German women who went against the prevailing ideology of the time will be profiled in this presentation.
“Women of the Third Reich” will be presented by Dolores Buttry, professor of French, German and Scandinavian literature at Pitt-Johnstown, at 2 p.m. Nov. 14 at Heritage Discovery Center, 201 Sixth Ave. in the Cambria City section of Johnstown.
“This will be a lecture and discussion in the Public Matters series, and I think the topic will be interesting,” said Shelley Johansson, director of marketing and communications for Johnstown Area Heritage Association.
“It will tell about what women were expected to do and how they managed to do something else.”
While women in Nazi Germany were encouraged to take the three Ks of kinder, kirche and kuche or children, church and kitchen very seriously, some German women managed to excel in some unfeminine areas.
“With varying motivations, there were some women in the Third Reich who were able to break the cookie-cutter stereotypes imposed on them,” Buttry said.
“This shows us not just the strength of the human spirit, but the totalitarian government’s willingness to ignore ideology when doing so suited its purposes.”
Two examples of this type of woman are Hanna Reitsch and Melitta Schiller, both test pilots in the Luftwaffe.
Reitsch became the first woman to fly a helicopter, a rocket plane and a jet fighter.
She set more than 40 aviation altitude and endurance records during her career, both before and after World War II.
Schiller was temporarily relieved of her duties when it was found that she had a Jewish grandfather.
Later in the war, she was called back into service and died defending Berlin.
Other women featured in Buttry’s presentation include Sophie Scholl, who joined her brother, Hans, in the White Rose resistance group and met her death with courage and serenity at age 21.
Magda Goebbels, wife of Josef Goebbels, minister of propaganda for the Nazis, bore seven children and was held up as an ideal, while Hitler’s mistress Eva Braun was forbidden to have children, but was considered to be a role model as an athletic, healthy woman.
Leni Riefenstahl, an innovative film director, was known for “Triumph des Willens,” or “Triumph of the Will,” which was filmed at the 1934 Nuremberg congress of the Nazis.
Buttry holds a Ph.D. in Germanic languages and literatures and participated in a seminar on fascism with an expert on the Nazi period at Yale University.
Her research interests are in German and Norwegian history and literature of 1900-1950.
The Public Matters series enables Pitt-Johnstown faculty members who engage in public scholarship to make their academic work accessible to the public.
What: “Women of the Third Reich.”
When: 2 p.m. Nov. 14.
Where: Heritage Discovery Center, 201 Sixth Ave. in the Cambria City section of Johnstown.