Missing in Action: The Female Work Force in Nazi Germany

The Female Work Force in Nazi GermanyThe reasons that Germany chose not to mobilize “racially acceptable” German women into the work force were complex and varied, but can be categorized into four primary categories. Firstly, Nazi expectation about World War II influenced not only how they dealt women, but also the entire German community. Nazi belief and behavior supported a “racially” superior nation inhabited by a war weary people. Subsequently, they feared losing support should Germany become involved in a protracted war or if the government asked too many sacrifices from its people. Secondly, German history paints a continuous prejudice toward women and their role in society. Nazis understood the prejudice, based their ideologies and policies on it, and then expanded from this base to more radical and limiting policies toward women. Thirdly, the enactment of Nazi policies and ideologies toward women were incompatible with including them in the war-stressed industrial force. Nazis had mapped out women’s role in the Third Reich before the war, and were inflexible to altering it to include the necessary hardships of war. Finally, Germany used a pool of labor in their industry that was unique to Nazi Germany. Germany had the luxury of pulling from the populations of occupied Europe to fill its factories, and when even they were not enough, Nazis finally used the “inferior” forces of the inmates of concentration camps. Nazi Germany’s failure to mobilize its female work force behind its war effort was a flaw that eventually became fatal.Germany is a country traditionally preoccupied with status and titles. After the abolition of titles by the Allies in the Treaty of Versailles, the German ego suffered a blow. The hierarchy of Germany, although still strong, lacked the focus that it once had. Hitler understood this and tried to create a new structure of hierarchy socially and politically, but in contrast to its predecessor, the Nazi hierarchy centered around Hitler and the Nazi party. Pride returned to the Volk (people), but at the expense of political choice and freedom.In the National Assembly at Weimar in 1919, Marie Juchacz of the Social Democratic Party (Sozial Democratishce Partei) declared:I should like to say now that the “woman question” in Germany no longer exists in the old sense of the term; it has been solved. It will no longer be necessary for us to campaign for our rights with meetings, resolutions and petitions. Political conflict, which will always exist, will from now on take place in another form. We women now have the opportunity to allow our influence to be exerted within the context of party groupings on the basis of ideology.This optimism was short lived. The advance in women’s rights achieved at the end of World War I and throughout the Weimar Republic were in actuality more rhetoric and appeasement than real improvements. This does not explain, however, why the seemingly active feminist population of post-war Germany accepted the overtly sexist propaganda, policies and laws that the Nazi party professed. The answer lay in the fact that the Nazi policies were not new to the Germans. According to Nazi ideology, women’s roles in society were based on social norms created under Kaiser Wilhelm and continued throughout the Weimar Republic. Therefore, the events leading up to Hitler’s “seize of power,” particularly the catastrophic Inflation and Depression, and their effect on society must be understood in order to comprehend the German women’s acceptance of the Nazi regime.
The revolt of November 1918, which brought democracy to Germany for the first time, carried with it a frightening concept—freedom. Many Germans, used to Bismarckian authoritarianism, trembled before the insecurity of reform through freedom, especially women. Historically, the only socially acceptable role for women was as a wife and mother. After the adoption of the Weimar Constitution in 1919, however, women were unhampered in their choices through their new status of equality with men—at least prima facie. This emancipation not only enfranchised women, but also gave women an equality in legal and economic standing that was previously unknown. Although this emancipation gave women the opportunity to create a “utopian” future of men and women living and sharing family, community and economics equally, few women possessed the courage to break away from the familiar roots of the traditional past. A primary reason behind this was the inherent instability of the Weimar Republic. Weimar’s instability stemmed from its persistent political inconsistencies, the economic crises of the Inflation and Depression and finally Weimar’s inability to socially integrate modernity with tradition.Upon Germany’s defeat in World War I, the Socialist Democratic Party (Social Demokratische Partei) was the only organization willing to sign the hated Treaty of Versailles on behalf of Germany. The treaty sank the navy, prohibitively limited the army, imposed debilitating reparations and demanded a democratically run government. The SDP accepted Versailles’ conditions grudgingly because they recognized that no other choice was available. The SDP’s connection to the Versailles treaty, however, proved to be a political liability because of the widespread hate that it induced. The SDP’s conservative opponents successfully used the negative connotations of Versailles to undermined the SDP’s liberal reform agenda by dividing their support base. Conservatives destroyed socialist popularity through the stab-in-the-back theory.
