ID# 1867:
"German Eugenics in Practice," by Eliot Slater, Eugenics Review (vol. 27:4), ambivalent review of sterilization and marriage laws
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Cold Spring Harbor, ERO, The Eugenics Review, 27

&quote;German Eugenics in Practice,&quote; by Eliot Slater, Eugenics Review (vol. 27:4), ambivalent review of sterilization and marriage laws

290 The Eugenics Review between English criminal law and German sterilization law. One completed trial does not protect against a second charge for the same "offence." In the case of the three imbeciles, there may be grounds for assuming the influence on social psychiatry of the nationalist-socialist [italics]Weltanschauung.[end italics]. Those "zuverl[umlaut over 'a']ssige und treue Arbeitskr[umlaut over 'a']fte" and useful members of the "Volksgemeinschaft" are perhaps members of the party, and have domenstrated in that way their social desirability and suitability for procreation. This is pure supposition, but would at least be congruous. One notes that the law in its operation is tender of the merely stupid. Mental defect appears to have to be of considerable degree before becoming operative as a ground for sterilization. One remembers political speeches in which intelligence is rudely decried, and the ideal for the people is held out to be physical health and a capacity for unquestioning, uncritical obedience. For such a make-up, too high a degree of intelligence would be, if anything, a disadvantage. With this official attitude, the whole attitude towards mental defect is bound to undergo a change. Of the first importance to the German Government is that every citizen should be a good National-Socialist. While no hereditary constitutional tendency to national-socialism has yet been demonstrated, one may hardly blame the judges for attempting to estimate the value of the individual as a whole. One case is known to me where hospital authorities arranged that an officer in the S.A. should not be sterilized merely for a slight attack of dementia praecox. As far as my information goes, the operation of the sterilization law is likely to prove castly. On an average it costs per woman 1,000 marks ([british pound sign]80) and 100-200 marks ([british pound sign]8-[british pound sign]16) each for men, inclusive of operation charges. In cases where there is an appeal, or where the patient is held in a psychiatric clinic for some weeks' observation, the cost would be considerably higher. The whole of these charges are borne by the State, which must mean, at the present rate of sterilization, a sum of about [british pound sign]2,000,000 a year. The patient, even if wealthy, pays nothing himself. Certain alterations are possible in the law. Criminals are not covered by it. It is very possible that a special law will be brought into force to cover them, or certain classes of them, which will be called by a different name, be administered by different officers, have a different procedure. Criminals were purposely omitted from the present sterilization law, as far as possible to obviate the idea that sterilization is a sort of punishment. There is no foundation for the idea, sometimes found outside Germany, that the law is administered in a partial way as a punishment for political offenders. There are other possible enlargements - e.g. to include the children of two recessive parents, and the monozygotic twin of a person already ordered to be sterilized. This could be taken as an improvement in the justice of the law. The phenotypically healthy twin is at least as dangerous eugenically as the sick twin. Further it is possible that there may be a new clause allowing voluntary sterilization to those individuals who, according to current conceptions, would be regarded as certainly heterozygotic, e.g. the children of a schizophrenic. This is hardly probable. The possibility that the law, at this date, may be converted into a law for voluntary sterilization altogether may be disregarded. It does not lie in the national-socialist philosophy to consider the possibility of getting anything done by voluntary effort. Apart from possible changes in the law, there is a possibility of a new orientation in its application. The appeal cases show that the law is not absolutely hard and fast, but that its administrators tend to be governed by other considerations than merely the diagnosis and fertility of the person concerned. This is illustrated by the case of a musician in Frankfurt-am-Main, a man of unusual musical ability, who had an attack of mania or depression and was ordered to be sterilized. He appealed against the order, and the appeal was allowed on the grounds that unusual hereditary (here musical) talent compensated, as it were, for the manic-depressive taint. This seems to me to indicate an alteration of the official attitude, [end]

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