Revisiting Morale under the Bombs: The Gender of Affect in Darmstadt, 1942–1945.

TitleRevisiting Morale under the Bombs: The Gender of Affect in Darmstadt, 1942–1945.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsSchreiter, Katrin
JournalCentral European History (Cambridge University Press / UK)
Volume50
Issue3
Pagination347 - 374
Date Published2017/09//
Abstract

A new feature of World War II was the physical proximity of a growing number of women to death and destruction. Britain and the United States bombed Germany with the hope that the bombs would demoralize the population and thus defeat the Third Reich from within. Yet, even during the heaviest bombings between 1943 and 1945, no widespread organized dissent formed against the Nazi regime. Taking into account affect concepts of morale, this article examines the gendered experience of bombing in Darmstadt, a small town near Frankfurt am Main. It is based on largely unexamined home-front narratives from 1945, namely, transcribed United States Strategic Bombing Survey (USSBS) interviews with Germans who had recently lived through a period of intense air warfare. The experience with deadly force, as well as the gendered and generational preparation with which individuals encountered and made sense of it, shaped morale and social reorganization in a hopeless war. The affective dialogue between the personal sphere of survival and the public sphere of warfare revealed increasingly fluid gender roles in a besieged Third Reich. The bombing set the stage for a period of female self-sufficiency from as early as 1942, which means that increasing opportunities for female agency—usually associated with the “hour of the woman” during the final days of the war and the Allied occupation in postwar Germany—had appeared much earlier. (English) [ABSTRACT FROM PUBLISHER]

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Short TitleCentral European History (Cambridge University Press / UK)