In a huge argument between the two historians

this historical investigation I will be discussing whether attitudes towards
women have improved and to what extent did they actually improve between
1871-1971. I will be
looking at sources from these periods to show how attitudes towards women
actually were. I will also be looking at two historians who have differing
opinions on the matter. One of the historians is Gisela Bock who investigated
sterilisation of women in the third Reich and believes that all women were
discriminated under the Nazi regime. On the other end of the spectrum, another
historian that I will be looking at is Claudia Koonz who wrote “Mothers in the
fatherland” believes that mothers in the Third Reich played a huge role in the
Nazi regime and provided stability.1 This sparked a huge
argument between the two historians at the end of the Twentieth Century.  In the Wilhemine period
women were treated in a traditional manner; having to stay at home and take
care of the children while men were the bread winners. This slightly changed
going into WWII due to men being on the battlefield so women had to go into the
factories. In the Weimar period women got more freedom and the “new women”
appeared where they were more equal with men and could go out and party. Going
into the Third Reich Hitler believed that women should go back to their
traditional manner and the three K’s the kirche
(church), kinder (children), and kuche (kitchen). Post-war Germany
women were viewed in different ways. In the Republic of Germany (FRD) women
were equal to men by law but in real terms they weren’t. Whereas in the German
Democratic Republic (DDR) they were emancipated and were equal with men under
the communist regime. I will be going in further detail about these periods
throughout this historical investigation and show how there has been a
fluctuations in attitudes towards women.

In the Wilhemine the main political role of women is to support their
husbands and to do all the household work such as cleaning and taking care of
the children. The key role model for women was the empress providing support to
the emperor as he gained strength through his wife and didn’t have to worry
about the household work.. Similarly, in the Nazi period women were also
regarded to have a more of a traditional role and to stay at home and take care
of the kids and that was their main political role which is to stay at home.
Claudia Koomz supports this idea (find quote). In the 19th century
women were denied the right to vote as so they had low political power
especially. This situation was replicated in 1933, when the Nazis took over the
amount of women that were members of the parliament went from 37 to out of 577
to none. This shows the similar political roles of women in both Nazi and Wilhemine period. However there were
some women in Wilhemine
that tried to escape the traditional roles of women and supported more extreme
parties such as Rosa Luxemburg who led the Spartacist movement and supported
communist ideologies. Along with
Rosa, Luise Kahler disagreed with SPD members to support the war effort. This
shows how there were a few minority of women who had key political roles in Wilhelmina. Similarly, in Nazi Germany there were a few women that
played key political roles. An example of this would be Magda
Goebbels due to her being joseph Goebbels’s wife, therefore having close
relations to Hitler himself. Magda’s family was used in propaganda to show the “ideal”
German family. She would later be considered as the first lady due to Hitler
not having a wife. Another women that had a key political influence in Nazi Germany
would be Leni Riefenstahl. She produced propaganda films that until
this day are still studied and she had close relations with Adolf Hitler. This shows
that although in Nazi Germany women couldn’t carry out official functions there
were still some that had key roles and influences who were very close to the nation’s
leader. This shows how the Nazi and the Wilhelmina
were very similar. However, in the Wilhelmina
when Germany entered the First World War the government believed that women
need played a critical role in order for Germany to survive. This was a massive
change as women could now work in jobs that before they were considered as to
be “unfit” for it to do them. This followed through into Weimar Germany where
in 1919 (after the war) Article 109 stated that men and women have the same fundamental
rights and duties as citizens.2  In Weimar Germany women could vote at the age
of 20, whereas in Britain they could vote at the age of 30. This shows how
democratic and equal women were in Weimar Germany. In the first year women
could vote in Germany they held 10% of the sets in the Reichstag (parliament), which continued to grow. In post war Germany
women played a key role in the rebuilding of the nation and the removal of
rubble due to the huge loses of men during the Second World War. They also had
to provide food for their families showing that they were the main breadwinners
in both East and West Germany. In East Germany, however, women were more
emancipated than in West Germany although by law in 1949 in West Germany women
were regarded as equals through the Basic Law.

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Koonz, C. (1986). Mothers
in the fatherland. New York: St. Martin’s Press.



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