Hitler's Heroines

Stardom and Womanhood in Nazi Cinema

Antje Ascheid
Book Cover

PB: $29.95
EAN: 978-1-56639-984-5
Publication: Jan 03

Ebook: $29.95
EAN: 978-1-59213-843-2

288 pages
6 x 9
37 halftones

The brightest stars in fascist films

Read the Introduction and an excerpt from Chapter 1 (pdf).


German film-goers flocked to see musicals and melodramas during the Nazi era. Although the Nazis seemed to require that every aspect of ordinary life advance the fascist project, even the most popular films depicted characters and desires that deviated from the politically correct ideal. Probing into the contradictory images of womanhood that surfaced in these films, Antje Ascheid shows how Nazi heroines negotiated the gender conflicts that confronted contemporary women.

The careers of Kristina Soderbaum, Lilian Harvey, and Zarah Leander speak to the Nazis' need to address and contain the "woman question," to redirect female subjectivity and desires to self sacrifice for the common good (i.e., national socialism). Hollywood's new women and glamorous dames were out; the German wife and mother were in. The roles and star personas assigned to these actresses, though intended to entertain the public in a politically conformist way, point to the difficulty of yoking popular culture to ideology.

Table of Contents

1. Nazi Culture? National Socialism, Stardom, and Female Representation
2. Kristina Söderbaum: The Myth of Naturalness, Sacrifice, and the "Reich's Water Corpse"
3. Lilian Harvey: International Stardom, German Comedy, and the "Dream Couple"
4. Diva, Mother, Martyr: The Many Faces of Zarah Leander
5. Conclusion

About the Author(s)

Antje Ascheid is Assistant Professor in the Department of Drama and Theater at the University of Georgia.


In the Series

  • Culture and the Moving Image edited by Robert Sklar

    The Culture and the Moving Image series, edited by Robert Sklar, seeks to publish innovative scholarship and criticism on cinema, television, and the culture of the moving image. The series will emphasize works that view these media in their broad cultural and social frameworks. Its themes will include a global perspective on the world-wide production of images; the links between film, television, and video art; a concern with issues of race, class, and gender; and an engagement with the growing convergence of history and theory in moving image studies.