Nationalisation of the family


[To readers of Ill Eagle 20, p7.:
See for speeches at the nov01 DV conference, where the Weimar-style attacks on the family were repeated. Also see  , another DV conference where similar attacks on the family were developed.]

Germans on Welfare:
From Weimar to Hitler  

David F. Crew

Oxford University Press, 1998

Chapter 7: The State as Parent? Youth Welfare and German Families

All branches of the Weimar welfare system claimed to dispense Volkserziehung (popular enlightenment) as well as material benefits. But the educative function of welfare was most instistently and repeatedly invoked in Weimar youth welfare offices. Youth offices were the main institutional agents of the 1922 Youth Welfare Law, a political compromise between the bourgeois private charities, who wanted to defend their very considerable realm of child and youth welfare activities, and the Social Democrats, who argued for a state monopoly of welfare functions.

Socialists and nonsocialists disagreed about state intervention into German family life. Weimar socialists argued that industrialisation, the spread of the capitalist market economy, and even the growth of the commercial mass entertainment industry had already begun to deprive the German working-class family of most of its vital functions and internal cohesion. Consequently, Social Democrats were less troubled than nonsocialists by state intervention into what they thought was an already weakened family structure.

Religious spokespersons found the intrusion of state welfare agencies more problematic; in 1929, for example, the report of the annual meeting of Caritas warned against a development of the youth offices, which to an increasing degree place decisions about the welfare of minor children in the hands of political agencies, among which, unfortunately, the youth offices must often be counted, while at the same time weakening the influence of the parental home. This will also increasingly reduce the parents’ sense of responsibility towards their children. Catholic and Protestant welfare organizations also doubted that the specifically educational character of child and youth welfare would be compatible with the institutional forms provided by state agencies.

Correctional Education

Correctional education was the most severe of the therapeutic measures that a Weimar youth office might prescribe. A court order for correctional education required that the youth in question be removed from his or her family and placed in foster care or in a reformatory. Unlike a prison sentence for an adult, it was of unspecified duration. The District Court sitting as a Guardianship Court, granted Youth Office petitions for FE orders if it could be established that a condition of Verwahrlosung [ed: "neglect"] existed within the child’s family. It had an amorphous and arbitrary definition that allowed youth welfare authorities considerable power of discretion in labeling aberrant and potentially dangerous behaviour. FE was against parents as much as against children; it drastically reduced parents’ rights. Parents would no longer determine how their children would be raised and educated. However, parents were still responsible for the economic support of their children.

Cf. note sent by an angry south German father in 1929:

the so-called welfare means nothing to me or to him (son). Even if it lasts another 199 years, it will still be nothing more than a rank swindle.

The fact that my son, Otto, was not released from FE was an act of revenge, to make me angry, simply because I will not pay the 500 marks (that the Youth Office demands for Otto’s support).


See also : Gleichschaltung