Nazi Germany's High Birth-Rate: Ideology or Nature?

Discussions on the role played by and situation of women in the Third Reich not covered in the other sections. Hosted by Vikki.
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Post by Vikki » 06 Sep 2004 18:02

To put not just the Third Reich’s birth rate into perspective, as Mark’s graph shows, but also its policies toward increasing fertility: Many European nations adopted similar policies in the 1930s, aimed at correcting the decline of both birth rates and “morals” of the 1920s. France instituted subsidies for prolific families, increased penalties for abortion, and as early as 1920 awarded medals to mothers of large families (preceding the Third Reich’s Mutterskreuz by nearly twenty years). Britain offered tax incentives for large families, Italy promoted fertility with both propaganda and social programs, and Stalin encouraged Russian motherhood and made birth control inaccessible.

The difference was the extent and depth to which Third Reich proponents pursued such policies. In addition to negative measures such as banning birth control, positive incentives went beyond the prestige of medals and social recognition for mothers of many children. For example, couples could subtract fifteen percent of their total gross income for each child before income tax was applied. “Marriage loans” of up to RM 1000 were instituted in 1933 for couples who could show “racial purity” for two generations, and in which the wife had worked or sought work but agreed to leave employment at marriage. Note that this law was aimed more at opening up jobs for the male population than for “breeding” purposes; the ban on a wife working was removed from the loan agreements in 1937. However, twenty five percent of the loan was remitted for each child born to the couple. And these and other subsidies were financed by new taxes of up to five percent of total income levied on unmarried people.

For less sensationalized, and more in-depth and up-to-date treatment of these issues than Bleuel’s book, see:


Renate Bridenthal, “Something Old, Something New: Women Between the Two World Wars,” in Becoming Visible: Women in European History.

Elizabeth Heineman, What Difference Does a Husband Make? Women and Marital Status in Nazi and Postwar Germany.

Claudia Koontz, Mothers in the Fatherland: Women, the Family and Nazi Politics.

Claudia Koontz, “The Fascist Solution to the Woman Question in Italy and Germany,” in Becoming Visible: Women in European History.



Were Third Reich state policies effective in producing higher birth rates? Based on actual population statistics like the chart above, it seems doubtful to me that they were, to the desired extent. Here is one expert’s synopsis, which supports Mark’s and Witch-King’s opinions:

For all the public pressure, the birthrate in the Third Reich did not ever equal the rates from the last years of the “decadent” 1920s. Although recipients of marriage loans bore 360,000 babies between 1933 and 1939, it is not clear that these births resulted directly from government rewards. Throughout the 1930s, abortion as a percentage of the total crime increased steadily, a trend that the authors of a governmental report considered “stunning!” given the strength of Nazi pro-family legislation and propaganda. Evaluating fertility statistics in a short period inevitably presents problems. In the case of Germany during the 1930s, we can tentatively conclude that the birthrate failed to increase as dramatically as social planners predicted, although, on the other hand, German fertility remained relatively high compared with other western European nations.

The most carefully thought-out pro-natalist program in any industrialized state did not significantly alter parents’ desire for children. Parents considered their aspirations for a higher standard of living, the atmosphere of Nazi Germany, the expense of raising children, and housing shortages, and they limited the number of children they bore. The trend toward small families proved intractable. Not even strict enforcement of antiabortion laws seems to have made a major impact. A staff officer in the SS estimated that in 1936 as many as 500,000 abortions had been performed. “The fact that many abortions are committed in the racially most valuable circles,” he reported, defied social planners. “If these abortions could be prevented, in twenty years we would have an additional two hundred regiments.” Little had changed by the late 1930s, when statisticians' estimates of abortions ranged from 500,000 to 1 million annually. Even the lower figure would suggest that abortions outnumbered children born to the Marriage Loan couples....

Claudia Koontz, Mothers in the Fatherland, pp. 186-7.

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Post by Einsamer_Wolf » 06 Sep 2004 18:37

Fraulein

First, I really like your user-name. Even more colorful than yours truly.
I think your post indicates that these programs were a mixed success. Policies did not in the very few pre war years boost birth rates to a desired level, but they did have some effect. So as is often the case, the answer lies in the middle.
One last thought--the information you posted, does it not indicate that the more fantastical tenets of Nazi ideology did not resonate with the rank and file. For if it did, young families would have produced even more children.
Finally, you seem to chide Bleuel's text. What do you fault it for specifically?
Thanks again for your incisive post. I foind it very informative

All the Best,

Einsamer Wolf

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Post by Vikki » 06 Sep 2004 20:56

Einsamer Wolf,

Although it's been a while since I read Bleuel's book thoroughly, I suppose my objections to it can be summed up by the tone of the description on the back of the copy I have:

Hans Peter Bleuel has produced a startling document of a depraved society--its grotesque private and public behavior, its attitudes toward marriage, prostitution, homosexuality, masturbation and illegitimacy. Here are vivid, shocking portraits of the lecherous Goebbels, the homosexual Röhm, the priggish Himmler, the lustful Heydrich and the barren, frightened Adolf Hitler.

