Updated: Oct 22, 2022
The photograph here shows a married couple of a Kriegsmarine Bootsmannsmaat and a Marinehelferinnen. The Marinehelferinnen holding a bouquet of flowers linking arms with her Husband. This is supported by the clear view of both wearing wedding rings. The couple stand for a photograph on the steps of a building, likely that in which the reception of their wedding was held in. Unfortunately further information such as names, the date and location are unknown.
This is a particularly rare photograph in terms of Marinehelferinnen, as many known photographs lack clear indicators as to the branch of service of the Helferinnen is. This photograph clearly shows that the Helferinnen seen recently married can clearly be seen wearing an Anchor broach in the centre of her collar. This seen with the addition of her feldgrau tunic, skirt and side cap shows us that she is member of the Marinehelferinnen. The Marinehelferinnen had similar roles to that of the Helferinnen of other branches. The primary role of Helferinnen in all branches were auxiliary and administrative roles. The Marinehelferinnen undertook roles of communications much like the branch of the Helferinnen in Luftwaffe with its Flugmeldedienst (aircraft reporting services) the Marinehelferinnen would also co-ordinate such tasks in relation to naval vessels stability and defences. The work of Marinehelferinnen in an auxiliary role was vital to the efficient and stable workings of the Wehrmacht, their work helping in vital communication of orders, some of which helped in logistics associated with defence of ports which docked Kriegsmarine infrastructure and vessels.
Additionally Marinehelferinnen would also in rare cases be required to help in medical roles, as Most medical roles were undertaken by the Deutsches Rotes Kreuz (DRK) with their nurses and doctors. In cases where Marinehelferinnen were assigned to medical roles, they would be assigned to field hospitals, at ports or on some docked vessels. It is not known if Marinehelferinnen ever went on small trips with members of the Kriegsmarine to give support in their respected roles but it can be suspected in some cases that they may have aided in this. If the involvement of Marinehelferinnen on Kriegsmarine vessels at sea was true it almost certainly wouldn't have occurred on a U-boat. Marinehelferinnen would however be assigned to ships that held members of the Wehrmacht returning to hospitals and through this would provide support in addition to morale.
The role of women in the Third Reich was different and lesser than that of a man. Women's roles were to support men both in their military service and socially. Marinehelferinnen and helferinnen collectively were never and in rare cases in the later stages of the war to undertake active duties involving offence, such as manning anti aircraft defences or using firearms. The role of women in Helferinnen roles was used to replace men so that the men who would have filled such positions could be drafted to areas in grater need, such as frontline fighting,
The Kriegsmarine NCO linking arms with the Marinehelferinnen is the rank of Bootsmannsmaat (Equivalent to Unteroffizier in the Heer) stands wearing the iconic double breasted naval tunic. This bearing the same anchor symbols on its buttons that the Marinehelferinnen wears as a broach. The Bootsmannsmaat also wears a Mütze that reads "Kriegsmarine" on its tally, that has a slight crisp shaping to it. The Bootsmannsmaat has some awards in wear, these being the Kriegsverdienstkreuz ( War merit cross) in its second class that can be seen by the ribbon worn through the button hole on his tunic. The Bootsmannsmaat also wears what appears to be a Deutscher Reichsbund für Leibesübungen abzeichen or DRL Sports award in its bronze grade. The lack of combat awards suggests that this is a early war photograph, this is also supported by the lack of visible awards on the Officer seen standing to the right in the background. The officer (Rank unknown due to distance) would likely be a kameraden to the married Bootsmannsmaat.
This is a crisp and rare photograph showing not only Marinehelferinnen but also showing a Marinehelferinnen with her partner who also serves in the Wehrmacht, here as a Bootsmannsmaat in the Kriegsmarine. This photograph also highlights the vital roles that women played in the Reich and in this example their role in supporting the Wehrmacht. This photograph like many wedding photographs would be proud and meaningful, the couple serving their country in the same branch of the Wehrmacht, the Kriegsmarine. It was common and encouraged for people to wear military and para-military uniforms to weddings and other social events in addition to military medals even from previous conflicts such as the First World War. This being a special photograph that the couple and their respected families would hold dear and reflect upon this happy moment.