"Mothers in the Fatherland: Women, the Family, and Nazi Politics," is a scholary work, but I read it quickly, as if it were a popular page-turner. I asked myself why I was reading it so quickly.
I read this book so quickly, I think, because it fascinated me, of course, but also because it disturbed me and, given how informative the book is, I kept expecting that I'd turn the page and find THE EXPLANATION that would make it all make sense to me, and give me peace of mind.
The "it" I wanted explained, of course, was the absolute evil of Nazism. The Nazism in this book is not -- for the most part -- the public Nazism of "Trimuph of the Will" or the notorious Nazism of Auschwitz.
It's the Nazism of cookie bakers and apron wearers. It's the Nazism of women breast feeding their children and dreaming of a Judenrein Germany; their hearts aflutter at thoughts of their fuhrer.
Koonz has amassed a trove of data, including personal letters, memoirs, and newsclips, that one is unlikely to encounter in other volumes.
Inevitably, her book emerges as a social history of Nazism, the Nazism of the hearth, as it were, rather than the headlines.
As alien as Nazism is, the reader cannot help but draw parallels to the present moment.
Social reformers who oppose any birth control, and who have deep convictions about woman's place being in the home, having as many babies as possible, and quietly and unobtrusively devoting themselves to making life easier for their husbands and sons who serve the state, are not exclusively a thing of the past.
This book, in passages, made my skin crawl. It certainly made me think. It did make me cry. It is a worthy addition to the scholarship on the Nazi era, and an invitation to deep thought about misogynist ideologues' control over women's lives.