The stab-in-the-back theory stated that Germany’s defeat was not military, but instead came at the hands of internal traitors who undermined the war effort. Conservatives intimated, and even blatantly stated, that the SDP was a part of this group of traitors. Due to the shame that all Germans felt from defeat, as well as the humiliating peace treaty, the stab-in-the-back theory became popular, and the signers of the Versailles treaty were seen as perpetrators of treason. Although not all believed these politically advantageous lies, enough bought into the theory that the result was a weakening of the SDP’s voter base. The outcome regarding representation within the Reichstag was the undermining of the SDP’s authority, which forced them to form coalitions in order to maintain a majority.The coalitions, which changed repeatedly throughout the Weimar period, consisted of the very conservatives who had destroyed the democratic Weimar Republic before it had a chance to start. This compromise on behalf of the Socialists filtered throughout the administration down to the policy making level. In practical terms, the Socialists in the coalition government passed their liberal Constitution in name only. This meant that even though the Constitution included women’s suffrage and the equivalent of the United States Equal Rights Amendment, legislation was not enacted that supported such changes.The regressive Civil Code from the monarchy still controlled women’s legal and financial rights. The Kaiser’s antiquated Imperial Civil Code of 1900 granted women, especially married women, few rights. Under the Code, the husband controlled everything, from who the wife worked for and how that money was spent, to the names and religion of the children. Although single women possessed more autonomy, the Code also included encouragement of marriage to help rebuild the plummeting birth rate in Germany. As Claudia Koonz stated it, “[the] Weimar leaders grafted a democratic state onto a traditionalist and conservative social structure and a thoroughly capitalist economy.” As a matter of fact, one of the only truly emancipating pieces of legislation to pass in Weimar was women’s suffrage. The popularity of the vote among women lifted the Weimar regime’s image. As the evidence shows from the 90% turn out of eligible female voters in their first election, had it not been for the financially and psychologically destroying Inflation of 1923 and the Depression of the 1930’s, the Weimar Republic could have won women’s support and created a viable democracy. In reality, however, the Inflation and Depression only quickened Weimar’s demise and Hitler’s rise to power.The Inflation of 1923 further destroyed any confidence Germans possessed in their democratic government, especially women. The Inflation was rooted in the Versailles reparations clause imposed on Germany at the end of World War I. These reparations, as demanded by France and Great Britain, were impossibly high. According to the original plan, Germany would have finished paying off its debt in 1988. Therefore, since Versailles was so hated, the German government actively pursued undermining the payment of the reparations through destroying its economy. Rathenau, the Minister of Finance, organized the devaluation of the German Mark so successfully that once hyperinflation occurred in 1923, the only solution was a reduction in the reparations and direct foreign assistance. The loans from the United States through the Dawes Plan, however, did not improve life for Germans until the late 1920’s. During the interim years, women’s role in society socially metamorphosed.The moors of society shifted under the pressure of the Inflation. The Mark’s worth evaporated, and with it went certain moral foundations. When the savings of the middle class were destroyed, Germany’s ritual of marriage permanently altered. Previously, no German woman would have considered marrying without her father paying a dowry. Even the maids saved and saved until they had saved enough to present a dowry. But when the money became worthless, the whole idea of remaining chaste fled with it. The rich rarely “lived up to their own standards,” the poor had different standards, but the middle class: …by and large, obeyed the rules. Note every girl was a virgin when she was married, but it was generally accepted that one should be. But what happened from the inflation was that the girls learned that virginity didn’t matter any more. The women were liberated.Suffrage, as gained from the Constitution, granted women political emancipation, and the Inflation granted social liberation. The resulting creation was the “New Woman.”
