15

In a discourse to his staff in 1943, Hitler made this claim:

In peacetime Germany, about 18,000 or 20,000 people a year chose to commit suicide, [...] Source

Was this true?

I'm skeptical of this claim because 18,000 seems to be a very large number.

16
+50

Yes, suicide rates was that high!

Suicide in Nazi Germany by Christian Goeschel referenced in this essay says that

Goeschel’s study of suicide in Nazi Germany (2009) shows that the number of suicides varied greatly as the War progressed, as far as can be determined. Following the First World War the German suicide rate climbed steadily from just under 16 per 100,000 to 29 by the early 1930s

Wikilink about demographics in Germany (Kudos to Andrew Grimm) say that in the 1930s there were about 65M-69M people living in Germany.

Taking the extremes of 29 per 100,000, and 70M gives a number around 20K. What Hitler said does not seem farfetched thus.

The mass suicides during the loss of the war probably were even higher though.

The Mass suicides

Just over 7,000 suicides were reported in Berlin during the year 1945, but it is thought that many suicides went unreported due to the chaos of the post-war period.

Probably that year the number was EVEN higher.

14

I happened to have access to the book Suicide in Nazi Germany, so just to corroborate the earlier answers by reproducing some figures from the book.

From p. 209 and p. 213, we see that suicide rates in Germany throughout the 1930s was indeed around 27 - 29:

enter image description here

Bonus: He doesn't give corresponding figures for the war years for Germany as a whole, but does for Berlin (p. 220). It looks like Berlin's suicide rates were always higher than Germany's, but spiked up in 1945.

enter image description here

By the way, 18000 is perhaps not such a large number. There were about that many each year around 1980 (when Germany's population was comparable to 1930s Germany).

enter image description here

  • Don't forget upvoting the question, anyway. Thank you! – Carlo Alterego Aug 3 '14 at 10:15
2

The number may or may not be correct. But it is plausible.

If you view the Wikipedia article List of countries by suicide rate, there are several countries that nowadays have a suicide rate above 20 per 100,000 people per year.

Wikipedia says that for 1930, there were 65,130,000 people in Germany.

65,130,000 * 20 / 100,000 gives 13,026, which is over half of Hitler's number.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .