Type of Document Thesis Author Carney, Amy Beth URN etd-06292005-131742 Title "As Blond as Hitler": Positive Eugenics and Fatherhood in the Third Reich Degree Master of Arts Department History, Department of Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title Nathan Stoltzfus Committee Chair Jonathan Grant Committee Member Matt Childs Committee Member Keywords
- Nazi Germany
Date of Defense 2005-04-28 Availability unrestricted AbstractIn seeking to build the Thousand Year Reich, the German government under the administration of the National Socialist party constructed many different ideologies to create the foundation for its new community. Although not as highly prominent others, the ideology of fatherhood had a role in the formation of this state. Because of the scientific trends prevalent during the early to mid twentieth century, fatherhood at this time had a strong biological bent; men were mainly regarded as fathers due to their reproductive contributions. Therefore, the Nazi government wanted to encourage each man to sustain his personal lineage because a healthy, burgeoning population would guarantee the longevity of the German nation founded by its leadership.
In seeking a stronger and larger population, the Nazi party adopted a contemporary science movement: eugenics. The government divided people based on racial criteria, and the individuals whom it deemed most eligible to pass on their genes belonged to the “blond hair, blue eyed” Aryan race. After firmly establishing this archetype as the ultimate goal, the state had to disseminate this information to the general population and persuade these people to adopt this racial hierarchy willingly. It propagated this information through both formal education and direct contact with the German people through speeches and publications. This instruction served to inspire healthy citizens to have offspring who would strengthen the position of Germany through racial superiority.
Of the male German population, the men who best personified the Aryan elite belonged to the Schutzstaffeln (SS). As the most unwavering followers of the Nazi party and Adolf Hitler, the soldiers of the SS provided the best paternal audience. The leader of the SS, Heinrich Himmler, sought to convince these men that their responsibilities included supplying the Third Reich with an abundance of racially healthy children. Himmler’s directives and other documents substantiated this desire to encourage his men to reproduce copiously and to furnish Germany with a new aristocracy based on blood. Furthermore, the newspaper of the SS, Das Schwarze Korps, publicly correlated many of Himmler’s perspectives. Articles, editorials, and letters encourage marriage, link SS men with images of healthy families, and promote fatherhood as a respectable and natural duty. Despite these efforts, the SS did not raise the birthrate in Germany, and the inability to produce enough children resulted in the failure of the eugenical measures.
However, an investigation into the role of fatherhood during this era still addresses many historiographical issues. Beyond showing one way in which the Nazi government attempted to foster a new national community, it demonstrates the changing role of paternity throughout the twentieth century as well as merges with studies of German fatherhood in the post Second World War era. Examining fatherhood also explains the attempted application of eugenics to increase the population of a country. Finally, it dovetails with existing research on motherhood during the Third Reich, and therefore provides a more comprehensive understanding of familial life and parental relations during the reign of the Nazi regime.
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