Women and Work in Nazi Germany during the Depression/Pre-war Era
In 1933, the depression hit Germany’s economy hard. Both men and women were affected and unemployed. However, this women that were employed when other men were jobless, offended the morals and values of the “Ideal Woman” ideology. Married working women, in particular, were the target of disgust. Not only did men resent these married women, but women who were single- and desperately needed these jobs- or women who were married and depended on their husband did as well. By the end of 1933, legislation made it illegal for women who were married to be public service employees. These working married woman were called back to their homes to fulfill their “natural role” in the private sphere. Yet, the Nazis did not completely disagree with female employment, they just didn’t want women working jobs with a higher status or pay than men. Thus, many women stayed employed in the production lines, domestic services, and lower clerical work. These ideas about the employment of women remained steady until the start of the war. When men began to be pulled from the work force to the war field, the need for female employment changed.
The First Generation of Younger Working Woman and Employment Propaganda
Mid-war, the younger generation of women was easier to submerge into the work force. These women had grown up and gone to school learning about National Socialist Pride and the Nazi ideology. Although women were still encouraged to be the perfect housewife, it was obvious to the Nazis that the economy still needed women workers. German girls who participated in BDM (Bund Deutscher Mädel), a group which taught the Nazi ideology and trained girls to be strong, fit, and the “perfect” housewives, were ready for the challenges of war industry. These women grew up being proud of their country and supportive of the war cause. The magazine Frauen-Warte continued to include images of young working women – helping soldiers and serving their duty to their country.
The Nazi ideology of the perfect German family and the “ideal woman,” helped influence women into the workforce much like it influenced them into the war effort. Women were to serve and support men- whether that was in the home or in a factory. This is the way girls were raised. Nazi propaganda empowered woman by validating which ever role they needed them to fill. Pride for the German nation was an idea instilled in society even before the Third Reich came to power. Women felt they were doing their part and supporting their troops.