In her book Hitler’s Furies, Wendy Lower explores the role of women in the Nazi movement. She depicts a lost generation of girls, raised in the tumultuous wake of the First World War. In a country humiliated by Versailles, the people looked for direction, and hope for a better future. Nazism became the fast answer. To women, it in theory offered the empowering honour of being Hitler’s most important citizens, where traditional roles of motherhood and duty to the nation were glorified. Individualistic movements like feminism that contradicted Nazi ideals were targeted, leaving German women to define themselves by the party.
The image of the traditional nazi woman depicted in propaganda was unrealistic – German birthrates dropped, and single, career driven women, who were overworked and underpaid, became omnipresent in German administration, as men were called to battle – indeed these women were indispensable to the atrocities of the regime. Lower
Some of the worst female perpetrators were women without official roles to assist with genocide. These women were voluntary killers, free of any obligation to commit crimes, they would seek to do violence, extra of what was expected – Others were coopted by fear, and the futility in resistance.
Nazism had achieved the obedience of a country. Were these women just complacent in the acts of the regime? To what extent did German women embody the values of the Nazi State? Or to what degree were they active extensions of Hitler’s will?