The City as Godparent

An interesting experiment has been introduced in the city of Berlin, the "Ehrenpatenschaft." Families with two or three children may, if they decide to have a third or fourth, go to a city office and declare their intention. If within the term of two years the child is born, the city will stand godparent. This implies a present of 30 marks (48s.) a month until the end of the first year and 20 marks (32s.) a month subsequently until the end of the fourteenth year. If the child himself or an elder brother or sister dies, the fund ceases, but may be continued again with the birth of an additional child. Only legitimate children may receive the gift. If twins or triplets are born, all are covered. The gift is independent of the financial position of the family. It is not a form of social support, but a gift of honour. For no official purpose, e.g. for calculation of income tax, is it to be reckoned as part of the income of the family. The family and the child bear the honourable titles of "Patenfamilie" and "Patenkind der Stadt Berlin." They receive precedence in applications for flats and dwellings, for jobs and posts of whatever kind where the influence of the city authorities can make itself felt. The city even pledges itself to use its influence on their behalf in other parts of Germany, should the family move. The family has to be "of high biological value," and the conditions for this seem to be a slightly stricter form of the conditions for the marriage loan.

    In considering all these eugenic measures, particularly the sterilization and marriage laws, one must not forget that their compulsory character is nothing strange to the German people. These are but two of a multitude of such laws. All the German's actions are governed and regulated. His scheme of education, what views he may express - even in the scientific world – what wireless programme he may listen to, where and what he may buy and eat and read, how he may sign his letters and say good morning to his friends, are governed by law or by a form of persuasion resting on force. The future development of the German people has been decided, on theoretical and philosophical grounds, by its leaders. The German's duty is to be moulded in the right direction. Any leadership among the people, apart from the disciplined and subordinate leadership of the type of the non-commissioned officer, is rigidly suppressed. The Führer directs with a series of ukases. With successive hammer-blows the German citizen is driven into a swastika-shaped hole. The atmosphere of compulsion pervades the whole of his life. The fact that he and his fellow men are now to be selected and bred like a herd of cattle seems to him hardly more distasteful than a hundred other interferences in his daily life. There is little doubt that these measures will have at least a partial success. If commanded with authority the German docilely obeys. The command now is to breed.


1. Grundsätze fur die Einrichtung und Tätigkeit der Eheberatungsstellen fur Erb- und Rassenpflege, Reichs- und Preussische Ministerium des Inneren.

2. "Einige fur den Psychiater besonders wichtige Bestimmungen des Gesetzes zur Verhutung erbkranken Nachwuchses," H. Luxenburger, Nervenarzt, p. 437, 1934.

3. Der Begriff der 'Belastung' in der Eheberatungstätigkeit des Arztes, H. Luxenburger, Erbarzt, 1935.

4. "Wichtige Entscheidungen aus der Rechtsprechung der Erbgesundheitsgerichte und Erbgesundheitsobergerichte,” A. Bostroem, Fortschritte der Neurologie und Psychiatrie, July 1935.

5. "2 Jahre Erbgesundheitsgesetz-1 ½ Jahre Erbgesundheitsgerichtsbarkeit," B. Steinwallner, Psychiatrisch-Neurologische Wochenschrift, July 1935.

6. " Wer ist erbgesund und wer ist erbkrank?" Klein,  Verlag G. Fischer, Jena, 1935.