WOMEN OF THE HUNGER YEARS : Surviving the Normalisation of American-Occupied Nuremberg, 1945-1948

McTavish, Catherine Anne Gillian (2007). WOMEN OF THE HUNGER YEARS : Surviving the Normalisation of American-Occupied Nuremberg, 1945-1948 PhD Thesis, School of History, Philosophy, Religion, and Classics , University of Queensland.

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Author McTavish, Catherine Anne Gillian
Thesis Title WOMEN OF THE HUNGER YEARS : Surviving the Normalisation of American-Occupied Nuremberg, 1945-1948
School, Centre or Institute School of History, Philosophy, Religion, and Classics
Institution University of Queensland
Publication date 2007
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Supervisor Dr Andrew Bonnell
Abstract/Summary When the war in Europe ended with Germany’s surrender on 8 May 1945, the country was divided into zones of occupation by the four Allied armies. Due to the millions of men killed in the war or captured by the Allies, the German population was overwhelmingly female and women were forced to take on male roles, often for the first time. Most families were now headed by women who were responsible for the provision of food, shelter and money, and this was a difficult prospect in the chaotic postwar period. Despite the dominance of Nazi ideology which called for the confinement of women to a primarily maternal role, women rose to the challenges created by the war and the defeat, and effected the survival of themselves and their dependants. Women filled positions within society, industry and the family which had previously been occupied by men, and broke away from the traditional female roles that had been a part of German society for centuries. Yet, this shake-up of the social order failed to translate into a push for gender equality or female rights during the 1950s, and the opportunity provided by the postwar years became a “lost chance” for German women as they returned to roles within the home and the family. This thesis investigates the situation in the city of Nuremberg between the years 1945 and 1948 and the manner in which locals struggled to rebuild their lives. Conditions within the city, which was occupied by the American army, were profoundly affected by the Nazi period and the war, and disorder remained for years after the defeat. In order for the American Military Government and the fledgling German authorities to operate effectively, they needed to impose some kind of “normality” upon the city. Their attempts to do so and the place of women within this process are examined in five different areas: denazification and democratisation; housing; food; crime; and sexual relations. In some of these areas, women occupied an important part of the reconstruction of Nuremberg society, yet in others they played only a minor role, even though they comprised the majority of the population. By examining the normalisation process in Nuremberg, it is possible to analyse the role of women and relations between the sexes during the first three postwar years. This thesis will show that, despite the demands of the postwar period which required women to take on new and unfamiliar responsibilities, thereby demonstrating that they were capable of much more than domestic duties, by the late 1940s it was already clear that women were beginning to return to traditional gender roles.

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Created: Fri, 21 Nov 2008, 15:24:50 EST