By Dr. Arthur Gütt
Head of the National Hygiene Department in the Ministry of the Interior
In most countries, neither the governments nor the peoples have so far paid much attention to the circumstances that account for the alternation of growth and decay in the history of civilised nations. The rulers of ancient Greece and Imperial Rome did not realise the need for a constructive population policy until the signs of decay and degeneration were too patent to be ignored. The position is exactly the same to-day. Statesmen everywhere have occupied themselves far too little with the valuable racial assets inherited from an untold number of past generations. They have been content to interest themselves in the promotion of material and cultural assets without appreciating the fact that there is always a close relationship between these latter and the hereditary racial characteristics of the nation. Moreover, the real value of those assets will be much impaired if the nation contains too small a number of thoroughly healthy individuals. If that number is subject to a continuous decrease because of the tendency on the part of married couples to remain childless or, at the best, to be satisfied with one or two children, the nation must renounce all hope of progressive development. Its civilisation will be doomed to ultimate destruction. It is not however, sufficient merely to realise the danger thus impending. What is wanted is an active policy consistently aiming at the preservation of racial health. Practical steps must be taken to prevent the further decline in the number of births.
When at the close of 1932, Germany found herself faced with national bankruptcy and the danger of racial disintegration the National Socialist Government resolutely put a stop to the policy of laissez-faire previously adopted. Due prominence was henceforth given to the importance of the family, to the nation’s special characteristics, and to its racial origins. The governments of all civilised countries are aware that it is not enough to safeguard the future of their respective populations by an adequate system of administration and by an adequate economic policy. They know that equal care must be given to the people’s racial health. Notwithstanding this, there has been a failure to consider the effects produced by their endeavours in that direction – tinged, as they were – by Liberal principles. The object of the legislation governing sickness, disablement and old-age insurance, and of the various other measures taken to promote public welfare, has always been too much concerned with the interests of each unhealthy individual, and too little with the interests of the community as a whole.
The more sickness there was and the more a person conducted himself in an anti-social way, the greater were the efforts made by the State, the municipalities and the various associations to relieve him of his troubles and worries. Many apparent successes were thus achieved and the mortality index decreased more and more. It is quite true that the spread of infectious diseases was largely prevented, but in order to recover the cost of all those schemes, the healthy members of the community had to be increasingly taxed.
The more instinctively a man had preserved intact his feeling for the family, the nation and the race, and the more children he had, the more was he “penalised” by the indirect taxes levied on articles of every-day consumption, by social charges, and by insurance payments of all kinds. The “success” of this system was only too visible: The family sense, the sense of individual responsibility, and the economic foundations of the family were destroyed. The masses, influenced by Marxist and Bolshevist teaching, responded by selfishness, enmity to the State, a disinclination to marry, the loosening of all mutual ties, and a lack of ambition. The decline in the birth-rate began to assume menacing proportions in Germany as well as in Great Britain. In Germany, in or about the year 1900, there was about one child to every four marriages each year, but in 1932 there was only one child to every fourteen marriages; and matters were not much better in Great Britain.
The cause of this degeneration was believed to be connected with the economic conditions. It was not realised that the family is the nucleus of the State and that, without it, there can be no healthy political or economic conditions at all.
The aim of the population policy now pursued in Germany is to preserve the numerical strength of the nation and to ensure its racial health, Our first thought, therefore, must be to maintain the very existence of our nation. Although it is generally assumed that the term “nation” is so clearly understood that it needs no further definition, it may be necessary to make a few remarks concerning it. It is a mistake, for instance, to think that it comprises all those who are citizens of the State concerned, irrespective of their race or their origin. The science of heredity teaches us that such a view is but superficial, and that the term must be restricted to those persons who are racially akin to one another owing to their ancestry and to their physical and intellectual features. On the other hand, it should not be solely applied to those persons who are contemporary to one another at any given moment, but also to all their ancestors and descendants. It is essential, therefore, to remember that the term “nation” implies the element of timelessness, as this circumstance has an important bearing upon all the efforts made to preserve the national health, and the numerical strength of the nation. If the present decline in the birth-rate is allowed to go on unchecked in Germany, Great Britain and elsewhere, there is the grave danger of the nations concerned losing the very foundations of their existence and their civilisation. The table No.1 shows the present position in this respect in some European countries.
