Nazism delivered : the ethos and legacy of midwifery in 20th century Germany / by Lynne Anne Fallwell
Includes bibliographical references (p. 429-455)
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Electronic version from ProQuest
My dissertation examines the role midwives played in forming national identity under the Third Reich and during the developmental years of divided Germany. Little thought is usually given to midwifery during the middle third of the twentieth century, particularly by North American audiences who see the occupation in these years existing in a void, wedged between the rise of medical professionalization and the rediscovery of natural medicine. A look at Germany from the Weimar Republic to its division into East and West Germany, or roughly the decades between 1930 and 1960, shows the fallacy of such an assumption. Instead of a void, these decades proved to be a time of great activity, a time when German midwifery was clearly as much about politics as it was about birth. For this reason, I have undertaken a comparative analysis of how these governments utilized state-controlled midwifery education and licensing as a means for implementing their respective political and social ideologies. Presupposing that childbirth can be read as a social construct, I trace patterns of contrast and continuity within the three periods, considering such issues as attitudes to motherhood, evolving infant health policies, familial representations, midwifery student demographics, and doctor-midwife relationships. I also consider the connection between these issues and the development of teaching curricula, particularly in the area of textbook publication. Among the unpublished archival evidence, I draw heavily from individual midwifery school records and ministerial releases. Many of these sources, especially those concerning East Germany, have received little consideration from historians.Finally, this dissertation is both a product of, and makes a contribution to, a number of interdisciplinary approaches. The subject matter is historical but draws from the areas of science, medicine, education, body studies, visual analysis, and feminist theory. My research is shaped by elements of gender history such as questions of female agency, subjectivity, and the role of gendered representations in education, as well as an interest in more general issues within German history.
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