Town Hall Meeting on Health Care Reform, Berlin, 1939

Josh Fischel uncovers a transcript of a town hall meeting from Nazi Germany.

Nazi Representative: Good evening. Thank you all for coming out to the platz tonight for this town hall meeting.  Please know that I, as a representative for the Führer, feel just as excited about his proposed health care reform plan as he does, as all the cabinet does, in fact.  We’re eager for you to express your pleasure about the plan as well.  Please feel free to do so at the microphones in the aisles.

Protester #1: What I want to know is, I heard the Jews will all be covered for free under this plan.  Why are you allowing the dirty Jews free health coverage and denying it for my blond and blue-eyed friends and family?!  

Nazi Rep: Thank you for that question.  You may have heard tall tales like this from various media outlets.  Let me tell you — they are being spread by the Jews themselves.  It’s true!  The Jews are not even mentioned in the reform proposal.  We don’t want any part in caring for their health—

Protester #1: Oh, really?  Then why did you whisk them away on luxurious trains to special spas and health clubs to which the rest of us are denied admission?!

Nazi Rep: Look — that’s — it’s not what you think.  

Protester #1: I’ve heard they’re losing weight.  Are they losing weight where they are?  Yes or no?

Nazi Rep: Well, yes, but it’s because of—

Protester #1: Why are they getting special access to preventative care?  

Nazi Rep: It’s not really like that.  Trust me — we don’t like the Jews.  There is no plan to provide them with free health insurance.  Next question.

Protester #2: Yes, I’ve heard that your Brats for Bunkers program is already broke because so many people were willing to allow Nazi leaders to live in their bunkers in exchange for lifetime supplies of bratwurst.  How do you expect to be able to manage health care when you can’t even manage Brats for Bunkers?

Nazi Rep: Look — we didn’t anticipate so many people being so willing to give up space in their bunkers.  The Führer has already proclaimed that more money will go towards funding that program, and you will all get all the bratwurst you could possibly want — as long as you’re Aryan, of course.

Protester #2: So you expect us to believe that you’ll be able to make our health care system better after you just blatantly had to scramble to fix Brats for Bunkers?

Nazi Rep: I don’t — I’m not sure I see what the big deal is.  We created a program that helps our beloved German sausage makers get rid of some of their excess bratwurst, and it’s become wildly popular.  So popular, in fact, that we have to expand the program.  And our program-expansion is going to be successful — that’s not a question.  So I think it’s fair to say that the Führer has run Brats for Bunkers well enough that its success doesn’t mean that his health care reform is going to fail.  Next question.

Protester #3: I’ve heard that Hitler wasn’t born in Germany.  

Nazi Rep: You’re right — he was born in Austria.  You don’t need to have been born here to lead the nation in our glorious battle for racial purity and also health care reform.  

Protester #3: Then why won’t he show us his birth certificate?

Nazi Rep: I don’t think anyone’s asked him to.  Again, it’s not illegal for the leader of Germany to have been born elsewhere.  We welcome the leadership of anyone who thinks Germans are the perfect race of people.  Flattery gets you everywhere in Germany.  Well, that and not being Jewish.

Protester #4: Hey, what about the fact that Hitler combs his hair over to hide his democratic sympathies?

Nazi Rep: Well, I have to admit that that would be an extremely odd way for the Führer to hide something like that.  But you can rest assured that he has no such predilections.  He believes in totalitarianism and the power and judgment of the state.  It’s a wonder I’m even here right now, soliciting opinions and questions from you all.  You can rest assured that nothing you say will make it back to the Führer.  

Protester #4: What about the secret holes he has in his nose where he hides his boogers?

Nazi Rep: Those, sir, are what I believe are referred to as nostrils.  Everyone has them.

Protester #4: And if someone doesn’t — are they entitled to free health care under Hitler’s crazy plans for reform?

Nazi Rep: No, it’s my understanding that people without exactly two nostrils will likely be shot.  Now, does someone have a question that’s a little more on point?

Protester #5: I do!

Nazi Rep: Oh, thank goodness.

Protester #5: Yes, I want to know why Hitler took the death panels out of his reform proposal.

