A National Socialist Feminist Writes to Hitler

Sophie Rogge-Börner’s memorandum of February 18, 1933, requesting Hitler consider establishing the Third Reich on a foundation of sexual equality

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Despite its reputation as a totalitarian movement, there was a significant degree of intellectual diversity within German National Socialism; Hitler was reasonably comfortable with dissenting perspectives being expressed within the boundaries of the NSDAP so long as those expressing them remained completely loyal to his leadership. Within the Party there could be widely-varying opinions on issues such as socialism, religion, Jews, and the Frauenfrage – the ‘woman question’, the debate over the role of women within the movement and their social position in the future Third Reich. Opinions on this topic ranged from those of paternalist radicals who saw women as little more than ‘breeding machines’ of future Aryan soldiers, to ‘feminists’ who believed in the innate equality of German men and women. These ‘feminists’ (a term they generally rejected) themselves expressed a diverse range of viewpoints, but they were united in their veneration for a semi-mythical Nordic Golden Age of sexual equality and their belief that a true Volksgemeinschaft based on harmony and class comradeship was impossible if the state continued to discriminate against half of the German population. One of the most prominent of the NS-feminists was teacher & writer Sophie Rogge-Börner. Rogge-Börner never officially joined the NSDAP (although she had been a member of various other völkisch groups, including the National Socialist Freedom Movement), but she was a supporter of National Socialism, was very active within the völkisch literary movement, and like so many nationalists she greeted the new Hitler government in 1933 with enthusiasm. The memorandum translated below, written by Rogge-Börner shortly after Hitler attained the Chancellorship, expressed the author’s plea  to the new leadership that the coming Third Reich would be revolutionary in terms of gender as well as race, politics, and economy. She was not just speaking for herself. Her memorandum was soon published as the lead article of newly-established NS-feminist journal Die deutsche Kämpferin (The German Female Fighter, or The German Warrioress), and later it was compiled with multiple similar articles into the 1933 book Deutsche Frauen an Adolf Hitler (German Women Address Adolf Hitler). Rogge-Börner’s memorandum of course accomplished little, although it did receive brief written acknowledgement from Prussian Reich Commissioner Göring. Die deutsche Kämpferin was eventually banned in 1937 and Rogge-Börner forbidden from writing, but nonetheless she remained (mostly) supportive of Hitler and National Socialism even after the War. 

Memorandum
to the Chancellor of the German Reich, Herr Adolf Hitler,
and to the Vice-Chancellor, Herr Franz von Papen

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First published in Die deutsche Kämpferin, vol. 2, May (‘Maimond’) 1933

The gradual onset of the state’s reorganization makes it essential that German women of the völkisch-national way-of-life earnestly call the attention of the leading men to the fact that the state should not be allowed to once more be organized into a Man’s State, but must be established instead as the Lebensraum of the entire German people, comprising both men and women.

If we peer into the depths out of which emerge the spiritual driving forces behind contemporary events, then the route along which the path of destiny of white people has run becomes clear. Mankind’s first sociological age was a matriarchal order, as evidenced by its maternal family.1 After long periods of transition, of centuries (or perhaps millennia) of fluid boundaries and uncertain divisions of power, the progression to the second stage, to the patriarchal order, was fulfilled. Until, as matriarchy once had done, it too overstepped the bounds of its exclusive claim to power to such an extent that, around the middle of the 19th century, the women’s liberation-movement emerged within the Germanic countries. A Volksgemeinschaft of Germanic blood cannot in the long run be unilaterally led and directed through male dominance. The three generations presently living are drawn via an unambiguous gesture of the Creator’s will to the third of the stages: the social order of unified,2 holistic human beings.

The relationships which the sexes have with one another and with the community are intimately and directly bound to the racial essence, to the blood origin of a Volk. Because we Germans derive our origins from the Nordic race, it is essential to get a clear understanding of the validity of both sexes among our early Nordic ancestors and to draw from this the practical application for our way of life in the 20th century. The lore we have preserved draws a clear, sound picture of civilized behavior which I can only intimate here in broad outlines: Continue reading

The BUF’s Norah Elam on Fascism, Women, and Democracy

Reflections on fascism and women’s rights by British Union of Fascists member Norah Elam, from a 1935 essay in ‘The Fascist Quarterly’

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Norah Elam, born Norah Doherty, was one of the most prominent members of the Women’s Section of the British Union of Fascists. Like many women leaders within the BUF, Elam had first become involved in political activism through the pre-WWI suffragette movement, joining the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) in 1912 and swiftly rising to become its General Secretary by the following year. It was in the WSPU that Elam developed her skills as a propagandist and rousing political speaker. She also developed a reputation as a firebrand, someone not afraid to dirty her hands in street activism – WSPU members became notorious for militant protest actions such as window-smashing or arson, and Elam was herself arrested and imprisoned in 1914 for inciting suffragettes to violence at an open-air meeting. Her eventual transition to fascist politics was driven by a number of factors, particularly a growing sense of patriotism engendered by the War and, after women’s suffrage was finally granted through legislation passed in 1918 and 1928, a sense of disillusionment that the right to vote had not led to a significant increase in the number of women representatives. The Mosley movement, with its specific promise of women’s representation in a corporatist parliament, seemed to offer a solution that the liberal-democratic system could not, and so Elam joined the BUF in 1934. Former suffragettes like Elam found Mosleyite fascism, which presented itself as a modern and forward-thinking movement, to be a welcoming environment – 25% of the BUF membership were women, women held positions of authority and leadership in the party, and a number of women (including Elam in 1936) were put forward by the Mosleyites as candidates for election. The drive and commitment of these members was not unappreciated, as Mosley observed in 1940: “My movement has been largely built up by the fanaticism of women; they hold ideals with tremendous passion.” The article below , written by Elam and published in 1935 in BUF theoretical journal The Fascist Quarterly Vol. 1, No. 3, demonstrates some of this passion in Elam’s own words, presenting arguments for fascism not only as the true guarantor of liberty and women’s interests but also, intriguingly,  as the natural continuation of the original suffragette movement.  

Fascism, Women and Democracy
by Norah Elam

First published in The Fascist Quarterly, vol. 1, no. 3, 1935. 

“Experience shows that in all countries today democracy can develop its nature freely, the most scandalous corruption is displayed without anyone considering it of use to conceal its rascalities… Democracy is the land of plenty dreamt of by unscrupulous financiers.” – Georges Sorel, Reflexions sur la Violence. 

To a genuine cynic who lived through the struggle for votes for women from 1906 to 1914, no spectacle is more diverting than the post-war enthusiast whose one obsession seems to be the alleged danger to enfranchised women in a Fascist Britain.

This unsuspected solicitude finds its most insistent champions in unlikely places, and those who were so bitter against the pre-war struggle have today executed a complete volte face. Our new-found patrons are second to none in their determination that women shall be denied nothing in principle, even if in practice they are to be denied most things essential to their existence.

To the woman who took part in that historic fight, and, regarding the vote merely as a symbol, believed that with its help a new and a better world might be possible, this kind of patronage is as distasteful as was that of a generation ago. She thinks, and with some justification, that it is humbug that those who in all those weary years never raised a hand to help her, but on the contrary were wont to describe her as an unsexed virago or a disappointed spinster, should in the hour of success endeavour to exploit her sex in the interests of a reactionary and decadent system. Such effrontery is possible only because those who resort to it entirely misunderstood and still misunderstand the meaning of that struggle, and construed the demand for political liberty as a desire for personal licence.

The time has come when the principles which underlay that remarkable and determined manifestation for ordered change, not only in the position of women but in the accepted attitude to them, should be restated. Continue reading