A Modest Proposal
Time magazine, March 24, 1941, p. 96. (Book review.)
A Modest Proposal
Germany Must Perish! -- Theodore N. Kaufman -- Argyle Press ($1).
In 1729 the great Dean Swift made his famed "Modest Proposal" for curing the economic ills of Ireland: sell its starving children as dressed meat. Last week U.S. book reviewers were in receipt of a modern modest proposal. No less grisly than the Dean's, it was not even supposed to be ironic.
The grisliness preceded the proposal. One day reviewers unwrapped a small, oblong parcel, found inside a miniature black cardboard coffin with a hinged lid. In it was a card reading, "Read GERMANY MUST PERISH! Tomorrow you will receive your copy." There was no identification of the sender.
_Germany Must Perish!_ proved to be a brief (104-page) enshrinement of a single sensational idea. Since Germans are the perennial disturbers of the world's peace, says the book, they must be dealt with like any homicidal criminals. But it is unnecessary to put the whole German nation to the sword. It is more humane to sterile them. "The army groups, as organized units, would be the easiest and quickest to deal with. Taking 20,000 surgeons as an arbitrary number and on the assumption that each will perform a minimum of 25 operations daily, it would take no more than one month, at the maximum, to complete their sterilization.... The balance of the male civilian population of Germany would be treated within three months. Inasmuch as sterilization of women needs somewhat more time, it may be computed that the entire female population of Germany would be sterilized within a period of three years of less." The normal yearly death rate is two percent. Thus, "in the span of two generations" there would be no Germans left.
Startled readers wondered whether the strange book was a landmark, the first appearance of the Streicher mind in the U.S. Few recognized the name of the author, Theodore N. Kaufman. But in 1939 it had appeared as chairman of the American Federation of Peace, which urged Congress either 1) to keep the U.S. out of Europe's wars, or 2) to sterilize all Americans so that their children might not become homicidal monsters. In step with the times, Sterilizer Kaufman had simply transferred his basic idea to the enemy.
No Nazi, Theodore Newman Kaufman, 31, is a Manhattan-born Jew who has been an advertising man, once published the _New Jersey Legal Record_, now runs a successful theatre ticket agency in Newark, N.J. Widely traveled, he is especially fond of the Sahara Desert, where, he says, "you look at the horizon all day long and feel that you are staring at eternity." In Biskra he frequented the Algerian salon of Winston Churchill's cousin, Sculptress Clare Sheridan (_Arab Interlude_). _Germany Must Perish!_ is his first book. "Strictly a one-man job" (he claims he has no organization, no help, no backers), it was worked on for four months. Then he founded the Argyle Press to publish it.
The coffins were not Kaufman's first idea. He had another, but it was so horrible he prefers not to talk about it. Western Union refused to deliver the coffins and books; they said they were afraid the Nazis might stop their German cable service. So Author Kaufman used the mails, first running down to Washington to make sure the Post Office had no objections. "I am a great believer in our Government," he says, "and I certainly did not want to do anything against the law." Kaufman did all the mailing himself, lugged bundles, licked labels, cut his hands with twine. How much all this cost him is Kaufman's secret. He did not offer the book to a regular publisher because he did not want to be edited, and "I would not write a book like that for any amount of money." Financially he thinks he may break even. He feels that "in a lesser degree, of course," he is signing away his life in the way that the men who signed the Declaration of Independence signed away theirs. But Sterilizer Kaufman is not afraid. He has thought deeply about sterilizing the Germans, believes that it is practical and easy to organize. "It would be just like registering for social security," says he.
"...one mode of ridding the world forces of Germanism -- and that is to stem the source from which issue those war-lusted souls, by preventing the people of Germany from ever again reproducing their kind. This modern method, known to science as Eugenic Sterilization, is at once practical, humane and thorough."
1941.Theodore N. Kaufman
"We have got to be tough with the Germany and I mean the German people not just the Nazis. We either have to castrate the German people or you have got to treat them in such a manner so they can't just go on reproducing people who want to continue the way they have in the past."
1944 Quebec.Franklin D. Roosevelt, the 32nd President of the United States (1933-1945)
"We Allies are no monsters. This, at least, I can say, on behalf of the United Nations, to Germany ... Peace, though based on unconditional surrender, will bring to Germany and Japan immense and immediate alleviation of suffering and agony."
1945.Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill, British prime minister (1940-45 and 1951-55)