Presentation on theme: "Dealings with the Devil The American Eugenics Movement and Nazi Germany."— Presentation transcript:
Dealings with the Devil The American Eugenics Movement and Nazi Germany
“ OUR STARTING POINT IS NOT THE INDIVIDUAL, AND WE DO NOT SUBSCRIBE TO THE VIEW THAT ONE SHOULD FEED THE HUNGRY, GIVE DRINK TO THE THIRSTY, OR CLOTHE THE NAKED.... OUR OBJECTIVES ARE ENTIRELY DIFFERENT: WE MUST HAVE A HEALTHY PEOPLE IN ORDER TO PREVAIL IN THE WORLD. ” --Joseph Goebbels, Minister of Propaganda, 1938
It’s a Small World, After All: How Eugenics Spread Across the Globe Charles Galton coined the term eugenics, which means “good birth,” in 1883. Eugenicists worldwide collaborated through the International Federation of Eugenic Organizations, or FEO. Following WWI, American eugenicist Charles Davenport worked to bring Germany back into the international Eugenics movement. In 1929, the FEO met in Italy in honor of Mussolini.
The Seed is Planted: Eugenics Takes Root in Germany During the early 1900s, German doctors gathered information about Eugenics policies in the US, including marriage laws, immigration restrictions, and statutes designed to prevent “inferior families” from having children. German eugenicists traveled to America to see “eugenics in action” and read translated books by American eugenicists. In Germany, eugenics was called “racial hygiene.”
“IF ONE IMAGINES... A BATTLEFIELD COVERED WITH THOUSANDS OF DEAD YOUTHS... AND THEN OUR INSTITUTIONS FOR IDIOTS AND THEIR CARE..., ONE IS MOST APPALLED BY... THE SACRIFICE OF THE BEST OF HUMANITY WHILE THE BEST CARE IS LAVISHED ON LIFE OF NEGATIVE WORTH.” - KARL BINDING AND ALFRED HOCHE, AUTHORIZATION OF THE DESTRUCTION OF LIFE UNWORTHY OF LIFE, LEIPZIG, 1920
Through Tinted Lenses: Eugenics and Prejudice Resentment toward the disabled, mentally ill and other “useless eaters” was strong in post- WWI Germany due to scarce resources and economic disaster. German citizens who had lost sons during the war were bitter towards those who had avoided the battlefield due to mental illness or physical disability. After their embarrassing and costly defeat in WWI, Germans were eager for someone to blame for their problems.
Racial Hygiene: Eugenics in Action German physician Alfred Ploetz founded the Society for Racial Hygiene in 1905. In 1921, Fritz Lenz, Eugen Fischer, and Erwin Dowr published a 2 volume collection titled Outline of Human Genetics and Racial Hygiene, which cites American scholars such as Davenport and Goddard. Collaborating with Davenport, Fischer founded a Committee on Race Crossing within the FEO. The committee was chaired by Lenz, who advocated research on intermarriage with Jews.
From Bad to Worse: The Evolution of Nazi Policy July, 1933: The “Law for the Prevention of Diseased Offspring” called for compulsory sterilization of people with “feeblemindedness,” schizophrenia, manic depression, genetic epilepsy, Huntington’s chorea, genetic blindness or deafness,physical deformations, or alcoholism. November, 1934: The “Law Against Dangerous Career Criminals” called for the detention and castration of sex offenders and people guilty of “racial-biological” crimes.
Nazi Policies, Cont’d June, 1935: The “Law for the Alteration of the Law for the Prevention of Genetically Diseased Offspring” called for compulsory abortion for “hereditarily ill” women. September, 1935: The “Law for the Protection of German Blood and German Honor” banned intermarriage and interracial sex.
September, 1939: Hitler ordered the systematic murder of the mentally ill and physically disabled in Germany and Austria. January, 1940: German doctors gassed mental patients as part of the T4 program.
Twelve Million Souls and Counting: The Human Cost of Eugenics In his quest to create a “Master Race,” Hitler killed over 12 million people - 6 million Jews and 6 million mentally ill, physically disabled, ‘Gypsy,’ or otherwise ‘unfit’ people. From 1939 to 1945 about 200,000 people - more than 5,000 children and 70,000 adults - were murdered in euthanasia programs. About 2 million people were gassed at Chelmo, Sobibor, Treblinka, and Belzec as part of the “Final Solution.”
Twins used in experiments by Dr. Mengele Cemetery at Hadamar where victims of euthanasia killing at Hadamar were buried.
Thick as Thieves: The Nazis and the ERO Adolf Hitler used ideas from Outline of Human Genetics and Racial Hygiene in his manifesto Mein Kampf. Frederick Osborn, secretary of the American Eugenics Society, hailed “recent developments in Germany” as “perhaps the most important experiment which has ever been tried.” American eugenicists met with Nazi leaders, scholars, and scientists. “Eugenics in Germany,” a variation of the Nazi propaganda film “Erbkrank,” was shown in some American high schools.
Voices in the Darkness: Confronting Eugenicists and the Nazis Some doctors ‘rediagnosed’ patients to save them from the T4 program. Proffessor Hans Gerhard Creutfeldt saved almost all of his patients. The Church objected to the T4 program, although not to other Nazi policies.