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Nazi Germany - policies on women

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This page discusses the impact the Nazis had on women in Germany.

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Nazi Germany - policies on women

  1. 1. Policies on women
  2. 2. Women were crucial to the Nazis’ long term goal of building an enduring Thousand Year Reich. They needed women to produce future Nazis, raise the children and provide support to their Nazi husbands. All of this was essential to the achievement of Volksgemeinschaft.
  3. 3. Many Nazis – including Nazi women – considered the prime role of females to provide the support needed for a man to achieve greatness for Germany. Hitler himself argued that whilst men must be interested in world affairs, a woman’s world should revolve around her husband and family.
  4. 4. By the 1930s women’s role and influence in societies across Europe was growing, albeit still less significant than today. In the bulk of countries women had the right to vote. They were also more likely to work – including in non-traditional female jobs. The Nazis aimed to reverse many of these changes.
  5. 5. Nazi attitudes to women were contradictory; they didn’t want women to work but needed them during World War Two. Nazi policies towards women had a carrot and stick approach; there were incentives for women to do what was demanded of them, and penalties if they failed to do so.
  6. 6. The Nazis wanted a higher birth rate to produce the mothers, workers and soldiers of the future. Loans and grants were given to encourage marriage and births. The Mother’s Cross Medal was given to women that had four or more children. However childless couples were forced to pay higher taxes.
  7. 7. The Nazis did not just want more marriages; they wanted more suitable marriages. Marriage loans were available for the unemployed, but divorce laws were extended too. Marriages between Aryans and non-Aryans were outlawed and such couples faced prison if they kept living together.
  8. 8. Education was also used to influence women. Girls were given lessons on school on homemaking, with a similar focus on Nazi girl groups. University places for women were limited to 10%, although this changed during World War Two because of the need for skilled workers.
  9. 9. Women’s role in public life declined under the Nazis. They were barred from working as civil servants, doctors, lawyers or judges. They also could not serve on a jury. Women also had a limited political influence as they were banned from serving as members of the Reichstag.
  10. 10. Nazi attempts to create a new breed of super Aryans had limited success. The Lebensborn (Life Springs) programme saw Aryan women have babies with SS members. The Nazis aimed to increase Germany’s population to 120 million with this new super race, although never actually achieved this.
  11. 11. The Nazis’ attempts to control women had were mostly unsuccessful. There was an increase in the birth rate (but always less than Weimar) and marriages although this may have been linked to the stronger German economy. Equally women continued to work, especially during the war.
  12. 12. Historians’ views • Alexander de Grand: Nazism saw class differences as artificial but believed in divisions between men and women. However their aims for women ultimately did not fit with other goals. • Tim Mason: Nazi policies towards women were not unpopular and at least partly successful in changing women’s social role. • Ute Frevert: The lack of resistance towards Nazi social policy suggests that most women did not oppose the regime, even supporting many of its policies.