Darwin: “the finest young men are…exposed to early death during war…feebler men…are left at home”
the class which consisted of
the best human elements almost completely
disappeared through the loss of so much of its
blood in the war [World War I]
there was always the call for volunteers and again
for volunteers. And the result was always the same.
Beardless young fellows or fully developed men, all
filled with an ardent love for their country, urged on
by their own courageous spirit or by a lofty sense of
their duty – it was always such men who answered
the call for volunteers.
With their death the scales, which were already too lightly
weighed at that end of the social structure which
represented our best human quality, now moved
upwards rapidly, becoming heavier on the other end
with those vulgar elements of infamy and cowardice
– in short, there was an increase in the elements
that constituted the worst extreme of our population.
For each hero who made the supreme
sacrifice and ascended the steps of Valhalla, there
was a shirker who cunningly dodged death on the
plea of being engaged in business that was more or
less useful at home.
And so the picture which presented itself at the end of the war was this: The great middle stratum of the nation had fulfilled its duty and paid its toll of blood. One extreme of the population, which was constituted of the best elements, had given a typical example of its heroism and had sacrificed itself almost to a man. The other extreme, which was constituted of the worst elements of the population, had preserved itself almost intact
In every country in which a large standing army is kept
up, the finest young men are taken by the conscription or
are enlisted. They are thus exposed to early death during
war, are often tempted into vice, and are prevented from
marrying during the prime of life. On the other hand the
shorter and feebler men, with poor constitutions, are left
at home, and consequently have a much better chance of
marrying and propagating their kind.*
* Prof. H. Fick (“Einfluss der Naturwissenschaft auf das
Recht,” June, 1872) has some good remarks on this
head, and on other such points.
Heinrich Fick’s views are discussed in
Weikart, Richard. 2004. From Darwin to Hitler:
Evolutionary Ethics, Eugenics, and Racism in Germany
(USA: Palgrave Macmillan), 312pp., 176, with its note 44 on page 269.
Darwin: "genius… tends to be inherited… insanity and deteriorated mental powers… run in families"
Darwin: "imbecile, maimed, and other useless members of society"
Darwin on selection of Spartan children