Alfred Ploetz

Alfred Ploetz (August 22, 1860 – March 20, 1940) was a German physician, biologist, eugenicist known for coining the term racial hygiene (Rassenhygiene)[1] and promoting the concept in Germany. Rassenhygiene is a form of eugenics.

Alfred Ploetz
Alfred Ploetz

Life and career

Alfred Ploetz was born in Swinemünde, Germany (now Świnoujście, Poland) and he grew up and attended school in Breslau (now Wrocław). At this time he began his friendship with Carl Hauptmann, brother of the famous author Gerhart Hauptmann. In 1879 he founded a secret racist youth society. In Gerhart Hauptmann's Drama "Vor Sonnenaufgang" (Before Sunrise) which was first performed on October 20, 1889 in Berlin, the key figure of the journalist Loth is based on Ploetz.

After school Ploetz at first studied political economy in Breslau. There he joined the "Freie wissenschaftliche Vereinigung" (free scientific union). Among his friends were – besides his brother – his former school friend Ferdinand Simon (later son-in-law of August Bebel), the brothers Carl and Gerhart Hauptmann, Heinrich Laux, and Charles Proteus Steinmetz.

This circle enthusiastically read the works of Ernst Haeckel and Charles Darwin. Carl Hauptmann was a student of Ernst Haeckel, and Gerhart Hauptmann and Ploetz attended some of his lectures. The group expanded and developed a plan of founding a colony in one of the pacific states and established itself as the "Pacific association". They planned a "community on friendly, socialist and maybe also pan-Germanic basis". In consequence of the prosecution of socialistically minded persons in application of Otto von Bismarck's anti-socialist laws (1878–1890), in 1883 Ploetz fled to Zurich, where he continued to study political economy with Julius Platter (1844–1923). In his memoirs Ploetz states as an important reason for his choice of Zurich that in his studies in Breslau socialist theories were only incidentally mentioned.

After living for a half a year in the United States, Ploetz returned to Zurich and began to study medicine. In 1886, he fell in love with a fellow student Agnes Bluhm despite being involved with Pauline Rüdin. They decided to get married early in 1887. Ploetz was also seeing an American named Mary Sherwood who was studying hypnotism. In 1890 Ploetz became medical doctor and married his former girlfriend Pauline, though the two never had children. Bluhm however kept Ploetz as a close friend throughout her life and they both shared similar views on racial purity and the benefits of eugenics.[2] Ploetz and his wife lived in the US for four years, and divorced in 1898. Ploetz later married Anita Nordenholz. This marriage produced three children: Ulrich (called Uli), Cordelia (called Deda) and Wilfrid (called Fridl, 1912–2013).[3]

Ploetz first proposed the theory of racial hygiene (race-based eugenics) in his "Racial Hygiene Basics" (Grundlinien einer Rassenhygiene) in 1895. In 1904 Ploetz founded the periodical "Archiv für Rassen-und Gesellschaftsbiologie" with Fritz Lenz as chief editor, and in 1905 the German Society for Racial Hygiene (De Berliner Gesellschaft fur Rassenhygiene) [4] with 31 members. page [5] In 1907 the society became the "International Society for Racial Hygiene".[6] In 1930 he became an honorary doctor of the University of Munich.

Ploetz was a supporter of the Nazi Party, which took power in 1933. Ploetz wrote in April 1933 that he believed Hitler would bring racial hygiene from its previous marginality into the mainstream.

In 1933 Reich Interior Minister Wilhelm Frick established an "expert advisory committee for population and racial policy," which included Ploetz, Fritz Lenz, Ernst Rüdin and Hans F.K. Günther. This expert advisory committee had the task of advising the Nazis on the implementation and enforcement of legislation regarding racial and eugenic issues.[7] In 1936, Hitler appointed Ploetz to a professorship.

