Books: A Modest Proposal

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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 sterilize 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 could 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 could be sterilized within a period of three years or less." The normal yearly death rate is two per cent. 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.

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