Revealed: women's role in Nazi crimes





In Nazi art, films and magazines, women were always portrayed as the fairer sex, fighting on the home-front as their menfolk fought on the battlefields.

Adolf Hitler awarded them gold crosses for rearing children and honoured their role as wives and mothers - a soft image that was rarely questioned after the war.

But a new book by the historian Kathrin Kompisch has revealed a very different reality.

"Apart from a few particularly cruel examples, the participation of women in the crimes of the Nazis has been blended out of the collective conscious of the Germans for a long time," she wrote in the book, Female Perpetrators: Women under National Socialism.

Many women were in fact used as assistants to the doctors who sterilised and murdered disabled people and as guards in the concentration camps - like the character played by Kate Winslet in her Oscar nominated role in the film The Reader.

Some 3,200 women served in the concentration camps. Female guards were generally low-to-middle class and had little or no work experience, although SS records show that some were matrons, hairdressers, tram conductors or retired teachers.


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