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Praxis 8 (1985): 84“5.
Lisa Pine, Nazi Family Policy, 1933“1945 (Oxford and New York: Berg, 1997), 19.

Historians have not yet achieved consensus on the availability of birth control in the Third

Reich. This is perhaps a problem of de¬nition. The fact that condoms were excluded from
laws outlawing birth control in the Third Reich meant that they were of¬cially classi¬ed as
prophylactics (against venereal disease), despite the fact that they could also be used for birth
control. Historians (not to mention their historical sources) have not always been speci¬c
enough about what they mean when they write about birth control. When, for instance, Robert
G. Waite argues that that even teenagers were “well acquainted with contraceptives” in the
early 1940s and that teenage girls in Luneburg used birth control regularly, he does not say
what kind of devices or practices they were actually using (see Robert G. Waite, “Teenage
Sexuality in Nazi Germany,” Journal of the History of Sexuality 8, no. 3 [1998]: 434“76).
It is necessary, in other words, to distinguish between prophylactic birth control (condoms),
nonprophylactic birth control (which can include, of course, various forms of continence and
“natural” methods), and nonprophylactic contraceptive devices.
Discussions about making birth control illegal, supported by Adolf Hitler, began much earlier.

See the minutes of meeting of Sachverstandigenbeirat fur Bevolkerungs- und Rassenpolitik, 3
¨ ¨ ¨
August 1933, in BA-B, R43 II/720a, Bl. 120“6.
David L. Hoffmann and Annette F. Timm

condoms. Concerns about venereal disease and the view of many Nazi leaders
(particularly Himmler) that male workers and soldiers required sexual outlets
to be effective and productive persuaded them that condoms had to remain
available to men seeking the services of prostitutes. While women™s sexuality
was conceived exclusively in terms of the relationship to reproduction, men
were expected (even encouraged) to stray, in the interests of improving ¬ghting
morale and worker productivity.69
Pointing out this encouragement of male extramarital sexual activity should
not be taken as an argument that the Nazi ideal of supporting the family
weakened or con¬‚icted with actual practice; Nazi leaders like Himmler simply
assumed that even family men would be promiscuous. But these policies do
point to the need to relativize our focus on “family policy” by putting it in
context with other Nazi views on sexual behavior.70 The Nazi emphasis on
the family was accompanied by a coercive attitude toward nonmarital sexual
activity, but not in the sense that the antifascist sexual revolutionaries of the
1960s claimed.71 Contrary to some stereotypes, the Third Reich was not a
particularly sexually repressive society, since individuals were encouraged to
engage in sexual activity outside marriage as long as it resulted in the birth of
more “Aryan” babies or invigorated men for productive work in industry and
soldiering. Whereas Soviet policymakers raged against the “Red Don Juans”
who abandoned their families, the Nazis accepted promiscuity and virtually
insatiable sexual appetites as central to male nature. Himmler, in fact, assumed
that these urges would be racially valuable, since they would prompt truly
patriotic Germans to produce “Aryan” children both within and outside tra-
ditional marriages. The best soldiers, he insisted “ those most likely to require
prostitutes for sexual relief on the front because of their strongly masculine
energies “ would also, for the same reasons, be the most proli¬c of citizens
once they returned to their wives.72

The result of this mentality was state support for prostitution. See Annette F. Timm, “Sex with

a Purpose: Prostitution, Venereal Disease and Militarized Masculinity in the Third Reich.”
Journal of the History of Sexuality 11, no. 1“2 (2002): 223“55.
See, for example, Pine; Irmgard Weyrather, Muttertag und Mutterkreuz: Der Kult um die

“deutsche Mutter” im Nationalsozialismus (Frankfurt am Main: Fischer Taschenbuch Verlag,
1993); and Gabriele Czarnowski, Das kontrollierte Paar: Ehe- und Sexualpolitik im National-
sozialismus (Weinheim: Deutsche Studien Verlag, 1991).
Dagmar Herzog, “˜Pleasure, Sex and Politics Belong Together™: Post-Holocaust Memory and

the Sexual Revolution in West Germany,” Critical Inquiry 24, no. 2 (1998): 393“444. Herzog
exposes the ideological and historically inaccurate nature of the New Leftist claim “that it was
sexual repression that engendered the Nazi capacity for cruelty and mass murder” (397).
See his famous October 1939 speech, in which he called upon all racially “valuable” and

patriotic Germans to produce children, even if they were illegitimate, to feed the nation™s
need for soldiers. This was a very controversial stance, even within the party. See George L.
Mosse, Nationalism and Sexuality: Respectability and Abnormal Sexuality in Modern Europe
(New York: H. Fertig, 1985), 166“7. The impact of the speech on actual practice has been
vastly overblown, particularly by those who have used it to make the inaccurate claim that
Himmler™s Lebensborn maternity homes were “breeding farms” where SS soldiers impreg-
nated fertile Aryan women. The most authorative book on the Lebensborn is Georg Lilienthal,
Der “Lebensborn e.V.”: Ein Instrument nationalsozialistischer Rassenpolitik (Stuttgart: Fischer
Utopian Biopolitics 107

