon schön geheizt hat, und um 14 Uhr beginnt das Fahren. Dabei werden wir zunächst auf fürchterlichen Panjewagen mit dauernd vorn und hinten hochgehenden Pferden spazierengefahren, wobei wir fahren lernen sollen. Und um 18 Uhr ist voltigieren, was wahnsinnigen Spaß macht! Da galoppiert an der Longe ein ungesatteltes Roß herum, wir galoppieren nebenher und müssen aufspringen, abspringen, aufspringen und eventuell aufstehen und zu zweien sitzen.

Das ist der Tageslauf! Abends gibt es regelmäßig Wein irgendwo, denn so etwas gibt es hier noch, manchmal gar Sekt o. ä. Wenn man allerdings abends feiert mit Musik und Tanz (und das ist hier in unserer Amazonenzucht häufig der Fall!!), dann ist der Dienst natürlich toll! Wir hocken dann bleich und übernächtigt auf den Rössern und lassen uns matt in der Bahn herumtransportieren wie die Nachteulen. Und doch liegt das Paradies der Erde auf dem Rücken der Pferde!

Die Verpflegung ist Gott sei Dank blendend, denn wir essen hier dauernd! Jedoch wird man dabei dank dem ziemlich anstrengenden Dienst nicht wohlbeleibt, so daß die Reitertaille nicht leidet. Der Dienst macht viel Freude, wir Bereiterinnen sind ein fröhliches Volk, das allerdings nach zwei Wochen Anwesenheit sämtliche gute Kinderstube vergißt und zu Männern wird. Damenwäsche, Kleider und Seidenstrümpfe sind nur noch nebelhafte Begriffe! Bei uns gelten Uniform, Stiefel und Pferde - mehr nicht.

Für alle, die es schlecht getroffen haben, noch ein Spruch, der sinnvollerweise über unserer Stabsreitbahn hängt: »Wirf Dein Herz übers Hindernis und springe ihm nach!«

Ich bin mit vielen Grüßen und einem kräftigen Hals- und Beinbruch und »Horrido« angesichts kommender Jagden.
Eure Cappe

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Re: Female Horse-breakers (Bereiterinnen)

Post by Heimatschuss » 26 Jan 2010 21:15

The second letter:

Renate Capelle

Militsch, Jan. 20th, 1945

My Dears that once belonged to class 8a!

Today on January 20th, I’m writing between packed up stuff. You all know what’s happening in Upper Silesia and Breslau. For two days and two nights [we’re now under] ‘Full Alert’ - we’re sitting [here] without radio, without light, without telephone – Militsch is being evacuated since last night, it’s almost impossible to sleep. This morning all shops were opened and we bought ‘without’ [food stamps] anything you could get starting with wine and cigarettes to sausages and cheese. In between we rode eagerly – in short: life at the moment is pele-mele (the only surviving fragment of my once beloved French lessons!!) and ‘gnaws on body’. Though until three days ago anything was ‘blissful’. We rode, drove, did all the other tasks, had wonderful hours in our spare time. Additionally I was busy a bit intellectually to stem the ongoing decline. Perhaps you can once in peacetime get the result in a book shop – that was always my dream as you know!

Until today we didn't worry, ignored the pessimism, ate much. After many vain (Thank God!) attempts of various parties to put me into the chains of marriage I’m living splendidly carefree. For reasons mentioned above I’ve allowed myself to become completely ‘addicted to the opium jazz’. Oh you stern judges, don’t condemn me but for listening to operas I’m currently lacking ‘contemplation’. Additionally you cannot dance to operas and we do that a lot here to give our ‘undercarriage’ a change necessary.

Please excuse that I don’t pass on the book in the right order but I’m afraid that Breslau is being evacuated too and is too insecure. It would be a shame for this delicious document.
Just do like me, enjoy your passions, especially don’t forget laughing, anything else comes later on its own.

I’m fine and happy and hope that you do so as well. Greetings with ‘Horrido-joho’ and so
Yours Cappe

References:
Juliane Braun
Ein Teil der Heimat seid Ihr für mich. Rundbriefe einer Mädchenklasse 1944 - 2000
Aufbau Taschenbuch Verlag, Berlin, 2004
pp.37


