Must admit that I've always swallowed the Nazi propaganda that their evil deeds were all carried out by men. (Except for Helga on Hello Hello of course). This widespread belief has been debunked by a book published this week in Germany, Female Perpetrators; Women under National Socialism. The only reason an article about this book in today's Telegraph caught my eye was that I went to see 'The Reader' last night. The author, Kathrin Kompisch informs us that the women were every bit as bad as the men.
We're used to watching films about the Nazis in which women are portrayed as the fairer sex, all gentle wives and mothers, with Hitler awarding them gold crosses for staying at home to look after the children. The author says "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". And she adds that the truth is very different. Women assisted doctors who murdered and sterilised disabled people. They were guards in concentration camps. Karin Magnussen worked alongside Mengele at Auschwitz, experimenting on eyeballs removed from living people. They may not have been allowed to rise to positions of national leadership, but they were encouraged to enforce terror at grassroots level. More than 3000 women served in concentration camps. I read lots of stuff about women being in some way different in their approach to politics, (and war is only an extension). Never been convinced that this is true. I think of myself as a genuine feminist, believing that women are as capable as men in all fields - and there is no reason why this should exclude evil.