[May 19, 2023] Great stories never die. And neither do great myths; some of those heroes’ stories are popularized but false. In the mid-1970s, I was stationed in West Germany and heard from many of their citizens how rubble women were the mainstay of rebuilding a destroyed Germany. New evidence from Germany itself contradicts much of this myth.
In an article from War History Online, guest author Ian Harvey summarizes the myth and new revelations about these “rubble women.” See the link here. Known as Trümmerfrau, the story is that a large number of women volunteered to clear the ruins, cheerfully clearing out the damaged cities to make way for a new Germany.
“Throughout Germany, there is a repeated motif in statues: A woman, with a hammer in her hand, her hair pulled up in a kerchief, looks determinedly into the distance. The statues are monuments to the Trümmerfrau (“rubble woman”) who is revered in German history for her help in rebuilding the country after World War II.”
But we are beginning to see pushback on this idea from German historians. Leonie Treber says the stories are “legends.” She recently published the book “The Myth of the Trümmerfrauen.” The role of women clearing out all the rubble, according to Ms. Treber, was minor, and they were often not volunteers.
“Since then, the image of the selfless German woman, happily toiling to rebuild her homeland, has been unassailable in the German public eye.”
Ms. Treber concurs that these virtuous women existed. It’s just that they were in the minority.
Myths, however, play a vital role in building and maintaining a vibrant culture. They are also often built upon a false foundation.
Please read my books: