As Many Abortions As
Mike W. Perry
Everything they saw that day, from the vast fields of
ripening grain to the many children, spoke of fertility. It seemed nothing could
change the vitality of these people. As Martin and Karl drove from village to
village their faces grew increasingly grave.
In the East
As Bormann hoped, that evening Hitler
chose the second policy and the next day he told Bormann to issue population
control measures for the occupied territories. Bormann developed an
eight-paragraph secret order that one historian termed "perhaps the most
extreme policy statement ever issued from the Fuhrerhauptquartier." It
included the following:
evening they returned. Martin talked about all the children he had seen and
warned that, "someday they may give us a lot of trouble" because they
were "brought up in a much more rugged way than our people." Alarm
spread through the group until its leader spoke.
Obviously peeved, he pointed out that someone had suggested that abortion
and contraceptives should be illegal here. He went on, "If any such idiot
tried to put into practice such an order. . . he would personally shoot him up.
In view of the large families of the native population, it could only suit us if
girls and women there had as many abortions as possible."
The date was 22 July 1942, the same day the Nazis began
transporting Warsaw Jews to the Treblinka death camp. The place was the
'Werewolf' headquarters in the Soviet Ukraine. The group's leader and abortion
advocate was Adolf Hitler. The two men were Martin Bormann, his secretary and
Karl Brandt, his physician.
Operation Blue, the 1942
German offensive in East Europe, had been underway for almost a month and
already its success was assumed. At Hitler's headquarters, thoughts turned to
what should be done with the occupied territories. Some wanted a lenient policy
to gain Ukrainian support in the war against the Soviet Union. Others wanted to
eliminate Slavs to make room for German settlers.
When girls and women in the Occupied
Territories of the East have abortions, we can only be in favor of it; in
any case we should not oppose it. The Fuhrer believes that we should
authorize the development of a thriving trade in contraceptives. We are not
interested in seeing the non-German population multiply.This was not the first such statement. On 25 November 1939,
shortly after the occupation of Poland, a Nazi SS organization called the Reich
Commission for Strengthening of Germandom (RKFDV) issued this decree:
All measures which have the tendency to
limit the births are to be tolerated or to be supported. Abortion in the
remaining area [of Poland] must be declared free from punishment. The means
for abortion and contraceptive means may be offered publicly without police
restriction. Homosexuality is always to be declared legal. The institutions
and persons involved professionally in abortion practices are not to be
interfered with by police.This policy was confirmed on 27 May
1941 at a Ministry of the Interior conference in Berlin. There a group of
experts recommended population control measures for Poland that included
authorization of abortion whenever the mother requested it. On 19 October
1941, a decree applied the measures to the Polish population. Hitler's 23 July
1942 decree extended it to other parts of Eastern Europe. Hitler confirmed his
order on August 5.
German experts developed plans to
insure cooperation. On 27 April 1942 in Berlin, Professor Wetzel issued a
memorandum that included the following:
Every propaganda means, especially the
press, radio, and movies, as well as pamphlets, booklets, and lectures, must
be used to instill in the Russian population the idea that it is harmful to
have several children. We must emphasize the expenses that children cause,
the good things that people could have had with the money spent on them. We
could also hint at the dangerous effect of child- bearing on a woman's
health.Local physicians were to be told that these abortions were for
the woman's benefit. A decree issued by Himmler in March 1943 stressed this
Paralleling such propaganda, a large-scale
campaign would be launched in favor of contraceptive devices. A
contraceptive industry must be established. Neither the circulation and sale
of contraceptives nor abortions must be prosecuted.
It will even be necessary to open special institutions for abortion,
and to train midwives and nurses for this purpose. The population will
practice abortion all the more willingly if these institutions are
competently operated. The doctors must be able to help out there being any
question of this being a breach of their professional ethics. Voluntary
sterilization must also be recommended by propaganda.
