Nazis' Pursuit of the Perfect Race

Nazis' Pursuit of the Perfect Race

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Nazis' Pursuit of the Perfect Race


The organization of the argument of this paper is not particularly imaginative since this writer “lists” elements in a strictly sequential order, but he or she demonstrates familiarity with a wide range of documents and concepts of the Reader while working closely with the specific language of the document he or she is presenting.

1. Remember that you are a German.

2. If you are genetically healthy you should not remain unmarried.

3. Keep your body pure.

4. You should keep your mind and spirit pure.

5. As a German choose only a spouse of the same or Nordic blood.

6. In choosing a spouse ask about his ancestors.

7. Health is also a precondition for physical beauty.

8. Marry only for love.

9. Don't look for a playmate but for a companion for marriage.

10. You should want to have as many children as possible." (CR 286)

This document, the "Ten Commandments for Choosing a Spouse" from the "Advice Center for the Improvement of Genetic and Racial Health" of the Aryan society, is a compilation of recommendations to reinforce the position of the "Nazi policy of pursing racial purity" (Ellis, Esler 365). It was published in 1934 as Nazi propaganda to influence the public to move towards the Nazi government's ideal society of Aryans. The problem in executing this plan was that the restrictions placed by the Nazi government against non-citizens caused the marriage rate to decline. In achieving this dream, Hitler tried to redefine gender roles in Nazi Germany in order to return the woman to the household and "restore her to her true profession - motherhood" (Ellis, Esler 365). The "Ten Commandments for Choosing a Spouse" is an example of Hitler's campaign towards his Aryan utopian society. Even though the high school textbook claims that women took secondary roles in Nazi Germany, women were so important to the

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123helpme.com/search.asp?text=nazis">Nazis in realizing their goal of racial purity that they were treated as equals in responsibilities to the Nazi government, society, themselves, and others in matters concerning marriage, as shown by the progression of the "Ten Commandments for Choosing a Spouse" as it reflects the Reich Citizenship Law, the Law for the Protection of German Blood and German Honour, and the Law for the Prevention of Hereditarily Diseased Offspring, Nazi propaganda, and Nazi-approved art.

The First Commandment uses the authority that the Reich Citizenship Law has over the populace in order to establish credibility for the propaganda document itself. The law states in Paragraph Two, Section One: "A citizen of the Reich is ... of German or kindred blood and who, through his conduct, shows that he is both desirous and fit to serve the German people and Reich faithfully" (CR 170). Not only was blood a requirement to be a citizen of the Third Reich, all citizens were required to be Nazi sympathizers; those who were not citizens were oppressed, being little more than lower-class members of society. The high school textbook blames Hitler for launching this "campaign against the Jews" (Ellis, Esler 365), but laws are ineffective unless they are respected. The First Commandment directs the other Commandments to Third Reich citizens by reminding the reader that citizenship is based upon one's following of the Reich. The wording of The First Commandment, "remember that you are a German," uses ethos to convince the reader to remain true to the Nazi government. The word "remember" reiterates that his or her loyalties lie to the Nazi government. This Commandment begins the logical progression by assuming that the reader is German and reaps the benefits of citizenship because he or she is capable of contributing to the Nazi society.

The Second Commandment aimed at attaining the Nazi goal of eugenics, setting forth the societal goal of "purifying" the Aryan race by excluding those of certain characteristics, enforced through the "Law for the Prevention of Hereditarily Diseased Offspring." The Nazis were so determined to achieve this ideal that they even created laws to forbid the unhealthy from reproduction. The Second Commandment states: "if you are genetically healthy you should not remain unmarried." This specifies that only the "genetically healthy" should seek to marry and procreate. Similarly, the law mandated that “anyone who has a hereditary illness can be rendered sterile by a surgical operation if ... there is a strong probability that his/her offspring will suffer from serious hereditary defects of a physical or mental nature” (CR 285). The two key phrases are "can be rendered sterile" and "strong probability." Those with "hereditary illness" were forcibly sterilized unless they submitted themselves to the process. The "strong probability" gave broad boundaries to this law, making the search for the genetically unhealthy similar to McCarthyism. This law tried to impose “Survival of the Fittest” through mandatory sterilization of anyone who did not meet the Aryan standards, thus ending all chances of that person to procreate. The Second Commandment mandates that a "genetically healthy" citizen has a responsibility to society to get married.

