Ein Historikerinnenstreit?

TitleEin Historikerinnenstreit?
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1992
AuthorsBock, Gisela
JournalGeschichte und Gesellschaft

The core question of the so-called Historikerinnenstreit (female historians’ quarrel) was whether German women had become “perpetrators” in the “men’s state” of the Third Reich or whether they mostly had been “victims” in the gender hierarchy of National Socialism. The debate emerged fully after the 1987 publication of Claudia Koonz’ Mothers in the Fatherland: Women, the Family and Nazi Politics. The American historian insisted that German women had not been outcasts of the Third Reich but that they had shared responsibility for its crimes. Ordinary women could be victims of Nazi misogyny, but they could also benefit from it and sometimes become facilitators of racial persecution. German historian Gisela Bock reviewed the book quite critically in the prominent German history journal Geschichte und Gesellschaft. Bock emphasized the misogynist power hierarchy in the Nazi system, citing as one key example the sterilization policy of the Nazi state that affected mainly German women selected because of their supposed social or racial “inferiority". Claudia Koonz responded in the same journal and Gisela Book was given the opportunity to respond again with this piece in the same issues of the journal.

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