Original text
Ihr Lieben, die Ihr einst zur 8 a gehörtet!
Heut, am 20. Januar, schreibe ich zwischen gepackten Klamotten. Ihr wißt ja alle, was los ist in O/S und Breslau, seit zwei Tagen und zwei Nächten Vollalarm - wir sitzen ohne Radio, ohne Licht, ohne Telephon - Militsch wird seit heut Nacht evakuiert, schlafen können wir fast kaum noch! Heut früh wurden sämtliche Geschäfte geöffnet, und wir kauften nun »ohne« [Lebensmittelmarken], was nur zu bekommen war, angefangen von Wein, Zigaretten bis Wurst und Käse! Zwischendurch wurde eifrig geritten - kurz: das Leben ist momentan pele-mele (das einzig gerettete Fragment der ehemalig geliebten Franz.-Stunde!!) und »nagt an Körper«. Bis vor drei Tagen allerdings verlief es »wonnigsam«! Wir ritten, fuhren, machten allen anderen Dienst, verlebten in der Freizeit herrliche Stunden. Nebenbei betätigte ich mich noch ein bißchen geistig, um dem fortschreitenden Verfall zu entgehen. Vielleicht könnt Ihr das Ergebnis im Frieden in einem Buchgeschäft erhalten - es war ja immer mein Traum, wie Ihr wißt!
Bis heute machten wir uns keinerlei Sorgen, wir pfiffen auf den Pessimismus, aßen viel. Nach vielen vergeblichen Gott sei Dank! - Versuchen verschiedener Seiten, mich in Ehefesseln zu schlagen, lebe ich herrlich unbeschwert. Aus diesem obengenannten Grunde habe ich mich auch gänzlich »verseuchen lassen von dem Rauschgift Jazz« - oh, verurteilt mich nicht, Ihr strengen Richter, um Opern zu hören, fehlt mir momentan die >>Versammlung<<. Außerdem kann man nach Opern nicht tanzen, und das tun wir hier häufig, um unserem »Fahrgestell« den nötigen Ausgleich zu bieten.
Entschuldigt, daß ich das Buch nicht nach der Reihenfolge weiterschicke, aber ich fürchte, Breslau ist auch im Räumen [begriffen] und zu unsicher! Es wäre schade um dieses köstliche Dokument.
Laßt es Euch ergehen wie ich mir; frönt Euren Genüssen, vor allem, verlernt das Lachen nicht, alles andere kommt später von allein!
Mir geht's gut, ich bin froh, ich wünsche es Euch ebenso, es grüßt Euch mit horrido-joho und so
Eure Cappe
So much for today on this subject
Torsten

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Re: Female Horse-breakers (Bereiterinnen)

Post by Heimatschuss » 28 Jan 2010 12:18

Hi,

another step ahead. I've found a Wochenschau newsreel showing female horse-breakers I've been looking for
this for some time. It's Die Deutsche Wochenschau No. 723 from July 13th, 1944.
(http://www.archive.org/details/1944-07- ... hau-Nr.723, 2:44 - 4:01 minutes into the film).
Several horse-breaker photos in the books of Seidler, Schlicht & Angolia and Williamson are from this newsreel.

Ilse Countess von Bredow who worked as a horse-breaker in Militsch mentions this film shooting briefly in
her anecdotal autobiography (Bredow, 1992, pp. 169).

Here some screenshots as teasers found at
http://img19.myimg.de/vlcsnap24324107368.jpg
http://img19.myimg.de/vlcsnap244663b6736.jpg
http://img19.myimg.de/vlcsnap2438004c39b.jpg
http://img19.myimg.de/vlcsnap24443063200.jpg
Bereiterinnen newsreel 1.jpg
Bereiterinnen newsreel 2.jpg
Bereiterinnen newsreel 3.jpg
References:

Ilse Gräfin von Bredow
Deine Keile kriegste doch.
dtv Taschenbuch Verlag; Munich; 1992

Best regards
Torsten
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Re: Female Horse-breakers (Bereiterinnen)

Post by Maurielj@aol.com » 06 Mar 2010 00:57

These are fantastic documented photos. I am writing a book (novel) and one of my characters is a Bereiterinnen. I'd like to write a non-fiction article. Is anyone else doing this? Don't want to step on any toes. I also ride dressage and have an understanding of the training they were going through.

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Re: Female Horse-breakers (Bereiterinnen)

Post by Heimatschuss » 07 Mar 2010 12:09

Hello Mauriel,

no intentions for an article on my part at the moment. There are too many other things to do.

Best regards
Torsten

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Re: Female Horse-breakers (Bereiterinnen)

Post by Vikki » 08 Mar 2010 05:56

The combination of written accounts and the grouping of photos in your collection are magnificent, Torsten. It must be extremely gratifying to have been able to ferret out a written account that refers to the exact Reit- und Fahrschule your photos are from. Thanks for posting them here--and for giving me a sneak preview! :wink:

~Vikki

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Re: Female Horse-breakers (Bereiterinnen)

Post by Hundi » 10 Apr 2010 23:09

I have a question the bereiterinnen was also movilized to the frontline duties with the cavalry, or just been at the training ground way too far from the frontline?

thanks!

/Hundi.

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Re: Female Horse-breakers (Bereiterinnen)

Post by Heimatschuss » 13 Apr 2010 20:07

Hello Hundi,

the female horse-breakers never saw frontline service and were not meant to see. BTW, the horses they trained were not destined for cavalry use. The Bereiterinnen trained riding horses for the officers of the other army branches and draught horses. The cavalry had its own seperate remount system that worked without women.

Best regards
Torsten

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Re: Female Horse-breakers (Bereiterinnen)

Post by Hundi » 15 Apr 2010 22:27

Thanks a lot Torsten!

