Visual Propaganda and the Aryan Family: The Difficulties of De-Emancipating Women of the Third Reich

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Visual Propaganda and the Aryan Family: The Difficulties of De-Emancipating Women of the Third Reich
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Journal of Undergraduate Research
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McNeill, Elizabeth
Giles, Geoffrey
Kligerman, Eric
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In alignment with its racial ambitions, the Third Reich implemented a robustly maternalistic propaganda campaign in attempt to convince “racially superior” women to return to the home and bear many children. This project analyzes the power of the visual in invading the female private sphere for the public benefit, specifically placing poster propaganda of mothers and families in their social, ideological, and visual contexts. It also identifies how visuals used the female body as an ideological map for Nazi racism and, in turn, fashioned women’s identities as wives and mothers. Scholars have argued that the myriad propaganda implemented by the Nazis was ineffective in increasing the birthrate. This project explores this finding by searching for a potential semiotic disconnect between the Nazis’ images of the ideal Aryan woman and an audience that had emerged from Weimar female emancipation. Ultimately, this project assesses the effectiveness of Nazi visual propaganda aimed at Aryan girls and women, which ultimately argued that motherhood glorified the Third Reich.

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University of Florida | Journal of Undergraduate Research | Volume 15 Issue 1 | Fall 2013 1 Visual Propaganda and the Aryan Family: The Difficulties of De Emancipating Women of the Third Reich Elizabeth McNeill, Dr. Geoffrey Giles, and Dr. Eric Kligerman College of Liberal Arts and Sciences University of Florida In alignment with its racial ambitions, the Third Reich implemented a robustly maternalistic propaganda campaign in attempt t o This project analyzes the power of the visual in invading the female private sphere for the public benefit, specifically placing po ster propaganda of mothers and families in their social, ideological, and visual contexts. It also identifies how visuals used the female body as an ideological map for Nazi racism and, S cholars h ave argued that the myriad propaganda implemented by the Nazis was ineffective in increasing the birthrate. This project explores this finding by searching for a potential semiotic d isconnect ce that had emerged from Weimar female emancipation. Ultimately, this project assesses the effectiveness of Nazi visual propaganda aimed at Aryan girls and women, which ultimatel y argu ed that motherhood glorified the Third Reich. INTRODUCTION Upon Adolf hancellor in 1933, the Nazis quickly consolidated power and instituted reforms to sharpen the divide between races and sexes in the hope of creating a society of racially superior Aryans. Because the social structure of the Third Reich was based upon ach ieving racial purity, sex and as a tool for national and racial revival. In accordance with the separate spheres ideology, men and women were allotted separate domains of work and influence based on and otherwise nurturing the Volk ; whereas, the man would physically fight and labor. i Indeed, a woman could best serve the State as she produced, raised, and educated through their emphasis of physical activity and racia l awareness for both sexes, the Nazis effectively claimed n ambitions. Tied up with the goals of racial purity and national revival, the Nazis used propaganda to cr eate and perpetuate an ideal woman who prioritized the race and the Volk above her family and herself. ii Although the Nazis most regularly infiltrated the female private sphere via radio programs, they al so employed visual propaganda e specially illustrated magazines, postcards, books, and posters in convincing racially superior women that the fate of Germany hinged on their reproductive and mat ernal s ervices. These images perpetuated an ideal Nazi housewife devoted to the Volk and an ideal Nazi family steeped in German tradition. M ore intimately, these images ideology. J ust as visual representations of health, visual representations of Aryan women during the maternal devotion to her adhere nce to Nazi ideology. Historian Jill Stephenson argues that, despite 1940 rise in birth rates was largely due to the rise in marriage rates, not the realization of the Naz i s exemplary large family. iii This paper explore s maternalistic visual propaganda campaign aimed at Aryan women and families during 1933 1939, specifically focusing on the visual rhetoric contained within magazine covers in the home and posters in the public sphere. B y first detailing Nazi ideology regarding the body, race, sexuality, art and visuals, women, families, and the domestic sphere this paper offers original, cogent visual de constructions of Nazi visuals. These visual analyses apply the concept of a visual language advanced during the visual turn, which is based practices are relative to the cultures out of which they iv Ultimate ly, this paper attempts to identify a relationship between the rise of Nazi visual propaganda identities as wives and mothers and, in so doing, determine if a semiotic images and their recently de emancipated Weimar oman au dience.

