War As Righteous Rape and Purification
Part Two

by Lloyd deMause

[Chapter 5 from the author's forthcoming book, Childhood and History]


Historians and political scientists have proposed any number of causes for WWII and the Holocaust.254 Unfortunately, detailed research has disproved every one of them. Goldhagen's claim that ordinary Germans had long held "exterminationist" antisemitic views255 has been disproved by careful historical studies that showed Germany was "a safe haven in late-nineteenth-century Europe [where] when German Jews looked toward France, they saw the startling antisemitism unleashed by the Dreyfus Affair and when they looked eastward, they saw pogroms and thousands of Jews fleeing toward Germany's safer political climate."256

The reason "why so many Jews failed to leave Germany [was] they really couldn't believe that this Germany, which they loved [and] felt gratitude toward" would ever harm them.257 In fact, earlier antisemitic movements in Germany were tiny, and "most historians believe that the Nazis had no deep roots in German history and that antisemitism in Germany was not essentially different from that of some other nations"258 Careful studies of Nazi party members have even found that most were not antisemitic when they joined; "most people were drawn to antisemitism because they were drawn to Nazism, not the other way around."259 Kershaw's recent careful studies conclude "that antisemitism was not a major factor in attracting support for Hitler"260

As we shall shortly detail, what made Germans antisemitic was the anxieties of the manic period after the Great Depression had ended, later in the 1930s after Hitler gained power, and were not due some mysterious German gene for eliminationist politics.

All the other explanations for WWII and the Holocaust have been similarly disproved by recent historical research. Klaus Fischer's "no Hitler, no Holocaust,"261 along with all the other studies blaming German violence on "obedience" to Hitler's "hypnotic eyes"262 have been thrown out by the dozens of studies of the spontaneous, gratuitous violence engaged in by average Germans even when they could have easily opted out. "Only following orders" is simply a no longer considered a serious motivation for the war and genocide. What is, however, most widely accepted is that Germans were "under stress," voted Nazi and then turned to violence because of the Great Depression.

Numerous detailed studies of Nazi membership all disprove this "economic stress" argument. The "model Nazi party member" joined before the Depression, "his economic status was secure, for not once did he have to change his occupation, job, or residence, nor was he ever unemployed."263 "The only group affected [by the Depression] were the workers. Yet paradoxically the workers remained steadfast in support of the [democratic] status quo while the middle class, only marginally hurt by the economic constriction, turned to revolution."264 Most workers did not vote for the Nazis and of those who did, who "believed in Hitler the magician," most soon felt disappointed.265 Hitler, in fact, admitted "economics was not very important to him [and] very few Germans had any information about what his economic program actually was."266 Germans who became violent Nazis came primarily from authoritarian middle-class backgrounds, not from poverty; indeed, "those who grew up in poverty showed the least prejudice" in Merkl's study of Nazi stormtroopers.267 The "stress" that triggered the war and genocide may have been related to economics, but it in fact came from renewed prosperity in the late 1930s, not to the economic collapse of 1929.

There is one psychological study based upon a developmental event in the early lives of Germans that is given some credulity by historians: the "Nazi Youth Cohort" thesis of Peter Loewenberg. This study claims that "the rapid political ascendance of the Nazi party (NSDAP) in the period from 1928 to 1933 was marked by a particularly strong support from youth" who were deprived of food during the 1917-1919 Allied embargo.268 Citing low German birth weights and excess infant mortality during the period, Loewenberg feels this "single traumatic event" accounts for "the influx of German youth to the ranks of National Socialism, the political decline of the Weimar Republic, and the Nazi seizure of power."269 The problem with this thesis is the figures don't add up. While Loewenberg cites the census of 1933 as showing 31 percent of Germans were "youthful," these figures in fact were for those 18 to 30 years of age.270 Children born in 1917-18 were actually only 11-12 years of age in 1929 when the Nazis received their most uncoerced votes. Even those up to 5 years of age during the embargo years would still be from 12-17 in 1929, too young to join the Nazi party. And in fact most German youth didn't join the Hitler Youth, which managed to attract only one percent of the young people belonging to religious and political youth organizations in 1932.271 Therefore, the WWI famine, however severe, cannot be a main cause of the Nazi takeover,272 since the average age of membership of the Nazi party was in fact over 31 years.273


If German childrearing practices are not considered as the cause of German mass violence, there is no way to avoid Goldhagen's conclusion that the war and the Holocaust must be due to "something monstrously Germanic...at bottom unexplainable [and not] a product of human decisions."274 But if German childhood around 1900 is recognized as a totalitarian nightmare of murder, neglect, battering and torture of innocent, helpless human beings, then the restaging of this nightmare four decades later in the Holocaust and war can be understood as explanatory.

Historians have avoided researching German childrearing at the end of the nineteenth century. The few that have begun to do the research have found German childhood uniformly more brutal than French and British childhood. A comparison by Maynes of 90 German and French autobiographies of late nineteenth-century working class childhoods found German far more brutal and unloving, with the typical memory of home being that "No bright moment, no sunbeam, no hint of a comfortable home where motherly love and care could shape my childhood was ever known to me."275 In contrast, "French workers' autobiographies tell somewhat different childhood tales. To be sure, there are a few French accounts of childhoods marked by cruelty, neglect, and exploitation."276 Yet "much more common are stories of surprisingly sentimental home loves and warm relationships with mothers (and often fathers), even in the face of material deprivation."277 Maynes found unrelenting child labor, sexual molestation and beatings at home and at school were consistently worse in the German accounts.

Most of the research into primary sources on the history of German childrearing has been done by psychohistorians connected with the Deutsche Gesellschaft für psychohistorische Forschung, the German branch of The Institute for Psychohistory.278 The two main studies covering nineteenth-century German childrearing were those published in The Journal of Psychohistory by Aurel Ende and Raffael Scheck; both found uniform cruelty and neglect in their detailed review of 154 German autobiographies studied. Child battering was so common in German families that Scheck concludes, "There is virtually no autobiography which doesn't tell something about violence against children and almost no author who has not been beaten as a child."279 And Ende's massive study concludes that "nowhere in Western Europe are the needs of children so fatally neglected as in Germany," where "infant mortality, corporal punishment, cruelties against children, the exploitation of working children and the teacher-pupil relationship" were so brutal that he feels he has to apologize "for not dealing with the 'brighter side' of German childhood because it turns out that there is no "bright side."

Visitors to German homes at the end of the nineteenth century also found that in general "one feels sorry for these little German children; they must work so hard and seem to lack that exuberance of life, spirits, and childish glee that make American children harder to train but leave them the memory of a happy childhood."281 In particular, visitors noted the German preference for boys and their maltreatment of girls. Whereas in France and England beginning in the eighteenth century there was "an increasing appreciation of girl children," with parents often openly expressing their preference of having a girl,282 in Germany even at the end of the nineteenth century girls were resented and uniformly neglected: "From childhood on, the lives these women led were exceedingly harsh, dominated by memories of paternal brutality or negligence, drunkenness and violence was a routine part of life [including] a father's incestuous advances [and] abuse with sexual overtones at the hands of her mother...beatings and other forms of violent punishment."283 Germany in general was historically far behind the rest of Western Europe in the education of girls and in woman's rights, so that innovative mothers and hopeful daughters were found far less than in other countries.284

