'...and I have found Alison's book invaluable for giving me a fascinating insight into the way that Aryan German women were regarded by themselves and by men in the Nazi state, the ways their role in Nazi society changed as the war progressed, and how they themselves experienced this difficult time - something which is normally hidden from British history.'
Anne Booth, author and children's literature and creative writing lecturer
Praise for the original dissertation…
‘Firstly, congratulations on a really good piece of historical writing. You demonstrate, most of all, what a thoroughly good researcher you are. Chapter 4 has particular strength as does Chapter 5 which identifies an important continuity in the history of German women.'
Dr Gary Thorn, author of End of Empires: European Decolonisation, 1919-80
'This student is to be congratulated on a very good bit of writing. It benefits from research in both British and German sources - good. The research also benefits from some oral testimony. It links well with debates over war and social change, responsibilities in war, feminism and ideologies. Good work - well done!'
Open University History Department MA Senior Assessor
Nearly 500,000 young German women served in uniform with the German armed forces in the Second World War yet their history is rarely recalled in Germany and is virtually unknown in the Anglophone world. Recruited into the military against Nazi ideological norms to meet a desperate shortage of manpower, the status of these Wehrmachthelferinnen (armed forces’ auxiliaries) remained questionable. Indispensable to military communications and administration, by the end of the war they also served in the front line in forward army groups and anti-aircraft batteries. Records indicate that around 25,000 were captured in the East alone and taken as forced labourers to the Soviet Union; only 5,000 returned home and then not until the early 1950s.
The Wehrmachthelferinnen’s technical civil status appeared theoretical at best; they performed many of the same tasks as Allied servicewomen in similar formations and conditions. The British WRNS, WRAF and ATS contribution to the war effort is well-known and celebrated, both officially and in popular culture. But what is known of their German counterparts? During a conversation with a German friend, the author was fascinated by an anecdote about her grandmother who had worn a German Army uniform in the war and wanted to find out more.
This study, which became a master’s dissertation, was the result of that curiosity.
eBook Military or civilians? The curious anomaly of the German Women's Auxiliary Services during the Second World War