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E LIZABETH MCNEILL D R GEOFFREY GILES & DR ERIC K LIGERMAN University of Florida | Journal of Undergraduate Research | Volume 15 Issue 1 | Fall 2013 2 Fascism and the Female Body : Ideology and the Image towards emancipation, women, and their nature in his 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 m an in his good times had no need to fear that he would be reality but one single point, and that point is the child, that tiny creature which must be born an d grow strong and which alone gives meaning to the whole life struggle. 5 According to Hitler, German greatness waned as women denied their nature, instead stealing and donning the male role. Since nature had equipped women with bodies for producing childr en, destiny called them to preserve and empower the nation through their primary bodily capability: reproduction. In essence, H national greatn ess depended upon racial purity. In the racially superior their enemies, women participated as the home front fighting forces: their bodies fortified the Aryan race against degeneration. J ust as men were encouraged to offer their employ this same selfless atti tude in their reproductive labors and daily sacrifices. By emphasizing the individual of the Volksgemeinschaft and her acts of bodily self sacrifice for the race, the Nazis co mpletely absorbed her private body into public affairs. T diffused sexual energies (embodied in the sexually toward the glory of the Third Reich in the goal of e xpansion ( Lebensraum ) by calling them to produce racially superior Volksgenossen populate Germany, Europe, and eventually the world. 6 racially acceptable Germans to enjoy sex, the Nazis created new attitudes towards sexuality that abandoned both Victorian prudency and 7 B ut b ecause the ideal Nazi woman surrendered her biological functions to regenerating and strengthening the German population, the function of sex was actually 8 While the sexual function of female bodies was ideological, it was also practical eterosexual practices stabilized the racial, political, and social ambitions of the Third Reich. 9 Undoubtedly, the Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda was highly selective in what bodies aesthe supposed to demonstrate superiority over human beings 10 As Nazi ideology and visuals elevated the Aryan body, the nude female form especially articulated Nazi ideology, cultural history, ra cial identity, and social attitudes. 11 attachment to blood, soil, and destiny, artistic images of naturalism, which claimed to put people in touch with their natural racial a nd biological responses. 12 As Nazi representations of the female body reclaimed an affinity nature, desire for a racially pure state, and assurance of their own racial superiority. The articulation of r acist ideology contained within the nude form sustained the entrenchment of racial ideology within the aesthetics of the female body. a microcosm of the hea lthy fascist state, a theme which campaign enjoining women to lend their bodies to the 13 Indeed Nazi art and other images propagated racially ideal Nordic women whose youthful and de eroticized bodies invalidated the deformed bodies of Weimar modernist art. 14 But more importantly, these images exalted the Aryan female body as the mother of a consumm ate racial state through her bodily sacrifice of birthing many children. The Aryan mother was the culminating model for women of the Third Reich. n of the traditional separation of spheres ide ology, which presumes a biological difference between the sexes that de termines ublic sphere. A rhetorically flexible and traditional Nazi ideal woman thus emerged: a her family 15 In turn, t he u work, encouraging Aryan women to embrace their placing great value on their racial contributions as the bearers and educators of future generations 16 Nazi