German family maxims described the lack of love of mothers toward their children, saying tenderness was "generally not part of the mother's character. Just as she kept her children short on food and clothing, she also was short on fondling and tenderness [feeling] the children should regard themselves as useless weeds and be grateful that they were tolerated."285 Children were expected to give love to their parents, not the parents to their children: "We always appeared trembling before our parents, hoping that our official kiss of their hands would be accepted"286 One boy reported his mother once dropped a word of praise, saying to someone that "He is good and well-liked," so that the boy remembered it all his life "because the words were totally new sounds to my ear."287 But kind words were rare in German homes, so most Germans remembered "no tender word, no caresses, only fear"288 and childhood was "joyless," "so immeasurably sad that you could not fathom it."289 Yet this hatred of children in German families was not something that they felt guilty about. German parents endlessly impressed upon the children their pride in their family atmosphere of hatred. "I don't want to be loved," said one typical father, "I want to be feared!"290 Another father summed up his feelings about family discipline as follows:

It is good to hate. To hate is strong, manly. It makes the blood flow. It makes one alert. It is necessary for keeping up the fighting instincts. To love is feebleness. It enervates. You see all the nations that talk of love as the keynote of life are weak, degenerate. Germany is the most powerful nation in the world because she hates. When you hate, you eat well, sleep well, work well, fight well.291


Since German fathers at the end of the nineteenth century spent little time at home, childrearing was overwhelmingly the job of the mother: "The care and training of the children are almost entirely in her hands for the first five years."292 The mother especially ruled the nursery and kitchen, where the children spent their time, and "she may actually exclude men from these restricted areas"293 when they were at home. Thus, although most studies of the treatment of infants and young children in Germany stress the admitted brutality and authoritarianism of fathers, the real lives of young German children in the past centered more on their murder, rejection, neglect, tying up and beating by their mothers and other women.

Infanticide and infant mortality rates at the end of the nineteenth century were much higher in Germany and Austria than in England, France, Italy and Scandinavia.294

Newborn were not considered in most areas as fully human since they not thought to have a soul until they were six weeks old, and so could be "killed in a kind of late abortion."295 Women giving birth often "had their babies in the privy, and treated the birth as an evacuation, an everyday event, and carried on with their work."296 Births which were "experienced as a bowel movement made it possible for the women [to] kill their children in a very crude way, by smashing their heads [like] poultry and small animals"297 Mothers who killed their newborn babies were observed by others as being without remorse, "full of indifference, coldness and callousness [and gave] the impression of a general impoverishment of feeling" toward her child.298 Even if the infant was allowed to live, it could easily be neglected and not fed enough, and it would be made to "go straight to heaven." Infant mortality rates in Germany ranged from 21 percent in Prussia to an astonishing 58 percent in Bavaria during the latter part of the nineteenth century,299 the figures in the south--the highest in Europe--being due to their practice of not breastfeeding,300 since hand-fed babies died at a rate three times that of breast-fed babies.301 The best figures for overall German infanticide at the end of the century were 20 percent, half again higher than France and England.302

Nineteenth-century doctors condemned the practice of German mothers refusing to breastfeed their babies, saying the pap made of flour and water or milk was "usually so thick that it has to be forced into the child and only becomes digestible when mixed with saliva and stomach fluids. At its worst it is curdled and sour."303 Infants were so commonly hungry that "those poor worms get their mouths stuffed with a dirty rag containing chewed bread so that they cannot scream."304 Ende reports that for centuries "One rarely encounters a German infant who is fully breastfed. Everywhere they got their mouths stuffed with Zulp, a small linen bag filled with breadSwaddled babies could hardly get rid of these often dirty rags."305 Mothers who could afford it sent their newborn to wetnurses--commonly called Engelmacherin, "angelmakers," because they were so negligent toward the children. The mothers complained, "Do you think I am a farmer's daughter, that I should bother myself with little children? That a woman of my age and standing should allow her very strength to be sucked dry by children?"306 While English gentry began to nurse their infants themselves during the seventeenth century, the mothering revolution had not yet really reached Germany by the end of the nineteenth century.307 Visitors who wrote books on German home life reported, "It is extremely rare for a German lady to nourish her own child,"308 and "It would have been very astonishing indeed if a well-to-do mother had suggested suckling her own baby."309 Almost all mothers who refused to breast-feed could have done so if they "seriously wanted to," according to a 1905 German medical conference.310 Those who did not gave "completely trivial reasons," such as "because it is messy," because they "didn't want to ruin their figures" or because breastfeeding was "inconvenient.311 Even after their children returned from wetnurse, "noble ladies showed not the slightest interest in their offspring"312 and turned them over to nursemaids, governesses and tutors. The result was that parents were often strangers to their children. When one German father asked his child whom he loves the most and the child replied, "Hanne [his nurse]," the father objected, "No! You must love your parents more." "But it is not true!" the child replied. The father promptly beat him.313

Mothers and other caretakers of newborn German babies were so frightened of them that they tied them up tightly for from six to nine months and strapped them into a crib in a room with curtains drawn to keep out the lurking evils.314 Two centuries after swaddling had disappeared in England and America, two British visitors described it as routine throughout Germany:

A German baby is a piteous object; it is pinioned and bound up like a mummy in yards of bandage. It is never bathed. Its head is never touched with soap and water until it is eight or ten months old, when the fine skull cap of encrusted dirt which it has by that time obtained is removed315

In Germany, babies are loathsome, foetid things offensive to the last degree with the excreta that are kept bound up within their swaddling clothes the heads of the poor things are never washed, and are like the rind of Stilton cheese316

When the children were finally removed from their swaddling bands after six to twelve months, other restraint devices such as corsets with steel stays and backboards continued their tied-up condition to assure the parents they were still in complete control.317 The result of all this early restraint was the same production of later violence in children as that obtained by experimenters physically restraining rats and monkeys--marked by depletions of serotonin, increases in norepinephrine levels and massive increases in terror, rage and eventually actual violence.318

The fear of one's own children was so widespread in German families that for centuries autobiographies told of a tradition of abandonment of children by their parents to anyone who would take them, using the most flimsy of excuses.319 Children were given away and even sometimes sold320 to relatives, neighbors, courts, priests, foundling homes, schools, friends, strangers, "traveling scholars" (to be used as beggars)--anyone who would take them--so that for much of history only a minority of German children lived their entire childhoods under their family roof. Children were reported to be sent away to others as servants or as apprentices, "for disciplinary reasons," "to be drilled for hard work," "to keep them from idleness," because of a "domestic quarrel," "because it cried as a baby," "because his uncle was childless," etc.321 Scheck notes from his study of autobiographies, "When their parents came to take them home, their children usually didn't recognize them any more."322 Peasants gave away their children so regularly that the only ones who were guaranteed to be kept were the first-born boys--to get the inheritance--and one of the daughters--who was sometimes crippled in order to prevent her from marrying and force her to stay permanently as a cheap helper in the parental household.323 After two children, it was said that "the parental attitude to later offspring noticeably deteriorated [so that] a farmer would rather lose a young child than a calf."324

Those children who were kept by their parents were considered, in Luther's words, "obnoxious with their crapping, eating, and screaming,"325 beings who "don't know anything, they aren't capable of doing anything, they don't perform anything [and are] inferior to adults"326 and are therefore are only useless eaters327 until they began to work. "When little children die, it's not often that you have a lot of grief [but] if an older child dies, who would soon be able to go off to work. Everybody is upset--it's already cost so much work and trouble, now it's all been for nothing."328 As "useless eaters" children were mainly resented: "rarely could we eat a piece of bread without hearing father's comment that we did not merit it."329 The children grew up feeling that "my mother was fond of society and did not trouble much about me" (Bismarck) or "[my mother] did not conduce to evolve that tender sweetness and solicitude which are usually associated with motherhood. I hardly ever recollect her having fondled me. Indeed, demonstrations of affection were not common in our family" (Wagner).330 It is not surprising, therefore, with such a drastic lack of maternal love that historically outsiders complained that German mothers routinely abandoned their children, "paid less attention to their children than cows,"331 and observed that "mothers leave their small children or babies at home alone and go off shopping; or parents go visiting in the evening, leaving the small children at home by themselves"332


