In the 20th century’s first totalitarian state – Bolshevik Russia – we find anti-family policies to be later copied by successive followers of Lenin – even such as Hitler, who outwardly renounced communism or even declared themselves to be its sworn enemies.
In their inner circle, however, they did not conceal admiration for the “social engineering” practiced by Bolsheviks since 1917. What it involved was not only mass terror as a political instrument but also the complete destruction of the Christian model of family.
In a totalitarian reality, the family ceased to be a community in which spouses and children grow in mutual love, which was united with their love for God. In the “new type” of state, the family was subordinated to other, ideologically set objectives: either to a class state (Soviet Union) or a racial state (German Third Reich). The family was to be dominated by the collective, defined either as the dictatorship of one social class (the Marxist concept of the “dictatorship of the proletariat”) or as a community of the “racially pure”.
“Family is Nothing. Collective is Everything”
On the supremacy of the collective over the family Frederick Engels wrote: “The care and education of the children becomes a public affair; society looks after all children alike, whether they are legitimate or not. This removes all anxiety about the ‘consequences,’ which today is the most essential social – moral as well as economic – factor that prevents a girl from giving herself completely to the man she loves. Will not that suffice to bring about the gradual growth of unconstrained sexual intercourse?” (Origins of the Family, Private Property, and the State)
Let us observe that the quoted founder of “scientific socialism” believed in the close connection between the “socialization of the family” in the future communist reality and the promotion of libertinism. This idea of Engels’ was picked up and “creatively” developed later by the Bolsheviks. As Nikolai Bukharin wrote – there was no such thing as absolutely binding moral rules. Everything was to be subordinated to the class interest: “For the proletariat, ‘ethics’ is changed step by step into simple and easily understood rules of the type of conduct that was necessary to attain communism, which in fact brings about the end of ethics.”
It is worth quoting here the conclusions reached by Yevgeni Preobrazhensky – another Bolshevik “thinker” – in his book On Morality and Class Norms. He maintained that family life and sexual mores were to be subordinated, not only to the interests of society, but also of the “race”. “In the interest of preserving the race,” the Bolshevik activist wrote 10 years before Hitler came to power in Germany, “society has the right to get rid of all those individuals (for instance those suffering from venereal diseases) who ‘poison blood’ by locking them away in concentration camps (gulags) or pursuing the sterilization policy.”
Family in the Service of “Racial Purity”
As can be seen, Communism and Nazism had far more in common than one could earlier expect. The postulates of the Bolshevik author were implemented in Nazi Germany in 1935 by the Reichstag, which enacted the so-called Nuremberg Laws. They reflected the ideological assumption under which the family was to serve the racial interests of the German State.
“Society looks after all children alike, whether they are legitimate or not. This removes all anxiety about the ‘consequences,’ which today is the most essential factor that prevents a girl from giving herself completely to the man she loves” (F. Engels)
Historians studying the social policies of Nazi Germany draw attention to a highly developed social security system (benefits) targeted at families, in particular those with many children. However, the beneficiaries of the system could be only “racially pure” families while the criteria of “purity” were laid down in the Nuremberg Laws. A family worthy of receiving aid from the German State, therefore, could only be an “Aryan” family. Consequently, it was forbidden to “debase the race” by marriages between German men and women and Jews, and later other Untermenschen such as Slavs.
The Nuremberg Laws also banned marriages with or between people who were subjected to compulsory sterilization or ones awaiting it (such as the mentally or chronically ill). These enactments undermining the foundations of the natural law were condemned by Pope Pius XI in 1937 in his encyclical Mit brennender Sorge when he emphasized, following Cicero, that “What is not morally right is not beneficial, but what is morally right is beneficial.” At the same time, socalled progressive circles on both sides of the Atlantic, who had for decades been advocating compulsory sterilization of the “socially unadjusted,” publicly eulogized eugenic policies aimed against the family, which were being pursued by Nazi Germany.
For the German Third Reich, family life had thus only a relative value. The family was good inasmuch as it was “racially pure.” An analogous treatment was given by the German authorities to life protection. In Nazi Germany proper, abortion was banned, but during the Second World War, abortion was made legal and even encouraged in Nazi occupied territories, for instance in the General Gouvernement, the central part of Poland occupied by the Nazis. Moreover, it was no secret that the purpose of this policy was to bring down the population numbers of “Slavic sub-humans”. It can be easily imagined what would have gone on in the Reich itself, had advances in diagnostic methods (USG) made detailed prenatal tests possible in the 1930s …