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Mobilizing Women for War: German and American Propaganda, 1939-1945

Mobilizing Women for War: German and American Propaganda, 1939-1945

Leila J. Rupp
Copyright Date: 1978
Pages: 256
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  • Book Info
    Mobilizing Women for War: German and American Propaganda, 1939-1945
    Book Description:

    To discover how war can affect the status of women in industrial countries, Leila Rupp examines mobilization propaganda directed at women in Nazi Germany and the United States. Her book explores the relationship between ideology and policy, challenging the idea that wars improve the status of women by bringing them into new areas of activity.

    Using fresh sources for both Germany and the United States, Professor Rupp considers the images of women before and during the war, the role of propaganda in securing their support, and the ideal of feminine behavior in each country. Her analysis shows that propaganda was more intensive in the United States than in Germany, and that it figured in the success of American mobilization and the failure of the German campaign to enlist women's participation. The most important function of propaganda, however, consisted in adapting popular conceptions to economic need. The author finds that public images of women can adjust to wartime priorities without threatening traditional assumptions about social roles. The mode of adaptation, she suggests, helps to explain the lack of change in women's status in postwar society. Far-reaching in its implications for feminist studies, this book offers a new and fruitful approach to the social, economic, and political history of Germany and the United States.

    Originally published in 1978.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-7097-4
    Subjects: History, Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Illustrations and Graphs
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xi)
  5. List of Abbreviations
    (pp. xii-2)
  6. 1 Introduction: Woman’s Place Is in the War
    (pp. 3-10)

    The phrase “woman’s place is in the war” evokes the traditional slogan concerning a woman’s relationship to the home and yet suggests a very real need for the participation of women in a war economy. For this reason, the phrase suggests the themes involved in an analysis of mobilization propaganda in Nazi Germany and the wartime United States.

    One might ask why such a comparison should be attempted at all, since it may seem audacious, treasonous, or at the very least in bad taste to compare Nazi Germany and the United States. I am aware of the fundamental differences in...

  7. 2 Mother of the Volk: The Image of Women in Nazi Ideology
    (pp. 11-50)

    During the Nazi “time of struggle” and in the early years of the Third Reich, a complex image of women evolved from divergent strands of National Socialist ideology. Although Hitler and other male party leaders conceptualized a simple and limited role for women, the debate did not end with their pronouncements. A small group of Nazi feminists attacked the misogynist views of the top Nazi officials, arguing that women must take an active and equal role in the National Socialist state. The mainstream Nazi conception of women, represented by the great bulk of Nazi literature on women, insisted that they...

  8. 3 “Occupation: Housewife”: The Image of Women in the United States
    (pp. 51-73)

    At a meeting of magazine editors and writers in the post-Second World War United States, Betty Friedan heard a group of men discuss the limited nature of women’s interests and commented inThe Feminine Mystique: “As I listened to them, a German phrase echoed in my mind—‘Kinder, Kuche[sic],Kirche,’ the slogan by which the Nazis decreed that women must once again be confined to their biological role. But this was not Nazi Germany. This was America.”¹

    Friedan was not the first, nor the last, to draw attention to the parallels between the emphasis in Nazi ideology on women's...

  9. 4 Mobilization and Propaganda Policies in Germany and the United States
    (pp. 74-114)

    The outbreak of war came as a surprise to German society in 1939, and American society in 1941, despite all the previous indications that war was imminent. War altered the conditions and assumptions behind the public image of women in both societies, calling on women to meet new demands and take on new responsibilities. Many of these changes could be reconciled with the primary role of woman as wife and mother. The need for women to take up the work of men, releasing them for service in the armed forces, could not. Yet both societies took steps, sometimes hesitantly, sometimes...

  10. 5 Munitions for Their Sons: Nazi Mobilization Propaganda
    (pp. 115-136)

    The ideal German woman, according to the prewar image, was above all a mother, a spiritual mother of her people as well as an actual or future biological mother. Her duties as mother of theVolkincluded, besides the usual responsibilities of a housewife and mother, sacrifice of her own interests for the sake of the German people. In spite of such useful ideological justification, the German government decided not to conscript women for war work and did not launch intensive recruitment campaigns designed to increase the number of women in the labor force. Despite the lack of concentrated propaganda...

  11. 6 Rosie the Riveter: American Mobilization Propaganda
    (pp. 137-166)

    The ideal American woman in the prewar image was not at all prepared to participate in the war effort. Above all a wife and mother, she might ponder the possibility of combining marriage and a career, but she knew where her first responsibilities lay. She might be expected to devote her leisure time, if any, to public service, but this involved community work which fit easily into her schedule of caring for her children, cooking, cleaning, chauffeuring, sewing, laundering, shopping, and entertaining. The idea of sacrifice for her country, so central to the German ideal, was foreign to her world....

  12. 7 Conclusion: Mobilizing Women for War
    (pp. 167-181)

    The relationship between propaganda and the success or failure of mobilization is a complex one, as illustrated by the cases of Nazi Germany and the United States. In spite of significant similarities in the nature of the propaganda addressed to women, the scope of propaganda and the results of mobilization efforts were different in the two countries. Germany did not launch large-scale propaganda campaigns, in spite of the suitability of Nazi ideology for use in mobilization propaganda, and ultimately did not mobilize women. Although the prewar image of women assumed readiness to take up “unwomanly” work for the good of...

  13. Appendix: Explanation of Statistics
    (pp. 182-188)
  14. Selected Bibliography
    (pp. 189-238)
  15. Index
    (pp. 239-243)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 244-244)