Although little children can be made less threatening by being given away, tied up or ignored, as they grow older they must be forced to conform to parental images of them as poison containers by beating and terrorizing them. German parents throughout history have been known as the most violent batterers in Europe,333 particularly toward their boys,334 seconding Luther's opinion that "I would rather have a dead son than a disobedient one."335 Since mothers continued to be the main caretakers of the young children, the mother was far more often the main beater than the father.336 Scheck and Ende found brutal beating in virtually all autobiographies at the end of the nineteenth century; Hävernick found that 89 percent were beaten at the beginning of the twentieth century, over half of these with canes, whips or sticks.337 More recent surveys of report 75 percent of German adults say they had suffered from violence from their parents during their childhood, although hitting with instruments was falling from earlier periods.338

Battering babies sometimes begins in the womb. Violence against pregnant women has always been prevalent throughout human history, and since even today pregnant women are assaulted between 21 percent to 30 percent by their partners,339 this suggests that many fetuses were probably physically abused at the end of the nineteenth century, even without considering the effects of widespread maternal alcoholism in Germany.

The physical assaults resumed as soon as the little child was out of swaddling bands, whenever they cry for anything. The widely-followed Dr. Schreber says the earlier one begins beatings the better: "One must look at the moods of the little ones which are announced by screaming without reason and crying[inflicting] bodily admonishments consistently repeated until the child calms down or falls asleep. Such a procedure is necessary only once or at most twice and--one is master of the child forever. From now on a glance, a word, a single threatening gesture, is sufficient to rule the child."340 Schreber was overly optimistic and, like other German parents, continued to be threatened by imagined disobedience from his children, and so the beatings continued. Every independent move of children was seen as done, says Krüger, "with the intent of defying you;" it is "a declaration of war against you" which you must "whip him well till he cries so: Oh no, Papa, oh no!"341 These are not just spankings; they are whippings, like Hitler's daily whippings of sometimes over 200 strokes with a cane or a hippopotamus whip, which sometimes put him into a coma.342 Parents were often described as being in a "righteous rage" during the beatings343 and the children often lost consciousness.344 "At school we were beaten until our skin smoked. At home, the instrument for punishment was a dog-whip. My father, while beating, more and more worked himself into a rage. I lost consciousness from his beatings several times."345

Klöden writes that the motto of German parents at the end of the nineteenth century was simple: "Children can never get enough beatings."346 Although few German parents from the past would today escape being thrown in jail for their batterings, children at the end of the nineteenth century found little protection from society, since their own word and even physical evidence of severe abuse counted for nothing. Ende's survey describes typical court cases where a neighbor would alert police to "a three-year-old girl [whose] body was covered with welts. Lips, nose and gums were open wounds. The body showed numerous festering sores. The child had been placed on a red-hot, iron stove--two wounds on the buttocks were festering," but the court let the parent go free.347 Ende describes routine beating, kicking, strangling, making children eat excrement, etc., saying, "The cases I have presented are not the most extreme; they are typical of the vast literature on German families."348 The result was that German childhood suicides were three to five times higher than in other Western European countries at the end of the nineteenth century,349 fear of beatings by parents being the reason most often cited by the children for their suicide attempts.350 Few people cared about the reason for the suicides, since "suicidal children were thought to be spineless creatures, spoiled by indulgent parents. Newspapers wrote: ‘A boy who commits suicide because of a box on the ears has earned his fate; he deserved to be ruined.'351" There simply was no one around to sympathize with battered children in Germany. Even the small feminist movement in Germany failed to speak out for the rights of children, declaring motherhood "oppressive,"352 even though feminists in misogynous Germany in any case soon became "a symbol of disorder, decadence and physical and psychological disease."353

Although these constant beatings quickly produced compliant, obedient children, parental projections into them made continuous overcontrol appear necessary. German children were "often locked in a dark room or a closet or fastened to a table leg,"354 were "hardened" by washing them with ice-cold water before breakfast,355 and were tightly tied up in various corsets, steel collars and torturous back-support devices with steel stays and tight laces to hold them in controlled positions all day long.356 Children were not only controlled by being frightened by endless ghost stories where they were threatened with being carried away by horrible figures.357 The parents actually "dressed up in terrifying costumes [as] the so-called Knecht Ruprecht, made their faces black and pretended to be a messenger of God who would punish children for their sins."358

At Christmas they dressed as Pelznickel, "armed with a rod and a large chain. If they have been bad children, he will use his rod; if good, he will bring them nuts"359 Petschauer remembers being threatened by a "hairy monster [that] chased me under the living room table, chains clanking, hoofs stomping, appearing it wanted to drag me off in its carrying basket, the Korb."360 Scheck sums up the effects of these terrifying devices: "Most children had been so deeply frightened that their ‘demons of childhood' persecuted them at night and in feverish dreams for their whole lives."361

Toilet training was an early, violent battle-ground for parental control over the infant. Since "babies and young children won't obey, don't want to do what grownups want them to do but instead test them, resist them, and tyrannize them [and since] they are impure, unclean and messy,"362 toilet training begins at around six months of age, long before the infant has sphincter control. The training is done by regular use of enemas and by hitting the infant: "The baby cannot walk yet [Nana] spanks the baby. Hard. ‘He is a dirty, dirty Hansi-baby,' she says, as she spanks. ‘He made pooh-pooh last night! Dirty Hansi!' Nana slaps the little red buttocks." Traditional German obsession with children's feces is well known; both Dundes and von Zglinicki have written entire books on the subject.363 The enema in particular was used as a frightening domination device, a fetish-object often wielded by the mother or nurse in daily rituals that resembled sexual assaults on the anus, sometimes including tying the child up in leather straps as though the mother were a dominatrix, inserting the two-foot-long enema tube over and over again as punishment for "accidents."364 There were special enema stores that German children would be taken to in order to be "fitted" for their proper size of enemas. The ritual "stab in the back" was a central fear of German children well into the twentieth century, and they learned "never to speak of it, but always to think about it."365

The punitive atmosphere of the German home was so total that one can convincingly say that totalitarianism in the family led directly to totalitarianism in politics. Children were personal slaves of their parents, catering to their every need, waiting on them, tying to fulfill their every whim, even if only to be poison containers for their moods. Many accounts of the time describe a similar tense home atmosphere:

When the father came in from work, the children were expected to be at home. Neighbors... would warn...'[Your father's] coming! We ran like a flash, opened up and were inside in time!' The children would bring him his slippers, help him off with his coat, lay the table or just retreat in silence to a corner of the room. Right away we got punished, whack, a clip round the ear or something'You take off my shoes; you go and get water; you fill my pipe for me and you fetch my books!' And we had to jump to it, he wouldn't have stood for it if we hadn't all done just as we were told we had to kneel, one by the one window, another by the other. We would kneel with our heads against the wall. We had to stay there for two hours"366

