The Regression of Women in the Nazi State

The early 20th century marked a huge change in the Western attitude towards women. The Great War thrust women into the male based workplace, creating a new attitude towards a woman’s place in the world and giving her an alternative lifestyle away from the stove. Hardly the great feminist movement which was to come, the 20th century nonetheless opened the doors for a great many women, German women included.

The ‘Flapper’ era during the 1920’s was huge in Germany, with many young women and girls throwing a domestic future away, eager to start a new career. Although still limited in their choice of profession, the idea that a woman could work rather than marry and become mothers, was a popular and welcomed one. Female secretaries, journalists and medics, to name a few, appeared throughout Germany. Gone were the contrainsts of a Victorian Europe and the German female population threw themselves into their new, self made roles.
The Nazi ideal towards women, however, did not support the new worldly progression of women. In order to create the powerful, world leading state that the Nazi’s dreamed of for Germany, their focus solely rested on men. Men would fill the army ranks, men would farm the fields, men would run the government. This left little room for women and as suddenly as the welcomed progression came about, it was gone.

The Nazi’s believed that women were suited only for the domestic life. They encouraged women to embrace this and many fell back into their old, not yet archaic, roles. This new ideology started early on in life- boys and girls were given different educations; instead of history and languages, girls attended domestic science, for example. Even within the education system, everything was planned to bring about the same outcome- women married and firmly planted within the home, ideally producing a new generation of Nazi’s as quickly as they could.

Girls could attend secondary school with a limited syllabus but university was on the whole, denied to them. From Hitler and his party’s point of veiw, educating women was a waste of time and resource. The Germans population and thus, the Nazi party, needed to be ever expanding and before the invasion of territories, the only way to do this was to produce a larger nation of ‘true’ Germans – women were needed to do this. If a woman was encouraged to pursue a career then she might not marry and eventually have children until her late twenties or early thirties (if at all) when if she had been denied this path, she could have had four or more children by then. The Nazi’s needed more and more aryan children in order to build their strong nation and in their eyes, it was a waste to encourage women on any other path other than motherhood.

What is surprising is that many women supported the Nazi Party. The Great Depression had a big role in this. Despite the great victories for women since the Great War, such as obtaining the right to vote, the rise of the Nazi’s was helped by women as much as men. Hitler’s promise that he would give work to those millions unemployed struck a cord with the German female population. Although they had previously had the opportunity to build a career in the early 1920’s, they now faced difficulties as the men of the household were unemployed. This was partly due to the fact that female labour was cheaper than male. Hitler wanted to replace the female workforce with men, thus bringing a stability to family life. With a decent and reliable wage coming in, the worrisome effects of the depression would make life easier.

It seems that the need for domestic stability outweighed the pro’s of women’s rights and new roles within Germany. Hitler’s argument was strong enough to make the German female population renounce their new freedoms and role to take on the domesticated role of old.


Nazi Propaganda

How were the Nazi ideologies circulated across the Third Reich? How did a whole population come to support the party? A key tool used by the Nazi Party was propaganda and it was used to it’s full potential.

Joseph Goebbels – Minister of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda

Goebbels was a prominent and important figure in the Nazi party, especially as the orchestrator of the propaganda that spread across the Third Reich. Hitler chose the right man for his vision – Goebbels fully supported the Nazi’s views on racial purity and despised the Jews. Under his authority, the masses were ‘educated’ about the Nazi doctrine. Goebbels oversaw the creation of some of the most powerful and influential pieces of propaganda, so successful in their efforts, that they managed to gain the unquestioning support of hundreds of thousands of citizens across the Third Reich.



The ‘Master Race’

Blog Pic - Propaganda 1 ‘The German student fights for the Fuhrer and the people.’ 

The idea that the Nazi’s wanted to created a ‘master’ race is relatively well known. They promoted selective breeding in ways that are both repulsive and compelling. Hitler argued that in order for Germany to became a great power again after it’s crushing defeat in 1918, the ‘true’ German race had to rise again; in other words, if Germany were to become fully aryan again, then it would become the leader of the world. Aryan was defined by blonde hair, blue eyes and strength, as well as complete loyalty to the Fuhrer. ‘Pure’ German blood was encouraged – good Germans should not breed with undesirable blood, ie. Jewish, communist or slavic.

It wasn’t just physical looks that the Nazi’s promoted however, but physical strength. Whilst students were key to creating a educated population, the Nazi’s believed that the most honourable state to be in was fighting for the Fuhrer and their country. The student in this propaganda piece wears a brown shirt, just as Hitler’s ‘Brown Shirts’ did. To become educated was be to applauded but above all, a good, loyal German would put down his books and fight for his country.

The student here holds the Nazi flag proudly. After the shameful defeat during the First World War, the Nazi’s wanted to create a sense of pride in the population – pride in being German. The creation of a great and powerful State would help to do this but first, they needed the public to be proud enough of their German nationality to fight for it.


Fuhrer and Father

Blog Pic - Propaganda 3

‘Children, what do you know of the Fuhrer?’ 

