Population Control Under the Nazis
A Documented History
A Documented History
Adolph Hitler's advocacy of population control -- measures designed to increase the German population and to reduce the numbers of non-Germans -- is well known. He argued forcefully for more prolific breeding among racially "desirable" groups, and demanded that contraceptives and pro-contraceptive propaganda be widely disseminated among those he considered "inferior." The importance of eugenic policies was emphasized in Mein Kampf:
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.
Mein Kampf at page 257.
The Eastern European territories were of special strategic importance to the Nazi regime. In fact, Hitler noted the importance of the eastern territories in a communique dated September, 1942:
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.
Secret Nazi Plans for Eastern Europe by Ihor Kamenetsky (1961), page 80.
There is abundant evidence that the Nazi regime favored the use of pro-contraceptive propaganda as a tactic for population control. Hermann Rauschning, who defected from the Nazi party in the 1930s, warned of the genocidal plans of German leaders in a book called The Voice of Destruction. In this book, he recalled a 1934 conversation in which Hitler said about the peoples of eastern Europe:
"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."
The Voice of Destruction by Hermann Rauschning (1940) at 34-38.
On April 27, 1942, officials sent out an order to the effect that:
Every propaganda means, specially 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.
Harvest of Hate by Leon Poliakov, pages 272- 274.
In July of the same year, a secret policy memorandum was prepared, on orders from Hitler, by his secretary, Martin Bormann. Among other things, it urged that abortions should be tolerated as part of the Nazi population control campaign, although the procedure was strenuously opposed when it came to women of pure German blood. The memorandum stated:
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.
Harvest of Hate by Leon Poliakov (1954), pages 272-274.
And a later memorandum, circulated in 1944, added this:
In order to round out this 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.