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See the discussion of Keimschadigung in Heinz Woltereck, ed., Erbkunde, Rassenp¬‚ege,

Bevolkerungspolitik: Schicksalsfragen des deutschen Volkes (Leipzig: Quelle & Meyer, 1935),
102“7. By 1935 the idea that VD could cause a Keimschadigung had been discounted. See Bodo
Spiethoff, Die Geschlechtskrankheiten im Lichte der Bevolkerungspolitik, Erbgesundheits- und
Rassenp¬‚ege (Berlin, [1934]), 13.
Utopian Biopolitics 101

an active ¬ght against these cultural forces and the degenerate races that pro-
duce them could bring about national renewal. Social policy, he argued, must
contain both “eliminationist” (ausmerzenden) and “supportive” (fordernden)
policies so that the inferior (Minderwertigen) and weak no longer drained away
resources from the important task of fortifying genetically healthy and valu-
able (lebenswerten) Germans.52 From the beginning, then, demands for eugenic
measures were phrased in terms of a life-or-death struggle that could only be
won on Darwinian terms. In the Nazi interpretation this meant weeding out
all weak links and insisting that the German Volk was an organic, racial unity.
The Nazis were single-minded in their desire to eliminate all types of disabil-
ity from German society, and they relied on a racialized de¬nition of the Volk
to justify the separation, segregation, and eventual sterilization or elimination
of both un¬t Germans (mentally retarded, congenitally diseased, homosexu-
als, political dissidents) and otherwise genetically healthy non-Germans (Jews,
Gypsies, and Slavs).53 Too much has been written about the consequences
of this ideology even to summarize here, and the harshest resulting measures
(euthanasia and racial genocide) fall outside the purview of this essay.54 For
our purposes it must suf¬ce to highlight the culturally pessimistic and ulti-
mately militaristic language of Nazi eugenics, since this contrasts dramatically
with the medical language in Stalinist Russia. Adolf Hitler was particularly
likely to link reproduction and militaristic goals. In a speech in Nuremberg on
September 13, 1935, he said: “I would be ashamed to be a German man if in
the case of war a woman ever had to go to the front. Woman has her own
battle¬eld: With every child she bears for the nation, she ¬ghts her battle for
the nation.”55
This militaristic language contrasts with the Soviet perspective on eugenics,
particularly in the Stalinist era. In the 1920s, German and Soviet eugenicists
had actually engaged in a lively exchange of ideas, though the compatibility of
their perspectives was, even then, often super¬cially exaggerated by their shared

He uses these terms in ibid., 8.

See Gisela Bock, Zwangssterilisation im Nationalsozialismus: Studien zur Rassenpolitik und

Frauenpolitik (Opladen: Westdeutscher Verlag, 1986). It is now becoming commonplace to
think of euthanasia as the ¬rst stage of the Holocaust. See: Michael Burleigh, Death and
Deliverance: “Euthanasia” in Germany c. 1900“1945 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,
1994); and especially Henry Friedlander, The Origins of Nazi Genocide: From Euthanasia to
the Final Solution (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1995).
Leaving aside works that speci¬cally set out to describe and explain the Holocaust, the most oft-

cited general accounts of Nazi racial hygiene and eugenics are: Paul Weindling, Health, Race,
and German Politics Between National Uni¬cation and Nazism, 1870“1945 (Cambridge and
New York: Cambridge University Press, 1989); Michael Burleigh and Wolfgang Wippermann,
The Racial State: Germany, 1933“1945 (Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University
Press, 1991); Robert N. Proctor, Racial Hygiene: Medicine under the Nazis (Cambridge, MA:
Harvard University Press, 1988); and Peter Weingart, Jurgen Kroll, and Kurt Bayertz, Rasse,
Blut und Gene: Geschichte der Eugenik und Rassenhygiene in Deutschland (Frankfurt am
Main: Suhrkamp, 1988).
“Grundthemen der weltanschaulichen Schulung,” in BAB/NS 22/521.
David L. Hoffmann and Annette F. Timm

