How were women treated in Nazi Germany?

How were women treated in Nazi Germany? What were Hitler’s policies towards women?

The Nazi slogan ‘Kinder, Küche, Kirche’, meaning Children, Kitchen, Church, summarises the Nazis ambitions towards women. 

They were expected to stay at home, like good housewives, and have many Children, because the Nazis wanted to build a strong Aryan population to build their military.

• Increasing births / Role of mother

The Nazis wanted a return to traditional values and encouraged women to become "The Light of the Home". Hence, the Nazis began to impose conservative values, such as wearing long skirts, not smoking cigarettes and not wearing makeup.

The reasons for all the policies towards women was that they wanted to revive the Aryan population following the First World War as they had suffered 1,773,000 deaths in World War One, and that they wanted to revive the birth rate, due to the fact that while there had been 2 million new births in 1900, as compared to just 1 million in 1933.

In order to encourage women to have children, the Nazis introduced a number of measures.

Overall, regarding policies of increasing the birth rate, the Nazis were not very successful. 

Increasing marriages / Marriage laws

In terms of aims, the Nazis also aimed to increase suitable marriages and reduce the number of marriages among ‘inferior’ races. This is because more marriages meant more children, and Germany wanted more births. 

Was this policy successful overall? 

Childcare / Role of caretaker

The Nazis aimed at making sure German women were excellent caretakers in order to develop healthy Germans. 

Supposedly as a result of Nazi policy, the infant mortality rate in Germany dropped from 7.7% in 1933 to 6.6% in 1936.

Education / Restrictions on education

In terms of education for women, the Nazis aimed to prepare women for their proper role of 'Children, Kitchen and Church', so they began to restrict opportunities for women. For example, they limited university enrolment of women to 10%, leading to a drop in the number of women at universities. That is until World War Two when restrictions were dropped, owing to the great demand for well-educated workers as men were off fighting the War.

Hence, during the rule of the Nazis, restrictions towards women in education increased and then were increasingly relaxed as women were needed in the workforce since the demand for workers and soldiers had grown since the Nazis came to power. 

Employment / Restrictions on employment

The Nazis aimed to achieve a traditional Germany where men work and women act as housewives, mothers and caregivers. This is because they wanted women to focus on the Lebensborn programme. Men were expected to make the money to sustain the family, and women were expected to look after and provide care for the family.

However, when the war came around, the Nazi German government realised they did not have enough workers. 

Public life / Role in the Nazi party

With regards to public life and female involvement in the Nazi party, Hitler wished that women were organised and incorporated into the Nazi Volksgemeinschaft.

In many ways, although they were excluded from decision-making, the Nazis increased opportunities for middle class women especially, to become involved in public life and Nazi party activities.