Never become ladies, remain German girls and women! — Julius Streicher
Who will ever ask in three or five hundred years' time whether a Fräulein Müller or Schulze was unhappy? — Heinrich Himmler
The National Socialist movement, from the beginning a militant community of like-minded men, had almost no place in its ranks for women. The very first general meeting of members early in 1921 passed a unanimous resolution that
'a woman can never be accepted into the leadership of the party and into the governing committee'.(1)
The Fuhrerlexikon, or index of leaders, among countless names, often of third-rate people, does not list one woman; and during the subsequent years of the Third Reich, in spite of all the organisations of millions of both sexes, there was no true political representation of women. The misogyny of the initial phase, despite all mitigating assurances by the top leadership, remained a basic factor and emphatically differentiated the NSDAP from all other political groups and parties. The type of homeless man, profoundly incapable of bourgeois stability, who gave the movement its shape during the early phase, generally despised attachment to a wife and family along with all other ties. The decisive influences in his life, experience at the front, the years of the Freikorps, the militant alliances in the big cities, had always had the character of a men's society, and the feelings of Comradeship from those years further reinforced this masculine exclusiveness. In the idea of a carefully fostered elite and hierarchy, particularly in the SA and later in the SS, in the ecstatic admiration for the Indomitable leader', the 'heroic friend' and the self-sacrificing comrade' we see a repeated tendency to homosexuality also revealed in the soft, vaguely sentimental tone used to embellish acts of brutality.
It is no coincidence that for years no one found his way into the movement's top leadership who had a family or whose family life matched the image of National Socialist ideology. In countless and tirelessly presented metaphors, pictures, monuments, as well as in the amateurish but officially fostered 'genuinely national poetry', (2) the type is pictured as a heroic figure, preferably on his own land, gazing boldly into the rising sun or standing with legs apart as he offers his strong bare chest to the turbulent waves of life, and leaning against him is his tall, full-bosomed wife; she too is doughty and valiant, but at the same time fervent, profound and gay amid the children to whom she has tirelessly given birth. This erect blond idyll with the unmistakable aura of male sweat and nobility of soul was peculiar to all stylizations of National Socialist ideology, in whatever sphere. Behind the stilted heroism of these pictures there always lurked the sober considerations of power politics, which saw marriage as a 'productive relationship' and graded women according to their 'child-bearing achievements'.(3) Naturally, the prevalent military vocabulary spoke of
'throwing woman into the struggle', of battles fought 'not in the social but in the erotic sphere. The fulfilment of love, happiness in love, conception, and birth are the heroic high-points of female life.'(4)
The woman who 'voluntarily renounced motherhood' was a 'deserter', and Hitler even proclaimed:
'Every child which she brings into the world is a battle which she wins for the existence or non-existence of her nation.'(5)
For the origin and content of National Socialist ideology in respect of women, however, we must look beyond simple considerations of power to Hitler's own problematic attitude to the opposite sex. We can be fairly certain that his personal deviation from the ideal which he set up, like all his decisions and even his private behaviour, was determined in the first place by considerations relating to the psychology of power. As early as 1919 his late mentor, Dietrich Eckart, giving his idea of the future saviour of Germany at the table of a Schwabing tavern, demanded,
'He must be a bachelor! Then we shall bring in the women.'
