Student Research Projects

It Was Our Duty: Motherhood and the German Nazi Regime

Student Katherine Bradley
Faculty Mentor(s)
Department Women's and Gender Studies
Course Feminist and Gender Theory


My research paper explores the Nazi Germany pronatalist policy which systematically sought to preserve the Aryan race through women's reproduction and motherhood. I explore how traditional gender roles were central in Nazi Germany, at the same time as gender boundaries were broken to eliminate Jews and allow for Aryan women to have illegitimate births and sexual relations outside of marriage. Nazi policy on women combined traditional and unconventional gender roles through the role of motherhood, but it also allowed for women to find recognition in various military and enforcement positions alongside their male colleagues. Nazi Germany may have appealed to conventional male and female gender roles to foster participation, but the bulk of their efforts resulted in the shattering of traditional roles. I got interested in this topic after taking Dr. Sara Sewell's History of the Holocaust class last semester, in which I read testimonies by women who were rewarded for giving birth to Aryan children or who related stories about pioneering women's equality in militaristic roles.