Background: This speech by Dr. Gerhard Wagner on Nazi racial policy was delivered at the 1936 Nuremberg Rally. Wagner was the head of the Nazi organization for physicians. Like much other Nazi rhetoric of the period, it put less emphasis on the evils of the Jews than on the benefits of maintaining a racially pure, and growing, population.
The source: Gerhard Wagner, “Rasse und Bevölkerungspolitik,” Der Parteitag der Ehre vom 8. bis 14. September 1936. Offizieller Bericht über den Verlauf des Reichsparteitages mit sämtlichen Kongreßreden (Munich: Zentralverlag der NSDAP., 1936), pp. 150-160.
by Dr. Gerhard Wagner
From my experience, one can divide those who respond to the New Germany’s measures in these regards with a lack of understanding, uncertainty, opposition, or even hostility, into several groups.
One group consists of emigrés and ignoramuses. I group them together because we are going to ignore them. Even the gods fight in vain against ignorance and stupidity, and emigré lies have become so outrageous and tasteless that they find ever fewer gullible listeners abroad.
Another group consists of scholars and scientists, a group steadily becoming smaller — even abroad — as is clear from the most varied decisions of foreign and international scientific societies that agree with our racial hygiene measures and our genetic policies. We can only say to these learned critics that our genetic and racial thinking stems in the end not from our scientific, but rather from our National Socialist convictions, and that it was not learned scientists, but rather our Führer Adolf Hitler, and he alone, who made genetic and racial thinking the center of our National Socialist worldview and the foundation of the rebuilding of our people’s state. The doctrines of blood and race are not first of all an important and interesting piece of biological science to us, but rather above all else a political-ideological attitude that fundamentally determines our attitudes to things and to the questions of life.
More important than these two groups, however, are those who reject or oppose us because they hold to another worldview.
Those who base their materialist image of the world on the doctrines of a liberal or Marxist era cannot understand how we can have dethroned their idols of “the economy and Mammon,” replacing them at the center of our National Socialist process of construction and renewal with the German man, with the German people.
The other groups with a worldview warn their sheep in Christian piety, and in the name of both confessions, of the errors of National Socialist genetic and racial doctrines, and of the errors of the measures taken by the Third Reich. I have this request to those who, in contrast to the communist and Marxist foreign apostles, overtly and covertly go about their business at home: When you don the worthy priestly robes of either confession and claim that “your kingdom is not of this world,” please concern yourselves with your kingdom and leave to us the responsibility for the kingdom of this world. Allow us to form our German state according to our laws and needs.
My fellow party members, you know the reasons for our National Socialist population and racial policies. We want to rescue a dying people from the edge of the abyss and lead it back to the paths that will lead, according to human reason, to a future in the coming millennium. We must oppose the three great dangers of racial and biological decline that have repeatedly destroyed states, peoples, and cultures in the past if they did not succeed in resisting them in good time. We must therefore contend with these three issues: the decline in the birth rate, the increase in sick and unfit genes in our people, and the mixing of the blood of our people with that of foreign and unrelated peoples, in particular with Jewish blood.
When I spoke here a year ago about the necessity of a law to protect German blood, none of us imagined that a few days later the Führer would present his people with the brilliant Nuremberg Laws, the “Reich Citizenship Law” and the “Law for the Protection of German Blood and German Honor.” The law to protect German blood created clarity in the Jewish Question, and the Reich citizenship law fulfilled points 4 and 5 of the National Socialist program.
Points 4 and 5 state:
“Only racial comrades may be citizens. A racial comrade can only be someone of German blood, without regard to religious confession. No Jew can therefore be a citizen.”
“He who is not a citizen may live in Germany only as a guest, and must abide by the laws for foreigners.”
The Nuremberg Laws replaced the concept of “citizen of the state” with “citizen of the Reich.” That by itself had only formal significance. It did not by itself realize the demands of the party program.
However, the Nuremberg Laws make further infiltration of Jewish blood into the German national body impossible. To National Socialists, whose racial standpoint is anchored in blood, the wide-ranging scope of this historic decision makes all the other political and economic aspects of laws regarding the Jews of secondary importance.
The Nuremberg Laws would have been incomplete and unfinished had they not dealt with the status of the so-called German-Jewish half breeds, that is, the half and quarter Jews. This bastardized mixed race is not wanted, and the goal of the legislation is to make it disappear — both biologically and politically — as soon as possible. The marriage regulations will lead to that. A quarter Jew may only marry someone of full German blood, and a half Jew, provided he has not chosen to belong to the Jewish religion, or as we prefer, married a Jewish partner and thereby joined the Jewish people, may marry a German only with the permission of the Ministry of the Interior and the Deputy Führer [Rudolf Hess’ office].