And later Hitler himself admitted that in view of the decisive importance of women in the elections he could not afford to marry. (6) One of the determining factors in his 'unorthodox' behaviour, was undoubtedly his own emotional coldness and inability to make human contact, which emerges clearly in the account given by his youthful friend August Kubizek of his relations with the girl 'Stefanie'. Possibly the already complex tangle of his personal relationships with women was further complicated by the unhappy affair of his niece Geli Raubal; she seems to have sought escape from the oppression of his presence by sudden suicide, although we cannot and should not decide here which factor was the prime cause and which merely reinforced her decision. In any case, according to a witness from his immediate entourage, Hitler's characteristic fear of all spontaneous human attitudes included a constant fear 'of entering into conversation with a woman', and there are good grounds for the supposition occasionally put forward that his later carefully concealed relationship with Eva Braun, far from being a natural sexual bond, was intended solely to provide a strained confirmation of his manhood in his own eyes and those of his closest followers. (7)
There is an element of speculation in such theories. More revealing and reliable is Hitler's Mein Kampf, which involuntarily lays bare the essential elements in what is clearly a pathological attitude to women, above all in the endless and almost unbearable chapter on syphilis, in the whole of his curiously debauched vocabulary, and also in that ever-recurring repulsive nightmare that evidently obsessed him throughout his life and to which Julius Streicher — whom he again and again protected against every attack — later gave such squalid publicity. In it the cruelly chained naked Germanic woman is approached from the background by a lurking, black-haired Jewish butcher, while he himself, a cowardly, inhibited, ever-failing Saint George, does not set the maiden free but leaves her to the 'dragon'. There is reason to believe that his so-called Weltanschauung was largely the rationalization of the hatred and vengeance aroused by such humiliating dreams, and the ideological frame in which he sought to place women contained features of this vision, marked by both transfiguring and depressive ideas, which was never subjected to the corrective experience of a normal sexual relationship.
However, as has been explained already, in his public appearances as a speaker before large crowds Hitler sought and to a great extent found what was denied him in contact with a single individual. Moreover the unmistakable element of self-gratification here, as well as the evidence that he was suffering from frustration, had a special attraction for women, whose enthusiastic reactions in the early days of the movement 'were usually decisive for the success' of Hitler's speeches. (8) Friedrich Reck-Malleczewen once compared him, after a chance meeting, to a marriage swindler out to catch love-hungry cooks and Hitler himself admitted that women had 'played a not insignificant part in my political career'. Quite simply they discovered, chose and idolized him. (9) Long before the Münchener Post stated in April 1923 that there was talk of 'women infatuated by Hitler', Countess Reventlow proclaimed him 'the coming Messiah'; he was surrounded by motherly women friends who 'instinctively scented the unsatisfied male'(10) in the sombre, profoundly strange young man. In particular there were Carola Hoffmann, a headmaster's widow, the wife of the publisher Bruckmann, who was descended from the highest European nobility; and the wife of Bechstein the piano manufacturer. They above all, joined in later years by this or that successor, or rival, opened the doors of so-called better society to him. They largely represented, not the respectable right, but a class grown blase and weary of the refinements of life, who sought precisely those sensations which Hitler had to offer: his extremism, the hair-raising consistency of his views, but also his social awkwardness and his bad manners. The total effect of his personality was the delight of a society with time on its hands, which took its stimulants where it could find them. At the same time the gloomy strain, the depression from which he seemed to suffer, suggested all sorts of tensions waiting to be released, and there was a great deal of sombre desire involved in the motherly care. Hannah Arendt has noted the
'continually growing admiration of good society for the underworld'in the nineteenth century, 'its gradual yielding in all moral questions, its growing predilection for the anarchic cynicism of its offspring'.
She has drawn attention to the astounding affinity between the political ideology of the mob and the ideology of bourgeois society, beneath all its hypocrisy, an affinity that was at its closest in the Munich salons of the early 1920s or later in the famous circle of Frau von Dircksen. (11)
Almost more effective than the social and abundant material assistance which the young agitator increasingly received from this quarter (12) was its importance for the cult that developed around his person. Certainly the elements of immoderate veneration in the 'masculine movement' were no less effective. But the over-excited, distinctly hysterical tone that quickly spread in all directions sprang in the first place from the excessive emotionalism of a particular kind of elderly woman who sought to activate the unsatisfied impulses within her in the tumult of nightly political demonstrations before the ecstatic figure of Hitler.
