Beneath the stones, the beach

The following is an extract from a book , which identifies a Nazi examination of Australia’s treatment of its indigenous population. What is horrifying about this is that a fervent Nazi is so far, the only person thrown up by history, who can challenge the fantasy of Australian white settlement and identify, categorically, the real term for Australian Government policy towards its indigenous people.

Walther Schoenichen, The Prussian State Officer for Natural Monument Preservation from 1924 to 1933 and who then smoothly slipped into high office in the Reichsbund (In 1942, Göring appointed him as Director of the Reich Forest Ministry), was a eugenicist and racist of the first degree. He warned in 1926 that a “racial-hygienic collapse” threatened the German people and called on the state to regulate reproduction to prevent “degenerate elements” from reproducing and encourage “racially valuable” women to have more children (Lekan, 2004, p.147). More pertinently, he published a paper in 1942, where he reviews world genocide. Here is the quote in context, taken from a book entitled, ‘The Nazi War On Cancer’.

At the risk of straying further still from cancer, let me mention one last example of the Nazi era’s
paternalist, Nordic supremacist organicism, expressed in Walther Schoenichen’s 1942 book on nature conservation. Schoenichen’s book is a remarkable defence of environmental ethics, conservation, and ecological restoration (restituierender Naturschutz); it also contains a review of world genocide and of steps taken to protect indigenous cultures. The book presents an elaborate plan for the “conservation of native peoples in their native habitats”, conceived as part of a larger design to save the world’s vanishing flora and fauna

Schoenichen cited the words of Paul Sarasin at the First International Nature Protection Congress in Geneva that “the most important task of world nature protection must be to protect the last remnants of primitive human races from extermination, and to preserve them as undisturbed as possible for future generations (Proctor, 1996,pp. 406-407).

Schoenichen added that it was important to make such demands in the name of biology and anthropology, and not some mushy humanitarianism (verwaschenen Menschlichkeitsidee) that throws “Hottentots, Jews, and Aryans all into one pot” (Proctor, 1996, p.408).

Schoenichen conceded that the disappearance of “primitive human races” was often a necessary part of the struggle for existence, but he also rejected the two dominant paths carved out by the followers of the “liberalistic worldview” the “extermination model” of the Americans and the Australians, and the “assimilation theory” of the French. Nazi native policy rejected both of these models, favouring instead “the development of indigenous peoples according to their own racial heritage”. In Schoenichen’s view, at least, such a policy would include bans on intermarriage, to preserve racial integrity; on tourist travels into or out of native reservations (reservations “were not zoos”); on colonial settlements; and on the importation of alcohol and cotton (to prevent the Verkitschung of indigenous cultures). These and other policies were to ensure that the native highlanders of New Guinea, for example, would avoid the twin “liberalistic” fates of extermination or assimilation…

Schoenichen’s “enlightened” confinement model of native/nature preservation is typical of a great deal of Nazi environmental/anthropological thought: racialist exclusions are mingled with organic prescriptions for things (or peoples) to remain in their proper place, macromanaged by superstates with superior reach and designs to make the world a purportedly better place (Proctor, 1999, pp. 266-267).

If the Nazi’s could so easily typify Australia’s treatment of its indigenous people as an “extermination model”, why is it so difficult for Australia to admit to its tragic, genocidal history?

Australia, as ever, was in denial: “Problem: What problem”? Thus, we have the following quote from the Evian conference.

On 6 July 1938 an international conference opened at Evian, on the shores of Lake Geneva, to discuss the future reception of refugees…

The representative of Australia, Colonel Thomas White – a Cabinet Minister – declared that ‘as we have no real racial problems, we are not desirous of importing one by encouraging any schemes of large-scale foreign migration’
(Original footnote: 26: Paul R. Bartrop, ‘The Dominions and the Evian Conference of 1938’, in Paul R. Bartrop (editor), False Havens: The British Empire and the Holocaust, pp. 64-65, (Gilbert, 2006, pp. 131-132).


Lekan, T. 2004, Imagining the Nation in Nature: Landscape Preservation and German Identity, 1885-1945, Harvard University Press.

Proctor, R.N. 1999, The Nazi War on Cancer, Princeton University Press, 41 William Street, Princeton, New Jersey 08540.

Gilbert. M. 2006, Kristallnacht, HarperCollins Publishers, 10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022.

(Original footnote:
47. Walther Schoenichen, ‘Naturschutz als völkische und internationale Kulturaufgabe’ (Jena: Gustav Fischer, 1942), (Proctor, 1996, pp. 405-410).