Date of Award

Winter 3-9-2018

Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of arts (BA)


Undergraduate Education

First Advisor

Elizabeth Sundermann


Under dictator Adolph Hitler, Germany was transformed into a totalitarian state. When World War II was declared on September 1, 1939, it was clear that the world would never be the same. The Nazi Party controlled nearly every aspect of German society with an iron fist, including religion, education, culture, and the role of women and family. Today, conversations and research about the Nazi regime during World War II often focus on the horrors of the Holocaust and its male perpetrators—Adolf Hitler, his officers, and troops. The important role women played in Germany during World War II is often overlooked or misrepresented by Nazi propaganda. It is imperative to compare the portrayal and expectations for German women during World War II to their actual participation in the war effort and Nazi politics in order to reveal the fuller story of women’s role in the Third Reich.

Why was the role of women in the Third Reich so contradictory? In what ways did German women challenge their expected domestic roles? Nazi propaganda during the war encouraged German women to dutifully fulfill their roles as mothers and wives. The phrase “Kinder, Küche, und Kirche” or “children, kitchen, and church” was often used to describe the role of women in German society, and many accept this common portrayal as the extent of German women’s roles during World War II. However, this research will reveal that women did more than fulfill the expected role of domestic housewives. Many devoted time and energy to the war effort through political and military involvement, while others resisted the Nazi regime through calculated espionage.