War Against the Weak: Eugenics and America's Campaign to Cre

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CHAPTER 13: Eugenicide

Murder was always an option.

Point eight of the Preliminary Report of the Committee of the Eugenic Section of the American Breeders Association to Study and to Report on the Best Practical Means fir Cutting Off the Defective Germ-Plasm in the Human Population specified euthanasia as a possibility to be considered. [1] Of course euthanasia was merely a euphemism-actually a misnomer. Eugenicists did not see euthanasia as a "merciful killing" of those in pain, but rather a "painless killing" of people deemed unworthy of life. The method most whispered about, and publicly denied, but never out of mind, was a "lethal chamber."

The lethal chamber first emerged in Britain during the Victorian era as a humane means of killing stray dogs and cats. Dr. Benjamin Ward Richardson patented a "Lethal Chamber for the Painless Extinction of Lower Animal Life" in the 1880s. Richardson's original blueprints show a large wood- and glass-paneled chamber big enough for a Saint Bernard or several smaller dogs, serviced by a tall slender tank for carbonic acid gas, and a heating apparatus. In 1884 the Battersea Dogs Home in London became one of the first institutions to install the device, and used it continuously with "perfect success" according to a sales proposal at the time. By the turn of the century other charitable animal institutions in England and other European countries were also using the chamber. [2]

This solution for unwanted pets was almost immediately contemplated as a solution for unwanted humans -- criminals, the feebleminded and other misfits. The concept of the lethal chamber was common vernacular by the turn of the century. When mentioned, it needed no explanation; everyone understood what it meant.

In 1895, the British novelist Robert Chambers penned his vision of a horrifying world twenty-five years into the future. He wrote of a New York where the elevated trains were dismantled and "the first Government Lethal Chamber was opened on Washington Square." No explanation of "Government Lethal Chamber" was offered-or necessary. Indeed, the idea of gassing the unwanted became a topic of contemporary chitchat. In 1901, the British author Arnold White, writing in Efficiency and Empire, chastised "flippant people of lazy mind [who] talk lightly of the 'lethal chamber' .... " [3]

In 1905, the British eugenicist and birth control advocate H. G. Wells published A Modern Utopia. "There would be no killing, no lethal chambers," he wrote. Another birth control advocate, the socialist writer Eden Paul, differed with Wells and declared that society must protect itself from "begetters of anti-social stocks which would injure generations to come. If it [society] reject the lethal chamber, what other alternative can the socialist state devise?" [4]

The British eugenicist Robert Rentoul's 1906 book, Race Culture; Or, Race Suicide?, included a long section entitled "The Murder of Degenerates." In it he routinely referred to Dr. D. F. Smith's earlier suggestion that those found guilty of homicide be executed in a "lethal chamber" rather than by hanging. He then cited a new novel whose character "advocate[d] the doctrine of 'euthanasia' for those suffering from incurable physical diseases." Rentoul admitted he had received many letters in support of killing the unfit, but he rejected them as too cruel, explaining, "These [suggestions] seem to fail to recognize that the killing off of few hundreds of lunatics, idiots, etc., would not tend to effect a cure." [5]

The debate raged among British eugenicists, provoking damnation in the press. In 1910, the eugenic extremist George Bernard Shaw lectured at London's Eugenics Education Society about mass murder in lethal chambers. Shaw proclaimed, "A part of eugenic politics would finally land us in an extensive use of the lethal chamber. A great many people would have to be put out of existence, simply because it wastes other people's time to look after them." Several British newspapers excoriated Shaw and eugenics under such headlines as "Lethal Chamber Essential to Eugenics." [6]

One opponent of eugenics condemned "much wild and absurd talk about lethal chambers .... " But in another article a eugenicist writing under the pseudonym of Vanoc argued that eugenics was needed precisely because systematic use of lethal chambers was unlikely. "I admit the word 'Eugenics' is repellent, but the thing is essential to our existence .... It is also an error to believe than the plans and specifications for County Council lethal-chambers have yet been prepared." [7]

The Eugenics Education Society in London tried to dispel all "dark mutterings regarding 'lethal chambers.'" Its key activist Saleeby insisted, "We need mention, only to condemn, suggestions for 'painless extinction,' lethal chambers of carbonic acid, and so forth. As I incessantly have to repeat, eugenics has nothing to do with killing .... " Saleeby returned to this time and again. When lecturing in Battle Creek, Michigan, at the First National Conference on Race Betterment in 1914, he emphasized a vigorous rejection of "the lethal chamber, the permission of infant mortality, interference with [pre]-natal life, and all other synonyms for murder." [8]