Nazi Rep: Where on earth did you hear that?  The Führer has been very clear throughout this process: death panels are a crucial and integral part of any health care reform.  Germany doesn’t want any dying individuals being allowed to siphon off any resources from the healthy among us.  Those are absolutely in the legislation — they were there in the first draft, and they’ll be there in the final draft.

Protester #5: What about this public option for the millions of uninsured Germans?

Nazi Rep: The public option has been largely misunderstood and misrepresented in the media.  Here’s what happens with the public option: If you’re healthy and you don’t need a doctor, great.  Nothing changes for you.  If you’re a Jew or a gypsy or developmentally disabled or gay, the public has the option of reporting you to the local authorities so that you can be sequestered in your appropriate ghetto or camp and receive the poor treatment you deserve.  Before, it was only members of the SS who could ask to see someone’s papers.  With the public option, anyone can.

Protester #5: I’m suspicious of the true purposes of the public option because Hitler’s not even from this country!

Nazi Rep: Those two things — your suspicious nature and the Führer’s foreign birth — have absolutely zilch in common.  

Protester #5: But don’t you see?  If he’s from Austria, that means he’s probably here illegally, which means he sympathizes with other people who are different like him, and he wants them to have health insurance just like he does.  And what if he gets sick?  If he gets sick, aren’t chances good that he’ll sympathize with other sick people?  Do you have proof from his doctor that he’s healthy like us?

Nazi Rep: I can assure you that the Führer is in excellent shape and that, if he were to fall ill, he would pass on his command to another member of his cabinet.  

Protester #5: Don’t you mean one of the Jews in his cabinet?

Nazi Rep: In fact, that’s not what I mean, because the Führer does not have any Jews in his cabinet.

Protester #1: That’s because they’re all in their free health care spas!

Protester #2: All those Jews who are doctors — they’re trying to resist Hitler’s health reforms by disguising the fact that people are sick by making them better! 

Protester #3: Release the results of Hitler’s own physical — it’s the only way we’ll know he doesn’t sympathize with the sick!

Protester #4: But what if he was seen by a Jewish doctor who cured him of some ailment by grinding one of his Jew-horns into a fine powder and creating a magical elixir for Hitler?  Then, he’ll have turned his heart away from the Fatherland and instead toward the Jews and the sick and we’d never know it!

Protester #5: It’s so clear — why don’t you see that Hitler’s health care reform is actually for people who need it instead of for us?  They’ll drain all the money and resources to themselves and their actual health emergencies!

Nazi Rep: Listen to you!  You’ve talked yourselves into believing that Adolf Hitler, the totalitarian leader of a political movement that’s trying to wean the weakest and least desirable from our population, is actually promoting a health care reform plan that would not only help, but disproportionately benefit the weakest and least desirable.  Hitler is not a friend of the Jews or the sick or the dying or any of the other special interest groups that you claim he’s a friend of, nor will he be.  The Führer will deliver to Germany a health care plan that protects only the healthy.

Protester #1: Ah-choo!

Nazi Rep: Gesundheit.  My saying that, by the way, is pretty much the extent of your new health coverage.

Protester #1: Wait — but, it’s only the sniffles.  And look at me!  I’m of pure Aryan stock.

Nazi Rep: Apparently, you’ve not been bred as perfectly as we’d like.  Suffer the consequences!

Protester #2: But what if we catch what he has?  

Nazi Rep: Then you’re too weak, too.  You only deserve medicine if you don’t need it, and if you can get sick from a puny virus, you clearly need medicine.  And if you need medicine, we’re not going to give it to you.

Protester #3: We’ve changed our minds.  We want health care for all of us.  

Nazi Rep: That’s precisely what you’ve been protesting against, you realize.

Protester #4: Oh, we don’t actually mean what we’re saying — we’re just out here exercising our right to free speech.

Nazi Rep: Which you don’t have, since we live in 1930-something Germany.

Josh Fischel lives near Boston with his wife and their dog. He teaches sixth grade humanities, and has been published in The New York Times, The Believer, and Bean Soup.