Gender roles in war: Zweiter Weltkrieg’s (World War II) homefront against battlefront in a woman in Berlin
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During the hindmost months of the Second World War in 1945, as the Russian army closed in on Berlin and the war was weeks away from an armistice, one anonymous citizen of Berlin decided to keep a personal journal to record her narrative in notebooks. Writing helped her cope with the struggles of the war, and someday when her fiancé would return from the front, she hoped her notebooks would help share a portion of her experience. She was not yet aware that one-day thousands of readers from all over the world will read her perspective and her writings would contribute to the study of war. A Woman in Berlin’s first publication was a translated English version in 1954 in the United States. The first German version was published five years later, in 1959. The anonymous author’s recount of the days of war impacts the vast unexplored topic of gender roles during a war. Although her memoir received wide popularity for portraying German women’s encounters with sexual assault during the war, the author documented multidimensional aspects of the Second World War. Her contact with her immediate neighbors, confrontations with the German soldiers on the street, and later, with the Russian soldiers during the ‘Battle of Berlin,’ sporadically addresses the spectrum of male roles as well. This thesis analyzes the generalization of gender identities that binarized gender roles in Germany during the Second World War through the medium of the anonymous author’s memoir, historical data, and scholarly research.