The effect of Americanization on the dramatic representation of Nazi Aufseherinnen (female camp guards)
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While a significant amount of popular entertainment regarding the Holocaust has been produced, much revolves around male involvement only. Little scholarship has been undertaken regarding German, non-Jewish, female involvement and there are few fictional representations featuring these women. The global acknowledgement of a woman’s capacity for cruelty during the Holocaust is very new. It was not until the 1980s that the idea of women being active participants in the murder of millions (Daniel Goldhagen refers to them as “Hitler’s willing executioners”) became a credible topic. Women served as more than just innocent bystanders, mothers, and wives in the Third Reich. Thus the question arises whether women were victims of the Nazi regime or perpetrators using and abusing power? The short answer is both. The study consists of a chronological examination of popular film, television, and dramatic texts, thoroughly referencing not only the film/recorded and textual content and representation of Aufseherinnen, but also the cultural and historical zeitgeists in which they emerged. As each example of Aufseherin representation will be is analyzed, and, I assess similarities and differences in between character, language choice, and overall treatment of the characters as women within an otherwise male-dominated artistic work. Part of my goal is the creation a definitive list of popular movies and dramatic texts that will provide an educational resource outlining the development of the female Nazi persona with an eye to how that affects historical perception of their role in the Holocaust. My research will explore more deeply the effects of Americanization and what that means for the future of Holocaust representation and education in the arts for students not only from the United States but students worldwide, who are unequivocally affected by this phenomenon through popular entertainment.