What makes it worth following a guide

Pedagogy: The Consequences of National Socialist Education

Unable to feel

However, this interpretation is difficult to substantiate. Randomized-controlled studies that experimentally investigate the influence of Haarer's educational advice cannot be carried out for ethical reasons. But research that did not explicitly deal with education in the Third Reich also provided valuable information, says Grossmann. »All the data we have suggests the following: If you were to withhold sensitive speech from a child in the first year or two of life - as Johanna Haarer has propagated it - you would have the restricted, emotionless and reflexive children, that we know from research. "

The attachment researcher points to a long-term study that a team led by psychiatrist Mary Margaret Gleason from Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana, published in 2014 in the journal Pediatrics. Gleason and her colleagues had divided 136 Romanian orphans between the ages of six and four years into two groups: Half of them stayed in the home, while the others were given foster families. Children from the region who grew up with their birth parents acted as the control group. In doing so, they encountered problems with language and attachment behavior in both the home and foster children. For example, if a stranger came in the door during an experiment with 89 of the test persons and asked the boys and girls to come along without cause, 3.5 percent of the children from the control group followed him, the children from foster families were 24.1 percent and the other the home children even 44.9 percent.

If an entire generation has been raised not to bond, how can they teach their children to do so?

"Such children, who are seducible, do not think and do not feel, are practical for a warrior nation," says Karl-Heinz Brisch, psychiatrist and psychotherapist at the Dr. von Hauner's Children's Hospital at the Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich. In ancient Sparta, too, children were brought up with this aim. »The essential thing about Johanna Haarer is that you don't give the child any attention when it calls for it. But every refusal means a rejection, «explains Grossmann. A newborn was left with only facial expressions and gestures as a means of communication. If you don't react, learn that what he says is worthless. In addition, toddlers experienced fear of death if they felt hunger or loneliness and then were not reassured by their caregiver. In the worst case, such experiences could lead to an attachment trauma that makes it difficult for those affected to establish relationships with other people in their further life.

Educational tips from the pulmonologist

Haarer, who as a pulmonologist had neither pedagogical nor pediatric training, was specifically promoted by the National Socialists. The advice from her work "The German Mother and Her First Child" was taught in the so-called Reichsmütterschulungen. The courses should convey uniform rules for baby care to all German women. By April 1943 alone, at least three million women had attended them. In addition, the guide was the basis for education in kindergartens and homes.

Even before she published her "Education Bible", Johanna Haarer wrote about baby care in newspapers. She later published other books, including "Mother, tell about Adolf Hitler," a kind of fairy tale that propagated anti-Semitism and anti-communism in a child-friendly manner, and "Our Little Children," another educational guide. After the Nazi era, the Munich resident was interned for a year and a half. According to the statements of two of her daughters, she remained an enthusiastic National Socialist until her death in 1988. And it was not only her personal attitude that survived the Third Reich - her main work "The German Mother and Her First Child" also remained popular for a long time. By the end of the war, promoted by Nazi propaganda, it had a circulation of 690,000 copies. But even after the war - cleared of the crudest Nazi jargon - it was bought again by almost as many Germans until 1987: in the end a total of 1.2 million times.

These figures show how much popularity Haarer's worldview still found in the post-war period. But why do mothers even implement such a counterintuitive approach? "That didn't go down well with everyone," said Hartmut Radebold. The psychiatrist, psychoanalyst and book author has dealt intensively with the generation of war children in his research. He assumes that Haarer's educational guide had an influence on two groups in particular: on parents who identified themselves particularly strongly with the Nazi regime, and on young women who - often as a result of the First World War - came from broken families themselves and therefore didn't even know what a good relationship feels like. If their husbands also fought at the front themselves and left them alone, overwhelmed and insecure, it is quite conceivable that they were particularly susceptible to Haarer's educational propaganda. In addition, a strict upbringing was already common in Prussia before 1934. Grossmann believes that only a culture that already had a certain inclination towards such ideas of hardship and drill could have implemented something like this. The findings of studies from the 1970s would also fit into this, which indicate, for example, that around every second child in Bielefeld in northern Germany exhibited insecure attachment behavior, whereas in Regensburg in southern Germany, which was never part of the Prussian sphere of influence, not even every third child.