Bitesize has changed! We're updating subjects as fast as we can. Visit our new site to find Bitesize guides and clips - and tell us what you think!


Changing life in Germany

How did Nazi economic and social policy affect life in Germany?

The treatment of women and young people

During the Weimar Republic, women:

  • received a high standard of education
  • could earn good wages in good jobs
  • could vote.

All this changed during the reign of the Third Reich. Only men had the right to make decisions.

The three Ks

  1. Kinder – children
  2. Kriche – church
  3. Küche – kitchen

There was a great deal of propaganda celebrating the image of the mother and the family unit.

German women were not allowed to wear make-up and couldn't colour or perm their hair.

Women in 1919Women in 1933
votedno make-up
good jobs eg doctorsno permed hair
in governmentgave up their jobs to men
good wagesstayed at home to bring up the children

The Unemployment Relief Act, 1 June 1933

Provided a matrimonial loan of 1,000 Reichsmark when a couple got married on the condition that:

  • the wife had been in a job for 6 months and would leave that job
  • the husband didn't earn more than 125 Reichsmark per month.

If the married couple had four children, they could keep all the money they had borrowed.

Result – more couples married young, but the average family had two children.

On 12 August 1938, which was Hitler's mother's birthday, the Mother's Cross [Motherhood Cross: An award for mothers who had given birth to many children. ] was awarded to women who had given birth to many children.

The Mother's Cross

MedalNumber of children
A gold Mother’s Cross

A gold Mother’s Cross

Lebensborn: It was against the law for healthy mothers to have an abortion. Lebensborn was established in 1936, where members of the SS could meet an Aryan girl with the aim of increasing Germany's Aryan race.

Law for the Prevention of Hereditarily Diseased Offspring: sterilising women who were 'unsuitable' to have children, eg non-Aryan women.

Every women’s society in Germany was abolished and merged as one under the German Women's Enterprise, which was controlled by the Nazis. Its work was to organise Mother Schools, to train women in how to be parents and housewives.

Women and work

  • 1921 – women banned from having jobs in the Nazi party
  • 1933 – no women in professional posts, eg doctors, solicitors, civil servants
  • 1936 – no women as judges, prosecutors or members of a jury (as women were controlled by emotion)

Back to Germany in transition, c.1929-1947 index

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.