Babies for Der Fuhrer
Teen-age girls "presenting" Hitler with babies; state sanction of giant human stud farms • • • Such is the German moral picture described by this author
GUNNAR T. PIHL
A YOUNG German girl, just arrived home on leave from labor service, told her mother:
“Mother, six girls in my section are going to present the Führer with babies!”
Her tone and the way she expressed herself showed that the girl’s thoughts were innocent. I know her quite well, anyway. The education she received at home had not been sufficiently thorough in some respects, it is true. But this way of expressing the matter was not, at bottom, so innocent as it sounded. The child was parroting a phrase she had learned from her camp leaders. It was neither an ugly nor an indecent thing to “present the Führer with babies”; on the contrary there was nothing bad at all in it. Babies grow up, and with grown children the Nazis intend “to secure the nation’s living space and fill it with German life.”,
At the age of 18 the girls in Germany are sent to do labor service; recently they have even been sent at 17. All available labor power is exploited, regardless of age. The great majority of these girls go to the country, where they either help in the farmers’ homes or work on the land. Their tasks under total mobilization are exacting enough, in many cases too exacting. Formerly, when they were not driven so hard, they became robust and fat beyond recognition as a result of the hard work and the potato diet. The more particular ones had great trouble afterward to regain their figure and cared-for appearance.
Both town girls on the farms and the labor-service girls, who are placed in camps run on military lines under the command of older leaders, have an understandable desire for company. Nothing prevents them from striking up acquaintance with the men of the district, perhaps not always quite in line with city ideals, but better than nothing. Camp leaders have
been known quite frankly to exhort their charges to keep company really properly with the farmers’ sons.
I know of well-documented cases in the Silesian frontier district during the months immediately preceding the war where an attempt was, and is, being made to settle a stable^ landowning population that will act as a bulwark against dangerous neighbors. If a girl from the work cfemp properly follows the advice given her she may have a child by her companion— one presumes that the mother marries the father— and there you have another farmer family, and the farmer’s son has a wife who in other circumstances would scarcely have chosen to remain on a farm out east. Family-founding is a troublesome problem in those parts.
Knowing of such cases, I was therefore not overmuch amazed at the information the mother received from her daughter. The case of the six Führer babies may
be said to have general validity as an illustration not of the birth rate in labor camps but of the concept of sex morality in Germany. Hundreds of thousands of young girls from 17 to 18 have the opinion drilled into them by their superiors that they are doing Hitler and the fatherland a praiseworthy service by bringing children into the world. They are not thrown straight into the arms of the first available man, but they are given to understand that society will not disapprove if they voluntarily make their way into those arms and later find out that they are among those who are in a position to “present the Führer with a baby.”
“Production of Children”
THIS concept of morality has been fully developed only since the war began. It is well known that the birth rate generally ruses after great wars. Nazism considers it inexpedient to wait for peace. The Nazis have always worked energetically to increase the population, and since the war began they have greatly expanded their propaganda for the production of children. The main thesis in many arguments is that if there are no children to follow, the Nazis have nothing to fight for. No objection can be made to this point of view in itself. Many countries are struggling with the probleip of an insufficient birth rate. But the reckless tone and wanton treatment that characterize the question in Germany are undoubtedly unique.
The foundation was laid during the first years of the Nazi revolution, when woman’s duty was to prepare food and bear children. She was to limit, herself to the tasks of the married household slave. That excellently suited the overbearing victors in brown and black uniforms. It was not until some
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Babies for Der Führer
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years had passed that they discovered that the original attitude toward women would have to be toned down a little, among other reasons because a suppressed woman loses interest to a great extent in her outward appearance. There were always other women, cleverer and more refined, who stood out against the rest and spoiled the simple picture of a giant stud farm.
The party, and especially the SS, have adopted the principles of the stud farm with great enthusiasm. This had gone so far, and affected such numbers of young people who had come of age after 1933, that sex morality was in a pretty loose state when the war broke out. The war brought a fresh demand, with all the force of its death announcements, that the birth rate should in no circumstances be allowed to fall, and the authorities were prepared to sanction most of the consequences of the moral conceptions they had propagated so long as they led to an increase in the number of births. They did not go so far as to state that marriage was an unnecessary prerequisite for motherhood, but the Mayor of Munich, for instance, engaged young girls and gave them theatre tickets and passes to the museums so that they could “take care of” bachelor soldiers on leave, thus setting up a marriage market that certainly did increase the number of mothers, engagements and marriages.
Other effective methods of bringing together soldiers and unmarried women were the subject of lively discussion. But the idea that was propagated in various ways, and expressed more or less clearly, was that no unmarried woman should be ashamed of becoming a mother. Motherhood was the highest calling, the future lay in the cradles, etc. In such circumstances it became a crime against the nation to look down on an unmarried mother. The masculine half, however, seldom has any objection to make to such arguments and does not need to be convinced of the nation’s need.
