Rassenhygiene in Deutschland

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2016

please note: this post is under construction


© Copyright Peter Crawford 2016

At the heart of the Völkisch philosophy that underpinned National Socialism was the concept of 'rasse' (race), and there were two streams of thought that fed this fundamental concept.
for more information about the concept of race go to:

Madame Blavatsky
Lanz von Liebenfels
One stream, feeding the concept of 'race' was the occult teachings of individuals such as Madame BlavatskyLanz von Liebenfels and Dietrich Eckart (teachings  derived from the most ancient of sources), and the other stream was derived from more recent speculation, fed by advances and discoveries in the biological science, and particularly genetics.
To a certain extent the latter 'stream' (the biological and genetic stream of thought) was not crucial, however, it very thoroughly paved the way for a more willing acceptance of the basically occult teachings on race - and made it far easier for those who took a 'rationalist' stance (mainly members of the 'Bildungsbürgertum' - hangovers of the so-called 'Enlightenment') to to give credence and support to the less well known, and to them, 'doubtful' teachings, derived from ancient wisdom and occult revelation.
Dietrich Eckart
And so it was possible for most levels of German society to accept the necessity of eugenics and 'Rassenhygiene' as a means to counteract the effects of  'Rassen Entartung' (racial degeneration) and thereby create a strong and healthy Reich.
What many Germans (and others), in the early days of the Third Reich, had practically no awareness of, however, was the fact that 'Regenerierung' (regeneration), in biological terms, was only the first step to an overarching process.
This process would not only create a pure race, but also regenerate all aspects of society, culture, and eventually spirituality - for as Adolf Hitler had explained to his closest associates - the process of  'Regenerierung' would be 'an act of creation, a divine operation, the goal of a biological mutation which would result in an unprecedented exaltation of the human race, and the appearance of a new race of heroes, demi-gods and god-men'.
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2016

But that was a hope for the future - and here we must go back to the Second Reich, and the various individuals in the scientific community who gradually became aware of the necessity to impose some form of 'Rassenhygiene'  on the Germanic people, in order to prevent the effects of 'Rassen Entartung' destroying the race.



German eugenics cannot be understood without examining the conjunction of circumstances that collectively account for its origin as a movement.
Three contexts stand out as being particularly significant in shaping the early development of race hygiene: the social problems resulting from Germany's rapid and thorough going industrialization; the professional traditions of the German medical community; and the intellectual currency of the "selectionist" variant of social Darwinism then fashionable among certain German biologists and self-styled social theorists.
These three contexts will be dealt with in turn.

During the last quarter of the nineteenth century the newly unified German Empire was transformed from an agricultural into an industrial society.
The industrialization and urbanization process, expeditious and thorough as it was, produced profound changes in the social and economic structure of the young Reich, engendering a myriad of serious social tensions and problems.
Had Imperial Germany not possessed a rigidly authoritarian political structure shaped primarily by the self-interest of preindustrial elites and their allies in heavy industry, the social dislocations precipitated by industrialization would not have appeared so threatening to the stability of the state and the social order, but the Kaiser- reich was certainly no democracy, and, given the stranglehold that the landed aristocracy, the military, the barons of industry, and high-ranking members of the bureaucracy had on politics, these tensions and problems could not be effectively remedied.
Foremost among the problems afflicting the Reich as a result of this combination of political immobility and rapid social change was the rise of a radical labor movement.
The growing number of strikes, lockouts, and other forms of labor unrest, coupled with the growing success of the officially Marxist Social Democratic Party at the polls, provoked fear and anxiety among many middle- and upper-class Germans regarding the seemingly hostile, uncontrollable, and ever- increasing industrial proletariat.
In addition, there were other social problems that were viewed by Germany's Bildungsburgertum as posing a threat to the proper functioning of the state.
'Bildungsbürgertum' is a social class that initially emerged in mid-18th century Germany as an educated class of the bourgeoisie with an educational ideal based on idealistic values and classical antiquity. The 'Bildungsbürgertum' could be described as the intellectual and economic upper bourgeoisie in contrast to the 'Kleinbürgertum' (Petite bourgeoisie). The term 'Bildungsbürgertum' is a concept difficult to translate into English. The notion of the word "Bildung" has broader meaning than that of "culture", or "education", and is deeply rooted in the idea of the Enlightenment. The term also corresponds to the ideal of education in the work of Wilhelm von Humboldt. Thus, in this context, the concept of education becomes a lifelong process of human development; rather than mere training in gaining certain external knowledge or skills, education is seen as a process wherein an individual's spiritual and cultural sensibilities as well as life, personal and social skills are in a process of continual expansion and growth. 
These included an increase in various types of criminal activity; a rise in prostitution, suicides, alcohol consumption, and alcoholism; and a heightened awareness of the existence of large numbers of insane and feebleminded individuals.
