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Suicide in Nazi Germany$
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Christian Goeschel

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780199532568

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199532568.001.0001

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Suicide under the Swastika, 1933–1939

Suicide under the Swastika, 1933–1939

(p.56) 2 Suicide under the Swastika, 1933–1939
Suicide in Nazi Germany

Christian Goeschel

Oxford University Press

Under the Weimar Republic, Adolf Hitler and the Nazis had conflated cases of suicide with Germany's defeat in 1918, the Versailles Treaty, and the Weimar ‘system’. Between 1918 and 1933, 214,409 suicides had been officially recorded in Germany. Hitler thought that most suicides were due to social and political despair caused by the Versailles Treaty and implicitly by the lack of living space. The economic misery caused by reparations allegedly increased suicide rates, while the Nazis' ostensible ending of unemployment reduced them. The problem of suicide concerned many other Nazi leaders, including Heinrich Himmler who saw it as a threat to the survival of the Germanic race. Many racial scientists and medical doctors constructed the argument that Jews, as a particularly ‘inferior’ race characterized by ‘excesses and degeneration’, were more prone to suicide than others. Unsurprisingly perhaps, suicide methods in the Third Reich were generally the same as they had been in the Weimar Republic. Nazi politics had a direct impact on some suicides.

Keywords:   Weimar Republic, Nazi Germany, Heinrich Himmler, Jews, politics, unemployment

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