"Special Decisions": Children Born as the Result of German Rape and Handed Over to Public Assistance during the Great War (1914–18)

Title"Special Decisions": Children Born as the Result of German Rape and Handed Over to Public Assistance during the Great War (1914–18)
Publication TypeBook Chapter
Year of Publication2012
AuthorsRivière, Antoine
EditorBranche, Raphaëlle, and Fabrice Virgili
Book TitleRape in Wartime
Pagination184-200
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
CityBasingstoke, UK
Abstract

At the end of 1914, the first official reports on the exactions inflicted by German soldiers in the invaded regions of eastern and northern France confirmed that women and young girls had been raped “with unbelievable frequency”. In the first months of 1915 this provoked violent controversy, which developed in the popular press as well as in medical and legal journals, and which could be expressed in a single question: What to do with the children who would be born as a result of these rapes? With the aim of separating enfants de boches from French families and society, one section of opinion preached abortion, and went so far as to excuse infanticide. According to supporters of these extreme measures, if these children were allowed to be born their German heredity would represent a danger of mortal degeneration for the “French race". They were confronted either by those who rejected abortion absolutely, for religious or pronatalist convictions, or by those who argued for nurture over heredity and considered that the way to take revenge on German and criminal fathers would be to bring up their children and make true French citizens of them. [Author]

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795175307

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