position as international outcasts (the Germans as the initiators of World War
I, and the Soviets as the creators of a hated Communist regime).56 Scientists
and health experts in each country, Susan Gross Solomon informs us, also often
used each other™s demographic statistics in disingenuous ways to support polit-
ical causes at home.57 Close cooperation ended, however, even before the rise
of the Nazis, as we shall soon see, and the respective ideological frameworks
of the Stalinist and Nazi regimes had a decisive impact on scienti¬c thought
in each country. Soviet policymakers, some of whom were initially convinced
that eugenics was compatible with the Bolshevik dream of revolutionary trans-
formation, came to believe that Mendelian genetics was incompatible with the
project to create new Soviet citizens. The pessimism and militarism of German-
style eugenics were rejected in favor of a more positively oriented faith in the
need to concentrate on improving the social environment.
The Soviet government initially embraced eugenics and in 1920 created the
Russian Eugenics Society (under the Commissariat of Health). The following
year the Soviet Academy of Sciences founded its Bureau of Eugenics. These
of¬cial organizations helped Russian eugenicists keep up their contacts with
eugenicists abroad, as the Russian Eugenics Society selected a representative to
the International Commission of Eugenics; established contacts with eugenic
societies in the United States, England, and Germany; and sent its president to
the 1924 International Congress of Eugenics in Milan.58 The society™s journal,
Russian Eugenics Journal, reviewed a large number of foreign books on eugen-
ics and published the programs of foreign eugenic societies. It also published
articles analyzing the impact of the war on the populations of Europe and
advocating registration and control of marriage for eugenic reasons.59
Because Marxism emphasized the role of the environment in shaping the
individual, of¬cial ideology favored Lamarckian over Mendelian eugenics.
Accordingly most Soviet eugenicists maintained a Lamarckian orientation.
Despite this orientation, however, the Soviet eugenics movement eventually ran
afoul of of¬cial ideology. In 1930, at a time when a Marxist orthodoxy was
imposed on all social sciences, the Soviet government disbanded the Russian
Eugenics Society. And in keeping with the fervor of the industrialization drive,

Loren R. Graham, “Science and Values: The Eugenics Movement in Germany and Russia in

the 1920s.” American Historical Review 82, no. 5 (1977): 1148.
Susan Gross Solomon, “The Soviet Legalization of Abortion in German Medical Discourse: A

Study of the Use of Selective Perceptions in Cross-Cultural Scienti¬c Relations.” Social Studies
of Science 22 (1992): 455“85.
Mark Adams, “Eugenics as Social Medicine in Revolutionary Russia: Prophets, Patrons, and

the Dialectics of Discipline-Building in Health and Society in Revolutionary Russia, eds. Susan
Gross Solomon and John Hutchinson (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1990), 204“7;
Loren Graham, Between Science and Values (New York: Columbia University Press, 1981),
A. V. Gorbunov, “Vliianie mirovoi voiny na dvizhenie naseleniia Evropy,” Russkii evgenicheskii

zhurnal, no. 1 (1922); Prof. P. I. Liublinskii, “Brak i evgenika” Russkii evgenicheskii zhurnal,
no. 2 (1927). The Commissariat of Health™s Department of Foreign Information also reported
on eugenic ideas promoted in other countries; GARF f. A-482, op. 35, d. 144, ll. 306“12.
Utopian Biopolitics 103

Russian eugenicists were forced to concede that the development of natural
resources was more important and practical than the eugenic development of
the population.60 Nevertheless, the formal termination of the eugenics move-
ment did not mean the end of eugenic thinking among Soviet scientists and
policymakers. Many eugenicists moved over to the Gorky Research Institute
of Medical Genetics, where they continued to discuss human genetics without
using the term eugenics.61
The ¬nal demise of Soviet eugenics occurred in 1936“7, when the work
of geneticists at the Gorky Institute became associated with fascist eugenics.
Tro¬m D. Lysenko and his followers were eager to attack hereditary genetics in
order to buttress their own Lamarckian genetics, and they denounced a number
of leading medical geneticists who were subsequently arrested and shot during
the purges.62 The fact that eugenics was ultimately condemned as a fascist
science demonstrates not only the in¬‚uence of ideology, in particular Marxism™s
emphasis on environmental over genetic determinants of social behavior, but
also Soviet leaders™ desire to highlight ideological distinctions by differentiating
socialist from fascist reproductive policies. Contrary to Soviet of¬cials™ claim,
eugenics was not exclusively a fascist science, because it was practiced widely
in nonfascist countries such as the United States. But with rising ideological
and international tensions of the 1930s, the Soviet Union rejected eugenics
more ¬rmly than ever, not only because it contradicted Soviet nurturist and
universalist thought, but because they associated it with fascism.
Eugenics is perhaps the clearest example of state and expert attempts to
effect a biosocial transformation through control of reproduction. The appeal
of eugenics lay in its promise to improve the human species through techno-
cratic means. In an age when population management seemed not only possi-
ble but necessary, it is not surprising that so many political leaders and social
reformers turned to eugenics. But equally interesting is the way that eugenics
assumed such different forms depending upon political ideologies, social con-
ditions, and the ethnic mix of populations. The ultimate demise of eugenics in
the Soviet Union illustrates that even the government most committed to social
transformation could reject a science of human biological transformation for
ideological reasons. The rejection of eugenics, however, did not lead to a rejec-
tion of efforts to encourage a higher birthrate. In fact, the Stalinist case in
particular demonstrates the necessity of keeping the various categories (eugen-
ics, population policy, reproductive politics, racial hygiene) separate. Although
many historical case studies demonstrate how interrelated these ¬elds often
were, the practical implementation often looked quite different, and the differ-
ent ideological strands must be kept separate in any international comparison.

Adams in Solomon, ed., 219.

