Honors Students' Abstracts
Beyond Womanhood: Complicity and Action in Nazi Germany
“Beyond Womanhood: Complicity and Action in Nazi Germany” is a study of women’s roles in Hitler’s Germany. “Beyond Womanhood” builds off of the research done by historians like Gisela Boch, Renate Bridenthal, Atina Grossmann, and Claudia Koonz. Many historians, like Gisela Boch, point to the Nazi regime as one that resulted in the victimization of all women. They argue that because all women are victims of the Nazis, none should be held responsible for the Nazis’ legacy. I argue, however, that complicity and action in the Nazi regime varied for women, and that they should be viewed in light of their individual contributions to society and the regime rather than generalized gendered expectations of action. The ideological framework espoused by leaders of the National Socialist Party (NSDAP) provided many different avenues for women, chief among which was funneling women into the “cult of the domestic.” Upon close examination, I argue that even within the “cult of the domestic” women were able to make autonomous decisions and work politically. Additionally, I discuss the ways in which NSDAP policy intersected with women’s lives, and explore the lives of women who challenged the most prevalent gender norms by working in what was perhaps the most abhorrent public sphere: that of the concentration camp. I conclude that women’s complicity and action should be judged by their choices, actions, and the intersection between their work and their level of their autonomy.