The Diamond Anniversary of Dehumanization
By Bruce Walker
January 5, 2009
Seventy-five years ago, on January 1, 1934, one of the most insidious laws in human history came into effect in Nazi Germany. The innocent sounding name was The Law for the Prevention of Hereditary Diseased Offspring. It was the ghastly pinnacle of an unholy theory of human eugenics. Darwinism - not the Theory of Evolution, per se, but the sinister notion that natural selection made God superfluous - liberated man from his obligation to treat fellow men as special creatures in a divinely ordered universe.
In 1915, Canon McClure in his book, Germany's War Inspirers, noted how Germans slid toward eugenics as a replacement for traditional religion. He talks of people openly calling for eugenics having "strong claims to become an orthodox religious tenet of the future" and "Eugenics becoming a religious dogma among mankind." He also noted that the nihilist Nietzsche was a "pioneer of eugenics."
In his 1943 book, We Have Seen Evil, Rom Landau notes that Germany before the First World War showed a nation that was already close to the brink of spiritual emptiness: "The antidote to the precariousness of the new present and the hopelessness of the future was sought by experimenting with unending sensual thrills - from drink and drugs to every form of sexual excess...The license in sexual life revealed a sensual depravity that had always been there but had been kept disguised."
Margaret Sanger, about this time, had advocated treating humans no differently than cattle. She was a member of the Socialist Party in America. Like Hitler and other true socialists, Sanger believed in the perfectibility of man by man. Inextricably linked to this was an embrace of reproductive morality in general as simply a plastic concept of invented principles. This included support of the wholesale practice of "medical" abortions in New York decades before Roe v. Wade, as described in Suicide Bent, a 1945 book by David Goldstein.
Like Sanger, the Germans before Hitler had come to power had adopted the same sort of looseness and apathy about human reproduction and procreation. Pierre Vienot, in his 1934 book, Is Germany Finished? wrote of German society before the Nazis came to power:
"It really represents a moral transformation: the discarding of the notion of morality in sexual matters...sexual life, especially among the younger generation, is no longer regarded in itself from the standpoint of sin...the majority of girls, even in the middle class, look upon themselves as totally free."
The same German people who gave Hitler power, long before that fatal step, repudiated all those values associated with the sacredness of human life, all those Judeo-Christian morals connected to the idea of man as made in the image of God, all those divisions of man from beast. It was an easy step from the irreligious character of pre-Nazi Germany to The Law for the Prevention of Hereditary Diseased Offspring.
Many people around the world applauded this forced sterilization of "Life unworthy of life." It was such a tantalizingly simple shift: We, humans, are both animals and gods; some of us are more animals and others of us are more gods; we, not Providence, make the future; we, the wisest and the best, will be fruitful and inhabit posterity; they, the defective and the worst, will be left behind in our manmade evolution to some manmade Heaven. Why should disease be carried from generation to generation? If we are farm animals, then there is no reason. The Nazis, along with all the other socialists and Leftists on the planet, have always thought of us as just animals.
The Nazis moved, quite logically, along the path of improving the stock of the human race. In his 1941 book, Education for Death: The Making of the Nazi, Gregor Ziemer describes the great care given to the right stock of boys and girls to breed and the forced sterilization of the wrong stock of boys and girls. This was more than simply Nazi policy: It was the almost inevitable consequence of a German people which had long since abandoned all faith in God.
Then quickly followed the most patently horrific aspects of a latently horrific viewpoint: Why not just kill the Jews? Why allow Gypsies to exist? What purpose did Slavic people have? If we are all merely farm animals, one animal must be the farmer. Why not the German people? Why not the Nazi Party? Once the sanctity of life is abandoned, there is no trajectory but free fall to ethical oblivion.
Where are we today? Abortion is so commonplace in the civilized world that only something like postnatal infanticide faintly stirs our conscience. Assisted suicide, human cloning, and every attainable gap which once separated us from the rest of Creation has been breached with delight. We are part of the earth, part of the Animal Kingdom, part of Mother Earth so worshipped by the Nazis.
Ancient Judaism has a beautiful allegory: When the dirtiest beggar walks down the darkest alley in the world, he is preceded by a herald of angels, proclaiming to everything before him: "Make way! Make way for the image of the Lord!" Christianity believes that man was so special in the universe that God was born as man, walked as man, and died as man. This system of fidelity to human life is the only anchor which we have against the feral mask of nature. God plants, God culls, God brings forth life. When we reject that truth, we reject our own souls. After that always comes vast, numb, black evil.
Bruce Walker is a long-time conservative writer whose work is published regularly at popular conservative sites such as American Thinker.