Women living under the Third Reich were confined to the role of mother and wife, excluded from any financial, academic and political responsibility, the ideals of Nazi Germany were applied to every aspect of society, right down to the roles of each and every individual.
Gertrude Scholtz-Klink, the highest ranking female member of the Nazi Party, declared the role of a woman “is to minister in the home”, enforcing the superiority of man over women. A good wife should cater to the needs of her husband, with life revolving around the three “k’s”:
Kinder, Küche, Kirche
(Children, Kitchen, Church)
Scholtz-Klink set up “bride schools” across Germany (the first of these located on the Island of Schwanenwerder in 1937), giving instruction on cooking, housekeeping, sewing, washing, ironing, nursing and childcare; not forgetting advice on how to host a cocktail party with appropriate topics of conversation, and more sinisterly providing ‘special knowledge of race and genetics’.
Minimal make up (though this was often prohibited) and traditional Germanic hairstyles were encouraged. Those who finished and passed this six week course would receive a certificate of completion featuring the Germanic Tree of Life. In 1936, Himmler signed a degree which instructed that all women who wished to marry a member of the SS must complete this course otherwise they would be denied the right to wed.
These schools coincided with schemes such as the ‘Law for the Encouragement of Marriage’ which gave newly-weds a small loan, allowing them to keep a percentage for each child they had, in order to encourage a high birth rate. Young girls in the Bund Deutscher Madel in der Hitler-Jugend (League of German Girls in the Hitler Youth) were encouraged to exercise to keep their bodies healthy for future childbirth. The BDM had 2 million members by 1938.
Despite these imposing systems, women were held in high regard in the Nazi regime. Aryan Mothers who gave birth to more than eight children were awarded the Motherhood Cross on August 12th, the birthday of Hitler’s mother.
In 1935, Scholtz-Klink declared to an audience of Nazi Party Members “You need us, you depend on us. We participate in the resurrection way of our people”. The role of mother was the greatest achievement a woman could aspire to. Unmarried women were even encouraged to mate with SS members, in order to carry “racially pure” babies.
Under the illusion of empowerment, these camps seem just another way to control the actions of the people, removing the right to free will and choice before these young women had the chance to flourish.
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