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Military or civilians? The curious anomaly of the German Women's Auxiliary Services during the Second World War

Military or civilians? The curious anomaly of the German Women's Auxiliary Services during the Second World War [Kindle Edition]

Alison Morton
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Product Description

Product Description


'...and I have found Alison's book invaluable for giving me a fascinating insight into the way that Aryan German women were regarded by themselves and by men in the Nazi state, the ways their role in Nazi society changed as the war progressed, and how they themselves experienced this difficult time - something which is normally hidden from British history.'
Anne Booth, author and children's literature and creative writing lecturer

Praise for the original dissertation…
‘Firstly, congratulations on a really good piece of historical writing. You demonstrate, most of all, what a thoroughly good researcher you are. Chapter 4 has particular strength as does Chapter 5 which identifies an important continuity in the history of German women.'
Dr Gary Thorn, author of End of Empires: European Decolonisation, 1919-80

'This student is to be congratulated on a very good bit of writing. It benefits from research in both British and German sources - good. The research also benefits from some oral testimony. It links well with debates over war and social change, responsibilities in war, feminism and ideologies. Good work - well done!'
Open University History Department MA Senior Assessor

Product information

Nearly 500,000 young German women served in uniform with the German armed forces in the Second World War yet their history is rarely recalled in Germany and is virtually unknown in the Anglophone world. Recruited into the military against Nazi ideological norms to meet a desperate shortage of manpower, the status of these Wehrmachthelferinnen (armed forces’ auxiliaries) remained questionable. Indispensable to military communications and administration, by the end of the war they also served in the front line in forward army groups and anti-aircraft batteries. Records indicate that around 25,000 were captured in the East alone and taken as forced labourers to the Soviet Union; only 5,000 returned home and then not until the early 1950s.

The Wehrmachthelferinnen’s technical civil status appeared theoretical at best; they performed many of the same tasks as Allied servicewomen in similar formations and conditions. The British WRNS, WRAF and ATS contribution to the war effort is well-known and celebrated, both officially and in popular culture. But what is known of their German counterparts? During a conversation with a German friend, the author was fascinated by an anecdote about her grandmother who had worn a German Army uniform in the war and wanted to find out more.

This study, which became a master’s dissertation, was the result of that curiosity.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 212 KB
  • Print Length: 89 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B007JUR408
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #525,638 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Despite researching 1930s Germany for "Military or Civilians?" for her master's degree in history, Alison Morton is a deep-steeped 'Roman nut' and loves writing historical thrillers about Romans living in an alternative timeline...

INCEPTIO, the first of the Roma Nova series of "what if" alternative history thrillers, was shortlisted for the 2013 International Rubery Book Award and awarded a B.R.A.G. Medallion. The second in the series, PERFIDITAS, also gained a B.R.A.G. Medallion. The Historical Novel Society selected SUCCESSIO, book III, as its indie 'Editor's choice' in August 2014.

Alison blogs about writing, Rome and alternate history: and posts on Facebook: and is writing the next three Roma Nova novels...

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition
When I saw the title of this book, I had to read the blurb. After that I had to buy it. Half a million women's lives unknown and uncommented? I'd never heard of German women's military services in World War II. I'm no expert on this period, but this seems a real loss.

I found the style straightforward and the content easy to read. The author had used mainly German sources which must have given her an advantage over English-speakers. I particularly liked the way she traced the transition from the stereotype subordinate girl whose life was structured by harsh ideology to a full participant in the military machine - totally against all the Nazi preconceptions. The whole book is fascinating and has to be a 'must-buy' for people researching the women in this period. My only complaint is that I want to know even more.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Forgotten history 27 Aug 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
A fascinating and highly interesting part of WW2 history that has bene over looked and deliberately forgotten maybe? A person's dissertation turned into a great read!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Very good book but a little short 3 July 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Thoroughly interesting and very informative for those who are interested in the subject, though a little short I felt. It feels more like a very long essay or a study done for a university rather than a book there are a lot of pages referencing where the original materials were sourced. No bad thing as it adds to the weight of the books credibility but it left me wanting more especially first hand accounts from the women themselves.
On Balance I would say
1- Worth the money as its a window into the world of the German Female Auxiliarys of WW2 that I'm not sure you will find anywhere else (in English anyway)
2- Essential Read if you are a female reenactor portraying Helfern
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 5.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fresh look at an ignored topic 26 April 2012
By Patrick J. Shrier - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The book is adapted from Ms. Morton's MA Thesis and you can tell this while reading it. This gives it a somewhat dry tone but that does not really take away from the work's readability. The book is not very long, I have the Kindle version and I would guess that it only runs to 100 or so pages printed out as a Trade Paperback. That being said, Ms. Morton covers the topic of German Auxiliaries in WWII in some depth. The book is organized into four thematic chapters that present a very holistic view of the participation and use of German women by the WWII Wehrmacht.

The book covers the recrutiment, organization, employment and postwar perceptions of these women and does so in a very interesting manner. This is an excellent look at an understudied aspect of German military policy in WWII. It cannot be argued that the German use of up to 500,000 women to free up men for Front-line service did not materially effect the length of the war at a minimum. 500,000 men is essentially the equivalent of another Field Army that women's use as rear-area troops made available. As the author points out in her introduction; given the historical attention paid to US and British military women in WWII it is odd in the extreme that the German use of women has been ignored.

Overall, this is an excellent study of an ignored topic. It is also a topic that needs even more study so that a full appreciation of the effects of women's service in the Wehrmacht can be appreciated. This book is a strong beginning for what can and should be a fruitful area of historical scholarship.
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