The National Socialist Effort to Persuade Germans to Accept Single Motherhood:

It is no strange fact that one of the highest concerns of the National Socialist Party (Nationalsozialistiche Deutsche Arbeiterpartei) was the population reduction as a result of World War One, more specifically of the loss of men, and the lack of births during the Weimar Republic era. The task of the National Socialists, as they saw it, was to rejuvenate the German population as much as they could, which put into debate about how their racial, population concerns and objectives, should take precedence over morality. This argument was a governmental one and it had worried many that improving the status of single mothers and illegitimate children would encourage irresponsible behaviour and would destroy the traditional family. The Committee for Family Law (Familienrechtsausschuß) agreed by arguing that single motherhood would contradict population policy objectives because single mothers generally only had one child and married women would have multiple. Reich Minister of the Interior, Wilhelm Frick, also agreed: “The primordial cell of society is the family. The family is based on marriage. Marriage is the long-term relationship between two people of the opposite sex, recognised and promoted, by the state.”

To make National Socialist doctrine more acceptable regarding this change, policy makers divided single mothers into two categories: racially pure German women and their children born outside of marriage, and women who were hereditarily sick or asocial (Asoziale), whose children were a burden to the nation. The idea behind this categorisation was that it claimed the National Socialists as upholding high standards while pursuing pronatalism. They also had to actually order and demand that the organisations accept the change. And lastly, to encourage women to bear children without tainting their status, the slogan “Bear a child for the leader” (Ein Kind für den Führer gebären) was used, which essentially had the effect of making people view Adolf Hitler as the father of the child.

These unmarried mothers were not left without support from the state. The Mother and Child Relief Agency (Mutter-Kind-Hilfswerk) provided medical and psychological help to racially pure mothers and they also paid the same lowered taxes as divorced and widowed mothers.

Naturally, there was also stiff resistance by those who were religious. “Therefore, what God has joined together, let no one separate.” – Mark 10:9. So it was to be that as a result of these changes, both the Catholic and Protestant Churches highly objected to its acceptance, for it was always written that man and woman should always bear children in wedlock. Yet Walther Darré, a National Socialist ideological thinker, asserted that the distinction between married and unmarried mothers, which was created by the church, should be of secondary importance to the survival of the folk. Darré was not alone in this as Henry Picker and Alfred Rosenberg also ideologically agreed that single motherhood would be beneficial to populating the nation. The churches were backed by many German parents, who were not happy with Nazi influence upon the youth, such as one thirteen-year-old girl, who became pregnant, stating that she was “a mother and wanted to be treated as such,” and that “the leader wishes it so.”

Because of all this rebellion, this was in one of the primary reasons as to why the Fountain of Life (Lebensborn) program was created. This way, racially-pure women could have the option to devote themselves to Hitler by mating with Schutzstaffel men to bear ideological children. The process would be done in private without the scrutiny of anyone.

Though the National Socialists had attempted to change the status of single motherhood, they still greatly encouraged the traditional family. This was not a process of elimination, just of acceptance. What they desired was to equal the worth of a single mother with that of a mother in a family. From the National Socialist point of view, if a mother is capable of producing racially pure offspring, she has done her duty to her country just as much as a married mother. Hitler had often defied Christian doctrine in pursuit of national aims and the policies of pronatalism in single motherhood was one of such cases.

All of the information on this post has been sourced from: From Nurturing the Nation to Purifying the Volk pages 212-217.