But many British eugenicists clung to the idea. Arthur F. Tredgold was a leading expert on mental deficiency and one of the earliest members of the Eugenics Education Society; his academic credentials eventually won him a seat on the Brock Commission on Mental Deficiency. Tredgold's landmark Textbook on Mental Deficiency, first published in 1908, completely avoided discussion of the lethal chamber. But three subsequent editions published over the next fourteen years did discuss it, with each revision displaying greater acceptance of the idea. In those editions Tredgold equivocated: "We may dismiss the suggestion of a 'lethal chamber.' I do not say that society, in self-defense, would be unjustified in adopting such a method of ridding itself of its anti-social constituents. There is much to be said for and against the proposal. ... " By the sixth edition, Tredgold had modified the paragraph to read: "The suggestion [of the lethal chamber] is a logical one .... It is probable that the community will eventually, in self-defense, have to consider this question seriously." The next two editions edged into outright, if limited, endorsement. While qualifying that morons need not be put to death, Tredgold concluded that for some 80,000 imbeciles and idiots in Britain, "it would be an economical and humane procedure were their existence to be painlessly terminated .... The time has come when euthanasia should be permitted .... " [9]

Leaders of the American eugenic establishment also debated lethal chambers and other means of euthanasia. But in America, while the debate began as an argument about death with dignity for the terminally ill or those in excruciating pain, it soon became a palatable eugenic solution. In 1900, the physician W. Duncan McKim published Heredity and Human Progress, asserting, "Heredity is the fundamental cause of human wretchedness .... The surest, the simplest, the kindest, and most humane means for preventing reproduction among those whom we deem unworthy of this high privilege [reproduction], is a gentle, painless death." He added, "In carbonic acid gas, we have an agent which would instantaneously fulfill the need." [10]

By 1903, a committee of the National Conference on Charities and Correction conceded that it was as yet undecided whether "science may conquer sentiment" and ultimately elect to systematically kill the unfit. In 1904, the superintendent of New Jersey's Vineland Training School, E. R. Johnstone, raised the issue during his presidential address to the Association of Medical Officers of American Institutions for Idiotic and Feebleminded Persons. "Many plans for the elimination [of the feebleminded] have been proposed," he said, referred to numerous recently published suggestions of a "painless death." That same year, the notion of executing habitual criminals and the incurably insane was offered to the National Prison Association. [11]

Some U.S. lawmakers considered similar ideas. Two years later, the Ohio legislature considered a bill empowering physicians to chloroform permanently diseased and mentally incapacitated persons. In reporting this, Rentoul told his British colleagues that it was Ohio's attempt to "murder certain persons suffering from incurable disease." Iowa considered a similar measure. [12]

By 1910, the idea of sending the unfit into lethal chambers was regularly bandied about in American sociological and eugenic circles, causing a debate no less strident than the one in England. In 1911, E. B. Sherlock's book, The Feebleminded: a guide to study and practice, acknowledged that "glib suggestions of the erection of lethal chambers are common enough .... " Like others, he rejected execution in favor of eugenic termination of bloodlines. "Apart from the difficulty that the provision of lethal chambers is impracticable in the existing state law ... ," he continued, "the removal of them [the feebleminded] would do practically nothing toward solving the chief problem with the mentally defective set ... , the persistence of the obnoxious stock." [13]

But other eugenicists were more amenable to the idea. The psychologist and eugenicist Henry H. Goddard seemed to almost express regret that such proposals had not already been implemented. In his famous study, The Knllikak Family, Goddard commented, "For the low-grade idiot, the loathsome unfortunate that may be seen in our institutions, some have proposed the lethal chamber. But humanity is steadily tending away from the possibility of that method, and there is no probability that it will ever be practiced." Goddard pointed to family-wide castration, sterilization and segregation as better solutions because they would address the genetic source. [14]

In 1912, Laughlin and others at the Eugenics Section of the American Breeders Association considered euthanasia as the eighth of nine options. Their final report, published by the Carnegie Institution as a two-volume bulletin, enumerated the "Suggested Remedies" and equivocated on euthanasia. Point eight cited the example of ancient Sparta, fabled for drowning its weak young boys in a river or letting them die of exposure to ensure a race of warriors. Mixing condemnation with admiration, the Carnegie report declared, "However much we deprecate Spartan ideals and her means of advancing them, we must admire her courage in so rigorously applying so practical a system of selection .... Sparta left but little besides tales of personal valor to enhance the world's culture. With euthanasia, as in the case of polygamy, an effective eugenical agency would be purchased at altogether too dear a moral price." [15]

William Robinson, a New York urologist, published widely on the topic of birth control and eugenics. In Robinson's book, Eugenics, Marriage and Birth Control (practical Eugenics), he advocated gassing the children of the unfit. In plain words, Robinson insisted: "The best thing would be to gently chloroform these children or to give them a dose of potassium cyanide." Margaret Sanger was well aware that her fellow birth control advocates were promoting lethal chambers, but she herself rejected the idea completely. "Nor do we believe," wrote Sanger in Pivot of Civilization, "that the community could or should send to the lethal chamber the defective progeny resulting from irresponsible and unintelligent breeding." [16]