The Russian physicians or the Russian
Medical Association, which must not be informed of this order, are to be
told in individual cases that the pregnancy is being interrupted for reasons
of social distress. It must be explained in such a way that no conclusions
to the existence of a definite order may be drawn.German authorities were careful to note, however, that as long
as births could be prevented, sexual behavior need not be restricted. A 1944
In order to round out his propaganda in a
practical way contraceptives should be quietly distributed (with the Reich
bearing the cost). There is no harm in leaving a valve open to the natural
desires of the persons of alien blood as long as this will not interfere
with cutting off the flow of reproduction among these people of alien
In practice, German authorities went
far beyond "leaving a valve open" for sexual promiscuity. They
deliberately flooded Eastern Europe with pornography in order to destroy it
culturally, politically and spiritually. One historian describes the process
The German Propaganda Office. . . was
supposed to organize or sponsor Polish burlesque shows and publish cheap
literature, strongly erotic in nature. . . . to keep the masses on a low
level and to divert their interest from political aspirations. These
projects for degeneration and moral debasement were actually realized in the
larger Polish cities. . . . German success in this effort was significant
enough to become a target of the Polish Underground. The latter used to
dispatch some special "punishing squads" which overran some of the
ill- famed Variety Theaters and took disciplinary measures against the
Polish collaborators in the programs.The Poles also fought back in their schools. In his 1944
_Story of a Secret State_, Jan Karski gives a moving quotation from a graduation
speech at an underground school:
My dear young people, ours is a very
difficult task. You know that the enemy is striving to destroy the Polish
nation by demoralizing and degrading Polish youth. We, the old professors,
have devoted our lives to the instruction and improvement of that youth. We
are meeting the challenge for your sake, and for Poland. The struggle is not
easy. We have suffered many defeats. We are defeated whenever we see one of
you entering a German movie or theater, reading a dirty book, or patronizing
one of their gambling houses.Encouraging promiscuity was an integral part of Nazi plans
though success was not always assured. Referring to Erich Koch, Reich Commissar
for the Ukraine, one historian noted:
Even after Stalingrad, Koch, as always
conscious of the ultimate goal of Germanization, told a group of visiting
journalists that Ukrainian fertility remained a grave danger. . . . The
newsman who reported the statement to Goebbels [Propaganda Minister]. . . .
seriously doubted whether, in view of the high morals of the population, the
attainment of 'degeneration by promiscuity' could ever succeed.
Given the long history of European
anti-Semitism, it is hardly surprising that the Nazis were not the first to
attempt to limit the Jewish birth rate. Like the first stage in Nazi attacks on
the Slavs, early attempts concentrated on the family and the Jewish birth rate.
A Jewish historian described those measures:
Frederick William I had initiated the
prohibitions which confronted Jewish young people-who mostly came from large
families-with the choice of never marrying and setting up home, or of
emigrating. Frederick the Great developed these restrictions and made them
more stringent still, and other states very soon learned from them and
followed suit. In the countries of the Bohemian monarchy for example there
was the Familiants Law, renewed in 1797, i.e. more than fifteen years after
the so-called Patents of Tolerance. According to this law Jewish families in
Bohemia, Moravia and Austria-Silesia were not allowed to exceed a given
number. Thus a Jew could only marry whenever a number became free for him
through the death of another married Jew. A similar law was introduced in
Bavaria after the Napoleonic War.During
the 1800s this type of kind of attack slowly came to an end. Ironically, it was
replaced by a far more dangerous problem for the Jewish community, high rates of
assimilation coupled with a low birth rate. In 1880 the German population as a
whole had 41 births per 1000 population, but the Jews had only 32 births. By
1910 the general birth rate had dropped to 33 but the Jewish birth rate had
fallen even more, to just over 16. Far too few babies were being born to
maintain the Jewish population. As a result even before the rise of Nazism,
Germany's Jews were dying out. In Prussia alone in a typical year between 1911
and 1925, Jewish deaths exceeded births by over 37,000. In a few generations
Germany would have had no more Jews to hate.
took power, the Nazi leaders made it clear that a slow decline in the Jewish
population was not enough. Government incentives to have more children (such as
housing loan rebates) did not apply to Jews. On the other hand, attempts to
lower the birth rate of the 'unfit' applied with particular force to Jews. The
government would raise no objection to a Jew who wanted to be sterilized under
the 1933 sterilization law and a 10 November 1938 court decision in Luneberg
formally legalized abortion on demand for all Jewish women.
After 1939 German military successes created a new problem. The occupied
regions of Eastern Europe contained roughly twelve million Jews with a birth
rate far higher than that of the more educated German Jews. As with the Slavs,
Nazi leaders split over how to handle the situation. Some wanted to exterminate
all Jews outright. Others felt their labor could be exploited for the war effort
as long as Jewish births were prevented.
Himmler, head of the Nazi SS, was one of those who thought sterilization might
offer an answer. In January 1941 he asked Viktor Brack to investigate its
possibilities. Brack had played a key role in creating the euthanasia
program that Germany was using at that time to eliminate the disabled, retarded
and mentally ill. In March Brack suggested that X-rays clinics be setup at his
euthanasia centers. He felt that his centers could cheaply sterilize three to
four thousand Jews a day, freeing some two to three million Jews for work.
The technique had only one problem, a dose of X-rays powerful enough to
sterilize also left the victims with easily visible burns. There was no way to
conceal the sterilization.
That brings up an interesting
point. Parallels between Nazi population control measures and similar modern
movements are often explained away by stressing whatever differences exist
between the two. But in at least one case, a prominent Allied leader expressed a
great liking for what the Nazis had done:
Subjects to do with breeding and race seem,
indeed, to have held a certain fascination for the President. . . .