This latter group, the mental defectives, was singled out by both medical and lay observers as an especially grave social and financial liability for the new Reich.
These problems were hotly debated by many of Germany's academic social scientists and reform-minded religious leaders under the rubric of the 'soziale Frage' (Social Question) - a term referring to the social and political consequences of unbridled economic liberalism and the industrialization process.
Although those discussing the 'social question' embraced different economic and political ideals, all agreed that some kind of 'Sozialpolitik' (social policy) was necessary to integrate Germany's proletariat (and asocial subproletariat) into the Reich, thereby preventing the collapse of the state. 
Like most educated middle-class Germans, the early eugenicists were keenly aware of this debate and were fully cognizant of the serious social problems that plagued the Reich as a result of the industrial revolution.
The increased visibility of a number of asocial, nonproductive types - an important component of the much-debated 'social question'- was the problem they set out to tackle using a new form of Sozialpolitik: 'race hygiene'.
That these race hygienists would be inclined to offer a biomedical solution for social and political problems can be attributed to the second major influence that shaped their eugenics: the distinctive social, political, and intellectual traditions of the German medical community.
All of the movement's important leaders were physicians by training, and had studied medicine before turning their attention to eugenics.
Moreover, fully a third of those affiliated with the 'Deutsche Gesellschaft' during its early years were medically trained.
As physicians, the founders of German eugenics not only shared the prejudices and posture of the Bildungsburgertum as a whole, but were also heir to a well-defined set of assumptions about the hereditary nature of disease, and the role of medical professionals in safeguarding the health of the nation.
The medical professionals' perception of themselves as custodians of national health, and hence of national wealth and efficiency, has a long history.
In Germany it dates at least as far back as the mid-nineteenth century, when German physicians demonstrated their responsibility to the state during the so-called 'health reform movement'.
Later, during the third quarter of the nineteenth century, the rise of scientific medicine and hygiene bestowed upon academic physicians, and medical professionals in general, an unprecedented level of social esteem and, indirectly, political importance.
At this time many young medical professionals, eager to make a contribution to national health, turned their attention to bacteriology; - others, like some of Germany's future eugenicists, adopted a different approach.
Their exposure to fields of medicine that emphasized the role of heredity in the etiology of disease (e.g., neurology and psychiatry) led them to question the efficacy of concentrating solely on pathogens.
Instead, they were convinced that serious disorders, such as mental illness, feeblemindedness, criminality, epilepsy, hysteria, and the tendency to tuberculosis were often inherited, and could quite frequently be traced back to a 'hereditary diseased con- stitution.'
Many medically trained race hygienists argued that the surest way to improve the general level of national health was to upgrade the bodily constitution of all individuals in society - a task to be accomplished by means of an energetic eugenics program.
In addition to the 'social question', and the German medical tradition, there was a third influence that greatly shaped the early development of the movement: the "selectionist" variety of social Darwinism, popularized by Germany's most outspoken biologist, Ernst Haeckel (1834-1919), and later legitimated by the scientific writings of the Freiburg embryologist August Weismann (1834-1914).
Charles Darwin
Ernst Haeckel
Ernst Heinrich Philipp August Haeckel (16 February 1834 – 9 August 1919) was a German biologist, naturalist, philosopher, physician, professor, marine biologist, and artist who discovered, described and named thousands of new species, mapped a genealogical tree relating all life forms, and coined many terms in biology, including anthropogeny, ecology, phylum, phylogeny, stem cell, and Protista. Haeckel promoted and popularised Charles Darwin's work in Germany, and developed the influential recapitulation theory ("ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny") claiming that an individual organism's biological development, or ontogeny, parallels and summarises its species' evolutionary development, or phylogeny. The published artwork of Haeckel includes over 100 detailed, multi-colour illustrations of animals and sea creatures ('Kunstformen der Natur'). As a philosopher, Ernst Haeckel wrote 'Die Welträtsel' (1895–1899), the genesis for the term "world riddle" (Welträtsel). Haeckel's political beliefs were influenced by his affinity for the German Romantic movement, coupled with his acceptance of a form of Lamarckism. Rather than being a strict Darwinian, Haeckel believed that the characteristics of an organism were acquired through interactions with the environment and that ontogeny reflected phylogeny. He believed the social sciences to be instances of "applied biology", and that phrase was picked up and used in Volkisch philosophy. In 1905, Haeckel founded a group called the Deutscher Monistenbund to promote his religious and political beliefs. This group lasted until 1933 and included such notable members as Wilhelm Ostwald, Georg von Arco, Helene Stöcker and Walter Arthur Berendsohn. Haeckel believed that human races evolved independently, and in parallel with each other. Haeckel divided human beings into ten races, of which the Caucasian (Aryan) was the highest and the primitives were doomed to extinction.
