From 1931 to 1945, leaders of the SS sought to transform their organization into a racially-elite family community that would serve as the Third Reich’s new aristocracy. They utilized the science of eugenics to convince SS men to marry suitable wives and have many children. In her new book entitled Marriage and Fatherhood in the Nazi SS
(University of Toronto Press, 2018), Amy Carney
assesses the role of SS men as husbands and fathers during the Third Reich. The family community, and the place of men in this community, started with one simple order issued by SS leader Heinrich Himmler. He and other SS leaders continued to develop the family community throughout the 1930s, and not even the Second World War deterred them from pursuing their racial ambitions. Carney’s insight into the eugenic-based measures used to encourage SS men to marry and to establish families sheds new light on their responsibilities not only as soldiers, but as husbands and fathers as well.
Michael E. O’Sullivan is Professor of History at Marist College where he teaches courses about Modern Europe. He published Disruptive Power: Catholic Women, Miracles, and Politics in Modern Germany, 1918-1965 with University of Toronto Press in 2018.