A women among men, Gertrud Scholtz-Klink was the assigned leader of any women organization in Germany. The words she preached were heavy with propaganda and convincing with inequality. In 1936 at a Party Rally Gertrud Scholtz-Klink outlines the structure in which the German family will be rebuilt. “Give German children a school that is free of all knowledge about foreign things and foreign countries -even though that has its place. From the first year of school on give children a comprehensive view of things German so that children learn what we have only learned later in life, thanks to the Fuhrer : a respect for labor, and for the role of knowledge as a forerunner of wisdom(Bytwerk,56)”.The next generation of Germans and Nazi’s was targeted through their education. The education only focused around one subject, themselves. The women behind this speech is a women that Hitler himself would describe as the pure type. She was slender, blond, blue eyed and bore more than 6 children.Her speech entails another crucial idea about women that is “…we have a task of showing other women, millions of German women, how to be part of the process of moving from selfish ” I” to the “you” of the people’s community”(Bytwerk, 56).The massive amount of sacrifice that is being thrust onto families during this speech and the many more that follow perpetuate the inequality. The choices of the ideal family or close to none, you either obey or don’t fit. This display of extreme nationalistic changes are the very forms of propaganda. She was picked to give these messages and her messages then approved. The party wanted to control the thoughts of all and so they did. The rise of Germany and their many triumphs during the World Wars are centered around the high morality campaigns, intricate family connections, and expectations of greatness that were all implemented through force, literature, public speeches, and media representations of propaganda and ideal structures of living.
The power of propaganda can use information to fit its needs, as was apparent in Germany. The one aspect that has escaped the censoring tactics were the diary entries and letters from family members. These forms of documentation can open up the realities of a publically misconstrued idea of daily family life. Children have a reoccurring role of being the center of change. In a letter to her husband Beate K. writes ” …I can’t endure it anymore and, but then I look to Peter and realize I must bear it…Peter needs me. (Vaizey, 369)”. The German women are being built up by their kids and sharing this with their husbands that can help very little from afar. Many boys and girls that were the only child or the eldest would in fact at time become a fatherly figure. Fathers had struggled with virtually no visit times towards the end of the war. Nonetheless families have supported their fathers. Many wives had sent photos of their children and even announced births on the radio. This news away from home kept the morale of the soldiers high and continued to create a cohesive solidarity between Germans.
Living situations for every family were different some worse than others. In letters to fathers we see the positives revealed but in many realities the family is often struggling. Many soldiers write in concerns to children activities, oblivious to the obstacles preventing a joyful childhood. The wives would hardly reveal this to them. Most importantly the husbands send tips to wives “Make sure Friedhelm always does his homework”(Vaizey, 375). This advice kept the men’s roles in the family to some extent. In the expected times of hardship soldiers wrote directly to their children employing to help their mother. This letter exchange has given more hope for men in a war that was headed the other way.
Everyone has a different definition of family. However in Germany during World War II no one was allowed to define family in their own words but rather had to fit the outline constructed by the Nazi party. The ideology of the party was to gain and hold complete control over every aspect of German society, family being a core focus. Under Hitler and his party the German family slowly diminished to required involvement with groups. This slowly eliminated a private family institution. The public in turn had become the family. As the private lives shifted to the public many laws had shaped the way families acted. The Riche labour Service Law had required all men 18-25 to work in labor service camps to build nationalistic attitudes. With men out of the house the typical household lost its original cohesiveness. Later Hitler youth and League for German girls took kids ten and older out of the house and involved in activities all geared towards militarization and nationalist ideologies. The women in homes had their own role as well. Author Hester Vaizey writes “Wives were described as being in a state of ‘political widowhood’.”(Vaizey, 23)This quote seems counterintuitive given a lot of their husbands were alive, yet this also captures the intense commitment required of men to the political party.
Later as Germany had begun to lose its position in the war they made rasher decisions as far as families go. While cities in Germany were at risk of being bombed the Nazi party had issued the removal of 1.7 million children from their homes and placed in evacuation countryside towns. The separation was not an easy one as many children and parents reveal. With time the children and parents had become estranged from each other. The women in the household already away from her husband was now separated from her children. The quote “Their children gave these women a focus, a sense of purpose, and importantly, an incentive not to fall apart when daily life became a struggle”(127 SHW) demonstrates the strain on women during war. German families have made sacrifices unwillingly, to contribute to the world war efforts.