German children were also used by parents and servants as sexual objects from an early age.367 German doctors often said "nursemaids and other servants carry out all sorts of sexual acts on the children entrusted to their care, sometimes merely in order to quiet the children, sometimes 'for fun.'"368 Even Freud said he was seduced by his nurse and by his father,369 and said "nursemaids, governesses and domestic servants [were often] guilty of [grave sexual] abuses" and that "nurses put crying children to sleep by stroking their genitals."370 Children were used like a comfort blanket: "If the father goes away on a journey, the little son can come to sleep in mother's bed. As soon as father returns, the boy is banished to his cot" next to the parents' bed, where he will continue to observe their intercourse.371 These incestuous assaults were regular enough to be remembered rather than repressed in the autobiographies of the period.372 In poorer families, of course, "it was unheard of for children to have their own beds,"373 but even in wealthy families parents bring their children to bed with them. After using them sexually, they then would threaten to punish the child for their sexuality. "Little Hans," for instance, reported he regularly was masturbated by his mother, "coaxed [Freud's footnote: 'caressed'] with his Mummy [Freud's footnote: 'meaning his penis.']," but then told she would "send for Dr. A. to cut off your widdler" if he touched his penis.374 It is no wonder that Freud reported that his patients "regularly charge their mothers with seducing them,"375 but not because "they had been cleansed by their mothers" as he claimed but because they had in fact been used sexually by them. They then impose various punishments and anti-masturbation devices such as penis-rings, metal cages with spikes and plaster casts to prevent erections while sleeping in order to punish the child for the incestuous acts of the parent.376

As children left their families in pedophile-prone nineteenth-century Germany, they were again raped at school, as servants, on the streets and at work. The majority of prostitutes were minors, often starting their careers as young as age seven, with parents often living off the prostitution of their daughters.377 Virgins were particularly valuable, since "a superstition prevails that venereal diseases may be cured by means of sexual intercourse with a virgin."378 Bloch thought seducing children was "very widespread" because "timidity and impotence on the part of adult men, rendering intercourse with adult women difficult" led to their commonly raping children.379 Rape by employers of servants was widespread, but since no one wanted illegitimate children, the servant girl was expected to kill any offspring.380 Girls leaving school at thirteen regularly told tales of sexual assault at the hands of factory employers and managers or by bosses in the office.381 And both boys and girls were open to rape in schools, by teachers as well as older students--there were even "free schools" known for pederastic use of young boys that espoused "pedagogical Eros" concepts that were popular in the period.382

Even the daily beatings so commonly reported at schools had overtones of sexual assault--after all, the German schoolmaster who boasted he had given "911,527 strokes with the stick, 124,000 lashes with the whip, 136,715 slaps with the hand and 1,115,800 boxes on the ear"383 was engaged in a severe sexual compulsion, not a disciplinary act. One can easily sense the sexual excitement behind the claim that teachers must "know how to love with the cane,"384 in schools that were

real torture-chambers for children and young people. All day long the hazel-rod, the ruler and the cowhide reign, or they fly around in the class-room to warn the sluggish ones and the chatter-boxes or to call them to step out. Then, they were given a sound thrashing. How inventive were some school tyrants concerning their punishments. There is rarely a morning on which we do not see servants or even parents in the streets, dragging violently to school boys who cry at the top of their voices.385


A small minority of Germans at the turn of the century, however, had more modern, less brutal childrearing, and it was these who in every economic class managed to provide the new psychoclass that supported the democratic and economic reforms of the Weimar Republic. During the Weimar period, these advanced Germans were able to borrow more advanced social and economic models from other more democratic nations nearby, creating even larger a gap between the majority of Germans brought up in medieval childrearing ways and the needs of modern capitalism and democratic forms of government. This advanced minority did not mainly come from the wealthier economic classes; wealthy mothers regularly sent their newborn out to peasants who had reputations as being totally without feeling for the infants for whom they were supposed to care. The new psychoclass German children can be found in the historical record in exceptional autobiographies and diaries, more in the north than the south--where as we have seen the mothers didn't even breastfeed--more in the middle classes than in the wealthy, more urban than rural, and more in certain ethnic groups, particularly the Jews.

That German Jewish families "constituted one of the most spectacular social leaps in European history [and] produced some of the most fiercely independent minds" in Germany386 is a little-understood cause of their persecution during the Holocaust, since a nation afraid of independence naturally chooses the most independent people in their population as scapegoats for their fear of freedom. Jews in Germany were far more literate (even the women) than others since medieval times, when most populations were nearly totally illiterate. Jewish families, smaller and more urban than other German families and far less authoritarian,387 almost always nursed their own children, so that in 1907, for instance, in the south "44 percent of the children of Christian families died, but only 8 percent of the Jewish children."388 Two major studies of German Jewish family life confirm that it was quite different from most of the other families around them, so much more loving and compassionate that even after the end of WWII, after experiencing during the Holocaust the most "severe abuse and unimaginable stress, there were no suicides [in survivors] the people are neither living a greedy, me-first style of life, nor are they seeking gain at the expense of others389most of their lives are marked by an active compassion for others" As was stressed earlier, what produces violent restaging of early trauma isn't merely the severity of the trauma, but whether or not the child blames himself.390

Two similar retrospective studies--one by Dicks of Nazis and another by the Oliners of rescuers of Jews--clearly reveal the different family backgrounds of the more advanced psychoclass represented by rescuers. Just as Dicks found brutal, domineering parents of Nazis who had "particularly destructive mother images,"391 the Oliners interviewed over 406 rescuers of Jews, and compared them with 126 nonrescuers, and found that their economic class, their religion, their education, jobs and other social characteristics were all similar, only their childrearing was different.392 Altruistic personalities, they found, had families that showed them more respect, more concern for fairness, more love and had less emphasis on obedience and more on individuality. They were almost never sent out to others to be cared for, and if they were sometimes hit by their parents, the parents often apologized.393 Obviously, a new childrearing mode had penetrated to a minority of Germans at the beginning of the twentieth century, in time to produce a new innovative phase and an attempted "leap to modernity" during the Weimar Republic.

During this decade of prosperity, "many Germans enjoyed a temporary triumph of eros over thanatos, experiencing a sense of liberation hitherto unknown in a land where strong discipline and public conformity had held sway for generations."394 Universal suffrage allowed women to vote, a minority of parties were even fairly democratic in intent, economic freedoms multiplied and produced unaccustomed prosperity, women's rights over their children were promoted and sexual material and even contraception became widely available, reducing for the first time the number of children per family to two.395 But all this political, economic and social liberation produced terror in the average German, terror of maternal engulfment. Democracy was seen as "a beast of a thousand heads [that] crushes anything it cannot swallow or engulf."396 Weimar Purity Crusades began to call for "emancipation from emancipation" and "a restoration of authoritarian rule."397 Anti-pornography laws "to protect youth against literary rubbish and dirt" began to be passed as early as 1926.398 Even women delegates in the Reichstag opposed "the masculinization of women" that they said was the result of women's rights, which were deemed "un-German."399 Germany felt it needed a Phallic Leader who would give them a national enema, a purging, a purifying of "foreign" liberalism to "unify and cleanse"400 the body politic as their mothers and nurses had forcefully purged them of feces and cleansed them of their desires for independence. The myth about "the stab in the back" (the enema) being the underlying cause of Germany's problems had deeper meaning than the political. It was agreed that "The stab in the back [is] a crime the cause of our general paralysis and joylessness"401 What was needed, it was said, was something to "remove the Verstopfung [constipation]" that was obstructing German culture.402 Germans complained throughout the Weimar period about "the stab in the back" they had received at the end of WWI, and said about the Versailles Treaty "always think about it, never speak of it," both phrases really referring to their enema assaults as children. The more prosperous Weimar became, the more growth panic Germans experienced--as shown in the increase in murder and manslaughter rates during the later Weimar years.403 Thus it was that Germany--the nation that during the 1920s enjoyed higher standards of living than any other in Europe --404began its search for a violent, purging dictator long before the Depression began, the supposed cause of the dictatorship.