It came as no surprise to us, indeed it was what we expected, that the Nuremberg Laws were a welcome occasion for the Jews and their allies to scream about the “German barbarians.” It is not worth the time to look into all these varied complaints. Our handling of the Jewish question is a matter of domestic German policy, but we do hope that many of our foreign Olympic guests were able to see for themselves how badly things are going for the“Poor Jews” in terrible Nazi Germany.
To those who think that our regulations on the marriage of half Jews in Germany are unreasonable — or depending on their attitudes, inhumane or unchristian — I can only say that if the church can demand celibacy of hundreds of thousands, we believe before God and our consciences that it is good for our German people for us to forbid 200,000 half Jews to marry Germans.
I can well understand those German racial comrades who want to refuse any mixture of foreign Jewish blood at all, and who cannot understand the marriage regulations of the Nuremberg Laws that permit marriage to quarter Jews. To them I say that we have confidence that our 67 million people will be able to absorb the 100,000 quarter Jews — there are no more than that — without significant damage.
But those who believe that the Jewish question has been fully resolved in Germany by the Nuremberg Laws must know that the battle goes on. World Jewry itself is seeing to that. We will be victorious only when each German racial comrade knows that it is a matter of our very existence. The party’s educational and training work seems to me more necessary than ever before, since even some party comrades see these matters as no longer relevant or important.
People are always saying that our National Socialist racial thinking is materialistic, unchristian, chauvinistic, imperialistic, and that it leads to the defamation of foreign races and peoples. The opposite is the case. We believe that our racial policy is the surest guarantee for mutual respect and for peaceful coexistence between the peoples of this world. Someone of another race is different from me both in body and soul, for both are important. This makes no value judgment about other races. We are too conscious of the relationship between our own blood and our own race to presume to make such a judgment, which could only come from a standpoint that thought itself above race and humanity.
Scientifically, the differences between races and peoples are incontrovertible. That is the foundation, the justification, and also the obligation of any racial policy, without which, according to our view, Europe and the whole world can never be at peace. National Socialism would never use military action to forcibly take over nations or populations that differ from us in blood and soul, since they would forever remain foreign elements within our state. We therefore reject chauvinism and imperialism, since we grant to other races on this earth the same right we claim for ourselves, namely the right to form our own life and environment according to the necessities and laws of our nature. Racial policy is thus to us a policy of peace.
Finally, a word to those who reject our racial policy as “unchristian.” God has chosen to create humanity in the form of various races, as he has done in all of the rest of nature. Those who ignore race and its laws are not acting in a Christian manner, but rather we claim to be following the will of God, who has created the various racial types of this world so that each may maintain the greatest possible racial purity that will enable to develop its particular strengths.
I turn next to the second process of biological decline that has long been evident in our people: an improper selection that has neglected the most valuable elements in an almost criminal manner while providing for and supporting the inferior with endless resources.
The millions and billions that we have spent and the past, and the about one billion marks that we sacrifice today for the care of the genetically ill, is a squandering of our national resources that we National Socialists cannot justify when we consider the needs of the healthy population. Healthy working class families with numerous children today earn only enough for the necessities of life, which means that it is irresponsible that the state must provide the money for some genetically ill families who may have several family members in institutions costing thousands of marks annually.
The National Socialist state cannot repair the failings of the past, but through the “Law for the Prevention of Genetically Ill Offspring,” it has seen to it that in the future the inferior will not be able to produce more inferior children, saving the German people from a steady stream of new moral and economic burdens resulting from genetic illnesses.
I discussed these matters in greater detail at the last two party rallies, so I will here respond only to several objections that have been made that might worry or concern harmless and gullible souls, though the objections are outbalanced by constantly growing praise from the whole world.
To those who claim that we act in an unchristian way, sinning against the will of God, we reply that we are convinced that we are acting consistent with the will of the creator when we prevent unhealthy life from being propagated, saving children and their children from new and enormous misery. The creator himself established the laws of life, which harshly and brutally let all that is unworthy of life perish to make room for the strong and healthy to whom the future belongs. This is necessary for the preservation and development of all that lives on this earth.
