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Kinder, Küche, Kirche (Template:IPA-de), or the 3 K’s, is a slogan translated as “children, kitchen, church”. Although the phrase is in the German language and is attributed to the German Emperor Wilhelm II, it has been in use mostly in the English-speaking world, and may even have originated there. At the present time it has a derogative connotation describing an antiquated female role model. The phrase is vaguely equivalent to the English Barefoot and pregnant.

The origins

The first mention of the phrase appears in a speech given in December 1898 by the then New York Senator Chauncey Depew to the college women's club in New York. "When I was in Germany a few years ago its press had just come to the knowledge of our new woman. The German Emperor took up the subject and was reported to have said that the whole duty of women could be condensed into three things -- "the kitchen, the children, and the church"".[1]

In August of 1899 the influential British liberal Westminster Gazette elaborated on the story, mentioning, as well, the 4th "K". A story titled "The American Lady and the Kaiser. The Empress's four K's"[2] describes an audience given by the Kaiser to two American suffragettes. After hearing them out, the Kaiser replies: "'I agree with my wife. And do you know what she says? She says that women have no business interfering with anything outside the four K's. The four K's are - Kinder, Küche, Kirche, and Kleider: Children, Kitchen, Church, and Clothing'".[3]

Chauncey Depew again mentioned "the 3 K's" in a speech given in February 1900 to the 9th continental congress of the Daughters of the American Revolution society held in Washington, DC. "The Emperor of Germany, who is always developing ideas on every subject, and claims to be the master of the movements of the men and women of this world -- when I was over in Germany not long ago, when the new woman was first heard of -- felt he must say something, so he said that the three K's of the German language were the whole mission of women in this world; the kitchen, the children and the church. Now, Daughters, do not agree with him".[4]

Kaiser's 4 K's is encountered again in Charlotte Perkins Gilman's 1911 book The man-made world.[5]

There also are reports that these 4 K's were contrasted against the 3 K's for men: Kaiser, Krieg, Kanonen, "emperor, war, cannons".[citation needed]

Third Reich

The phrase was never used by the officials of the Nazi Third Reich. In fact, Adolf Hitler felt scorn for Wilhelm II who, he believed, contributed to Germany's greatest defeat. The English-speaking world, however, transferred its association of the "3 K's" with Germany to the Nazi regime.

When Hitler came to power in 1933, he introduced a Law for the Encouragement of Marriage, which entitled newly married couples to a loan of 1000 marks (around 9 months' average wages at that time). On their first child, they could keep 250 marks. On their second, they could keep another 250. They reclaimed all of the loan by their fourth child.

In a September 1934 speech to the National Socialist Women's Organization, Adolf Hitler argued that for the German woman her “world is her husband, her family, her children, and her home,”[6] a policy which was reinforced by the stress on "Kinder" and "Küche" in propaganda, and the bestowal of the Cross of Honor of the German Mother on women bearing four or more babies.

During this period, women were discriminated against in employment and forced out or bribed with numerous social benefits. Medicine, the law and civil service were occupations reserved for men alone.[7]

In one of his essays, T.S. Eliott reproduces and then comments upon a column in the Evening Standard of May 10, 1939 headed ""Back to the Kitchen" Creed Denounced":

"Miss Bower of the Ministry of Transport, who moved that the association should take steps to obtain the removal of the ban (i.e. against married women Civil Servants) said it was wise to abolish an institution which embodied one of the main tenets of the Nazi creed – the relegation of women to the sphere of the kitchen, the children and the church.

"The report, by its abbreviation, may do less than justice to Miss Bower, but I do not think that I am unfair to the report, in finding the implication that what is Nazi is wrong, and need not be discussed on its own merits. Incidentally, the term ‘relegation of women’ prejudices the issue. Might one suggest that the kitchen, the children and the church could be considered to have a claim upon the attention of married women? or that no normal married woman would prefer to be a wage-earner if she could help it? What is miserable is a system that makes the dual wage necessary."[8]

During the World War II in Germany women, eventually, were put back in the factories because of the growing losses in the armed forces and the desperate lack of equipment on the front lines.

Post World War II

The phrase continued to be used in the feminist and anti-feminist writing in the English-speaking world in the 50-s and 60-s. So, notably, the first version of the classic feminist paper by Naomi Weisstein "Psychology Constructs the Female"[9] was titled "Kinder, Küche, Kirche as Scientific Law: Psychology Constructs the Female".

See also


  1. "Orations, Addresses and Speeches of Chauncey M. Depew".,+the+children,+and+the+church%22&source=bl&ots=SvwYRF83vm&sig=jmMCke0Am2QFxCUUNpTYm3GIKbg&hl=en&ei=vAriS-3YJ43gNf-fybkD&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=6&ved=0CBYQ6AEwBQ#v=onepage&q=%22the%20kitchen%2C%20the%20children%2C%20and%20the%20church%22&f=false.
  2. The American Lady and the Kaiser. The Empress's four K's, in: Westminster Gazette, 17. 8. 1899, S. 6.
  3. Paletschek, Sylvia, Kinder – Küche – Kirche
  4. "Daughters of the American Revolution Magazine, Volume 16 By Daughters of the American Revolution".,+the+children,+and+the+church%22&source=bl&ots=3-l-hTG95W&sig=0Qj3epXSnS7DV7QhZmoEFV15_ns&hl=en&ei=vAriS-3YJ43gNf-fybkD&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=4&ved=0CBIQ6AEwAw#v=onepage&q=%22the%20kitchen%2C%20the%20children%2C%20and%20the%20church%22&f=false.
  5. "Charlotte Perkins Gilman, The man-made world; or, Our Androcentirc Culture. New York, Charton Co., 1911".
  6. Doramus, Max, The Complete Hitler. A Digital Desktop Reference to His Speeches & Proclamations, 1932-1945 (Bolchazy-Carducci Publishers, 1990), 532
  7. Spartacus Educational
  8. "T. S. Eliot, Christianity and Culture".,+the+children,+and+the+church%22&source=bl&ots=t0whZ0Z6R2&sig=yrx_U_n3nmItSHMv8DnVayMOEFc&hl=en&ei=vAriS-3YJ43gNf-fybkD&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=5&ved=0CBQQ6AEwBA#v=onepage&q=%22the%20kitchen%2C%20the%20children%2C%20and%20the%20church%22&f=false.
  9. "N. Weisstein, Psychology Constructs the Female".

de:Kinder, Küche und Kirche fr:Kinder, Küche, Kirche he:ילדים, מטבח, כנסייה pl:Kinder, Küche, Kirche ru:Kinder, Küche, Kirche

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