Every woman living in the Third Reich had to get used to the fact of being discriminated against. The double standard of the regime became obvious in the fact that it valued mothers of more than one child like bees pamper their queen, but denying them emanzipation at work and in society at the same time. While in reality more and more women worked in the shadow of their sewing and other machines, the Nationalsocialists thought the women were still sitting at their spinning wheels.
Joseph Goebbels summarised in one of his speeches: " A woman´s task is to be beautiful and to bear children....taking the woman out of public life as such, is only to give her back her dignity!"
When the Nationalsocialists came into power, they indoctrinated their programme immediately; female doctors and civil servants were made redundant. The number of female teachers was heavily reduced, as was the number of girls in higher education like universities. From 1936 onwards women were denied the right to be judges or public prosecutor because: " Women can´t think logical and they can´t make decissions objectively, they judge by feelings!"
Kinder - Küche - Kirche children - kitchen - church
springs to mind here.
This election leaflet by the Social Democrats says it all:
"Women, this will be your fate in the "Third Reich"!"
" The woman is to be maid and servant again", says Nazileader Feder. That is the reason for no women in the Swastika Party.
Your answer: Fight the Nazi -- for Social Democracy !
A change was coming with the increase of manufacturing war goods. While discrimination at work and lower payment was to be endured by the women, the NSDAP was unlucky in their attempt to indoctrinate their picture of beauty on to the women. Females took the liberty of chosing their fashion and make-up and even the "Reichsbeauftragte für die Mode", Benno von Arent could not change that.
THE WAR YEARS
The main task of a woman in every day life was caring for her family, by supplying food and dealing with domestic matters. These tasks were much more difficult to fulfill in war years than in peace time. Although there wasn´t any famines in the years 1939-1945 like in WW I, basic food like potatoes, bread and meat, not to mention vegetables and fruits, became very rare in some cities. It was a daily struggle for most women to make the best of the few goods available on the ration cards. With the husband fighting at the front, she was the one responsible for the upbringing of the children. Psychological pressure became worse with the allied bombings of German cities.
The propaganda machine showed a total different kind of picture, the one of optimistic smiling, full of energy looking woman, doing her duty at home and in the factories, in air raid shelters and field hospitals. The sensored media was not to report on their despair, but triumphantly wrote about women who were determined to do their utmost for victory.
Another significant point is, that the politcal part women played was even smaller than in peace time. This was a vital principle of the NSDAP, declaring as early as 1933 that women were not to be included in leading political roles. Higher civil servant positions were hardly taken by women and even high ranking personalities like Gertrud Scholtz-Klink, the Reichsführerin being in charge of millions of women organised in the NS-Frauenschaft and the Deutsche Frauenschaft since 1934, had no word in important political decisions.
The NS-Frauenschaft, short NSF, had nearly 6 million members, that is one in every five women within the Reich. Main aim was to educate the woman in the spirit of the NSDAP. Interesting point, not even a third of the official NSF workers held a party membership and the majority of ordinary NSF members were just "paying members", again no party membership.
One of the NSDAP´s ambitions was to encourage women to have as many children as possible. To have at least four children was the ideal of the time. The "Mutterkreuz", mother´s cross, being a sign of distinction for giving the Führer four (bronze cross), six (silver cross), eight or even more children (golden mother´s cross).
During the war years the need for women doing their duty in the war machinery grew. Young women were drafted through the Bund Deutscher Mädel, BDM. Millions of girls had to do their duty at harvest time, for example in 1942 more than 1. 400 000! Hundreds of them did their one year duty as a farm helper, the "Arbeitsmaid", within the Reichsarbeitsdienst der weiblichen Jugend, the RADwJ.
Because the number of female volunteers was not what the NSDAP had hoped for, from 1943 onwards every woman aged 17 to 45 years had her abilities tested to see how they could be used for the war effort. Only the weak and sick and women with toddlers or more than one child of school age, were exempt.
From autumn 1944 everyone including women up to the age of 50 years were drafted, even the ones who already went out to work daily as waitresses, actresses or artists for example.
The young females of the BDM were to put their uniforms on as Helferinnen of the Wehrmacht, Luftwaffe, Kriegsmarine or the SS. As late as beginning 1945 the propaganda machine tried to encourage young women between 18 and 21 years of age to join as Wehrmachtshelferinnen, hoping that 150 000 girls would stand in for the soldiers risking health and life for "Führer und Volk".