World War II German Women’s Auxiliary Services
By Gordon Williamson
(Illustrated by Ramiro Bujeiro)
Osprey Publishing (www.ospreypublishing.com)
RRP GBP £9.99
Hitler had conservative views regarding the place of women in society. He primarily saw them as housewives and mothers and he instituted a medal called the “Mother’s Cross” for the number of children a woman gave birth to. This philosophy limited the roles of German women and they therefore had a much more limited role than their British and Allied counterparts.
The demands of prolonged war precipitated a change in the Nazi party’s views on women and they eventually served in numerous roles as auxiliaries in the Army, Navy, Air Force and SS. Their roles within these organisations tended to revolve around signals and air defence services. This text explains and illustrates these auxiliary organisations, their uniforms and insignia. As well as covering the main auxiliary services there are also excellent notes on women who served as Red Cross Nurses and as auxiliaries in the Labour Corps, Customs Service, National Socialist Women’s Organisation and the League of German Maidens (Hitler Youth).
The book is divided into four main sections dealing with Military Auxiliaries for the three main armed forces and one for the main Civil and Political units. Each chapter covers roles / duties conducted by women in the auxiliary force.
The army chapter details the roles played by auxiliaries in Signals, Staff, Economics and Horse Breaking. There are sections on naval roles such as Aircraft Reporting, Signals and Communications, and Anti-Aircraft. The air force chapter details the Aircraft Reporting Service, Air Signals, Air Raid Warning Service, Staff and Anti-Aircraft roles. The uniforms and insignia worn by the female auxiliaries in each of these roles are described and if possible illustrated.
The Civil and Political Auxiliaries cover the State Labour Corps (Reichsarbeitsdienst), National Socialist Women’s Organisation (NS-Frauenschaft), National Socialist League of German Sisters (NS-Reichsbund Deutscher Schwestern), German Red Cross (Deutsches Rotes Kreuz), League of German Maidens (Bund Deutscher Madel), SS Female Auxiliaries (SS-Helferinnen & SS-Kriegshelferinnen) and Customs Auxiliaries (Zoll Helferinnen). In a similar manner to the three armed forces auxiliaries above the roles, duties, uniforms and insignia of these auxiliaries are intricately discussed.
The book contains some notes on gallantry medals awarded to auxiliaries. Surprisingly there were very few of such awards to auxiliaries and most of them being the Iron Cross (in both classes) and non-combat awards such as the War Merit Cross.
There are very few books discussing the role of women as auxiliaries in the German armed forces and civil / political formations. As such this book fills this void and it is a very interesting volume on this specialist subject. I am confident that this book will become the standard introductory text on the subject and the authors need to be commended for their excellent work.