Bad as these figures are, they do not yet indicate the position as it really is. The apparent excess of births over deaths is not due to any increase in the number of births, but rather to a decrease in that of deaths. On account. of the improved standards of living, the progress of medical science and the greater care bestowed on matters of hygiene, the age classes originating from the years during which the birth-rate was still high die much later than. the corresponding classes in the past. The rate of mortality has gone down two and even threefold with the result that-in – Germany and Great Britain – the number of persons now living exceeds the number of those living some sixty years ago by the equivalent of about twenty age classes. This circumstance effectively conceals the actual dying-out of the nations concerned, As soon as those age classes begin to die, the present illusion regarding the excess of births over deaths will be destroyed. By that time, the numerically weak age classes dating from the present time of declining birth rates will have reached the marriageable age, and the death-rate will undergo a sudden and considerable rise. The offspring then born will be inadequate to maintain the numerical strength of the nations because of the reduced number of potential fathers and mothers. If we want to obtain a true idea of the situation, we must allow for all these facts and adjust the figures accordingly. We shall then find that, as already stated above, the nations concerned are gradually dying out.
Burgdörfer has made the adjustment which the statistical figures demand in accordance with the foregoing explanations and has ascertained that in all the Germanic countries (except the Netherlands) the natural growth of the population has ceased altogether. In France, a certain stagnation may be said to exist, whilst in the Netherlands, Italy, Poland and the Ukrainian Socialist Soviet Republic the population still continues its natural growth. The diagram (Diagram No. 1) on the preceding page clearly shows this development.
The decline of the birth-rate, especially in the Germanic countries, may be clearly seen by a glance at Table No. 2 or at the two sketch maps of Europe on the following page.
The two maps on page 30 show the considerable difference in the birth-rate between the western and the eastern parts of Europe.
In the Slavonic countries, the birth-rate is twice as high as, for instance, it is in Germany (cf. Map No. 2).
These diagrams and maps indicate the extent of the danger to which the Germanic countries of Europe are exposed by the falling birth-rate. They also show the menace to which the racial and political independence of the Central and North European nations will be subjected in future by the incessant pressure exerted by the Slavonic peoples.
The outward cause of the decline in the birth-rate is the desire on the part of many families to have but few, if any, children.
The two-child system has been largely adopted, and there are also considerable sections of the population that have adopted the one-child system. No more than 10 per cent. of all families have now four or more children.
From Diagram No. 2 it may be seen that a nationwide adoption of the two-child system would lead to the practical extinction of the nation after three hundred years.
No statesman, least of all in Germany or Great Britain, can ignore these circumstances without grave injury to the country he represents.
Let us now consider the effects that will be produced by the present development. They may not be openly discernible just yet, but they will be distinctly noticeable after the lapse of another ten years.
There can be no doubt that these effects will make themselves felt in every branch of public activity, e.g., In the labour market, the production and consumption of goods, the building trade, school education, social politics, and the defence of the country. Seeing that children are consumers only, and not producers as well, the shortage of children below 15 (which age class in Germany, for example, is now about 9,000,000 less numerous in proportion to the number of persons working for a living than it was before the War) is bound to upset the equilibrium between producers and consumers. Indeed, the huge decrease in the number of children below 15 has been, in addition to the other causes of the world-wide depression, such as the mechanisation of work and the international currency situation, one of the principal reasons for the spread of unemployment in the countries affected and for the decrease of their foreign trade. During the second half of the present century, conditions will be almost entirely reversed. There will be such a shortage of workers not only in Germany, but in Great Britain as well, that serious inconvenience will result therefrom. History has taught us that conditions such as these invariably lead to a large influx of foreign labour; and as the situation in the Slavonic countries, more particularly Russia, is the exact reverse, the pressure exercised upon our population will become so great that we shall be unable to resist it.
