Let the children scream, just don’t spoil them – the Nazi pedagogy was brutal and the war didn’t end it for a long time. To this day, people suffer from this upbringing. And there is still a tendency to be harsh towards children.
The fear of spoiled children is a typically German fear and is still widespread, explains the renowned attachment researcher Karl Heinz Brisch, a specialist in child and adolescent psychiatry. Many parents today still feel they need to be tougher to avoid bringing on potential bullies.
After all, that didn’t do me any harm either – a misconception with fatal consequences down to the present generation. Attachment researchers see the causes for this upbringing pattern in the pedagogy during National Socialism, among other things.
Nazi education: an underestimated problem
Because in order to raise a generation of followers and soldiers, the Nazi regime demanded that mothers deliberately ignore the needs of their small children. To punish them with deprivation of love and also violence. The brutal educational ideologies of that time can be found in older guidebooks.
This quote is from the A book “The German Mother and Her First Child”, which was written in 1934 by the pulmonary specialist and staunch National Socialist Johanna Haarer. Hitler is said to have personally recommended the educational guide The spirit of Nazi upbringing shaped generations of mothers:
Brisch has long warned of the underestimated consequences of this NS pedagogy on today’s society. Many of those affected who were interviewed for this research talk about difficulties in bonding with other people, not finding access to their feelings and developing illnesses such as depression or alcohol addiction.
Checks anti-canon: Johanna Haarer – The German mother and her first child
Fear instead of basic trust
Children who are not treated sensitively or even violently can suffer from these broken parent-child relationships throughout their lives. They are considered “insecure bound“:
Today, Haarer is considered the epitome of Nazi educational ideology. It was certainly promoted under National Socialism, explains Sonja Levsen, professor of modern history at the University of Tier, why Haarer of all things became so well known.
But what Haarer wrote was not new: with her book, she took up existing educational models. A poorly committed pedagogy, which is also often referred to as black pedagogy, had a long tradition here as well as in other countries, to the suffering of many children.
In some families, childhood trauma lives on for generations. In such cases, psychological research speaks of transgenerational transmission; are the experiences particularly bad of transgenerational trauma. Behavioral patterns and experiences are passed on from one generation to the next. It is difficult to break through certain patterns, especially if these have not been processed, says Professor Luise Reddemann, psychoanalyst and specialist in psychotherapeutic medicine.
These are often also experiences that happened very early, such as letting someone cry, and which are then deeply anchored in our emotional neuronal networks and are not so easy to reach even through psychotherapy.
Parents who bring a corresponding history from their childhood with them often find it more difficult to react sensitively to their children and to build good bonds with them, explains Professor Brisch, which is one of the reasons why SAFEa kind of parental driver’s license, in which he explains to parents how they can build a good bond with their child from birth.
Traditional parenting patterns are stubborn
How exactly trauma is passed from generation to generation is still unclear. The longitudinal study of the University Hospital Ulm “TRANSGEN“Since 2013, families have been observing the influence of mothers’ childhood experiences on their children. She was also able to prove, for example, that around 10 to 30 percent of mothers and fathers pass on their own experiences to their children. But: many don’t either.
And here’s the great hope: A large proportion manage to break out of old patterns, regardless of how unloving or violent the childhood experiences were. Many researchers are currently interested in where this resilience comes from. Much is still unexplored.
But what also emerges here is that it also depends very much on what opportunities people had to process their childhood experiences.
Reddemann has the impression that today, after all, in the course of a need-oriented Upbringing Many parents treat their children more lovingly than they used to. This idea that little kids are bullies hasn’t entirely gone away, though.
There are parenting guides that represent this more clearly: Every child can learn to sleep for example, criticizes Reddemann. A book designed to condition children to fall asleep on their own. Karl Heinz Brisch also emphasizes how deeply anchored this legacy of this upbringing is still in us, but he also sees hope:
“The more we talk about how positive the effects of a loving upbringing are, the more parents at least think twice. And when parents, then I don’t feel it at all, I get so stressed by my children myself, and then by yourself get support from counseling centers and get an idea of how they could do it differently in order to process their own stories, then we are already on the right track. That then gives hope that over time, a society could change and we eventually be more peaceful with our children, with each other.”
manuscript for the broadcast