Obedient and virtuous – Queen Luise
The mother image in Germany was significantly shaped by Queen Luise of Prussia (1776-1810). In contrast to connections in other royal houses, she and her husband Friedrich Wilhelm did not have a marriage of convenience based on rationale, but a love affair.
Queen Luise did not leave her children to an army of educators and governesses, but she dealt with them a lot herself. She also propagated obedience and submission to the husband.
Far beyond her death, she influenced the image of women and mothers in their heads. Her illustrated biography, published in 1896, was a must in every girl’s room. Various poets such as Heinrich von Kleist or Novalis also praised their motherliness and virtue.
With her attitude, Luise was a role model for the ideal of the middle-class small family, in which the father looks after the family as a working person and the mother creates a cozy, comfortable home at home and looks after the household and children.
The new motherhood around 1900
The women’s movement began in Germany towards the end of the 19th century. There were two very different currents. The radical direction propagated gender equality and demanded the same political rights and professional opportunities as for men.
The more moderate wing emphasized the differences between the sexes. Motherhood was praised as the highest fulfillment of femininity, the mother-child relationship as the most important love relationship.
Girls’ schools should educate women. Household technical schools were founded as a training course for the demanding job of mother and housewife.
The so-called “spiritual motherhood” was seen as a corrective to the coldness of society shaped by men. This drive allowed women to work in public, for example to work for the good of others.
The German mother under National Socialism
National Socialist politics consistently continued the trend towards professionalization of housewives started by middle-class women’s associations.
For example, if an SS man wanted to marry, his future wife had to prove that she had attended a mother training course so that the two could get the marriage license from the Race and Settlement Office.
Housekeeping and health management, cooking, sewing, nursing and nursing were part of such a course.
Previously, the unity of mother and child was considered something deeply private, so it was now the Reproduction of the German race the task of the mother. Women who consciously decided against motherhood were considered degenerate and sick.
The role of the father shrank to that of the producer. It was no longer important whether a child was born out of wedlock or not, but whether it was of pure descent.
The three-phase model was mainly propagated in the 1970s and 1980s, but there are still representatives of this line to this day. The model was politically cemented by the legal possibility to keep the old job during a three-year parental leave.
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