The Nazi government used the Third and Fourth Commandments manipulate the definition of purity, both concealing the brainwashing qualities of this propaganda and creating an obligation to the reader to abide by this definition. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, purity is defined as "freedom from any foreign or extraneous element" and "freedom from moral corruption, from ceremonial or sexual uncleanness." The Third Commandment instructs the reader to "keep your body pure." This discourages drug and alcohol usage, requiring the body to be free from foreign substances. This demonstrates the Nazi government's frowning upon decadent lifestyles, as shown in the "Law for the Prevention of Hereditarily Diseased Offspring." It contains the additional clause that "anyone who suffers from chronic alcoholism can be sterilized" (CR 285). The Third Commandment discourages the use of drugs and alcohol, trying to retain the reproductive capacity of healthy Aryans by showing that drug and alcohol usage defies the government. The Third Commandment uses the purity in another sense to demand chastity of Reich citizens. The Nazi government believed that sex "serves the purpose of procreation ... and not the enjoyment of the individual" (CR 282). Purity in this sense involves abstaining from sexual activity and conforming to the government's definition of sex as an act of procreation and not recreation. The Fourth Commandment makes it seem as though one's moral being is at stake by not following the Nazi creed. It states, "you should keep your mind and spirit pure." The mind is associated with thought processes, which encompass personal beliefs. The spirit is defined philosophically as one's incorporeal intelligence. This statement uses pathos in its associations between the mind and the spirit; to be pure, the mind and spirit must be free from foreign matters, including non-Nazi beliefs. The Third and Fourth Commandments imply that an ideal Aryan citizen keeps his or her body free from foreign substances and fornication and refuses foreign ideologies.

The Fifth and Sixth Commandments inform the reader of his or her duty as a citizen to marry within the Aryan race. The Fifth Commandment, about whom to marry, supports the Aryan plan of racial purity while allowing the reader to think that he or she is still in control. It reads: "As a German choose only a spouse of the same or Nordic blood." The Fifth Commandment restricts an Aryan to marry another Aryan in order to keep the Aryan race pure. This Commandment contains the message of the "Law for the Protection of German Blood and German Honour" of September 15, 1935: "Marriages between Jews and citizens of German or kindred blood are forbidden" (CR 169). The phrase "as a German" uses the authority of citizenship to reiterate that one is required by law and society to restrict marriage to those of the approved race, the Aryans. Yet, the Commandment shows the reader that one still has the power to "choose" one's spouse. The word "choose" utilizes logos to convince the reader that, despite the government's involvement, marriages are not assigned and free will is still respected. The Fifth Commandment acknowledges the parameters of spouse choice while being constructed as though the reader's loyalty as a citizen and not the government enforces these laws. The Sixth Commandment transfers the responsibility of selecting an Aryan spouse to the reader, incorporating the Nazi ideology into the standard trust-building process between couples. The banning of all Aryan marriages to a non-citizen as required in the "Law for the Protection of German Blood and German Honor" raised the question of what qualified as a person of Jewish descent. Being Jewish, as defined by "The First Supplementary Decree of the Reich Citizenship Law" of November 14, 1935, is being "one who is descended from two full Jewish grandparents if (a) he belonged to the Jewish religious community at the time this law was issued ... (b) he was married to a Jewish person ... (c) he is the offspring of a marriage with a Jew ... [or] (d) he is the offspring of an extramarital relationship with a Jew" (CR 172). In order to guarantee the race of one's potential spouse, one had to engage in a background check in order to ascertain the spouse’s citizenship, as conveyed in the Sixth Commandment: “in choosing a spouse ask about his ancestors.” “Ask” uses logos to tell the reader that a German citizen is concerned about the racial background of his or her spouse's predecessors and will follow the government’s laws, guaranteeing that his or her future marriage is racially legitimate. Even though one may claim that he or she is a German citizen, the Commandment specifically requests an investigation into the origins of the ancestors to prove through family lineage that the future spouse is completely Aryan. These Commandments show that an Aryan has an objective to look for someone of the same race in order to appease the government and continue racial purity.

The Seventh Commandment encourages health in the reader by defining beauty as health, as depicted in Nazi art, insinuating that one has an obligation to realize one's potential for perfection. The Commandment states: "health is also a precondition for physical beauty." The OED states that the definition of beauty is "perfection in form and coloration which appeals to the intellectual and moral faculties." The Commandment uses pathos by explaining that beauty, which is perfection, can be attained through physical health. It also appeals to logos by saying that perfection in form can only be reached through perfection in physical health. In this statement's rhetoric, the Nazi government encourages Aryans to be healthy, making them perfect for eugenics, in order to be desirable. A visual depiction of the ideal Aryan woman is created in Ernst Liebermann’s “By the Water” (Moeller), illustrating how, as the high school text mentions, "Nazis used the arts ... as propaganda tools" (Ellis, Esler 365). The focus of the image is upon three naked women in the foreground in front of a serene lake. It can be assumed that these women are Aryan because they have a light skin tone and brown hair. The portrayed women are naked to show off their beauty through their physical perfection. They are free from deformity, as the viewer can see from their exposure. Their naked bodies are statuesque with defined muscle tone; their bareness only accentuates their state of health. These women are depicted outside of the social sphere in a beautiful, uncivilized lake setting. One of the women is drying herself, suggesting that these women have bathed in the unadulterated water. These women have washed away the old burdens of society by separating themselves from society itself. This is symbolic, showing that these Aryan women have cleansed themselves of their roles in the Second Reich. These women, even though they are naked, are portrayed in a non-sexual manner. Though men may have been allured by their figures, this lack of sexuality shows that the target audience was other Nazi women. Through such propaganda art aimed at the women of the Third Reich as "By The Water," the Nazi government illustrates acceptable candidates for procreation, creating a visualization of the goals created in the Seventh Commandment.

