Prior to World War I, Germany had an annual birth rate of 36 births per 1,000 citizens. During the Weimar Republic (1919 to 1933), the birth rate declined to 14.7 per 1,000. According to Lisa Pine in Nazi Family Policy, Nazis claimed that “Weimar governments had encouraged egocentricity and independence, with taxation laws that showed a hostility to marital and family life.” Beginning in 1933, the Nazis encouraged marriage, monogamy, and prolific motherhood and discouraged bachelorhood.
Eugenics also played a part in the Nazi family plan. Marriage and procreation were to be carried out between those of the same race and ethnic background. Moreover, sterilization was legislated in order to combat undesirables. According to the New York Times, “The law is aimed at congenital feeble-mindedness, hereditary insanity, epilepsy, St. Vitus Dance, blindness, deafness, serious bodily deformities, and chronic alcoholism.” In addition, “No marriage permits will be granted from now on unless both applicants are able to measure up to the eugenic standards of the Third Reich.”
By 1938, the eugenics policy was expanded: “It was decided to train boys and girls physically and to lend young, eugenically desirable, responsible couples 1,000 marks without interest from municipal funds so they could marry.” Stipends encouraged families to have five or more children. Kirby suggests that in Nazi Germany, marriage had fallen so far within the sphere of the state that there were no religious artifacts in the marriage service, only representations of the Nazi government.