This “New Woman,” independent from oppressive tradition, sent tremors through the Volk (people). The New Woman started to appear in the late 20’s, just as society’s recovery from the Inflation was certain. She was typically young, educated and employed. After the hard war years and the depravation of the Inflation, she longed to spend her earnings on fashion and fun. She, along with her peers, resisted adulthood and rejected her parent’s values. The youth of her generation also turned away from politics because, “[w]ar had burned them out, seared their faith.” What the older generation feared most about this new breed of women was their individualism, which was viewed as selfishness. The most apparent selfishness was women’s desire to have children later in life, and then, have fewer children. This, as well as the lost generation from World War I, developed a growing fear within the German population for the falling birth rate.
The fear of the low birth rate, which was central to Hitler’s policy toward women, became a viable social concern in the 1920’s. Doerte Winkler described the pre-Nazi concern with respect to the birth rate with Hitler’s own 1923 ideas of the worth of women in an excerpt from Mein Kampf:Therefore, the goal of the woman’s upbringing should be “without a doubt the future mother,” whereby the “main emphasis above all be on physical development first and foremost, then on spiritual values and last, on intellectual values.” Thus, the institution of marriage was not seen as an end in itself, but as a means to the ends of “increasing and preserving the species and the race.”*
So sollte auch das Ziel der Maedchenerziehung “unverrueckbar die kommende Mutter” sein, wobei das “Hauptgewicht vor allem auf die koerperliche Ausbildung zu legen” sei, “erst dann auf die Foerderung der seelischen und zuletzt der geistigen Werte.” So durfte denn auch nicht die Ehe als Selbstzweck ansgesehen werden, sondern allein als Mittel zur “Vermehrung und Erhaltung der Art und Rasse.”The New Woman not only did not fit this model, but she blatantly defied it. Although weddings steadily increased throughout the 1920’s and 1930’s, the new breed of women waited until later in life before settling down, and also decided to have fewer children. The older generation not only disagreed with such behavior, but considered it virtually immoral due to the fear that the German population was going to die out because the citizens were not regenerating themselves. The frenzy on this topic, however, tripled upon the arrival of the Depression.As previously mentioned, Germany escaped the Inflation through short and long-term loans from the United States equaling approximately $20 billion. Germany successfully produced rapid economic growth, but quickly became dependent on the continuation of these loans. Despite warnings from economists and leaders such as Gustav Stresemann, who in 1928 predicted economic disaster should the United States call in the short-term loans, Germany continued living off of borrowed money. Then, once America’s economic troubles began in late 1929, they began calling in debts from around the globe, including Germanys’ short-term loans. As Stresemann predicted, Germany’s economy was destroyed. In 1932 alone, the federal budget was cut by one third, which forced extensive lay-offs and cutbacks. Unemployment skyrocketed. No part of society was left untouched by this disaster, but the institutions of the family, the workplace and politics reflected these most vividly.As often happens during a crisis, the roles of the family became confused. The work that generally attracted women, such as textiles and white-collar jobs, was not affected as severely by the Depression as men’s work, construction and industry. Therefore, women often had to assume the role of family provider, as well as continuing their regular tasks of caring for the family. Women feared asking their husbands for help because of the stigma and shame of doing “women’s work.” Men often turned to drinking as an escape from failure. As one Catholic authority claimed, “The father who no longer supports his family ruins that family. [Without financial authority he loses his kingly privilege and cannot any longer fulfill his monarchical duty to hold the family together.” And as for the children, neither parent could control them as juvenile crime, pregnancy and suicide exploded. Society seemed to be disintegrating at the seams, and when people looked around for the reason, in their fear for the unknown and seemingly unpleasant future, they declared the New Woman at fault.If only the new generation of women would accept the morals and values of the previous generations, they reasoned, the family, which was the core of all social institutions, would still be intact. The family’s values were disintegrating, and that was blamed on women, who were the traditional keepers of the moral code. The birth rate continue to fall, and instead of recognizing the legitimate financial reasons for waiting, the New Woman and her selfish and immoral views of waiting for marriage and children were blamed. Modern women were also blamed for problems within the work force.
