Self-Confident, Autonomous, and Liberated? Politicized Gender Relations in Nazi Film, 1939–1945

23.01.2019, Public Lecture, DHI London

Elissa Mailänder (Paris)

GHIL in co-operation with the Faculty of History, University of Oxford

The Nazis drew upon a wide range of media first to mobilize voters, then to consolidate power, and, ultimately, to motivate German citizens in waging war. The flourishing German film industry lured more than a million spectators into cinemas each year during the war. Blockbusters such as Wunschkonzert, Stukas, and Die grosse Liebe explicitly targeted a young audience who, in their entertainment, craved romance, adventure, and escapism from the realities of everyday life. By juxtaposing these action films and romantic comedies with contemporary events the movies showcased a ‘fun’ and dynamic Nazi society while promoting highly politicized images of ‘modern’ gender relations.

Elissa Mailänder is an Associate Professor of Contemporary History at Sciences Po in Paris. Her research interests include the history of violence, gender, and sexuality. Mailänder’s previous work has focused on perpetrator history and the everyday in Nazi concentration and extermination camps. Her new project examines heterosexual relationships in Nazi Germany and highlights the importance of mass participation and practices of everyday conformity with mass dictatorship.

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