November 9, 2012

trip to Germany

Sanger's tour of several German cities in the summer of 1920 informed her reform work for years to come. Her insights into the plight of poor German women gave a new urgency to her belief in the need for women everywhere to define and assert their reproductive rights. Her observations of German children shaped her views on eugenics and humanitarianism. Everything she saw reinforced her faith in Malthusian theory--her understanding of how over population inevitably leads to distress and human suffering, and forces political leaders to follow a path of expansionism and war." (Sanger's Hunger Games-A Postwar Germany Odyssey, Fall 2012.)

"The old-fashioned warrior who entered with sword and killed his victims outright has my respect after witnessing the 'Peace' conditions of Germany," she wrote shortly after leaving Europe. She aimed for shock value a few months later in a dinner speech before the Women's Economic Club in Philadelphia, when she suggested that rather than sending aid for starving children in Germany and other European countries, the United States should "send over a quantity of chloroform to put them out of their misery," because that would be the best thing for the children and the future of the world." (Sanger's Hunger Games-A Postwar Germany Odyssey, Fall 2012.)

For much more on Sanger's 1920 tour, see the newsletter article, Sanger's Hunger Games-A Postwar Germany Odyssey, Fall 2012, and Sanger's two-part article, "Women in Germany, Dec. 1920 and Jan. 1921, Birth Control Review.

foto: Margaret Sanger in the fall of 1920 after returning from her trip to Germany. (Courtesy of the Sophia Smith Collection, Smith College)


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