Dr. Franz Hamburger and the Nazi collectivizing of reproduction

“National-Socialism and Medicine” is Hamburger‘s address to the German medical profession. The University of Vienna professor outlines franz_hamburgerthe philosophical basis for the Nazis’ collectivizing medicine, sex, and family life.

Three passages caught my attention.

1. The importance of religion to National Socialist medicine: “we scientists and doctors simply and soberly affirm the principle of strength of faith and the nationalist socialist principle of Positive Christianity.” And: “We doctors must never forget the fact that the soul rules the body. Soul forces are the most important. The spirit builds the body.”

2. In keeping with the generalized Nazi distrust of reason, Hamburger compares favorably the unthinking and trusting Aryan patient to the questioning Jewish patient: “we always meet the desire for a diagnosis placed first by the over-intellectualized Jewish patient. But that is not the case with most Aryan patients. They, from the first, come to meet the doctor with more trust. They do not entertain as many after-thoughts. And I cannot help but remark that after-thoughts are hardly conducive to right results.”BPK 30.000.847

3. The altruistic duty to have large families: “It has been estimated that every couple should have four children if the nation’s population is to be maintained. But we meet already the facile and complacent expression of young married people, ‘Now we have our four children and so have fulfilled our obligations’—What superficiality! Today we must demand a much higher moral attitude from the wife than previously. Earlier it was taken for granted that a woman would bear a child every one or two years. But today in this time of manifold amenities of life, at a time when women is not denied access to these joys it is understandable that she is eager to participate in them. Add to this that the knowledge of birth control is general today. Despite all this women must be encouraged to give birth during twenty years of married life to eight or ten and even more children, and to renounce the above-mentioned joys of life. BPK 30.024.550She must decide as a mother of children to lead a life full of sacrifices, devotion, and unselfishness. It is only when these ethical demands are fulfilled by a large number of worthy wives of good stock that the future of the German nation will be assured.”

To summarize: reproduction is a duty (“obligations”) to the collective (“the nation’s population is to be maintained”), and it must be performed altruistically (“renounce,” “sacrifice,” “unselfishness”). Unthinking trust in authority (e.g., of patients to doctors) is good. And that, according to Hamburger, is the positive, spiritual essence of religion.

The Nazis were able to draw upon a philosophical history in which the summary paragraph’s italicized concepts had cultural power. Nothing Hamburger said was especially controversial in 1930s Germany.


Franz Hamburger, “National-Socialism and Medicine.” Address by Dr. Hamburger to the German Medical Profession. Translated from Wiener Klinische Wochenschrift, 1939, No. 6. Readings on Fascism and National Socialism. Edited by Alan Swallow and other members of the Department of Philosophy, University of Colorado.

The image of Hamburger is as a member of a student fraternity at the University of Heidelberg. The three images of motherhood are taken from the “Children of Nazi Germany” site.

My treatment of National Socialist medicine, sex, family, and eugenic policies is in Section 16 of Nietzsche and the Nazis.

Related: Collectivizing sex — Alexandra Kollontai’s communist version.
“The population evils of capitalism.”

4 thoughts on “Dr. Franz Hamburger and the Nazi collectivizing of reproduction

  • December 30, 2013 at 11:16 pm

    I had not read this before submitting comments on the previous topic, but would repeat my remarks, while observing that Fascism is the contra to Marxism. Marxism depends on atheist values (common sense fair play, Enlightenment views, and some Aristotle, Plato and Stoics) but fails to instill them. It is important to Marxists that the State must be God. Fascism originated after the Bolshevik Revolution and, to call on Christopher Hitchens, “needed the Catholic Church.” Catholicism, it should be noted, is different in France, Italy, Germany, Spain as it adopts local customs. In Mexico it is integrated with old Aztec holidays, in Haiti, a voodoo priest conducts his service at the rear of a Catholic church during mass. The Christmas celebration is little more than the Saturnalia with a creche and fir tree. The evergreen tree denoted the “immortality of the soul” and was done throughout antiquity, most notably in German lands.

