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From Nurturing the Nation to Purifying the Volk: Weimar and Nazi Family Policy, 1918-1945 (Publications of the German Historical Institute) 1st Edition

2.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review
ISBN-13: 978-0521861847
ISBN-10: 0521861845
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Editorial Reviews


"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

Book Description

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.
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Product Details

  • Series: Publications of the German Historical Institute
  • Hardcover: 326 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 1 edition (January 8, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521861845
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521861847
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,949,840 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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There is a great historical story to be told here, struggling to escape from this book. The problem is that Mouton is overwhelmed by the mountain of primary sources she's engaging, and she doesn't know how to sift or prioritize. The book is about as turgid as a ship's manifest in terms of general readability. The work comes alive from time to time, but this does more to tease the reader along rather than to rescue the book from its mountain of facts devoid of context or sequencing.

Parts of the book that I enjoyed included the way Weimar and Nazi policies were compared and contrasted, the smattering of photographs in the book, and how the author did her best to highlight that not everyone in Germany (thankfully) was sold on Nazi rationalizations/justifications for the destruction of the moral and social order in Germany. Hitler's mad quest of total war cost a lot of lives, ironically necessitating these kinds of eugenics endeavors that included out-of-wedlock births and kidnapping of supposedly racially "inferior" Europeans to the East.

What I didn't enjoy was everything else the book has to offer, especially Mouton's tendency to not allow the women involved in the eugenics programs in question to speak more for themselves, rather than running roughshod over them. The best historians know when to speak and when to listen. This book has made me curious to learn more about the Lebensborn Program for Single Mothers, and the mass abduction of children from Slavic lands perpetrated by the S.S. But I definitely feel the need to seek out other sources on this issue. For students with specialized interest in this field only. Laymen steer clear.
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