'One must have seen from above, from the speaker's rostrum,' wrote one of Hitler's closest followers, 'the rapturously rolling, moist, veiled eyes of the female listeners in order to be in no further doubt as to the character of this enthusiasm':
the 'role of eroticism in modern mass propaganda' has rarely been more effectively documented. (13)
And in just the same way that skilful stage-management perverted political demonstrations into purely instinctual processes by the use of subtle stimuli, so Hitler visibly degenerated from an orator in the true sense to an impulse-object before whom the neurotic petty bourgeoisie gathered for collective debauch, waiting lustfully for the moment of escape from all inhibitions, of the great release, when the crowd's yell strikingly revealed the pleasurable character of these proceedings and their resemblance to the public sexual acts of primitive tribes. Hitler himself declared that in his speeches he had 'systematically adapted himself to the taste of women', who from the beginning had been 'among his most enthusiastic admirers'; and even during the war he tried to counter moods of criticism with rhetorical arguments 'addressed above all to the female mind'.(14)
Whether we hold political considerations or Hitler's personal fixations responsible for this mass eroticism, in either case woman is treated solely as an object and specific female qualities, such as capacity for self-surrender or demand for authority and order, are seen and evaluated solely as making woman more susceptible to psychological manipulation. Here, then, lies the point of intersection between Hitler's individual tendencies and the few clear outlines of National Socialist ideology concerning women; for although in the main this ideology merely revived theories advanced in popular writings, it nevertheless gave them a particular direction, and behind the deceitful homeliness of its words and images appeared the murderous reality of its aims. It was never anything other than a pseudo-romantic disguise for political, imperialistic purposes — herein revealing a characteristic feature of all National Socialist ideological practice.
The self-confident claim that National Socialism would finally solve the question of women's emancipation was based on the notion that the uncertain position of women in modern society was entirely the result of the liberal idea of the equality of the sexes. As soon as the natural difference between man and woman — on the face of it denied by the ideology of human rights — was restored and a return made to origins, to the primordial will, all the problems 'artificially created by an intellectualism of the most depraved kind' would become meaningless.(15)
According to this view, woman was the preserver of the tribe and of biological inheritance, the guardian of the unadulterated racial fountainhead, of domestic virtue and eternal morality. Unlike man, as Alfred Rosenberg once put it, woman thinks 'lyrically' and not 'systematically', 'atomistically' and not 'synoptically', whatever that may mean; and while he saw it as one of woman's main tasks 'to preach the maintenance of the purity of the race', the Reich Women's Leader Gertrud Scholtz-Klink, in full agreement, complained especially of the absence in sober modern times of the sacred racial function and significance of women and called upon them 'to become once more the priestesses of the family and nation'.(16) In the light of such ideas, the women's rights movement of the nineteenth century appeared as a 'symptom of decay', like democracy, liberalism or parliamentarianism, 'a phrase invented by the Jewish intellect' as part of the systematic destruction of the Aryan race, as Hitler put it.(17) A popular exposition of National Socialist ideology stated:
'German women wish in the main to be wives and mothers, they do not wish to be comrades, as the Red philanthropists try to convince themselves and women. They have no longing for the factory, no longing for the office, and no longing for Parliament. A cosy home, a loved husband, and a multitude of happy children are closer to their hearts.'(18)
The hostile attitude towards the modern world peculiar to National Socialism, its overheated, romantic protest against the big city and against civilisation as such, and its ludicrous attempt to impose agrarian models on a highly technological industrial society, which went as far as an open demand for the 'creation of a peasant mentality in the nation', (19) also found expression in the ideal which it postulated for women. The directives for the guidance of National Socialist writers vividly demonstrate this. Ministerial quarters suggested the following themes for the 'creators of literature': 'The seizure of land by the peasants; the idea of the clan; the law relating to the entailed farm; resistance to urbanization; the testing of men in a new popular order subject to the racial idea; the life of soldiers and settlers linked with the soil; the technical equipment and cultural independence of the village.' In a newspaper article proclaiming 'order in German writing', Reich Theatrical Controller Rainer Schlosser wrote:
'Do we not all await the resurrection of that genuine German eroticism which distinguished a Goethe, a Kleist, a Storm, or a Morike? Our writers must be drawn as by little else to confront the raving alien sexual speculations springing from Asiatic soil, now happily stamped out, with the exalted song of the blossoming blood of the German who is close to the soil!'(20)
Common to these and many similar declarations was condemnation of the so-called Ibsen woman, who had cast off the motherly qualities of the 'primordial woman, the peasant woman' and 'instead of children [had] psychological conflicts', (21) and of the whole urban type of the 'lady', whose attributes were held to be red lips, lacquered fingernails, high heels and the enjoyment of nicotine. In the early years of National Socialist rule in particular, there were numerous persecutions inspired by a bullying puritanism whose sour narrow-mindedness was in striking contrast to the regime's contempt for morality and worship of rough and vital force in other fields; even Goebbels was stung to protest. Police chiefs of numerous German cities put up posters in all public restaurants forbidding females to smoke, and the Erfurt police chief actually invited the population to stop women who were smoking and 'remind them of their duty as German women and mothers'.(22) In the prevailing image, which inextricably mingled the type of the Frisian peasant woman with traits of Queen Luise, 'German' and nicotine, 'German' and lipstick, or 'German' and fashion were incompatible concepts. As Curt Rosten's pamphlet "The ABC of National Socialism" put it:
But German men want German women again, and quite rightly. Not a frivolous plaything who is superficial and only out for pleasure, who decks herself with tawdry finery and is like a glittering exterior that is hollow and drab within. Our opponents sought to bend women to their dark purposes by painting frivolous life in the most glowing colours and portraying the true profession allotted to woman by nature as slavery. (23)
This profession was exclusively that of motherhood and 'guardian of the hearth', and the 'lady' was always suspected of not taking this task with the seriousness proper to a consciousness of her duty to the race based on solid ideological convictions. She, the devastating example of her kind, was held responsible for the disturbing 'twilight of the family'. It was she too who withdrew from the simple and unwavering reproduction upon which all the medley of theories ultimately converged; in the jargon, she was guilty of 'treason against nature' by taking part in the 'child-bearing strike'.(24) 'The healthy is a heroic commandment,' was the maxim of this human ideal proclaimed by Hanns Johst. (25) In Mein Kampf Hitler had already promised
'to do away with the idea that what he does with his own body is each individual's own business',
and the tendency to treat marriage as a breeding institution foreshadowed what were later called 'practices of elimination based on the laws of heredity'.
'A popular state will have in the first instance to raise marriage from the level of a constant racial disgrace [Rassenschande] in order to give it the consecrated character of that institution which is called upon to beget the image and likeness of the Lord and not monstrosities halfway between men and monkeys.' (26)
Any idea of withdrawing from all functions, interests and rights was always denied by National Socialist ideologists, who asserted that
'the mental and spiritual struggle of women has its rights and its tasks alongside the advancing struggle of men'.
As Gertrud Scholtz-Klink rather quaintly put it:
'Even if our weapon is only the wooden spoon, its striking power shall be no less than that of other weapons.'(27)
Motherhood stood at the core of such attempts to raise the status of women.
'Can women imagine anything finer than to experience centuries and millenia with the beloved husband in the cosy home in reverent attention to the inner workings of creative motherhood?'(28)
And while Goebbels gave the assurance that
'woman is being removed from public life' only in order 'that her essential dignity may be restored to her',(29)
Hitler stated frankly:
'If in the past the liberal-intellectual women's movements contained in their programmes many, many points arising out of the so-called "mind", then the programme of our National Socialist women's movement really only contains one single point and that point is: the child.'
