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German History in Documents and Images
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Enterprising Women: Cooking under the Open Sky (1945)
At war’s end, society was in a state of collapse, and extraordinary efforts were demanded from women, who made up a large majority of the postwar population. Women, whether widows, wives, mothers, sisters, or daughters, were tasked with providing for their families, supporting those men who had just returned home, and reuniting their families both physically and emotionally. This 1945 photograph shows women cooking on stoves salvaged from destroyed residences. The importance of women in the immediate postwar period eventually led to conflicts between women and men, the latter of whom wanted to reclaim their former positions within the family, marriage, and society. These private conflicts were reflected in the high divorce rates seen during the second half of the 1940s. At the same time, women had an increased presence in local and regional political life. Photographer unknown.