Women Doctors in Weimar and Nazi Germany: Maternalism, Eugenics, and Professional Identity
Published: May 2019© 2019
344 Pages, 6.25 x 9.25 x 1.00 in, 10 b&w illustrations
Examining how German women physicians gained a foothold in the medical profession during the Weimar and Nazi periods, Women Doctors in Weimar and Nazi Germany reveals the continuity in rhetoric, strategy, and tactics of female doctors who worked under both regimes. Melissa Kravetz explains how and why women occupied particular fields within the medical profession, how they presented themselves in their professional writing, and how they reconciled their medical perspectives with their views of the Weimar and later the Nazi state.
Focusing primarily on those women who were members of the Bund Deutscher Ärztinnen (League of German Female Physicians or BDÄ), this study shows that female physicians used maternalist and, to a lesser extent, eugenic arguments to make a case for their presence in particular medical spaces. They emphasized gender difference to claim that they were better suited than male practitioners to care for women and children in a range of new medical spaces. During the Weimar Republic, they laid claim to marriage counselling centres, school health reform, and the movements against alcoholism, venereal disease, and prostitution. In the Nazi period, they emphasized their importance to the Bund Deutscher Mädels (League of German Girls), the Reichsmütterdienst (Reich Mothers’ Service), and breast milk collection efforts. Women doctors also tried to instil middle-class values into their working-class patients while fashioning themselves as advocates for lower-class women.
1. Promoting Marriage, Motherhood, Eugenics, and Comprehensive Healthcare in Marriage Counseling Centers
2. Preparing Girls for Motherhood: School Doctors, Youth Welfare,and the Reform of Girls’ Physical Education
3. Fighting the Vices that Threatened Women and Children: Sex, Alcohol, and Disease
4. Building the Volksgemeinschaft and Supporting Racial Hygiene in the BDM and Reichsmütterdienst
5. Advocating Healthy Infant Nutrition Practices through Breast Milk Collection: Maternal Guardians on the Home Front
"This volume deserves to be widely read and cited; it could be assigned to both upper-level undergraduate and graduate students." Kristen Ann Ehrenberger, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Central European History
"Women Doctors in Weimar and Nazi Germany is an original and thoughtful study that analyses the experience of women doctors to ask fundamental questions about the opportunities and limits of women’s careers and agency in two very different political systems. In doing so, she looks at the ways in which the activities of women doctors both were shaped by and transformed important aspects of German biopolitics, which Kravetz understands as the processes of controlling both individual bodies and the collective body for the purposes of the state."Michael Hau, Monash University, Review in German History
"Kravetz’s study deepens and shades our understanding of women physicians in this period and of how their times influenced the ways in which they practiced medicine."C. Elizabeth Koester, University of Toronto, Scientia Canadensis
"[Women Doctors in Weimar and Nazi Germany] marks a very significant, fresh intervention into scholarly debates over continuity and realignment in public health discourse from Weimar to National Socialism and over women’s complicity in the Nazi dictatorship, respectively."Julia Roos, Indiana University Bloomington, American Historical Review
"Bringing to light the ways in which women doctors in the Weimar Republic and Nazi Germany secured professional spaces for themselves, Melissa Kravetz has expertly mined archival resources not previously well trawled."Helen Boak, Department of History, University of Hertfordshire