Careful studies of the rise of Nazism conclude that the Depression came after, not before, the death of Weimar democracy and that "the decay of parliamentary government preceded the Nazi rise."405 Nor did the Versailles Treaty and Allied demands for reparations cause them, since "German borrowing from abroad always far exceeded her reparation payments."406 Nor, as we have documented, was antisemitism the cause of the rise of the Nazis. Not only was earlier German antisemitism milder than many other European nations,407 "in the decisive electoral campaigns of 1930 and 1932anti-Semitic agitation proved, if anything, more of a hindrance, so leadership consciously played it down."408 Most Germans were "relatively indifferent towards the Jewish Question,"409 and "the vast majority of the general population did not clamor or press for anti-Semitic measures [even by] the Kristallnacht pogrom of November 1938"410

The call for a dictatorship, in fact, came before it began to center on Hitler, first in films and other cultural material (Kracauer calls Weimar culture "a procession of tyrants")411 and then in the Reichstag. The middle classes--"hardly touched by the depression"412 --and the wealthy--"the richer the precinct the higher the Nazi vote"413 --were the main sources of the over two-thirds of all delegates who voted Hitler dictator. Women in fact voted for Hitler in even greater proportions than men.414 The ecstatic enthusiasm of the jubilant masses of people who celebrated their Phallic Leader came directly from his promises of a violent Purity Crusade that would end what Hitler called the "poisoning hothouse of sexual conceptions and stimulants [and the] suffocating perfume of our modern eroticism [which is] the personification of incest"415 --all three images suggesting flashbacks to the sexually engulfing mommy of the family bed. Even during the Depression, Germans said, "We are somebody again!"416 only because of their delusional merger with their Phallic Leader. Economics, political forms, antisemitism--all played second fiddle in the Nazi propaganda to Hitler's "ranting about prostitution and moral decadence."417 What made Germans say about Hitler's dictatorship, "The Joy inside me was impossible to describe,"418 was his violent Purity Crusade, a dopamine rush that warded off engulfment by the Terrifying Mother--using his hatred of his own mother that can be glimpsed in his saying about a frightening painting of Medusa he kept on his walls: "Those eyes! They are the eyes of my mother!"419


The Depression was relatively short in Germany. Since economic downturns are caused by motivated "mistakes" in restricting liquidity, Hitler performed what was called an "economic miracle" simply by reversing the "mistakes" of late Weimar economic policies, so that by the end of 1936 Germany surpassed the highest levels of GNP achieved during the 1920s.420 It was only as the manic phase was well under way that Germany really felt their growth panic and completed their merger with the Fatherland and the promised violence of the Phallic Leader. Protected against growing body disintegration anxieties by fetishistic Nazi leather boots and uniforms, Germans could accomplish the "purification" of their nation by "stopping the creeping poison" exuded by Terrifying Mommies and Bad Boy selves, at home and abroad. One must say "Halt!" to freedom to be loved by mommy: after all, the "Heil Hitler!" salute, with arm stiffly outstretched and palm out, is a universal symbol of "Halt." Germans who as children were made to kneel silently against the wall for hours encountered American swing music as adults, wanted to dance, but still were under their internal parents' injunction to "Halt!" So Nazi soldiers halted all swing dancing in Germany and sent those who danced to swing music to concentration camps.421 Only if Germans could stop being individuals living in freedom could they go back and live as "one family" in the "joyful rapture" of one Volk, cleansed of sinfulness.

Only if they were slaves to totalitarian Nazi whims could they restage their slavery to their parents in the totalitarian family of their childhoods; thus, even the chains of swaddling bands were embedded in the Nazi dicta: "He who can do what he wants is not free. He who feels himself without chains is not free."422 Only those who could worship the Motherland (the swastika is an ancient symbol of Mother Goddess worship) could feel reborn and be loved as they always felt they deserved to be since birth. Since group-fantasies of merging with mommy proliferated, men feared they would become feminine, so homosexuals began to be persecuted with a vengeance.

Indeed, all of post-Depression Europe, America and even Asia were in their manic phase in the late Thirties and felt the need for a cleansing world war and sacrifice of scapegoats. American antisemitism, for instance, was on the rise, a steady minority feeling that Jews were a menace to America423 and two-thirds indicating Jewish refugees should be kept out of the country.424 In the summer of 1939 when over a thousand German Jews arrived in the New World, they were sent back.425 The bill to accept 20,000 Jewish children into the U.S. was received with massive opposition because "20,000 children will soon turn into 20,000 ugly adults."426 Thirty-two nations assembled at a conference on Jewish emigration and voted they "regretted" they could not take in more Jews.427 When the British were approached to save Jews in exchange for goods, they replied, "What on earth are you thinking off. What shall I do with those million Jews? Where shall I put them?"428 Nor was Hitler without his admirers in other countries before the invasion. Churchill called him "an indomitable champion [who could] restore our courage,"429 Anthony Eden said of him "without doubt the man has charm I rather liked him."430 Indeed, Beisel's research into the group-fantasies of Western nations before the war concludes that Germany was "the bad boy" of Europe who was delegated the starting of the war by others in "the family of nations," just as many "bad boys" are delegated the acting out of violence felt by others in individual families.431

Before the war broke out, however, the killing of "bad boy" alters had begun in earnest. The earliest death camps, in fact, were set up to kill children who were useless eaters, the same term applied to the Germans themselves by their parents when they were children at the turn of the century. Long before the Holocaust of Jews began, medical officers sent questionnaires to parents and guardians of children in mental hospitals and homes for delinquent children, asking them if they would give their consent to killing them. So powerful was the unconscious group-fantasy at that time that "bad" children were polluting the German nation that most parents and guardians agreed to the killing of their "useless children."432

The doctors, including pediatricians, spontaneously set up a Reich Committee "to exterminate ‘undesirable' children, which drew up standards that read exactly like the child care manuals at the end of the nineteenth century, asking whether the child had been "late in being toilet trained" or had used "dirty words" or were "slow learners;" if they were, they were exterminated in gas chambers and crematorium ovens.433 Over 70,000 of these "useless eaters" were murdered by doctors to "cleanse the German national body"434 before the war began.435 So proud were these doctors of their murder of "bad children" that they actually made a popular film of the killings, which was shown in theaters.436 At the same time, throughout Germany, "midwives and nurses were instructed to report births of defective infants including ‘racially undesirable' ones. Thousands were killed by injection or deliberate starvation."437 The wiping out of Bad Boy alters "out there" in the real world to remove them from "inside here," in the traumatized hemisphere of the brain, had begun. Killing millions more "Bad Boys" in the Holocaust and World War II soon followed.


Killing mommies and children was the two tasks of Germans in starting WWII. Hitler made this clear in the speech he gave before his generals ordering the invasion of Poland. Note the exact words he used:

Genghis Khan has sent millions of women and children into death knowingly and with a light heart. I have put my death's head formations in place with the command relentlessly and without compassion to send into death many women and children of Polish origin438

After quoting these sentences, Fischer says "Hitler had exclaimed that he would kill without pity all men, women and children."439 But men were not in fact mentioned in his quote. Hitler said women and children must die--women as symbolic Terrifying Mothers, and children as symbolic Bad Boys. Even all the soldiers who must die--including the German soldiers who must die--were "youth," symbolic Bad Boy alters, vital, growing inner selves sacrificed to Moloch.