An arresting, horrifying study of a society gone mad, granted a license for perversity by the Führer himself
.


It's The Third Reich According to The National Inquirer.

And the content of the book itself does nothing to reverse this impression. Although written in a tone of disapproval (to add to the "shock value"), the book mostly points out well-known popular clichés and titillating anecdotes of Nazi leaders, rather than examining the effectiveness, acceptance by the population, or impact of philosophy and policies. How effective were the policies the author cites, like "marriage hygiene" laws and those aimed at increasing the "Aryan" birth rate? Did they "resonate" with the average German, as you've asked? Were rank and file Germans in the Third Reich as degenerate as the portraits painted of their leaders?

Granted, I think the book was intended for a popular audience rather than a scholarly one, and before social history became popular. But the impression that the casual reader comes away with is the generalization normally obtained from such sensational works: German women were either "Ilse She-Wolf of the SS" or broodmares, and German men were lascivious degenerates, who were also only good for insemination or cannon fodder.

If you're seriously interested in these topics--and you seem to be bothered by some of the same things whose over-simplification irritated me in the book---you would be better served by reading some of the works I cited (although those too are not without their own biases) for comparison to Bleuel's book, or others that posters here can suggest.

~FV

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Post by Einsamer_Wolf » 06 Sep 2004 22:16

Liebes Frauelein,


Well, I do not think the book stoops anywhere near the level with National Inquirer. It is actually fairly well written. I do suspect, however, that it does take things out of context. In fairness, I think the author gives a much balanced view of the Lebensborn program, to name just one example.
I do think you are write, however, that the author tries to sell of Himmler as the voice of Germany, as well as the SS. Surely some accepted some of what this man said. But I think most did not. Surely I do not think most of the men in the Wehrmacht saw their lovers and wives as nothing more than baby-making machines. One thing that I find most desirable about German women collectively is their intelligence, education, sophistication. I do not think things were that much different 60 years ago in this respect. In this way, I do think the book gives a distorted view of what typical sex relations were. This was a concern I addressed on this very forum before purchasing this text. Only one respondent answered my query, recommending the book very strongly. But he is a bit of a lefty as it is. Nice fellow though.

Warm Regards,

EW

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Post by Tom Niefer » 08 Sep 2004 01:17

Witch-King of Angmar wrote:state authority hardly can influence people into having(or not having) children, given that it just imposes it - most people will dodge in no time. ~The Witch-King of Angmar


Not necessarily true, Witch King. The government in the early colonization (mid 1500's) of Quebec paid couples to rear large families. It was a very successful in increasing the population.

Cheers,
Tom

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Re: kids

Post by Geli » 08 Sep 2004 07:12

HaEn wrote:Ja !
With or without families :)
There were large facilities where "unwed" mothers could have their babies at government expense.
There were parties orgnized between young SS men and B.D.M. young women. They danced, jumped over the rope, disappeared, and "made the baby" :)


Dear HaEn,

Did you personally know anyone who had a baby at a Lebensborn home? Did you go to any of those parties? Did people actually encourage you there to run off and "do it?" I won't embarrass you by asking about yourself, but did you have any friends who got a girl pregnant at such a party? Or did you know any girls who got pregnant in this way?

I'd be interested to get a first-hand account, because I have read that a lot of this was hype and rumor at the time.

Thank you. :)

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Post by Geli » 08 Sep 2004 07:23

Einsamer_Wolf wrote:And that sums up a lot of the personal conflict I have. To a large degree I am admittedly pro-Nazi, quite sympathetic to much of the ideology. But a lot of what I have learned in this book repulses me. Plundering Nordic looking children from families in Eastern Europe, the failed chicken-farmers pathetic advocacy for bigamy, but only for the Waffen SS, and young girls running off to get knocked up, threatening to turn in her disapproving parents for trying to protect her. One word comes to mind: fuerchtlich! However, none of this repulses me as much as the current demographic trends I related earlier. I am very much a conflicted soul at this point. I guess I always have been. That is why I am anxious to continue this discussion with my fellow contributors a bit, to help me free myself from the confusion I am presently tormented by.