Since textile and white-collar jobs did not suffer to the extent of construction and industry jobs, women’s unemployment numbers remained relatively stable at 10% while men’s climbed to 30%. Many men claimed the reason for the discrepancy was that women were competing against men for scarce jobs, and depriving fathers the opportunity to provide for their families. These women were labeled the “third sex.” This derogatory term was an attempt to shame the “new” women back into their traditional role as wife and mother, and therefore repair the social cracks caused by the Depression. Politics also used derogatory terms and negative feelings to try and drive women back into the home.History has shown that during times of crisis, people tend to feel comforted when blame is assessed. Unfortunately, blame turns into scape-goating when society does not want to believe the true cause for the problem, or if the cause is unknown. Politics in late Weimar Germany proved no different. Democracy’s history in Germany was short and rocky, and upon the onset of the Depression, the Weimar government became progressively more frantic for order and stability as it became more illusive through economic upheaval. In ten years, the Volk had seen 21 cabinets come and go which provided little confidence in democracy. As a matter of fact, the people blamed democracy for their hardships, and showed their disgruntlement publicly through voting for single issue parties. The voting curve even came to look like a dumbbell, with moderate parties squeezed out in the middle by the support given to the radical and liberal extremes. The Nazi party’s support grew exponentially during this time because of its scape-goat agenda, its public avowal to “use democracy to beat democracy,” and its struggle to “protect” the family by supporting the traditional mother. The catch-all nature of nazism to German concerns made the Party wildly popular to the average German struggling to survive the economic depravation of the Depression. Nazism appealed to the public not because it advocated anything new or suggested solutions, but because they surrounded themselves with familiar and comfortable tradition that appealed to the average German lost in modernity. Nazis recalled a tradition that was more perfect in retrospect than it ever was in reality. As Claudia Koonz expressed it, “Beyond the mainstream, thousands, and then, after the Depression, millions, of Germans from many occupations, regions, and ages searched for security, and fashioned a nostalgic vision of the future based on a past that never existed.” Therefore, the result of the Depression to further destabilize Weimar through the magnification of previous trends. The trend of the modern immoral working woman was viewed as the cause of unemployment in the work force, which led to the break up of the family. The falling birth rate, also attributed to the New Woman, reached virtual epoch proportions. Instead of viewing the cause of these “problems” on the logical answer, the Depression, Germans blamed democracy and the Weimar government and started looking around for a strong leader to carry them out of the hell of modernity.The final nail in the Weimar Republic’s coffin was their inability to reconcile the advancement into modernity with the traditions of the past. Unlike other industrialized nations, Germany industrialized late and rapidly. Therefore, society did not have a chance to grow into the social changes that come with a modern society. Instead, pockets of modernity developed within the traditional structure, creating a confused atmosphere that was neither a continuation of the past nor an acceptance of the future. The average German did not understand or trust technology and the changes in attitude and lifestyle that it brought. As a result, they also came to distrust those that gave up the traditional lifestyle and accepted modernity. Therefore, society readily shunned the New Woman upon her arrival in the 1920’s out of fear for the loss of the old ways, as well as a fear for the falling birth rate. Weimar, who was instrumental in creating the New Woman, did little to integrate her into society. Weimar, who was constantly creating coalitions in order to keep power in democratic hands, gave women the vote, but did not change the Civil Code, which would have truly emancipated women. This meant that even though the liberals within the SDP wanted to force society into the 20th Century, they did not have the independent power achieve this task. And the more conservative parties, like the Catholic Central party, that the SDP needed for coalition did not want social change. Quite the contrary, Catholic political leaders spearheaded the fight against the emancipation of women. The SDP appeared to be a liberal force that could change the face of Germany, but in reality they reflected in their actions the status quo. Therefore, with no support politically or socially, the New Woman became the scape-goat not only for the falling birth rate and the break up of family values, but she also became the symbol for all the problems that modernity caused. And Weimar’s inability and unwillingness to either support or destroy her ultimately, with the help of governmental factionalism, the Inflation and the Depression, led to the burial of the Weimar Republic and the rise of Hitler.The Weimar Republic was a time of high emotion. Stability and order appeared to be concepts of the past. One crisis barely finished before another took its place. The German people came to fear and dread the future and the changes that would come with it, and instead longed for the security of the past. The democracy of Weimar proved incapable of solving the social, political or economic problems that the post-World War I generation faced. Therefore, German society rebelled against democracy and started looking for the leadership and stability they remembered from the time of the Kaiser. The Germans started looking for a strong leader in whom they could trust. During the midst’s of the worst economic disaster in recent history, the conveniently forgot the suppression of pre-World War I Germany and instead missed the patriarchal “security” remembered from the Kaiser. At this socially vulnerable time, the Nazi cry for the protection of the family and traditional mother, the destruction of democracy and the scape-goating of the loss of World War I on the Jews fell on receptive ears. Hitler, having lived through this time, recognized the strong passions that pointed toward tradition and used them to propel the Nazi party from the political fringe into legitimacy. He promised to recreate memories of the past into a future reality. The Nazi platform promised the total destruction of the New Woman and the opportunities that allowed her creation, in order to ensure the survival of the family. Nazi policy toward women simply placed them in the home to be a wife and mother, to ensure the further propagation of the race, and to uphold the traditional moral standard. Women and men alike flocked to the Nazi banner and praised Hitler’s connection to the little man, and his strong solutions to societies social ills. Nazi policy, and its enactment, played off of the basis of fear of modernity created throughout the Weimar Republic and further indoctrinated women into believing that they would never have to work again, because they would be supported and cared for as long as they stayed at home and had children.The Nazi policy for women was simply the belief that men and women occupied two distinctly different “spheres” in society. The world of men consisted of politics, community life and employment, where as the world of women included caring for the family and home life. One basic reason for women’s exclusion from the workplace was the dangerous quality of industrial employment on women’s reproductive capabilities. The physically straining industrial factories of the late 1930’s and early 1940’s were seen as dangerous places for physically delicate women. (Also something about accident rates, maybe justifying Nazi fear—or perhaps lack of safety precautions etc.) And as was previously stressed, the falling birth rate in Germany seemed to justify Nazi overprotection of female procreative capabilities. The basic question, however, of why women, disregarding the earlier argument of tradition, followed Nazi direction remains. The answer reveals itself in the enactment of Nazi ideology in the areas of status, education and politics.Status was important to the German people, but women generally received less of it than men. Nazis, therefore, discovered a method of garnishing female support for their policies when they increased the status of women as mothers and homemakers through a variety of programs. The programs furthered the Nazi ideology towards women of encouraging them to stay home and have children through economic, prestige, and negative incentives. One such positive incentive was in the “marriage loan” provided in the Law to Reduce Unemployment of June 1, 1933.The marriage loan scheme gave young couples an interest-free loan of 1,000 Reichmarks—at a time when the average wage-earner brought home approximately 1,520 Reichmarks a year—paid in shopping coupons, provided that the wife gave up employment. The most attractive aspect of this law, however, was that for every child the couple produced, 25 percent of the loan was forgiven. The loans were primarily funded through a higher income tax of 2 to 5 percent on single persons and couples without children. The marriage loan scheme furthered three Nazi goals: it took women out of the work force, rebalancing the “natural” divisions of labor; it encouraged large families; and it encouraged marriage.Other incentives more directly raised the status of motherhood and also made large families advantageous. Starting in 1938, Honor Cards were given out to families with three or more children under the age of ten. Honor Cards gave the recipients preferential discounts and treatment while shopping. Local authorities also gave discounts to large families for rent, electricity and water. The creation of the Honor Cross of the German Mother in 1939 raised the status of motherhood. Awarded on Mother’s Day, the Honor Cross presented a bronze medal to women with four to five children, silver for six to seven, and gold for eight or more. It also demanded that the Hitler Youth salute bearers of the Honor Medal, increasing their political and social status. As Joseph Goebbels, Minister of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda, stated, “A woman’s first and most fitting place is in the family, and the most glorious duty she can fulfill is to present her people and her country with a child.”Negative incentives were also used to enforce the Nazi goal of child bearing. In an effort to prevent abortion or planned families, abortion and contraceptives were outlawed. The penalty for obtaining contraceptives and abortions ranged anywhere from a fine to death. Also, the Nazis replaced the Marriage Counseling centers, which had been established during the Weimar Republic to increase awareness and alternatives in family planning, which included contraceptives and abortion, with the Reich Mothers’ Service (Reichsmuetterdienst). The Reich Mothers’ Service provided training courses for mothers by the older more established women of