The primary source I am analyzing is a newspaper article from Der Strummer titled “The livestock Jew”. The author is Julius Striecher although he takes full credit there are accompanied illustrators and writers. This source was created in Germany during the 1930’s. The intended audience is the Germans or Germany. The flyer also mentions that all German people should continue to read this for the latest updates. It is creating a future audience at the same time a present .The purpose of this source is to spread propaganda and to unite Germans under the context of having the same enemy. The article also serves a purpose to diminish any place in society a Jew would have by blaming them for all Germany’s misfortunes.
The article was released towards the beginning of the extreme war practices. The article is viewed by the readers as started point for change in German society. That change centers around the elimination of the Jews. The way the message is conveyed also acts as if it was a public service announcement emphasizing its importance. The author’s background is very similar to their readers. This is where the empowerment is most meaningful and justified. Because the author identifies the same as its readers they are part of a group that should share the same views. If the readers are to share the same views as the author than the articles messages will be more significance. This article supports my thesis because it demonstrates how propaganda gathers people around one idea. When referring back to my thesis that idea is high morale campaigns.
The forming of family practices was internalized due to propaganda but also policy. With this following quote we see the approach at this “…Nazis had been endeavoring to adopt systematic population policy.”(368, Noakes) A large movement by deputy of party affairs, Rudolf Hess tried to convey the message that it is okay and recommended to have illegitimate children. He made promises that the SS will support and take care of the mothers and children, because the baby’s father is a “war father”. The pressure and rewards for reproduction were high but could not be so easily met. The religious community and financial situation had caused Hess’s promise to disappear until later enforced again. Another policy put in place was the “Order To Last Sons” a policy in which a solider must leave the battle field because the “…nation and state have in interest in your families not dying out ” (374, Noakes) This constant reference to maintain and keeping families ties back into the types of institutions needed in order for Nazi rule to remain and continue on. The cost of actions would create emotional despair from women and confliction with a man’s role as husband, father, and German. Lastly not only did German politics want more babies, but rather more “good blood” babies. Marriages had to pass a eugenic test. The policy would conduct scientific tests and questionnaires to ensure these people are of good blood.
This postcard speaks volumes to the national attitude and government propaganda. The postcard shows a boy happy and proud one day and the next he is a solider. The priority was to keep the military a core part of growing up for children. With this encouraged future path, the deterioration of the in the post Nazi Germany family continued as the new family of Germany emerged.
Additionally when talking about Hitler youth and propaganda we see its effectiveness. Adolf Hitler’s book Mein Kampf offers insight and perspective to such issue. Hitler while explaining his antics states “The fact that our bright boys do not understand this merely shows how mentally lazy and conceited they are.” (Chapter 6, Hitler) after explaining the psychology behind successful propaganda. From here the family model is composed of child vessels that are the root of action under the Third Reich.
Today the ripple effects of the Nazi regime appear in narratives. One author shares the story of her German family that had fully embraced what it meant to be a proud German during the Nazi regime. The effects of this time had eventually killed her father and promoted “pure” blood relatives. The life of the author and her family tell the tale of intricate strategies that Germany had deployed to its people and the costly effect it had on the outcome of the war. The powerful regime has been defeated however its actions are documented as a pivotal point in world history
Bruno Lagbehn family portrait, 1941, Martin Davidson, http://www.wbur.org/npr/136028608/uncovering-a-grandfathers-secret-nazi-past?ft=3&f=136028608
Kinder Was Wisst Ihr Vom Fuhrer? 1933,Franz Schneider Verlag, http://www.od43.com/Kinder_Fuehrer_PT.html
The woman on the Nazi party rally of the work, 1937, Bildnachweis,
German soldiers in a trench in France during World War I spend a quiet moment reading and writing before the fighting recommences, Three Lions, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/history/world-war-one/10683313/WW1-German-soldier-recalls-moment-he-bayoneted-foe-to-death.html
Offiziere Von Morgen, 1944, HJ- Wehrmacht, http://www.akpool.de/ansichtskarten/107338-ansichtskarte-postkarte-propaganda-offiziere-von-morgen-hj-wehrmacht
Vaizey, Hester. Surviving Hitler’s War: Family Life in Germany, 1939-48.London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010.
Bytwerk, Randall. Landmark Speeches of National Socialism.Texas: A&M University Press, 2008.
Vaizey, Hester. “Parents and Children in Second world War Germany: An Intergenerational Perspective on Wartime separation. Journal of Contemporary History (2011):364-382.
Streicher, Julius. The Live Stock Jew. Der Stürmer. 1923-1945
Hitler, Adolf, and Ralph Manheim. Mein Kampf. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1971.
Noakes, Jeremy. Nazism, 1919-1945. A documentary reader Vol.4, Vol.4. Exeter: University of Exeter Press, 1998.