The number of persons of 65 or more, which is about 4,000,000 at present, will rise to about 10,000,000 within the not too distant future. This will bring about an unhealthy disproportion between those who are the beneficiaries of our social and insurance legislation and those who have to pay the contributions. The country’s social policy will then have to face a complete collapse. The position is exactly the same as regards the defensive forces of the nation, as may be seen from the following table:
The figures given in the foregoing table refer to the young people who have become (or will become) of military age in the years named. No deductions have been made in respect of those that may be physically unfit for military service. The minima reached in each of the six countries concerned are printed in italics. The figures plainly show the great numerical inferiority of the Western European countries to Russia and Japan twenty years after the worst year of the World War. The fact that in or about 1937 the figures are so exceedingly low is a direct, although belated, result of the War. Germany and France are the two countries where the shortage of births due to that cause is most pronounced. The corresponding shortage in Russia is attributable to the 1917 revolution. As regards the Western countries, the figures will be more unfavourable still in the years after 1940. By 1946, the age class here concerned will increase to more than 2,000,000 in Russia, and its average strength is expected to amount to four times that of the corresponding class in Germany.
It is evident from this development and from these statistics that the European nations cannot possibly afford another war among themselves. If such a war should come about, their fate would be sealed. Great Britain too, will not be able to retain her sway over her distant possessions and dependencies unless she can rely upon the support rendered by a Central European bloc. Germany, however, is not only the heart, but also the backbone of Europe; and Bolshevism, if victorious, would not stay its progress on the banks of the Rhine or the Seine, but only after reaching Copenhagen, Stockholm and London.
The numerical decline of the population, however, is but one aspect of the danger that confronts the nations and their governments. Its other aspect is the biological and racial degeneration that is becoming more and more evident as time goes on. It is a fact that the limitation of the number of children to one or two is practised by the physically and mentally superior members of all classes, including the working class, and that childlessness, too, is spreading among them to an alarming extent. The very opposite development is taking place among persons suffering from inherited physical or mental defects, including persons of a morbidly anti-social type and criminals. Statistics prove that three, four or even more children are by no means uncommon in these biologically inferior sections of the population. These facts indicate the extent of the danger we have to face to-day in Germany, and also in Great Britain. Once, however, the inferior sections actually predominate and the position is further worsened by wholesale racial mixture, it will be too late to apply a remedy. Our proud, race-conscious nations will perish, and European civilisation along with them. Their place will be taken, in all probability, by the Bolshevist mixture of Russian and Asiatic peoples that has sprung up in Eastern Europe owing to the dissolution of all family ties. During my internment as a prisoner of war, I became acquainted with the former Russia and the former Siberia; and I know that these countries are no longer now what they were then. The members of the upper strata, who were educated along Western European lines, have been killed or have fled the country; and a section racially foreign to the European Russians has replaced them. We must bear in mind that a new generation of mixed racial origin is now growing up in Russia, that it is intellectually trained by Jews, that it does not appreciate our Western civilisation and does not understand our Western views. It will be a bad day for Europe when an army consisting of 17,000,000 members of that Russo-Asiatic mixture, allied with some European nations and supported by negro armies, is let loose on it and finally destroys it. No European nation can hope to be victorious against such opponents single-handed. A common front and a sense of solidarity are necessary to avert disaster. Will that necessity be realised in time? That is the decisive question which Europe will have to answer.
It appears to me that the deceptive technical progress of our age and the dominance of financial interests have given rise to a certain feeling of conceit among us. Old standards have made room for new ones. What was valuable yesterday, seems worthless to-day; and what was regarded as indispensable then is now thrown overboard. “Have not all the forces of Nature been tamed and subordinated to our will? Surely, it will soon be possible to subject to human interference the last of the secrets surrounding our knowledge of the origin and the decay of life! What, therefore, do we care for the past and for such things as family life, tradition, ancestry, racial up-grading, and racial ties?” Such were the views we had to listen to in this country before the advent of the National Socialist regime.
Moreover, we were asked, What is the use of proclaiming the kinship of the Germanic peoples and their sense of solidarity? All conceptions of this kind are rejected and ridiculed by the Liberalistic and Jewish-Bolshevist spokesmen. And yet, it is true that not only our own nation, but almost all the nations of Northern and Western Europe are – as the racial biologist sees it – on the brink of an abyss. The excessive hold of city life upon our civilisation and the excessive influence exercised by international finance and international intellectualism have created political and economic insecurity among the peoples. In our country, the disgraceful terms of the Versailles treaty, the material and ideal losses, the Jewish domination over everything, the currency depreciation during the inflation period, and the impoverishment of our middle classes – all these circumstances caused our economic system to break down completely and the number of unemployed to rise to seven millions. People felt disinclined to take upon themselves the responsibilities of married life; birth-control was practised to an unparalleled extent, and the German people were drifting towards utter ruin.
