As Many Abortions as Possible

Author: Mike W. Perry


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 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."[1]

The date was 22 July 1942, the same day the Nazis began transporting Warsaw Jews to the Treblinka death camp.[2] 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.[3]

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."[4] It included the following:

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.[5]

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)[6] 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.[7]

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.[8] 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.[9]


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. 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.[10] 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 point:

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.[11]

German authorities were careful to note, however, that as long as births could be prevented, sexual behavior need not be restricted. A 1944 memorandum noted:

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 race.[12]

Promoting Pornography

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 this way:

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.[13]

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.[14]

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.[15]

Against Jews

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.[16]

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.[17] 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.

After they 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.[18]

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.

Heinrich 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.[19] 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.[20] 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."[21]

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 physician claimed:

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.[22]

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.[23]

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.[24]

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. It 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.[25]

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.[26] 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.

Historical Roots

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 confidential."[27]

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 Slavs.

"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."

". . . . 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."[28]

In a speech to the Labor Front on 12 September 1936, Hitler brought up Germany's land needs when he said:

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! 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 plenty![29]

The next day the _New York Times_ made the following comment about that speech:

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.[30]

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.[31]

Inside Germany

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."[32]

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."[33]

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 mentally-ill people.)

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.[35]

Abortion came 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."[36] 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 clauses:

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. 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.[37]

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:

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! [38]

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."[39]

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.[40] Groups who were not considered Germanic were targeted with only negative programs.

The positive 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."[41]

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:

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.[42]

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."[43]

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 "sound licking."

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."[44] 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." [45]

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.[46] 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.[47]

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.[48]

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.[49]

Extending legalized 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.[50] The latter indicates that, whatever the law, abortion was available for Germany's healthy blond Aryans.

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."

After 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."[51]

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.[52]

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.[53]

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 abortion.

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.[54]

Genocide Convention

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."[55] 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:

o 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.

o 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. o 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. o 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. References:

[1] 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.

[2] Nora Levin, The Holocaust (New York, 1973), 232-33.

[3] 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_.

[4] Dallin, _German Rule_, 141.

[5] 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.

[6] 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.

[7] Kamenetsky, "German Lebensraum," 171.

[8] Raul Hilberg, _The Destruction of European Jews_ (Chicago, 1961), 642. _Nuremberg_: NG-844.

[9] Dallin, German Rule, 457.

[10] Poliakov, _Harvest of Hate_, 272-74. _Nuremberg_: NG-2325.

[11] _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, 385-88, 403-05.

[12] _NMT_ , IV:1122. _Nuremberg_: NO-5311.

[13] Kamenetsky, Secret Nazi Plans, 114.

[14] Jan Karski, _Story of a Secret State_ (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1944), 307. See also p. 243.

[15] 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 resistance

[16] 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 historic Christianity.

[17] 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.

[18] Robert N. Proctor, _Racial Hygiene_ (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1988), 123. See also: Gitta Sereny, _Into That Darkness_, (New York: McGraw Hill, 1974), 62.

[19] Leon Poliakov, _Harvest of Hate_, (Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 1954), 192.

[20] 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 Judaica_.

[21] Christopher Thorne, _Allies of a Kind_ (New York: Oxford University Press, 1978), 158-159.

[22] Eugen Kogon, _The Theory and Practice of Hell_, (New York: Berkley Books, n.d.), trans. by Heinz Norden, 168.

[23] 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.

[24] Yad Vashem, _Documents of the Holocaust_, (Jerusalem, 1981), 401.

[25] _Documents of the Holocaust_, 451.

[26] Nira Feldman, ``Concentration and Extermination Camps,'' in _Holocaust_, (Jerusalem, 1974), 84-85.

[27] Hermann Rauschning, _The Voice of Destruction_ (New York, 1940), 34-38. Joseph B. Schechtman, _European Population Transfers, 1939-1945_ (New York, 1946), 266, 296. For Nazi 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.

[28] 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."

[29] 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.

[30] Hitler, _My New Order_, 401.

[31] Hitler, _Hitler's Table Talk_, 1941-44, 697. Kamenetsky,_Secret Nazi Plans_, 80.

[32] 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.

[33] 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.

[34] Michael Burleigh and Wolfgang Wipperman, _The Racial State: Germany_ 1933-1945 (Cambridge, 1991), 136.

[35] 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.

[36] 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.

[37] Michael Burleigh and Wolfgang Wipperman, _The Racial State: Germany_ 1933-1945 (Cambridge, 1991), 140-141.

[38] Adolf Hitler, _Hitler's Table Talk, 1941-44_ Transl. Norman Cameron and R. H. Stevens (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1953), 674-675.

[39] _Birth Control Review_, XXIV:3 (January, 1940), 38. In 1942 this organization became the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

[40] Kamenetsky, "German Lebensraum," 175. _NMT_, IV:1077-79. _Nuremberg_: NO-1803, NO-3520.

[41] Kamenetsky, "German Lebensraum," 173. From Himmler's File #1302, Folder H. 11; _Nuremberg_: NO-3134.

[42] Hitler, _Mein Kampf_, 257.

[43] _Hitler's Table Talk, 1941-44_, Trans. Norman Cameron and R. H. Stevens (London, n.d.), 112-13.

[44] Heinz Hohne, _The Order of the Death's Head, The Story of Hitler's S.S._ Trans. Richard Barry, (New York: 1966, 1967), 17. [45] Hohne, _The Order_, 81.

[46] Robert N. Proctor, _Racial Hygiene_ (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1988), 123, 366.

[47] Robert N. Proctor, _Racial Hygiene_ (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1988), 123.

[48] _NMT_, IV:1082. _Nuremberg_: 1753-PS, NO-3250 (Eastern workers), NO-1384 (Polish women).

[49] _NMT_, IV:1122-27. _Nuremberg_: NO-5311.

[50] _NMT_, IV:1081-84. _Nuremberg_: NO-3512.

[51] _NMT_, IV:1077.

[52] _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.

[53] _NMT_, IV:1076, 1081, 1090.

[54] Hannah Arendt, _Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil_, (New York: Viking Press, 1963), 222-23.

[55] 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.

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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. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------