Crying Hands Chapter One continued...
banner In the same year, the district physician of Zwickau, Gustav Boeters—and later other racial hygienists—publicized results of their own investigations that gave a negative answer to Neuert's question. Boeters' draft of a law for the sterilization of "inferiors," which he presented to the government of Saxony in 1923, carried the title "The prevention of unworthy life through operative measures." Boeters promoted the Lex Zwickau (Zwickau Law), as it was called, in the editorial section of several newspapers. He also sent a selection of his newspaper pieces to the federal health authorities with the request that they take a stand on the matter.

When the authorities did not respond, Boeters urged prompt attention to the issue and explained that he and his medical colleagues were already sterilizing disabled persons against their will. In a letter of December 3, 1923, he argued that "keeping down the numbers of poorly endowed offspring" promised great success for racial hygiene.

To my knowledge [Boeters continued], I am the first German medical official who has dared to translate the aims of practical racial hygiene into action in his area of professional responsibility. We in Zwickau have undertaken sterilization operations on mental defectives and others, under the aegis of our highest public authorities . . . since in many cases the consent of parents and others is not to be had at any price, even though the necessity of an operation is clearly evident for anyone not himself a mental defective, I urge the introduction of legislative coercion.
Although the federal health authorities also failed to answer Boeters' second communication, he lobbied the government of Saxony and the federal government ceaselessly. Boeters' pressure on the medical profession and on the state, his growing support among professional colleagues, his many press releases, and the media articles about him made the topic of racial hygiene a matter of great public interest in the 1920s. In order to provide a basis for future decisions, therefore, the federal ministry finally commissioned the Public Health Department to test Boeters' case.

In one of the first public comments about Boeters' proposals, the chairman of the Federal Health Department, Professor Bumm, stated in 1923 that his office did not reject the argument that "a reduction in the useless and unserviceable elements in the people" was in principle desirable. Bumm contended that forcible sterilization for eugenic reasons had certain financial advantages, but such an action would have to stand up to rigorous legal, economic, social, and theological testing. The federal ministry was instructed to defer the introduction of a forced sterilization bill until an empirical review had been completed. Boeters' goal, to bring the draft to legislative deliberation, had been achieved.

Still, the federal Public Health Department was not ready to accept Boeters' basic claim for racial hygiene. A committee of the Prussian Provincial Health Board on December 1, 1923, reached the conclusion that Boeters' proposals were "not suitable, at present," although the committee also said that experience in the United States and Switzerland revealed the "innocuousness of the operation . . . and the absence of negative consequences for the patient."

By February 1925, the federal Public Health Department still showed no willingness to approve Boeters' principles, despite the fact that they had been expanded in the interim and had been praised in numerous commentaries by eugenicists and racial hygienists.Bumm objected that "in more than a few cases heredity

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