August Weismann
August Friedrich Leopold Weismann (17 January 1834 – 5 November 1914) was a German evolutionary biologist. Ernst Mayr ranked him the second most notable evolutionary theorist of the 19th century, after Charles Darwin. Weismann became the Director of the Zoological Institute and the first Professor of Zoology at Freiburg. His main contribution was the germ plasm theory, at one time also known as 'Weismannism', according to which (in a multicellular organism) inheritance only takes place by means of the germ cells - the gametes such as egg cells and sperm cells. Other cells of the body - somatic cells - do not function as agents of heredity.
Haeckel went far beyond Darwin in his attempt to flesh out the larger philosophical and social meaning of the evolutionary theory.
Although, like Darwin, he believed in the inheritance of acquired characteristics, Haeckel always stressed Darwin's selection principle as the most important engine of forward directed organic change; indeed, for Haeckel, Darwinism was synonymous with selection.
Weismann, who came to reject the possibility of the inheritance of acquired characteristics through his work on heredity, afforded Darwin's principle of natural selection an even greater role in organic and social evolution than did the author of the 'Origin of Species' himself.
His famous mechanism of heredity, 'the continuity of the germ plasm', first articulated in 1883, challenged the basic tenets of the more optimistic first-generation social Darwinists who assumed that new characteristics acquired by an organism as a result of environmental change would be transmitted to future generations.
As one German social Darwinist and eugenicist expressed it,
'It was Weismann's teaching regarding the separation of the germ plasm from the soma, the hereditary stuff from the body of the individual, that first allowed us to recognize the importance of Darwin's principle of selection. Only then did we comprehend that it is impossible to improve our progeny's condition by means of physical and mental training. Apart from the direct manipulation of the nucleus, only selection can preserve and improve the race.'
Indeed, for those who accepted Weismann's views with respect to both heredity and the 'all-supremacy' of selection, eugenics was the only practical strategy to ensure racial progress and avert racial decline.
If the ideas of Haeckel and Weismann encouraged many contemporaries to view natural selection as the sole agent of all organic and social progress, the writings of the two biologists also emphasized that progress was not inevitable.
Under certain conditions the 'unfit' might prosper, thereby posing a challenge to further evolutionary development.
This 'selectionist' perspective and language provided Germany's future eugenicists with novel tools of analysis that enabled them to come to grips with the 'social question' by transforming it into a scientific problem: the asocial individuals created by industrialization became for them the biologically and medically unfit.
The only way to eliminate this group from the population was through a policy of "
'rational selection,' or race hygiene.
The significance of the three contexts is nowhere more clearly visible than in the intellectual backgrounds and early writings of Alfred Ploetz and Wilhelm Schallmayer.
Working largely independently of one another during the early of the movement (1890-1903), both men laid the foundations for the future course of race hygiene in their country.
Ploetz's organizational talents and charismatic personality allowed him to create the institutional basis for the young movement almost single-handedly.
Alfred Ploetz
Alfred Ploetz (August 22, 1860 – March 20, 1940) was a German physician, biologist, eugenicist known for coining the term 'Rassenhygiene' (racial hygiene), and promoting the concept in Germany. 'Rassenhygiene' is a form of eugenics. Ploetz first proposed the theory of racial hygiene (race-based eugenics) in his "Racial Hygiene Basics" (Grundlinien einer Rassenhygiene) in 1895. In 1904 Ploetz founded the periodical "Archiv für Rassen-und Gesellschaftsbiologie" with Fritz Lenz as chief editor, and in 1905 the German Society for Racial Hygiene (De Berliner Gesellschaft fur Rassenhygiene) with 31 members. page In 1907 the society became the "International Society for Racial Hygiene". In 1930 he became an honorary doctor of the University of Munich. Ploetz was a supporter of the National Socialist Party, which took power in 1933. Ploetz wrote in April 1933 that he believed Adolf Hitler would bring racial hygiene from its previous marginality into the mainstream. In 1933 Reich Interior Minister Wilhelm Frick established an "expert advisory committee for population and racial policy," which included Ploetz, Fritz Lenz, Ernst Rüdin and Hans F.K. Günther. This expert advisory committee had the task of advising the Reich Government on the implementation and enforcement of legislation regarding racial and eugenic issues. In 1936, Hitler appointed Ploetz to a professorship. In 1937 Ploetz joined the National Socialist Party. Along with many other eugenicists in Europe and America, Ploetz believed in the superiority of the Nordic race, and he favored the global dominance of the Aryan race. His writings were a major influence on Völkisch ideology.
Wilhelm Schallmayer
Wilhelm Schallmayer (10 February 1857 in Mindelheim - 4 October 1919 in Krailling ) was a German physician. Along with Alfred Ploetz he was founder of the 'racial hygiene' movement in Germany, and one of the first champions of eugenics. Wilhelm Schallmayer studied jurisprudence and philosophy, but then turned to the study of medicine in Leipzig and Munich. In 1891 he wrote a treatise, 'Über die drohende körperliche Entartung der Kulturmenschheit', although he is best known for the award-winning magazine 'Vererbung und Auslese im Lebenslauf der Völker'. published in 1903.