[Franklin] Roosevelt felt it in order to talk, jokingly, of dealing with
Puerto Rico's excessive birth rate by employing, in his own words, "The
methods which Hitler used effectively." He said to Charles Taussig and
William Hassett, as the former recorded it, "that it is all very simple
and painless. You have people pass through a narrow passage and then there
is a burrr of an electrical apparatus. They stay there for twenty seconds
and from then on they are sterile."At the same time that x-ray sterilization was being explored,
attempts were also being made to discover a sterilizing drug. One made from a
South American plant name, Caladium Seguinum, reached the point were one Munich
If we were to succeed on the basis of these
researches, in producing as soon as possible a drug that would within a
relatively short time, imperceptibly bring about sterilization in man, we
should have a new and extremely effective weapon at our disposal.Neither method proved effective. Hitler then
ordered Himmler to begin killing the Jews. Rudolf Hoss, commandant of Auschwitz,
described what happened this way:
In the summer of 1941, I cannot remember the
exact date, I was suddenly summoned to the Reichsfuhrer SS . . . Contrary to
his usual custom, Himmler received me without his adjutant being present and
said in effect: "The Fuhrer has ordered that the Jewish question be
solved once and for all and that we, the SS are to implement that
order."But killing millions of
Jews would take time. In the meantime, Nazi authorities concentrated on lowering
the birth rate in the Jewish ghettos. The following events are typical.
On 1 December 1941, Karl Jager, commander of Eistazkommando
3 reported on Lithuanian Jews and noted:
I am of the opinion that the male working
Jews should be sterilized immediately to prevent reproduction. Should any
Jewess nevertheless become pregnant, she is to be liquidated.In the Shavli ghetto, the diary of E.
Yerushalmi has this entry for 13 July 1942:
In accordance with the Order of the Security
Police, births are permitted in the ghetto only up to August 15, 1942. After
this date it is forbidden to give birth to Jewish children either in the
hospitals or in the homes of the pregnant women.
is pointed out, at the same time, that it is permitted to interrupt
pregnancies by means of abortions. A great responsibility rests on the
pregnant women. If they do not comply with this order, there is a danger
that they will be executed, together with their families.
Population control policies continued even inside
concentration camps. At Ravensbruck, Jewish women who became pregnant were sent
to the gas chambers. Non-Jewish women received abortions. Of course,
sterilization and abortion were merely stop gap measures. In the end, all
European Jews were to die. In the greatest secrecy, the Nazis also began to plan
for death camps large enough to exterminate some 32 million Slavs.
In the summer of 1932, almost a year
before the Nazis took power in Germany, a conference took place at the party
headquarters in Munich. It discussed Eastern Europe and assumed Germany would
someday conquer the region.
Agricultural experts pointed
out that controlling Eastern Europe would make Germany self-sufficient in food
but warned that the region's "tremendous biological fertility" must be
offset by a well-planned depopulation policy. Speaking to the assembled experts
Hitler warned, "what we have discussed here must remain
Not all Nazi insiders remained
silent. Hermann Rauschning, a prominent early Nazi, defected in the mid-
thirties and warned of Hitler's plans. In The Voice of
Destruction, he described a 1934 conversation with Hitler about the
"We are obliged to depopulate," he
went on emphatically, ". . . We shall have to develop a technique of
depopulation. . . . And by remove I don't necessarily mean destroy; I shall
simply take systematic measures to dam their great natural fertility. . . .
There are many ways, systematical and comparatively painless, or any rate
bloodless, of causing undesirable races to die out."In a speech to the Labor Front on 12 September
1936, Hitler brought up Germany's land needs when he said:
". . . . The French complained after the war that there were
twenty million Germans too many. We accept the criticism. We favor the
planned control of population movements. But our friends will have to excuse
us if we subtract the twenty millions elsewhere. . . . By doing this
gradually and without bloodshed, we demonstrate our humanity."
How Germany has to work to wrest a few
square kilometers from the ocean and from the swamps while others are
swimming in a superfluity of land!The next day the _New York
Times_ made the following comment about that speech:
If I had the Ural
Mountains with their incalculable store of treasures in raw minerals,
Siberia with its vast forests, and the Ukraine with its tremendous wheat
fields, Germany and the National Socialist leadership would swim in
There was no expression of a wish to acquire
these resources (Russian) and there was distinctly no threat. Yet when the
cheers that greeted this passage had died away one was conscious that a
thought had been cast into the pool of German mentality and that the ripples
created by it might spread far indeed.Within Nazi ideology, the positive idea of 'lebensraum,' the
pursuit of German 'living space' in the East, balanced the negative one for the
destruction of Jews. In September 1942, Hitler looked at Germany's military
conquests and commented:
Our gains in the west may add a measure of
charm to our possessions and constitute a contribution to our general
security, but our Eastern conquests are infinitely more precious, for they
are the foundation of our very existence.
Within Germany itself, Hitler had
long advocated government- funded birth control to weed out the 'unfit.' In his
1924 Mein Kampf, Hitler wrote that one of the seven major responsibilities of
government was, "to maintain the practice of modern birth control. No
diseased or weak person should be allowed to have children."
On subjects such as eugenics, sterilization, and abortion,
Nazi ideology had much in common with the leftist birth control and sex-reform
groups of the era (British and American as well as German). As Anita Grossman
notes, "The stress on eugenics and race hygiene was typical of the sex-
reform groups and suggests a complex ambivalent relationship between right-wing
nationalist population policy and leftist sex reform."
Grossman points out that during 1931 the Hamburg RV (a sex-reform group
closely associated with the Social Democratic Party) held a series of lectures
on subjects such as "Introduction to Population Politics", "Race
Theory, Eugenics, and Sterilization", and "The Elimination of Unfit
Life." (The latter refers to legalized killing of retarded, senile and
Once in power, Hitler quickly acted
to reduce the birth rates of the genetically 'unfit' (including, of course, the
Jews). Sterilization came first with the Law for the Prevention of Progeny with
Hereditary Diseases issued on 14 July 1933.34 During the Nazi regime between
320,000 and 350,000 people would be sterilized with at least 100 people, mostly
women, dying during the procedure.
next. In September of 1934 Hitler told Dr. Wagner, Reich Physicians' Leader,
that "pregnancies could be terminated in the case of hereditary ill women,
or women who had become pregnant by a hereditary ill partner." Formal
legalization came a year later on 26 June 1935 with an amendment legalizing
abortion up to viability. It was signed by Hitler and included the following two
If, by virtue of the law, a Hereditary
Health Court has decided upon the sterilisation of a woman who is pregnant
at the time the operation is carried out, the pregnancy may be terminated,
with the consent of the woman concerned, unless the foetus is already
capable of independent life, or unless the termination of the pregnancy
entails a serious danger to either the life or health of the woman
herself.Ironically, harsh as they were, the Nazi programs were far
less harsh than those advocated by birth control groups in Western democracies.
The reason was simple. The fighting and deaths of World War I had resulted in a
German 'birth dearth' of some 3-4 million. Coming twenty years after the end of
that war, Germany entered World War II underpopulated and desperately short of
young men. Whatever the Nazis might claim, they could not afford to be choosy
about their births. Strange as it sounds, Hitler was more tolerant of human
imperfection than many American, British and German birth controllers and more
optimistic about the ability of environment to alter hereditary. Hitler
reflected this greater tolerance in a conversation on the evening of 29 August
1942 at which he said:
The foetus is to be regarded as being
incapable of independent life if the termination takes place before the
completion of the sixth month of pregnancy.
Have things changed much to-day, I wonder? I
am not sure, and many of the things I see around me incline me to the
opinion that they have not. I was shown a questionnaire drawn up by the
Ministry of the Interior, which it was proposed to put to people whom it was
deemed desirable to sterilise. At least three-quarters of the questions
asked would have defeated by own good mother. One I recall was: "why
does a ship made of steel float in the water?" If this system had been
introduced before my birth, I am pretty sure I should never have been born
at all! 
As a result, Nazi eugenics stressed quantity as much as
quality and was actually less discriminatory than the eugenics advocated by
affluent, educated American birth controllers. This relatively greater tolerance
upset American birth control groups who had initially been excited by what was
happening in Germany. For instance, in 1940, Woodbridge Morris, General Director
of the Birth Control Federation of America, criticized Germany noting, "We,
too, recognize the problem of race building, but our concern is with the quality
of our people, not with their quantity alone."
Hitler's Own View
Within Germany, the Nazis claimed
their programs were for the "protection of motherhood." Their real
purpose, however, was to increase the German population and thus strengthen the
country's military and economic power. The idea of individual rights were as
irrelevant here as anywhere else in the Nazi dictatorship. Hitler believed
rights belong only to those strong enough to defend them. The weak or small and
powerless had no 'inalienable' right to life. In Mein Kampf he wrote of those
with incurable diseases:
Because of the need for soldiers and workers, within Germany, 'negative
eugenic' programs were paralleled by positive programs encouraging births among
the 'fit.' Laws limited access to birth control and tightened the punishment for
abortion among the racially wanted. As Germany conquered other countries,
similar positive programs were developed for 'racially valuable' groups in
Nordic and Baltic regions. Groups who were not considered Germanic were
targeted with only negative programs.
programs at home, along with the need to keep secret why Germany was so eager to
help Slavs and other minorities limit births, created confusion about Nazi
policy. That confusion led to Hitler's remark about "shooting up"
anyone who tried to ban abortions in the Ukraine. For instance, in the Spring of
1942, SS Reichsfuhrer Himmler had to get the chief of German police in Poland,
SS-General Krueger, to intervene so the courts would no longer punished Poles
for having abortions. Similar court behavior in Byelorussia led SS-General
Berger to remark that some administrators, "have no idea what the German
Eastern policy really means."
If the power to fight for one's own health
is no longer present, the right to live in this world of struggle ends. The
world belongs only to the forceful 'whole' man and not to the weak 'half'
man.Because of this crude Social
Darwinianism, Hitler felt abortions by the 'racially valuable' were acceptable
for social problems or to prevent family embarrassment. On 5 November 1941,
Hitler told several people that he felt the penal system made a mistake exposing
young men from "respectable families" to "living communally with
creatures who are utterly rotten."
To prove his
point, Hitler told of a young man who had been in the prison with him after the
failed 1923 Beer Hall Putsch. Earlier this young man had "fruitful
relations with a girl" and "advised her to go to an abortionist. For
that he was given a sentence of eight months." Hitler felt the
"disgrace" that the family "could never outlive" was far too
harsh. According to Hitler, such a "nice boy" should simply get a
Hitler ideas about sex were
also quite liberal. He felt that homosexuality was a private, personal matter
and no concern of society. It was Ernst Rohm, a homosexual, who "more than
any other one man, was responsible for launching Hitler . . . into German
politics." One historian noted:
Hitler knew all about Rohm's tendencies but
insisted that they were his own affair. When Rohm took on his job as Chief
of Staff of the SA, Hitler, who was still officially head of the SA, issued
a parting order that the SA was "not a girls' finishing school, but a
tough fighting formation." Complaints about people's private habits he
rejected "indignantly and on principle" as "supposition"
and "entirely private matters."
Germany During the War
During the war Nazis brought millions
of foreigners to Germany to work in factories and on farms. Many of these so-
called 'guest workers' were women who became pregnant. In their home countries
abortions were legal and encouraged by the Nazi occupation. Within Germany,
however, abortion was generally illegal except for Jews and those with what were
thought to be hereditary diseases.
In the spring and
summer of 1943 and under great secrecy, German authorities legalized abortion on
demand up to viability for these women. The fact that these women were
typically sent to university clinics or schools of midwifery and used to train
students suggests that in the future the authorities intended to make abortion
more widely available. Of course, even here racial thinking intervened. Women
who appeared to be "of German or related blood" and who made "a
good racial impression" could be denied an abortion.
Abortion legalization occurred in the opposite order as the territories,
first for female Eastern workers and later for Polish women. A captured Nazi
document describes the steps:
The Reich Leader of Public Health [Conti],
in a directive of 11 March 1943, decreed that pregnancy of female Eastern
workers may be interrupted at will. The Reich Leader SS [Himmler], with
regard hereto, on 9 June 1943, issued a decree of implementation proceedings
and extended this decree as of 1 August 1943 also to interruptions of
pregnancy for female Poles.
As in the occupied territories, the campaign was backed
by propaganda stressing the disadvantages of having children. Emphasis was
placed on separating the working mother from her child soon after birth to make
motherhood less rewarding.
Bringing to Justice
Hitler clung to his plan for 'living
space' in the East until his suicide in a Berlin bunker with Russian soldiers
only a few blocks away. On 29 April 1945 in his last message to the chief of the
German general staff, Keitel, he stressed, "the aim must still be to win
territory in the East for the German people."
abortion inside Germany created controversies within German medicine. A secret
police report dated 25 October 1943 described objections to the new abortion
policy by physicians.
Some physicians (mostly Catholic)
protested "that the decree was not in accordance with the moral obligation
of a physician to preserve life" and stressed that medicine did not permit
making distinctions based on nationality.
On the other
hand, many "politically sound" physicians, while recognizing
"racial. . . considerations" still felt the policy was a "very
dangerous experiment." They pointed out that "if the decree becomes
known. . . encouragement will be given to. . . abortions" by Germans
themselves. The latter indicates that, whatever the law, abortion was
available for Germany's healthy blond Aryans.
the war, the Nuremberg Trials brought to justice many of those involved in Nazi
crimes against humanity. Because SS Reichfuhrer Heinrich Himmler committed
suicide, no one involved in RKFDV's population control program was tried when
the International Military Tribunal judged top Nazi leaders.
Between October 1947 and March 1948, however, the U.S. Military Tribunal at
Nuremberg did try the leadership of the RKFDV in its Case 8. Among the charges
was one that "protection of the law was denied to the unborn children of
the Russian and Polish women in Nazi Germany. Abortions were encouraged and even
forced on these women."
The defense argued that
abortions had not been coerced. While this was true in general, among the Nazi
documents was one that said:
It is known that racially inferior offspring
of Eastern workers and Poles is to be avoided if at all possible. Although
pregnancy interruptions ought to be carried out on a voluntary basis only,
pressure is to be applied in each of these cases.One defendant was SS Lieutenant General Richard Hildebrandt,
Chief of the RKFDV's Race and Settlement Main Office in Berlin. Under direct
examination by his attorney, he protested that, "Up to now nobody had the
idea to see in this interruption of pregnancy a crime against humanity."
His protest had no effect. In this area like many others the Nuremberg Trials
broke new ground and he was given a 25-year sentence.
Other sentences ranged from a life sentence given Ulrich Griefelt, the
chief executive officer of the RKFDV, to the ten years given Fritz Schwalm, the
officer responsible for racial examinations to determine if a woman had an
Sometimes justice was a long time being served.
In Jerusalem during December of 1961, Adolf Eichmann was convicted of four
counts of crimes "against the Jewish people." One count was
"directing that births be banned and pregnancies interrupted among Jewish
women" at the Theresienstadt concentration camp.
After the war, worldwide condemnation
of Nazi behavior led to the definition of a new crime under international law,
the crime of genocide. Article II of the "Convention on the Prevention and
Punishment of the Crime of Genocide" defines genocide as "acts
committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical
[ethnic], racial, or religious group."
Based on the
Nazi experience, Article II further defines as a genocidal act "imposing
measures intended to prevent births within the group." Nazi policies in
Eastern Europe provide the historical context for that part of the Convention.
Any nation, organization or individual using similar tactics is guilty of
genocide under international law. Even more important, any individual
participating in such activities can be tried for 'crimes against humanity' even
if such actions were legal in the country where they occurred. In the United
States the Genocide Treaty applies with particular force. Now that it has been
ratified by the Senate, the treaty carries the same legal authority as the
Constitution and overrides as other laws and court decisions. Anyone
participating in such activity can be prosecuted for genocide.
Nazi population policy can be
summarized in the following way:
- Medical and legal policies on contraceptives,
abortion, and child-rearing were designed to reduce the birthrate of
unwanted groups. Contraceptives were freely available and often supplied
without charge. Abortion was made legal, safe, and conveniently available
through special clinics or local physicians. Mothers were expected to work
and were deliberately separated from their children at an early age to make
motherhood less meaningful.
- For non-Jews, population control appeared voluntary,
but coercion was always present at least to the extent that avoiding birth
was made easier than childbearing. For those living under difficult
conditions, that is enough to constitute coercion. For Jews sterilization
and abortions were often forced.
- The media cooperated by stressing the personal
disadvantages of having children and telling how childbirth could be avoided
by birth control and abortion. Pornography and sex without children
(including homosexuality) were promoted to weaken the family, distract from
political resistance, and destroy spiritual values.
- Much like the Holocaust, the real purpose of these
policies-reducing the population of unwanted groups-was kept a closely
guarded secret. This sometimes lead to conflict between those who set up the
policies and those who carried them out without knowing their purpose. After
the war, Nazi population policies in Eastern Europe led to the recognition
of a new crime under international law, the crime of genocide.
- Alexander Dallin, German Rule in Russia, 1941-1945
(London, 1957), 141f. Clarissa Henry and Marc Hillel, _Of Pure Blood_,
Trans. Eric Mossbacher (New York, 1976), 148. Ihor Kamenetsky, "German
Lebensraum Policy in Eastern Europe During World War II" (Ph.D.
dissertation, Univ. of Ill., 1957) (Ann Arbor, MI: University Microfilm, #
25,236), 172-73, Ihor Kamenetsky, _Secret Nazi Plans for Eastern Europe_
(New York, 1961), 143, Joachim C. Fest, _Hitler_ (New York, 1975), 683-84.
- Nora Levin, The Holocaust (New York, 1973), 232-33.
- Jochen von Lang with Claus Sibyll, _The Secretary_,
Trans. Christa Armstrong and Peter White, (New York, 1979), 209-11, David
Irving, Hitler's War (New York, 1977), 402-03 Robert L. Koehl, _RKFDV:
German Resettlement and Population Policy 1939-1945_ (Cambridge, 1957), 227.
For a book-length treatment see: Dallin, _German Rule_.
- Dallin, _German Rule_, 141.
- Leon Poliakov, _Harvest of Hate_ (Syracuse, NY,
1954), 272-74. _Nuremberg_: NO-1878. Dallin, _German Rule_, 457. German text
in Kamenetsky, _Secret Nazi Plans_, 197-99.
- For more on RKFDV see: Koehl, _RKFDV_, Kamenetsky,
_Secret Nazi Plans_, Michael R. Marrus, _The Unwanted: European Refugees in
the Twentieth Century_ (New York, 1985), 219-227. Anna Bramwel, _Blood and
Soil_ (Abbotsbrooke, England, 1985), 146f.