The path to war, however, did not begin with the killing of Bad Boy "useless eaters" to the East. Indeed, Hitler temporarily made a Nonaggression Pact with Russia and attempted to extend it to Poland. Germany's first task was righteous rape, the knocking of Mother England off her pedestal and, while still wooing her, teaching her a lesson of how she must stop humiliating Germans by rejecting their courtship. Nazi diplomatic language dripped of maternal imagery for the two Western nations, as when Goering asked, "Why should France continue to tie herself to a decayed old nation like England--a rouged old maid trying to pretend that she is still young and vigorous."440 Hitler believed that war would teach England a lesson and make her respect Germany, predicting that "the end of the war will mark the beginning of a durable friendship with England. But first we must give her the K.O.--for only so can we live at peace with her, and the Englishman can only respect someone who has first knocked him out."441 Mother England, after all, was a "purely Germanic nation" who, like a good German mother, ruled over her children (colonies) with an iron fist.442 Germany had to rape her to dominate and really have her, but, Hitler said, "This doesn't prevent me from admiring [the English]. They have a lot to teach us."443

Historians agree that during the 1936-38 period "Hitler assumed that Britain could be wooed or forced into an alliance."444 When England finally said they would defend Poland, Hitler responded by "abandoning his courtship of England, which had rejected him"445 and proceeded with what was called "the rape of Austria," what Hitler called "the return of German-Austria to the great German motherland."446 All Germans had long blamed England and France for the ineffective "Treaty of Shame" (Versailles)--a flashback to all their childhood memories of shame and humiliation by their caretakers--and promised to fight the West to "restore to each individual German his self-respect We are not inferior; on the contrary, we are the complete equals of every other nation."447 Even those Germans who were turned over to nurses by their mothers knew what Hitler meant when he declared that "Germany would not suffer under the tutelage of governesses,"448 i.e., England.

Nazi Blitzkreig and dive-bomber tactics were particularly loaded with righteous rape fantasies featuring powerful thrusts and penetration of enemy bodies, wreaking vengeance for earlier wrongs. The war began in the East, restaging German childhood traumas against Bad Boys in Poland, and it involved from the start suicidal intent and the killing off of sinful Germans. Historians admit that fighting "an unlimited war of conquest [against] a worldwide coalition of state was in itself an insane undertaking"449 that was suicidal and sacrificial from the beginning. As Hitler promised nothing but death to what he called the "thousands and thousands of young Germans who have come forward with the self-sacrificial resolve freely and joyfully to make a sacrifice of their young lives,"450 German mothers marched through the streets chanting "We have donated a child to the Führer," Nazi soldiers felt "politically reborn [when] filled with a pure joy I realized that what my mother had once said was true after all--that it was a hallowed act to give up one's life for Germany," and Hitler Youth sang, "We are born to die for Germany."451 At no point was mere conquest of land the goal of Germany's invasions. Hitler hated Chamberlain for making concessions and avoiding war at Munich, telling his soldiers later, "We want war," and saying "I am only afraid that some Schweinehund will make a proposal for mediation" like at Munich.452 "I did not organize the armed forces in order not to strike. The idea of getting out cheaply is dangerousWe must burn our boats."453 He instructed his diplomats always to demand "so much that we can never be satisfied."454 When asked about Poland, "What is it that you want? Danzig? The Corridor?" the answer was, "We want war."455 The goal was to "Act Brutally! Be harsh and remorseless!"456 While Germans marched West with visions of raping French women and climbing the Eiffel Tower, they marched East with visions of smashing Jewish babies heads against walls457 and turning Moscow into "an artificial lake."458 All Bad Boy alters to the East must be eliminated. The orders were: "Complete destruction of Poland is the military aim. Pursue until complete annihilation"459 and "Moscow must be destroyed and completely wiped from the earth."460

Jewish annihilation plans only came later, actually during the summer months of 1941 when, "convinced that the military campaign was nearly over and victory was at hand, an elated Hitler gave the signal to carry out [the] racial 'cleansing' [of the Jews.]"461 Initially, for many years, Jews were to be resettled, part of Hitler's "grandiose program of population transfers"462 --90 percent of which were ethnic Germans and others and only 10 percent were Jews--a "massive upheaval of humanity"463 that restaged upon five million people464 the experiences of having to leave home endured during childhood by most Germans as their parents endlessly moved them around to wetnurses, relatives, schools and work sites. In 1940 Hitler and Himmler had rejected the "physical extermination of a people out of inner conviction as un-German and impossible."465 It was only by the summer of 1941, in victory and afraid of running out of Bad Boys to kill in the East, that Hitler would approve of "the mass murder of all European Jews in the form of deportation to death camps equipped with poison gas facilities"466 like those used for murdering the 70,000 German children killed earlier. Christopher Browning correctly points to mania and success as the source of the Holocaust when he concludes, "Hitler [only] opted for the Final Solution in the 'euphoria of victory' of midsummer 1941."467 Jews were the ultimate Bad Boys, symbols of liberalism, freedom and prosperity in the stock market, and so finally must be totally eliminated for Germans to return to the "pure" authoritarian family atmosphere of 1900 where only Good Boys survived.

Even the notion that Germany had to kill Poles and Jews for the acquisition of Lebensraum, or living space, completely misses the motive for the Holocaust. Lebensraum was a completely phony concept. It was actually a code word for the desire to break free, to have room to live and grow, to throw off swaddling bands and corsets, to get up from crouching against the wall as children and to have some space to live. Conquering foreign lands or annihilating Jews and others to expand the actual amount of soil Germany could farm made no sense at all, because Germany already had so much unused land that they had to import a steady stream of foreign workers to farm it.468 Germans ate well under Hitler. The only reality behind the popular Lebensraum notion that the "Germanic mother could not feed her children adequately"469 was the inability of German mothers and wetnurses four decades earlier to empathize with and adequately feed their infants and children.

Jews, then, were the main poison containers for the restaging of traumatic German childrearing practices four decades earlier. Every one of the things done to Jews in the Holocaust can be found to have been perpetrated by parents and others to German children at the turn of the century. The precise details of earlier events that were reinflicted upon Jews later are astonishingly minute and literal. Jews were, of course, murdered by the millions, just as German children had watched their siblings murdered in infanticidal acts earlier, using the exact same phrase for the genocide of Jews--"elimination of useless eaters"--as parents had used earlier for their infants and children as they murdered them at birth.470 Because infanticide rates were so high, the majority of German children would have witnessed the murder of newborn siblings by their mothers, would have heard the murdered baby being called a "useless eater," and would themselves have been called a "useless eater" as children and so could have wondered if they might also be murdered. One can hardly read a single Holocaust book without having to wade through endless accounts of children buried alive by Nazis, "children having their heads beaten in like poultry and thrown into a smoking pit," "babies thrown from the fourth floor and crushed on the pavements," "children's bodies lay around, torn in half with the heads smashed in," "'little Jews' caught on bayonets after being thrown from upper story windows," etc.471 Even the specific methods German mothers had used for killing their newborn--especially smashing the baby against a wall or throwing it into a latrine--were "a regular occurrence"472 against Jews in concentration camps:

When mothers succeeded in keeping their babies with them. A German guard took the baby by its legs and smashed it against the wall of the barracks until only a bloody mass remained in his hands. The unfortunate mother had to take this mass with her to the 'bath.' Only those who saw these things with their own eyes will believe with what delight the Germans performed these operations. [Also] SS men used to amuse themselves by swinging Jewish children by their legs and then flinging them to their deaths. He who threw a Jewish child farthest won.473

