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Ibid., 133.

The letter, dated 26 May 1936, was typed out (it is unclear whether the emphasis is from the

original author or whether it was added by the typist) and forwarded to the Oberburgermeister
in the HGA through the Stadtmedizinalrat. The matter was taken seriously, and immediate
changes were recommended. LAB, Rep. 12, Acc. 1641, Nr. 246.
Utopian Biopolitics 119

construction of consensus in the Nazi state “ they proved to many citizens that
all the talk about hearth and home had some substance.129 While ultimately
unsuccessful in actually raising the birthrate, these measures prompted a con-
siderable degree of voluntary public involvement in state welfare measures.
A similar policy, that has received more attention from historians, was the
practice of rewarding mothers of many children with service crosses and small
gifts.130 Beginning in 1939, crosses were awarded to mothers with four or more
children (in bronze for four or ¬ve children, silver for six or seven, and gold
for eight or more) on Mother™s Day “ now on August 12, Hitler™s mother™s
birthday. Like the marriage loans, these crosses also awakened a sense of enti-
tlement in the population and were meant to integrate their recipients into
the ideological and social structure of the Nazi state. Irmgard Weyrather has
argued that the crosses functioned “as a binding agent to the regime and as con-
tent of the political religion of National Socialism.”131 Reactions to the medal
ceremonies were generally positive. Government informers, who collected data
on public opinion about the medals, noted that the most signi¬cant complaints
arose when mothers considered to be “asocial” (that ill-de¬ned term that could
encompass anything from having a child who had stolen something, to obvi-
ous social dysfunction, criminality, or mental illness) were granted motherhood
service crosses.132 In general, though, propaganda efforts paid off with large
numbers of applications for the crosses. In the ¬rst few years of the program,
for example, the Berlin district health of¬ces were ¬‚ooded with applications
and begged for extra personnel to process them, particularly once the war
began in 1939.133 Award ceremonies and propaganda made explicit connec-
tions between the war effort and the mothers who had provided the Reich with
sons and soldiers.

comparing pronatalist state intervention
While leaders in all European countries shared pronatalist goals, the policies
they adopted varied considerably from one country to another. Nazi of¬cials
sought to control the “quality,” the “racial ¬tness,” and the quantity of chil-
dren born, and they enacted antinatalist as well as pronatalist measures. The
Soviet Union, on the other hand, promoted reproduction among all citizens,

Robert Moeller, Protecting Motherhood: Women and Family in the Politics of Postwar Ger-

many (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993), 17.
See especially Weyrather, Muttertag und Mutterkreuz.

Ibid., 151. For a copy of the of¬cial policy see “Das Ehrenkreuz der Deutschen Mutter,” AGfV

Mitteilungen, no. 2 (16 January 1939): 1“2.
Ibid., 147.

See, for example, the letter from the district of Treptow to the Oberburgermeister, 6 May 1939,

in LAB, Rep. 12, Acc. 1641, Nr. 247. In October 1939, the Reich Ministry of the Interior issued
a directive to all regions to clear up the backlog of applications immediately and make every
effort to ensure that at least all those women over 50 years of age had their crosses in hand
before Christmas. Letter describing RMI memo from Oberburgermeister Berlin, 30 Oct. 1939,
in ibid.
David L. Hoffmann and Annette F. Timm

without regard to race, nationality, or mental and physical abilities. The par-
ticular reproductive policies adopted by the Soviet government were a result
not only of socialist ideology, but also of the nurturist orientation of Russian
disciplinary culture “ itself a product of Russian political and social condi-
tions. While Soviet policies, then, were part of an international trend toward
state management of reproduction, they re¬‚ected a particular disciplinary and
ideological orientation, as well as a distinct conception of the population. By
placing in comparative context Nazi and Soviet reproductive policies, from
abortion legislation and the promotion of motherhood to eugenic policies and
child-raising programs, it is possible to demonstrate how the broader shift
toward state interventionism assumed particular forms in Nazi Germany and
the Soviet Union.
In the Third Reich, reproductive policy and the biological determinism that
was its foundation were one component of what one might think of, following
Detlev Peukert, as an attempt to transcend death through nonreligious means.
In his article “The Genesis of the ˜Final Solution™ from the Spirit of Science,”
Peukert describes a process through which, over the course of the century, the
early successes of biomedicine and improved hygiene and welfare methods
in cities, schools, and social programs inspired experts in the natural and
social sciences, especially medical professionals, to ever-increasing optimism
for the future perfectability of society.134 The Nazi state radicalized the already
overly optimistic goals of the early social hygienists. Since the very concept of
Volksgemeinschaft was vague and dif¬cult to de¬ne in the positive, Peukert
argues, the National Socialist movement “drifted onto an increasingly radical
negative concentration on the eradication of a world of enemies.”135 Without
religion to explain death, and faced with evidence that scienti¬c optimism about
the perfectability of society and the eradication of illness had been premature
or entirely misguided, National Socialism sought ever more radical solutions
to social problems.136 An irrational search for new means of avoiding death
was the consequence:

A “logodicy” of the human sciences accordingly drives the sciences into irrational-
ity. It inevitably becomes ¬xated on the utopian dream of the gradual elimination
of death, even while this dream is unfailingly confuted in the life of each particular
individual. One obvious escape from the dilemma is to split the target of scienti¬c

Peukert™s argument follows in the tradition of early philosophical reactions to the Holocaust,

like Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer, Dialectic of Enlightenment: Philosophical Frag-
ments, trans. John Cumming (New York: Continuum Books, 2002). Others have in turn
followed in Peukert™s footsteps in analyzing the history of social policy from the perspective
of the Enlightenment goal of human perfectability. See, for example, Manfred Kappeler, Der
schreckliche Traum vom vollkommenen Menschen: Rassenhygiene und Eugenik in der Sozialen
Arbeit (Marburg: Schuren Presseverlag, 2000).
Detlev J. K. Peukert, “The Genesis of the ˜Final Solution™ from the Spirit of Science,” in

Reevaluating the Third Reich, eds. Thomas Childers and Jane Caplan (New York and London:
Holmes & Meier 1993), 236.
Ibid., 238.
Utopian Biopolitics 121

endeavor into the merely ephemeral body of the individual, and the potentially
immortal body of the Volk or race. Only the latter “ speci¬cally, its undying
material substratum in the form of the genetic code “ can guarantee the undying
victory of science itself.137

The obstacle of the individual body and its unwillingness to conform to utopian
ideals could now be pushed aside with a simple decision: individuals could be
determined ¬t to enter the “ideal Volkskorper” or they could be cast aside
and eventually eliminated. The collective body was thus preserved, puri¬ed,
and made eternal. This attempt at transcending the limits of earthly existence
was also linked to the broader ideological goal of creating the “thousand-year
Reich,” since increasing the quality and quantity of births was always tied to
goals of an aggressive military policy. The apparent contradiction between the
search for Lebensraum and claiming that birthrates were plunging to dangerous
levels can only be reconciled with reference to this larger goal.
In the Soviet Union, Marxist ideology militated against the biological deter-
minism that served as the basis for the strange and semimystical mixture
of pro- and antinatalism in the Third Reich, stressing instead environmen-
tal and socioeconomic determinants of people™s consciousness and behavior.
Even prior to the October Revolution and the establishment of Marxism as
state ideology, Russian social scientists and physicians tended to reject biolo-
gistic explanations in favor of environmental and social ones. As members of
the Russian intelligentsia, they blamed the downtrodden condition of Russian
peasants and workers on the despotic tsarist autocracy, and the impoverished
circumstances in which the population lived. Seeing the masses as an ally in their
struggle against the autocracy, they believed in the people™s innate goodness
and sought to educate, uplift, and liberate them. Indeed to the extent that many
members of the Russian intelligentsia saw the uplifting of the masses as their
mission, they gravitated toward medicine and social science that rejected bio-
logical determinism. Russian disciplinary culture, then, like Marxism, strongly
favored nurturist over hereditarian explanations and programs.138
Accordingly, the Soviet government encouraged reproduction among all
members of the population, without distinction by ethnicity or class. Soviet
health of¬cials stressed the need to increase postnatal care among national
minorities in order to raise their birthrates.139 When the Soviet government
began granting women a 2,000-ruble annual bonus for each child they had
over six children, it speci¬ed that mothers with seven or more children should
receive bonuses regardless of their social origins, and even regardless of whether
their husbands had been arrested for counterrevolutionary activity.140 Thus the

Ibid., 241.

Prerevolutionary Russian social thinkers™ rejection of Malthusian ideas was also shaped by

social and political conditions. See Daniel P. Todes, Darwin without Malthus: The Struggle
for Existence in Russian Evolutionary Thought (New York: Oxford University Press, 1989).
Resoliutsii III Vses. Soveshchaniia po okhrane materinstva i mladenchestva (1926), 2, 10.