Hitler knew that he needed to create a good foundation in order to become fully and unquestionably supported. In order to do this, he needed to gain the support and awe of the younger generation of Germans so that their belief in his ideology was cemented throughout their lives. In order to do this, he created the persona of a father figure to the children of Germany in the hope that they would look up to him as they would their own parents, or, more importantly, hold him in higher esteem than the man and woman who raised them, as a Godly figure.

Hitler spent a lot of his time delivering passionate and often, stern, speeches. These would have been broadcasted all over Germany. Whilst they would have caught the attention of Germany’s adults, either through agreement or fear, they would have simply terrified the children. To prevent this, the idea that he was approachable was formed and distributed to the German youth, mainly through the Hitler youth programme. This allowed the German children to be indoctrinated from an early age and pledge their undoubting loyalty to the Fuhrer and Germany.


The Jewish Question

Blog Pic - Propaganda 5

‘The Jewish God is Money’


Whilst a resentment towards the German Jewish population grew during the years of the Depression, it was paramount in Hitler’s view that every Germany should isolate their Jewish countrymen in an attempt to force them to leave. This was before the decision that the Jewish population should be rid of all together; before the Final Solution was agreed to. There was a problem however – not every German resented the Jews as much as the Nazi’s believed they should.

An epic and dehumanising campaign was launched to ‘educate’ the German people against the Jews. Many German Jewish citizens were completely assimilated and regarded themselves as loyal Germans. The Nazi’s argued that no Jew could be German, rather being Jewish was belonging to a race of it’s own, not just a religion. To indoctrinate the public into this belief, Jews were portrayed as having hooked noses, prominent features and as being grotesquely fat. The ‘fat’ Jew portrayed here is both a symbol of greed physically and well as metaphorically. The idea that the Jewish population were rich through greed and misery, as well as through theft, was fed to the German population in order to create a nationwide resentment towards their fellow Jewish man. In addition, this not only demeaned the religion as a whole but it also helped to form the opinion that Jewishness was not a faith – ‘God is money’ – but a race and therefore, they were not a part of the German race and culture.


Although the Nazi’s used scare tactics to create an obedient German nation, they knew that this was not enough to create complete loyalty. Hitler and his party used propaganda in a, arguably, very successful way to indoctrinate the population until their views and ideals were deeply rooted in the Germanic society.





Why This? 

I was six when I was introduced to World War Two. I had listened to stories from my old nan about the ‘Jerries’ and the bombs they dropped, enthralled before this. They could hardly be real!

My grandad took me to the Imperial War Museum in London, with the great ship guns sitting proudly and victoriously outside. I looked at the planes, the cars, the bomb shells and then, on the second floor, we stopped outside the cinema room. I wasn’t that bothered about going in until the man at the door shook his head and told my grandad: “I wouldn’t, mate. It’s a Holocuast film,” and he looked at me.

I couldn’t go in and now, I was desperate to see why. What kind of film was being shown in a museum of all places that I couldn’t see? Aged six, my preconceptions of museums were that they were interesting but sometimes dull places, not places with things that I was too small for.

Nineties children couldn’t run home and boot up (literally) the internet as easily and readily as children now and so I begged my nan to take me to the library, I didn’t say why. We walked to the library, all the while I was trying to work out how that word I had heard in the museum just days earlier would be spelled.

The children’s section of the local library had worn out red and yellow carpet with brightly coloured book shelves. The history section was minimal- vikings, Henry VIII (my interest in him would come later) and Romans- and I felt a little disappointed. I kept looking and looking until I found a large, hard back book with a colourful drawn picture of a girl with brown hair and large smile. It wasn’t the girl who made me pull the book from the shelf but the little writing in italic under the title which read: ‘A girl’s story of the Holocaust.’

The girl was of course Anne Frank. I suppose a lot of children are introduced to the Nazi’s and their prejudices through Anne Frank, probably because she was a child herself. The book which I opened eagerly however was not her diary but a simplified story of her life. Drawn pictures and shiney black and white photographs filled the pages. I didn’t have time to read it before I checked it out but I know I was so pleased to have found it. My nan was surprised that I should choose such a book but it was for children after all and so I nearly ran home.

I can still remember that book, I’ve tried to order it but I can’t find any good versions. It turned my interest into obsession and since then I have devoured every book, article and website that I could find. The Holocuast, the Nazi domestic regime, the Nazi war front- everything and anything. At the beginning I think I was trying to read as much as I could to understand then I turned fifteen and realised I would never understand because Hitler and his party’s actions and beliefs are incomprehensible.

I’m not a historian in the qualified sense. I boast no degree or anything like that (except both a GCSE and an A-Level in the subject) so I know that whatever I post, it won’t be as academic as what some may want to read. The reason why I’ve decided to start this is because I do know a lot and I am still so interested. Recently, I’ve been thinking about how so many of both the perpetrators and the victims are getting older and older. Eventually, and very soon, there will not be any witnesses and there is the very real chance that people’s knowledge and interest will fade.

It is imperative that this does not happen. Everything to do with Nazi Germany is still relatable to events today- dictatorship, propaganda, genocide, war- it still happens everyday. We have not learnt from this horrific period of history and if it is forgotten then we never will. It should never be forgotten.