Mark B. Adams, “Eugenics in Russia, 1900“1940,” in The Wellborn Science: Eugenics in

Germany, France, Brazil, and Russia, ed. Mark B. Adams (Oxford: Oxford University Press,
1989), 188“9.
Adams, “Eugenics in Russia,” 196.
David L. Hoffmann and Annette F. Timm

A comparative examination of the implementation of reproductive policies in
the Third Reich and Stalinist Russia makes this clear.

the implementation of reproductive policies: coercion
and incentive
Political leaders™ consternation with population trends led them to contemplate
ways to increase the birthrate. Once populations could be represented statis-
tically, and fertility trends explained on the basis of demographic studies, it
became possible to conceive of state and expert control of fertility. Contracep-
tion, abortion, and reproductive health became a focus for state intervention.
Governments across Europe also began to provide material support for moth-
ers. A wide range of people, from state of¬cials and health experts, to members
of women™s organizations and religious groups, agitated for increased govern-
ment aid to mothers. While the politics of maternalist welfare, and the policies
adopted, varied from one country to another, the overall trend was toward
extensive state intervention and propaganda designed to promote motherhood.
There are signi¬cant differences in the forms that the “rationalization” of moth-
erhood took in each case, and the Nazi and Soviet regimes ascribed very differ-
ent roles to the genders. Yet both formulated policies toward reproduction and
sexuality that intertwined elements of coercion and incentive in the effort to
instrumentalize private spheres of life in the interests of larger ideological goals.
Coercion often went hand in hand with state-legitimizing incentives for com-
pliant or supportive citizens.63 An outline of the implementation of population
policy in each regime will demonstrate that the categories of pronatalism and
antinatalism should be employed only with due consideration of the fact that
policies in either category could serve to coerce citizens into acting against their
wishes or “ sometimes simultaneously “ reward them in the interests of propa-
ganda and state legitimation. The rubric of totalitarianism does not account for
this ambiguity and fails to highlight the complexity, internal inconsistency, and
mixed results of social policy, in terms of both political goals and the impact
on individuals.
National Socialist coercive pronatalism began soon after the Machtergrei-
fung (seizure of power). The Nazis were very explicit about their intentions to
con¬ne woman to her “smaller” role of house, home, and family and reserve
the public sphere for men. Speaking to the National Socialist Women™s Orga-
nization in September 1934, Hitler argued:
If the man™s world is said to be the State, his struggle, his readiness to devote
his powers to the service of the community, then it may perhaps be said that
the woman™s is a smaller world. For her world is her husband, her family, her
children, and her home. But what would become of the greater world if there

For a pioneering study of how the valorization of motherhood helped bolster the goals of the

Nazi regime, see Claudia Koonz, Mothers in the Fatherland: Woman, the Family, and Nazi
Politics (New York: St. Martin™s Press, 1981).
Utopian Biopolitics 105

were no one to tend and care for the smaller one? . . . The two worlds are not
antagonistic. They complement each other, they belong together just as man and
woman belong together. We do not consider it correct for the woman to interfere
in the world of the man, in his main sphere. We consider it natural if these two
worlds remain distinct. To the one belongs the strength of feeling, the strength of
the soul. To the other belongs the strength of vision, of toughness, of decision,
and of the willingness to act. In the one case this strength demands the willingness
of the woman to risk her life to preserve this important cell and to multiply it,
and in the other case it demands from the man the readiness to safeguard life.
The sacri¬ces which the man makes in the struggle of his nation, the woman
makes in the preservation of that nation in individual cases. What the man gives
in courage on the battle¬eld, the woman gives in eternal self-sacri¬ce, in eternal
pain and suffering. Every child that a woman brings into the world is a battle, a
battle waged for the existence of her people.64

Unlike the Soviets, who at least in theory envisioned an equal role for women
in the economy and public sphere, women in the Third Reich were explic-
itly informed that their natures and duties were primarily maternal. The ¬rst
indication that the Nazis would make good on these ideological claims about
women™s role through coercive measures was the speed with which they shut
down the birth control clinics that had proliferated in the Weimar Republic.65
Authorities initially relied on anti-Communist legislation to shut down the
clinics, since many were run by the KPD or by Communist doctors.66 Despite
these early measures, birth control practices were widely disseminated in the
Third Reich.67 Contraceptives only came under a comprehensive ban in Jan-
uary 1941, when Heinrich Himmler issued a Police Ordinance banning their
production and distribution.68 It is signi¬cant that Himmler™s ban excluded

Jeremy Noakes and Geoffrey Pridham, ed., Nazism, 1919“1945: A Documentary Reader,

vol. 1 (Exeter: University of Exeter Press, 1997), 449.
Grossmann, Reforming Sex, 136“49; and Gabriele Czarnowski, “Frauen “ Staat “ Medizin:

Aspekte der Korperpolitik im Nationalsozialismus,” Beitrage zur feministischen Theorie und


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