When Herr Hitler took over the Government in 1933, he was aware that, first of all, family life must be restored to what it was. That was indispensable if a brighter future was to be in store for the nation. On June 28th, 1933, Dr. Frick, the Minister of the Interior, announced the Government’s programme in connection with its population policy. In the course of his speech he said, inter alia, that “the greatest task before the Government of the national revolution is to ensure the racial regeneration of our people and to preserve its numerical strength in the centre of Europe.”
Much has been achieved since then – but much more remains to be done. Two requirements must be fulfilled in order to attain final success. First, the Government must intervene by adequate legislation; and second, each individual must regain due consciousness of his duties towards the country of his birth.
The Government, acting under Herr Hitler’s direction, has done much by legislation. Trade and industry have been promoted and the unemployment situation has been improved. We have regained our internal and external liberty of action; and in addition to solving these and other important problems in the political and economic spheres, we have embarked upon a systematic campaign of practical population policy.
The nation and the race must be regarded as the pivot upon which all State activity hinges. “The nation as such,” Herr Hitler has said, “is the eternal fountain from which new life is always emanating; and this fountain must be kept in a healthy state. “Hence, our struggle is concerned with the preservation of racial health and the encouragement of large-sized families. Measures aiming at the reduction of unemployment, the protection of the home soil, the provision of small holdings and settlements near the outskirts of large cities, and a suitable readjustment of our fiscal and population policies, have already been introduced; and others will follow.
The results achieved, however, can only be of practical value and of a lasting character when the change of attitude is complete and makes itself felt in every branch of State activity. Moreover, there must be a uniformly directed administrative apparatus to assist in carrying out the necessary hygienic reforms.
In spite of the unsatisfactory economic and financial conditions ruling in 1933, the Ministry of the Interior succeeded in unifying the public health system of the country and in doing away with the wasteful decentralisation previously existing. By the Act passed on July 3rd, 1934, the various boards of health established by the subordinate public authorities were given over to central administration, and a new department – that for racial hygiene – was added. The new boards of health set up in every municipality or district are directed by a State appointed physician, assisted by an efficient staff. The scope of the work done by the Public Health Department has been extended by the addition to it of the Advisory Offices for Racial Culture and Heredity. Their functions are: to watch the natural growth (or otherwise) of the population, to safeguard the nation’s inherited assets, and to enlighten persons intending to marry.
The progress of racial science has been very considerable in recent years; and much benefit to the community has been derived from it. Although it is not possible to influence the course of the racial development by direct methods, it can be done indirectly. Darwin explained the upward development in the animal and vegetable kingdoms by pointing out that those animals and plants which are capable of assimilating themselves to their surroundings more successfully than others are best fitted to survive in the struggle for existence and to pass their characteristic features on to their descendants. This is called “natural selection,” and its opposite (in the domain of human development) is the artificial selection brought about by the influences of civilisation. The very progress of human knowledge produces an increasing amount of artificial interference with the influences that are at work naturally. The weaker elements – which, if Nature alone were at work, would soon be eliminated – are kept alive and are even specially cared for by the skill of our physicians and by the improved conditions of life. In the realm of Nature and among the uncivilised peoples, everything that is unhealthy speedily perishes. Among civilised nations, the opposite development takes place. The healthy and valuable individuals either refuse to marry or, if they do, largely practise family limitation.
During the Liberalist and Marxist regime in Germany, it was also believed that the human race could be improved by artificial means. It was thought that the characteristics thus acquired were hereditable; and this view is still largely advocated. But, we may ask, what useful purpose can be served by the constant extension of public welfare work, so long as the efforts in that direction fail to deal with the real causes of a nation’s decay? It has been proved that the unhealthy traits are usually reproduced to a larger extent than the healthy ones; and Galton has already emphasised that this circumstance tends to increase the danger of racial degeneration.