the community. This service accomplished two tasks. First, it not only discouraged waiting to have children on the national level by the service being state sponsored, but it also discouraged it on the local, peer level by having the women trainers be accepted leaders in each community. Second, it rallied women around a Nazi policy that directly limited their freedom of options. It showed that women were following Nazi policy regardless of how it effected their own personal freedom. Women had bought into the Nazi teaching that women’s place was indeed at home caring for children. This indoctrination was also seen in education.The reorganization of women’s education under the Nazis gained acceptance by capitalizing on prejudices from the Weimar Republic as well as by the new curriculum’s stress on the tradition of women’s job as a wife and homemaker. World War I had allowed more women to enter universities than ever before—from 10 to 16 and 17 percent. This created a highly skilled and motivated female work force that became resented by men during the Depression for stealing their jobs. The concept of highly educated women was seen as a “Jewish-intellectual” ideal that forced women into a realm in which they did not naturally belong. The Nazi belief that women and men thrived in different but complementary roles—men were intellectual and women were emotional—was surprisingly widespread in Weimar Germany given the increased number of women entering higher education. Women were considered unsuitable for academic education by the men of Germany:
Only a very small proportion of our girls is ever really suited to purely academic study in a university…Immeasurably greater is the number of those who later as wives and mothers, and also as career women, must and want to play a leading part in the special areas of women’s work and women’s culture.Given this preconceived prejudice about women in education, it was not surprising that the December 28, 1933 law reducing the number of female students admitted into universities to below 10 percent was greeted rather enthusiastically by the general public. Also, women were forbidden from taking Latin in lower education, which was a basis not only for university exams, but also for many of the courses offered. Women were allowed, moreover, to study only domestic science or foreign languages. Bust since many foreign languages were based on Latin, women were at a distinct disadvantage. Even the few women allowed into universities had to struggle fiercely, which only perpetuated the myth that women were not academically-minded:
It is clear that study cannot offer women a suitable general education. Women will in [the] be employed much less in occupations requiring a period of study…Therefore senior schools will not need to prepare girls for university.The new Nazi curriculum for women in secondary school was also supported by the public because of its focus on preparing women for their roles as homemaker and mother. One of the goals of the party program focused curricula on the needs of daily life. For women that meant not only the physical and spiritual development all Nazi children experienced, but also domestic science, music and needlework.In addition to theoretical and practical domestic science, all levels of education required instruction in Nazi ideology. This included biology (specifically “racial science”), Nordic culture, German history and the development of National Socialism. These courses replaced more academic subjects. For example, in 1935, two hours of needlework were required for girls (increasing in 1937 to four hours) in place of English, French or mathematics. The Nazi alteration of women’s education proved to indoctrinate young girls into believing that upon graduation, they could look forward to getting married, running a home and having children. And the evidence of skyrocketing marriage rates in the 1930’s and 1940’s suggested that they did indeed look forward to staying within the feminine sphere of the home.The final indoctrination area for women into Nazi belief was the creation of women’s political organizations. The two primary organizations were the NS-Womanhood (National-Sozialistische Frauenschaft) and the League of German Girls (Bund deutscher Maedel). Although Nazi ideology opposed women in politics, claiming that politics “sullied and demeaned the female nature,” Nazis needed a propaganda tool to legitimize and propagate their ideology toward women. They succeeded in doing this by building the NSF and BdM off of the existing conservative tradition of pre-Nazi times.Before the nazification of German organizations in 1933 under the Coordination (Gleichschaltung), women’s clubs were based on religion and tradition. Both Catholic and Protestant churches provided associations for housewives. The League of Queen Louise (Bund Koenigin Luise) celebrated the home as women’s proper domain and reveled in not having to compete with men in business or political realms. This glorification of housewives grounded the social basis for the NSF. The New Land Movement (Neulandbewegung), founded in 1914 by Guida Diehl, was an organization strong in patriotism, conservatism, anti-feminism and anti-Semitism. The New Land Movement, which was the political basis of the NSF, existed until Gleichschaltung when it then merged with the NSF. Nazis adopted these two previously existing organizations and built the more separatist radical NSDAP policy off of their foundation.In the beginning, the NSF was a political branch of the NSDAP, carrying out policies at the local level. But by the end of the 1930’s, all political power had been stripped from the NSF, because women were