Background: The Frauen Warte was the Nazi Party’s bi-weekly illustrated magazine for women. This is an article from the 1st June issue, 1940. It encourages German women to have children, even in the midst of war. It is also an example of the relentlesss Nazi drive for an optimistic outlook on life.
The source: Alwine Schreiber, “Todesbereitschaft/Lebensbereitschaft,” NS Frauen Warte,(8), #23 (1st June issue, 1940), p. 451.
I met Frau Winter yesterday. I had not seen her for a long while. She rushed up to me and inquired, in her old pitying style, how my “many children” were doing. I was happy to tell her that everything was going well, and that they were healthy both in body and soul.
“Well, that is certainly a blessing, particularly today!” she said, but then gave a worried look and went on in her familiar knowing way: “But you will probably have to agree with me that it is foolish to have many children — I always told you that bad times might come! Now your husband is away, and you are alone with seven children! You must have a very good nature indeed if you can look so cheerful under these circumstances!!”
I’m not sure if I looked very cheerful at that moment. I felt like saying: “Dear lady, your little mind can never understand what I have to deal with — at least spare me your foolish prattle!” But there would have been no point to that. So I laughed and said: “Thank God, I am healthy and cheerful, maybe because of my children. At least I know people with no children who are always grumpy!!”
Her nasty glance showed me that she had probably gotten my point. “How can you laugh at a time when our best are dying, at a time when one can lose everything!,” she said.
Her moral preaching irked me: “Frau Winter, I don’t need you to tell me how serious the times are! And I won’t let you change my conviction that a cheerful spirit wins the battle! Why shouldn’t I protect my children? Don’t they have a right to a carefree childhood like anyone else? I see no reason to worry them at a time which they are developing the capabilities they will need later in life. You don’t need to worry that today’s youth do not know the seriousness of the situation. Where there are many children, they soon learn what life’s difficulties are, and how to overcome them. And I’ll see to it that they have some idea of the seriousness of the situation we all face!”
“Oh, I don’t doubt your teaching abilities!” Frau Winter said. “I only meant to say that the times are too uncertain for one to accept the responsibility for many children!”
“I think you are wrong there too!” I had to expose her hypocrisy, for she spoke of responsibility, but knew only anxiety and fear. “Look at my four nephews on the West Wall. Two have already gotten married during the war, and one is engaged. One of my nieces is expecting her first child. Sure they are worried about their husbands, but come what may, they know that they have something of the dearest men they know, something that will survive past their own deaths. Strength grows from their fruitful love, allowing them to live in faith. The newly married men do their duty in the hope that a new life is growing back home. They know that they are fighting for their own valuable possessions. People and Fatherland mean something deeper and more personal to one who has a family back home.”
“But it must be terrible to be apart from those one loves!” Frau Winter sighed in pity. She looked for something in her purse.
I looked right past her. “Parting is always hard. We have to do it over and over again in our lives, we women with many children more than anyone else. But love never ceases! If our lives are blessed with love, nothing is meaningless. What would our faith in Eternal Germany mean if mothers were not willing to conceive and sacrifice?”
Frau Winter left with a final shake of her head. I watched her go, and thought of the words of my husband who during his Christmas leave said to me as we stood by the beds of our sleeping children: “Because of the children and because I love you all so much, I have to go. I know what I am fighting for. My life is so full that I have to be willing to sacrifice! Only one other thing is as important: The readiness to life of our mothers must stand alongside the readiness to die of our soldiers!”
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