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since June 19, 2001


A Wife at His Side - Wives in the SS Clan-Community

By Gudrun Schwarz, Ph. D.

Translated by Walter H. Schneider [Source]

German title:  Eine Frau an seiner Seite.
                    Ehefrauen in der SS-Sippengemeinschaft

The main title of the book appears to be a derivation from a line of the popular German military funeral march "Ich hatt' einen Kameraden" (I once had a comrade), the words to which contain a line that says something like "He marched at my side, the drums called to the fight" and that then a bullet came flying that killed him. --WHS

The SS is being perceived until today as a male confederacy. To the contrary, Heinrich Himmler thought of and formed it as a clan-community comprised of men and women. In 1929 already, shortly after taking office as Reich-Leader of the SS, Himmler said about the SS clan-community that it was intended to be a "racial top-stratum of a Germanic people," a leading elite of a Europe ruled by the Nazis.  According to a "Marriage- and Betrothal-Command" issued in 1931, SS-men were allowed to marry only women that had submitted themselves to a racial and political review. Between 1931 und 1945 about 240,000 women and SS-men entered into marriage and became part of the SS Clan-Community.

In the study that is now available in the form of a book, the course of the lives of SS-wives are exemplarily examined.  What is illustrated is the every-day family life cast in the framework of Nazi- and SS-ideology, the authority of SS-wives in the SS-clan orders.  SS-wives lived at the operations locations of their husbands or visited them there -- often for weeks on end.  Every concentration camp had an SS-settlement in which the SS-families lived.  In the occupied Eastern parts of Europe, mansions were often requisitioned for them right next to the ghettos.  SS-wives were active accomplices and to be found wherever atrocities were committed.  Their loyalty, their standing-by, their condoning, their knowledge and approval of robbery and murder -- their participation in the power of their husbands made them perpetrators. As housewives they provided the stable framework of home life in which their spouses found refuge and strength for their "murderous labour."  As professional colleagues, they participated in the smoothly running process of the systems for the exterminations in the concentration camps, the SS-administrations and the murder-installations.  The examined SS-wives had no awareness of wrong-doing, neither during the time of the Nazis nor afterwards.

and translated from http://www.his-online.de/edition/programm/032.htm

...Many of the wives were not only accessaries, but active accomplices and participants.  They visited their husbands at the field of operation or lived for years in the settlements at the borders of the concentration camps, held their celebrations, visited the "place of work" of their husbands and prepared themselves for the role that they were promised as new rulers in the East -- a psychologically not to be under-estimated compensation for the demanded obedience and subservience in their marriage.

Gudrun Schwartz presents an amalgam of racist dispositions, social ambitions, materialistic aspirations and authoritarian character profiles, that even enabled some of the participating women at the end to label Auschwitz as an "idyllic setting."

"A Wife at His Side" is a contribution to the dismantling of the picture of woman as victim of circumstances, which -- supported by research, justice and politics -- could establish itself in German post-war society.

The book Eine Frau an seiner Seite. Ehefrauen in der »SS-Sippengemeinschaft« was published by Hamburger Edition. (304 pages, 39 Illustrations, Hardcover, DM 58.-/ÖS 423.-/SFr 55.- , ISBN 3-930908-32-8, Published Oct. 1997).
To order:  E-mail: Verlag@his-online.de

Gudrun Schwarz, Ph. D., born 1948, is a co-worker at the Hamburg Institute for Social Research.  The last works produced by her that were published are "Die nationalsozialistischen Lager" [The national-socialistic Camps] (1996) and "Frauen in der SS: Sippenverband und Frauenkorps" [Women in the SS: Clan-Association and Women's Corps] (1997).

[Source:  http://www.his-online.de/arbeitsb/gewalt/frau.htm
Theorie und Geschichte der Gewalt
Hamburger Institut für Sozialforschung, Arbeitsbereich Theorie und
Geschichte der Gewalt]  

Anyone who is aware of the whereabouts of the transcripts of the post-war trials in Hamburg, Germany, at which several of these women were tried for the atrocious crimes they committed, and then were hanged, would you please be so good and let me know about the details?  Thank you, --WHS e-mail:

Update 2006 09 12: I received some leads from some people on that, but those leads were dead-ends.  Still, today I found information on
the executions of female Nazi war criminals by the British, Poles and Russians. —WHS 

See also:

2001 02 10 (format changes)