Weddings By Mail
The manipulation of the Germans, with this end in view, has not been without effect. It is no scandal for an unmarried woman to become a mother, although it can be hard enough on her parents or relations, even if an engagement or a war wedding by mail helps to smooth out the more formal faults of the relationship. When “bourgeois morality” has protested against these easy principles the SS press has always
been ready to pour immediate scorn on bourgeois ideas, indulging in all sorts of inconsequentialities that were intended to hide the true facts and asserting that no one has any right to complain about the number of mothers. In this respect the nation ought to do more than its duty, the story ran.
Nazism also looks after the children. An unmarried mother who cannot look after her child herself receives immediate aid. Baby clothes are about the only new garments that can still be bought. Care is also taken that children get milk, a little fruit, and other things they need during the years of growth. Parents with children are favored as regards taxation, as in most countries; marriage loans are cancelled completely upon the birth of a fourth child, each child accounting for 259r of the loan; it is easier for large families than for small ones to obtain living quarters.
One of the most graphic examples of state-supported bachelor morality was offered by one of Hitler’s edicts on July 28, 1942. In this he declared that German soldiers who begat children of Germanic women in Germanic countries would be freed from all economic consequences of this action “for the maintenance and encouragement of racially desirable Germanic stock.” The wording reminds one of a sentence from a periodical for farmers with red-andwhite cattle.
The German state, according to Hitler, was prepared to pay all expenses in connection with the child’s birth and to support it until it reached working age. The state went even farther. It offered to make arrangements for the children to be sent to children’s homes if the mothers wanted to be rid of them. The mothers were to be “freed from all disadvantages.” Two and a quarter years after the occupation of Norway and Holland Hitler expressed his approval of loose relationships between German soldiery and Dutch and Norwegian women; he encouraged the female half in such affairs by taking over all responsibility immediately after conception, even taking over the child itself. It is a part of the Nazi doctrine that soldiers’ offsprings in occupied Germanic countries shall be regarded as German and carried off to Germany. Some Norwegian women who married German soldiers in Norway were sent to Germany as it was forbidden to “take one’s family to an occupied country.” However, the children of German soldiers in Slav countries or in Romania or Italy are not in quite the same class as those from the Germanic countries.
The foreign women workers in
Germany have naturally complicated German racial policy. It is forbidden for Germans to associate with foreigners outside the place of work, but numerous relationships have nevertheless arisen. They are denounced with great aplomb and have produced serious conflicts in many cases. By German law a German is permitted to marry a foreign woman, provided she is not a Jewess. But a man in Thuringia who had fallen in love with a Ukrainian woman and wished to take her to wife was not able to marry, although he had the law on his side. His name, address and profession were published in the Press as an example of decadence. The party took care that the marriage never took place. This was quite simple because civil marriage is obligatory and those who perform it are party men who obey orders.
“French Women Popular”
The Germans have been warned against such “despicable” tricks as sending small gift parcels to women in the barrack camps for foreign workers. That sort of thing is not compatible with German honor—“Think of your pride!” The younger French women workers are popular among the Germans. They know better than the German women how to accentuate their charms and how to associate with men in the special way of women. Thousands of German soldiers who had been sent to France began, when they returned, to look critically at their industrious and well-built but not so altogether charming Gretchens, Karlas and Luises. This attitude produced a crisis among unmarried German women, and among the married ones as well. They deplored the dangerous attractions their “defenseless” men were exposed to in foreign lands, F rance in particular. One of the most vigorous attempts at instilling comfort consisted in the frank assertion that Frenchwomen are clean only about the face.
All the available information on the delicate subject of the German attitude to marriage during wartime is not suitable for discussion. There is no shadow of doubt, however, that the line followed by Nazism on the subject of morality is leading straight toward innumerable marital catastrophes, the result of hasty marriages, and the loneliness which is the lot of the soldier’s wife.
The Nazis, somewhat warily, have denounced soldiers on leave who “disturb the confidence that should exist between a man and his wife and then, laughing and joking, start off on fresh adventures.” It might be a refrain from “The Merry Widow,” Hitler’s favorite operetta. This quotation also illuminates the moral situation and the way it was dealt with.
I have heard of a case in which prison terms were meted out to both parties in an affair with a so-called “soldier’s widow,” a rather brutal German nickname for young wives whose husbands are at the front; but obviously such behavior cannot be punished on any wide scale. It would lead to the most fearful complications. On the other hand it has been publicly pointed out that if a soldier’s wife has a child more than nine months after her husband’s last leave, she can be divorced from him against her will and the child loses all right of inheritance.
Nude Bathing Allowed
The countryman’s conceptions of sex morality differ widely from those of the city dweller, in Germany as well as other countrias. Country people are still shy of taking part in sports meets. They consider it indecent for men and women to appear together in i public in light sports dress. In the I
summer of 1942 Heinrich Himmler decided to allow bathing in the nude again (the Nazis had ceremoniously forbidden this in 1933, calling down the most fearful imprecations on the defeated “system,” the political system that had allowed such things). In July, 1943, a few yards from the road between Berlin and Königs-Wusterhausen, where the Deutschlandsender is, I saw from a car, as we sped past, a crowd of young men and women playing ball on the edge of a wood, clothed in nothing more than an Indianlike suntan. One can imagine what the conservative country people think of such paradisal sports.