Still, American eugenicists never relinquished the notion that America could bring itself to mass murder. At the First National Conference on Race Betterment, University of Wisconsin eugenicist Leon]. Cole lectured on the dysgenic effects of charity and medicine on eugenic progress. He made a clear distinction between Darwin's concept of natural selection and the newer idea of simple "selection." The difference, Cole explained, "is that instead of being natural selection it is now conscious selection on the part of the breeder. ... Death is the normal process of elimination in the social organism, and we might carry the figure a step further and say that in prolonging the lives of defectives we are tampering with the functioning of the social kidneys!" [17]

Paul Popenoe, leader of California's eugenics movement and coauthor of the widely-used textbook Applied Eugenics, agreed that the easiest way to counteract feeblemindedness was simple execution. "From an historical point of view," he wrote, "the first method which presents itself is execution .... Its value in keeping up the standard of the race should not be underestimated." [18]

Madison Grant, who functioned as president of the Eugenics Research Association and the American Eugenics Society, made the point clear in The Passing of the Great Race. "Mistaken regard for what are believed to be divine laws and a sentimental belief in the sanctity of human life tend to prevent both the elimination of defective infants and the sterilization of such adults as are themselves of no value to the community. The laws of nature require the obliteration of the unfit and human life is valuable only when it is of use to the community or race." [19]

On November 12, 1915, the issue of eugenic euthanasia sprang out of the shadows and into the national headlines. It began as an unrelated medical decision on Chicago's Near North Side. At 4 A.M. that day, a woman named Anna Bollinger gave birth at German-American Hospital. The baby was somewhat deformed and suffered from extreme intestinal and rectal abnormalities, as well as other complications. The delivering physicians awakened Dr. Harry Haiselden, the hospital's chief of staff. Haiselden came in at once. He consulted with colleagues. There was great disagreement over whether the child could be saved. But Haiselden decided the baby was too afflicted and fundamentally not worth saving. It would be killed. The method -- denial of treaunent. [20]

Catherine Walsh, probably a friend of Anna Bollinger's, heard the news and sped to the hospital to help. She found the baby, who had been named Allan, alone in a bare room. He was naked and appeared to have been lying in one position unattended. Walsh urgently called for Haiselden, "to beg that the child be taken to its mother," and dramatically recalled, "It was condemned to death, and I knew its mother would be its most merciful judge." [21]

Walsh pleaded with Haiselden not to kill the baby by withholding treatment. "It was not a monster -- that child," Walsh later told an inquest. "It was a beautiful baby. I saw no deformities." Walsh had patted the infant lightly. Allan's eyes were open, and he waved his tiny fists at her. She kissed his forehead. "I knew," she recalled, "if its mother got her eyes on it she would love it and never permit it to be left to die." Begging the doctor once more, Walsh tried an appeal to his humanity. "If the poor little darling has one chance in a thousand," she pleaded, "won't you operate and save it?" [22]

Haiselden laughed at Walsh, retorting, "I'm afraid it might get well." He was a skilled and experienced surgeon, trained by the best doctors in Chicago, and now chief of the hospital's medical staff. He was also an ardent eugenicist. [23]

Chicago's health commissioner, Dr. John Dill Robertson, learned of the deliberate euthanasia. He went to the hospital and told Haiselden he did not agree that "the child would grow up a mental defective." He later recollected, "I thought the child was in a dying condition, and I had doubts that an operation then would save it. Yet I believed it had one chance in 100,000, and I advised Dr. Haiselden to give it this one chance." But Haiselden refused. [24]

Quiet euthanasia of newborns was not uncommon in Chicago. Haiselden, however, publicly defended his decision to withhold treatment as a kind of eugenic expedient, throwing the city and the nation into moral turmoil amid blaring newspaper headlines. An inquest was convened a few days later. Some of Haiselden's most trusted colleagues were impaneled on the coroner's jury. Health Commissioner Robertson testified, "I think it very wrong not to save life, let that life be what it may. That is the function of a physician. I believe this baby might have grown up to be an average man .... I would have operated and saved this baby's life .... " [25]

At one point Haiselden angrily interrupted the health commissioner's testimony to question why he was being singled out when doctors throughout Chicago were routinely killing, on average, one baby every day, under similar circumstances. Haiselden defiantly declared, "I should have been guilty of a graver crime if I had saved this child's life. My crime would have been keeping in existence one of nature's cruelest blunders." A juror shot back, "What do you mean by that?" Haiselden responded, "Exactly that. I do not think this child would have grown up to be a mental defective. I know it." [26]

After tempestuous proceedings, the inquest ruled, "We believe that a prompt operation would have prolonged and perhaps saved the life of the child. We find no evidence from the physical defects that the child would have become mentally or morally defective." The doctor jurors concluded that the child had at least a one-in-three chance -- some thought an "even chance" -- of surviving. But they also decided that Haiselden was within his professional rights to decline treatment. No law compelled him to operate on the child. The doctor was released unpunished, and efforts by the Illinois attorney general to indict him for murder were blocked by the local prosecutor. [27]

The medical establishment in Chicago and throughout the nation was rocked. The Chicago Tribune ran a giant banner headline across the width of its front page: "Baby Dies; Physician Upheld." One reader in Washington, D.C., wrote a letter to the editor asking, "Is it not strange that the whole country should be so shaken, almost hysterical, over the death of a babe never consciously alive ... ? " But the nation was momentarily transfixed. [28]

Haiselden considered his legal vindication a powerful victory for eugenics. "Eugenics? Of course it's eugenics," he told one reporter. On another occasion he remarked, "Which do you prefer -- six days of Baby Bollinger or seventy years of Jukes?" [29]

Emboldened, Haiselden proudly revealed that he had euthanized other such newborns in the past. He began granting high-profile media interviews to advertise his determination to continue passively euthanizing infants. Within two weeks, he had ordered his staff to withhold treatment from several more deformed or birth-defected infants. Haiselden would sometimes send instructions via cross-country telegraph while on the lecture tour that arose from his eugenic celebrity. Other times he would handle it personally, like the time he left a newly delivered infant's umbilical cord untied and let it bleed to death. Sometimes he took a more direct approach and simply injected newborns with opiates. [30]

The euthanasia of Allan Bollinger may have begun as one doctor's controversial professional decision, but it immediately swirled into a national eugenic spectacle. Days after the inquest ruling, The Independent, a Hearst weekly devoted to pressing issues of the day, ran an editorial asking "Was the Doctor Right?" The Independent invited readers to sound off. In a special section, The Independent published supportive letters from prominent eugenicists, including Davenport himself. "If the progress of surgery," wrote Davenport, "is to be used to the detriment of the race ... it may conceivably destroy the race. Shortsighted they who would unduly restrict the operation of what is one of nature's greatest racial blessings -- death." [31]

Haiselden continued to rally for eugenic euthanasia with a six-week series in the Chicago American. He justified his killings by claiming that public institutions for the feebleminded, epileptic and tubercular were functioning as lethal chambers of a sort. After clandestinely visiting the Illinois Institution for the Feebleminded at Lincoln, Illinois, Haiselden claimed that windows were deliberately left open and unscreened, allowing drafts and infecting flies to swarm over patients. He charged that Lincoln consciously permitted "flies from the toilets, garbage and from the eruptions of patients suffering from acute and chronic troubles to go at will over the entire institution. Worse still," he proclaimed, "I found that inmates were fed with the milk from a herd of cattle reeking with tuberculosis." [32]

At the time, milk from cattle with tuberculosis was a well-known cause of infection and death from the disease. [33] Lincoln maintained its own herd of seventy-two cows, which produced about 50,000 gallons of milk a year for its own consumption. Ten diseased cows had died within the previous two years. State officials admitted that their own examinations had determined that as many as half of the cows were tubercular, but there was no way to know which ones were infected because "a tubercular cow may be the fattest cow in the herd." Lincoln officials claimed that their normal pasteurization "by an experienced employee" killed the tuberculosis bacteria. They were silent on the continuous handling of the milk by infected residents. [34]

Medical watchdogs had often speculated that institutions for the feeble-minded were really nothing more than slow-acting lethal chambers. But Haiselden never resorted to the term lethal chamber. He called such institutions "slaughterhouses." [35]

In tuberculosis colonies, residents continuously infected and reinfected each other, often receiving minimal or no treatment. At Lincoln, the recently established tuberculosis unit housed just forty beds for an estimated tubercular population of hundreds. Lincoln officials asserted that only the most severely infected children were placed in that ward. They stressed that other institutions for the feebleminded recorded much higher mortality rates, some as high as 40 percent. [36]

Eugenicists believed that when tuberculosis was fatal, the real culprit was not bacteria, but defective genes. The ERO kept special files on mortality rates resulting from hereditary tuberculosis, compiled by the Belgian eugenicist Govaerts and others. [37]

Tuberculosis was an omnipresent topic in textbooks on eugenics. Typical was a chapter in Davenport's Heredity in Relation to Eugenics (1911). He claimed that only the submerged tenth was vulnerable. "The germs are ubiquitous .... Why do only 10 percent die from the attacks of this parasite? ... It seems perfectly plain that death from tuberculosis is the result of infection added to natural and acquired non-resistance. It is then highly undesirable that two persons with weak resistance should marry .... " Popenoe and Johnson's textbook, Applied Eugenics, devoted a chapter to "Lethal Selection," which operated "through the destruction of the individual by some adverse feature of the environment, such as excessive cold, or bacteria, or by bodily deficiency." [38]

Some years earlier, the president of the National Conference on Charities and Correction had told his institutional superintendents caring for the feebleminded, "We wish the parasitic strain ... to die out." Even an article in Institution Quarterly, Illinois's own journal, admitted, "it would be an act of kindness to them, and a protection to the state, if they could be killed." [39]

No wonder that at one international conference on eugenics, Davenport proclaimed without explanation from the podium, "One may even view with satisfaction the high death rate in an institution for low grade feeble-minded, while one regards as a national disaster the loss of ... the infant child of exceptional parents." [40]

