Wendy Lower pulls apart the idea that violence in Nazi Germany was the exclusive domain of men in her book Hitler’s Furies. It is nothing new to the field of Gender history that women are capable of violent acts that are not reserved to the gentle touch of poison or accidental death. Lower has written that the Nazi regime attracted “female activism of the most violent kind”. But what is most interesting about Lowers work is that it gives an less explored perspective of the workings of a murderous state.
“The consensus in Holocaust and genocide studies,” Lower wrote “is that the system that makes mass murder possible would not function without the broad participation of society”. If this consensus has been the case perhaps it is only though understanding the individual contributions of diverse groups of people – men, women, and youth, etc. – that we can begin to fully understand the historiography that brings regimes or murderous states to power. Lower herself wrote that terror regimes “feed on the idealism and energy of young people,” it is this that gives a state motivation at times political justification to proceed. This coupled with nurses who kill instead of treat, and teachers who abandon their school children sentencing them to certain death is a reminder that everyone has a role to play in the business of indoctrinating a ‘new’ state.
In thinking about the female role, Sofía Rodríguez López and Antonio Cazorla Sánchez point out that during the Spanish Civil War women’s position in society was leveraged in favour of the Franco state. Women were placed in roles of espionage as they were unsuspected of such acts and were crucial to spreading the Franco – supported message. To return to the point in which Lower began, broad participation by society is needed to carry out a systemic system that takes hold of society. In this way, fascist regimes do not need to bring every member of its society to be the same but difference can be account for and exploited into achieving a diverse machinery for propaganda and messaging that ultimately results in single fascist cause.