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Re: Female Horse-breakers (Bereiterinnen)

Post by Der Alte Fritz » 03 May 2010 20:59

1) So were any of these ladies connected with the Spanish Riding School establishments in Wien, or any of the studs like Graz or Styria?

2) Ilse Countess von Bredow - this is the "Eels with Dill Sauce" lady? I do not remember reading that in her book - mind you it was the UK translation.

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Re: Female Horse-breakers (Bereiterinnen)

Post by Heimatschuss » 03 May 2010 21:38

Hello Alter Fritz,

the Spanish Riding School in Vienna didn't have any female horse-breakers during WWII. It was only in 2008 that the first females were allowed to work there.
http://wien.orf.at/stories/314968/
Can't say anyhing on stud farms in Austria. Were any in possession of the Wehrmacht at all? Usually the Wehrmacht just seems to have bought the horses from breeders without engaging in the breeding themselves.

Countess von Bredow is indeed the author in question. She's a former journalist and a prolific book writer with almost twenty works published by now. 'Eels with dill sauce' seems to be the English version of an earlier work 'Kartoffeln mit Stippe', so no surprise that you can't remember the horse training.
http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ilse_von_Bredow
http://www.rathenow.org/der-foerderkrei ... redow.html

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Torsten

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Re: Female Horse-breakers (Bereiterinnen)

Post by Heimatschuss » 19 Dec 2010 11:18

Hello,

I received a premature and unexpected christmas present today when finding an old magazine article on female horse-breakers which I'd already been looking for for more than a year. Someone was so kind to post the long-desired excerpts from Wiener Illustrierte at http://forum.panzer-archiv.de/viewtopic ... 378#187378
Bereiterinnen - Wiener Illustrierte page 4.jpg
The top photo on this page shows the same scene as the one here http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic. ... 4#p1424444, only moments later. So the pictorial material of the news feature must be from the remount school in Militsch too.
Bereiterinnen - Wiener Illustrierte page 5.jpg
The photo with the jumping horse here shows Stephanie von Papen, daughter of former Reich Chancellor Franz von Papen on her horse Vercingetorix. She was one of the female horse-breakers in Militsch.

Source:
N.N.: Remonten–Reiterinnen des Heeres.
Wiener Illustrierte, Nr. 35 of August 30th, 1944; p.4-5

Fullsize copies of the pages (1100x 1600 pixels) are at
http://i36.tinypic.com/24x3w37.jpg
http://i33.tinypic.com/259ejkk.jpg

Best regards
Torsten
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Re: Female Horse-breakers (Bereiterinnen)

Post by Heimatschuss » 13 Jun 2011 16:34

Hello,

some more restored pics from my Militsch set. This one shows horse-breakers Lotte Weller and Inge Welz racing downhill with their horses on the banks of the Bartsch River. The Bartsch flows through Militsch. Sgt. Gossitze, Stephanie von Papen and Elisabeth Countess Goess are still waiting on the higher ground for their runs.
Bereiterinnen 10.jpg
Bereiterinnen 11.jpg
Elfi Hofer and Inge Welz in the park of Maltzan Palace. Though misspelt as 'Malzahn Palace' in the backside
caption this was my first clue on where the set may have been taken.
Bereiterinnen 11 - Zoom.jpg
Interesting details of the horse-breakers' breeches and riding boots. Both items were custom-made and show
a number of variations (leather reinforcements, additional straps). And when the boot soles of young ladies with good upbringing look like that of Hofer your country has a supply problem obviously.
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Last edited by Heimatschuss on 13 Jun 2011 17:21, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Female Horse-breakers (Bereiterinnen)

Post by Heimatschuss » 13 Jun 2011 17:03

The following photo finally allowed me positive identification of Militsch as the location of the photo set. The building Mrs. Welz and Hofer are just passing through is the so-called Peace Gate (Friedenstor) which was the main access to Maltzan Palace from the Militsch side.
Bereiterinnen 12.jpg
Here some other photos of the gate I've picked from the internet. The gate was built in 1814 to commemorate the liberation of Prussia from Napoleon's rule. It has been knocked down sometime in the 1960s or 1970s so no actual comparison is possible. Just the bases of the pillars and the lion statue from the top have been preserved.
Militsch Friedenstor 1.jpg
Militsch Friedenstor 2.jpg
Best regards
Torsten
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Re: Female Horse-breakers (Bereiterinnen)

Post by Vikki » 14 Jun 2011 01:53

Excellent detective and detail work, Torsten! Both on the set as a whole, and on having cleaned up and/or magnified the photo so even the holes in the boot soles show.

Heimatschuss wrote:Interesting details of the horse-breakers' breeches and riding boots. Both items were custom-made and show
a number of variations (leather reinforcements, additional straps). And when the boot soles of young ladies with good upbringing look like that of Hofer your country has a supply problem obviously.
The "additional straps" on the boots of the woman to the viewers' right are most likely spur straps, rather than additional pieces on her boots.

Thanks again for, as usual, excellent photos and information!

Best,
~Vikki

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