The following article shows above all that the Dutch officials took part in an international discourse and did not see anything wrong in publishing in Germany.

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  • General Statistical Archive Vol. 26/1 (1936), p. 59 et seq.

Article by two leading Dutch officials, Methorst and Lentz, in the German journal "Allgemeines Statistisches Archiv" published in 1936 dealing with "Papiermenschen" and the interest of the State in Registration.

Translation of the article:

B. Statistical Legislation, Administration and Organisation

The National Census and the New Unified System Introduced in the Netherlands

Prof Dr H. W. Methorst
General Director of the Central Statistical Office and Head of the Reich Inspectorate for the Population Register,

J L Lentz
Reich Inspector for the Population Register

Contents: A. Old and new opinions on the national registration. – B. Fundamentals of the Population Register. – C. The family and individual card system in the Netherlands. – D. Future services of the Population Register.

National registration in general is a matter of great interest in all cultural states. This interest can be explained by the fact that this registration starts and ends with man himself. The fact that man himself is the object to be registered and that a well run register can be of far-reaching significance for himself and his descendants means that we can expect a far greater, and widely held, interest, given that a growing need for reliable and comparable statistics on the most widely varied sectors of the population is making itself felt in almost every nation of the world.

Until now and in most countries of the world, national registration has been content with the following two factors: 1. population censuses, carried out every 5 or 10 years; 2. a register of civil status, which records a number of demographic facts in chronological sequence.

The register of civil status serves to prove a number of important events in human life, including births, marriages, deaths, as well as recognition, legitimation, divorce etc. and is, like the population census, to be regarded as a statistical register. This statistical aspect of national registration, although very important in itself, can only enlighten us on certain events at set moments.

An equally important aspect of registration – the population register – is still unknown in some countries, or does not command the interest its nature deserves. All the same, the dynamic character of the population register makes it fully worthy of full and general attention; it reveals the mobility of the population, establishes the ebb and flow of the number of residents, gives addresses for and personal details of the said residents, lists the successive places of residence of individual people and thus enables all kinds of research and investigations that may be desirable for many purposes. In short, the population register, which collects and continually records details of the births, marriages, deaths and migration in a family group, gives an overview of all data relating to a family or an individual.

There has been a population register in Belgium since 1847, in the Netherlands since 1850, in Italy since 1871 and in Denmark since 1924.

The population register is, theoretically speaking, to be seen as a collection of paper people, who represent the natural person at a central point, to give the authorities all the information they desire about his person.


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