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All Posts, P&S History

Guest Post: Tim Heath: Hitler’s Housewives – German Women on the Home Front

Hitler’s Housewives-German Women on the Home Front is an intimate and provocative view into the lives of women in Third Reich Nazi Germany in the Second World War.

It is interesting to note that during Adolf Hitler’s 1932 election campaign over half those citizens who voted for Hitler were female. The reasons for this are quite distinct. It was Germany’s women who probably suffered most during the great instability of the post 1918 years. As the worldwide depression hit Germany husbands lost their jobs rival political groups brawled on the streets, the mortality rate among the young soared and it was nothing out of the normal for a family of six to lose four of its children to malnutrition and disease.

When Hitler came to prominence at last there seemed in this man of the people a ray of hope. It was hoped that Hitler would not only bring about political and social stability to Germany but restore prosperity to its people. As reforms were set in place the women of Germany were encouraged to step aside from their jobs and allow men to take their place. Traditionally the German female was raised to be a guardian of the home, as such the German female was pinned as the very foundation for Adolf Hitler’s proposed 1000-year Reich. Not every female in Nazi Germany readily embraced the principle of living in a society where two distinct worlds existed, that of the males and that of females. However, with the outbreak of the Second World War the women of Germany would soon find themselves living on the frontline. Ultimately, Hitler’s housewives would experience mixed fortunes throughout the years of the Second World War. There were those whose loved ones went off to fight never to return; those who lost children not only to the influences of the Hitler Youth which both boys and girls had to join but also the Allied bombing as German cities were attacked around the clock from the air. There were those women who sought comfort in the arms of other young men and those who would serve above and beyond of exemplary on the German Home Front. The stories of the women who I interviewed for this unique book form intimate and intricately woven tales of life, love, joy, fear and death. Germany was one of the twentieth centuries greatest tragedies and Hitler’s Housewives provides a basis towards understanding Germany’s path towards war and genocide. It was a tragedy where Germany’s females would become an inextricable link whose lives would become blurred within the horrors of total war. Most importantly this book is their story and told in their own words for the first time.

The book took me around six months to write as all the material I required with which to write it was already in my possession from my 26 years of researching the military and social history of Nazi Germany. The book was formulated through in person interviews, and the exclusive use of personal family diaries, letters, photographs and journals. I believe it to be an important book in gaining some understanding of what was expected of women in Nazi Germany. Far from being the robotic, unfeeling, cold and loveless memes that they are so often portrayed, the women of Germany were much like our own. They lived, they loved, they cried, they made mistakes and they had regrets. The main aim of Hitler’s Housewives-German Women on the Home Front was to provide a voice for this twilight generation of women who with each year are now fast disappearing.

Hitler’s Housewives is available to order here.