Haiselden himself quipped, "Death is the Great and Lasting Disinfectant." [41]

Haiselden's accusations of deliberate passive euthanasia by neglect and abuse could neither be verified nor dismissed. Lincoln's understaffed, overcrowded and decrepit facility consistently reported staggering death rates, often as high as 12 percent per year. In 1904, for example, 109 of its epileptic children died, constituting at least 10 percent and probably far more of its youth population; cause of death was usually listed as "exhaustion due to epileptic seizures." Between 1914 and 1915, a bout of dysentery claimed eight patients; "heat exhaustion" was listed as the cause. During the same period, four individuals died shortly after admission before any preliminary examination at all; their deaths were categorized as "undetermined." [42]

For some of its most vulnerable groups, Lincoln's death rate was particularly high. As many as 30 percent of newly admitted epileptic children died within eighteen months of admission. Moreover, in 1915, the overall death rate among patients in their first two years of residence jumped from 4.2 percent to 10 percent. [43]

Tuberculosis was a major factor. In 1915, Lincoln reported that nearly all of its incoming patients were designated feebleminded; roughly 20 percent were classified as epileptics; and some 27 percent of its overall population were "in the various stages of tubercular involvement." No isolation was provided for infected patients until the forty-bed tuberculosis unit opened. Lincoln officials worried that the statistics were "likely to leave the impression that the institution is a 'hot-bed' for the spread of tuberculosis." Officials denied this, explaining that many of the children came from filthy environments, and "the fact that feebleminded children have less resistance, account(s) for the high percentage of tuberculosis found among them." [44]

Lincoln officials clearly accepted the eugenic approach to feeblemindedness as gospel. Their reports and explanations were laced with scientific quotations on mental deficiency from Tredgold, who advocated euthanasia for severe cases, and Barr, who extolled the wisdom of the Kansas castrations. Lincoln officials also made clear that they received many of their patients as court-ordered institutionalizations from the Municipal Court of Chicago; as such, they received regular guidance from the court's supervising judge, Harry Olson. Eugenical News praised Olson for operating the court's psychopathic laboratory, which employed Laughlin as a special consultant on sterilization. Olson was vital to the movement and hailed by Eugenical News as "one of its most advanced representatives." In 1922, Olson became president of the Eugenics Research Association. [45]

Moreover, staff members at Lincoln were some of the leading eugenicists in Illinois. Lincoln psychologist Clara Town chaired the Eugenics Committee of the Illinois State Commission of Charities and Corrections. Town had helped compile a series of articles on eugenics and feeblemindedness, including one by her friend Henry H. Goddard, who had invented the original classifications of feeblemindedness. One reviewer described Town's articles as arguments that there was little use in caring for the institutionalized feebleminded, who would die anyway if left in the community; caring for them was little more than "unnatural selection." [46]

For decades, medical investigators would question how the death rates at asylums, including the one in Lincoln, Illinois, could be so high. In the 1990s, the average life expectancy for individuals with mental retardation was 66.2 years. In the 1930s, the average life expectancy for those classified as feebleminded was approximately 18.5 years. Records suggest that a disproportionate percentage of the feebleminded at Lincoln died before the age of ten. [47]

Haiselden became an overnight eugenic celebrity, known to the average person because of his many newspaper articles, speaking tours, and his outrageous diatribes. In 1917, Hollywood came calling. The film was called The Black Stork. Written by Chicago American reporter Jack Lait, it was produced in Hollywood and given a massive national distribution and promotion campaign. Haiselden played himself in a fictionalized account of a eugenically mismatched couple who are counseled by Haiselden against having children because they are likely to be defective. Eventually the woman does give birth to a defective child, whom she then allows to die. The dead child levitates into the waiting arms of Jesus Christ. It was unbridled cinematic propaganda for the eugenics movement. [48]

In many theaters, such as the LaSalle in Chicago, the movie played continuously from 9 A.M. until 11 P.M. National publicity advertised it as a "eugenic love story." Sensational movie posters called it a "eugenic photoplay." One advertisement quoted Swiss eugenicist Auguste Forel's warning: "The law of heredity winds like a red thread through the family history of every criminal, of every epileptic, eccentric and insane person. Shall we sit still ... without applying the remedy?" Another poster depicted Haiselden's office door with a notice: "BABIES NOT TREATED." In 1917, a display advertisement for the film encouraged: "Kill Defectives, Save the Nation and See 'The Black Stork.''' [49]

The Black Stork played at movie theaters around the nation for more than a decade. [50]

Gassing the unwanted, the lethal chamber and other methods of euthanasia became a part of everyday American parlance and ethical debate some two decades before President Woodrow Wilson, in General Order 62, directed that the "Gas Service" become the "Chemical Warfare Service," instructing them to develop toxic gas weapons for world war. The lethal chamber was a eugenic concept more than two decades before Nevada approved the first such chamber for criminal executions in 1921, and then gassed with cyanide a Chinese-born murderer, the first such execution in the world. Davenport declared that capital punishment was a eugenic necessity. Popenoe's textbook, Applied Eugenics, listed execution as one of nine suggested remedies for defectives -- without specifying criminals. [51]

In the first decades of the twentieth century, America's eugenics movement inspired and spawned a world of look-alikes, act-alikes and thinkalikes. The U.S. movement also rendered scientific aid and comfort to undisguised racists everywhere, from Walter Plecker in Virginia right across Europe. American theory, practice and legislation were the models. In France, Belgium, Sweden, England and elsewhere in Europe, each clique of raceological eugenicists did their best to introduce eugenic principles into national life; perhaps more importantly, they could always point to recent precedents established in the United States.