Such propositions claimed to solve the problem while in fact simply ignoring it along with all the ideas behind it, and Hitler would follow them up with a threadbare vision of the harmony of the sexes in the National Socialist state:
'Then conflict and quarrels will never be able to break out between the sexes, but they will go through this life hand in hand and fighting together, as was intended by Providence, which created them both to this purpose.'(30)
The aphoristic and often incomprehensibly generalized nature of National Socialism's numerous references to the place of women was in keeping with the leadership's lack of concern with ideological precision, which contrasted of course with its acute instinct for the actual facts of power. While the new leaders, after 30th January 1933, resolutely seized upon effective means of influencing women and the family, they left all elements of a woman-and-family ideology, already widely treated in popular literature, suspended in a state of vagueness or self-contradiction. Their claim to total control, to which the existing women's associations fell victim at the very beginning of the National Socialist reorganization measures, yielded them bases for power in an incalculable multitude of organizations: the National Socialist People's Welfare Organization, the National Socialist Women's Club, the German Women's Organization with its ancillary groups, the Mother and Child Relief Organization, the Women's Office of the German Workers' Front (DAF).
'We alone are entitled,'cried Hitler, 'to lead the people as such — the individual man, the individual woman. We regulate relations between the sexes. We mould the child!'And elsewhere he declared that children 'belong to their mothers as at the same moment they belong to me'.(31)
To ensure that these demands were met, a comprehensive list of 'national-biological' measures was proposed and planned from 1933 onwards, though only the anti-Semitic parts of it were actually put fully into practice, the remainder getting no further than the thoroughly barbaric first steps. The multiplicity of offices, committees, expert advisers and ministerial departments claiming future jurisdiction over population, racial and health matters was in keeping with the new laws designed to raise the birth-rate and improve eugenic standards. Among these were the 'Law for the Encouragement of Marriage' of 5th July 1933 (with a new version on 21st February 1935), whose main provision was marriage loans with exemption from repayment as a reward for a large number of children; the 'Law for the Prevention of Hereditarily Sick Offspring' was publicly acclaimed as the 'beginning of state measures for the elimination' of the biologically inferior; and there were projects for 'making the establishment of young civil servants dependent upon their being married'.(32) Other measures in the same category included the attempts to introduce the genealogical tree (Ahnenpass), and the transformation of register offices into family offices which were to be entrusted with the task of elucidating 'the blood relationships of all Germans' with the aid of photocopies of all church registers. Then came the euthanasia programme and finally the establishment of the Motherhood Cross, to be awarded on each 12th August- 'the birthday of our Fuhrer's mother', as the explanatory preamble stated — and based upon the idea that
'the German mother of many children should hold the same place of honour in the national community as the front-line soldier, for her risk of life and body for people and Fatherland was the same as that of the front-line soldier in the thunder of battle'. (33)
Real influence was also assured by gathering women together in strictly regimented, uniformed compulsory organizations such as the female Hitler Youth or the institutions of the Women's Labour Corps, the founding of which strikingly resembled a popular counter-measure to the supposed Jewish-liberal masculinization of women and is impressive evidence of the way ideology could be twisted in National Socialism. As always when ideology came into conflict with its concern for power, the National Socialist leaders came down on the side of power, and the attempt to justify this act of ideological self-contradiction by invoking the idea of the national community was all too transparent. (34) Over and above this there was an evident attempt to develop in the female in the Reich Labour Service (RAD) the new type of ideal woman, who was to be contrasted with the 'protesting, demonstrating "suffragettes" of other countries who ludicrously aped male ways' to act, by virtue of her ideological and biological predisposition, as a 'living example' of National Socialism. (35)
This type possessed its fixed characteristics, and only later, in particular through the more urbane influence of Magda Goebbels, wife of the Propaganda Minister, was it possible to introduce some cosmetic improvements on the coarse, peasant contours of this female image. But the ideal remained of a blonde apotheosis beneath hair tied in a bun or plaited in a diadem; of the heavy-hipped, athletic woman in a long full skirt, wearing flat heels and freed from the prohibited stays, a figure lacking all intimacy and looking, for all its stylized naturalness, strikingly unnatural and radiating a discouraging pseudo-rustic jollity. In her every movement, this woman seemed actually conscious of her 'duty to the blood' and of carrying within her the 'necessary self-control in the interests of service to the race'.(36) A marriage advertisement dating from 1935 gives a graphic picture of this type:
52-year-old, pure Aryan physician,
fighter at Tannenberg, wishing to settle down,
desires male offspring through civil marriage
with young, healthy virgin of pure Aryan stock,
undemanding, suited to heavy work and thrifty,
with flat heels, without earrings, if possible without money.