Schallmayer's treatises on eugenics defined the significant theoretical and practical problems that would occupy German eugenicists for decades.
Ploetz was born in 1860 into an upper-middle-class family in Swinemiinde on the Baltic Sea.
Although details of his early life remain sketchy, he had become acquainted with the works of Darwin and Haeckel while still at the Gymnasium.
Even before he began to study economics at the University of Breslau in 1884, he developed a strong interest in the 'soziale Frage'.
As he stated in his memoirs, the popular novels of Felix Dahn, professor of early German history, as well as works of other enthusiasts of Germany's Teutonic past, awakened his interest in the Germanic race.
Indeed, Ploetz became so obsessed with the glories of the old Teutonic tribes that he and several friends took an oath under an oak tree to do everything in their power to elevate the Germanic race to the level it had allegedly attained a thousand years earlier.
Felix Dahn
Ein Kampf um Rom
Felix Ludwig Julius Dahn (9 February 1834 – 3 January 1912) was a German nationalist, lawyer, author and historian. He was also known for writing nationalist poetry. Julius Sophus Felix Dahn was born in Hamburg. Dahn began his studies in law and philosophy in Munich and graduated as Doctor of Law in Berlin. After his habilitation treatise, Dahn became lecturer of German Law in Munich in 1857. In 1863 he became senior lecturer/associate professor in Würzburg, received a professorship in Königsberg (in 1872, and in 1888 he relocated to University of Breslau, again as a full professor, and was elected rector of the university in 1895. He belonged, as an honorary member, to the association "Germania," a nationalistic organisation, and was one of the leaders of the far right of Alldeutscher Verband. Dahn was also honorary doctor in Medicine, and in Philosophy. A month before his 78th birthday, Dahn died in Breslau. He was married to Therese von Droste-Hülshoff (1845-1929). Dahn's writings were extremely influential in forming the conception of the European history unfolding during the first millennium CE which dominated German-speaking countries during the late 19th and early 20th century. His multi-volume 'Prehistory of the Germanic and Roman Peoples', a chronology of the European Völkerwanderung (Migration Period), that first appeared in print in 1883, was so definitive that abbreviated versions were reprinted until the late 1970s. His works contributed to the foundation of National Socialism in Germany, while his book 'Ein Kampf um Rom' encouraged a "völkisch avant-garde" who opposed ethnic mixing.
Ploetz had recognized the need for a separate discipline, dedicated to the hereditary improvement of the race - a discipline more effective in eliminating disease than the thankless "Sisyphean labor" carried out by modern therapeutic medicine.
Ploetz then published 'Die Tiichtigkeit unsrer Rasse und der Schutz der Schwachen' (The fitness of our race and the protection of the weak) in 1895.
Although initially his book did not generate much public interest, it raised the broad biological, social, and ethical problems that created the need for race hygiene in the first place.
It also revealed the technocratic logic underlying eugenic thought.
The major thrust of Ploetz's argument recalls Darwin's personal dilemma in the 'Descent of Man': How can human beings reconcile the inevitable conflict between the humanitarian ideals and practices of the noblest part of our nature with the interest of the race, whose biological efficiency is allegedly impaired by those very ideals and practices?
Translated into concrete economic and political terms, Ploetz viewed the problem as follows: Should the state continue to expand the 'social net' and regulate various aspects of economic life in order to lessen the hardship of the weak and economically underprivileged, at the risk of undermining the overall biological fitness of its citizens ? Would not health, accident, and old-age insurance invariably lead to an increase in the number of unfit, perhaps at the expense of the fittest members of society ?
Ploetz was not oblivious to the serious moral and social issues raised by this alleged conflict.
As important as preventing 'Entartung' (degeneration) was for him, Ploetz did not believe in ignoring the needs of the present generation; the danger of 'Entartung' was not a signal for Germany to abandon health and welfare legislation, despite its counter selective effects.
Concern about the concept of 'Entartung', (which was accepted as a serious medical term), had been steadily growing in German speaking countries during the 19th Century. The use of the term reflected the views held by many people in Europe, and especially throughout the Austro-Hungarian Empire, at the time, that  society was degenerating. The theory of degeneration found its first detailed presentation in the writings of Bénédict Morel (1809–1873), especially in his 'Traité des dégénérescences physiques, intellectuelles et morales de l'espèce humaine' (Treatise on Degeneration of the Human Species) (1857). This book was published two years before Darwin's Origin of Species. Morel was a highly regarded psychiatrist. One solution to this problem was offered in 'die Lehre von der Regenerierun', as promulgated from Bayreuth (follow the link for more information)
The solution to these pressing conflicts was the substitution of a humane and scientific policy of "rational selection" for the inhumane and inefficient process of natural selection.