Even more absurd is the objection that our law on the sterilization of the genetically ill permits their sterilization without their explicit consent. We think it would be ridiculous to allow the genetically ill, who may lack intelligence — as with the feeble-minded — or free will — as in the case of the mentally ill — to make this decision, particularly since we already control their use of money and other dead things. It would be absurd to leave them with far more important decisions on procreation and children.
As for you critics from the communist-Marxist camp, we refuse your the right to judge whether we are acting correctly when we prevent inferior life as long as you promote the unlimited right to abortion when the growing life is valuable, whenever the mother, a doctor, or someone else wishes it.
I believe that we have a good conscience before the world when we eliminate life that is unworthy of life, particularly when we see everywhere that the poisonous seed of communism is senselessly slaughtering thousands of valuable people.
But the National Socialist state is interested in more than merely preventing the spread of unfit genes. Just as important, indeed even more important, are the measures that aim to care for and promote the nation’s valuable genes.
The most important measure since the last party rally is the “Law for the Protection of the Genetic Health of the German People” of 18 October 1935. As a “healthy marriage act,” it returns marriage to its real purpose — producing healthy children. It provides for careful marriage counseling to ensure that people will marry only if it can be expected that their children will be healthy — genetically healthy.
A large number of other measures promote health and physical ability, maintain the military and productive readiness of the German people, and advance these by all possible means.
The duty of the state is to protect the people’s health through legal measures, and to ensure that these policies are implemented. The task of the movement is to win the support of the people for these government policies, and to reestablish the sense of responsibility people have toward themselves, their families, and their people. The rights and necessities of the whole people supersede the right of the individual to his own body.
The state is responsible for ensuring health, the party is responsible for providing leadership in the area. The two reinforce and support the same goal: the maintenance and improvement of the strength of the German people.
Successful leadership in the area of health is primarily in the hands of the approximately 20,000 expert physicians with a reliable worldview who are organized in the Office for People’s Health. They are the foundation of the confidence which must exist between those who will lead and those who are to be led. We do not believe this confidence develops in the offices of state physicians, but rather only in personal contact between the individual citizen and a doctor whom he trusts. Our ideal, therefore, is not based on the laws, regulations, and rulings of experienced state doctors, but rather in the German people’s doctor, the old family doctor,who respects nature and knows how to use its healing powers — which have often been criminally ignored in the past. Of course, he also understands the methods of academic medicine. Since he understands racial hygiene, he will never forget the people as a whole when he treats the individual. Prevention is more important to the doctor than healing! He wants to be a faithful aide not only in time of sickness, but also a counselor and a friend when someone is healthy. He is happier with a child who runs toward him with joy than with the most interesting and perhaps the most lucrative sickness.
I know that confidence in the German doctor suffered in many places in the past. I know that a comprehensive restructuring of a profession does not happen overnight, but rather requires a reasonable time. But I also know that an ever growing number of our German doctors are conscious of the great responsibility they have in the front lines of the battle for the strength and preservation of our people’s blood, the most valuable treasure we possess, and the one thing that — once lost — can never be regained.
History teaches us in the long run peoples are not destroyed by economics or politics, by natural catastrophes, wars or inner struggles, but rather the last and ultimate cause behind every people’s decline throughout history has a biological foundation that broke its strength and health. Many peoples have suffered heavy blows, including huge costs in living racial comrades, yet recovered within a few generations because their fertility was unharmed and their will to life remained healthy and strong. How often have healthy children sprung from the wombs of a defeated people and grown to become avengers and liberators who led their people to new greatness and to new triumphs.
Strength and health are given but once to a people, and once lost, they can never be regained, unlike destroyed cities and ruined fields.
In this regard, it is valuable to look at conditions in the Russian Soviet Union.
Although for understandable reasons it is not reported in official statistics and reports, various announcements and newspaper articles make it clear that heath conditions in Russia are becoming more and more catastrophic.
Communist Pravda writes on 24 February 1936: All the hospitals in Moscow were built over 20 or 30 years ago. No major repairs have been made for decades. The ceiling and walls of the department of infectious diseases were last painted in 1925. Hospitals are constantly short of needles, smocks, hand towels, as well as body and hand soap. In the leading Moscow model clinic, the bedding is tattered, and the mattresses in most hospitals are entirely worn out.
Pravda of 7 July 1935 complains about criminal conduct against the health of workers and provides distressing numbers about illnesses resulting from unhealthy working conditions at the Moscow factory for measuring instruments during the first half of the year 1934.
