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Women in Nazi Germany

30 Jun 2017Other Essays

The rule of the Nazis under Adolf Hitler is perhaps the regimen in the twentieth century founded on terror and evil. The rule of the Nazis was called the Third Reich. The rise and fall of this government had greatly affected the world, especially the Germans and the Jews. The group wanted to topple the government and eradicate the non-Aryans from their country. They hated the non-Aryans who were prosperous in their own country. They had declared a national revolution and encouraged Germans to participate in their cause for a superior race. At the lowest point of depression in 1932, the Nazis were the most thriving party in Germany. And so many well-known businessmen, who thought that they could maneuver Hitler, helped the party and became successful in putting Hitler in office as the chancellor on 1933. But this ambition of the businessmen was crushed.

With the backing of political allies, the revolutionary Enabling Act was passed by the government, granting the Nazis dictatorship powers over all facets of the German life. The Nazis did everything in there power to gain total political control. Supporting them were the secret police, Gestapo, and Hitler’s bodyguards, popularly known as SS (Schutzstaffel). The Gestapo and the SS were free to arrest anyone, torture or send someone to prison, and even right away punish anyone who opposes the government. “The Nazis built concentration camps to incarcerate political enemies, Jews, Roma (gypsies), homosexuals, Communists, religious dissenters, Jehovah’s Witnesses, professional criminals, and prostitutes” (Federal Republic of Germany, 2007). The Jews who had owned many successful businesses in Germany at that time were persecuted and their businesses destroyed. Many of them fled from the country but still many Jews chose to stay or cannot leave because they were being hunted. As a result, millions of Jews were killed during the reign of the Nazis. (Federal Republic of Germany, 2007)

Amidst the evil rule of Hitler and the Nazis, their aspiration of propagating their superior race greatly affected their women. Not only the women of the people persecuted by the Nazis but the German women as well.In 1933, when Hitler became chancellor of Germany, he employed Gertrud Scholtz-Klink as the Women's Leader and head of the Nazi Women's League. The duty of Scholtz-Klink was to instill to the women the superiority of men and the worth of child-bearing for women. In July 1934, she was selected also as the head of the Women's Bureau in the German Labour Front. Her task this time was to convince the women to work for the government. She also became the overall leader for the female guardians who trained girls of ages 14 and up on farm work and domestic service. This blunt pronunciation of Hitler in his anti-feminism compelled many women to join political groups opposing the Nazis. Because of this, concentration camps were built for women. It turned out that there were so many women who were opposing the government because they had to make two more concentration camps in order to eradicate those who were opposing to the wills of the government. (Simkin, 2007)

To Hitler, the world of women should revolve around her husband, her family and her home. They view women as significant entities to continually develop the Aryan race, the superior race. The only purposes of women were marrying pure Aryan men and bringing up their children. Women who gave birth to more than eight children were even recognized by the government. They were given medals as a sign of the recognition. It is believed that the eminence of a nation solely depends on the upbringing of the children in their homes. This view of Hitler about women reduced the individuality of the German women as tools for the propagation of a racially pure Aryan society.

Because of the World War II at that time, the women were encouraged to bear more children even though they were not married, as long as the fathers of their children are pure Aryans. This was to replace the men who went to war and got killed. Again, this was because the government wanted the population of pure Aryans to still propagate despite the war. (Fernandes, 2007)

One of the first laws that were approved by Adolf Hitler in his reign was the Law for the Encouragement of Marriage. This law stipulated that every newly wed couple would get a loan from the government of a thousand marks which was equivalent to a nine months’ average income at that time. Because of the law, about 800,000 newly married couples took the offer. This law attracted many Germans because having one child born to the family would cost the government 25% of the loan of the couple. If a couple has four children, the loan from the government would be cleared. Immediately, the efforts of the government were paid because the couples took the bait. In other words, the passing of the law was one way of the government to tell the people that they are encouraging couples to have more children. (Trueman, 2007)

