Mothers in the Fatherland: Women, the Family and Nazi Politics
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American Library Association Notable Book
An Outstanding Book in Women's History at the Berkshire Conference of Women Historians
From the collapse of the Kaiser's regime to the destruction of Hitler in his bunker, Germany has been studied, explicated, and psychoanalyzed time and again. Yet there have been few detailed investigations into the historical and cultural roles played by German women in modern times. This important book, which Kirkus called "original and intriguing," corrects this imbalance.
mobilization. Only a few years before, Scholtz-Klink had sworn that "her" German women would never have to sully their hands with paid jobs. Because she had invested so heavily in the restoration of motherhood, she lost credibility when suddenly she urged women both to bear many children and work at factory jobs. As long as she propagated a popular and conventional message, women followed willingly. But when she broke with her followers' ideals about family and home roles, her credibility
experiences of women, perhaps the few who ended up on camp assignments were more apt to be depraved or deranged than the men. Or perhaps women guards seemed more cruel because their behavior deviated farther from our conceptions of "feminine" models than men guards' behavior departed from stereotypes about men. Jolana Roth told me she had seen very few women SS guards at Auschwitz. "But the ones you did see—they were worse than the men. I will never forget the one who would stand at the peephole
adopted this divorce code without its racial components. Klinksiek incorrectly considers it anomalous that the Nazis had been so liberal. Several nations in the post-1945 world have "liberalized" divorce by making separation easier and equal for men and women, without recognizing women's endemic financial inequality. Cf. Dieter Petzina, Werner Abelshauser and Anselm Faust, eds., Sozialgeschichtliches Arbeitsbuch (Munich: Beck, 1978), III, 30, ff. 37. Christa Wolf, A Model Childhood, trans.
women dare not return meekly to their homes. Women belonged in their public "space." But what would it look like? Rogge-Börner and Gottschewski, perhaps because they were younger, openly criticized the stridently masculine élan of the Nazi Party, whereas Diehl and Zander said very little about the men's activities. Diehl saw Protestantism and Hitlerism as mutually reinforcing, whereas Zander, Rogge-Börner, and Gottschewski inclined more toward paganism. All saw themselves as nationalists, hated
about her office. Men weren't interested in our offices." For an instant I recalled Hitler had expressed similar views. "A highly intelligent man should take a primitive and stupid woman. Imagine if on top of everything else I had a woman who interfered with my work! In my leisure time I want to have peace."5 Scholtz-KIink mastered the art of the possible; a transformation of male nature lay beyond her control. Since men would not adapt, women did. After all, they always had. And she thought