1st Edition

Birth Control in Germany 1871-1933

By James Woycke Copyright 1988
    192 Pages
    by Routledge

    First published in 1988, Birth Control in Germany deals in detail with the dissemination and acceptance of ideas of birth control from 1871 -1933 and shows the variety of methods that were in use-condoms, pessaries, diaphragms, caps and most notably abortion. In common with many western societies, Germany experienced a notable decline in the birth rate as it entered into the 20th century. Demographers differ in their explanation for such changes in the birth rate. Some argue that fluctuating birth rates reflect society’s efforts to match population and economy, while others argue that modern low levels can only be the result of radical innovations in popular behavior. The author argues that the latter can be shown to be the case in the German instance. He further says that attitudes quite similar to those found in liberal circles today were widespread among ordinary men and women in Germany, in contrast to, for example, the pro natalist ideologies dominant in France in the same period. This despite the regional, class and religious differentials which influence the German picture.

    The book amounts to an important study of the sexual politics of pre–Nazi Germany, and study in modernization of a traditional society. This is an important historical work for scholars and researchers of German history, women's studies, health & reproductive history, European history, and gender studies.


    Abbreviations Preface Introduction 1. Traditional Birth Control in Modern Society 2. The Advent of Modern Contraception 3. The Abortion Epidemic 4. The Abortion Underworld 5. The Mass Acceptance of Modern Contraception 6. The Politics of Birth Control Conclusion Suggestions for Further Reading Index



    James Woycke

    Review of the original publication:

     ‘James Woycke provides a valuable account of how Germans decrease their fertility by 50% through resort to contraception, abortion, and sterilization. Drawing primarily on printed medical sources, he argues that advances in medical knowledge and technology were major factors in the movement to demographic modernity. Woycke’s German sources suggest many strong parallels among national birth control movements. It is now clear that the 19th century was the great age of technological innovation in the history of contraception.’

    -          Isis, Volume 80, Number 4