Consider comparing and contrasting the impact that the policies of Adolf Hitler’s Germany and Joseph Stalin’s Soviet Union had on women. Both authoritarian states tried to create a feminine ideal that aligned with the overall aims of their respective authoritarian ideologies.
Concerned with communism and collectivity, Stalin’s policies tended to impact women in a doubly burdensome manner. Not only were women expected to uphold traditionally domestic duties, but now they had to work outside the home as well.
More so, Stalin’s ability to send anyone off to a gulag or prison or have them executed also adversely impact women. Women now had to deal with the daily uncertainty that their son, husband, father, male friend, and so on might disappear at a moment’s notice. Of course, women could be killed and sent away, too.
Hitler had the power to send any alleged enemy to a concentration camp or to their death. Like the women in Stalin’s Soviet Union, women in Germany had to live with the fear that a beloved male could be taken away from them at any time. As in Stalin's Soviet Union, Hitler could order the execution of a woman or send her off to a concentration camp.
In Nazi Germany, some women tried to use Hitler’s authoritarian rule to their advantage. In The Third Reich at War, historian Richard J. Evans details how dictatorial justice could have a slightly positive impact on women. If a woman was harassed by her boss or, as in the example of Frau Hoffmann, mistreated by her husband, they could try and alleviate their situation by denouncing them to the Gestapo.
Unlike the women in Stalin’s authoritarian state, the women in Hitler’s authoritarian state were encouraged to become full-time mothers. To motivate the reproduction of a supposedly pure race, Hitler unleashed an array of propaganda and initiatives that incentivized women to give birth. Rewards were handed out to women on the basis of how many children they had. A woman who had four children would receive a bronze cross. A woman who had eight or more kids would receive a gold cross.
Finally, the impact of the policies of the two authoritarian states came to a head near the end of World War II. According to historians like Evans, Germany’s brutal behavior towards Russians partially propelled Russian soldiers to carry out mass rape on German women as the Red Army began to take over parts of Germany.