Nazi Morality and Prostitution
A photo of the exterior of a Lebensborn home. Note the SS symbol on the flag.
As we have seen before, the Nazis supposedly supported the “traditional values” of older Germany, yet one can often find very blatant contradictions in the Nazi ideology between their “strong and good” morals and the morals they actually practiced. Prostitution serves as yet another great example of this Nazi inconsistently.
Hitler strongly promulgated the “traditional family”, yet Nazi ideology often was very anti-family. Spielvogel states this rather well: “While posing as saviors of the German family, the Nazis did not feel themselves limited by Christian values, especially in regard to sexual morality” (1). This can be seen in their outlook towards prostitution. Though the Nazis “condemned prostitution by emphasizing the dangers of venereal disease and prostitution’s lack of productive value for the national community,” commanding Nazis often encouraged prostitution among their soldiers (1). The excuse for this behavior often was that the soldiers needed to alleviate their sexual tension after having been away from home and women for so long. Another justification is found in the Nazi desire to increase the ideal Aryan German population, which “overrode any moral concerns”(1). Of course, this only pertained to those the Nazis deemed desirable. Undoubtedly only women who were of the proper Aryan stock and the men who were likewise desirable were allowed these relations. Himmler even established houses for the mothers of the children created by this behavior, known as the Lebensborn homes. These women didn’t even have to be married; as long as they were racially pure and healthy, they would be taken care of.
However, the Nazis did not let prostitution run rampant over Germany. It was only permitted in whorehouses supervised by medical personnel. If a prostitute was caught operating outside of these whorehouses, it resulted in an immediate trip to the concentration camp. So, while the Nazis allowed it in certain circumstances, they did not fully support it in its entirety. Like many things in Nazi society, it was utilized as merely the means to an end, the creation of the ideal Volksgemeinschaft. Like so many immoral acts, prostitution was essentially made moral by the Nazis purely because it could be used to both keep the soldiers happy and increase the “Aryan” population.
- Jackson Spielvogel, Hitler and Nazi Germany: A History (United States: Pearson Education, 2014), 178.
Image Source: KaterBegemot “Schwester in einem Lebensbornheim”, 2010 https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Bundesarchiv_Bild_146-1973-010-11,_Schwester_in_einem_Lebensbornheim.jpg