Gertrud Scholtz-Klink Followed Hitler Her Entire Life
Gertrud Scholtz-Klink-German National Archives
by Kathy Warnes
“The spirit of Hitler is not dead.” – Gertrud Scholtz-Klink
Gertrud Scholtz-Klink became a Nazi in her 20s and when she died in her 90s, she was still a fanatical Nazi.
On February 28, 1948, a force of American and French soldiers, and German policemen burst into the rooms of a middle-aged couple living in Bebenhausen Castle in the tiny village of Bebenhausen near Tubingen in Germany’s French zone. Herr Heinrich and Frau Maria Stuckebrock had been living quietly in Bebenhausen Castle for three years. Herr Stuckebrock, 51, spent much of his time plowing and planting a garden on a former German Army parade ground near the Castle. Frau Stuckebrock, 46, made Christmas tree decorations and other crafts from colored paper and pine cones.
Quickly, Herr Stuckebrock raced for his coat, but a German policeman caught him before he could drink the vial of poison concealed in a pocket. The Stuckebrocks were really SS-Obergruppenführer August Heissmeyer and his wife, Gertrud Scholtz-Klink. Gertrud had been the Reich’s Women’s Leader, director of all of the women’s organizations in the Third Reich, and Colonel General Heinzmeyer had served as the head of the Ubergestapo or the Supreme SS Tribunal, the Gestapo of the Gestapo.
According to a March 1948 Time Magazine article, The Nuremberg War Criminal’s List had identified Heinzmeyher as “presumed dead,” and it had pronounced Gertrud “dead.” Witnesses had even identified her body as being among those removed from Hitler’s Berlin air raid bunker. Defying the discouraging War Criminal’s List, persistent French, American, and German authorities discovered that Gertrud and August Heissmeyer were quite alive and had pursued them to Bebenhausen.
Gertrud Scholtz-Klink and SS-Obergruppenfuhrer August Heissmeyer Are Arrested
In May of 1945, the Allied forces defeated the Third Reich, and Gertrud and her husband fled Berlin. As they traveled, she was caught in the crossfire between German and American troops and wounded five times. The Soviets briefly held Gertrud and August in a prisoner of war camp, but they managed to escape and she and her husband picked up their youngest child and made their way to Nazi sympathizer Princess Pauline of Wurtemberg in Bebenhausen Castle. The Princess later said that she cared for Frau Heissmeyer “as one would help a wounded animal.”
Gertrud and her husband had hidden in plain sight in the rooms of Bebenhausen Castle for three years, but now once again, their enemies had discovered their hiding place. The German, French, and American police force arrested the two former Nazi leaders and led them away. The authorities also arrested Pauline, Princess of Wurtemberg, 71, who had helped them escape the Soviets and settled them in Bebenhausen, which had been part of her kingdom. The princess left prison on bail, but the United States authorities took charge of the fugitive Heissmeyers who both faced trials and de-nazification.
Although the sounds of Hitler’s speeches to the German people and her own speeches to German women still rang in her ears, Gertrud Scholtz-Klink knew that most of the outside world wanted to punish the Nazis and get back to the business of peaceful living. She also knew that beyond the Fuhrer Bunker in Berlin that part of her duty was to keep Hitler’s legacy alive.
Gertrud Scholtz-Klink Mobilized German Women for the Reich
It seemed to Gertrud that only yesterday she had helped build the Nazi State in Germany. To her, the early years of her life before Nazism were an insignificant blur. She had been born Gertrud Treusch on February 9, 1902, in the southwest state of Baden in Germany. The daughter of a minor civil servant, Gertrud’s life appeared to be set on an ordinary course. She worked as a school teacher and a reporter and anticipated that she would marry and have children.
In 1920, at the age of 18, Gertrud married Friedrich Klink, a school teacher and later a district officer in the National Socialist Party. Eventually, they had six children and eventually Gertrud’s interests expanded from her children to include Nazi politics. Attracted by the National Socialist ideology and with Friedrich’s encouragement, Gertrud joined the Nazi Party in September 1929. She did social work for party members, organizing supporters in Offenburg, and she soon became leader of the women’s section in Berlin.
Friedrich Klink died of a heart attack in March 1930, while working tirelessly for the Nazi Party. From that point on, Gertrud worked harder for the Nazi cause and to preserve her husband’s legacy. In 1932, Gertrud married Guenther Scholtz, a country doctor, but she soon discovered that his enthusiasm for the Nazi Party did not match her own.
In 1933, Hitler came to power and he appointed Gertrud Fuhrer of The National Socialist Women’s Union, a position that she held until 1945, and head of the Woman’s League. A good orator, Gertrud used her powers of verbal persuasion to encourage her fellow German women to obey Adolf Hitler unconditionally. Following Nazi doctrine like Hansel and Gretel following the bread crumb trail, Gertrud believed with the Nazis that men were superior and she charged German women to bear many children.