Trueman (2007) also said that the intent of Hitler in passing such law was very clear indeed. To increase the population of the pure Aryans, what they brand as the superior race, the government had to make measures to encourage the people to do so. However, the Nazis view the roles of women as limited to being a housewife and mother. They do not see why women should engage in work outside the house. Before the rule of the Nazis over Germany, there were many women who were employed in different fields. But when Hitler came to power, many women who were working were discharged. Yet when the time came when there was a lack of skilled people because of the war, a law was approved in the year 1973 declaring a “Duty Day” for skilled women, such as teachers, doctors, lawyers and civil servants. According to the government, the duty day is a way for the women to help the country. And because they were helping the government in the shortage of hands, they were not paid for their work.

Hitler did not only stop at this, the right of suffrage that was granted to women before the rule of the Nazis was also taken away. Along with this was the right to hold public office. The world at that time was already modernizing in terms of its views of women, even in Germany before the rule of Hitler. But when the Nazis took hold of the German government, they somewhat like go back in time. The rights that women have fought for were again taken away. The taking back of the right of suffrage and the right to hold public office was again one of the steps that Hitler took in order to focus the women on their primary duties. Political life of the German women was only related to the National Socialist Women’s Movement. This movement served was a front for the government to endorse the policies they want the women to follow. Even Gertrud Scholtz-Klink did not have any political power in her hands, even though Hilter appointed her a position. In contrary to that, the men were much politically inclined in to the point that they were compelled to attend two nights every week at Party activities. Moreover, the wives were not allowed to complain about this. (Fernandes, 2007)

As can be seen, the women during the time of the rule of the Nazis were degraded. There were only seen as tools for the achievement of the aspiration of Hitler and the Nazis for a superior race. They actually just became breeding specimens for the Aryan race. According to Yianni (2004), the German women were germane elements for the triumph of the Aryan race. They were considered good breeders because of there blue eyes and blond hairs. But their roles stop at that and nothing more.

The Nazis were just like cooking a food that they will present to the world. And in order to make the world recognize the food that they were cooking, they had to have the best ingredients. Those were the women. But apart from being ingredients to the propagation of the Aryan race, women were nothing but slaves of the government and the Aryan race. They were not even treated nicely because of the different laws that Hitler passed. As long as they bear children with pure Aryan fathers, the government was okay with that. It even came to the point that the government built buildings where women can go and have themselves impregnated by the SS. Of course, this is all in hindsight.

The Nazi idea of women was extremely one-dimensional, but in this regard they were very valuable indeed. Many German women actually subscribed to this role because they were firmly indoctrinated with the idea of the Fatherland and the supremacy of the Aryan race. Many really felt they were making a valuable contribution to their country. Many subscribed to the idea of the return to family values. It was only the few outspoken ones who had ideas outside the role of baby-maker and housewife who felt the iron hand of Nazi rule. The rights of German women after the war were reinstated, including the right to employment and some types of abortion, but the implementation had been sketchy. The indoctrination had been so thorough that the paradigm shift for women has been difficult. True equality of Germany’s women may exist in law but in practice it is still an evolving process, especially from the former and less liberal German Democratic Republic, widely known as East Germany. Hopefully, the time when the male-dominated country will realize that their women have much more to offer than progeny and a clean home will not be far off, and women will finally come to their own, as had been their path before the onset of Nazism and Hitler in Germany interrupted the process.

References

  • Fernandes, Tim. (2007) Individual vs. Society: Women in Nazi Germany. University of Dayton's Campus Web Server 
  • German Women and 3 K's. (2007) Tatyana Gordeeva 
  • Microsoft Encarta Online Encyclopedia. (2007) Federal Republic of Germany [online]. Microsoft Corporation. 
  • Simkin, John. (2007) Women in Nazi Germany. Spartacus Educational 
  • Trueman, Chis. (2007) The Role of Women in Nazi Germany. History Learning Site 
  • Yianni , Alex. (2004) The role of women in Nazi Germany. Coursework Library 

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