GARF f. 5446, op. 18a, d. 2754, l. 32.
David L. Hoffmann and Annette F. Timm

Soviet government promoted reproduction even among those it considered class
or ideological enemies, in contrast to the Nazi government, which limited the
reproduction of those it considered racial enemies.
Soviet pronatalism can thus be distinguished from its Nazi counterpart by
quite a different purpose for increasing the birthrate. While Nazi population
policy was intimately connected to plans for racial and political dominance
over Europe and the world, the Soviets explicitly rejected arguments linking
the goal of higher birthrates to increases in military strength. Already in May
1918, with memories of the carnage of the First World War still fresh, Soviet
delegates to a congress on social welfare resolved that infant mortality be
reduced and children™s lives preserved “not for a new slaughter, but as builders
of a new, beautiful, working life, as spiritually and physically strong citizens,
¬ghters for the ideals of socialism and humankind.” The resolution went on to
reiterate that children not be raised to be slaughtered in wars caused by “the
criminal negligence of a capitalist state,” but rather to provide productive labor
to build the new society.141 The Soviet purpose for increasing the population,
then, was to produce laborers rather than soldiers. Of course Soviet leaders
also had military concerns, particularly with the rising international tensions
of the late 1930s, but such concern was a defensive one.
While there were considerable differences between the theoretical goals of
Nazi and Soviet pronatalism, we must also note a striking similarity in how the
two regimes viewed reproductive politics as a politically (and perhaps psycho-
logically) mobilizing sphere of government action. In both cases the regimes
attempted to construct a new imaginary for the guidance of personal sexual
and reproductive decisions. Through a wide spectrum of social policies, both
the Nazis and the Soviets attempted to reconcile the apparent contradiction
between individual sexual and reproductive desires and the needs of a collec-
tivist state. They created an entirely new form of enthusiasm for the creation of
life, a motivation to reproduce that was now to be tied to larger state ideological
goals. Individuals were expected to make personal sacri¬ces; materialistic and
sexual desires were to be controlled or subordinated to higher-order causes: the
creation of a racialized Volksgemeinschaft or a socialist utopia. Both the cre-
ation of life and the risk of death (on the battle¬eld or in childbirth) were framed
in collectivist terms. In itself, this was not a huge departure from the symbolic
meaning given to life and death in modern states since at least the French
Revolution. But in return for individual submission to varying forms of mass
mobilization, the two dictatorships offered much more speci¬c promises for
new beginnings. Individuals were told exactly how they would be participating
in idealized societies with their own intrinsic (not God-given) purposes, giving
their individual private choices new meaning. Valorization and reward (in the
form of health and welfare bene¬ts) encouraged emotional responses to a new
con¬guration of social reproduction. This was less a process of social control

As cited in Drobizhev, 110.
Utopian Biopolitics 123

than it was an energization of the symbolic meaning of citizenship and individ-
ual participation in the state. While the goals of Nazi and Soviet reproductive
policies diverged sharply, the utopian impulse and the motivation to employ
reproductive policies to integrate individual actions into a state-collectivist
project were similar.
Also similar was the ultimate ineffectiveness of pronatalist policies in both
states. We can summarize the situation for the Third Reich by stating that no
sustained increase in the birthrate was achieved.142 Even where small increases
are apparent, we must keep in mind that statistical analyses of the birthrate
actually tell us very little about the success of Nazi pronatalism. The brief rise in
the birthrate between 1933 and 1938 (up to 1,349,000 per year from 971,000)
can just as easily be attributed to the effects of natural business cycles that were
also prevalent in other European countries as to the success of Nazi population
policy. The birthrate had, after all, been at a low point in 1933 and would
presumably have risen regardless of social policy.143
The social impact of these policies, while even more dif¬cult to measure,
was certainly more signi¬cant. The initial announcement of the marriage loans
policy was greeted with enormous public enthusiasm. Applications in the ¬rst
few months far surpassed expectations. By the spring of 1934, 194,485 loans
had been granted across the Reich.144 In Berlin, the newspapers reported an
increased enthusiasm for marriage and credited it to the availability of mar-
riage loans. Both the Vossische Zeitung and the Volkischer Beobachter pro-
claimed Berlin an example to the rest of the country, citing 10,251 applications
for marriage loans by November 1933.145 The ¬‚ood continued into January
1934, with the Berliner Tageblatt claiming that twelve thousand couples had
applied for loans in the last three months.146 As we have seen, this enthusiasm
waned as the eugenic testing involved became more stringent and known to
the general public. Nevertheless, the numbers of voluntary participants can-
not be discounted. The enthusiastic public reception of both marriage loans
and motherhood crosses certainly helped create feelings of inclusion for those
who bene¬ted.147 As in other times and places, it will always be impossible
to make generalized arguments about the population™s motivations for having


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( 115 .)