It is also striking that, according to a report from Louis Fisher in the Neuer Tagebuch in 1936, the number of births in Moscow has steadily declined in recent years from 30.7 to 15.3, that is by more than half, and the number of abortions has increased by a factor of six. It is one and a half times as large as the number of births.
These reports make it clear that the Russian leaders have allowed unbelievable damage to be done to their people’s health that will have bitter consequences for this people and for its military strength. To these Russian communist leaders, their people are only puppets in the battle for power, be that a struggle between various Jewish cliques or the struggle to establish communist-Jewish world domination. The well-known Franciscan priest and sociologist Duffee, who is certainly not guilty of any great love for Germany, wrote in the New York Times of 14 July 1936 that he had come to the conclusion, after six years of research, that communism was only a facade for international capitalism. [Duffee was a Catholic high school teacher, not a particularly well-known scholar, and the NYT article mentioned was actually dated 12 July 1936.] We can only hope, in the interests of humanity, that this knowledge spreads more and more throughout the world.
My party comrades, we must understand that all the measures of our population policy that I have already described to you only make sense when the corresponding population is at hand, and the birth rate is sufficient to keep the population at the necessary level.
The German people grew from 42 million to 67 million between 1870 and today, but not through an increase in the birth rate, but only because the death rate constantly fell, resulting in an increase in the average life span. Aside from the fact that this shift leads to an undesired increase in the average age of the population, the death rate cannot go on falling forever, since we cannot abolish death and illness.
If the birth rate of the last decade were to continue — between 1900 and 1933, the annual number of births fell from two million to one million, which means it has fallen by half — a substantial decline in Germany’s population would over time be inevitable. The German Office of Statistics estimates that the population of the German Reich would fall to about 47 million by the year 2000, and continue to fall thereafter, until another, stronger people would move into the empty space and our Germany would vanish from history like the old Greeks and other cultures of the past.
You know that since the takeover of power, there has been a happy improvement in the catastrophic population decline that had until then prevailed. The number of marriages, which had fallen to 517,000 in 1932, rose to 639,000 in 1933, 739,000 in 1934, and 651,000 in 1935.
The number of births per thousand reached its lowest point in 1933 at 14.7, or 971,000. In 1934 it rose for the first time in a long while to 1,197,000, or 18 per thousand, an increase of about a quarter. Despite a substantial decline in the number of marriages, the number of births rose again to 1,261,000, or 18.9 per thousand of the population. That is a very good situation that we can be more than proud of, since it shows unexpected and unrequested confidence in the government leadership and in the political and economic future.
Still, those voices both at home and abroad — I remember, for example, a recent article in Mussolini’s paper Popolo d’Italia — are premature in drawing the conclusion that the German people has already resolved its population crisis. Aside from the fact that a birth rate of 20 per thousand is necessary to maintain our population, a figure that we have not yet reached, we have to expect a significant reduction in the number of marriages in coming years, which is the result of a not insignificant decline in the war and postwar generations that are now reaching marrying age. Thirty years of a declining birth rate have cost Germany around 13 million unborn children. From the standpoint of racial hygiene, a particularly painful and serious loss is the 3 to 3.5 million unborn children who would have been born to the best of our people, those who remained on the field of honor. They now would have been married and had children, the mothers and fathers of a strong generation that is now missing.
The statistics of the first quarter of 1936 show that the declining marriage rate of 1935 is continuing. There were 10.4% fewer marriages than in the first quarter of 1935. At the same time, the statistics also prove the very happy fact that, just as last year, the decline of the birth rate has not been parallel to the decline in the marriage rate. It fell by only 1.4%, a bit less than last year.
All of our efforts and policies must aim at maintaining these favorable birth statistics, and strengthening them.
The critical question is whether we can succeed in reaching an average of three to four live births per marriage. Only that will guarantee the survival of our people. The duty of the state is to provide legal and especially economic measures to equalize the burdens that today fall particularly heavily on families with many children. The task of the movement will continue to teach the people through a powerful campaign of education and enlightenment that the path to the future leads through a generation of healthy children, a generation large enough to maintain — and if necessary — defend what their parents and ancestors have won and created. The deepest causes of the decline in the birth rate are not economic. They are spiritual, they are rooted in the hostile attitude of the past era to families and children. If we do not succeed in changing this internal attitude of the German people, all our population policy efforts — however generous they may be — will be useless and without hope.
Only when the German people join its powerful political will to self assertion to a determined affirmation of its will to life, to the maintenance of its population both in number and in kind, will it guarantee its military strength, its freedom, its honor, and its future for all time.
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