Nazism, like fascism, is rooted in a deeply masculine framework. However, Nazism, unlike fascism tapped into the female potential and gave women a space in the movement. For women in particular the appeal of the Nazi regime was as practical as it was ideological. What could be better than a movement that celebrated their ancestry, prided their ability to carry on the greatest race, and gave them the adventure they craved?
Beyond inclusion of women, Nazism took fascism and made it inescapably systematic. Everyone had their place, at work, at home, at school, at war. And those who did not neatly fit into the idealized places and categories were killed because systematic categorization was everything to the Nazis.
Would this level of systematic categorization and subsequent killing have been possible without the involvement of women? And by extension, to what degree was this involvement complicit? Were these women involved because of the ideological appeal of Nazism, or the practical appeal?
Lower’s text also demonstrates that women often lacked a distinct understanding of what they were signing up for. She notes that a number of female nurses were shocked upon arriving at their posts in the East. If women weren’t signing up for the Holocaust, what did they believe they were signing up for? Was it a fairly innocent belief in supporting the war effort? An ideological support of Nazi ideology? A belief that they had to in order to be good German women/? Or were these traumatized women the exception, and did most women join in the pursuit of carnage?
Hitler’s Furies presented many accounts of women during the Nazi regime. The author, Wendy Lower, tells us that this book is not a full account of women during World War 2, and she only focuses on a select few women who she was able to gather more full profiles on.
Lower’s main focus in her book was on how women affected the progress of the Holocaust. I question what other forms of killing these women may have influenced beyond the extermination campaign. Women caught up in fascism may have had other deadly effects. Are there any accounts of the women who were genuinely ignorant of the Jewish extermination? Many women may have ratted out their neighbours, who could have been Aryan Germans, for other crimes not affiliated with racism.
Lower gives a brief account of the era in which these women were raised in. What she doesn’t do, however, is delve into more detail on the childhood of each individual woman. Each woman is given a brief introduction, but the book is mainly focused on their rise to Nazism and the after effects. Were there specific childhood experiences for each woman that would have contributed to her conversion? Is it fair to claim that the era in which these women grew up in is a justifiable account for why they followed Hitler? Lower’s reasoning for female Nazi’s can be summed up as: a desire for adventure, youth, idealism, marriage, and money.
Finally, what about the older women? This book focuses on the youthful women, but fails to discuss any older women and if they contributed to Hitler’s cause.
Women weren’t able to vote in Germany until 1919, so in the readings it was noted by the author how German women generally were very proud to be “apolitical”, but that makes me wonder why would anyone would be so proud of not having an opinion on something that affects their life? Was it because they were not allowed to have an opinion? Was the culture so oppressive towards women to a point where they (women) actually believed they were not allowed to have an opinion about anything outside of their daily lives?
There were a few arguments that were brought up in the reading that irritated me. The author has suggested that women might have not had a big impact on Hitler’s rise to power, and then went on to also suggest that they should not be blamed for his election into power using the excuse that they have not been involved in politics for a long time.
You can not just absolve Nazi women because they “didn’t have political experience”. They participated by going out and placing their ballots, anyone who decided to vote Hitler in power is responsible for the horrendous acts that were carried out by the Nazis, no matter what gender they were.
The question that is in the back of my head is how did the women’s apolitical stance and their political ignorance affect their kids’ political views and morals as humans? Because it has been pointed out that many of the Nazis were young men, meaning they were kids around the time women did not have the right to vote. Since their mothers were not allowed to voice their political opinion, has that helped in growing a number of young (ignorant) Nazis?