Nazi wives did not offer a beacon of strength for a moral cause, but rather created a buffer zone from their husbands' jobs.
Some time after Gitta Sereny interviewed Franz and Theresa Stangl, historian Claudia Koonz met a woman whose life also led "into that darkness." The subject of Koonz's interview was Gertrud Scholtz-Klink. Although she never had anything like the political clout of a Himmler, Göring, or Goebbels--no woman in the Third Reich could have expected to exert such influence-Scholtz-Klink did have an impressive title. She wasReichsfrauenführerin, which meant that she had the dubious distinction of being the top women's leader in the Nazis' antifeminist regime. Her responsibilities were to tout the joys of childbearing, the importance of Nazi "family values," and all the ways in which the German woman could glorify the Third Reich.
Koonz's encounter with Scholtz-Klink is the point of departure for her pathbreaking Mothers in the Fatherland: Women, the Family, and Nazi Politics. It is one of the most extensive studies of women in Nazi Germany, a population whose importance has been underplayed, if not ignored, by too many historical studies. Compiling data for her book, Koonz studied not only Scholtz-Klink and the women who followed her but many others as well, including women who resisted Hitler and women who survived the Nazi camps.
While the Nazi state gave women little political power, they did have their special spheres of influence: Kinder, Kirche, Küche (children, church, and kitchen). Relatively few German women participated directly in the "Final Solution." Nevertheless, Koonz stresses, by holding their expected places in Nazi society German