My readers know perfectly well that women’s issues and interviewing women are my priority. Why? Simply because I like to recognize myself in the stories of each one and I like to value what they do and how they do it. Recognizing how valuable we are is a priority for me.
Let’s remember that throughout history our voices have been silenced by the patriarchy. Therefore, on this occasion, I want to present and make this article in honor of all those women who rebuilt the country of my daughter and husband, where we live today. Yes, let’s talk about the Trummerfrauen.
In Germany they are known as Trummerfrau(en) to the women who after the war were dedicated to clean up the city, to lift the rubble. For us Spanish speakers the translation is precisely how I have titled the article, women of the rubble. Although for many it is a simple myth. I want to explain why they deserve to be recognized from my point of view and not be placed in the drawer of legends and myths.
I want to begin by commenting that there is not much information on the subject, before my eyes, historically there are few documents about them, the few records that exist want to be dismissed, saying that they are false. All this is just proof that women have always been underestimated and that is the reason for this lack of information. I really took a lot of time researching for this article. And even though all the information points in another direction, I still stand by my position.
In school, we are taught little or a lot about what happens when there is a war. We are told facts that seem far away and we are given data, information, dates, even images, but we are told very little about the reality. So from my perspective.
Historians distance themselves from the pain and with total naturalness but above all “neutrality” they tell us the facts. Thus, for the collective, the war is over and although we repeat that we must not forget so as not to make the same mistakes, we remember what does not hurt, we remember what is neutral. We stopped talking about what many human beings really lived through. We stopped talking about the crimes, we stopped talking about the consequences.
So what is it that we should really know, well, everything, we should know the fear felt by the civilians in the middle, we should know the atrocities committed by the soldiers in the name of the homeland, the fear and the madness of the soldiers themselves, we should face all these emotions in order not to forget.
However, we must also recognize that the time following the wars is very slow and cruel and there is hunger and lack of family and lack of roof and plenty of debris. Above all debris.
It should be known that many have to survive forgetting a life before the war and leaving the present to forge a future that does not hurt so much to the new generations because no one should suffer what it is to live the war and neither the after.
That is why every now and then we must write about it, each time in a direct way because if we do not know it, we forget it and the lesson is not learned.
As I already told you, among the consequences, many family members are missing and many try to survive.
Well, many men die, many old people die, women have left aside so to speak and that is why after a war there are many women, women who suffer the war in another way, maybe they are not in front of the battle, but many people forget that when soldiers take a city, they rape and kill women and children. If they don’t kill them, they rape them, they mistreat them, they take a lot from them.
I have already told you that there is a surplus of rubble, because although in countries like Germany, there are companies that are dedicated to removing the rubble both when there is war and when there is not. They can’t keep up with the work.
In a system as rigid as Germany’s, the Ministry of Labor is given the task of hiring anyone it wants.
It means that if you were enlisted in the losing party you will be forced to work cleaning up debris, a job that for Germans is a degrading job because that is what losers do.
However, many women were left alone, many women had to survive, others had to carry on with what little they had left. So they worked clearing rubble.
Of course, there are exceptions as in everything. People who continued to do well despite the war, people who were never afraid, women who kept their status and their family, women who had the joy of not being raped or violated in any way. But this does not erase what many went through.
In many sources, we will find that it is only a myth or a legend. But what do they mean? Well, you can see in videos that are on Youtube or read in other articles that this is because those women should not be called heroines, since if they worked rebuilding German cities, mainly the current capital, they did not do it selflessly, since they paid with food and some money to whoever rebuilt and likewise, those belonging to the National Socialist Party, were obliged to do this work, among them, many women survivors of the war. And since it was a punishment for the losers, it was considered a dishonorable job.
These are the main reasons they mention to depreciate the work of women in the reconstruction of the country in the rubble that was Germany at that time. They also mention the fact that men also worked picking up the rubble and reconstructing the buildings. And that it was the construction companies who removed most of the rubble.
My opinion on whether this is really a myth or a legitimate historical fact is as follows: Of course, it is a legitimate and historical fact. The fact that the precariousness of the time and the personal situations that dragged these women to carry out these tasks does not detract from the fact that they did the right thing. They raised the country, cleaned the streets, and gave way to this wonderful country in which I am fortunate to live.
Mrs. Klaus’ experience
My neighbor is an older woman, but she tells me I am too young for that subject, so she did not want a formal interview, but she did agree to tell me what little she remembers. She was very young when the war ended, she has always lived in the same neighborhood.
She remembers that the grandparents lived in a safer area in Fürth and that there was no subway, that she had to walk there for long hours, every bombing alarm she had to make this trip, without rest, even if she got tired.
She remembers that her mother hurried her, that the grandparents had their own garden with vegetables and a few animals so they did not go hungry, but she also remembers how in one of the bombings, she lost her father and also how all the houses near the Dutzenteich ended up destroyed and all the families that lived there died that day.
Also that many women were cleaning up the rubble. When I told her that all the information I found said they were a myth, she said but how I saw them, they are not a myth. She knows they existed. She told me it is important that people do not forget that bitter time, although we have to be happy in spite of what happened.
She also advised me to interview people over 90 years old because they are the ones who know the truth. But unfortunately with the pandemic, not even family members are allowed to visit the elderly.
Feminist view of the issue
As you can see, all this text has a feminist vision of the subject. But it is never too much to make it clear.
Everywhere where I could appreciate the testimonies of women, it is noticeable that they tell us their experiences, what jumps out to most of them is that political parties will use their supporters to create campaigns and hence also want to disappear from history these incredible women.
It has always been said that history is written by the winner, and yes, but we must not forget that history is written by men, until very recently, even still, outstanding women in all different areas have not been recognized, neither for their effort, nor talent, nor for anything, they have been placed below the infinite list of their male colleagues. Why should it be different this time? There is no reason, immediately a feat of a group of women gains strength and the healthy children of patriarchy want to demerit them, erase them, degrade them.
I wonder if only men had rebuilt Germany after the Second World War, would they have told us that they were a myth, that it was the companies that are dedicated to that, that they were forced to do it, would they have taken the trouble to say that they were used for political propaganda? I don’t think so.
I think that if that were the case they would have called them the heroes who rebuilt the country and year after year they would have their ceremony independent of that of the war heroes and the war victims.
They would not allow us to doubt the goodwill of those men, yes they would say of course, and at their side were the companies and the defeated but they would never reduce them to a legend.
We, women, have to remain alert and continue fighting for our rights, for those we have already won and for those we have yet to win, they are not benefits, they are human rights that lead us to gender equity, which would allow us to enjoy the same as our male counterparts.
I would like to suggest that you think and reflect on each area of your interest: art, culture, science, education, sport… and within each discipline or branch and then name five male representatives and then five women. Even more difficult will be to name five black male and five black female representatives.
This is known as patriarchy. While we must not make differences between blacks and whites and between men and women, we cannot put it aside, as if they do not exist, ever.
We must point out the differences, the inequalities of opportunity, and even always remember that there are people who are erased from history; like the women in the rubble.
Recognition of the Trummerfrau women’s work
For all of the above, it is very important to me that the work of the women of the rubble is effectively-recognized.
To invite everyone to question whether it is impossible for them to exist, for lack of what, of a paper that says that they are real. When in the memories of many they are present. However, those memories are fading away.
I want you to give great consideration to those memories, to those women. I want you to give the real value that women have in all areas. I want you to recognize the truth. That they value and appreciate what every woman throughout history has done. That they put themselves in their place and open their eyes. Or is it that all women are myths? In that case, we are goddesses.