No marriage brokers. Secrecy guaranteed.
Letters to box number AEH 151,094, C/o M. Neuest. (37)
Outside such fantasies, the ideal type of National Socialist woman found its purest incarnation in Gerda Bormann, the wife of Martin Bormann. In addition to her family background, her outward appearance, and the great number of her children, she had an imperturbable attachment to the person of the Fuhrer that went hand in hand with a simple, literal, ideological seriousness open to every intellectual claim, no matter how unreasonable. Her correspondence with her husband, part of which has now been published, makes absolutely clear the basic psychological pattern of this type of woman: the yearning for subjection and self-surrender that lacks neither the features of personal unselfishness nor the shrill tones of hysterical faith; the blatant prejudices and the ability to fit all obviously contradictory facts into her philosophy without any intellectual embarrassment, to canonize stupidities, and to surrender blissfully to the densest obscurity.
'O Daddy,'she wrote once towards the end of the war in a characteristic tone of homespun extravagance, 'every word which the Fuhrer said in the years of our hardest struggles is going round and round in my head again.'And a little later: 'On the radio they are singing the song "And if the world were full of devils". Without knowing it Luther wrote a real Nazi song!'
She worries about the meaning of history for life, about Charlemagne's responsibility for the intrusion of Christianity and Jewry into Central Europe, about the deleterious effects of Christian morality as such, and about racial characteristics, and immediately accepts instruction from educational speakers or Gauleiters which makes 'everything clear at once'. Her zeal was always ready for ideological devotional exercises or tests and quite willing to be taken at its word, in fact glad of every sacrifice demanded 'for the cause'. Only in this light can we understand why when her husband told her of his finally successful seduction of the actress 'M' her only reply was to suggest that he brought 'M' home with him, that they worked out a system of shift motherhood and finally
'put all the children together in the house on the lake, and live together, and the wife who is not having a child will always be able to come and stay with you in Obersalzberg or Berlin'.
Then she assures him: —
Of course I'm not angry with the two of you, nor am I jealous. This was something that overcame you, just as you are often assailed by an idea or a desire and then carry it out immediately in your headlong, resolute fashion. I'm only worried whether you haven't given that poor girl a frightful shock with your impetuous ways. [AT FIRST NO DOUBT I DID.(Bormann's comment)] Does she really love you, then?
The incident suggests a practical step in accordance with ideology:
It would be a good thing if a law were to be made at the end of this war, like the one at the end of the Thirty Years' War, which would entitle healthy, valuable men to have two wives. [THE FUHRER IS THINKING ON SIMILAR LINES. ( Bormann's comment)] So frighteningly few valuable men survive this fateful struggle, so many valuable women are doomed to be barren because their destined mate was killed in battle — Should that be? We need the children of these women too! [ABSOLUTELY, FOR THE STRUGGLES TO COME, WHICH WILL DECIDE THE NATIONAL DESTINY. ( Bormann's comment)] (38)
With this and with her further ideas on the 'National Emergency Marriage'; which was to annul the principle of monogamous marriage and permit secondary wives in the interests of child production, Gerda Bormann's train of thought was in keeping with numerous official proposals. Certain popular aspects of National Socialist family policy have partially concealed the fact that state assistance measures were aimed exclusively at creating the population requirements for the German people's 'imperial mission', that is to say for war. While Bormann demanded that 'for the sake of our nation's future we must practise a positive mother cult',(39) Walther Darre remarked with the carefree indifference of the ideologist who takes catastrophes in his stride that 'with a healthy land law and healthy marriages a war has never damaged the Nordic race in a biological sense'.(40) on the same lines, Himmler stated that
'without multiplying our blood we shall not be able to maintain the Great Germanic Empire that is in the process of coming into existence'.(41)
And if the Director of the Party Chancellery in a memorandum on 'The Safeguarding of the Future of the German Nation' described the 'fertility of many age groups of millions of women' as the 'most precious capital', it was nevertheless from the outset capital amassed only to be squandered: the purely aggressive character of the National Socialist outlook rarely emerges more openly. Thus Hitler declared:
'That we have an excess of children will be our good fortune, for it will cause us want[!].'(42)
The high losses of the war, which were obviously not reckoned with in this deliberate planning for want, inspired in the top leadership from about 1943 onwards a flood of ghastly projects in which the pretentious narrow-mindedness of small-animal breeders was unhesitatingly applied to the human world in a mixture of amateurish fantasies, lasciviousness and an excruciating philistine 'wit' masquerading as the exacting seriousness of statesmanship conscious of its debt to the future. Hitler and his closest advisers started from the assumption that after the war three to four million women would have to remain unmarried, a loss which, reckoned in divisions, as Hitler commented in the course of a discussion, 'cannot be tolerated by our nation'. Consequently these women too must be given the opportunity of having children. Since, however, as Bormann's memorandum puts it in the language of the tavern, 'they cannot receive their children from the Holy Ghost, but only from those German men who are still left', the state had to see to it that 'the decent, strong-minded, physically and psychically healthy men reproduce themselves increasingly'. A special procedure of application and selection was to make it possible for them
'to enter into a firmly established marriage not only with one woman but also with another, in which without more ado the second woman takes the name of the husband, her children the name of the father'.(43)
Similar ideas were put forward by Himmler. In the 'SS Order for the Combined SS and Police' of 28th October 1939, following earlier pronouncements, he had called for the procreation even, and especially, of illegitimate children, and taken the first practical steps by setting up the state registered brothel organisation, the Lebensborn, as well as by the systematic drafting of so-called 'conception assistants'.(44) Now, along with Bormann, he became the driving force in these projects. To safeguard the privileged position of the first wife he proposed for her the title 'Domina', and advocated that the right to enter into a second marriage should initially be bestowed
'as a high distinction upon the heroes of the war, holders of the German Cross in gold as well as the holders of the Knight's Cross'.Later he said that 'this could be extended to holders of the Iron Cross First Class as well as those holding the silver and gold close-combat bar';(45)
for 'the greatest fighter is entitled to the most beautiful woman', as Hitler used to say. The clichés of a romantic view of history, the dream of Saint George of his early years, and the fruits of reading the tracts on social Darwinism that had formed the basis of Hitler's education combined into an unspeakable amalgam:
If the German man as a soldier must be unconditionally prepared to die, then he must also have the freedom to love unconditionally. Fighting and love belong together. The bourgeois can think himself lucky to get what is left over.(46)
The projected new law envisaged the possibility of dissolving a marriage that had remained childless for five years,
'since a childless marriage is not of the slightest interest to a state that is concerned with the procreation of as many children as possible'.(47)
According to a statement by Kaltenbrunner, citing similar ideas put forward within the top leadership of the SS,
'all single and married women up to the age of thirty-five who do not already have four children should be obliged to produce four children by racially pure, unexceptionable German men. Whether these men are married is without significance. Every family that already has four children must set the husband free for this action.'(48)
Kaltenbrunner linked these ideas with comprehensive future plans for extermination and thereby once more clearly revealed the dual motive behind them. For alongside the immediate objective of increasing Germany's power, there was always the aim of achieving that 'new man' whose birth Hitler once described as the true historic task of National Socialism. (49) To the numerous projects put forward with this object National Socialist theorists devoted themselves with passion and a verbosity intended to create the impression that they were initiates with special knowledge — the more so since this limited field of anthropology, with its largely untested assumptions and its tendency to pseudo-scientific speculative obscurantism, left them every conceivable freedom. There was already available from the social Darwinist schools of the nineteenth century a whole arsenal of ideas relating to being unworthy to live, a quantitative population policy, compulsory segregation