Herr Wolf,
The past 200 years have been a time of dramatic change for the human race. New methods of transportation and communication have made it easier for people from different countries and ethnicities to meet, fall in love, and reproduce. Yes, the demographics are changing. Let them change. No matter what people look like, no matter where they live or what customs they follow, one thing will always be the same: They will all want to meet, fall in love, and reproduce. It's unstoppable.
Peace,
"Geli"

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Post by Einsamer_Wolf » 08 Sep 2004 07:34

Geli--if you want we can discuss this in private message. For now I will just say I violently disagree. Civilization, and the individuals culticated by it, are much more complex than this. There are matters of identity and community involved. Beyond that, I will say more. I wish to keep within Marcus's good graces.

EW

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Post by maxxx » 09 Sep 2004 17:48

good post, geli!

and Einsamer Wolf: BTW a mosque in my neighbourhood does not scare me at all. Why should it?

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Post by Einsamer_Wolf » 09 Sep 2004 19:19

maxxx wrote:good post, geli!

and Einsamer Wolf: BTW a mosque in my neighbourhood does not scare me at all. Why should it?


For the reasons I stated before. Common identity, history language, religious heritage and yes ethinicity are essential fo ra cohesive society. Islam and the West have expereinced centuries of conflict. I just do think it is wise to have that kind of factionalism. But this is getting away from the topic, and towards a subject which the moderators do not encourage.

EW

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Post by maxxx » 10 Sep 2004 17:20

i still disagree. The very society you are living in has nothing of this and is still "coherent" enough to dominate the whole world....

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Post by Einsamer_Wolf » 10 Sep 2004 21:29

maxxx wrote:i still disagree. The very society you are living in has nothing of this and is still "coherent" enough to dominate the whole world....


World-dominance is not the correct criterion to evaluate the well being of a society, particularly when that society is predominant in the world to a large extent due to preponderance in both people and materials. To the extent that we are the world’s super-power, I do not think we will be for long. The massive debt and borrowing may render all of this a house cards ready to tumble.
The United States is a very crass society. Most value sheer commercialism above all else, as most are satisfied by the type of bread and circus type gimmicks like professional sports and utterly stupid sit-coms, reality shows, and other network and cable television programming that dim the national conscience. Ours is a nation without heritage, culture or history. No one knows who they are. Maybe that is why most just are not very friendly to one another—why there is no feeling of community, of Volksgemeinschaft as touted in Germany during the National Socialist era. However one regards some of these issues, consider how the average American young woman speaks. I think all will agree that when Valspeak has risen to such a point that one can hear some bimbo use the word “like” some sixty-plus times in less than five minutes on the subway home (this discounts the use of other general filler words used to express general approval or disapproval), then a society is in various serious decline indeed.
I could write volumes on what I think is wrong with this country. But this would be only very tangentially related to the purpose of the forum generally as well as the thread I started. However, I would like to initiate what I will call the Einsamer Wolf Challenge, here and now. Here it is, simply read or watch the following materials, and see at the conclusion if you still think the United States—and thus Europe under its pernicious influence—is going in the right direction.
Here it is—do you dare accept The Challenge?

–The Movie Thirteen. No explanation is needed here. What is recounted here pretty much represents everything I hate about this country right now—how cultural trends are incredibly destructive to young people.
– George Romero’s The Dawn of the Dead (the original, not the remake). One of the most searing condemnations of modern American consumerism that I know of. The very notion that the need to go shopping has become so compulsive, so well-engrained that when the dead walk the earth, they will instinctively wander around in abandoned shopping malls is both hilarious and disturbing, as it offers a very sharp commentary on what this country has become.
– Boogie Nights. The movie only offers an excessively non-judgmental look at the matter. But it does force more conscientious folk to consider what this culture is doing to attractive young girls, as it also, perhaps unintentionally, shows how these things harm vulnerable people, both those who choose to partake in this and those who do not (specifically Amber Waves and the unseen son who was taken away from her). One can only guess how many young college girls, starting out first as strippers to pay for college, become lured into this—girls who would otherwise be desirable companions, wives and mothers!
– The documentary on the PBS show Frontline, The Lost Children of Rockdale County, investigating the social currents behind an outbreak of syphilis among teens and preteens as young as twelve in affluent, upper middle-class Atlanta suburb. Simply enter the term Frontline Lost Children of Rockdale County in Google for more information.
– The book Alien Nation. A dated but still cogent attack on multiculturalism and reckless, destructive immigration policies.
– Super-Size Me. Yet another movie which represents so much about what I loath about this country. When I watched this at the theatre, I could not help but imagine that Guderian, Manstein, Jodl, Doenitz, Rommel, Speer, an anonymous Landser, Hitler Youth, and SS Panzer Commander were all there with me--if not in person, then certainly in spirit. I felt they would be just as amazed that a country that would become all that recounted in the feature could defeat them as they were convinced that this would be the future that would await Europe and the West in the wake of their eventual failure. And since then, I think of that premonition I had when considering all of these, as well as other moments in American Popular Culture.