We know that we cannot restore the natural conditions of life, and we do not intend to do so or to throw overboard the blessings of a higher civilisation. But as we are aware of the causes of degeneration, we can counteract the effects of an artificial environment by an artificial selection of the right kind, i.e., by promoting racial culture; and the final outcome will correspond to our intentions. If we facilitate the propagation of healthy stock by systematic selection and by the elimination of the unhealthy elements, we shall be able to improve the physical standards not, perhaps, of the present generation, but of those that will succeed us. Credit is due to the National Socialist Government for perceiving the danger of degeneration and for issuing legislation dealing with it, e.g., the Acts for the Prevention of Hereditarily Diseased Offspring, for the Restoration of Professionalism in the Public Services, for dealing with Habitual Offenders and Immoral Offences, and many others.
It goes without saying that the medical activities carried out by physicians on behalf of individuals and on that of the community will continue to go on along the lines universally adopted in conformity with the researches of Koch, Lister, Pasteur, and other celebrated scientists.
It was a great achievement on the part of Robert Koch when he succeeded, many years ago, in discovering that various micro-organisms are the cause of anthrax, tuberculosis, cholera, etc. The result was that a systematic campaign against these infectious diseases was organised throughout the civilised world. Acts were passed by which the State was given the right to interfere with the private life of individuals, on the ground that such interference, although restricting individual liberty, would benefit the nation as a whole. It can hardly be denied that – in pursuance of such legislation – the State was not only entitled, but compelled, to issue regulations governing the duty of individuals to report all cases of infection, providing for the isolation of the patients concerned, and so on. The same right must therefore be claimed by the State for its activities in the wider domain of racial hygiene.
Germany has taken the lead in these endeavours by taking practical steps towards the initiation of a systematic population policy. The Advisory Offices already referred to are required, among other matters, to administer the Act for the Prevention of Hereditarily Diseased Offspring. Whenever it may be assumed, with a fair measure of probability, that a serious hereditary disease will be propagated, sterilisation may be resorted to. The scope of the Act is limited to the most important diseases, e.g., congenital imbecility or insanity, epilepsy, hereditary deafness or blindness, etc., and stringent regulations have been issued to prevent any misuse.
Special courts have been created to decide whether, in any given instance, the provisions of the Act are to be applied to it. They are composed of physicians and judges. Prior to making their decision, they carefully examine the circumstances of the case in question. It must be remembered, in this connection, that sterilisation is by no means identical with castration. It may be effected by means of X-rays or radium treatment, so that an operation is not necessarily required. The work performed by the courts is of a highly responsible nature, its ultimate object being to stamp out all hereditary diseases.
A clearly defined legal position has been created in every domain of racial biology. The interception of pregnancy for hygienic reasons – a difficult problem in every civilised country – has been dealt with in a satisfactory way by giving the necessary discretionary powers to commissions composed of medical men.
Additional safeguards are provided by the Act dealing with Habitual Offenders and Immoral Offences, passed on November 24th, 1936. It empowers the ordinary courts to inflict adequate punishment upon habitual offenders and upon persons committing immoral offences against women and children.
It is obvious that the measures hitherto discussed are of a negative character only. Their chief aim is to remove the dangers that have arisen as the result of many decades of neglect. They must, of course, be supplemented by others intended to ensure a healthy offspring and the economic safeguarding of the family.
Thus, steps have been taken to diminish unemployment and to protect the German soil. The Act of July 14th, 1933, providing for the improvement in the position of the rural population, has transferred to the Reich the whole domain of agricultural settlement. Similar objects are to be achieved by the Act governing hereditary farmsteads and by various laws granting tax relief to persons with large families.
The decree issued on July 1st, 1933, in pursuance of Section 5 of the Act governing the reduction of unemployment, provided for the grant of loans to persons intending to marry. Subject to certain regulations, the repayment of the money can be partly or wholly waived upon the birth of one or more children. The effect produced by this decree has been an immediate increase in the number of marriages (to more than 600,000).
Whilst not more than about 957,000 children were born in 1933, the corresponding figures for 1934 and 1935 were 1,197,000 and 1,265,000 respectively; and whilst, as already stated, the relation between the annual number of births and that of marriages was 1 to 14 in 1933, it had improved to 1 to 11 two years later.