The country people, however, have the very greatest reason to take special interest in the problem of the birth rate. The Nazis lay the biggest part of the responsibility for the production of children on the farmers, who are not spared anything. To the greatest burden of work borne by any group of the population is added the duty of producing many children. The population problem is such a pressing one in Germany that the only hope lies with the farmers. Propaganda has not been sufficiently successful in the towns and industrial districts. The country people are subjected to a barrage of the most intensive adjurations.
For a start every farm family would have to have nine children if the flight from the land is to be counteracted within reasonable time. Further, the fertility of all German marriages will have to be increased by 25% to prevent the population figures from dropping. The number of births will have to be increased by 70% if the Germans are to attain an average of four children per family. In 1941 one fifth of all marriages were childless; 4,000,000 families had only one child; 3,500,000 had four or more. The absolute minimum for maintaining the status quo is 3.04 children per marriage.
With the population question in its present state, the Nazis consider that the future depends on the farmer class.
Minister of Education Rust has decreed that farmers’ children are to be treated with special consideration; their knowledge or lack of knowledge must not be scrutinized too carefully when they seek higher education. Extra classes during the summer holidays have been organized for them —or would be organized if there were sufficient teachers.
But there are not. And here I touch on a matter which in my opinion is one of the most important. German education at the lowest level is in a catastrophic state. Before the war Germany needed 15,000 elementary schoolteachers per year; in 1939 the yearly supply, via the established training institutes, amounted to 1,200. When mobilization w'as ordered, the conscripts in some places consisted of up to 80% schoolteachers. In the elementary schools education literally includes only reading, writing and ’rithmetie.
In the overlarge classes, containing 50 to 60 pupils, those that are left of the qualified teachers (50% of them over 50 years old) carry on a hopeless struggle against the party and the practical difficulties. There is a shortage of textbooks, of writing materials and notebooks. Even time is too short.
Parents have very limited opportunities to educate their children, and do not dare even to think of instilling in them opinions that are not politically acceptable.
At the age of seven the child is taken in hand by the preparatory section of the Hitler Youth, where, apart from the time it spends in the abbreviated elementary school, it spends its life until it reaches 14. Then the oath to
Hitler is sworn and the little green shoot is planted in the party’s youth division. After that the child is occupied with tasks that have nothing to do with education—collecting money and rags, running errands for party offices, making toys for mites from bombed districts, premilitary training with field exercises and shooting practice —a thousand things that appear more attractive to boys and girls than school and textbooks. The party entrusts the teachers, too, with numerous “honor tasks,” which take up a lot of their time. School hours are lost because the teacher is missing or because the pupils are carrying old newspapers downstairs somewhere.
School Among the Guns
High school boys serve as assistants to the professional firemen, in firefighting shock brigades, in the civilian ARP service, and in military antiaircraft units. In many parts of Germany, particularly in the western districts, the bizarre and pedagogically impossible situation has arisen where the high school teacher has to walk out to the anti-aircraft batteries and there, among the guns and shells, try to instill Latin conjugations and declensions into minds that are filled with military terms and exercises and ideas of superiority to ordinary human beings.
The available number of universitytrained teachers for the higher schools is almost as inadequate as the supply of elementary schoolteachers. There is a shortage in all faculties. The shortage of high school teachers is considered likely to reach 65% by 1950.
Even the universities suffer from the general shortage of materials; they lack scientific textbooks and literary and technical works. And the standards and spirit at the universities have sunk like a lump of rock that has been thrown into the sea. Scientific studies have been “new-ordered,” academic freedom has been abolished; the students have been turned into an army of robots who are obliged to swallow rapidly the smallest possible portions of knowledge that will be useful in waging war.
There is no free choice of subjects. The students are referred to definite fields of work, the decisive factors being the state of the war, the shortage of teachers, and the inadequate supply of trained staff in other occupations. The right to acquire as varied an education as possible has been set aside. The academician must be an automatic machine that spits out practical things when the party sets the clockw'ork going. Free research, an expression that is bound to sound alarming to Nazi ears, may not be practiced nor may the academic liberty be exercised of studying according to personal inclination at the speed suited to one’s temperament and individual capabilities. The personal desires of students have been banished to the dusty chambers of the pre-Nazi epoch. An attitude of reserve and attempts at revolt on the part of individuals are immediately cracked down on and these misguided ones are roughly shipped off to the clattering shops of the war factories. Of German academic life nothing remains, nothing except the purest and crassest opportunism.
All this, which makes me just as depressed now as when I first learned about it, is no horror description, no picture painted only in sombre colors, even though there were perhaps brighter ones. Every item of information I have given here has been taken from German newspapers and other publications.
The moral and cultural decline in Germany is unmistakable.