Nazi policies towards women

Nazi views on women and the family

During the 1920s there had been significant progress for women in Weimar Germany - equal voting rights, an increase in women taking professional roles and independent leisure activities.

However, the Nazis had clear ideas of what they wanted from women. They were expected to stay at home, look after the family and produce children in order to secure the future of the Aryan race.

Hitler believed women’s lives should revolve round the three Ks.

The three Ks that Hitler believed women's lives should revolve around: Kinder (children), Küche (kitchen) and Kirche (church).

Marriage and family

Hitler wanted a high birth rate so that the Aryan population would grow. He tried to achieve this by:

  • introducing the Law for the Encouragement of Marriage in 1933 which gave newlywed couples a loan of 1,000 marks, and allowed them to keep 250 marks for each child they had
  • giving an award called the Mother’s Cross to women who had large numbers of children. Women who had 5 children were given a bronze medal. A mother of 6 or 7 children earned a silver medal. A gold medal was awarded to women who gave birth to 8 or more children
  • allowing women to volunteer through Lebensborn to have a baby for an Aryan member of the SS

Employment

Measures were introduced which strongly discouraged women from working, including:

  • the introduction of the Law for the Reduction of Unemployment, which gave women financial incentives to stay at home
  • not conscripting women to help in the war effort until 1943

However, female labour was cheap and between 1933 and 1939 the number of women in employment actually rose by 2.4 million. As the German economy grew, women were needed in the workplace.

Appearance

Women were expected to emulate traditional German peasant fashions - plain peasant costumes, hair in plaits or buns and flat shoes. They were not expected to wear make-up or trousers, dye their hair or smoke in public. They were discouraged from staying slim, because it was thought that thin women had trouble giving birth.