In one speech Gertrud said that a woman’s purpose in life was to be the mainstay of her home and that she existed to minister to the men in her life. As Gertrud expressed it, “The National Socialist movement sees the man and the woman as equal bearers of Germany’s future. It asks, however, for more than in the past: that each should first completely accomplish the tasks that are appropriate to his or her nature.”
Gertrud sent German women to factories and farms and extolled the virtues of German motherhood, establishing homes where Aryans could meet and mate. She moved to Paris and worked to provide hospitalization for French girls carrying the children of German soldiers, setting up a scheme to buy their babies and send them to German homes.
In July 1936, Hitler appointed Gertrud head of the Woman’s Bureau in the German Labor Front, with the mission of convincing women to work for the good of the Reich. She argued relentlessly that German women should turn their backs on luxury and pleasure and work long hours for the Reich, both physically and mentally.
Gertrud’s private lifestyle contrasted with the Spartan lifestyle she publicly urged Nazi women to practice. She enjoyed a comfortable lifestyle and despite her own political position, she discouraged German women from being involved in politics. Using the female politicians of the Weimar Republic as a horrible example, she argued that a true woman did not scream on the street or in Parliament, but functioned as the heart and soul of her home and bore children for the Reich.
In 1936, the Nazi Party also appointed Gertrud Director of the National Socialist Welfare Organization and awarded her the Gold Medal of the NSDAP, an honor the Nazis presented to people they considered role models for the National Socialist Society.
The Nazis in the male-dominated Third Reich considered Gertrud just a figurehead and they left her out of the important meetings and decisions. Despite these obstacles, she used the power of her personality and convictions and wielded great influence over women in the Nazi party and over ordinary German women.
Gertrud, like many German women, enthusiastically supported the Nazi regime. The research and books of Feminist historian of Nazi Germany Claudia Koonz have established that Gertrud and the other leaders of German feminist groups supported the propaganda and coercion that forced ordinary Germans into following Nazi policy. She noted that female Nazi supporters accepted the Nazi dividing of the genders into a public sphere for men and a private sphere for women, much like the “cult of domesticity” in 19th century America.
Gertrud Scholtz-Klink Marries An SS Man
Gertrud Scholtz-Klink divorced Dr. Scholtz in 1938, and she and her children lived in a house in Berlin. In 1939, she traveled to Britain and the British press called her “The Perfect Woman Nazi.” In 1940, she announced plans to marry Obergruppenführer August Heissmeyer and the couple combined their children. She had six and Heissmeyer had five from a previous marriage. The couple told the Berlin press, “We have given our eleven children a joint home.” Later, they had another child together.
Continuing her career, Gertrud addressed German women and made numerous trips to visit women at political concentration camps. In 1944, the Nazi Party advertised Gertrud with her eleven children as a “fertility model,” although her busy schedule prevented her from spending as much time with them as a model Nazi mother should.
Gertrud Scholtz-Klink Returns to Bebenhausen
After Gertrud Scholtz-Klink and August Heissmeyer were arrested in their Bebenhausen Castle quarters in February 1948, a French military court charged her with forging documents and sentenced her to 18 months in prison. In May 1950, a German de-nazification court sentenced her to thirty more months in prison, fined her and imposed a lifetime ban on political and trade union activity. The court prohibited her from working as a journalist or teacher for ten years. Throughout her trials, Gertrud remained steadfastly committed to her Nazi beliefs.
Her prison sentence completed in 1953, Gertrud returned to Bebenhausen Castle and lived quietly there for the rest of her life. In 1978, she wrote a book called The Woman in the Third Reich, which she dedicated to the “victims of the Nuremburg trials.”
In a 1936 speech Gertrud said, “German women of all classes and organizations stand before the Führer at the beginning of the new year and thank him for preserving the life of our people, and for helping it to find itself again.”
For the rest of her life, Gertrud lived these lines and she showed her continued support for National Socialist ideology. In the 1980s, she defended her National Socialist beliefs in an interview with historian Claudia Koonz and continued to defend and live her National Socialist beliefs until her death on March 24, 1999.
Bock, Gisela. “Challenging Dichotomies: Perspectives on Women’s History.” In Writing Women’s History: International Perspectives,ed. Karen Offen, Ruth Roach Pierson, and Jane Rendall, Bloomington: Indiana University Press, pp. 1-23.
Bock, Gisela. Ordinary Women in Nazi Germany: Perpetrators, Victims, Followers, and Bystanders. In Women in the Holocaust, ed. Dalia Ofer and Lenore J. Weitzman, New Haven & London 1998, pp. 85-100.
Koonz, Claudia. Mothers in the Fatherland: Women, the Family, and Nazi Politics, 1986.
Koonz, Claudia.The Nazi Conscience Cambridge, Mass.: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2003.
Sigmund, Anna. Nazisternas kyinnor – Nazi Women. Swedish Edition, 2001.
Scholtz-Klink, Gertrud. The Woman in the Third Reich (Die Frau im Dritten Reich), 1978.