Jews were also regularly tied up and made to live in their own filth exactly as swaddled German infants were earlier. Rarely washed, Germans had spent their early lives covered with their own excreta, addressed by their parents simply as "little shitter."474 In the concentration camps, Jews were subject to what Des Pres calls a constant "excremental assault," in which they were forced to defecate and urinate upon each other, were often thrown into the cesspool if they were too slow, lived in barracks "awash with urine and feces," walked about "knee-deep in excrement," were forced to eat their own feces, and finally died in gas chambers "covered all over with excrement."475 In one camp, 30,000 women not only had to use a single latrine, but in addition, "we were permitted to use it only at certain hours of the day. We stood in line to get into this tiny building, knee-deep in human excrement."476 Holocaust scholars, missing the childhood origins of all these gratuitous excremental cruelties, have been puzzled by how much of the concentration camp routine was devoted to the endless humiliations: "Why, if they were going to kill them anyway, what was the point of all the humiliation, why the cruelty?" Gitta Sereny asked of Franz Stangl.477 But of course the humiliation was the point, restaging early German childhood exactly. Hitler--himself swaddled and left alone in his feces by his mother--had told Germans in Mein Kampf , "If the Jews were alone in this world, they would suffocate in dirt and filth."478 In the Holocaust the Jews--"so much like us" (Hitler)--would suffocate in dirt and filth, as all little, helpless German babies did all day long at the hands of their mothers. And since the "little shitter" German babies were also covered with lice, vermin and rodents as they lay swaddled in their cradles, unable to move, Jews too were called "lice, vermin and rats" as they were locked into the concentration camps, told "This is a death camp. You'll be eaten by lice; you'll rot in your own shit, you filthy shitface"479 Some guards even restaged the rodent attacks "by inserting a tube into the victim's anus, or into a woman's vagina, then letting a rat into the tube. The rodent would try to get out by gnawing at the victim's internal organs."480 Later toilet training of German children was also restaged, often in precise detail, as by having the ghetto-latrine supervised by a "guard with a big clock, whom the Germans dressed comically as a rabbi and called the ‘shit-master.'"481

Every extermination camp reproduced elements of a typical German home. Jews were not said to be there to be murdered, they were there to be "housecleaned."482 Mommy hated her children's "dirtiness," wanted them "clean," so "dirty Jews" were killed so only "clean Germans" would be left. Jews were Untermenschen (with overtones of "little people") who were forced to crawl on the floor naked like babies,483 and who were tied up, starved, made to kneel for hours, doused with ice water, terrorized and beaten just like most German children.484 The battering of Jews in camps followed the hallowed German child-beating pattern of "being strong" (not making the perpetrator feel guilty by crying out):

I dropped to my knees without uttering a sound. I knew what was expected of me. I looked at the commandant from my knees as he smiled back at me with approval. He swung the chair at me again, striking me on the shoulder. I sprawled on the ground, bruised and dizzy, but I still made no sound. He raised the chair and brought it down on my head, shattering it. I bit my tongue to stop myself making a sound I knew that if I made another sound, nothing could save me. 'Very good, for being strong. You shall be rewarded. Get some food. Tell them I sent you...'485

The beatings and tortures were, as is so often the case with sadism, often sexualized:

The SS camp commander stood close to the whipping post throughout the flogging his whole face was already red with lascivious excitement. His hands were plunged deep in his trouser pockets, and it was quite clear that he was masturbating throughout. On more than thirty occasions, I myself have witnessed SS camp commanders masturbating during floggings486

Sexual tortures of prisoners were legion, including pushing sticks up into boys' penises and breaking them off, brutally massaging prostates with pieces of wood inserted into the rectum, castrating men and removing the ovaries of women, training dogs to attack their genitals, etc.487 Victims were all Bad Boys and Bad Girls, needing to be punished for their sexuality, as the German guards' parents had punished them. The Holocaust was one gigantic, bizarre "cautionary tale," teaching everyone the same lessons taught to German children as they were assaulted, so when local civilians during the Holocaust saw Jews being clubbed to death in the street, they cheered, "with mothers holding up their children to enjoy the spectacle and soldiers milling around to watch the fun like a football match."488


As the next three chapters will document, childrearing has steadily improved historically, even if very unevenly, so if the psychogenic theory is correct then human violence should have decreased steadily over the past millennia. Yet the twentieth century has been widely touted as the most violent in history and has often been compared by anthropologists to some so-called peaceful tribes they have claimed represent our oldest ancestors. How can childhood be the source of human violence if violence has vastly increased while childrearing has improved?

That twentieth century wars have been more violent seems to be an obvious fact. Technology alone allows us to be far more lethal than in earlier centuries, when wars causing 250,000 or more deaths were rare,489 while World War II alone killed 15 million people in battle, and total battlefield deaths for the twentieth century have exceeded 100 million.490 What's more, if one expands the definition of war deaths to what Rummel terms "democide"--so that the 40 million Russian deaths ordered by Stalin, for instance, are included--the number of "deaths by government" in the twentieth century jumps past 170 million.491 Surely Nordstrom is right in saying, "This past century was the bloodiest century in human existence,"492 thus disproving the psychogenic theory of decreasing violence resulting from improving childrearing.

Yet Nordstrom's pessimistic conclusion is reversed if one measures the rate of violence by the likelihood of one's dying by war and democide. With several billion people on earth during the twentieth century, the rate of death by wars is in fact less than two percent of the population.493 Although individual wars in the past have killed less in numbers, they could easily wipe out many times this percentage of the population, particularly if--as is rarely done--the battlefield deaths are increased to include the democides of the past, when massacring civilians in entire cities was a common practice.494 Further, what is more relevant to the childrearing comparison is that lumping all nations in the twentieth century together regardless of their childhood evolution masks the fact that advanced democratic nations like the United States, England and France have lost only a fraction of a percentage of their populations in wars during the century. The United States, for instance, lost 120,000 soldiers in WWI, only .12 percent of the population, and 400,000 soldiers in WWII, only .34 percent of the population.495 The Korean War only lost .04 percent, the Vietnam War only .03 percent, and the Gulf War .0003 percent of Americans. The facts are that the more advanced the childrearing, the more democratic the society and the less percentage lost in wars. This is why no democratic nation has ever gone to war with another democratic nation in history.496

Anthropologists have promulgated what Keeley calls "the myth of the peaceful savage" so effectively that when actual deaths by war are tabulated for pre-state simple societies one is astonished by how such a notion can continue to be taught to students.497 Keeley documents 22 prestate tribes with war deaths five to ten times that of contemporary democratic nations, concluding that "what transpired before the evolution of civilized states was often unpleasantly bellicose."498 Death rates in areas like New Guinea and South America, where there has been less Western policing of war than in Africa and Asia, range from an astonishing 25 to 35 percent of all adult deaths.499 The most warlike society ever described is the Waorani of the Amazon, which produced 60 percent of all adult deaths from war raids.500 It is likely that prestate societies 10,000 years ago had similar astronomical death rates from wars, if the number of human bones with stone axes and arrowheads embedded in them are counted.501 The 30 percent average of adult deaths in prestate societies is even higher than the figures of below 10 percent that early modern wars tended to average out,502 although admittedly little has been done to date to measure non-battlefield deaths in state wars prior to the twentieth century. The overall historical decline from 30 percent of adult population to under one percent for war/democide adult deaths for democratic nations has therefore been plotted in the graph below as a clear downward trend through history, as childrearing improves through the ages and gradually reduces the inner need to kill others.

