On the Road to Recovery: Rubble Women in Post WWII Germany

9, 10, 11, 12

The learners will review the economic, geographic, political, and social situations in post-WWII United States and Germany and the comparisons they made between these two countries in Lesson One. They will also explore the actions that the German people and the German Government took to improve their post- WWII situation. They will also research the story of the "Rubble Women ("Truemmerfrauen").  Learners discuss and answer questions on Philanthropy and the Common Good.

Lesson Rating 
PrintTwo Fifty-Minute Class Periods

The learner will:

  • share their posters from Lesson One
  • review the definition of the common good, philanthropy, and government philanthropy
  • review the comparisons between the ways that the American people and the American Government helped to provide for the common good post-WWII and the ways that the German people and the German Government used to help better Germany's conditions post-WWII
  • identify and explain the philanthropic motivations of the "Rubble Women" and the reason why so many women of post-WWII Germany became Rubble Women.
  • construct a poster depicting how the German people and the German Government came together to provide for the common good, post WWII.
  • Completed "In the Aftermath of WWII" worksheet (from Lesson One- Handout One)
  • Internet access
  • "Truemmerfrauen Questions" - Handout Two
  • "Truemmerfrauen Lecture" - Handout One
  • "Truemmerfrauen Test" - Handout Three
  • "Truemmerfrauen Test and Answers" - Handout Four
  • "Truemmerfrauen und der Bund" - Handout Five

Some sites with photographs of Rubble Women (in German and English):

  • Trümmerfrau https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tr%C3%BCmmerfrau
  • Trümmerfrau vor dem Pergamonaltar auf der Museumsinsel, Berlin 1948/49 http://www.dhm.de/archiv/ausstellungen/bildberichterstatterin/14.htm
  • Remembering Germany's "Rubble Women http://www.dw.com/en/remembering-germanys-rubble-women/a-1575535-1
  • Trümmerfrauen http://www.aeiou.at/aeiou.history.gtour.krieg/docs/52081.htm
  • Trümmerfrauen http://www.aeiou.at/aeiou.history.gtour.krieg/docs/52076.htm 

"Living on Purpose" by Dan Millman , 2000, ISBN 1-57731-132-9


  1. Anticipatory Set:

    As the learners enter the room collect and display their posters. Ask for volunteers to 'explain' their poster and allow some time for discussion. Tell the learners that today the focus will be on Germany post- WWII. Ask the question"What would you do if your homes were destroyed? "Where would you live?"and "What would you do if you could not find contractors to rebuild your homes?"

  2. Give the learners a few minutes to jot down some ideas. Students should choose a partner and take turns sharing their answers. Solicit volunteers to share some of the ways their partner responded to these three questions.

  3. Explain that these three questions had to be addressed by thousands and thousof Germans post-WWII.

  4. Ask the learners to share what comes to mind when they hear the term "The Rubble Women" and record these offerings on the display board. Give each learner a copy of the information included the "Truemmerfrauen Lecture" -Handout One.

  5. If the learners have classroom access to the Internet or can access the Internet from a media center/computer lab direct the students to the websites listed in the Bibliographical References. Allow time for students to examine a number of different sites. Teacher Note: If the students do not have access to the Internet, download some of the information from these sites and have the learners work in small groups to read and answer the questions based upon what has been distributed to them as well as what they are able to obtain from their texts and other media references.)

  6. Pass out "Truemmerfrauen Questions" - Handout Two so that the learners can access the sites and complete their research before the next class session. Remind students that they will have a discussion and a written assignment based on their answers, due at the end of the lesson.

  7. Class Session Two:

    Anticipatory Set:

    Prior to the students coming into the classrooms, place the desks in groups of four. Allow the learners to sit wherever they choose. Once seated, begin by having the learners recall their definitions for the term "Rubble Women." Have them also recall the definitions of common good, philanthropy, and government philanthropy.

  8. In their self-selected groups, have the learners discuss how each of these terms relates to the experience of the Truemmerfrauen.

  9. Distribute the Truemmerfrauen Test and allow the learners time in their groups to respond to any one of the seven questions.

  10. Randomly select a group to respond to each of the first six questions, encouraging those groups not called to critique the designed group's response. Try to reach consensus on each of the first six responses.

  11. Have each learner respond to question seven by a "hand-vote" or "oral vote," if it is considered philanthropy if the person or persons involved in performing an act for the common good were "paid" for their actions?

  12. To conclude this session have the learners write two or three paragraphs of personal reflection as to why they chose to vote as they did. If time is available, engage the learners in a class discussion/'formal debate' (See Extension) would generate a more lively involvement.


Oral and/or written responses to Truemmerfrauen Questions- Handout Two. Depth of student discussion and research of the "Rubble Women." Assess discussion/debate or written reflection Re; Question Seven - Handout Three and Handout Four.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 01. Define Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Define philanthropy to include giving and sharing; volunteering; and private individual action intended for the common good. Explain how a volunteer individual/group can act for the common good.
  2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 02. Diverse Cultures
      1. Benchmark HS.7 Identify and give examples of the important roles women and minorities have played in the civil society sector in history.
    2. Standard PCS 06. Philanthropy in History
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Describe how the common good was served in an historical event as a result of action by a civil society sector organization.
  3. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Define and give examples of motivations for giving and serving.
      2. Benchmark HS.4 Cite historical examples of citizen actions that affected the common good.