Marriage Laws and the Principles of Breeding
by Richard Walther Darré
Introduction by Max Musson
RICHARD Walther Darré, (1895-1953), was head of the department of Rassen und Siedlugsamt [Race and Settlement] in the SS in 1931. He became Minister of Agriculture for the German Reich in 1933, and Reichsbauernführer [Reich’s Peasant Leader] in 1934.
This article primarily consists of extensive excerpts from a chapter entitled, ‘Die Grundgedanken der Zuchtaufgaben und die Ehegesetze’ [Marriage Laws and the Principles of Breeding] from a book entitled, ‘Neuadel aus Blut und Boden’ [A New Aristocracy Based on Blood and Soil] written by Darré, [Munich: Lehmann Verlag, 1930] pp 127-144.
As a young man Darré initially joined the Artaman League, a Völkisch German youth-group committed to the back-to-the-land movement. In this context he began to develop the idea of a connection between the future of the Germanic people and the soil: the tendency which became known as “Blut und Boden”. Here “Blut” (blood) represents race or ancestry, while “Boden” expresses the concepts of soil, territory, or land. The essence of the theory involved the mutual and long-term relationship between a people and the land they occupy and cultivate.
Darré’s two main writings were ‘Das Bauerntum als Lebensquell der nordischen Rasse’ [The Peasantry as Life Source of the Nordic Race], which was published in 1929 and as already mentioned, ‘Neuadel aus Blut und Boden’ published in 1930.
Below, we can read Darré’s ideas regarding marriage laws that he believed played a vital role in creating the social order which shaped the German peasantry and which was responsible for maintaining the genetic quality of the nation through the preservation of its predominantly Nordic character.
This reproduction of Darré’s work is not an unqualified endorsement of his ideas, as he is of his time and makes two disparaging references to ‘Slavs’, which reflect a narrowly Nordic/Germanic perspective which is no longer appropriate in my view, not in 2016 and not for some considerable time. [These, omitted here, were in any case largely obviated by later National Socialist doctrine. — Ed.] Through reading Darré’s work, however, it is possible to gain a more informed appreciation of the evolution of ideas regarding race and ethnicity and of the effect of customs and morality upon the life of a nation.
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Marriage Laws and the Principles of Breeding
The German Empire will not rise again until the good German blood rises again. – Ruedolf
“It annoys me to see how much trouble is taken to cultivate pineapples, bananas and other exotic plants in this rough climate, when so little care is given to the human race. Whatever people say, a human being is more valuable than all the pineapples in the world. He is the plant we must breed; he deserves all our trouble and care, for he is the ornament and the glory of the Fatherland” — Frederick the Great
DOUBTLESS if Frederick the Great had the misfortune to be our contemporary, the host of his historic enemies would have been swelled by a group of Germans who would damn him utterly for his audacity in wanting to apply the laws of horticulture to the human race. For today it is part of the intellectual equipment of the ‘complete idealist’ that he views the application to mankind of any breeding principles, learned from the world of plant and animal husbandry, as an expression of the worship of material things and regards such as ‘materialism’ in the worst sense of the word.
This kind of negative attitude towards the application of principles of ‘breeding’ to mankind is generally rooted in ideological considerations. Let me say something about that now, because one cannot very well create an aristocracy without somehow subjecting it to principles of breeding.
The fact that today’s German sees any effort to link questions of breeding with those of the public good as contrary to idealism, is in itself a peculiarity in intellectual history. What these Germans now condemn was for centuries considered by our people to be an expression of custom and morality. It is perhaps even more peculiar that this is happening in a people which as recently as about a century ago would not permit an apprentice to become a master unless he could show proof of his unobjectionable descent; nor could he retain the rank of master if he chose a woman of unknown or undesirable origin as his wife.
