Throughout centuries, women have been subject to unjust and upsetting perceptions, due to the fact that they have never been allowed to express themselves as they wants and due to the view of society, that male have to be the dominant figure. It is through events that have happened in time, that have made them stronger and able to get strength to be now, open minded and able to express in a different and overwhelming manner as they had never done before. The topic to be portrayed on this piece of work is how women in Nazi Germany were treated and how this theme relates to the novel the wave. In Nazi Germany, women were inferior to their male generation. Here the ways there were treated, their works and many other aspects will be analyzed, to see their hope and effort each time they fought for their right and the things they wanted to do.
During the Second World War women were expected to fulfill and do a lot of the roles they had done in the First World War. Again they were called to work in industries, farms, as nurses in the forces but not on the fort line. Besides doing the works they were called to do, they had also a very important role which was to care for the family such as the children and the man. They had to be always at the house cleaning, cooking taking care of the children and doing things that only women could do. Marriage was a really important thing so women could be respected in all ways possible.
For marriage to be respected, the couple should be of a different sex and of the same race so it could be approved by the national community and it was based on muted of loyalty, love and respect. The purpose of a marriage was something more than love, if was to be able to create and to maintain the creation of genetically healthy children from the same race and therefore increase the number of people from German race. The mission of women was to be beautiful and bring children into the world, to dress as they were expected to dress and to be the perfect role and appearance of how good; high class women should look like. As more children you had more respect you had, so the birthday of Hitler’s mother on this day, was awarded to women who had given birth to to the largest number of children. The gold cross went to women who has produced 8 children, silver was for 6 children and bronze was for 4 children.
In Nazi Germany it was not considered a social problem if there was a woman with a child and she did not have a husband. Instead it was encouraged. As Nazis want Germany race to be more pure and to be able to have more children as possible, the Nazi established Lebensborn’s which were buildings were selected unmarried women could get pregnant by a “racial pure”SS man. These were not hidden or secret buildings, the government placed them in a normal place and they had a white flag with a red dot in the middle to identify them to the public.
Adolph Hitler said that the perfect women should be women that her world was her husband, her family, her children and her home. One of the reasons why men did not want women to work, was because, surely when they started working and having another life outside their houses they would forget of their marriage, of doing the house work, of looking as a decent and high class women and most important of all, forgetting of taking care of the children and of making more.
This would obviously make men really mad and will be a total humiliation if women could do what they wanted and there was not a man to tell them what and how to do things. Men were also concerned about the influences that other countries could place upon them and so change their life’s and their aspects in a total and drastic way. The Nazis wanted to reverse many of the recent trends that had increased opportunities for women throughout Europe because de declining of birth rate that was partly due to wider access to contraception.
A women’s fiscal aspect was really controlled. “Women were not expected to wear make-up or trousers. The dyeing of hair was not allowed nor was perms. Only flat shoes where expected to be worn, women were discouraged from slimming as this was considered bad for the child birth. Women were encouraged to have a well built figure as slim women, so it was taught, would have problems in pregnancy….Women were also discouraged from smoking-not because it was linked to problems with pregnancies, but because it was considered non German to do so.”(1)
Ten Commandments for choice of spouse (4)
1. Remember that you are a German
2. If you are genetically healthy you should not remain unmarried.
3. Keep your body pure.
4. You should keep your mind and spirit pure.
5. As a German, choose only a spouse of the same or Nordic blood
6. In choosing a spouse, ask about his ancestors
7. Health is also a precondition for physical beauty.
8. Marry only for love.
9. Don’t look for a playmate but for a companion for marriage.
10. You should want to have as many children as possible.
The decline of unemployment after the Nazis gained power meant that it was not necessary to force women out of manual work. Action was taken to reduce the amount of women working, married women doctors and civil servant were dismissed in 1934 and women could no longer act as judges or public prosecutors.
Still when women were taken to the concentration camps, old women and children were killed in gas chambers, the rest that where not killed where forces to work for long and exhausting hours and the ones that where really tired where also killed. There were also concentration camps created just for women such as Ravensbruck. “All in all, more than 132,000 women and children were incarcerated in Ravensbrï¿½ck. It is estimated that 92,000 of them died in the camp by starvation, executions, or weakness. During the last months of the war, and due to the rapid advance of the Russian Army, the SS decided to exterminate as many prisoners as they could, in order to avoid any testimony about what happened in the camp. For example, 130 babies and pregnant women were gassed in March 1945.”(3)
Here they where treated horribly and here it is also showed that women had not any rights and although men where also treated really badly in concentration camps, women were treated worst. They were badly punished, they had to work in a really drastic and heavy way, and no suffering was accepted. It was a really difficult time in which many women died, more than men because they had less strength and less energy as men did.