In my mind these components of The Einsamer Wolf Challenge represent the vices of a rootless society absent the concept of Volksgemeinschaft. People do not know who they are, or what their purpose is in life is, or where they belong, so they find solace in decadence. Promiscuity, drug use, crass-commercialism—all of this defines the modern American experience. The Einsamer Wolf Challenge represents the more destructive vices.
So how does this relate to the thread? Very simply! Unless Europe becomes more nationalistic, politically as well as culturally, Europe will disintegrate in time just as we on the other side of the Atlantic are. And if the death rate continues to exceed the birth rate, greater factionalism will arise with the infusion of third-world peoples, causing greater estrangement among the indigenous masses. Various benign and destructive bread and circus diversions will further anesthetize the estrangement, which render that society even less capable of correcting these trends.

Einsamer Wolf

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Post by maxxx » 10 Sep 2004 22:00

i can understand your worries about the way your society is going, but a nazi-like "volksgemeinschaft" is not what you are looking for. You already have some sort of "Volksgemeinschaft" excluding everything foreign (like other countries, ideologies, ways of living, religions) not so far from that what the nazis had too and that same feeling of supremacy.
What lmaybe look for you from far like a german "volksgemeinschaft" was a society of institutionalized hate against other people and a system of fear, control and denunciation against your own people.

Like you, I think the Us is not going in the right direction, but I strongly believe europe is going in the right direction: BECAUSE IT TRIES TO END NATIONALISM (this plague of the last two centuries) , what US does not. Well maybe you are no genetic and genuine nation there is so much talk about that with flags waving, apealing to God the Almighty, being proud to be american, and so on....
The best thing WW2 has told us is that nationalism leads to bestialism.

I find it spooky to think about you sitting in the cinema with all those dead nazis (and some not so nazi dead germans) beside you.....
Maybe with Ghandi, Albert Schweitzer and Mother Theresa in spirit on your side you also could hate the extravaganzas of americas media, but maybe you would come to more humanistic conclusions....

BTW: Who do you mean with "bimbo"?

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Post by Einsamer_Wolf » 10 Sep 2004 22:25

maxxx wrote:i can understand your worries about the way your society is going, but a nazi-like "volksgemeinschaft" is not what you are looking for. You already have some sort of "Volksgemeinschaft" excluding everything foreign (like other countries, ideologies, ways of living, religions) not so far from that what the nazis had too and that same feeling of supremacy.
What lmaybe look for you from far like a german "volksgemeinschaft" was a society of institutionalized hate against other people and a system of fear, control and denunciation against your own people.

Like you, I think the Us is not going in the right direction, but I strongly believe europe is going in the right direction: BECAUSE IT TRIES TO END NATIONALISM (this plague of the last two centuries) , what US does not. Well maybe you are no genetic and genuine nation there is so much talk about that with flags waving, apealing to God the Almighty, being proud to be american, and so on....
The best thing WW2 has told us is that nationalism leads to bestialism.

I find it spooky to think about you sitting in the cinema with all those dead nazis (and some not so nazi dead germans) beside you.....
Maybe with Ghandi, Albert Schweitzer and Mother Theresa in spirit on your side you also could hate the extravaganzas of americas media, but maybe you would come to more humanistic conclusions....

BTW: Who do you mean with "bimbo"?


A couple of quick points--nationalism is a good thing because man is intrinsically tribalistic in nature.
Bimbo is American slang for a dumb woman.
Europe is going in more of the wrong direction than we are. Succumbing to degenerate American culture while yielding to militant pacifism.
Finally, I regard all the men named in the chimera I alluded to as very fine men. Certainly they inspire me infinitely more than the figures you mentioned. I also neglected to mention the additional presence of Paul Hausser.

EW

PS-- I did not understand this sentence: "What lmaybe look for you from far like a german "volksgemeinschaft" was a society of institutionalized hate against other people and a system of fear, control and denunciation against your own people."

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Post by maxxx » 10 Sep 2004 22:45

well, call me a militant pacifist, but seeing american soldiers all around the world instead of staying in the only country where they belong to shows me you have more problems than we "pacifists".

It sounds paradox, but the more the american politics enstranges europe the better for your wish that europe will not become another america- even if europe will be NOT america in a very different way you would like it to be.

Maybe man is tribal by nature. But when you think this to an end a bavarian must fight a prussian, a saxon a suebian- so No German Nation at all !(if i think twice, this does not sound that bad...)
No serious, maybe our ancestors were tribal by nature. But they also did not use toilet paper by nature.... CIVILISATION is the magic word. It makes us use our brains instead just following the lower animal nature we all have.

Nationalism is a concept from another century- the late 18th. So lets be really modern (or really conservative) and give up this prejudice.

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