In Germany until well into the nineteenth century, not only the nobility, but also groups of craftsmen and Germanic peasants very consciously pursued a policy of selective breeding. It is surprising to discover in the old traditions the extent to which German marriage laws were filled with wisdom about the interdependence of blood and culture, especially in those cases where the Germans intentionally erected a blood barrier… Today our people seem to have lost all this wisdom, and we have carelessly gone so far that he who points out the need to pay attention to such things runs the risk of antagonising some of the best of our people.
Today, antagonism begins quite often with a certain excitement about the word breeding. But it is not so that the application of this term to human propagation represents something new and previously only applied plant or animal husbandry! No, in earlier times the word ‘breeding’ was used for every living thing; only later did this term almost fall into disuse regarding mankind, albeit remaining in use for plants and animals.
The derivation of the word Zucht [breeding, cultivation] is very clear, too: Our word Zucht belongs to the verb ziehen [to pull, to draw, to grow]. One of the meanings of the verb ziehen is illuminated by the usage das und das ziehen [to grow such and such], in the sense of ‘to cultivate’, züchten.
Old High German zuhtig — pregnant, with child — is derived from the same verb stem; in Middle High German it was still zühtic — polite, well-bred — but having the essential meaning of ‘fertile’, ‘fruitbearing’.
The component in ziehen meaning ‘cultivation’, can also be shown in its Germanic prototypes: Dutch tucht, Afrikaans tocht – procreativity, procreation; Gothic ustaùhts – completion (Weigand, Deutsches Wörterbuch). In this way usages in Middle High German such as Züchten to mean “chastity” are explained. A züchtige maiden was thus not one who ignored sex, but a girl always conscious of her ‘obligation to breed’.
For our ancestors, zucht applied within the framework of accepted possibilities, to the procreation of all things. Therefore the opposite of Zucht in this sense was Unzucht, unchaste behaviour — prostitution. Unzucht was applied to all sexual actions which grossly violated the limits placed upon sexual intercourse by popular morality and custom.
It must be emphasised that the word Unzucht has been differently understood in the course of German cultural history. Thus, for example, our ancestors did not describe illegitimacy as ‘unchaste’ if nothing disadvantageous could be inferred from the descent of the parents of the child in question; such behaviour was perhaps improper, perhaps even immoral (at least in the view of the Christian church), but in no way unchaste.
Today, on the contrary, a person who gives birth to an illegitimate child is punishable by civil law, that is, indirectly punishable, since illegitimacy is grounds for divorce, and therefore, strictly speaking, is considered unchaste. . . .
Züchtung [breeding] is the applied knowledge of heredity. It is unimportant whether this knowledge of heredity has been gained by belief in a divine creation of the clan, or by belief in descent from an original ancestor, by observation of human life, or by all of these factors together (as was obviously the case with our forefathers); or whether one uses modern instruments, like calipers, a tape measure, a magnifying glass, or learned experiments and calculations to establish that physical and mental abilities are indeed hereditary — that human beings are hereditarily different.
The fact that until well into the nineteenth century, the whole status system and social order of our people was founded in class equivalence in marriage is enough to show clearly that our people had been inspired by the idea of breeding (in the earliest sense of the term) for one and a half millennia – and this in spite of Christianity, which circumstance is really the greatest peculiarity.
Each class consciously engaged in breeding: each class supervised its own procreation by rejecting in marriage the next of kin and selecting from among other suitable potential mates.
It does not matter whether the model for selection was firmly anchored in the consciousness, easily grasped, as it were, in material terms (and underlying racial evaluations)… or whether it was only an indirect result of mental and physical merits of more immediate importance (such as might come up, for example, in evaluating a young woman as a potential housewife, etc.). In either case they understood the significance of a woman’s genetic inheritance and its impact upon future of the clan and tried to the best of their knowledge and ability to protect from harm the institution of marriage, which determined the clan’s future progress, for good or ill.
