The Lebensborn Program was a positive eugenics initiative implemented in Nazi Germany to increase the birth rate of racially pure Aryan Germans. This was primarily a response to the nation’s recent decline in birth rates, as well as the general standpoint of Nazi ideology which emphasized the necessity for women to perform their traditional gender roles.[1]

Some components of the Lebensborn Program included:

  • Tax Credits
  • Special Child Allowances
  • Marriage Loans
  • Pronatalist propaganda

Divorce laws in Germany were also rewritten to allow for the possibility of a man to divorce his wife on the grounds of her suspected infertility.[2]

Procreation began to be viewed as a great and noble endeavor. However, the preference of German women to generally have fewer children proved challenging for this new policy, as well as generally fruitless.[3] However, reward programs were implemented in order to further increase the incentives for those women that did comply with the preferred order.[4]

The Cult of Motherhood

On August 12 each year for the duration of the Lebensborn Program, women could be recognized according to the number of children they had born for the nation, by receiving an award known as the Honor Cross of the German Mother.[5] This award had three classes:

  • Bronze: awarded to women with four or more children
  • Silver: awarded to women with more than six children
  • Gold: awarded to women with more than eight children

Furthermore, Bentley et al. state that “by August 1939 three million carried this prestigious award”.[6]


[1] Jerry H. Bentley et al. Traditions and Encounters: A Global Perspective on the Past (Sixth Edition), Vol. 2: From 1500 to the Present (McGraw Hill Education, 2015), 828

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.

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