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From Nurturing the Nation to Purifying the Volk

From Nurturing the Nation to Purifying the Volk
Weimar and Nazi Family Policy, 1918–1945

$84.00 (P)

Part of Publications of the German Historical Institute

  • Date Published: January 2007
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9780521861847

$ 84.00 (P)
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About the Authors
  • Fearing that the future of the nation was at stake following the First World War, German policymakers vastly expanded social welfare programs to shore up women and families. Just over a decade later, the Nazis seized control of the state and created a radically different, racially driven gender and family policy. This book explores Weimar and Nazi policy to highlight the fundamental, far-reaching change wrought by the Nazis and the disparity between national family policy design and its implementation at the local level. Relying on a broad range of sources --including court records, sterilization files, church accounts, and women’s oral histories -- it demonstrates how local officials balanced the benefits of marriage, divorce, and adoption against budgetary concerns, church influence, and their own personal beliefs. Throughout both eras individual Germans collaborated with, rebelled against, and evaded state mandates, in the process fundamentally altering the impact of national policy.

    • Adds a new and important perspective to debates about continuity and change in Weimar and Nazi Germany
    • Examines new source material, including both oral histories and traditional archives, from both eras
    • Uses individual cases to explore how women negotiated state policy under democratic Weimar and authoritarian Nazi regimes
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    Reviews & endorsements

    "Since the 1980s the history of the Third Reich has been entirely rewritten as the history of the Holocaust and the racial state. Less widely appreciated is the equally far-reaching impact of women's history. First during a time of recurring crisis, political polarization, and unbounded hopes, and then under a regime of unparalleled coerciveness and ideological ambition, biopolitical questions involving family, reproduction, and the placement of women in the imagined moral-political order moved to the centerground of politics in early twentieth-century Germany. In a salutary reminder of the radicalism of the right-wing assault on Weimar welfarism, Michelle Mouton delivers an excellent guide to the Nazi counter-ideal of a racially driven familial state."
    -Geoff Eley, University of Michigan

    "[Mouton's] portrait of the interplay between state directives and their actual implementation offers a compelling reminder of the limits of social engineering, making it required reading for anyone interested in the operations of daily life under various modern regimes."
    -Julia Sneeringer, Journal of Interdisciplinary History

    "...Mouton's book might best be described as extended exercise in qualification....The strength of the book lies in its relentless pursuit of the twists and turns of the Nazi policy-making process as the primary goal of the racial re-construction of German society ran up against the limits of state administrative and fiscal capacity and came into conflict with other priorities, as local judges, physicians, officials and social workers were faced with the practical problem of translating national policies into effective programs that affected real people..."
    --Larry Frohman, State University of New York, Stony Brook, German Quarterly Book Reviews

    "This extremely well-written, engaging, and fascinating study brings a critical eye for valuable details about family life in the everyday as it intersected with German state officials' long-standing interest in family affairs." -Jean Quataert, H-German

    "Michelle Mouton's study of Weimar and Nazi policy is a welcome addition to the literatures on women, the welfare state, the family, and resistance and collaboration. Marshaling a wide range of sources that includes oral interviews with forty-eight women, Mouton explores the formation and implementation of family policy in both German regimes at the national, state, and local levels." -Sace Elder, H-Childhood

    "...a valuable addition to the history of modern Germany, public health, and population policy. It is an excellent demonstration of the fact that national politics and the meanings of citizenship cannot be properly understood apart from gender and family issues." -Lora Knight, H-Nationalism

    "It is refreshing to read a book about Weimar and Nazi Germany that challenges stereotypes without making extravagant claims." -Jill Stephenson, Journal of Modern History

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    Product details

    • Date Published: January 2007
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9780521861847
    • length: 326 pages
    • dimensions: 235 x 163 x 26 mm
    • weight: 0.576kg
    • availability: In stock
  • Table of Contents

    1. Marriage policy in turmoil: stabilizing society, re-ordering gender roles, and guaranteeing the future
    2. Divorce: balancing individual freedom and the 'public good'
    3. From Mother's Day to forced sterilization: motherhood as antidote to national health
    4. Alleviating the burdens of motherhood
    5. Morality versus mortality: negotiating policy toward single mothers and illegitimate children
    6. Forming families beyond blood ties: foster care
    7. Conclusion.

  • Instructors have used or reviewed this title for the following courses

    • Hitler and the Holocaust
    • Modern Europe, 1789-present
  • Author

    Michelle Mouton, University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh
    Michelle Mouton is associate professor of history at the University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota in 1997. She is the recipient of the Fritz Stern Prize awarded by the German Historical Institute for the best dissertation in German History upon which this book is based. She has published articles in Central European History Journal, the Journal of Women's History, and the History Workshop Journal.

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