In 1937 he joined the Nazi party.[8]

He died at the age of 79 and is buried at his home in Herrsching on the Ammersee in Bavaria. After his death, Otmar Freiherr von Verschuer praised his "inner sympathy and enthusiasm [with] the National Socialist Movement".[9] Ernst Rüdin, also a committed National Socialist, praised Ploetz two years before as a man "by his meritorious services has helped to set up our Nazi ideology."[10]


In his book The efficiency of our race and the protection of the weak (1895) he described a society in which eugenic ideas were applied. Society would examine the moral and intellectual capacity of citizens to decide on marriage and the permitted number of children. It may also include a prohibition on reproduction. Disabled children are aborted, the sick and weak, twins and children whose parents Ploetz considers too old or young, are "eliminated".

Along with many other eugenicists in Europe and America, Ploetz believed in the superiority of the Nordic race. His writings were a major influence on Nazi ideology. His opinion of the Jewish Question changed during the course of his life, but his view and the doctrine of the NSDAP were in accord by the time the party came to power in 1933.

In his early writings Ploetz credited Jews as the second highest cultural race after Europeans.[11] He identified no substantial difference in "racial character" between Aryans and Jews, arguing that the mental abilities of Jews and their role in the development of human culture made them indispensable to the "process of racial mix" which would enhance humanity.

The high aptitude of the Jews and their outstanding role in the progress of mankind considering men like Jesus, Spinoza, Marx has to be kindly acknowledged without hesitation... All this Antisemitism is a flop which will vanish slowly in the light of scientific knowledge and a humane democracy".[12]

Later he revised this view. He stressed that the distinctiveness of Jews indicated that their mental characteristics would adversely affect Aryans by introducing individualism and lack of love for the military and the nation. He favored the global dominance of the Aryan race.[13]


  • (Alfred Hoche, Alfred Ploetz, Alfred Vierkandt, Carl Hans Heinze Sennhenn) German Eugenicists: ISBN 9781230541914 [14]
  • (Alfred J Ploetz) Die Tüchtigkeit unsrer Rasse und der Schutz der Schwachen ISBN 1103490796 [15]
  • (Alfred J Ploetz) Archiv für Rassen- und Gesellschafts-Biologie, einschliesslich Rassen- und Gesellschafts-Hygiene 1908, Fuenfter Jahrgang ISBN 117441166X [16]

See also


  1. ^ Bashford, Alison; Levine, Phillipa, eds. (2010). "Eugenics and the Modern World". The Oxford Handbook of the History of Eugenics. Oxford University Press. p. 15. ISBN 978-0199945054. Retrieved 6 August 2015.
  2. ^ Weindling, Paul (1993). Health, race, and German politics between national unification and Nazism, 1870-1945 (1st pbk. ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 74. ISBN 052142397X.
  3. ^ "Anzeige von Wilfrid Ploetz -".
  4. ^ "Mystiek Antisemitisme Waar Sprookjes En Wetenschap Elkaar Ontmoeten". Internet Archive.
  5. ^ Schafft, Gretchen Engle: "From Racism to Genocide: Anthropology in the Third Reich". University of Illinois Press. 2004. Pg. 42.
  6. ^ Atkins, Stephen E. (2009). Holocaust Denial as an International Movement. Greenwood Press. p. 24. ISBN 978-0313345388.
  7. ^ Anahid S. Rickman: "Rassenpflege im völkischen Staat", Vom Verhältnis der Rassenhygiene zur nationalsozialistischen Politik. Dissertation Bonn 2002, Online einsehbar unter [3], p. 331
  8. ^ Federal Archives Act Party Zehlendorf.
  9. ^ Otmar von Verschuer, "Alfred Ploetz," in The Erbarzt, Bd 8 p.69-72, 1940, p.71
  10. ^ Ernst Rudin: "Honor of Prof. Dr. Alfred Ploetz," in ARGB, Bd 32 / S.473–474, 1938, p.474
  11. ^ "Wir haben frueher die Juden neben den Westariern als hoechstentwickelte Culturrasse angefuehrt." Ploetz, 137
  12. ^ "Die Tüchtigkeit unserer Rasse und der Schutz der Schwachen", 1893, p. 141, 142. cited by Massimo Ferari Zumbini: The roots of evil. Gründerjahre des Antisemitismus: Von der Bismarckzeit zu Hitler , Vittorio Klostermann, Frankfurt a. M. 2003, ISBN 3-465-03222-5, p.406
  13. ^ Julia Schäfer: "Vermessen – gezeichnet – verlacht Judenbilder in populären Zeitschriften 1918–1933." Campus Verlag, 2005, ISBN 3-593-37745-4, p. 182
  14. ^ "German Eugenicists".
  15. ^ "Die Tüchtigkeit unsrer Rasse und der Schutz der Schwachen: Alfred J. Ploetz: 9781103490790: Books".
  16. ^ "Archiv für Rassen- und Gesellschafts-Biologie, einschliesslich Rassen- und Gesellschafts-Hygiene 1908, Fuenfter Jahrgang (German Edition): Alfred J. Ploetz, Ludwig Plate, A Nordenholz: 9781174411663: Books".

