Claudia Koonz

Claudia Ann Koonz (born 1940) is an American historian of Nazi Germany. Koonz's critique of the role of women during the Nazi era, from a feminist perspective, has become a subject of much debate and research in itself.[1][2] She is a recipient of the PEN New England Award.


Koonz received a PhD from Rutgers University in 1970. She has taught at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts, and then at Duke University.


Koonz is best known for documenting the appeal of Nazism to German women, and their enthusiasm in supporting the Nazis. Koonz has established that the leaders of German feminist groups were happy to go along with Gleichschaltung that coerced Germans into following Nazi policy. Koonz has noted that female supporters of the Nazis accepted the Nazi division of the sexes into a public sphere for men and a private sphere for women. Koonz has claimed that women involved in resistance activities were more likely to escape notice owing to the "masculine" values of the Third Reich.

Another notable claim made by Koonz is that women who most successfully asserted themselves in the "Third Reich" were also the women who violated the norms of civilized society, such as Ilse Koch. Koonz maintains that only women who were opposed to Nazism 100% can be considered to be a resistance; those women who protested against sterilization and the Action T4 program without protesting the deportation of Jews to death camps are not considered by Koonz to be part of the resistance. Koonz's views have often had her pitted against Gisela Bock in a battle some have referred to as the Historikerinnenstreit (quarrel among historians of women).[1]

Awards and honors

  • 2006 American Academy, Berlin
  • 2006 Virginia Humanities Foundation (declined)
  • 2005 Woodrow Wilson Center (declined)
  • 2005 John Simon Guggenheim Foundation
  • 2004 History Book Club Book of the Month selection
  • 2003 Belknap Book designation, Harvard University Press
  • 1987 L.L. Winship/PEN New England Award, Mothers in the Fatherland: Women, the Family and Nazi Politics


  • co-written with Renate Bridenthal "Beyond Kinder, Küche, Kirche: Weimar Women in Politics and Work" from Liberating Women's History: Theoretical and Critical Essays edited by Berenice Carroll, 1976.
  • "Conflicting Allegiances: Political Ideology and Women Legislators in Weimar Germany" pages 663-683 from Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, Volume 1, 1976.
  • co-edited with Renate Bridenthal Becoming Visible: Women in European History, 1977, revised edition 1987.
  • Mothers in the Fatherland: Women, the Family, and Nazi Politics, 1986.
  • "Ethical Dilemmas and Nazi Eugenics: Single-Issue Dissent in Religious Contexts" pages S8-S31 from Journal of Modern History, Volume 64, 1992.
  • The Nazi Conscience Cambridge, Massachusetts: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2003, ISBN 978-0-674-01172-4.


  1. David A. Guba Jr. (2010). "Women in Nazi Germany: Victims, Perpetrators, and the Abandonment of a Paradigm". CONCEPT [online]. Retrieved September 19, 2012.
  2. Atina Grossmann (1991). "Feminist Debates about Women and National Socialism". Gender & History. 3 (3): 350–358. doi:10.1111/j.1468-0424.1991.tb00137.x.

Further reading

  • Gordon Linda (1987). "Review of Mothers in the Fatherland". Feminist Review. 27: 97–105. doi:10.1057/fr.1987.38.
  • Mason, Tim "Review of Mothers in the Fatherland" pp. 200–202 from History Workshop Journal, Volume 26, Autumn 1988.
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