- Kamenetsky, "German Lebensraum," 171.
- Raul Hilberg, _The Destruction of European Jews_
(Chicago, 1961), 642. _Nuremberg_: NG-844.
- Dallin, German Rule, 457.
- Poliakov, _Harvest of Hate_, 272-74. _Nuremberg_:
- _Trials of War Criminals Before the Nuremberg
Military Tribunals_ [Called _NMT_ below] (Washington, 1949-54) V:109.
Russian physicians were familiar with changing abortion laws. In November
1920 Lenin legalized abortion on demand. In 1936, as war tensions grew,
Stalin had abortion declared illegal. see Edward H. Carr. _Socialism in One
Country_, 1924-26, 3 vols. (London, 1958), I:28-29, 33. Richard Stites, _The
Women's Liberation Movement in Russia_ (Princeton, 1975), 264-65, 355,
- _NMT_ , IV:1122. _Nuremberg_: NO-5311.
- Kamenetsky, Secret Nazi Plans, 114.
- Jan Karski, _Story of a Secret State_ (Boston:
Houghton Mifflin Co., 1944), 307. See also p. 243.
- Dallin, _German Rule_, 458. The cooperation of a
"newsman" is not surprising. Unlike the churches or the military,
very few members of the German news media belonged to the anti-Nazi
- Graupe, Heinz Moshe. _The Rise of Modern Judaism, An
Intellectual History of German Jewry 1650-1942_. Huntington, NY: Robert E.
Krieger Publishing Co., 1978, 92. Frederick the Great was also hostile to
- Wallace R. Deuel, _People Under Hitler_, (New York:
Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1942), 189-190. The figures in the next
paragraph come from the same source.
- Robert N. Proctor, _Racial Hygiene_ (Cambridge:
Harvard University Press, 1988), 123. See also: Gitta Sereny, _Into That
Darkness_, (New York: McGraw Hill, 1974), 62.
- Leon Poliakov, _Harvest of Hate_, (Syracuse, NY:
Syracuse University Press, 1954), 192.
- Gerald Reitlinger, _The Final Solution_, 2nd ed.
(New York: Thomas Yoseloff, 1961), 188-189. See also: Nira Feldman,
"Concentration and Extermination Camps", _Holocaust_, (Jerusalem:
Keter Publ. House, 1974), 88. Originally published in the _Encyclopedia
- Christopher Thorne, _Allies of a Kind_ (New York:
Oxford University Press, 1978), 158-159.
- Eugen Kogon, _The Theory and Practice of Hell_, (New
York: Berkley Books, n.d.), trans. by Heinz Norden, 168.
- Yad Vashem, _Documents of the Holocaust_,
(Jerusalem: Ktav Publishing House, 1981), 350. From R. Hoss, _Commandant of
Auschwitz-The Autobiography of Rudolf Hoss_, (London, 1961), 206-208.
- Yad Vashem, _Documents of the Holocaust_,
(Jerusalem, 1981), 401.
- _Documents of the Holocaust_, 451.
- Nira Feldman, "Concentration and Extermination
Camps", in _Holocaust_, (Jerusalem, 1974), 84-85.
- Hermann Rauschning, _The Voice of Destruction_ (New
York, 1940), 34-38. Joseph B. Schechtman, _European Population Transfers,
1939-1945_ (New York, 1946), 266, 296.
agriculture policy see: _Blood and Soil_, 63f. In the early twenties Hitler
had been undecided as to whether Germany should ally itself with Britain and
take land from Russia or ally itself with Russia and build up its world
trade. For a discussion of how Hitler's ideas developed see: Eberhard
Jackel, _Hitler's Weltanschauung_ Trans. Herbert Arnold, (Middletown, CN:
Wesleyan University Press, 1972), 32f. Secrecy was needed, not to protect
the basic idea that Germany intended to conquer the countries to its east,
as Hitler had published a pamphlet on that subject as early as 1926 and in
the second volume of _Mein Kampf_. The secrecy was to conceal the fact that
Hitler's plans were real and not, as some thought, mere political posturing.
Also in his public statements of the twenties Hitler appeared to ignore the
fact that Eastern Europe was already populated (_Weltanschauung_, 42f).
During the thirties, "depopulation" policies would be developed
and those had to remain secret even after the war began and the territiories
were taken. One author thinks Alfred Rosenberg developed the details of this
policy. See: Louis Leo Snyder, _Hitlerism, The Iron Fist in Germany_ (New
York: Mohawk Press, 1932), 145.
- Rauschning, _The Voice_, 137-8. See also: Adolf
Hitler, _My New Order_, Ed. Raoul de Roussy de Sales, (New York: Reynal
& Hitchcock, 1941), 619. It was Georges Clemenceau, the French premier,
who talked of "twenty million Germans too many."