Germany was no exception. German eugenicists had formed academic and personal relationships with Davenport and the American eugenic establishment from the turn of the century. Even after World War I, when Germany would not cooperate with the International Federation of Eugenic Organizations because of French, English and Belgian involvement, its bonds with Davenport and the rest of the U.S. movement remained strong. American foundations such as the Carnegie Institution and the Rockefeller Foundation generously funded German race biology with hundreds of thousands of dollars, even as Americans stood in breadlines. [52]

Germany had certainly developed its own body of eugenic knowledge and library of publications. Yet German readers still closely followed American eugenic accomplishments as the model: biological courts, forced sterilization, detention for the socially inadequate, debates on euthanasia. As America's elite were describing the socially worthless and the ancestrally unfit as "bacteria," "vermin," "mongrels" and "subhuman," a superior race of Nordics was increasingly seen as the final solution to the globe's eugenic problems. [53]

America had established the value of race and blood. In Germany, the concept was known as Rasse und Blut.

U.S. proposals, laws, eugenic investigations and ideology were not undertaken quietly out of sight of German activists. They became inspirational blueprints for Germany's rising tide of race biologists and race-based hatemongers, be they white-coated doctors studying Eugenical News and attending congresses in New York, or brown-shirted agitators waving banners and screaming for social upheaval in the streets of Munich.

One such agitator was a disgruntled corporal in the German army. He was an extreme nationalist who also considered himself a race biologist and an advocate of a master race. He was willing to use force to achieve his nationalist racial goals. His inner circle included Germany's most prominent eugenic publisher. In 1924, he was serving time in prison for mob action. [54] While in prison, he spent his time poring over eugenic textbooks, which extensively quoted Davenport, Popenoe and other American raceological stalwarts. [55] Moreover, he closely followed the writings of Leon Whitney, president of the American Eugenics Society, and Madison Grant, who extolled the Nordic race and bemoaned its corruption by Jews, Negroes, Slavs and others who did not possess blond hair and blue eyes. The young German corporal even wrote one of them fan mail. [56]

In The Passing of the Great Race, Madison Grant wrote: "Mistaken regard for what are believed to be divine laws and a sentimental belief in the sanctity of human life tend to prevent both the elimination of defective infants and the sterilization of such adults as are themselves of no value to the community. The laws of nature require the obliteration of the unfit and human life is valuable only when it is of use to the community or race." [57]

One day in the early 1930s, AES president Whitney visited the home of Grant, who was at the time chairing a eugenic immigration committee. Whitney wanted to show off a letter he had just received from Germany, written by the corporal, now out of prison and rising in the German political scene. Grant could only smile. He pulled out his own letter. It was from the same German, thanking Grant for writing The Passing of the Great Race. The fan letter stated that Grant's book was "his Bible." [58]

The man writing both letters to the American eugenic leaders would soon burn and gas his name into the blackest corner of history. He would duplicate the American eugenic program -- both that which was legislated and that which was only brashly advocated -- and his group would consistently point to the United States as setting the precedents for Germany's actions. And then this man would go further than any American eugenicist ever dreamed, further than the world would ever tolerate, further than humanity will ever forget.

The man who sent those letters was Adolf Hitler. [59]


Francis Galton's original scrap of paper inventing the term eugenics. UNIVERSITY COLLEGE LONDON ARCHIVES


Gregor Mendel, discoverer of the principles of heredity. AMERICAN PHILOSOPHICAL SOCIETY


Francis Galton, father of eugenics. UNIVERSITY COLLEGE LONDON ARCHIVES


First Race Betterment Conference Banquet, 1914. AMERICAN PHILOSOPHICAL SOCIETY


Chicago Tribune report of Dr. Harry Haiselden's infant euthanasia, November 1915. COURTESY OF MARTIN PERNICK


He's Going to Let Her Baby Die; This Woman Says "It's for Best."




Mother Approves Surgeon's Refusal to Prolong Life of Malformed Infant.

(Continued from first page.)

... allowed to die by not tieing the umbilical cord. If the cord, which must be severed at birth, is not tied immediately after, the infant will die of loss of blood. I do not mean to say that children are permitted often to die by their physicians. But such deaths are not infrequent.

"Instead of struggling to save deformed children and those marked plainly for insanity and uselessness," the surgeon continued, "physicians should have only the fit. I have thought over this problem for years.

