The Nazi policy for women was the three Ks: “Kinder, Kuche, Kirche” or three Cs “children, cooking and church”. These three words summarised the lifestyle a female Nazi would be expected to lead, regardless of social class, financial status and how they actually wanted to live. This policy was branching out as a by-product of every other Nazi policy or ideal there was. In basis, to establish itself as a great empire, Germany needed more people, therefore childbirth was encouraged.
To build a strong economy, workers were required; therefore women were advised to leave their jobs and stay at home (in the kitchen) and have large German families. The church part of this policy was quite ironic, as the Nazis had only just taken over the Catholic Church in Germany, but implied that all Nazi women should be morally strong, disciplined and family-oriented. One reason women were focused on by Nazis was because the Nazi Party didn’t ever employ a woman, therefore women didn’t have a role model to admire within the Nazi State, yet appeal to women was important if the Nazis were to remain in power.
Children had the most significance, and were central in Nazi policy towards women. The aim was to increase pure Aryans births. Measures between the years 1933-39 were taken, for example: Financial incentives were offered to women such as marriage loans and birth grants. Propaganda was used to raise the status and self-esteem of women who were encouraged by the government, their husbands and friends to stay in the house all day, living as slaves to their husband and children, cleaning and cooking.
And the reverse techniques were in order to encourage childbirth by instigating higher taxes for childless couples, tighter penalties on abortions, restrictions on contraceptive information and measures were introduced for compulsory sterilisation of ‘undesirables’. In the years 1939-45 the Lebensborn programme was extended so births outside marriages were actively encouraged. The effects of the policy surrounding children to an extent did achieve its aims as in 1933-39 the birth rate in Germany did rise, however a gradual decline was soon to follow.
It is questionable for what reasons the birth rate did increase as it is possible it may have been due to the economic recovery than to Nazi measures of the encouragement of childbirth. In any case, the aims, measures taken and outcomes of this would conform to the ideal role of women in Nazi society. To support the Nazi idea of childbirth (to increase the German population) marriage was encouraged. The aim of this was to increase suitable marriages within Germany.
In the early years of Nazi power if unemployed one would receive a 600 Rentenmark marriage loan. In 1937 this policy was extended to women in work. However, in 1935 Marriage Law required a certificate of ‘fitness to marry’ before a marriage license was issued to a couple. In October 1935 a Blood protection law was brought into place, therefore Jews, Black people and gypsies were forbidden from marriage.
Three years later the Marriage Law extended the grounds for divorce on the theory that if a relationship was bad, and no more children were to be conceived within the marriage, it was better for a divorce to take place and children be conceived with different partners. This would increase the population even further. Later on in 1941 couples found to be cohabiting after their marriage had been banned were sent to concentration camps. As an effect of the above policies there were 516,000 marriages in 1932, increasing to 740,000 in 1934.
However after 1938 divorces increased as in the same year the Marriage Laws had extended the grounds for divorce. Similar to the increase in childbirths, marriages might have been due to economic optimism than to government policies and divorce was extended to help national objectives. This encouraged women to become housewives and fulfill the role of women in Nazi ideology. Several other varying policies were brought in to supplement the lifestyle of Nazi women. These included the welfare of German citizens. As mothers, women were expected to the contribution to the development of healthy Germans.
The actions taken in response to this were further legislation. The National Socialist Welfae Organisation was set up which was mainly staffed by women, giving them jobs, as well as the completion of the vast expansion of health offices (especially in rural areas) as well as improved sanitation, preventative medicine and genetic and racial care. In 1939-45 childcare facilities were improved especially for working mothers. This was due to the return of women back to work in wartime. The positive effects of this were that infant mortality dropped.
In 1933 7. % of all children died in infancy, while in 1936 this reduced to only 6. 6%. This has a tendency to contradict the ideal Nazi role of women as the NSV employed women to work; however the ‘caring’ nature of the Organisation would’ve conformed to Nazi views on women. Education was very important in the forming of Nazi ideals of women as it’s main qualities was to educate children on Nazi social ideals, including the preparation of women for their proper role as well as restricting academic opportunities for women by limiting university enrolment of women to 10%.
These restrictions were dropped in 1939 as there was a greater demand for wee-educated workers during the war years. This indicates that the ideal role of women within German society was to use the talents they had within the household and men could carry out the more academic careers within politics and science, as that was what men were born to do. One Nazi aim was to reduce female employment to give them an opportunity to stay in the home and bring up large families, therefore a career that established a woman as an independent human being who could work hard to earn her own salary was unnecessary.
In 1933 women in high-ranking civil-service and medical occupations were dismissed. Three years later women were also banned from being judges and lawyers in the belief that intelligence, courage, and self-assertiveness could be more effectively applied within the household environment. In 1939 unmarried women who were under the age of 25 were forced to do compulsory agricultural labour.
The effect of this ironically, the number of women in employment rose, with a further increase during the war. This demonstrates that Nazi policies had a marginal effect on overall female employment, however during wartime German women were less mobilised than in the UK or USA. The outcomes of the measures taken contradict the Nazi policies for the ideal Nazi woman to stay at home and raise a family; however the aims did conform to traditional Nazi views on the female role.
A Nazi woman’s public life was as equally important as her private. The aim of Nazi policy in this incidence was to organise women and incorporate them into the Volksgemeinschaft. The actions taken to implement this aim were that unsurprisingly, no female members of the Reichstag were permitted and two women’s organisations were established to make them feel that they held some real value within the political and social structure of the Nazi lifestyle.
During the war years, these organisations contributed to the war effort for example, clothes collections were made by the women to go to the Russian Front. The aims and measures in this case did show signs of success as there was an increased female participation in Nazi bodies, which gave the middle class women the opportunity to be involved in public life although the task of decision-making could only be designated to men to fulfill each role Nazi ideology offered to the separate genders.
My overall conclusion is that Nazi policies towards women were used solely as propaganda material to gain votes, and that women weren’t as near as highly regarded as men within any part of Nazi Germany, whatever role they were brainwashed into having in order to fulfill Nazi ideology of a strong German empire with a very large pure-blood population and strong economic and political power. This is because many of the Nazi policies towards women changed and contradicted themselves over a short space of time.