- Hitler, _My New Order_, 400. See also: Adolf Hitler,
_Hitler's Table Talk_, 1941-44 Transl. Norman Cameron and R. H. Stevens
(London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1953), 261-262.
- Hitler, _My New Order_, 401.
- Hitler, _Hitler's Table Talk_, 1941-44, 697.
Kamenetsky,_Secret Nazi Plans_, 80.
- Louis L. Snyder ed., _Hitler's Third Reich: A
Documentary History_ (Chicago, 1981), 46. Adolf Hitler, _Mein Kampf_, Trans.
Ralph Manheim (Boston, 1943), 255, 402-05.
- Anita Grossman, "`Satisfaction is Domestic
Happiness': Mass Working Class Sex Reform Organizations in the Weimar
Republic" in Michael Dobkowski and Isidor Wallimann, Ed. _Towards the
Holocaust: The Social and Economic Collapse of the Weimar Republic_
(Westport, CN, 1983), 271. For parallels with the American birth control
movement see: M W. Perry, "How Planned Parenthood Got Its Name."
_International Review of Natural Family Planning_ X:3 (Fall 1986): 234-42.
For a political analysis of those parallels see: M. W. Perry, "The
Sound of the Machine." _The Freeman_. July 1988, 257-262.
- Michael Burleigh and Wolfgang Wipperman, _The Racial
State: Germany_ 1933-1945 (Cambridge, 1991), 136.
- Michael Burleigh and Wolfgang Wipperman, _The Racial
State: Germany 1933-1945_ (Cambridge, 1991), 138. Other estimates run as
high as 400,000. See: Robert Proctor, _Racial Hygiene_ (Cambridge: Harvard
University Press, 1988), 108.
- Michael Burleigh and Wolfgang Wipperman, _The Racial
State: Germany 1933-1945_ (Cambridge, 1991), 140. Oddly, the book's index
makes no mention of this lengthy and detailed discussion of abortion
legalization even though it includes a mere passing reference to abortion as
a valid cause for divorce on page 253.
- Michael Burleigh and Wolfgang Wipperman, _The Racial
State: Germany_ 1933-1945 (Cambridge, 1991), 140-141.
- Adolf Hitler, _Hitler's Table Talk, 1941-44_ Transl.
Norman Cameron and R. H. Stevens (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1953),
- _Birth Control Review_, XXIV:3 (January, 1940), 38.
In 1942 this organization became the Planned Parenthood Federation of
- Kamenetsky, "German Lebensraum", 175.
_NMT_, IV:1077-79. _Nuremberg_: NO-1803, NO-3520.
- Kamenetsky, "German Lebensraum", 173. From
Himmler's File #1302, Folder H. 11; _Nuremberg_: NO-3134.
- Hitler, _Mein Kampf_, 257.
- _Hitler's Table Talk, 1941-44_, Trans. Norman
Cameron and R. H. Stevens (London, n.d.), 112-13.
- Heinz Hohne, _The Order of the Death's Head, The
Story of Hitler's S.S._ Trans. Richard Barry, (New York: 1966, 1967), 17.
- Hohne, _The Order_, 81.
- Robert N. Proctor, _Racial Hygiene_ (Cambridge:
Harvard University Press, 1988), 123, 366.
- Robert N. Proctor, _Racial Hygiene_ (Cambridge:
Harvard University Press, 1988), 123.
- _NMT_, IV:1082. _Nuremberg_: 1753-PS, NO-3250
(Eastern workers), NO-1384 (Polish women).
- _NMT_, IV:1122-27. _Nuremberg_: NO-5311.
- _NMT_, IV:1081-84. _Nuremberg_: NO-3512.
- _NMT_, IV:1077.
- _NMT_, V:112. A German military report of 13 July
1943 referred to "an intensification of countermeasures" against
Ukrainians including the "forcible abortion of pregnant women." In
William Manchester, The Arms of Krupp (New York, 1964, 1965, 1968), 486.
Some forced abortions were probably to punish women who became pregnant to
avoid forced labor in Germany. See Dallin, _German Rule_, 435, 458.
- _NMT_, IV:1076, 1081, 1090.
- Hannah Arendt, _Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on
the Banality of Evil_, (New York: Viking Press, 1963), 222-23.
- Nehemiah Robinson. _The Genocide Convention, A
Commentary_ (New York, 1960), 57. Leo Kuper, _The Prevention of Genocide_
(New Haven, 1985), 241f. For the origin of the term "genocide" see
Raphael Lemkin, Axis Rule in Occupied Europe (Washington, 1944), 79f.
Author's Note: Research for this article began during graduate study in
biomedical history at the University of Washington's Medical School. Mike Perry
(206) 365-1624, 1537 34th Ave. NE, Seattle, WA 98125. September, 1994.
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