Who resisted? What patterns of behavior and options are identifiable? How strongly were they dictated by gender roles?
The politicization of every domain of society and private life pursued by the National Socialists affected men and women. The National Socialists’ ideological claim to leadership frequently collided with their religious convictions and practice.
There is evidence that men frequently withdrew from the Church from 1935 onward since they were subjected to greater pressure.
Women on the other hand often resolutely resisted interference in their religious life and were able to also use established social roles as arguments. The private sphere of family and home assigned to women religiously and politically also became the locus where they came to the defense of others in keeping with Christian neighborly love – the “quiet helpers” were frequently women.
The Confessing Church headed by men was strongly supported by women. They were present at church services and Bible study; they acted in their role as pastors’ wives and also expanded this role – when the men were absent.
Resistance to Nazi racial policy within the Confessing Church came primarily from single working women. Dismayed by the affliction in their private or work environment, they called for the Confessing Church to aid persecuted individuals and they themselves practiced Christian humanitarian solidarity. Their appeal met with scant response, however.
Only when the concept of resistance was expanded did women of the resistance also increasingly enter the academic and the public eye.