Entangled Emancipation: Women’s Rights in Cold War Germany
Published: November 2023© 2023
258 Pages, 6.25 x 9.25 x 1.00 in, 12 b&w illustrations
In 1900, German legislators passed the Civil Code, a controversial law that designated women as second-class citizens with regard to marriage, parental rights, and marital property. Despite the upheavals in early twentieth-century Germany – the fall of the German Empire after the First World War, the tumultuous Weimar Republic, and the destructive Third Reich – the Civil Code remained the law of the land. After Nazi Germany’s defeat in 1945 and the founding of East and West Germany, legislators in both states finally replaced the old law with new versions that expanded women’s rights in marriage and the family.
Entangled Emancipation reveals how the complex relationship between the divided Germanys in the early Cold War catalysed but sometimes blocked efforts to reshape legal understandings of gender and the family after decades of inequality. Using methods drawn from gender history and discourse analysis, the book restores the history of the women’s movements in East and West Germany. Entangled Emancipation ultimately explores the parallel processes through which East and West Germany reimagined, negotiated, and created new civil laws governing women’s rights after the Second World War.
List of Illustrations
1. Reimagining Postwar German Families, 1945–7
2. Gender Equality and the Family in the Two Constitutions, 1948–9
3. The Failed Reforms of Family Law, 1949–53
4. A Series of Stalemates, 1953–57
5. Achieving Equality, 1957–76
"Alexandria N. Ruble has written an essential history of women’s rights and the family in Cold War Germany. Although debates on gender equality and revisions of family law in the two Germanys were shaped by different ideological agendas and did not develop at the same pace, Ruble delivers a nuanced analysis of how they nonetheless moved in tandem. The book is a model of how to consider both German states in one frame."Astrid M. Eckert, Professor of History, Emory University
“In this compact study, Ruble unearths the remarkable ‘entangled’ history of women’s rights, activism, and everyday life at the heart of the competition between East and West Germany. Important reading for students of Germany, the Cold War, family, women, and gender.” Belinda Davis, Professor of History, Rutgers University