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Hitler’s Speech to the National Socialist Women’s League (September 8, 1934)

On the surface, the National Socialist worldview [Weltanschauung] propagated a return to patriarchal values and traditional gender roles, and thus spoke to all those who believed that the social and economic changes that had occurred since the First World War – rising divorce rates and declining birth rates, for example – stood at the heart of the nation’s ruin. To counteract these dangerous tendencies, large families were supposed to become the norm again, families in which women devoted themselves exclusively to home and children and husbands provided for the household. Hitler’s speech to the National Socialist Women’s League [NS-Frauenschaft], an NSDAP women’s organization, reveals that a good deal of calculated, pragmatic thinking was concealed behind this conservative façade. Hitler’s choice of words makes clear that the role of women, according to Nazi ideology, consisted primarily in giving birth to future soldiers.

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[ . . . ] The slogan 'Emancipation of women' was invented by Jewish intellectuals and its content was formed by the same spirit. In the really good times of German life the German woman had no need to emancipate herself. She possessed exactly what nature had necessarily given her to administer and preserve; just as the man in his good times had no need to fear that he would be ousted from his position in relation to the woman.

In fact the woman was least likely to challenge his position. Only when he was not absolutely certain in his knowledge of his task did the eternal instinct of self and race-preservation begin to rebel in women. There then grew from this rebellion a state of affairs which was unnatural and which lasted until both sexes returned to the respective spheres which an eternally wise providence had preordained for them.

If the man's world is said to be the State, his struggle, his readiness to devote his powers to the service of the community, then it may perhaps be said that the woman's is a smaller world. For her world is her husband, her family, her children, and her home. But what would become of the greater world if there were no one to tend and care for the smaller one? How could the greater world survive if there were no one to make the cares of the smaller world the content of their lives? No, the greater world is built on the foundation of this smaller world. This great world cannot survive if the smaller world is not stable. Providence has entrusted to the woman the cares of that world which is her very own, and only on the basis of this smaller world can the man's world be formed and built up. The two worlds are not antagonistic. They complement each other, they belong together just as man and woman belong together.

We do not consider it correct for the woman to interfere in the world of the man, in his main sphere. We consider it natural if these two worlds remain distinct. To the one belongs the strength of feeling, the strength of the soul. To the other belongs the strength of vision, of toughness, of decision, and of the willingness to act. In the one case this strength demands the willingness of the woman to risk her life to preserve this important cell and to multiply it, and in the other case it demands from the man the readiness to safeguard life.

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