and sterilisation of those unqualified to reproduce themselves, principles of selection and the idea of aristocratic polygamy. All this had been discussed long ago and merely required a few terminological modifications before being applied to the new conditions. Pseudo-romantic passion for nature and exaltation of country life, based upon the idea that cultural and social advance worked against natural selection, rested upon earlier ideas. Himmler's Lebensborn organisation had a forerunner in the 'Human Garden' of the Mittgart-Bund, (50) and personal files setting out the heredity of individuals had already been introduced for a section of the population in the card-indexed breeding-points system of RuSHA, the SS Head Office for Race and Settlement. From the nineteenth century dated the conviction that by 'favourable combinations of genes' the overall level of humanity could be raised to that of the genius
'and we may therefore expect that the distinguished poets and philosophers of the future will radically excel a Homer or a Shakespeare, a Goethe or a Humboldt';
Himmler's comment on the same lines had one significant variation, that 'Nietzsche's Superman could be attained by means of breeding.'(51) With the 'Engagement and Marriage Order' for the SS of 31st December 1931, he acquired the means of influencing his followers' choice of partner; in the RuSHA he created the instrument for systematic breeding control; and by the subsequent nomination of Munich as the 'capital of the New Order and the family' he staked his personal claim in the execution of future comprehensive plans. (52) The next step was the methodical planning of so-called 'Women's Universities for Wisdom and Culture'. Starting from the conviction that the German people lacked
'the great, strong, purposeful woman such as the Romans possessed in their Vestals and the Teutons in their Wise Women'
,he proposed to gather together in schools a politically, biologically and intellectually selected elite of young women. After an education that was to extend from courses in cooking and housecraft through sport and revolver-shooting to the basic rules of the Foreign Service they would be given the title 'High Woman'. It was Hitler's idea that they should first of all replace
'the wives of most of our National Socialist leaders', who were merely 'good, trusty housewives who were entirely in place during the time of struggle but no longer suit their husbands today'.
Such systematic coupling of people of high value to form
'National Socialist model marriages', Himmler enthused, 'is a unique phenomenon and can be the basis for a new advance of the Germanic race'.(53)
The enlightenment of the public on all these projects, however, as Bormann urged, should 'for obvious reasons not begin until after the war'. Nevertheless psychological preparation was begun. In future no novels, short stories or plays were to be permitted
'which equate "marital drama" with "marital infidelity" or present conflicts between a "lawful wife" and an "unlawful rival". On the contrary,' Bormann's memorandum continues 'we must skilfully and unobtrusively indicate that, for example, as genealogical investigation reveals, very many family trees of famous scholars, statesmen, artists, economists and soldiers show the birth of illegitimate children.'
Moreover, the word 'illegitimate' itself must be 'totally eradicated'; rather
'it is necessary for us to eliminate and forbid the various designations for a "relationship" that now have a more or less disreputable ring'and instead 'find good friendly names for it'.(54)
The good friendly names were not found, and if not all, then at least most of all this remained at the project stage in the blood cult of the fanatical planners. The ideological concepts of National Socialism still give off an almost palpable effluvium, an obscene odour of ideological poverty. The view of woman as never more than an object of ambitious struggle for political power becomes nakedly clear in the plans to multiply the Germanic race, to 'freshen and renew its blood'. Quite consistently, what had begun as a protest against the 'masculinization' of women ended with the eradication of all differences under the totalitarian system, which finally recognized only sexless 'operational units'. The degradation of woman under Hitler and National Socialism was never fully appreciated by contemporary public opinion, corrupted as it was with the help of popular measures designed to foster the regime's plans; even today its extent has not been fully recognized. It was surely a reflection of this degradation, intensified by the conditions of private life, that of the six women who were close to Hitler in the course of his life five committed or attempted suicide. (55)
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