considered incapable of contributing to political decisions. Therefore, the NSF functioned solely as an indoctrination tool for Nazi policy. The leader of the NSF, Gertrud Scholtz-Klink epitomized this indoctrination function.Frau Gertrud Scholtz-Klink was chosen National Women’s Leader (Reichsfrauenfuehrerin) because of her unconditional loyalty to the Nazi party as well as her status as a role model. Frau Scholtz-Klink was desirable to lead the NSF because she fit the Nazi mold of an appropriate German woman due to her eleven children and dedication her husband until his death. With little formal education, the unsophisticated Frau Scholtz-Klink had experience only as a mother, but that made average women identify with her. Frau Scholtz-Klink organized the NSF around promoting the duties and responsibilities of marraige and motherhood above all else. The organization and implementation of such courses as the “Bride Schools” accomplished this goal.“Bride Schools” were run by older established women in the community as a service to young brides. The course placed inexperienced young women into a model home that included children for six weeks to learn the fundamental skills of homemaking. These calsses were popular for they gave isolated housewives the opportunity to socialize as never before. Not only was it socially acceptable to take time away from”the home” to attend such NSF functions as “BrideSchools,” it was encouraged. NSF programs also created bonds of friendship between the older and younger generations. Women were satisfied enough by the NSF activities that they did not question their disenfranchisment from society. All clubs including women were segregated and made Nazi organizations under the supervision of the NSF. And Frau Scholtz-Klink, ever faithful to the Nazi ideology, successfully instituted this “organizational apartheid” through her popular leadership.Soon after the creation of the of the NSF the League of German Girls (Bund deutscher Maedel—BdM) was created in 1932 to organize and indoctrinate women too young for the NSF. The BdM was the female branch of the Hitler Youth (Hitler Jugend). It became popular because it gave young women previously unheard-of leadership opportunities. Through this leadership, young women developed their self-confidence as well as their social skills. The BdM also gave girls the opportunity to escape the “oppressive tutelage” of the home. As with the NSF, girls were encouraged to mix socially with their peers, which was especially attractive to the isolated rural population.(End III.) Therefore, not only did the BdM succeed in indoctrinating young girls into Nazi belief, but because of the inadvertent side-effects of giving more freedom and leadership opportunities, the female youth of Germany warmly embraced the Nazis and all their policies.Nazi’s policies had several unexpectedly positive effects for women that encouraged their support of this sexist regime. The status of being a woman was raised through the glorification of the age old roles of wife and mother. Nazis even developed special incentives to encourage women, not only to have more children, but to praise National Socialism to those children as they grew. The Nazis also understood the importance of formal education in the indoctrination process, and in order to gain more control over it, they minimized required education for girls and changed the curriculum to include only Nazi propaganda and domestic science. Finally, through the NSF and the BdM, Nazis spread the control of National Socialism, but they also provided previously unheard of social opportunities. Women created bonds with their peers as well as across generations, which resulted in a virtual solidarity. The power of solidarity, unfortunately, was behind the NSDAP power, which only worked to further suppress and disempower women by boxing them into the exclusive role of care-provider. As the war neared, however, Nazi success in domesticizing women started becoming a problem. As the workforce emptied of men entering the armed forces, a crisis arose in who was going to fill the vacancies.With rearmament in 1935 and the progressive increase industrial production as Germany marched toward war, a shortage of labor began to develop. The Nazis were not concerned at first, but as time continued, the industrial sector’s pressure for laborers pushed the government into action. The solutions that the NSDAP developed, however, were always temporary and rife with problems. The primary reason that labor continued to be problematic was the German resistance to the mobilization of “Aryan” women. The Nazis, however, needing workers, tried to solve the labor problem with indirect mobilization programs and alternative workers. From this, women were “encouraged” into the work place with out enforcement, voluntary or impressed workers from occupied Europe were acquired and finally, as a last resort, concentration camp inmates and POW’s were used in Germany’s failing industrial market.The Nazis began instituting several programs to encourage women to enter the war effort in the late 1930’s, when it became evident that a labor crisis was developing. The first measure taken was the creation of the Labor Book. The Labor Book contained information on the individual’s training and employment history, and employees were forced to submit it to their employers. The purpose of the Labor Book was to track and control workers, but also to identify housewives with industrial work for easier mobilization should the need arise. An unexpected problem with this idea was that women chose not to enter the work force even for a short time for fear of becoming slaves to their Labor Book.