However gratifying these improvements may be, they must not make us think that the dangers threatening the German people have now been completely overcome. Owing to the unsatisfactory economic conditions during the past few years, some 300,000 marriages had to be postponed until now. We may perhaps assume that, on an average, one child has so far resulted from each of these delayed marriages; and it remains to be seen whether second or third children will follow. In addition, the men and women born during the years of war (and therefore representing the numerically weak age classes) are now getting of marriageable age, so that there will presumably be fewer marriages and fewer births. It is a great mistake to believe that the German people has become a growing people again. Even the number of children born in 1935 is insufficient to ensure a numerical increase or even to maintain the nation’s present numerical strength. Those critics, therefore, who contend that Germany’s population policy is a menace to the equilibrium of Europe, fail to view the situation aright. We are surrounded by growing populations in the south and east; and it is our position as a people inhabiting the heart of Europe that is actually at stake. Even though it is true that Britain is not handicapped by such open and unprotected frontiers as is Germany, the statistics prove that the danger of a numerical decline in the near future is just as great in her case as it is in our own. The same remark, indeed, applies to other North and West European nations (cf. Table No. 2).
The decree providing for the grant of loans to persons intending to marry laid it down that applicants had to undergo a medical examination in order to ascertain that they were not suffering from some hereditary physical or mental disease detrimental to the nation’s health. Apart from this provision, no similar evidence was demanded-until recently – in connection with the contraction of marriages, and even the diseases referred to did not constitute an obstacle to marriage. It is true that in Prussia and elsewhere, the registrar would advise the young people to interchange certificates of health; but there was no need for them to follow that advice. Since then, however, an Act has been passed (on October 18th, 1935) which makes it possible to prevent marriages that would be undesirable for reasons of racial health, thus protecting from untold misery and suffering not only the persons intending to marry, but also any possible offspring as well as the whole community.
In the course of the past thousand years or so, people had quite forgotten that they are the result of heredity and environment. Marriages, therefore, were frequently brought about by purely external reasons, such as the desire for a dowry, for social preferment, etc. Men of good physique did not hesitate to marry girls suffering from grave physical or mental defects; and healthy girls often regarded it as a work of Christian charity to choose for their partner in life a sick and unhealthy man for whom they could care and to whose needs they could administer.
No one seemed to mind that marriages thus contracted would tend to produce an offspring liable to the same grave defects. A mistaken sense of charity prompted people to commit acts of ruthless cruelty towards those who – being racially inferior or suffering from an incurable disease – furnished visible evidence of “the sin against the race.” Statistical evidence of the great danger to which such an attitude must lead is by no means lacking. Up to now people have failed to see that the ultimate outcome of this development must be the decay and the utter ruin of our civilisation. They are still governed by too strong a faith in the doctrines with which they were conversant throughout their lives, without realising all their implications. It was therefore an event of the utmost historical importance when the National Socialist Government proceeded to enact the various legislative measures by which the evil could be tackled at its root.
The racial purity of a nation and its freedom from hereditary disease are just as closely related to one another as body and soul. The former is mainly concerned with the preservation of that which is good and healthy. To ensure the latter, the Act prohibiting marriages between persons suffering from hereditary disease makes it incumbent upon registrars to refuse a marriage licence if one or other of the following conditions obtains:
(a) If either the man or the woman is suffering from an infectious disease likely to inflict grave injury upon the other party or their issue.
(b) If either party is under restraint or tutelage.
(c) If either party, although not under restraint, is yet suffering from a mental disability which makes it undesirable in the national interest that he or she should marry.
(d) f either party is suffering from one of the congenital diseases specified in the Act governing the Prevention of Hereditarily Diseased Offspring.
Clause (d) will not be considered an obstacle to marriage if the other party is sterile.
Thus, the contraction of a marriage can now be legally prohibited if its consummation would be certain to cause grave damage to the parties concerned. In drawing up these regulations, the legislator has wisely limited the scope of his interference to a minimum and has carefully defined their exact meaning. Even the most uncompromising opponents of National Socialism will probably admit that the prohibitions cover those circumstances only in which a citizen conscious of his responsibilities would abstain from marrying in any case. Foreign critics, indeed, have not found fault with any of them, well knowing that the propagation of infectious diseases and mental defects is bound to undermine the health of any nation.
