"Women and the Nazi East" by Elizabeth Harvey

Women and the Nazi East Agents and Witnesses of Germanization Elizabeth Harvey

Publication date:
11 Oct 2003
Yale University Press
408 pages: 235 x 156mm
37 b-w illus. + 7 maps

This pioneering book examines the role of women in Nazi Germany’s “nationality struggle” during the 1930s and in measures to Germanize occupied Poland during World War 2. Drawing on previously untapped materials from Polish and German archives, as well as memoirs and oral testimony from German women who were sent to wartime Poland, Elizabeth Harvey analyzes the function of female activism within Nazi imperialism, its significance, and the extent to which women embraced policies intended to segregate Germans from non-Germans and to persecute Poles and Jews.
Casting fresh light on women’s attitudes and involvement in Nazi policies, the book emphasizes the distinctive nature of female complicity in the system of racist domination. Harvey offers a new perspective on Nazi occupation policies, with vivid insights into regime practices at the grass roots and German civilian responses to the treatment of the Polish and Jewish population. In addition, she explores the complex ways in which Germans after 1945 remembered the Nazi East.

Elizabeth Harvey is senior lecturer in modern history at the University of Liverpool, the author of Youth and the Welfare State in Weimar Germany, and co-editor, with Lynn Abrams, of Gender Relations in German History.

?This book is extraordinary in the extent of its research, the nuance and brilliance of its interpretation, and the importance of its subject matter. . . . No book that I have read better reveals the everyday parameters of being an activist in the Third Reich or the texture of German racism. Both for its documentation and interpretation, this book instantly reconfigures the historiography of German empire, German genocide, and National Socialism. . . . [This] book is incisive, unforgettable, and astonishing.??Peter Fritzsche, American Historical Review

"A necessary contribution. . . . [Harvey] has done an impressive job of collecting widely dispersed and scarce sources, and the result sheds much light not only on the themes of gender, nationalism, and colonialism . . . but on the complex episode of Nazi empire in Eastern Europe."?Lora Wildenthal, Central European Studies

?This fascinating account of a little-known facet of Nazi tyranny is strongly recommended for all European history collections. Highly recommended.??Choice

"[A] groundbreaking book. . . . Harvey paints vivid portraits of an array of female colonial activists and field workers. . . . Empirically solid and analytically sophisticated. . . . The book is well researched . . . and Harvey's presentation of the material is engaging. . . . Students and scholars of Nazi Germany, the Holocaust, colonial studies, and women's history will greatly appreciate Harvey's excellent contribution to these fields."?Wendy Lower, Holocaust and Genocide Studies

"[A] carefully argued study, which strikes a good balance between retrospective sources (interviews and memoirs) and contemporary documents (letters, diaries, petitions). . . . Women and the Nazi East is a welcome addition to the literature on Nazi imperialism in Eastern Europe and on women under Nazism."?Raffael Scheck, Journal of Modern History

?Pioneering. . . . Harvey offers a new perspective on Nazi occupation policies. . . . The book offers a valuable and seriously underresearched perspective on the history of women and Nazism.??Justyna Bieganska, Polish Library News

?[This] book offers valuable new perspectives on Nazi Germanization policies, the space accorded women and domestic life in the Nazi order, and the meaning women imputed to their work for the regime. Harvey approaches her subject broadly, offering a view of the German colonizing attitude toward the eastern borderlands?and women?s support for it?in Imperial, Weimar and Nazi Germany.??Katherine R. Jolluck, The Polish Review