"There are no defectives among the Japanese. The surgeons of Nippon often fail to tie the umbilical cord. As a result, the Japanese are a wonderfully vigorous ...


Movie industry ad for The Black Stork, April 1917. COURTESY OF MARTIN PERNICK

The eugenic photoplay --

"The Black Stork"

is being sold on a state rights basis by the

Sheriott Pictures Corporation
219 West 42nd Street
New York City












Charles B. Davenport leads a training session with field workers at the ERO, 1913. COLD SPRING HARBOR LABORATORY ARCHIVE


Harry H. Laughlin and Charles B. Davenport pose with ERO field workers, 1914. COLD SPRING HARBOR LABORATORY ARCHIVE






Exhibit poster showing dwellings of the so-called Tribe of Ishmael. AMERICAN PHILOSOPHICAL SOCIETY





6000 PERSONS IN 1890

10000 IN 1921












Exhibit: "Some people are born to be a burden on the rest," circa 1926. AMERICAN PHILOSOPHICAL SOCIETY

This light flashes every 15 seconds

Every 15 seconds $100 of your money goes for the care of persons with bad heredity such as the insane feeble-minded criminals & other defectives

Some people are born to be a burden on the rest.

This light flashes every 16 seconds

Every 16 seconds a person is born in the United States

Fitter Families CONTEST


This light flashes every 7-1/2 minutes

Every 7-1/2 minutes a high grade person is born in the United States who will have ability to do creative work & be fit for leadership. About 4% of all Americans come within this class.


Exhibit poster: "Marriages, Fit and Unfit." AMERICAN PHILOSOPHICAL SOCIETY













ERO copy of the September 1910 edition of Archiv fur Rassen- und Gesellschafts- Biologie, featuring articles by German eugenics founding father Alfred Ploetz, Ernst Rudin (who later became president of the International Federation of Eugenic Organizations), and Roderick Plate (who would become a demographic and statistical expert for Nazi killer Adolf Eichmann). AMERICAN PHILOSOPHICAL SOCIETY


Eugenics, March 1929 edition, featuring articles by Virginia racist Walter Plecker and birth control advocate Margaret Sanger. VERMONT STATE PUBLIC RECORDS DIVISION


A Journal of Race Betterment



Birth Control and Genius



State Registrar of Vital Statistics, Virginia

30 cents the copy, $3,00 a year


Carrie Buck standing in a park, date unknown. AUTHOR'S COLLECTION


Code list for IBM Hollerith punch card system used in the Jamaica Race Crossing Study, 1928. AMERICAN PHILOSOPHICAL SOCIETY




ERO's copy of German eugenicist Erwin Baur photograph. AMERICAN PHILOSOPHICAL SOCIETY


Ernst Rudin, director of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Anthropology, Human Heredity and Eugenics. MAX PLANCK INSTITUT FUR PYSCHIATRIE, HISTORISCHES ARCHIV DER KLINIK


Edwin Katzen-Ellenbogen at Buchenwald with a warm hat he claimed he never wore. NATIONAL ARCHIVES


Nazi Interior Minister Wilhelm Frick propagandizing for forced sterilization in Eugenical News, March-April 1934. AUTHOR'S COLLECTION

VOL. XIX, No. 2






German Men and Women:

While thanking you for your ready cooperation I take the liberty of giving you today a survey of the work which we propose to do, as well as an outline of the goal which we want to reach.

The National Socialistic movement under the leadership of Adolf Hitler deserves the merit of having preserved the German nation from utter political disruption and the Reich from disorganization. It would be a great mistake to believe that now the main problem has been solved. Any one with perspicacity knows that the most difficult task has yet to be accomplished, namely to stop the national and cultural ruin. German is one of the countries which not only had to bear the main burden of the World War with tremendous losses of its best men and racial constituents, but it is also the one country which has been threatened (during as well as after the war) with a decreasing birth-rate. While at the beginning of this century we still had approximately two million births per year, today these only amount to 975,000. In 1900 there were 36 living births to 1000 inhabitants -- this number dwindled down to about 15 in 1932. The number of children, then, is alarmingly decreasing -- the post-war two-child system has been superseded; the German nation has adopted the one-child and even the no-child system.

Notwithstanding the successful results achieved in reducing mortality and lengthening the span of life by means of general hygiene, control of infectious diseases, social hygiene and medicine, the decrease in mortality is not sufficient to preserve the population as a biologic national entity. Today rough figures of births and deaths give only an inadequate estimate; in order to recognize the true situation from the standpoint of population-politics, we must carefully sift the vital debits and credits by considering the age distribution of the various classes. According to the figures of the Statistical Reichsmat, the German nation with its present low birth-rate is no longer able to maintain itself by its own strength. With 15 births to 1000 inhabitants the figure falls about 30% below the increase needed to maintain the population number in the future. With the present birth-rate neither Berlin nor other large German cities, not even the medium and small towns are able to maintain their population number. Only the rural communities still have a minimal excess of births, but this is no longer sufficient to offset the loss in the German



* Translated from the German for the EUGENICAL NEWS by A. Hellmer.