She was a one of the first women to be part of the Nazi organization. But as she could not be pro of women and defend the right for them to be part of something, she was always promoting that women should stay home raising and producing children. “In one speech she pointed out that “the mission of woman is to minister in the home and in her profession to the needs of life from the first to last moment of man’s existence” (2)
When Adolf Hitler came to power in 1933 she was named Women’s leader and head of the Nazi women League. She was a really good orator so she was very good making and promoting ways in which women had to act. Then she was appointed as head of the Women’s Bureau in the German Labour Front. She had the responsibility of persuading women to work for the good of the Nazi government. As she was a women she, in the meeting, most of the times was left out. After the war she went into hiding and then years later she was arrested. She was condemned to 18 months of prison.
After doing this work we can conclude a series of things. Until today women are summited to do things they don’t want to do and are not able to express themselves as they wanted. Before in time, they where treated in a badly way than what is today. Women in Nazi Germany where not able to do the things they liked to do and to look the way they wanted to look. In this time of history, the perfect woman was a woman that stayed home producing and looking for his children, which was chubby, has blue eyes and blond hair, a perfect women was a women that could be controlled by his husband and did all he told her to. Till now women are still suffering so one day equality between men and women can exist.
How is this theme connected to the wave?
This theme, women in Nazi Germany in connected to the book the wave; In the way that Laurie’s mother wouldn’t want Laurie to get into the wave because it was something, really bad for society. Women in Nazi Germany weren’t allowed to do many things, and they were treated really badly. In the book as David is so possessed and so into the wave, he hits Laurie without bothering that he is her girlfriend and that they have been together for a long time. This shows how a movement such as the wave or Nazi could take over people without bothering who and what part they were in men’s life. As in the wave, the Nazis controlled everything and were a maximum authority difficult to dare or not follow their orders.
Another example in the book related to this theme, is that all the leaders in the class were males and although Laurie was a good person, which good qualities and aspects to be a leader she was not selected, we suppose because of the fact that she was a women. This shows how difficult it was for women to be able to participate in something, to have a big role and most of all to get into politics. They were repressed and not allowed to do what they wanted, to work in the things they wanted and to be parts of something important which they had the mentally and fiscal strength to do so, but simply it was not allowed because of a social rule which always placed men at an inferiority sex and women as a weak and devil one which was no able to fulfill by her own in life.
When Laurie found out she had not been selected to be a leader in the classroom she got really upset, because she knew she was a role model to be one, and that she had the qualities to show and provide many things to their class mates, that they simply did not see. She got also very angry because she thought that discrimination against women and differential sexualities had finished or at least changed, but it had not and she was getting worried that things that had happened long time ago could happened again and that they had to fight for what they wanted and for the rights they were obliged to have.
What are the historical connections of the theme to world war two?
The historical connections of this theme to the world war two are indeed a really important part. It is linked because it was in this time that women had a really important role which was to produce baby’s so, the pure German race grew bigger. It was also really important because as in this time they were so controlled and where not able to do what they wanted, and where obliged to look and think as their husbands told them too, then because of this, further in time they revealed and became more open minded and is because of this that now a days they have they right to express more freely and with more tranquility as before.
How does this theme appear in today’s society?
My theme relates to today’s actual life, because today women are still repressed and are not able to do many things that they would like to do and are not able. Maybe we are able to do some things but not with the same advantages as men. Although women have the opportunity to work and at the same time have children and a stable marriage, many are criticized for not looking for their children and spending more time at work that at home playing or doing homework with their children. Men are simply never blamed for this, and will never be blamed if something happens to the children, because they supposal in the man of the house and should be working, providing money for the house and the mother should be at home cleaning and looking for their children.
Another aspect which is certainly a disrespect to the female sex, is that although the might be working in more difficult job or are working a bigger amount of hours they are still paid less that men. This shows how women in Nazi Germany is compared to now a days, and that still it is really difficult to have in each and every single aspect equality for men and for women. Although many years have passed still women are repressed and are not able to do what they want to do, to dress and look as they want to, to work in the things they want, to share the same problems and they same right with their children and most of all to be able to achieve a total equality between the two sexes and to show that women are the same or more capable of doing the same things as men do.
4. Weimar and German republic, Women in Germany, pg 293-298
5. The changing role of women, Liz Belamy and Kate Moorse, pg.72, 73