Women in the Workforce

women to workThe majority of German women accepted their place in the “private sphere” that was created for them by Nazi ideology. However, the idea of women solely belonging in the private sphere or in jobs that were specific to their “nature” was shifted in war time in order to benefit the needs of the government and nation as a whole while its men were off fighting. Women were now being urged to get jobs to help support their nation, whereas before wartime, they were encouraged to remain at home and be the best wives and mothers they could be.

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

6a00d834515db069e201156f2b72ab970c-800wiWhen the war first began, mostly younger women were called upon to help Germany’s working economy during a time of need and war.  They were stronger and possessed better skills from their recent schooling.  The older generations greatest accomplishments were raising their children who now were soldiers. Younger generations of women may not have had children yet, or had young children making their memories of life pre-motherhood still fresh in their minds; they were easier to convince to return to work. Magazines such as Frauen-Warte (a magazine approved by the Nazis for women, used for propaganda to promote the role of the housewife and mother as admirable), encouraged young women to support their country and work in fields helping the war industry.   Women who experienced the independence of working didn’t take much convincing to return to it.  Several young wives had to work to support their family if their husbands were off at war or had come home injured.  Many women struggled to find the balance between having a job, being a mother, and keeping up with the home.  Although families with children received tax cuts from the government, this was not enough financial support to keep food on the table.  Nazi propaganda put pressure on them to be the “ideal woman,” yet they also needed to work for an income.

The Second Generation of Younger Working Woman49-e1320224993114-520x710

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.

Published on April 24, 2013 at 1:33 pm  Leave a Comment  

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