Responsible parents have always felt that it is advisable to consult a physician before any of their children contract a marriage. It is therefore in harmony with this feeling that the issuance of a certificate of fitness to marry is described, in one of the new Acts, as one of the functions of the offices giving advice to persons intending to marry. A medical examination is compulsory upon all candidates for such a certificate. In order to be thus examined, they may either apply to a private medical practitioner or to the physicians appointed by the boards of health. The certificate itself will always be issued by the board of health within whose district the fiancée is domiciled. For the present, it has been provided that the certificate will only be demanded whenever the registrar or the board of health has reason to assume that one of the obstacles to marriage specified above applies to the case in question. Applicants are not compelled to produce any evidence on that point; but if they decline to give the information requested by the board, the latter will be unable to issue a certificate.
In the event of the medical examination being effected by a private medical practitioner, no charge will be made if the candidate is insured with an officially recognised sickness insurance society, either directly or indirectly, or if the cost of any illness he or she might contract would be payable by a public-welfare institution. Persons claiming this privilege must produce the necessary evidence.
If the certificate is refused on the ground that one or other of the obstacles to marriage already referred to applies to the case, the applicant may appeal to one of the competent courts specially established to deal with matters of racial hygiene. If he or she is dissatisfied with the decision, a second appeal may be made (within fourteen days) to a superior court of like character, the decision of which will be final. Whenever recourse is had to this procedure, the demand for a certificate to marry may be waived. There are also cases in which the appeal against the decision of the board of health can only be lodged with an administrative official, such as, for instance, the Government President of the district (in so far as Prussia is concerned). These superior authorities may, in special instances, grant exemption from the ordinary rules. Lastly, there are certain cases in which the Minister of the Interior may be appealed to, whose decision will then be final.
All the biological information collected will be entered in special registers, so that – after the lapse of ten years or so – we shall have at our disposal an almost complete record of the state of our nation’s racial health. When that time has come, the boards of health will be able to supply full hygienic details of every individual and every family in the country.
As regards actual practice, the prohibitions to marry will only be issued in a relatively small number of cases. Normally, the certificate will be drawn up by a private medical practitioner. If he is of the opinion that both applicants-though apparently in good health – are of an unhealthy hereditary disposition, he will urge them to abstain from marrying, but it rests with them whether they will follow his advice or reject it.
All competent and unbiased critics will presumably agree that the legislation governing racial hygiene cannot but be of great benefit to the national development. It is quite true that many of the measures now introduced are disliked because of the extent to which they may be thought to interfere with individual liberty; but after the lapse of a few decades they will probably be regarded, not only in Germany, but also elsewhere, as matters concerning which disagreement is no longer possible.
Marriages detrimental to the racial purity of the German stock have been made illegal by the Nuremberg Law for the Protection of the German Race and German Honour (September 15th, 1935). In the preamble, a concise statement is given of the objects aimed at by the National Socialist Government in the domain of racial policy. It begins as follows:
Fully convinced that the purity of the German stock is indispensable to the continued existence of the German nation and animated by the inflexible determination to safeguard its existence for all times, the Reichstag has unanimously resolved upon the following law.
The law prohibits all marriages between Jews and any German nationals who are of German stock or of kindred ancestry. Any marriages contracted abroad in order to evade this prohibition are illegal. Proceedings to have them annulled can only be instituted by the public prosecutor. The same prohibition applies to illicit sexual intercourse between the persons named. Any infringement of the law will be punished.
It stands to reason, however, that all these measures – if isolated – will still fail in their objective unless steps are also taken to protect the vital rights of all healthy families by due recognition of their economic needs.
The political and social future of our country can only be definitely safeguarded on condition that the middle classes, the employees and the workers have their proper share in the national assets. The State is required to make it possible for all citizens to carry out their appointed tasks and to become part-owners of the means of production. Economic and social legislation will be needed to enable prolific families to purchase the means of subsistence. This can only be achieved by an adjustment of the burdens each family has to carry; and this, in turn, can be brought about by tax remission, by educational assistance, or other measures.
The problem we have to solve is this: How can we provide financial aid to all prolific and biologically healthy families by way of uniform and comprehensive action? It is evident that such assistance – if it is to benefit racial health – must be graded according to the income of the persons concerned. Its precise form will therefore vary, although the general principle underlying it will be the same. In the upper middle classes, the object aimed at may be attained by tax reform; those who are employed in the public services may have their salaries increased; the masses of workers and employees in private undertakings may be assisted by creating a “national family adjustment fund,” whilst an altogether different method may have to be adopted in connection with the farming community, handicraftsmen, and others. In no case will this involve additional taxation. All that will happen will be a re-distribution of incomes in conformity with the principles of a sound population policy. Owing to the economic difficulties caused by the Versailles Treaty and the incompetency of previous governments, it has been impossible so far to provide the adjustment fund referred to. Its creation, however, is a vitally important necessity, which must overrule all other considerations, even though it may involve increased social charges for families with few children or no children at all. This necessity can now be explained to workers and employees far more convincingly than could have been done in the past; and there is no doubt that they will grasp its significance. If we succeed in convincing all classes of the vital importance of this task, they will continue to be content with the present modest level of the provision made against the vicissitudes of life, because, in doing so, they will help to attain the higher aims before us, viz., the maintenance of our national existence and the safeguarding of our national future.
The conviction must become universal that the problems in the domain of our population policy cannot be solved unless we have the courage to adjust the whole of our financial, social and economic policy to the principles already set forth. We can no longer carry on social policy in this country without, at the same time, combating unemployment and carrying on a healthy population policy. Unemployment, however, can only be definitely overcome if we succeed in finding a satisfactory solution of the problem concerning the position of women and in safeguarding the vital rights of the family.
The German nation has now realised, just before it was too late, that a breach with its past and a neglect of its racial ideals is bound to inflict grave injury upon everyone. Houston Stewart Chamberlain has somewhere referred to the nineteenth century as “the age of irreverence,” thus foreseeing the development that took place during the past thirty years. A man’s actions are not determined, in the last resort, by his education, his intelligence or his surroundings, but by the racial traits bequeathed to him by his remote ancestors. Just as a nation’s past history can be a source of strength to it, the history of our family can be an inspiration to us throughout our lives. A study of it can teach us where our ancestors came from, What work they were doing, what was their worth or worthlessness, and what characteristics they may have passed on to us. When every individual realises that he is only a link in the long chain that connects him with his ancestors and that he has the same obligations towards the future as they had, it will be time to dismiss our apprehensions regarding the continued existence of our people. Thus, it will always be necessary to cultivate the family sense. Women, especially, must again become the custodians of the family traditions. It is therefore very gratifying to see that the various women’s organisations make it their special business to teach young girls to be conscious of their responsibilities, just as the corresponding men’s organisations endeavour to foster the same spirit in men and youths.
The increased attention given by Germany to racial hygiene has resulted in a widening of the scope covered by the activities of the public health authorities. Numerous foreign scientists and also foreign nations are prepared to follow the lead thus given by us. It is not intended to replace the existing system of public hygienic services by a different one, but rather to supplement the one by the other. The work already done to combat disease will be continued as usual, in close collaboration with medical science. The introduction of a practical system of biological and racial culture, however, is certain to increase the public’s appreciation of its duties towards the family and towards future generations, and will therefore raise the physical and intellectual standards of our people. Beyond that, it strengthens our desire for the preservation of peace.
For all these reasons we consider it our duty to direct the attention of the European nations, and of the white race in general, towards the dangers threatening our common civilisation from Russia in the east and from Africa – by way of large armies composed of races of non European stock specially trained by France-in the south.
If there were another war, valuable national assets would be destroyed not only at the front, but also at home. Thus, racial hygiene and war (to quote Professor Ploetz) will always be irreconcilable enemies. The Chancellor wants peace not only for his own country’s sake, but also because a European war would be the end of the white races and of white civilisation. Not only Central Europe, but France, Italy and Great Britain also, would perish, whilst Bolshevism would be the real victor.
I firmly believe that the recognition of this danger will bring the highly civilised nations closer together and will strengthen the feeling of solidarity.