When the Nazis took control of Germany in 1933 they faced a falling birth rate in Germany, which worried them greatly. A falling birth rate meant that Germany would not have enough workers or soldiers for the future of the Reich. With this impending crisis in the population, the Nazis implemented several changes which were designed to reverse this trend.
Law for the Encouragement of Marriage 1933
It was the Nazis vision for women to get married and raise a family in accordance with the Nazi ideals. To encourage this, the Nazis provided financial incentives to encourage marriage. Loans of 1000 Reichsmarks were available to those couples who married. This was a significant amount of money equating to roughly ¾ of a years salary. The Nazis applied conditions to the loan so that the wife removed herself from the labour force.
The law itself also contained benefits for families who have children. Each time a family had a child, there would be a reduction of a quarter of the loan. Divorce laws were also reviewed to ensure that they were designed to promote the birth of children. A man could divorce his wife if she would not or could not provide children.
The Mother’s Cross
Rewards were offered to mothers who had had large numbers of children. If a mother had four or five children she would receive a bronze medal, six or seven for silver and and eight for gold. It was seen as a prestigious honour to receive one. The medals had the date of award and Hitler’s signature on the reverse.
In 1935, the Nazis started the Lebensborn programme which encouraged children to be born to SS men to create pure Ayrans who would be the future leaders of Germany. The programme was headed by the SS leader Heinrich Himmler
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