External links


1860 (MDCCCLX)

was a leap year starting on Sunday of the Gregorian calendar and a leap year starting on Friday of the Julian calendar, the 1860th year of the Common Era (CE) and Anno Domini (AD) designations, the 860th year of the 2nd millennium, the 60th year of the 19th century, and the 1st year of the 1860s decade. As of the start of 1860, the Gregorian calendar was

12 days ahead of the Julian calendar, which remained in localized use until 1923.

1940 in Germany

Events in the year 1940 in Germany.

Agnes Bluhm

Agnes Bluhm (9 January 1862 – 12 November 1943) was a German winner of a Goethe medal. She was trained as a medical doctor and won prizes for her research. She believed that German women could improve the race using eugenics and forced sterilisation. She wrote that the "female psyche" made her gender predisposed towards working for "racial hygiene".

Alfred Hoche

Alfred Erich Hoche (German pronunciation: [ˈalfʁeːt ˈeːʁɪç ˈhɔxə]; 1 August 1865 in Wildenhain, Province of Saxony – 16 May 1943 in Baden-Baden) was a German psychiatrist well known for his writings about eugenics and euthanasia.

Early timeline of Nazism

The early timeline of Nazism begins with its origins and continues until Hitler's rise to power.

Ernst Rüdin

Ernst Rüdin (April 19, 1874 in St. Gallen – October 22, 1952) was a Swiss-born German psychiatrist, geneticist, eugenicist and Nazi. Rising to prominence under Emil Kraepelin and assuming his directorship at what is now called the Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry in Munich, he has long been scientifically honoured and cited internationally as the pioneer of psychiatric inheritance studies. He also argued for, designed, justified and funded the mass sterilization and clinical killing of adults and children.

Expert Committee on Questions of Population and Racial Policy

The Expert Committee on Questions of Population and Racial Policy (German: Sachverständigen-Beirat für Bevölkerungsfragen und Rassenpolitik) was a Nazi Germany committee formed on 2 June 1933 that planned Nazi racial policy. On July 14, 1933, the committee's recommendations were made law as the Law for the Prevention of Genetically Diseased Offspring, or the "Sterilization Law".The committee was organized by Interior Minister Wilhelm Frick, and brought together many important Nazi figures on racial theory, including Ernst Rudin, Alfred Ploetz, Arthur Gutt, Heinrich Himmler, Fritz Thyssen, Fritz Lenz, Friedrich Burgdorfer, Walther Darre, Hans F. K. Günther, Charlotte von Hadeln, Bodo Spiethoff, Paul Schultze-Naumburg, Gerhard Wagner, and Baldur von Schirach.