Unlike the existing personal hygiene movement, with its concern for the health of the individual, the new hygiene would direct its attention to improving the hereditary fitness of the human race.
Ploetz named it 'Rassenhygiene'.
Considering Ploetz's own enthusiasm for all things Teutonic, and the heated controversy in some quarters that later ensued over the use of the word 'Rassenhygiene' as a synonym for eugenics, it is worth examining what he meant by the term.
His definition of 'Rasse' (race) is ambiguous and difficult to translate into English.
Roughly speaking, Ploetz seems to view as a 'Rasse' any interbreeding human population that, over the course of generations,continues to demonstrate similar physical and mental traits.
In addition, Ploetz described 'race hygiene' as the measures needed to ensure "the optimal preservation and development of the race".
In later publications Ploetz explained that 'Rassenhygiene' had a much larger scope than the English term 'eugenics', embracing not only those measures designed to improve the hereditary quality of a population, but also those aimed at achieving its optimal size.
As an alternative, he could later have used the Germanized form of the word eugenics, 'Eugenik'.
Although Ploetz states that Germanic stock probably represents the best portion of the "Aryan race," he is primarily concerned here with whites in general.
His views regarding the cultural superiority of Aryan race, however, (see Aryanism and Aesthetics) were not fundamentally different from those of Schallmayer, or indeed from those of most European intellectuals of his time.
Although Ploetz discussed the merits of the Aryan race at length, and defined the terms Rasse and Rassenhygiene, the major purpose of his book lay elsewhere.
Above all, Ploetz sought to reconcile the apparent conflict between the Darwinian world view and the humanitarian-socialist ideal through a conscious policy of "control over variation" by the 'utopian' vision of pushing selection back to the prefertilization stage - a form of germplasm selection.
According to this plan, the genetically best germ cells of all breeding couples would be chosen as the hereditary endowment for the next generation.
Although Ploetz's particular solution to the "degeneration problem" was unfeasible, and was never seriously entertained by any of Germany's race hygienists, it embodied the view, shared by Schallmayer and later by other eugenicists, that population was a resource amenable to "rational management."
As such, it was a biomedical solution to socio-political problems: eugenics experts, armed with their knowledge of evolutionary theory and the laws of heredity, would solve the 'social question' with the aid of science.
Although Ploetz's work was the first to employ the term 'Rassenhygiene', it was not the first treatise on 'eugenics' to be published in Germany.
The author of the earliest such tract was the Bavarian physician Wilhelm Schallmayer (see brief biography above).
Schallmayer's intellectual biography and early career closely parallel those of Ploetz. 
Schallmayer was born in Mindelheim, Bavaria.
Despite the interest he shared with Ploetz in the 'soziale Frage', Schallmayer's concern was purely theoretical - at least until he realized that a faulty social and economic system could have grave eugenic consequence.
Precisely when Schallmayer became interested in eugenics is unknown.
It seems likely, however, that his work in the psychiatric clinic led him to doubt the value of medicine for improving the health of the race.
A self-proclaimed social Darwinist, and an admirer of Haeckel (see above), he could not have failed to see the connection between his clinical experience and the articulation of the counter selective effects of medicine.
Schallmayer's own experiences working with mental defectives, coupled with his "selectionist" outlook, accounted for his own indictment of therapeutic medicine in his first eugenic treatise, a short work entitled 'Uber die drohende korperliche Entartung der Kulturmenschheit' (Concerning the threatening physical degeneration of civilized humanity).
Published in 1891, and reprinted under a slightly different title in 1895, it was Germany's first eugenic tract.
Although Schallmayer's slim volume attracted even less attention than Ploetz's treatise would four years later, it touched on the social, economic, and political justifications for eugenics, and it offered such practical proposals as the creation of medical genealogies and health passports, and the introduction of marriage restrictions.
Schallmayer's book also stressed the role of physicians and the importance of education and propaganda as the most effective means of achieving eugenic goals - two hallmarks of German race hygiene policy until 1933.
Most important, however, Schallmayer's treatise emphasized the technocratic logic and the cost-benefit analysis that later so influenced the race hygiene movement.
In 1897, after he had acquired sufficient means to give up his lucrative medical practice in Dusseldorf, Schallmayer settled down as 'Privatgelehrter'.
His newly acquired freedom afforded him the time to compose a second eugenic treatise with the specific intention of submitting it to the 'Krupp Preisausschreiben' (Krupp Writing Prize).
Friedrich Alfred Krupp
Ludwig Noster 1896
In 1900 Friedrich Krupp, son of Essen's munitions baron Alfred Krupp, set aside 30,000 marks to be used in a contest to answer the question: 'What can we learn from the theory of evolution about internal political development and state legislation ?'
