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Group Photo of an SS Wedding on the Grounds of the Main Office for Race and Settlement (1936)
Himmler had pursued the goal of “upbreeding” the SS into a racial-biological elite long before he assumed the lead role in defining Nazi policy on race and population – a position he secured by being the most radical spokesman for state-sponsored eugenics. Himmler not only recruited "pure-blood" men for the SS, he also took complete control over their family and reproductive plans. On December 31, 1931, he issued the so-called Engagement and Marriage Order, which called on SS members to protect their "racial potential" by marrying and producing offspring with women of so-called equal value. The SS's "Main Office for Race and Settlement" (RuSHA) was established at the same time. It was charged with conducting racial investigations into the backgrounds of fiancées and wives of SS members, and if the results were unsatisfactory, it could refuse to permit the marriage. SS members who were married to women of "lesser value" were threatened with expulsion from the organization. This photograph shows Heinrich Himmler (to the right of the bride), Reich Peasant Leader and SS-Obergruppenführer Richard Walther Darré (to the left of the bride), and the head of Himmler's personal staff, SS Brigadeführer Karl Wolff (behind Darré). SS Oberführer Harms, head of the staff of the Main Office for Race and Settlement, can be seen to the right of Darré.