Missing in Action: The Female Work Force in Nazi Germany

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The Female Work Force in Nazi Germany

Unlike the examples of the United States, Great Britain, Italy, and the Soviet Union, Nazi Germany refused to mobilize its female work force behind their war effort. Even as Germany was starving from attrition in a lack in war supplies as well as civilian essentials such as food, Nazi officials declined from enlisting the female force as laborers. All of Europe struggled to survive throughout the brutality of World War Two by using every resource available, except for Germany. Germany struggled as well, but stubbornly denied its full capacity in fighting the war by declaring the workplace unsuitable for women. Yet women around the world supplied munitions to the men at the front in order to succeed militarily as well as domestically. Germany did not have the luxury of maintaining a male dominated work force during the war, yet they tried to do so and found disaster.

The reasons that Germany chose not to mobilize "racially acceptable" German women into the work force were complex and varied, but can be categorized into four primary categories. Firstly, Nazi expectation about World War II influenced not only how they dealt women, but also the entire German community. Nazi belief and behavior supported a "racially" superior nation inhabited by a war weary people. Subsequently, they feared losing support should Germany become involved in a protracted war or if the government asked too many sacrifices from its people. Secondly, German history paints a continuous prejudice toward women and their role in society. Nazis understood the prejudice, based their ideologies and policies on it, and then expanded from this base to more radical and limiting policies toward women. Thirdly, the enactment of Nazi policies and ideologies toward women were incompatible with including them in the war-stressed industrial force. Nazis had mapped out women's role in the Third Reich before the war, and were inflexible to altering it to include the necessary hardships of war. Finally, Germany used a pool of labor in their industry that was unique to Nazi Germany. Germany had the luxury of pulling from the populations of occupied Europe to fill its factories, and when even they were not enough, Nazis finally used the "inferior" forces of the inmates of concentration camps. Nazi Germany's failure to mobilize its female work force behind its war effort was a flaw that eventually became fatal.

Germany is a country traditionally preoccupied with status and titles.

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