Friedrich Alfred Krupp (17 February 1854 – 22 November 1902) was a German steel manufacturer of the company Krupp. He was the son of Alfred Krupp, and inherited the family business when his father died in 1887. Whereas his father had largely supplied iron and steel, Friedrich shifted his company's production back to arms manufacturing. Friedrich greatly expanded Krupp and acquired the 'Germaniawerf' in 1896 which gave him control of warship manufacturing in Germany. He oversaw the development of nickel steel, U-boats, the diesel engine, and much more. He died in 1902 of apparent suicide (possibly because of allegations made against him regarding his sexual liaisons with boys). His daughter Bertha inherited the company.
It seems likely that Krupp, an amateur biologist, greatly resented Social Democratic attempts to use Darwin's theory in support of socialism.
Wishing to remain anonymous, Krupp delegated most of the responsibility for the contest to politically sympathetic scholars, with Ernst Haeckel (see above) brought in as a figurehead.
On 7 March 1903 the prize committee announced that first prize in the contest was awarded to Schallmayer's 'Vererbung und Auslese im Lebenslauf der Volker' (Heredity and selection in the life process of nations), a dense 381-page treatise representing, in Heinrich Ernst Ziegler's appraisal, a 'hygienic-sociological' approach to the question. 
Schallmayer certainly saw the practical and political aims of his book as timely.
Whereas the nineteenth century had been concerned with Darwin's evolutionary hypothesis on a purely theoretical level, 'the twentieth century,' argued Schallmayer, 'is called upon to apply the theory of descent to everyday life.'
The book's central theme was the rational management of national efficiency.
The real political lesson to be learned from Darwin's theory was that long-term state power depended upon the biological vitality of the nation; - neglect of the hereditary fitness of its population, such as might result from unenlightened laws and customs, was 'bad politics' and would inevitably result in the downfall of the state.
Hence the wise politician 'would recognize that the future of his nation is dependent on the good management of its human resources.'
In the interest of self-preservation, he argued, it was imperative that Germany take an active part in regulating the overall biological efficiency of its citizens by embarking on a political program that would encourage the biologically best elements in society to reproduce more than those with objectionable hereditary traits.
Eugenics, or 'Vererbungshygiene' (hereditary hygiene), as he still called it, was the perfect tool to ensure a strong and healthy state.
Schallmayer also presented his readers with a series of eugenics reforms, but he was very cautious in the area of negative eugenics.
Although he clearly believed that marriage restrictions for the insane, the feebleminded, the chronic alcoholic, and other defectives were in the best interest of the state, and the race, he refrained from openly supporting state legislation as a means to this end.
Until such time as more exact information regarding the laws of heredity was known, and enough detailed genealogies could be amassed, he felt that eugenicists would have to concentrate on voluntary measures.
He emphasized positive eugenics: convincing the "fitter" groups in society to increase their fertility rate.
The question of course remained, 'which groups were, biologically speaking, the fittest ?' Schallmayer assumed that biology would one day decide the question objectively.
The Krupp competition marked a turning point both in Schallmayer's personal career and in the attention paid to eugenics in Germany.
Prior to this time Schallmayer and Ploetz were virtually lone prophets in their eugenics crusade.
Only in the years immediately following the publication of 'Vererbung und Auslese', in 1903, were the first institutional steps undertaken to transform an idea into a movement: the creation of Germany's most respected eugenics journal, and the foundation of a race hygiene society.
The 'Archiv fur Rassen und Gesellschafts-Biologie', the first journal in the world dedicated to eugenics, was founded by Ploetz in 1904.
Although there is no direct evidence linking the creation of the journal with the results of the Krupp contest, it seems likely that the scientific recognition, and public attention given eugenics in the immediate aftermath of the Preisausschreiben at least suggested to Ploetz, and his two assistant editors, the sociologist and economist Anastasius Nordenholz and the zoologist Ludwig Plate, that a more organized and 'strictly scientific' manner of discourse on the subject was possible.
Without openly admitting it, the editors of the 'Archiv' sought to establish a more clearly focused, and academically prestigious form of the 'Politisch-anthropologische Revue' - a journal that occasionally carried articles on eugenics-related issues, but was not taken seriously by some professionals because of its unmistakably völkisch tone.
