Monday, 7 April 2014

The status of women in Hitler's Germany

What I had meant as another regular "update" looks like it'll be reserved for a more thorough analysis. "Totalitarianism and the status of women" was meant to follow totalitarian singing, taking after my existing poke at the Waffen-SS and their devilish marching song. However, I'm sticking to the "Hitler" side of Totalitarianism. The Mao side is something I have to read up on, and the Stalin side of relations with women seems quite a bit more complex than I previously imagined. The role of women in the old USSR seems to have been anything but straightforwards.

Hitler took right after General Ludendorff in perpetrating his ideas of "Kuche, Kirke, Kinder" - "Cooking, Church, Children" for all women in Nazi Germany, and he wanted women to be, as it were, factories for the production of new soldiers for the state, human livestock for breeding. The links below are pretty explanatory, especially since the attitude Hitler and the Nazis adopted towards women was simple and regressive in the extreme.

And there you have it, all the teachers, doctors, professionals and even civil servants who happened to be women lost their jobs just because they had two X chromosomes instead of one X and one Y. Pathetic.

What's especially interesting is the need for increased industrial production leading to a year of "national duty" for women. In fact, (and this isn't stated in these sources since it's beyond their scope) the amount of industrial labor gotten out of the women was so low that the Nazis resorted to using POWs and Concentration Camp prisoners (Jews, Roma, Sinti, Communists, Poles, Slavs homosexuals, and everyone else they saw as 'undesirable') as slave labor - and the slave labor had no intention of providing them with quality war material, sabotaging them at will. The Nazis, thanks to their perverse misogyny, landed up being their own worst enemies when it came to war material production, while the USA, USSR and Great Britain, with their large percentage of women in the industrial workforce, were able to make up for the loss of workmen by inducting women.

Of course, while the ideal "Aryan woman" was supposed to be dressed like an athletic, simple peasant girl, the SS had their own share of brothels where they could go and "enjoy" themselves with the hottest women around after their day's devilry. Hypocrisy is one of those things that never gets old, especially not with power-obsessed maniacs like the SS.

The attitudes demonstrated by Hitler and Goebbels towards women - that women and men were equal but had different duties - the men as warriors and breadwinners, and women as childbearers - strike me as incredibly creepy, because this is precisely the language that I have heard used as an excuse for misogynistic hypocrisy. Of course, neither Hitler nor Goebbels invented these attitudes - Ludendorff was there well before them and similar attitudes have existed in war-obsessed cultures for eons - but it is still incredibly disturbing. Why do I hear such similar-sounding rhetoric now, in the 21st century? Why are there politicians who think that there's something even remotely appropriate about a regressive attitude towards half the human species, an attitude appropriated by one of the worst mass murderers in all of human history?

More to come, later, and perhaps elsewhere. And instead of focusing on the barbaric Nazis, I'd be taking a look at the far more complex fate of women in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

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