Although the Nazi ideology focused on the “ideal woman,” who stayed at home and took care of her children, they needed women’s support during war time. They focused their propaganda on their relationship to the male soldier and the different ways in which women could support their husbands or sons as soldiers. Older women had already gone through raising their children. They were recognized for serving their duty to their country and keeping the honor of motherhood alive as they sent their sons to war. This propaganda worked not only for the older generation, as it validated and supported their roles, but also as an example for the younger women to raise their children in the same respect.
During times of war, women were expected to encourage their husbands and sons who were soldiers by maintaining the home for when they returned from the front. This support for their husbands and sons was supposed to promote the war effort by boosting morale and providing the soldiers with encouragement and a sense of doing what was best for the nation.
Sense of “Normalcy”
Another way in which women served to promote the war effort was by providing their husbands and sons with a sense of “normalcy” upon their return from the front or the camps. Women’s support of the soldiers, in a sense, kept them from questioning the atrocities that they were witnessing both on the front and in the camps. Soldiers came back to clean and proper homes, home-cooked meals, and fresh clothes. Again, this sense of “normalcy” gave soldiers the illusion that the war was not that bad and kept them blindly obeying the Nazi Regime.
Propaganda; Duty to the Nation
In terms of propaganda, like all German citizens, women were taught from the beginnings of their youth the role that they would play in society as Nazi women. Through education and socialization specifically, Nazi ideology was infused in all lessons and events that the schools and youth organizations held for their youth. Women were specifically kept from classes that involved science and mathematics and were taught to focus on classes such as music, home making, teaching, or social work. Their education did not encourage further education after school, as most women were not encouraged to attend universities, but to settle down and make families. Women were also taught from a young age of the importance of motherhood, both in school and through the BDM. They were also taught that the Fatherland came before family; a sense that the nation is more valuable than any individual, therefore influencing women to sacrifice their husbands and sons to the war effort. The BDM, specifically, served as the most important way in which the Nazi Regime worked to break down individuality and promote the importance of a unified community.
“BDM girls were to be indoctrinated to aspire to ‘strength and steadfastness’, to aim to be not merely mothers but ‘heroine mothers’” (Stephenson, 78).
This ideology explains why so many German women were helpful to the war effort. Because these beliefs were instilled in them from a young age, women felt that supporting their husbands and sons and providing encouragement and “normalcy” was their duty. The manipulation of the nation’s youth served as the most important form of propaganda in regards to the war effort as it reminded men and women of their different roles in society and promoted these roles as their duties to the Fuhrer and the Fatherland.