Background: This card was prepared by the Main Culture Office of the Nazi Party's Reichspropagandaleitung, or Central Propaganda Office. It was intended for the wives and mothers of those who had died during the war — of whom there were millions by 1944. The card consists of quotations from Hitler, Goebbels, Herbert Sailer, and the words of a German mother. The goal is to suggest that the dead have not died in vain, that despite the Nazi thought that this life is all there is, somehow life endured beyond the grave. For an example of Nazi propaganda on a Mother's Day earlier in the war, see “Life and Death,” an article from 1940.
The source: “Den Müttern und Frauen unserer Gefallenen zum Muttertag 1944,” prepared by the Hauptkulturamt of the Reichspropagandaleitung, 1944.
For the Wives and Mothers of our Fallen on Mother's Day 1944
We all have but one thing that really makes our lives worth living on this earth: That is our own people, which for us Germans is our Germany. We stand within this people. We live with this people and are bound to it in good times and bad. Our highest duty and holiest task is to preserve this people. For that goal, no sacrifice is too great.
The Earth Will Bear Fruit once More
The central illustration
Strong Hearts Win Victory
We live at a time when the world is being reborn. Each historical rebirth brings pain. It takes a strong heart to understand this age.
If the nation's prime models so heroic a life for us, often giving its last in heroic death, we are filled with the most basic thankfulness, giving our passionate, complete devotion to the fatherland and the coming victory of our weapons.
We want to preserve and fight for a priceless homeland for our children, which belongs to them, and they to it, rich in the treasures of culture and the spirit, with splendid cities and villages, full of courage and the joy of life, healthy in body and soul.
The Words of a German Mother
The Dead Live!
Today, Mother’s Day, all thoughts turn first to the sorrowing mothers from whom this war demanded their beloved sons. Naturally, children both small and big think first of their own mother, if they still have their truest friend and protector at their side. The people, however, gives its thanks and sympathy above all to those who have been left alone by this war.
From year to year, the number of those who miss their promising sons grows, those sons who once celebrated this day with particular signs of their love. Many are silent who once thanked the mother of their children with loving words. And heavy are the hearts of those whose spouse fell before the two of them were blessed by children, a piece of a living future.
As one who herself lost her husband and son, I wish to speak as a sister to all of these who are alone and sorrowing. I do not wish to speak of pain. Instead, I speak of the dead, who to me are not dead. After I first sank into dark sorrow, I now can see the sun and sky once again.
Today I know that Mother’s Day demands that we mothers think about our riches. Not only that we perhaps have other living children who have a right to our love and the ready attention of our heart, but also the riches we possessed — and still possess — in those who are, in a special way, immortal.
Shortly before the war began, my husband died in an accident in a foreign country while serving German aviation. I wanted to hear nothing more about aviation after that. I had done all I could to be his faithful companion for two decades. I remembered the countless hours I had worried about him, the tortured worries, until the deathly blow came unexpectedly. I wanted to turn away from it all. But that first night, I had a vivid dream. My husband laughed and encouraged me: "Are you going to leave me in the lurch?" So I kept up my work for him. But I did not keep the work going, the work kept me going.
Just after I returned to Germany, both sons went to war. The younger, the smiling one, fell.
And beside me I saw my own mother, each time a little smaller, a little more bent over, as the terrible news came that another grandchild had fallen. She suffered not only from the loss of such promising futures, but also far more because of the pain of her children which she had to watch, without being able to stop of relieve. These mothers, too, the old and fragile, who have seem and suffered so much, deserve a special greeting today.
The mysterious connection of a mother to a child, from one to another! Having felt fully alive only after the birth of one's own child, one thinks she must perish with her sons. Back then, a young soldier wrote to me: “It is easier for a soldier to die for the fatherland than for a mother to continue to live!” It is easy to understand that one longs to see and hold those one loves, that one longs for their presence, their warmth. This longing will always remain.
But when we include those absent in our daily life, in our thoughts and conversation, they are once again with us. We have, so to speak, brought them back from the world to which they had gone, and set them in our own hearts, where they are safe, from whence they can no longer be taken from us. In these days when so many families are torn apart, in which the outward ties to those dear to us are so difficult to maintain, it sometimes seems to me as if husband and son, whose loss was so bitter, are now the only ones to whom I can always turn, with whom I can always be together. Those who are so deep within our hearts, where can they go other than back into our hearts? And it is as if our heart learns a new language and gains new strength.
Mysteriously, on the same date that the airplane took the life of my husband, a child was born to my oldest son this year. A new little flame was kindled. A mother's face shines once more. Once more she hopes and believes that this young little person, who looks so fearlessly into a world full of destruction and horrors, will have a more beautiful and happy future. With her, we all look toward this future, even those who do not have such a light in their own family. Just as all mothers are our mothers, so all children are our children, our common responsibility, the immortality of our people, but also a source of consolation for each sorrowing heart. Without ceasing a loving look at the past, without being unfaithful to priceless memories, we want to look to the future, without turning away from the present.
We cannot and may not escape either to the future nor the past. Only from the past and the future, from faith and thankfulness, can we gather the strength to master the present, which is what the husbands and sons who fell for the fatherland expect of us, and the children to whom we pass on the torch of our lives will one day want to know that we fought and endured for their sakes.
Life is victorious, even through the dead whose strength is realized through us, through the children who grow toward their new lives. Life is victorious through spring, which always comes after winter. Even winter is but a shell in which life prepares for victory. D. H.
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