Felix Hollaender

Felix Hollaender (1 November 1867 – 29 May 1931) was a German writer, critic, dramaturge and theatre director. At one point he worked as a stage producer with his friend Max Reinhardt.

Fritz Lenz

Fritz A Lenz (9 March 1887 in Pflugrade, Pomerania – 6 July 1976 in Göttingen, Lower Saxony) was a German geneticist, member of the Nazi Party, and influential specialist in eugenics in Nazi Germany.

Galton Institute

The Galton Institute is a learned society based in the United Kingdom. Its aims are "to promote the public understanding of human heredity and to facilitate informed debate about the ethical issues raised by advances in reproductive technology".It was founded in 1907 as the Eugenics Education Society, with the aim of promoting the research and understanding of eugenics. It became the Eugenics Society in 1926 (often referred to as the British Eugenics Society to distinguish it from others). From 1909-1968 it published The Eugenics Review. Membership reached its peak during the 1930s.The Society was based near Brockwell Park, Lambeth in London. It is currently based in Northfields, London, and changed its name to the Galton Institute in 1989.

German Society for Racial Hygiene

The German Society for Racial Hygiene (German: Deutsche Gesellschaft für Rassenhygiene) was a German eugenic organization founded on 22 June 1905 by the physician Alfred Ploetz in Berlin. Its goal was "for society to return to a healthy and blooming, strong and beautiful life" as Ploetz put it. The Nordic race was supposed to regain its "purity" through selective reproduction and sterilization. The society became defunct after World War II.


Herrsching am Ammersee is a municipality in Upper Bavaria, Germany, on the east shore of the Ammersee, southwest of Munich. The population is around 8,000 in winter, increasing to 13,000 in summer.

Situated at one terminus of the Munich S-Bahn line S 8, the village is popular with travellers for its water-sports and as the starting point of trips to the Benedictine Andechs Abbey. Herrsching is also a stop for touring steamships of the Bavarian Seenschiffahrt or lake fleet.

Prior to WW-II Herrsching was home to the "Reichsfinanzschule Hersching" (finance school). In 1945-1946 the school was converted into a POW hospital and rehab facility for soldiers who had lost limbs.

List of Nazi ideologues

This is a list of people whose ideas became part of Nazi ideology. The ideas, writings, and speeches of these thinkers were incorporated into what became Nazism, including antisemitism, eugenics, racial hygiene, the concept of the master race, and Lebensraum. The list includes people whose ideas were incorporated, even if they did not live in the Nazi era.

March 20

March 20 is the 79th day of the year (80th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. 286 days remain until the end of the year. Typically the March equinox falls on this date, marking the vernal point in the Northern Hemisphere and the autumnal point in the Southern Hemisphere.

Nazi eugenics

Nazi eugenics (German: Nationalsozialistische Rassenhygiene, "National Socialist racial hygiene") were Nazi Germany's racially based social policies that placed the biological improvement of the Aryan race or Germanic "Übermenschen" master race through eugenics at the center of Nazi ideology. In Germany, eugenics were mostly known under the synonymous term racial hygiene. Following the Second World War, both terms effectively vanished and were replaced by Humangenetik (human genetics).

Eugenics research in Germany before and during the Nazi period was similar to that in the United States (particularly California), by which it had been partly inspired. However, its prominence rose sharply under Adolf Hitler's leadership when wealthy Nazi supporters started heavily investing in it. The programs were subsequently shaped to complement Nazi racial policies.Those humans targeted for destruction under Nazi eugenics policies were largely living in private and state-operated institutions, identified as "life unworthy of life" (German: Lebensunwertes Leben), including prisoners, "degenerates", dissidents, people with congenital cognitive and physical disabilities (including people who were "feeble-minded", epileptic, schizophrenic, manic-depressive, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, deaf, blind) (German: erbkranken), homosexual, idle, insane, and the weak, for elimination from the chain of heredity. More than 400,000 people were sterilized against their will, while up to 300,000 were killed under Action T4, a euthanasia program. In June 1935, Hitler and his cabinet made a list of seven new decrees, number 5 was to speed up the investigations of sterilization.


