Freie Universität Berlin

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Deborah Barton, University of Toronto, History (Postdoc)

Between Rhetoric and Reality: Women Journalists in Nazi and Postwar Germany, 1933-1955

My project analyzes the role and influence of women journalists as political and cultural agents throughout the tumultuous years of the Third Reich and the first two decades after the war. In both periods, women journalists achieved a level of importance that belied their small numbers. The Nazi government valued and wanted the public voice of these women, but it was to be---at least officially—an innocuous, “apolitical” voice that did not stray beyond the boundaries of Nazi gender ideology. Press authorities strove to channel women journalists to the so-called feminine fields of culture, local news, entertainment, and “women’s” news. But these areas played a critical (and political) role in helping to maintain the stability of the regime, particularly during the war. In their transition to the postwar press, women journalists utilized Nazi gender rhetoric to suggest that discrimination and feminized “harmless” writing distanced them from National Socialist propaganda. Both the German and the international media demonstrated an interest for such narratives. Thus, my work considers the impact of women journalists’ personal and professional postwar writing and investigates how the narrative they collectively created of their journalistic roles in the Third Reich proved useful to the reconstruction of the press, Germany’s memory culture, and its processes of identity building in the post war years.