MOTHER AND WIFE THE CULT OF THE FAMILY
WOMEN IN NAZI GERMANY MOTHER AND WIFE THE CULT OF THE FAMILY
WOMEN IN NAZI GERMANY Women in Nazi Germany played an important role in the idea of the Volksgemeinschaft. They were to provide the foundations of the racially pure community that Hitler hoped to create. Hitler said “every child that a woman brings into the world is a battle, a battle waged for the existence of her people”.
Separate but equal? Women and men were supposed to exist in separate spheres according to Nazi ideology. The Nazis said that these separate spheres had a biological basis. Hitler said “the world of women is a smaller world. For her world is her husband, her family, her children , and her house”. The role of women was celebrated and held up as important, however it is difficult not to see women in Nazi Germany as inferior to men.
Children, Church and Kitchen
The three Ks (Kinder, Kirche, Kuche) – motto for women. ‘Children’ for motherhood, ‘Church’ for morality and ‘Kitchen’ for wife and domestic provider. The entire focus of a females existence in Nazi Germany was supposed to be on domesticity and motherhood. Girls were educated in domestic and child-rearing skills at school and in the Jungmadel and German Girls league.
Weimar woman versus Nazi maiden
During the years of the Weimar Republic women had become more modern. They were given the vote and enjoyed more employment opportunities (especially in the professions). The Nazis felt that ‘modern woman’ was a degenerate threat to racial purity and the idea of Volksgemeinschaft. Wanted women to return to their traditional role.
Guidelines for women Women in Nazi Germany were discouraged from wearing modern clothing (i.e. trousers), told instead to imitate the peasant-style clothing of the past. Make-up, permed or dyed hair and smoking were all frowned upon. Women were banned from senior positions within the Nazi party and there were no Nazi female deputies in the Reichstag.
Money for motherhood Women were encouraged to have as many children as possible. Financial incentives were offered for prolific childbearing – grants, tax-free loans and tax relief. Family allowance payments were increased. The Nazis wanted to increase the birth-rate so: -anti-abortion laws were passed. -access to contraception and advice about contraception was limited. - women were given medals to reward them for having large families – these medals had to be saluted
Other changes Women’s interests were represented by the Nazi Women’s League. They used propaganda extensively to encourage women to embrace the three Ks. Many professional women lost their jobs and the number of female university students was restricted.
Nazi policy on women – a success?
Some German women (non-professional, non-academic) were positive about the changes made as they enjoyed the increased status of motherhood and the domestic role. Nazi policy on women was incoherent and inconsistent – many women kept their jobs (especially teachers) and many women were employed (and became powerful) by the Nazis (Nazi Women’s League etc)
The birth-rate did not increase as the Nazis had hoped – in fact after 1935 the number of births actually declined steadily. Many women had to be re-employed to help with the preparations for war and with the war itself. Divorce rate increased. The cult of the family was unsuccessful as Nazi policy actually caused an increased tension in many families. Many women were unhappy about their new roles (mother versus woman) etc.
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