Ploetz may refer to:

Alfred Ploetz, German physician, biologist and eugenicist.

Der Große Ploetz, German encyclopedia of world history.

Karl Ploetz, German author.

Yvonne Ploetz, German politician.Plötz

Plötz, municipality in the Saalekreis district, Saxony-Anhalt, Germany.

Carl Plötz, German entomologist.

Hans-Joachim Plötz, a former professional tennis player from Germany.

Political views of Adolf Hitler

The political views of Adolf Hitler have presented historians and biographers with some difficulty. His writings and methods were often adapted to need and circumstance, although there were some steady themes, including anti-semitism, anti-communism, anti-parliamentarianism, German Lebensraum ("living space"), belief in the superiority of an "Aryan race" and an extreme form of German nationalism. Hitler personally claimed he was fighting against Jewish Marxism.Hitler's political views were formed during three periods: (1) His years as a poverty-stricken young man in Vienna and Munich prior to World War I, during which he turned to nationalist-oriented political pamphlets and antisemitic newspapers out of distrust for mainstream newspapers and political parties; (2) The closing months of World War I when Germany lost the war; Hitler is said to have developed his extreme nationalism during this time, desiring to "save" Germany from both external and internal "enemies" who, in his view, betrayed it; (3) The 1920s, during which his early political career began and he wrote Mein Kampf. Hitler formally renounced his Austrian citizenship on 7 April 1925, but did not acquire German citizenship until almost seven years later; thereby allowing him to run for public office. Hitler was influenced by Benito Mussolini who was appointed Prime Minister of Italy in October 1922 after his "March on Rome".In many ways, Adolf Hitler epitomizes "the force of personality in political life" as mentioned by Friedrich Meinecke. He was essential to the very framework of Nazism's political appeal and its manifestation in Germany. So important were Hitler's views that they immediately affected the political policies of Nazi Germany. He asserted the Führerprinzip ("Leader principle"). The principle relied on absolute obedience of all subordinates to their superiors. Hitler viewed the party structure and later the government structure as a pyramid, with himself—the infallible leader—at the apex.Hitler firmly believed that the force of "will" was decisive in determining the political course for a nation and rationalized his actions accordingly. Given that Hitler was appointed "leader of the German Reich for life", he "embodied the supreme power of the state and, as the delegate of the German people", it was his role to determine the "outward form and structure of the Reich". To that end, Hitler's political motivation consisted of an ideology that combined traditional German and Austrian anti-Semitism with an intellectualized racial doctrine resting on an admixture of bits and pieces of social Darwinism and the ideas – mostly obtained second-hand and only partially understood – of Friedrich Nietzsche, Arthur Schopenhauer, Richard Wagner, Houston Stewart Chamberlain, Arthur de Gobineau and Alfred Rosenberg, as well as Paul de Lagarde, Georges Sorel, Alfred Ploetz and others.

Racial hygiene

The term racial hygiene was used to describe an approach to eugenics in the early 20th century, which found its most extensive implementation in Nazi Germany (Nazi eugenics). It was marked by efforts to avoid miscegenation, analogous to an animal breeder seeking purebred animals. This was often motivated by belief in a racial hierarchy and the related fear that lower races would "contaminate" a higher one. As with most eugenicists at the time, racial hygienists believed that lack of eugenics would lead to rapid social degeneration, the decline of civilisation by the spread of inferior characteristics.

Wilhelm Schallmayer

Wilhelm Schallmayer, born February 10, 1857 in Mindelheim and died October 4, 1919 in Krailling, was Germany's first advocate of eugenics who, along with Alfred Ploetz, founded the German eugenics movement. Schallmayer made a lasting impact on the eugenics movement.

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