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VISUAL PROPAGANDA AN D THE ARYAN F AMILY University of Florida | Journal of Undergraduate Research | Volume 15 Issue 1 | Fall 2013 3 ideology sought not to force women into a new role, but rather to praise and encourage the unique contributions they could make as women. 17 As evidenced by the to physically strengthen Aryan s in order to propagate a healthy race, the racial concerns of the Third Reich trumped gender concerns and ultimately structured society. 18 focus was not on politically silencing women or pushin g them back into the home, but on r econstructing society according to its racial ideologies. 19 Women were valued for their reproductive abilities, which could be best encouraged if they remained in the private sphere. Racism preceded and molded sexism: the Nazis emphasized the separation of spheres for its ability to contribute to their larger racial Volk far above her family and herself. 20 T he Nazi separation of spheres and the propagation of the ideal domestic mother figure therein was flexible, practical, and offered Aryan women an important semi independent status within the Reich. 21 Because the strict maintenance of the distinction between the sexes was less important than that of the races, the exclusive emphasis on as mothers could not stand in the face of more pressing racial, social, and economic needs. During the period of 1933 1 939 Volk beginning in 1939, the wartime requirements of women bent to satisfy war time economic demand. 22 purposes, rather than existing solely as a spiritual and moral ideal. Shaping the Ideal Woman: Visual Propaganda in the Home T he Third Reich employed the persuasive power of images. In both the public and private spheres, images citizen, and then molded people via ideological training and identification with the ideal. Befor e attending to the rhetorical intricacies of posters in shaping Aryan women as mothers and housewives, one must examine the propagandistic visuals t hat invaded their private lives most notable being magazine covers 23 To be sure posters in the public sphere did not exist in a propagandistic vacuum a poster was intended to effect clear visual communication, but its message was an element in a coordinated ideological attack intended to shape a highly partitioned, racially ideal society. B ecause magazine covers functioned similarly to poster propaganda in the clarity, simplicity, and attention grabbing power of their visual message, t his paper will therefore treat magazine covers as poster propaganda intended for home use while simultaneously reco gnizing advantages for the historian in analyzing magazine covers. Indeed, a enables one to understand the motivations behind the images and then follow the progression of communicating that ideology Moreover, the date on the cover allows the moment. In general, illustrated magazines were especially effective pieces of propaganda because the viewer could hold the slim volume in her hands, flip through its colorful pages, and personally interact with it on a level not available in poster propaganda. Through its potential placement within the home on the fam ily room coffee home, life and consciousne ss And the short articles and clear images ideological training was of vital importance, she should forego heavy reading and care for her children, husband and home instead. Frauenwarte official biweekly illustrated magazine. Frauenwarte emp with articles on practical domestic tips, childcare advice, and other topics that would particularly interest housewives. The 1937/1938 illustrated cover (Figure 1) effectiveness in visually communicating Nazi ideology. In this particular image, a blonde woman sits in the foreground and holds a smiling blonde baby girl upon her bosom. Directly behind her, a tan ned, blonde man brandishes a sword and shield an explici t reference to the Nordic fighting ideal. B ehind him and to the left, a n agricultural worker plows a field outside of the picture. The distinction between male and personal struggle, is apparent: the woman rests in the private sphere with her child, whereas the men labor and fight in the field. Although the hierarchical nature of the image places the baby and woman (private sphere) below as realized in the Third Reich) triumphs above both in the upper left corner. B y way of further harmonizing the characters, all four stare into the same distance, which represents the glorious future of the Reich. Crucially, the nature of their individual stares, coupled with their tasks, dictates the means by which each Aryan man, woman, and child can achieve that future. T a gender hierarchy, distinct separation of spheres, and bodily s elf sacrifice can be found in numerous posters