    Hitler made a concordat with the Pope (in 1934?) and Mussolini and Franco were no different. But there was no “Nazi religion” as German soldiers wore belts with GOTT MIT UNS and could go to church or do Himmler’s Nordic rituals or indulge in occult or psychic happenings — many believed in reincarnation. The emphasis on race came from the superiority of European civilization, vaguely “Aryan”, and its manifold improvements in art and science. The Catholic Church had the most to gain and the most influence with Fascist governments but that does not make Nazism Christian or pagan. It was a political upheaval against the atheism of the Marxists and the domination of society by “Jewish” elements, by which I would intend “Zionist”, as the Palestine homeland idea was mainly nurtured by the Rothschilds, those war-financiers. Hitler was a lapsed Catholic who paid his church dues right up to the end. Himmler and Goebbels were also RCs. (Germany is mainly Lutheran/Protestant in the North, and in the South, Roman Catholic). We could go back to “His Most Catholic Majesty” Philip II of Spain. It is very handy for kings and dictators to be divinely supplied or approved of. Hitler’s own ideas claimed that “Providence” sent him to redeem the Fatherland. But the horrible religious wars during the Reformation prevented Germany from uniting as had other European countries. Well, there was the “Holy Roman Empire” which Voltaire shrewdly adjudged as “neither holy nor Roman.” Once upon a time all Europeans didn’t say “I’m English…French…&c” but, contrary to the Moslem enemies in Africa, “I am Christian.” There was a kind of charitable religious unity during the Middle Ages. But then, one has to see the Pope as the single most influential politician since the fall of Rome and the Rise of Protestant England.

  • January 3, 2014 at 6:17 am

    Stephen Dahl: Many fascinating facts and insights, but I think Objectivists rightly question the notion that Fascism is the contra to Marxism in any more than a superficial sense.

    Thinking of Hitler German poet and playwright Bertolt Brecht, a Marxist, wrote, “Do not rejoice in his defeat, you men. For though the world has stood up and stopped the bastard, the bitch that bore him is in heat again.”

    Yet Hitler’s carnage, if perhaps more concentrated and virulent, was surpassed in sheer scale by those waving the banner of Marx, though the latter was more hidden from Western eyes by iron and bamboo curtains. While leftist and rightist totalitarians fancied themselves polar opposites – though not above ad hoc alliances such as the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact – they were two offshoots of the same philosophic root and shared the same mystical-collectivist-totalitarian premises. Mussolini, who approvingly coined the term “totalitarian” while disparaging liberalism’s conception of “the nightwatchman state,” began as a socialist and shaped his theory of Fascism deeply influenced by, among others, the syndicalism of Marxist’ Georges Sorel. Later Pol Pot, heavily influenced by the writings of Marx and Lenin, the French Communist party (which he joined as a student in Paris) and Maoism would blend Marxian and rightist völkisch elements into a genocidal program to realize a classless, ethnically pure Khmer society. Marx was focused on class while the rightist movements were focused on race or geneological-cultural groupings and their narratives.

  • January 3, 2014 at 6:27 am

    Here’s one of the final dead ends of the altruist-collectivist mentality, including the welfare state: a propaganda poster for the Nazis Aktion T4 euthanasia program.


    In English translation it reads:

    60000 RM

    This is what this person suffering from hereditary defects costs the Community of Germans during his lifetime.

    Fellow Citizen, that is your money, too

  • January 5, 2014 at 6:44 am

    Ed Fox always makes intelligent ripostes. However, my remarks should in no way condone Fascism, although it might be seen as “the lesser of two evils.” No excuse but Fascism can be tolerated as an interim solution to Marxism, the most depraved political system we know, save anarchy itself. The entire Marxist-Leninist-Trotskyist positions are based on blatant initial lies. The redistribution of wealth comes vaguely from sentimental politics or a misunderstanding of “Christian” provisions : the Bible recommends that “widows, orphans, the sick &c” [my paraphrase] be supported by their neighborly congregations. Marx and Jesus have in many hack diatribes been equated has having the similar sublime aims. No one disagrees with helping the needy, but help cannot be given unless the giver has a “surplus”. The neighbor’s child deserves that last potato no more than one’s own, but, charity ought to begin at home, and go abroad when it is feasible. This does not endorse public charity in which the Government plays God, and worse, one’s neighbor.

    As for Objectivist views, I regard this forum as open to all rational ideas, on which Objectivists hold no monopoly. The great contribution of Ayn Rand was toward the moral justice of the American system, and her metaphysics, in my view, secondary, with the exception of the Romantic Manifesto which should be digested by anyone of artistic bent.

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