The Nazi regime was not one noted for its inclusion. In fact the Nazis excluded everyone whom they didn’t deem suitable from their structures and from exercising any sort of power. This meant Jews, foreigners, Roma and Sinti people, Communists, people with learning disabilities and those with mental health issues to name but a few. It also included women. Nazis did not approve of women in work and especially not in positions of power and those women that they allowed close to them had to be pure bred and behave exactly as required.
In Nazi Wives James Wylie tells the stories of the women who did get close to the men at the top and, despite the title, they weren’t all married. He discusses the wives of men such as Goering, Goebbels, Hess and Himmler. He looks at what made them attach themselves to the regime and what consequences it had for them. In fact, most of the women were in the movement and were activists from the very start with a few coming from families that were loyal. They were required to have many children, ignore the peccadillos of their men and set a good example for the womenfolk of the country.
Obviously not all the wives could act the way that was required but Hitler was adamant that the leaders could not have divorces so some of them were very unhappy. They benefitted amazingly from being married to men of power and had plenty of food when the rest of the country was starving.
Some of the women chose to die for their faith in Hitler or realised that they had no future after the end of the war. The others found their way through the post-war chaos, some even claiming unconvincingly that they knew nothing about what was going on.
This is an interesting history which is slightly paralysed by the fact that there isn’t a lot known about the lives of some of the major characters so the author repeats gossip about them – although it is clearly labelled as such. It’s well worth a read but if you would prefer a fictionalised version of their stories try these books by Jane Thynne