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E LIZABETH MCNEILL D R GEOFFREY GILES & DR ERIC K LIGERMAN into the home, the Party not only politicized the private sphere, but also more deeply divided the male public from the female private sphere. Indeed magazines and other such textual and visual literature encouraged a homebound culture that shaped women in accordance with the an alternative power, one based on the permanent sacrifice 24 I n terms of visual communication, the themes within magazine covers remained consistent throughout visual propaganda, a topic that will be explored in the following s ections on poster propaganda in the public sphere Motherhood Glorifies the Reich : The Aryan Mother in Poster Propaganda Holistically, poster propaganda was an easil y comprehens ible and emotionally activating version of Nazi ideology that could direct public opinion toward long term acceptance of concepts such as racial purity and the Volksgemeinschaft 25 T propaganda points to its use as a political ad vertisement for a new society and the means by which they nourished enthusiasm for social restructuring. 26 In representing an ideal society within the confines of a politically charged page, the Nazis could essentially rid the racially unfit, the mentally u nfit, and the social outcasts in short, the enemies of the Volk from social consciousness. The poster operated as a 2 D stage that glorified the purity of the Jews were almost always presented on posters as caricatures. 27 A s opposed to the can vas of the celebrated Nazi paintings and the bronze and stone of the awe inspiring Nazi sculptures, posters were not designed for permanence. Nevertheless, posters married the permanence of Nazi ideals to ever changing strategies to effectively present these ideals. This section will dissect the visual techniques and themes employed in pre war poster propaganda (indicative of an ideal society) that glorified the healthy, ideal motherhood and buttressed the Nazis aim to increase the Aryan birthrate. Although poster propaganda mainly used illustrations rather than photographs, photographs pointed to societal modernization and, more importantly, merged better with reality. Indeed, the mother within the photograph escaped the mere confines of aesthetic representation and became a living role model for German motherhood that all women could and should aspi re to On the other hand, i llustrations suggested the eternal German spirit and easily duplication : just as an artist could easily produce a new poster through his artistic abilities the German mother could also produce more children through her maternal being ideology regarding motherhood, Nazi poster propaganda portrayed an idealized mother who sacrifice d body and identity to the Reich M other s are thus depicted as never alone: they are shown either caring for one child, usually by breastfeeding, or surrounded by several children. As one might expect, these mothers are blonde, physically sturdy Aryans and are either peasants or display signs of having returned to nature and German tradition. Interestingly, the y appear to be in their 30s and 40s and their children appear to be under ten. With few exceptions, mothers are depicted before a scene of sky and nature, amidst a black background (free of time and space constraints) or within a domestic scene. The se setting s suggest their faithfulness to enduring repercussions of th e i r maternal devotion and perfect fit within the dome stic sphere, respectively. 28 In a broad sense, representations of Aryan mothers with their children embodied the racial, physical, and moral superiority of the Aryan p eople as t he mother found joy in caring for her children a nd fulfilling her feminine role The theme of breastfeeding before a scene of sky and nature was popular and rhetorically significant because these images coupled the fecundity of the nature with the fertility and Child Relie Deutschland wchst aus starken Mttern und gesunden Kindern Figure 1 Frauenwarte #20 (Volume 6) ( 1937/38)