If therefore, until about a hundred years ago, no journeyman – not to speak of nobleman or urban patrician – could become master without having proved that he was born in ‘legal wedlock’, and that the same was true for his four grandparents, it proves that for one and a half millennia German culture consciously built upon the concept of breeding: a concept of breeding which controlled the legal order and was itself conditioned by it, and which must be seen as the rock upon which the culture of the German people rested, as if created for eternity.
It therefore shows either simple thoughtlessness or serious ignorance of the history of German culture and customs when Germans among us today attack the science of heredity, arguing that it is spiritually degrading to use the term ‘breeding’ – this concept ‘appropriate to animals’ – in connection with the German people.
The old German marriage law, in combination with the aims of breeding and with the prerogatives of class, worked on the one hand as a filter which permitted procreative freedom only to that blood which had been tested in constructive work; and on the other hand, acted as a safety device, protecting that tested blood against the rigours of life such that the founding families and their offspring would not suffer.
This old German marriage law was the wall which protected valuable German humanity, which kept those of lower quality stock outside the German social order and limited very considerably their opportunities to reproduce themselves, even sometimes making it impossible.
It must be emphasised that the present burgeoning of lower quality stock (which caused the North American Lothrop Stoddard to write his well-known work, The Revolt Against Civilization: The Menace of the Under-Man, and has made our geneticists look for the cause of the population excess among those of inferior and undesirable stock, that is, those of poorer stock that influence the German social order in an undesirable way) could only become a problem to the German people when, about a hundred years ago, Hardenberg embarked upon a course which inevitably led to the current dissolution of all marriage restrictions. Read what Freiherr vom Stein, with his clear understanding of the casual interrelationships within the German people, prophesied as the result of these insane measures: it is easy to see that our present situation is solely the result of having at that time turned away from German views of marriage, thereby creating the conditions for the rank proliferation of inferiors of all colours. When today people talk about the ‘birth-rate war among the races’ as the cause of decline, they are confusing cause and effect.
Every legal order has not only an educational effect, but also an effect upon the breeding of the people as a whole, even if this is not always apparent to the individual.
The social order is the formal expression of the law, brought alive. To use an analogy from natural science: the social order burns up as fuel the residual values of the people. In this sense, it is more important that something is burned up, than what is burned up. This ‘what’ determines the ‘how’ of the social order, which is directly dependent upon the legal order. Therefore one can say that the legal order has a significant and decisive effect upon the hereditary characteristics of a people, since it determines which human characteristics are furthered and which are limited or even eliminated.
The form of the law in turn is therefore an expression of a certain world view. So we get the following chain of causes and effects: world view – legal order – social order – breeding – human physical characteristics. As applied to our people this means: Christianity and the late Roman Empire changed the world view of the Germanic peoples; hand in hand with this change went a change in legal concepts in an un-German direction; it is therefore, as demonstrated above, thoroughly logical that German culture and the physical characteristics of the German people are being increasingly displaced by un-Germanic elements.
Wildhagen (in his excellent The English National Character) describes how the selective and therefore moulding capability of the English social order, which has its foundations in old Saxon law, was not necessarily determined by English history. Of course neither the developments that we observe in a thousand years of English history nor the present English social order produced the Englishman as he is today. It is rather the case that the Englishman had within himself the power to endow his political life with a legal order which through its fixing of a goal and its selective effects created a social order which by itself kept the original Germanic humanity of the Anglo-Saxons alive. This social order was to some extent able to maintain itself surprisingly unchanged up to the present and also to respond to external challenges in a reasonably consistent manner.
He who leaves the plants in a garden to themselves will soon find to his surprise that the garden is overgrown by weeds and that even the basic character of the plants has changed. If therefore the garden must remain the breeding ground for the plants, in other words, it is to lift itself above the harsh rule of natural forces, then the forming will of a gardener is necessary. A gardener who by providing suitable conditions for growing, or by keeping harmful influences away, or by both together, carefully tends what needs tending, and ruthlessly eliminates the weeds which would deprive the better plants of nutrition, air, light and sun. Therefore, speaking now of the folk, this was what the old German legal order intended, whose weeding and tending (which no doubt arose out of the blood consciousness of the Germanic peoples, and based on an ideological foundation) created the conditions of existence needed for all life and growth.
Thus we are facing the realisation that questions of breeding are not trivial political issues, but that they must be at the centre of all considerations, and that their answers must follow from the spiritual, and from the ideological attitude of a people. We must even assert that a people can only reach spiritual and moral equilibrium if a well-conceived breeding plan lies at the very centre of its culture …
It has become apparent that what we call human culture and what ‘history’ shows as its essential meaning were obviously dependent on some very specific races and still are. Thus the concept of race left the purely scientific realm and began to become an instrument in evaluating people in relation to culture and customs. This racial theory was developed by ethnology; today applied ethnology is already attempting to utilise the findings of ethnology for human society.
Actually the procedures of this evaluation should be very simple. If it can be established that this or that race is exclusively or predominantly responsible for creating a culture, and that the condition and persistence of this culture depend upon the race concerned, then basically the task is very easy: that the race, upon which the culture to be sought or maintained depends, is to be preserved and furthered. But strangely enough this simple conclusion is drawn by only a few; even fewer are those who set forward demands based on it. A great proportion of the ethnologists, together with a correspondingly large audience, want to transfer the scientists’ objectivity toward natural phenomena to races and cultural questions as well. But we are evading life itself if we are unwilling, or no longer able, to express our opinion of life …
Today we pursue only population increase, not breeding. We are surprised that German culture more and more disappears. But the general public in Germany is already too cowardly – for ultimately it is a question of cowardice! – to analyse these phenomena and find their causes. Or has the logical ability of the German people already diminished so much that it can no longer recognise the causes? Population increase alone is of no use at all; the important thing is the heredity of the children. But if we could ask our children what they have to say about this, they could only answer:
We are becoming fewer and fewer!
We are declining in quality!
And thus our current customs stand condemned: they are useless! That is the truth!
Let us at least have the courage to admit at last that it is the truth, and that fine speeches about our ‘belief in Germany’s future’ and similar notions do not help at all, even if made in frock coat, top hat and officially; we are helped even less by sentimental sermons on the evils of modernity and the superiority of a pure and noble German soul.
Let us return to the customs of our forefathers: they sufficed to keep German culture alive for one and a half millennia. Let us re-educate our young women to a full understanding of the old German concept of Züchtigkeit [chastity].
For our ancestors it was not that bashful girl who had no knowledge of sex who was züchtig [chaste], but she who consciously prepared herself to become a mother and as a mother to rule over a large number of children. Having children, for these women, was not an exercise of their right of self-determination, but a fulfilment of their responsibility to the next generation; for them, service to the clan was a guiding principle of life: their task was the preservation, advancement and proliferation of their kind. These women knew about breeding and it was for them a matter of pride.
They did not feel degraded to the level of ‘brood-mare’, as is the silly objection voiced today by those who apparently believe the much vaunted ‘personal freedom’ of women to mean only the freedom to taste all the toys of a ‘bedfellow’ at their discretion and preferably without limit.
Instead for our ancestral womenfolk, it was a matter of pride to them, to become the matriarch of a noble clan and to receive confirmation of their worth through the nobility of their sons.
There’s nothing better for a boy than to
Have had a good and noble father and
To marry well. I can’t approve of those
Who go below their station out of love
And compromise their sons through their own lust.
— Euripides, Heraclides
If in our plan to create a new nobility, the concept of marriage includes an appreciation of breeding, we are not importing anything animal-like and unworthy of human beings — we are instead resuming the best spiritual and moral traditions of our ancestors, refined and enhanced through the research and findings of modern genetics. Thus we can repudiate any accusations of ‘materialism’.
Written by Richard Walther Darré, 1930
Interpreted and presented by Max Musson © 2016
Edited by Kevin Alfred Strom