‘No, Thank You, Mr Stork!’: Voluntary Childlessness in Weimar and Contemporary Germany

Abstract

Voluntary childlessness is often perceived as a contemporary phenomenon. This article traces its history by looking at demographic data and visual representations of childlessness from the 1920s and 1930s. At that time, childlessness was on the rise among Germany's young urban couples – a development that inspired concern and controversy. Caricatures, films, plays and other representations testify to the growing fascination with childlessness. Even images used in population propaganda appear as strangely ambivalent. While they were intended to criticise childlessness, they also insinuate the pleasures of a child-free existence. These, however, were time-specific. As comparisons with more recent images show that the "value of childlessness" as invoked by visual representations has shifted significantly.

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Benninghaus, C., (2014) “‘No, Thank You, Mr Stork!’: Voluntary Childlessness in Weimar and Contemporary Germany”, Studies in the Maternal 6(1), p.1-36. doi: https://doi.org/10.16995/sim.8

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Christina Benninghaus

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