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VISUAL PROPAGANDA AN D THE ARYAN F AMILY University of Florida | Journal of Undergraduate Research | Volume 15 Issue 1 | Fall 2013 5 resemblance to Reich Minister of Propaganda Dr. Joseph Goebbe proudly and freely choose motherhood, it cannot perish. If the woman is healthy, the people will be health 29 As the mother employs her body to nourish her child (representative of future generations of healthy Germans), Volk German people. This poster above also indicates the importance of the the returning to a traditional perception of womanhood: largely taken women from their proper tasks. Their eyes were set in directions that were not appropriate for them. The result was a distorted public view of German 30 Indeed, the minimization of the text and the prevalence of to hers, which are set in the direction of her baby and its nourishment. And because her eyes are averted from the viewer, this visual technique transforms his gaze into an act of sexual aesthetic consumption. However, the m wholly maternal, de sexualized characterization subverts any potential sexuality and, instead, reminds one of the reproductive purposes of sex: the child, the race, and the and poster prop aganda, in general reminded Aryan women of the higher calling for their bodies and their lives. Family in Poster Propaganda Because the family was deemed the Nazis argued that it should be protected and promoted. Unsurprisingly posters were therefore prolifically created and disseminated These images ultimately intertwined the wellbeing of the family with that of the State and a ttempted to convince women of t he ir importance within both social unit s The positioning of subjects within r epresentations of the Aryan family indicate s a hierarchy of protection while simultaneously denoti nucleus Fittingly, women are most often placed in the middle of the family. Although the representation of Aryan men in poster propaganda is beyond the scope o f this paper, one must note that masculine characterization provided little escape from the Nazi rigid masculine feminine binary The man was charged with serving the State and protect ing his wife, who was charged with serving and protect ing the children. The image that best exemplifies this hierarchy is the undated poster Die NSDAP sichert die Volksgemeinschaft: Volksgenossen braucht ihr Rat und Hilfe so wendet euch an die Ortsgruppe commun ity: National comrades, if you need advice and help, then turn to your local [Nazi Party] unit In this poster, hands and arms ultimately symbolize protection, responsibility, and submission Just as the man had to protect his wife and educate his son, the man places his arms around his wife and son. Both of the arms wrap around her baby. And the ultimate protector, the German eagle, spreads its wings to encompass all members of the family who as indicated by the poster title, embody t he entire Volksgemeinschaft As such, the protective submission above self, child, family, and husband. This poster the gaze creates relationships between subjects through eye contact However, these relationships diverge from those in other exclus ively set on her youngest child and, often times, the father also gazes down upon the child while the other children regard their pa rents Ordinarily, the eldest daughter looks to and emulates her mother, a visual symbol of mothers as the bearers and educators of future generations. But Die NSDAP sichert die Figure 2 Deutschland wchst aus starken Mttern und gesunden Kindern

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E LIZABETH MCNEILL D R GEOFFREY GILES & DR ERIC K LIGERMAN Volksgemeinschaft for the baby and the daughter happily engages with the viewer. T demonstrates the joy she, as a future mother, receives from the health of the family that in turn, she must communicate with the viewer. CONCLUSIO N Visual propaganda clearly and powerf ully articulated Nazi ideology, and its racially ideal society, by giving realization. 31 For an Aryan woman, images of the ideal mother and family shaped he r personal identification with Nazi ideology as she could imagine herself within and work towards this society by implementing attitudes and actions offered in these images M any women however, of women in the the real difficulty of de emancipating women derived from the discrepancy between image and reality in the Third Reich as evidenced in visual propaganda T he rise in the 1933 1940 birthr ate due to marriage rates illuminates the greater importance of Nazi policies mothers and housewives. For instance a flurry of Nazi organizational activities pulled the family apart in deference to the racial community thereby diminishing the importance of the woman within the family unit Whether or not visual propaganda was effective in increasing the birthrate and motherhood, in general, were rhetorically flex ible enough to socially elevate women to action and, in turn, serve social purposes. ENDNOTES i Clifford Kirkpatrick, Nazi Germany: Its Women and Family Life (Indianapolis: Bobbs Merrill, 1938), 112 113. ii Volk racial herit age and destiny. Matthew Stibbe, Women in the Third Reich (New York City: Oxford University Press, 200 3 ), 43. iii Jill Stephenson, "Sex, Race, and Population Policy" (2008), in Short Oxford History of Germany: Nazi Germany ed. Jane Caplan (New York: Oxford, 2009), 106. iv Martin Jay, "Cultural Relativism and the Visual Turn," Journal of Visual Culture 1, no. 3 (2002): 267, accessed January 30, 2012, http://vcu.sagepub.com/content/1/3/267.full.pdf+html. 5 Adolf Hitler quoted in "Women, The Family, and P opulation Policy," in The Nazi Party, State and Society, 1919 1939 ed. J. Noakes and G. Pridham, vol. 1, Nazism, 1919 1945: A History in Documents and Eyewitness Accounts (New York: Schocken Books, 1984), 449 450. 6 Lebensraum need space in the East for autonomy. Over time, it developed into the idea that Aryans must breed and struggle for greater space. 7 Torsten Reters quoted in Elizabeth D. Heineman, "Sexual ity and Nazism: The Doubly Unspeakable?," in Sexuality and German Fascism ed. Dagmar Herzog (New York: Berghahn Books, 2005) 32. 8 Leila J. Rupp, "Mother of the Volk: The Image of Women in Nazi Ideology," in Mobilizing Women for War: German and American Propaganda, 1939 1945 (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1978), 33; D. Klinksiek, Die Frau im NS Staat 454. 9 Annie Richardson, "The Nazification of Women in Art," in The Nazific ation of Art: Art, Design, Music, Architecture and Film in the Third Reich ed. Brandon Taylor and Wilfried van der Will (Winchester, Hampshire: Winchester Press, 1990), 54 & 64. 10 Wilfried van der Will, "The Body and the Body Politic as Symptom and Metaph or in the Transition of German Culture to National Socialism," in The Figure 3. (Undated)

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VISUAL PROPAGANDA AN D THE ARYAN F AMILY University of Florida | Journal of Undergraduate Research | Volume 15 Issue 1 | Fall 2013 7 Nazification of Art: Art, Design, Music, Architecture and Film in the Third Reich ed. Brandon Taylor and Wilfried Van der Will (Winchester, Hampshire: Winchester Press, 1990) 34. 11 Ric hardson, 71. 12 Ibid., 55. 13 Terri J. Gordon, "Fascism and the Female Form: Performance Art in the Third Reich," in Sexuality and German Fascism by Dagmar Herzog (New York: Berghahn Books, 2005), 165. 14 Richardson, 68. 15 Ibid., 32. 16 Stibbe, 40; Rupp, 35. 17 Richardson, 60. 18 For a further explanation of the Nazi priority of racial hierarchies over gender Women in the Holocaust ed. Dalia Ofer and Leonore J. Weitzman (London: 1998). 19 Burleigh and Wippermann, The Racial State in Stibbe, 3. 20 Stibbe, 43. 21 Rupp, 44. 22 Richardson, 12. 23 Images within Nazi books for women were also important, but the greater visibility of magazine covers designates its special a ttention within this paper. 24 Kate Lacey, "Driving the Message Home: Nazi Propaganda in the Private Sphere," in Gender Relations in German History: Power, Agency and Experience from the Sixteenth to the Twentieth Century ed. Lynn Abrams and Elizabeth Harvey (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1997) 203. 25 Andreas Fleischer and Frank Kmpfer, "The Political Poster in the Third Reich," in The Nazification of Art: Art, Design, Music, Architecture and Film in the Third Reich ed. Brandon Taylor and Wilfried van der Will (Winchester, Hampshire: Winchester Press, 1990), 190. 26 Fleischer and Kmpfer, 199; "Die Reichspropagandaleitung der NSDAP" [The Central Party Propaganda Office of the NSDAP], Unser Wille und Weg (Germany), 1936, 6 th edition, accessed March 3, 2013, http://www.calvin.edu/academic/cas/gpa/rpl.htm. 27 Eric Michaud, The Cult of Art in Nazi Germany trans. Janet Lloyd, Cultural Memory in the Present (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2004) 49. 28 Adolf Hitler quoted in "Women, The Family, and Population Policy," in The Nazi Party, State and Society, 1919 1939 449 450. 29 Joseph Goebbels, "German Women," speech presented at Exhibition on the Role of German Women, The Funkturm, Berlin, Germany, Marc h 18, 1933, Calvin College German Propaganda Archive, last modified 1999, accessed March 17, 2013, http://www.calvin.edu/academic/cas/gpa/goeb55.htm. 30 Ibid. 31 Michaud, 46.