The comparison to Soviet policies is instructive. Soviet young people, Sheila
Fitzpatrick informs us, received con¬‚icting messages about sexual freedom.
Soviet propaganda about the emancipation of women and explicit arguments
by party members like Aleksandra Kollontai gave them the impression that
“sexual and political liberation went together.”73 This ran counter to the views
of Lenin and other Old Bolsheviks, who expected sexual restraint and viewed
sexual freedom as a distraction from the task of building a new society. An
anti-decadence propaganda campaign was accordingly directed at Komsomol
members in 1926“7.74 While sexual norms continued to be debated through-
out the 1920s, by the 1930s, with the end of NEP and small-scale capitalism,
the danger of bourgeois in¬‚uences within the family receded in the minds of
Soviet leaders, and they more actively promoted stable families and sexual pro-
priety. At the same time, they never adopted the strict division of gender roles
characteristic of the Nazis, and indeed they recruited women into the industrial
workforce.75 The absence in the Soviet Union of the kind of racial ideology
that prompted Nazi policymakers to view the family as the “germ cell” of the
nation and illegitimate children as a “gift” to the Fuhrer (as long as they were
racially “desirable”) meant that despite revolutionary rhetoric, of¬cial Soviet
policy on sexuality was much less radical than that of key National Social-
ists. While Himmler and others advocated a kind of repressive desublimation,
as Herbert Marcuse once described it,76 Soviet of¬cials sought to sublimate
sexual energies to the tasks of socialist construction. No generalization about

1985). Actual practice in Lebensborn homes must be distinguished from the fantasies of some
Nazi leaders (particularly Himmler) about policies to be introduced in the future. See Hans
Peter Bleuel, Sex and Society in Nazi Germany, ed. and with introduction by Heinrich Fraenkel,
trans. J. Maxwell Brownjohn (Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1973), 169.
Sheila Fitzpatrick, The Cultural Front: Power and Culture in Revolutionary Russia (Ithaca, NY:

Cornell University Press, 1992), 68. See also Eric Naiman, Sex in Public: The Incarnation of
Early Soviet Ideology (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1997).
Ibid., 69.

For further discussion, see Wendy Z. Goldman, Women at the Gates: Gender and Industry

in Stalin™s Russia (Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2002); Elizabeth
Wood, The Baba and the Comrade: Gender and Politics in Revolutionary Russia (Bloomington:
Indiana University Press, 1997); Melanie Ilic, Women Workers in the Soviet Interwar Economy:
From “Protection” to “Equality” (New York: St. Martin™s Press in association with Centre for
Russian and East European Studies, University of Birmingham, 1999).
In late 1941, Marcuse wrote an unpublished analysis in which he argued that the Nazis had lifted
sexual taboos for repressive purposes. (See “Uber soziale und politische Aspekte des National-
sozialismus,” in Herbert Marcuse, Feindanalysen: Uber die Deutschen, ed. Peter-Erwin Jansen
and Detlev Claussen [Luneburg: zu Klampen Verlag, 1998], 91“117, available in translation as
Technology, War and Fascism.) He argued here that the sexual activity in Nazi youth camps,
the sexual excesses of the “racial elites,” and anti-Semitic pornography were all part and parcel
of Nazi population policy. They were ways of rewarding and/or encouraging the extra labor
power required from the population to achieve the aggressive racist aims of the state. By lifting
sexual taboos, Marcuse argued, the Nazis made sex into a political domain. Hitherto repressed
sexual energies were now socialized and put to work for the regime. The individual was taught
to understand his/her sexual satisfaction as a patriotic duty. In the process the last bastion of the
individual “ the last area in which private wishes and desires could be addressed and ful¬lled “
was torn down.
David L. Hoffmann and Annette F. Timm

attitudes toward sexuality could thus encompass practice in these two regimes
(either internally or in comparison). Seemingly sacrosanct ideological values
(such as the centrality of the family in Nazi social policy, or ideas about sexual
liberation in the Soviet Union) were regularly compromised in the interests of
what were considered more pressing practical exigencies.
The degree of support for bourgeois family values among Nazi policymakers
depended upon their perceived value for the militaristic goals of the regime.
While prostitution was tolerated and even planned (though not publicly val-
orized) as a reward for hard-¬ghting soldiers, and extramarital sex was encour-
aged if it produced more “Aryan” babies, unorthodox forms of sexual expres-
sion thought to diminish ¬ghting strength were actively repressed. Himmler™s
argument for prostitution rested on his belief that the close comradeship of
the ¬ghting unit (the Mannerbund) created a breeding ground for homosexual
urges that needed to be counteracted through punishment and the creation of
possibilities for heterosexual sex.77 Aside from making prostitutes available,
he ordered that soldiers engaged in the invasion of Poland in 1939 would be
released “from otherwise necessary bourgeois [burgerlicher] laws and habits”
so that children could be conceived “even outside of marriage with German
women and girls of good blood.” Bourgeois values were to take a backseat
to the “victory of the child” as a necessary corollary to the “victory of the
sword.”78 Hitler, though less vocal on the subject, agreed, insisting, “Our
uprising has nothing to do with bourgeois virtues. We are an uprising born of
our nation™s strength “ the strength of its loins as well, if you like.”79 Sexual
prowess, reproduction, and ¬ghting strength were all combined in this world-
view, and homosexuality, particularly in military ranks, thus represented not
just a moral, but a military threat. This view prevailed against the more lib-
ertine arguments of Ernst Rohm, who argued against all forms of bourgeois
prudishness in sexual matters, particularly with reference to homosexuality.80