The Decline of Human Violence

Besides war and democide, the graph also shows the decline of the two other outlets for human violence: infanticide and homicide/suicide. Infanticide is usually not counted as murder by demographers, since they do not consider newborn as human. But most human murders in history were in fact committed by mothers killing their newborn. The rates of infanticide in contemporary pre-state tribes are enormous: Australian Aborigine mothers, for instance, killed about 50 percent of all newborn, and the first missionaries in Polynesia estimated the two-thirds of the children were murdered by their parents.503 Birdsell hypothesized infanticide rates as high as 50 percent for prehistoric tribal societies, based on high fertility rates and slow growth of populations.504

My own cross-historical study, On the Demography of Filicide,505 is based on a large number of boy-girl ratios that ran as high as 135 to 100, which showed that girls until modern times were killed in sufficiently higher numbers than boys to have affected census figures for children. Tribal societies also often infanticide enough of their newborn girls at a higher rate than boys to produce childhood sex ratios of from 140 to 100 (Yanomamö) to 159 to 100 (Polynesian),506 meaning that virtually all families killed at least one child and most killed several, averaging perhaps half of all children born, especially if "late infanticide" (such as letting an infant starve to death) are counted. Since 50 percent infanticide rates seems to be the norm around which all these studies of simple tribes center, it is what is shown at the left of the chart.

The third outlet for human violence is homicide/suicide--lumped together because when homicide rates initially go down in modern times suicide rates tend for a while to climb, suicide being somewhat more "advanced" (less impulsive) method of personal violence than homicide. Many simple tribes had homicide rates of up to 50 or 60 percent, causing one anthropologist to conclude about one group, "There was not a single grown man who had not been involved in a killing in some way or another."507 Even so-called "peaceful" tribes like the famous !Kung of Africa actually have "twenty to fifty times" current modern homicide rates.508 Knauft's careful study found the Gebusi homicide rate to be sixty times the current U.S. rate,509 with 60 percent of all males admitting to having committed one or more homicides,510 while Steadman found the Hewa--who specialize in killing witches--had a homicide rate of one percent of the population per year, a thousand times the current U.S. rate.511 Most tribal homicide rates run around ten percent of the adult population over a lifetime.

Suicide in small societies is usually higher among the women, since they live lives of despair, often reaching 10 to 25 percent of adult women's deaths, staying high in antiquity but declining under Christianity, when suicide was declared to be self-murder.512 Homicide rates in medieval and early modern history, when almost everyone carried a knife or sword and often used them, ran about ten times higher than today's rates of about a quarter of one percent--although they should be adjusted upward for the number of unrecorded homicides in the past--while suicide rates today run about a half of one percent of adult population over a lifetime.513 Thus homicide/suicide rates, like those of war and infanticide, have decreased steadily, to less than one percent for most democratic nations today. Added together, then, the rate of human violence has dropped from around a 75 percent chance of being murdered by your fellow human beings to around 2 percent for advanced democratic nations today, as a result of the slow and steady improvement in childrearing over the centuries, with the reduction of early trauma, the growth of the hippocampal-orbitofrontal cortex network and more balanced neurotransmitters in the human population.


Even just two percent of six billion people is a hundred twenty million people. Should we still expect violence to kill this many people each generation during the next century? What's more, only a part of the world today is democratic. Most of the world is still "leaping into modernity," just becoming more free, democratic and prosperous, but with their childrearing not yet modern, thus going through the same growth panic process that Germany went through in the middle of the twentieth century. We can therefore expect higher rates of democide in the coming decades in the developing countries. Yugoslavia, as an example, became democratic only recently, and only then began expressing their growth panic through mass murdering and raping their neighbors--much like the Nazis did--since their childrearing was still thoroughly medieval.514 Especially with nuclear and biological weapons proliferating, might we expect major wars in the next century to again kill hundreds of millions of people, despite slowly improving childrearing?

Advanced democracies today have sufficient proportions of good parents now to be satisfied with working off their growth panics by small wars and recessions rather than world wars and depressions.515 Since the end of WWII, wars have been far smaller in fatalities--at least for the democracies, if not for their opponents--so that the sacrificial needs of nations seem to be satisfied with only thousands or even hundreds of deaths rather than millions, what has been termed "low-intensity wars."516 Military spending in democratic nations has dropped from around 75 percent of government spending in the late eighteenth century to somewhere between 10 and 20 percent today.517 These smaller wars have been more frequent and have alternated more frequently with small recessions, so the classic 50-year manic/depressive cycle of the previous centuries that we graphed above has been drastically shortened, and recessions and small wars seem to substitute for each other as sacrificial rituals rather than alternating as in past centuries. But all this has happened mainly in developed, democratic nations with better childrearing, so the answer to the question about war in the next century has to be ambivalent. I am confident that I can trust my children and their friends on the West Side of Manhattan--who have loving, helping mode parents who come from every ethnic and economic strata--to make a non-violent world in the next century.

But the average Chinese or African or Russian child has still so often been brought up in an atmosphere of infanticide, battering, sexual molestation and severe domination that they can be forecast to need to repeat their parental holocaust on the historical stage in the future as they experience their new freedoms, repeating the democides of the twentieth century but with even greater destructive weapons. Just allowing the usual slow historical evolution of childrearing may not be enough to outweigh the escalating destructiveness of our weapons. Therefore, the more advanced psychoclasses will have to actually intervene in the world's families to help change parenting and thus childhood for everyone on earth. Unless this can be done during the twenty-first century, it seems likely that the proliferating power of our weaponry could outrun the evolution of our childrearing and make the coming decades even more violent than the twentieth century has been.

A new way to change parenting, community parenting centers, has in fact begun to be developed in a few American communities, and their surprising success provides hope that they can decrease human violence around the world at affordable costs. Parenting centers not only have free classes in parenting; they also have a staff that visits the homes of every child born in the community weekly during their first two years of life and helps the parents parent, teaching them what no school has ever thought it worthwhile to teach--that you need not be afraid of your child, that you need not hit them or use them for your needs, that you can love and trust them to grow up and turn out better than you did by not repeating on them the abusive parenting you once endured. Exactly how these parenting centers work will be described in detail in the final chapter of this book. They promise to be able to eliminate child abuse and drastically reduce human violence around the globe, with costs only a fraction of the $8 trillion the world has spent on warfare since WWII.518

As an example of how global parenting centers could work to reduce world-wide violence, consider NATO, which was built up to "counter the Communist threat" at the cost of over a half trillion dollars. NATO has been actually so far used only to kill a few thousand Yugoslavs. Suppose around fifty million dollars of the half trillion had been spent on helping Eastern European nations have better families--sort of an Eastern European Marshall Plan, only including helping parents directly with parenting centers that reached into every home, showing parents that they need not swaddle, beat and torture their children as has been common in the Yugoslav zadruga.519 Yugoslav children would then not have grown up to be violent youth raping and killing others as they are doing today, but would instead be "new Yugoslavia youth" building their nation. This new principle of actively changing childhood can in fact be repeated around the world again, at a fraction of the cost of the destructive arsenal the world today maintains.

Removing the causes of violence only takes empathy, foresight and will, not huge resources. We are today like a group of people standing on the banks of a river trying desperately to save people we see drowning, but refusing to go upstream and stop them from being thrown in. The reduction of human violence involves prevention first of all the removal of the source of the illness just like the prevention of any other human clinical disorder. That enough of us can summon the empathy and understanding needed to change what has long been called "our violent human nature" is our only hope for the future of our precious world.


Lloyd deMause is editor of The Journal of Psychohistory, President of the International Psychistorical Association, Director of the Institute for Psychohistory and author and editor of seven books and many scholarly articles. View the website at The Institute for Psychohistory.

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