Johann Gottlieb Fichte
The völkisch movement had its origins in Romantic nationalism, as it was expressed by early Romantics such as Johann Gottlieb Fichte in his 'Reden an die deutsche Nation', 1808 - especially the eighth address, 'What is a Volk, in the higher sense of the term, and what is love of the fatherland ?', where he answered his question of what could warrant the noble individual's striving 'and his belief in the eternity and the immortality of his work,' by replying that it could only be that 'particular spiritual nature of the human environment out of which he himself, with all of his thought and action... has arisen, namely the people from which he is descended and among which he has been formed and grown into that which he is"'. The movement combined patriotic interest in German folklore, local history and a 'back-to-the-land' anti-urban populism. In part this ideology was a revolt against modernity. The dream was for a self-sufficient life lived with a mystical relation to the land; it was a reaction to the cultural alienation of the Industrial revolution and the 'progressive' liberalism of the later 19th century and its urbane materialist banality. The racial element in  völkisch philosophy meant that is was, in its later development, strongly associated with eugenics and racial hygiene.
The 'Archiv' sought to attract a wide variety of articles bearing on the 'optimal' preservation and development of the race.
It included entries not only by Germany's prominent race hygienists, but also from individuals who in no sense considered themselves eugenicists.
Most of the articles appearing in the journal during the Wilhelmine period fall into one of five categories: technical articles dealing with genetics and evolution by such leading biologists as Weismann, Plate, Ziegler, Richard Semon, Carl Correns, Hugo de Vries, Erich von Tschermak, and Wilhelm Johannsen; entries concerned with so-called degenerative phenomena (insanity, alcoholism etc.); articles preoccupied with the dysgenic effects of certain social institutions and practices (medicine, welfare, etc.) and the social and economic costs of 'protecting the weak'; studies pertaining to the need for population increase, and the hazards of neo-Malthusianism; and a number of anthropological contributions, including high-quality entries from the eminent anthropologist Franz Boas.
Thomas Robert Malthus
Thomas Robert Malthus FRS (13 February 1766 – 29 December 1834) was an English cleric and scholar, influential in the fields of political economy and demography. Malthus himself used only his middle name Robert. In his book 'An Essay on the Principle of Population', Malthus observed that an increase in a nation's food production improved the wellbeing of the populace, but the improvement was temporary because it led to population growth, which in turn restored the original per capita production level. In other words, mankind had a propensity to utilize abundance for population growth rather than for maintaining a high standard of living, a view that has become known as the 'Malthusian trap' or the 'Malthusian spectre'. Populations had a tendency to grow until the lower class suffered hardship and want and greater susceptibility to famine and disease, a view that is sometimes referred to as a Malthusian catastrophe. Malthus wrote in opposition to the popular view in 18th-century Europe that saw society as improving and in principle as perfectible. He saw population growth as being inevitable whenever conditions improved, thereby precluding real progress towards a utopian society: 'The power of population is indefinitely greater than the power in the earth to produce subsistence for man'.
Besides publishing rather specialized and lengthy articles, the 'Archiv' also tried to keep its readers abreast of developments in eugenics through its numerous book reviews and announcements.
Its volumes were substantial - the four quarterly issues together often totaled more than six hundred pages.
Its national and international reputation as a highly respected scholarly publication notwithstanding, the journal did little to spread the eugenics gospel in Germany beyond the small group of professionals already committed to the new discipline.
The second institutional development was the formation of the 'Gesellschaft fur Rassenhygiene' (Society for Race Hygiene) - the world's first professional eugenics organization.
Founded in Berlin on 22 June 1905 by Ploetz, Nordenholz, the psychiatrist Ernst Rudin (who was also Ploetz's former brother-in-law), and the ethnologist Richard Thurnwald, the society had as its aim 'the study of the relationship of selection and elimination among individuals as well as the inheritance and variability of their physical and mental traits'.
There is little doubt that Ploetz always intended the society, which had begun with only twenty-four members, to be international.
Since the word Rasse was frequently used by Ploetz as a synonym for 'white race', any race hygiene society worthy of the name had to transcend national boundaries and embrace individuals from all white 'civilized' nations, yet it was not until 1907 that the Gesellschaft was able to attract anyone from other countries, at which time it became the 'Internationale Gesellschaft fur Rassenhygiene'.
Two local groups of the Gesellschaft, in Berlin and Munich, were formed soon after.
Although the total membership remained small, it also grew steadily, and the occupational and class backgrounds of the members of the two societies continued to mirror those of its founders and leaders.
In both the international and the German society 'Bildungsbiirger' (see above) dominated the membership.
In addition, the medical professionals made up the single largest group in both organizations, accounting for approximately one third of those affiliated with the two societies.
It seems likely that the self-image of German physicians as custodians of the nation's health had much to do with the disproportionate number of prominent physicians, hygienists, and professors of medicine in the early movement.
Of the academics from other fields enrolled in the two societies, most were professors of zoology and anthropology.
In addition to Ernst Haeckel (see above) and August Weismann, who as honorary members probably did not participate much in its activities, the Deutsche Gesellschaft included such distinguished biologists as Ludwig Plate, Heinrich Ernst Ziegler, and Erwin Baur.
The writings of Wilhelmine Germany's race hygienists exhibit some common themes and concerns. The primary intellectual preoccupation of the early movement was with collecting and analyzing data on degeneration.
