Use the source, and your own knowledge, to explain the changes in the position of women in Nazi Germany in the years 1933-39.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Hitler and the rise of Nazism recognized the power in articulating a platform diametrically opposed to the Status Quo. For many Germans under the Weimar Republic, consciousness had been reduced to chaos and a sense of the uncertain.  Economic problems and social malaise had replaced clarity of vision.  Many Germans felt that social and political autonomy had given way to crushing debt and a lack of social consensus.

It is in this void that Hitler and the Nazis entered with rather distinct views about the role of women in the Nazi state. The source alludes to this:  "Women were discouraged from paid work."  The education of boys and girls took place in separate facilities where clear messages were being driven.  Hitler, himself, was an advocate of women remaining in the domestic realm and not working.  He argued that the Nazi ideal of racial perfection could only be achieved if women remained maintained control in the domestic realm, ensuring that the ideal Aryan race was perpetuated.  

In 1933, Hitler and the Nazis passed the Law for the Encouragement of Marriage.  German citizens were given tax credit for marrying and for having children, indicating that the women remain homebound in producing and raising them.  Goebbels made clear his opinion on the vital role that women played in the Nazi configuration:  "The mission of women is to be beautiful and to bring children into the world."  Weimar Germany had featured women working outside of the home as musicians, artists, and teachers.  The Nazis were able to pivot from this, equating the social breakdown that Weimar Germany featured with a breakdown of traditional roles.  This helps to explain the change in women's position that the Nazis sought.  For the Nazis, clarity of vision and social progress resided with shifting women back into a domestic capacity.  

Schools emphasized how women were to behave.  Plain fashion in which domestic energies were maximized became the dogma that girls had to follow, elements reemphasized in their schooling.  Hitler believed that political and military action rested in the hands of men, for women were "unable to think logically or reason objectively" and "ruled only by emotion."  The changing of women's position from Weimar Germany to Nazi Germany can be seen a common school rhyme of the day:  "Take hold of kettle, broom, and pan, Then you'll surely get a man!  Shop and office leave alone, Your true life work lies at home."  Nazi educational reinforced the change sought in the understanding of women.

This shift of women's role to a more domestic setting also had a political advantage.  As the Nazis gained greater control, information and intelligence was collected on the smallest of levels to expose "threats."  Tethered to their domestic capacity, the Nazis harvested women as sources of information on a localized level to demonstrate the pervasiveness of the Nazi way of life:  "'These same women would close the door on their Jewish neighbors or serve as the leaders of the neighborhood Nazi spy system."  Women were used as conduits of information as well as the domestic architects of the Nazi vision. Accordingly, while the Nazi vision excluded women politically, it helped to employ them to advance the Nazi agenda:  "There has never been a government that so thoroughly excluded women from power and yet organized them so vigorously."  Such a paradigm helps to illuminate the the changes in the position of women in Nazi Germany.

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