According to the Eighth and Ninth Commandments, there are certain parameters that must be met in a relationship before it can end in happiness and marriage. The Eighth Commandment tries to convince the reader to marry in order to establish a stable marriage through mutual romantic feelings and not for extrinsic motivations. It instructs to "marry only for love." The use of the word "love" utilizes pathos, invoking all of the images associated with love. This idealizes the state of marriage, supporting the belief that marriage is the proof of one's love. The Nazi marriage, however, is not based solely upon love but upon following the marriage and citizenship laws. According to Nazi propaganda, marriage is defined as "the lasting, life-long union of two genetically healthy persons of the same race and of different sexes, which has been approved by the national community, and is based on mutual ties of loyalty, love and respect" (CR 282). This narrows the scope of marrying for love, requiring both partners to be "of the same race," be "genetically healthy," and have the consent of the government, the "national community." Based upon this definition, the Nazis suggest that, in order to fulfill their goal of racial purity, love cannot exist when it is illegal by citizenship laws or disapproved by eugenics. The Ninth Commandment asks that the reader focus upon getting married instead of having frivolous encounters. It requests: "don't look for a playmate but for a companion for marriage." It encourages the reader to remain focused upon the goal of marriage instead of finding someone with whom to share sexual relations. It reinforces the regulation of sex in order to limit its function to procreation, following the Nazi definition of sex: "sexual activity serves the purpose of procreation for the maintenance of the life of the nation and not the enjoyment of the individual" (CR 282). If the Nazi government is to be believed, pursuing sexual intercourse for pleasure is a perversion of its function. The rhetoric of the Ninth Amendment supports this definition by asking the mature from seeking a "playmate" to a "companion," contrary to the high school text that reports that "Nazis sought to limit women's roles." A playmate, according to the OED definition, is "a person with whom one exercises and occupies oneself." In this sense, a playmate is a partner for sexual intercourse. The definition, augmented by the connotation of childhood play, makes this sex a juvenile activity. A companion is defined by the same source as "one who lives with another in need of society and who is treated rather as a friend and equal than as an inferior or servant." This redefines a woman's role by treating her on the same level as her husband instead of regarding her as property. The Ninth Commandment asks that the reader seek an equal being and not a facet for sex in order to live according to the wishes of the government. The Eighth and Ninth Commandments function together to show that both partners have certain emotional obligations that must be fulfilled in order for this relationship to be successful to the couple and the government.

The Tenth Commandment creates the message that the ultimate goal in life is to procreate and start a family. It says, "you should want to have as many children as possible." It declares that reader is blessed with Aryan genes and should continue the race. The declaration uses logos by saying "you should want" to tell the reader that the standard attitude towards parenthood is to have multiple children; anything less would be socially awkward. This implements eugenics by creating its own social norm of having "as many children as possible," extending the Aryan family and widening the Aryan gene-pool for further reproduction. This satisfies the Nazi view of motherhood, defined as “giving live to healthy children, bringing to fruition all the physical, mental, and spiritual faculties in these children and creating a home for them which represents a place where nationalist and racialist culture is nurtured” (CR 282). Not only did a woman have to produce these Aryan children, she had to educate them in the Nazi philosophy on top of maintaining her children's physical and mental states. As the Commandment shows, the institution of parenthood between two Aryans was vital the Nazi government’s goal of racial purity.

The "Ten Commandments for Choosing a Spouse" incorporates several laws based upon citizenship, marriage, and procreation as well as other Nazi attitudes. These views are expressed carefully to influence the reader that there are obligations to the state when selecting a partner. The First Commandment creates authority for the document by invoking the definition of citizenship in the "Reich Citizenship Law." The Second Commandment enforces the "Law for the Prevention of Hereditarily Diseased Offspring" by being focused towards the genetically healthy. The rhetoric of the Third and Fourth Commandments reinforces loyalty towards the Nazi government through abstaining from indulgent behavior. The Fifth and Sixth Commandments require that the reader look for a marriage to another Aryan and prove the legality of that marriage through a self-conducted background check in order to abide by the "Law for the Protection of German Blood and German Honour." The Seventh Commandment promotes the philosophy of eugenics through convincing the reader to be healthy and therefore perfect, depicted in Ernst Libermann's "By The Water." The Eighth Commandment tries to detract from the limitations placed upon marriage by allowing the reader to believe that the romantic ideals of love still exist. The Ninth Commandment attempts to refocus the reader's goals away from fornication and conforming to the Nazi's goal for all Aryans, establishing a family. The Tenth Commandment acts as a culmination of all these other Commandments, furthering the campaign for eugenics by setting a standard for genetically healthy couples, who have fulfilled their responsibilities to all of these other institutions in establishing this marriage. Together, the statements made by this piece of propaganda furthers the Nazi goal of a perfectly homogenous Aryan population and illustrates how women, as equal partners in marriage, were vital towards realizing this dream.
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