The psychiatrist Ernst Riidin wrote numerous studies dealing with the inheritance of insanity - emphasizing the Mendelian nature of the transmission of various kinds of mental disorders.
Gregor Johann Mendel
Gregor Johann Mendel (20 July 1822 – 6 January 1884) was an Austro-German scientist and Augustinian friar and abbot of St. Thomas' Abbey in Brno who gained posthumous fame as the founder of the modern science of genetics. Though farmers had known for centuries that crossbreeding of animals and plants could favor certain desirable traits, Mendel's pea plant experiments conducted between 1856 and 1863 established many of the rules of heredity, now referred to as the laws of Mendelian inheritance. The profound significance of Mendel's work was not recognized until the turn of the 20th century (more than three decades later) with the independent rediscovery of these laws. Erich von Tschermak, Hugo de Vries, Carl Correns, and William Jasper Spillman independently verified several of Mendel's experimental findings, ushering in the modern age of genetics.
Agnes Bluhm, Germany's only prominent female eugenicist, concentrated on proving the degenerative effects of alcohol on future generations, and studying the decreased ability of German women to breastfeed their infants.
Other eugenicists reported on such topics as the increase in venereal disease in large cities, and its impact on the race, and the need to reform Germany's penal code along eugenic lines.
By and large the tone of these studies was scientific, not popular; they seem to have been written less to stir people to action than to communicate abstract information.
Like eugenicists in the United States and Britain, the Germans also analyzed the cost of maintaining the army of the unfit.
The word most often used to describe these individuals was 'Minderwertigen' - a term that literally means 'the less valuable', and was frequently employed as a synonym for non-productive people.
Certainly the 'Umschau', a popular science journal, used the word in this way when, in 1911, it sponsored a written contest entitled: 'What do the inferior elements (Minderwertigen) cost the state and society ?'
Accepting the premise that 'all efforts to improve the environment break down in the face of hereditary sickness and inferiority', the sponsors of the competition suggested to potential contestants that only a reduction in the number of 'minus variants' would allow society to continue to preserve the life of all those living.
In his commentary on the cost of the unfit, Ignaz Kaup, professor of hygiene and member of the Deutsche Gesellschaft, reported on the results of a seminar held to discuss the subject.
Since he doubted that the German people were ready to accept American-style sterilization methods as a means of alleviating the problem, some way of physically separating the 'unfit' from the rest of society was necessary.
False humanitarian considerations were not appropriate, since 'all forward-striving nations had the duty to ease the burden of the cost of the inferior as much as possible.'
Recognizing that the Minderwertigen were a financial burden to the state who "despite the expenditure paid out on their behalf are almost never in the position during their working lives to repay the money spent on them," Kaup recommended the creation of work colonies, where they could be prevented from having inferior children and could be made to earn their keep at the same time.
At this time, however, most German eugenicists would have been satisfied with some form of permanent institutionalization.
As World War I approached, a third emphasis of the Wilhelmine eugenics movement came to the fore: 'Bevolkerungspolitik' (population policy).
While Germany's eugenicists did, of course, aim at instituting a eugenically healthy qualitative population policy, there was a marked tendency throughout the last years of the Second Reich to view the prevention of a decline in population growth as an important measure in its own right.
As early as 1904 Alfred Grotjahn spoke of the 'growth of population quantity' as the 'conditio sine qua non of a rational prophylaxis against degeneration'.
Later the issue had become more pressing: as Schallmayer put it in 1915, arresting population decline was nothing short of 'a matter of survival for the German nation'.
In order to understand why German eugenicists became obsessed with the population question, it is worth briefly considering the pre-war demographic, social, and political changes in Germany that colored their intellectual perspective.
On the surface there seemed little cause for alarm.
Wilhelmine Germany was the second most populous country in Europe; it had also witnessed a very substantial population increase of twenty-four million people between 1871 and 1910.
Yet this healthy population growth owed far more to the dramatic decline in the death rate, particularly the infant mortality rate, than to a growth in fertility, indeed Germany, like all Western industrialized nations, experienced a steady birth-rate decline during the last third of the nineteenth and first third of the twentieth centuries.
Between 1902 and 1914, for example, the Reich suffered an 8.3 per thousand drop in the number of live births.
This, and the steady decline in the excess of births over deaths after 1902 gave statisticians and eugenicists cause to expect an eventual population standstill, or even a decline.
Many sought to account for Germany's declining birthrate; however much their explanations differed, all investigators agreed on two points: that the actual decline in population growth was less frightening than the prospect that Germany's situation might soon begin to mirror French demographic realities, and that the drop in the birthrate was deliberate, and was directly related to the practice of birth control methods advanced by supporters of neo-Malthusianism (see Malthus - above).

to be continued....

for more information about Rassenhygiene see: