Female aspects favor women, Germany post-WWII

This article discusses the female surplus that prevailed in post-war Germany, not just on account of the effects of post-World War II but because of post-World War I conditions as well. “Female surplus” is of course relative.  It is a euphemism for a shortage of males. That should give everyone something to think about, as it wasn’t then and never is a triviality.

Female surplus - Demographics of death of the German people, death by war

Not so much a population “pyramid” but a mushroom, a snapshot of the demographics of a people ravaged by wars that shows the sum of advantages of being female

The graphic and other German census information are shown at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Census_in_Germany#1871_-_1945_German_Empire

The population pyramid shown here was constructed from 1950 data and depicts the size of population age groups by year, size, male and female, as they were counted by the German Census Bureau for 1950 data on hand.  The population pyramid shows not all of the suffering the German population went through over time, on account of the wars its leaders decided to put it through.  It merely shows one of the consequences of the wars on the respective sizes of each  population age group, male and female.  It shows  how wars ravaged the German population.

The shortage of 1 to 9-year old children reflected in the pyramid is a result of men being away at war, in POW camps, in hospitals and dead or missing in action, as long as ten years earlier and even up to 1949. It shows the potential dads that were not around at the time of conception of the children that would have been. By 1949, not only had many of the men been long dead, but many of those who survived and for whom the war had ostensibly come to an end, still had not yet returned from the PoW camps in which they were interned.

PoWs of German Military - Second World War

PoWs of German Military – Second World War

The shortage in the number of 1 to 5-year-old group of children reflects also the enormously high child-mortality rates in Germany that came about on account of the post-war deprivation and starvation of the German population.  A large portion of the children that were born in the years following the war died.  Many parents could not obtain milk for them, and their mothers were unable to produce any milk of their own with which to feed newly born children.  Alternatives for milk, baby formula, were impossible to obtain.  The youngest children died, very many of them, at very high rates.  They became war casualties, by the millions, for years after the war had come to an end, even though they had been born after the war — a consequence of the sins of their fathers or simply one of the greed of arms manufacturers in their ruthless, never-ending quest for profits?

General Eisenhower denied the Germans access to any foreign aid, meaning that German civilians were forced to subsist on about 1,200 calories a day. (American officials privately acknowledged at the time that the death rate amongst adults had risen to four times the pre-war levels; child mortality had increased tenfold). With the authorization of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, over four million Germans were impressed into forced labor. General George S. Patton was so disgusted by American policy in post-war Germany that he commented in his diary, “It is amusing to recall that we fought the revolution in defense of the rights of man and the civil war to abolish slavery and have now gone back on both principles.”  [My emphasis —WHS]
Source: After the Reich : The Brutal History of the Allied Occupation, by Giles MacDonogh

My oldest niece, Elizabeth, had been born before the end of the war.  I frequently visited my sister after the war. She often asked me to give Elizabeth the bottle, containing a gruel made from boiling rolled oats with water, which was then strained through a sieve, so that it would pass through the nipple of the bottle that I had to give to Elizabeth.  Sometimes but rarely did the gruel have some skimmed milk mixed into it.

Child-mortality rates for selected countries

Child-mortality rates for selected countries. The child mortality rates in the U.K. were somewhat elevated during the war years, but did Germany and Russia not record their statistic on that in the years before 1970 or 1960, respectively?

Source: Celebrating 150 Years of Analyzing Fertility Trends
in Germany, by Michael J. Kendzia and Klaus F. Zimmermann
Institute for the Study of Labor GmbH (IZA), Bonn

The child mortality affecting the German demographics can be inferred from this:

German TFR trend, 1871 to 2010nd World War and its aftermath

German TFR trend, 1871 to 2010, showing – among other impacts – the consequences of the Second World War and its aftermath.

Kendzia and Zimmermann explain the ups and downs of the roller-coaster ride of the trend line for the German TFR like this:

….the total fertility rate started to decrease significantly.  The first drastic low occurred during World War I (1914 – 1918). Afterwards, the total fertility rate recovered again peaking around 1920 at a little less than 3.5 but reached another low only a few years later during the Great Depression. Thereafter, the rate recovered again quickly before diminishing sharply with the beginning of World War II to a new record low by the end of the war. After a rise in the birth rate between 1950 and 1960 the rate increased strikingly before reaching a new low in the early 1970s and remained relatively stable up to 2010….

The remarkable aspect of the last two sharp and substantial declines in the German TFR is that the first of the two, a consequence of the deprivations, suffering and starvation caused by a  war that essentially caused the destruction of a nation and much of Europe, was just as devastating in its impact on demographic trends as was the subsequent, last one, in just as short an interval of time. The last decline was caused by two things.  One was the divorce revolution that was being spread throughout the developed nations. The other cause of that decline was the introduction and promotion of the birth-control pill.  The last sharp decline was a consequence of voluntary decisions made by millions of individuals in Germany but not only there.  The cause of the second one, no less effective a means for the powers wishing to impose methods for population reduction on the world population, became far more effective than the most devastating war fought in history.

Female aspect of demographics show consequences of favoritism for women

There is a reason for every one of the notches in the outline of the population pyramid shown in the beginning of this article. There are also various reasons for the surplus of women that is visible in dark (maroon) colour at the upper right of the population pyramid. If you know about European and German history, you will have no problem with relating causes to the various indentations in the population pyramid.  You will also know that war favours males as cannon fodder, but that war goes out of its way to favor the female of the species.

The Wikipedia article dismissed all of those causes via the caption for the population pyramid reflecting the 1946 data: “Population of Germany (excludes Saar) by аge and sex (demographic pyramid) as on October, 29, 1946. Many former German soldiers didn’t participate.” Guess why many of them did not participate. It was for much the same reason that so few of them had been around earlier, during the last year of the second world war and of its aftermath, to make babies, and the female of the species did without.

Sign at entrance to air-raid shelter

Men aged 16 – 70 belong in action not in the bunker (Image, h/t to Ingrid Strand)

Non-participation in a census, if that is truly a consequence of voluntary decisions by many men, would not be a deterrent that prevents men from getting married, being at home with their wives, and fathering children.  Other things are the causes for of the birth dearth that followed the war.

For instance, men up to 70-years-old served in the military: »Männer im Alter von 16 bis 70 gehören in den Einsatz und nicht in den Bunker« (“Men aged 16 to 70 belong in action not in the bunker”), read signs stenciled on walls of stair cases, entrances to air-raid shelters and other strategic public places. On account of having to serve in the military, millions of men of fertile age were forced to be absent from their families or from the families they would have had.

My youngest brother was 14 years old when he and his whole high-school class of boys “volunteered” to join the military (in his case as a helper at an anti-aircraft gun battery, near the City of Krefeld). When, in the summer of 1945, he escaped from a PoW train that was taking him and other prisoners of war from Italy to France, there to work in the mines (as he was led to believe — more about that here), he had by then just turned 18.  He had to make a decision when he came back.  He had lost four years of his life and had to decide whether he should attempt to finish the four years he had to go to complete his high-school education, or should he start from scratch, pretend that high school never happened and try to obtain a journeyman ticket through starting an apprenticeship in a professional career as a tradesman.  Such a decision had to be made by millions of German “men” of his age.

Hans chose to do the latter, thereby to help his family, his parents, the brother (me) and the sisters that were still at home, through starting an apprenticeship as an industrial clerk with a grocery-wholesale company in our home town.  He told me that some of the people who came to his company to pick up orders often remarked about him and his co-apprentice, “People are starving out there.  They look like walking skeletons, and you two look like little fat pigs.”  He did okay and died a millionaire, just a few years ago, at age 86.


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