Walter Gross on German population decline (1934)

Dr Walter Gross was a German physician who oversaw the Office of Population Policy and Racial Welfare. In this speech from October 1934, Gross addressed a gathering of women on the topic of German population decline. Transcript reproduced with the permission of the German Propaganda Archive.

“When we think back on our parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents, there were many children in the house. It may have been crowded and hard financially, but we were happy, perhaps because there were so many of us in so large a family. But the time came when people said: “As man or woman, as parents or teachers of leaders, you have the duty to show the people the way to a better future.”

That better future, people thought, could only be a richer future, a future in which the individual had more money. And when they were asked where this money would come from, a false teaching arose in the last century: “The fewer people there are, the more an individual child can inherit from his parents.” He who loves his children and wishes a prosperous future for his nation should, therefore, see to it that Germany’s population is small and that only a few children continue the family after he is gone.

That was the terrible teaching of birth control, which Marxism preached and the bourgeois followed. No one dared stand against it. That was the doctrine that made us what we are today: a dying people, in which fewer children are born each year, in which today more people die each year than are born. This all was supposed to lead to a happy future. It understood happiness only in terms of possessions. It was therefore inherently false. But even in its own terms, it was false, for it forgot something: When a people begins to die, when a people no longer obeys the laws of life, when a people values money more than its existence and posterity, this people is on the path to disaster, both historically and politically. Within a few decades, it will be dead, oppressed by other peoples who are stronger, closer to life, and who follow life’s laws better than we.

If present trends continue, by the end of the century Germany will be a nation with only 40-50 million inhabitants, and we know that on our borders other peoples are growing quickly and strongly. Sooner or later, these other peoples will come in conflict with a shrinking and dying German people, and the result of the supposed doctrine of happiness will be a hard and bitter national death for our children. Those who believed that they can give their children a happy and peaceful future by reducing the number of children err deeply. They give the children only the promise of a hard and bitter struggle for Germany’s existence as a state and as an idea.”