02-03-2009, 09:30 PM
Direct Action Resistance Fighter
Joined: Aug 2006
Revealed: women's role in Nazi crimes
Quote:In Nazi art, films and magazines, women were always portrayed as the fairer sex, fighting on the home-front as their menfolk fought on the battlefields.
Adolf Hitler awarded them gold crosses for rearing children and honoured their role as wives and mothers - a soft image that was rarely questioned after the war.
But a new book by the historian Kathrin Kompisch has revealed a very different reality.
"Apart from a few particularly cruel examples, the participation of women in the crimes of the Nazis has been blended out of the collective conscious of the Germans for a long time," she wrote in the book, Female Perpetrators: Women under National Socialism.
Many women were in fact used as assistants to the doctors who sterilised and murdered disabled people and as guards in the concentration camps - like the character played by Kate Winslet in her Oscar nominated role in the film The Reader.
"The history of National Socialism has long been reduced to one that blamed men for everything," said Ms Kompisch. "This was and is the popular picture."
The true picture was very different.
"Women typed the statistics of the murdered victims of the SS Action Squads in the east, operated the radios which called up for more bullets, were invariably the secretaries - and sometimes much more - in all the Gestapo posts," she said. "And at the end of the war they tried to diminish their responsibility by saying they were just cogs in the all-male machine which gave the orders."
Analysing pre and post-war statistics, Ms Kompisch found there were more government, private sector and military jobs to be had for women under Hitler than in peacetime.
The high-testosterone, all-male hierarchy of the Nazi state blocked out women from leadership positions from the very start, but the regime actively encouraged female participation in enforcing the Nazi terror at grassroots levels.
Most "Blockwaerts" - apartment house snoops who reported on un-Nazi activities to the party - were women, who denounced their neighbours to the Gestapo if they suspected them of being ideologically unsound or Jewish.
The surviving files of the Gestapo in the city of Duesseldorf noted that women "try to change the power balance of the household by denouncing their husbands as spies or Communists or anti-Nazis." "Lower-middle or working-class urban women tended to be the ones who filed reports with the Gestapo, and such reports were most likely to lead to the persecution of the denounced party if he was a member of a group considered racially inferior, like the Poles," said Ms Kompisch.
Some 3,200 women served in the concentration camps. Female guards were generally low-to-middle class and had little or no work experience, although SS records show that some were matrons, hairdressers, tram conductors or retired teachers.
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