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Low Birthrates? Nazi Germany Could Teach Modern Europe a Thing or Two

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From the Handbook for Schooling the Hitler Youth

Chapter Five: Population Policy (Handbook online is here)

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It is the duty of the leaders of a people to be concerned about having as large a population as possible. This is the objective of our population policy. Fostering heredity obviously works hand in hand with population policy to produce a quantitative increase in population.

The German people at the moment is no longer a growing folk. If its birth-rate remains unchanged it is threatened with slow extinction. This seems at first to be contradicted by the fact that the population of the Reich has risen from 62.6 million in 1925 to 65.3 million in 1933. But this population increase during the past decade is not real growth. It is due to a damming up of old blood. This is proved by the death figures which sank from 17.4 to 10.8 per thousand. The consequence is an exceptional growth in the higher age brackets.

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The births, on the contrary, have greatly decreased. The marked growth in the higher age bracket and the decrease in the birth rate at the same time has brought about very serious changes in the age structure of our people. The social and economic consequences of this superannuation will place a burden upon coming generations. If a numerically smaller body of individuals that are capable of working have to support a larger number of people incapable of working, the social cost is greater than in the normal case.

[This is what happened in post-war Germany and it's solution has been to invite foreign workers which evolved to become allowing whatever alien migrants wanted to enter the country to do so, on the grounds that Germany needed more workers. The National Socialists had thought this out in advance and fashioned their high-birth rate policy. The Allied occupation purposely destroyed this policy and way of thinking, and drove Germany to become a low-birth nation that had to import foreigners. -cy]

The terrifying decline in the birth rate is plainly evident especially in the large cities. Berlin had in 1933 only 45 births for every thousand women of child-bearing age, whereas the average for the Reich was 99. Similar conditions exist throughout the whole Reich. To keep our population figure as it is we need 3.4 births per family. The average figure in 1933, however, was only 2.2. Without a change, our population would shrink and the German people could no longer maintain their position in the world and would sink into insignificance.

Some people, even in responsible positions, were of the opinion that whole peoples, like persons, pass through periods of childhood, youth and maturity only to grow old and finally die. This comparison of the life of a people to the life of a person is altogether false. Man receives at birth the requisite store of life energy for the life journey. A people can supplement and renew itself indefinitely by propagation through the family. There is no such thing as the inevitable decline of a people.

The contrary opinion which assumes that a people can never die is just as false as the belief in the inevitable death of a people. A territory with too small a population inevitably attracts persons from overpopulated areas. In this way the population can be maintained. But a people with a low birth rate lose their original character by an infiltration of foreigners until, in the end, they are completely overwhelmed by them.

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So it was in ancient Greece as in ancient Rome. The present population of Italy and Greece is different in character from that of the ancient Greeks and Romans. The same process is repeating itself before our eyes in France. Coloured people stream into the southern part of France from the African colonies and have already given certain cities an African appearance. Already 15 per cent of the inhabitants of France today are of foreign blood. If this development continues, in a few decades France will no longer be the cultural nation of old. [It did continue and it isn't. -cy]

The distribution of the population among the three great peoples of Europe shows plainly that our Slavic neighbours would impose their growing population forcibly upon the less populated regions. [Graph shows population of Slavs growing from 35 per cent in 1810 to 46 per cent in 1930, while the Germans went from 31 percent to 30 percent during the same time period.]

The causes for declining births are twofold: internal (non-material) and external (material). The internal causes are traceable to past attitudes that placed the individual at the center of its thinking and disassociated him from the community. It gave him the right to shape his life with absolute freedom, and, according to the views of the period freedom and comfort would be greatly jeopardised by offspring. This superficial and irresponsible attitude of mind was most pronounced in the larger cities where first a two-child system came into fashion … and eventually transformed into a no child system. The automobile or a lap dog took the place of the child.

Economic considerations (external) contributed their share to the decline. The opinion was still wide-spread that overpopulation increased unemployment and limited individual well-being, even though the reverse is actually true. A large number of children consume more than a smaller number, giving all callings more work for that reason. The production of goods rises. But since the economic benefits of a goodly supply of children works solely at first to the advantage of the entire community, the individual who does not regard him/herself as responsible to the community would not be influenced by such a consideration.

National Socialism has also proceeded along two ways of reawakening the joy that comes from births with both educational and economic measures. Our outlook gives man once again a feeling of responsibility toward the community and shows him that the highest purpose in life is service to the people. The high calling of motherhood has once again become the natural task and accomplishment of every sound woman. A large family is again a mark of distinction before the whole nation. The National League of Large Families functions expressly to protect and foster large families.

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Economic relief can be provided by lowering taxes, by supplementary assistance, and by marriage loans for those wishing to found new families. From August 1933 to January 30, 1937 the state granted 700,000 marriage loans amounting to 420 million marks.

These measures have not been unfruitful. The number of marriages rose from 517,000 in 1932 to 639,000 in 1933, 739,000 in 1934; and 651,000 in 1935. The number of births has risen since 1933 from 971,174 to 1,261,273, an increase of 14.7 to 18.9 births per thousand. In spite of this gratifying increase in births, the number needed for maintaining the present status of our people has not yet been reached. We must go on making all Germans aware of these facts, and will be permanently successful only if our people lives on forever, from century to century.

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