Justifying his tolerance for military prostitution, Himmler argued: “In this area we will be as

generous as we can possibly be, since one cannot on the one hand want to prevent that the whole
male youth wanders off towards homosexuality and on the other hand leave them no way out.”
Quoted in Christa Paul, Zwangsprostitution: Staatlich errichtete Bordelle im Nationalsozialis-
mus (Berlin: Edition Hentrich, 1994), 12. On the Mannerbund and militarized masculinity in
the Third Reich, see George L. Mosse, Nationalism and Sexuality: Respectability and Abnormal
Sexuality in Modern Europe (New York: H. Fertig, 1985); and Thomas Kuhne, “˜Aus diesem
Krieg werden nicht nur harte Manner heimkehren™: Kriegskamaradschaft und Mannlichkeit im
¨ ¨
¨ ¨
20. Jahrhundert,” in Mannergeschichte “ Geschlechtergeschichte: Mannlichkeit im Wandel der
Moderne, Reihe Geschichte und Geschlechter, ed. Thomas Kuhne (Frankfurt am Main [u.a.]:
Campus, 1996).
“SS-Befehl fur die gesamte SS und Polizei” 28 Oct. 1939, in Bundesarchiv (Berlin) “ hereafter

BA-B “ NS19/3973.
Quoted in Hans Peter Bleuel, Sex and Society in Nazi Germany (New York: Dorset Press,

1996), 3.
Ernst Rohm openly rejected bourgeois sexuality and its hypocrisies in his 1928 autobiography,

Die Geschichte eines Hochverraters (Munich, 1928). But, as Eleanor Hancock has argued, this
position was always an uncomfortable one in the Nazi Party and “came into con¬‚ict with
the more usual National Socialist view of sexuality, which saw its main purpose as reproduc-
Utopian Biopolitics 109

The militarization of masculinity in the Third Reich ultimately won the day on
issues of sexual propriety. In cases where sexual energies could be harnessed to
military campaigns, they were encouraged. When sexual activity was thought
to threaten ¬ghting strength, as did homosexuality, it was harshly repressed.81
But the emphasis on uniting military and reproductive energies also affected
those who conformed to the Nazi masculine ideal. Married men in SS units were
often given short leaves to visit with their wives in hotels near the front, in the
hope that they would conceive a child.82 Himmler expected SS members to be
exemplary fathers of large families (with at least four children), and he expected
infertile SS couples to adopt. SS of¬cers were compelled under a 1936 order
to become supporting members of Lebensborn e.V., an organization dedicated
to helping racially valuable families with many children and unwed mothers
about to give birth to racially valuable children.83 Fatherhood and soldiering
were linked in Himmler™s ideology. He even considered requesting funding for
Lebensborn directly from the military budget of Generalfeldmarschall Keitel.84
While this never happened, Himmler did ¬nd ways of using the victories in the
East to help create his racial utopias, in terms of not only annihilating racial
enemies, but also adding to the racial stock of the Volksgemeinschaft. In March
1939, he had mused

that every nordic person that we take from other peoples will be a loss of
leadership-capable blood for them and a bene¬t for us. Through every successful
action, we gain two people, one that our opponent loses and who will no longer
be standing against us as an enemy, and one that will now be standing with us
and ¬nding for us.85

Later in the war, this theoretical zero sum game became a reality, and Lebens-
born of¬cials began kidnapping Aryan-looking Polish children and adopting

tion.” See Eleanor Hancock, “˜Only the Real, the True, the Masculine Held Its Value™: Ernst
Rohm, Masculinity, and Male Homosexuality,” Journal of the History of Sexuality 8, no. 4
(1998): 623“4.
Space constraints preclude a detailed discussion of the persecution of homosexuals in the Third

Reich. This subject has received detailed attention in recent years. For brief overviews see:
Geoffrey Giles, “The Denial of Homosexuality: Same-Sex Incidents in Himmler™s SS and Police,”
Journal of the History of Sexuality 11, no. 1“2 (2002): 256“90; Geoffrey Giles, “˜The Most
Unkindest Cut of All™: Castration, Homosexuality, and Nazi Justice,” Journal of Contemporary
History 27, no. 1 (1992): 41“61; and Erwin J. Haeberle, “Swastika, Pink Triangle, and Yellow
Star: The Destruction of Sexology and the Persecution of Homosexuals in Nazi Germany,” in
Hidden from History: Reclaiming the Gay and Lesbian Past, ed. Martin Duberman et al. (New
York: New American Library, 1989), 365“79.
For an examples Himmler™s orders to this effect, see BAB/NS19/2769 and BA-B “ NS19/3594.

An excerpt from this order is reprinted in BA-B “ /NS19/3973, Bl. 9“10.


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