Dr. Torsten Homberger
During the Nazi regime from 1933 to 1945, Adolf Hitler and his Nazi party believed that men and women were essentially different, and that women had special qualities and responsibilities, which made them unsuitable for work outside the home, except in compassionate or caring roles. In 1934 Hitler gave a speech to the National Socialist Women’s Organization which he stated, “ We feel it is not appropriate when women forces her way into man’s world, into his territory; instead we perceive it as natural when these two worlds remain separate. One world is characterized by strength of feelings, strength of the soul! The other world is characterized by strength of vision, toughness, determination, and willingness to act. In the former case this strength requires the willingness of women to commit her life to preserve and increase the family unit; in the latter case this power requires from man to readiness to provide security.”1 Hitler and the Nazi party was merely echoing the thoughts and feelings of millions of “ordinary”, provincial, middle-class Germans, calling for the preservation of ‘racial purity’ as the answer to all of Germany’s problems, and denounced feminism and the women’s movement as part of a Jewish-led conspiracy designed to destroy Germany and weaken it from within. They developed mass organizations to propagandize women, such as the Bund Deutscher Madel (BDM), Kinderschar (The National Socialist Women’s league children’s group), Deutsches Frauenwerk (Association for women), and The National Socialist Women's League (Nationalsozialistische Frauenschaft), the women's wing of the Nazi Party. These groups of women stood out as primary example of Hitler’s totalitarian success over women. Although there are overwhelming amount of evidence and scholarly articles supporting the idea during the Nazi regime, Nazi ideologists had women returning to their ‘rightful’ spheres as wives and ‘Aryan’ mothers, new evidence about deployment of women both in the military and work force are shocking reversal of Nazi ideology. There is evidence of women serving as active pilots for the Luftwaffe (Aerial warfare branch of the German Wehrmacht). The number of German women involved in aerial warfare seems insufficient when compared to the majority. But within the context of Hitler’s ideology and the National Socialist state which long tried to assign traditional gender role, and to relegate women strictly to the functions of wives and mothers, these numbers made a significant impact to history.
Recognizing the impact of Germen women pilots during World War II has its difficulties. Today it is almost unknown that women pilots actively contributed to Germany’s war effort during World War II, other than perhaps Hanna Reitsch (1912-1979), the exceptional test pilot and poster child for Hitler. But she was not the only German female pilot flying between 1930s and 1940s. At the onset of the war, women pilots had trained alongside men to become ferry pilots for the paramilitary NS flying Corps (Nationalsozialistisches Fliegerkorps, NSFK). The Flying Corps also employed women pilots as managers of its aircraft repair yards, and in other functions. There were at least six women worked as ferry pilots within the Luftwaffe, holding a captain’s rank and wearing uniforms. Women also worked for companies as test pilots, two which were experimental test pilots, reviving assignments directly from the Luftwaffe. They performed difficult and stunning flights to test airplane dive brakes, cut the cable of barrage balloons, test for pilot visibility, and improve bombing accuracy. After Germany had lost their air superiority in 1944, at least sixty women were recruited by the NS Flying Corps and were employed as glider instructors to advance training for Luftwaffe recruits. Even after the war ended in May 1945, many women stayed