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Women and the Nazi regime

Cluett, Abigail (2018) Women and the Nazi regime. Honours thesis, Murdoch University.

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The establishment of the Third Reich in 1933 re-shaped Germany into an intensely militaristic, oppressive and intimidating regime. German women were deeply affected by the changes set in motion by the Nazis, which simultaneously encouraged reproduction and domestic life and restricted the education and career opportunities available to them. This was in direct contrast to the preceding Weimar Republic, under which women’s emancipation had made massive strides and women had experienced liberation in areas such as professions, higher education and sexuality. The abrupt about-face brought about by the Nazi regime would have had a huge impact on the lives of women. This thesis examines different aspects of women’s lives under the Nazi regime, with the aim of establishing women’s reactions and adaptations to the new policies and social expectations. From the racial and pro-natal policies to the attempted fashion overhaul and the restriction of freedoms such as birth control, women from the comparatively modern Weimar era had to return to a less liberated role in society. The central argument of this thesis is that there was a gap between the Nazi expectation of how their policies would be adhered to and the reality in practice. I argue that this gap was deliberately fostered on the part of German women who wished to maintain agency and keep their distance from a regime which sought to pervade every aspect of social, cultural and familial life. This thesis aims to help establish a clearer view on what life was like for women living in Nazi Germany, as well as how they responded to the ways in which the Nazis wanted them to live and behave. By examining how women responded to the regime instead of simply what was done to them, this thesis contributes to the knowledge of a growing but still often-overlooked part of the history of Nazi Germany.

Item Type: Thesis (Honours)
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Arts
Supervisor(s): Webster, Andrew
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