Soon after the introduction of the Labor Book, a term in the Labor Service became compulsory for all German Youth. The intention here was to require youth to serve the Volk better by being apprenticed out to a variety of industrially important positions, to ensure an educated future workforce. One problem with this policy was that it did not become binding for women until after 1939. Another problem, which was a major theme in attempting to mobilize women, was a lack of enforement. Local, regional and national officials continued to argue about the propriety of encorporating women into a different sphere, unnatural to the “nature of women.” This argument was the primary reason that the Year of Duty failed.The Year of Duty, instituted by Hermann Goering as Commissioner of the Four Year Plan in 1938, required young women to volunteer a year of labor to either agricultural or domestic service. The intent of this law was to lift the burden off of farmwives caused by the “flight from the land,” which was the departure of the young men and women from the land to work in the cities for more money and opportunities. The Year of Duty required a year’s service to be performed before young women started certain types of industrial or office employment. Employers were obligated to check women’s Labor Book to ensure the completion of the Year of Duty before hiring prospective women. The enforcement of this legislation, however, was decidedly poor. As Leila Rupp reported “despite the theoretically compulsory nature of the female Labor Service, its numbers never increased beyond 150,000.” Since the labor shortage was so severe, especially after the start of the war, employers gladly accepted any women willing to work in a factory. Also, local officials who disagreed with forcing women into labor found it easy to ignore infractions of the Year of Duty law. They felt confident in doing so considering that the argument of women in the work force was still heatedly debated at the national level, with no decision surfacing. The methods of the Labor Book and Year of Duty were more indirect methods of mobilizing women. Direct mobilization attempts did not occure until deep into the war.After the start of the war in 1939, little attempt was made to conscript women into labor until early 1943. After the horrible loss at the Battle of Stalingrad, the war industry was in collapse. Without an influx of new workers, total collapse was certain. The Reich responded with the Law for the Defense of the Reich, which required the registration of women seventeen to fourty-five and men sixteen to fourty-five. The purpose of this was to allow aid universal conscription. Nothing, however, resulted from it. Hitler’s goal was to protect women from “moral and mental” harm, and mass conscription would have endangered this aim. Therefore, the law’s effectiveness died as soon as it passed. For those officials that did try to enforce the various mobilization legislation, however, a miriad of barriers stood in their way.In addition to a lack of support from leading Nazi officials, women themselves resisted war work for a variety of reasons. Many women in the lower classes were forced to work throughout World War II not because of any laws, but due to financial need. Middle class women, however, did not have the same economic need, and therefore, since blue-collar work was associated with the lower classes, middle class women refrained from working in such areas to avoid the drop in prestige. The National Socialists also erred in that they did not make war work economically advantageous. Women who were dependents of soldiers received allowances to defray the cost of living because of the absence of the primary wage-earner. Nazis erred, however, when they decreased the size of the allowances upon the receivers employment. This encouraged women to remain at home and receive approximately the same amount of money as they would have with the reduced allowance on top of working in the war industries.Another problem that the war industry faced was the unreliability of what women they could attract. As Tim Mason described it, “…many women workers responded to blackouts, rationing, shortages, queues and, in some cases, the burden of running a household alone, by taking time off without permission.” Furthermore, the men at the front actively opposed the conscription of their wives into the labor force. Again, status was important, and since the prestige of having a housewife was greater than a working wife, soldiers pressured their wives to remain unemployed.The half-hearted attempts to mobilize women failed quickly. Between national officials, women, soldiers and local officials fighting labor force conscription of “Aryan” women, the program did not have a chance. Needless to say, these failed programs did not solve the labor shortage in Germany. Considering that the war could not continue without the war industries, Nazi officials turned to alternative workers from occupied Europe and concentration camps to fill the vacancies in German factories.