Lavish praise for and photos of "Verschuer's Institute" in Eugenical News, June 1936. AUTHOR'S COLLECTION



and twins; and in this work there will not be investigated alone interesting twins, but all twins and families of definite geographical origin must be considered. It is desirable to determine what traits of bodily and mental sort, what diseases and anomalies in mankind are hereditary; according to what laws they are transmitted from one generation to the other; how far external influences that may act in inhibiting or accelerating fashion must be taken into consideration, and many other points.

The plan of the Universitat Institut fur Erbbiologie und Rassenhygiene, which occupies the second floor of the People's Hygiene House, shows a larger and a smaller lecture hall and a series of rooms for investigation, for the director and assistants, for library, for archives, for special investigators and also clinical rooms, about sixty-two rooms in all, mostly, however, of small size. Some idea of the interior is given in Fig. 2.

The EUGENICAL NEWS extends best wishes to Dr. O. Reiherr von Verschuer for the success of his work in his new and favorable environment.

FIG. 1. Haus der Volksgesundheit on south bank of the Main. Verschuer's Institute is located on the second floor.

FIG. 2. Corridor through the clinical part of Institute.


Enthusiastic essay about Nazi breeding experiments in Journal of Heredity, 1942. AUTHOR'S COLLECTION


And Other Genetic Problems of War-time Germany


DURING a visit to Germany in the winter of 1939-40, I had an opportunity to meet some of my fellow geneticists, who seemed to be working undisturbed by the campaign and the "mopping up" in Poland, and by the hectic preparations for the assaults on a great many peaceful countries such as Denmark, Norway, Holland, and Belgeium. The following unpretentious notes, written for laymen, may perhaps interest some of their many American friends.

Quite a few of them were busy treating or rather mistreating the sex cells of animals and plants in order to produce new varieties. I was introduced to all kinds of extraordinary creatures produced in that way, mice without toes or with corkscrew tails, flies that violated the very definition of a fly by having four wings instead of two, funny-looking moths, and strange plants.

Radiation, especially with X-rays, is the principal means of producing such new kinds, or rather monsters, of animals and plants, and the wizard in this business was a Russian, Dr. Timofeeff-Ressovsky, who has found an asylum at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Brain Research. An industrial concern has presented him with the enormous machines with which he radiates the minute sex cells of tiny little Drosophila flies.

Timofeeff is a fanatic and an enthusiast. I was really spellbound while he gave me a three-hour lecture on his work, incessantly gesticulating as he walked up and down the floor. The German staff of the Institute looked at this strange and temperamental Russian with amusement and sincere admiration. They even granted him a freedom of speech and opinion they would deny any other human being.

Genuine German thoroughness characterized Professor Nachtsheim's elaborate experiments on the heredity of disease. Since one can not very well make human patients mate and produce numerous babies to suit the analysis of a pathological problem, he had resorted to rabbits. These obliging and fertile animals suffer from a great many troubles like our own. It was a pathetic sight to look at the hundreds of incurables in the rabbit houses. But at that, our own institutions housing people afflicted with hereditary diseases are no less disconsolate.

When I went to see the famous old "Geheimrat" Fischer at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Anthropology, an S.A. man in black uniform was present during the conversation. He was introduced as Dr. Abel, and the director afterwards asked him to show me around. The result was that we spent several days together.

Twins in the "New Order"

Twins have, of course, for a long time been a favorite material for the study of the relative importance of heredity and environment, of nature and nurture. It does, however, take a dictatorship to oblige some ten thousand pairs of twins, as well as triplets and even quadruplets, to report to a scientific institute at regular intervals for all kinds of recordings and tests.

I was particularly interested in their laboratory for the study of the inheritance of behavior and mental capacities. For this purpose, the twins were placed in two identical rooms, separated by a narrow corridor for the observer, who had a free view over both rooms through big windows in the walls. These, however, were fitted with that remarkable kind of glass through which you can see in one direction ...


Human Betterment Foundation Annual Report for 1935 citing a letter from board member C. M. Goethe to racist eugenicist E. S. Gosney, bragging: "You will be interested to know that your work has played a powerful part in shaping the opinions of the group of intellectuals who are behind Hitler in this epoch-making program. Everywhere I sensed that their opinions have been tremendously stimulated by American thought, and particularly by the work of the Human Betterment Foundation. I want you, my dear friend, to carry this thought with you for the rest of your life, that you have really jolted into action a great government of 60 million people." VERMONT STATE PUBLIC RECORDS DIVISION







During the past year a large part of the resources of the Foundation has been devoted to a second survey of sterilization in California, in collaboration with the California Bureau of Juvenile Research. The task of collecting case histories from the state institutions was completed by the Foundation workers, and all of these were tabulated and coded. Hollerith cards were then punched for each individual, 67 facts being thus recorded for each of about 8,000 persons. These cards are now being sorted to make 1500 scatter diagrams, which will reveal the correlations of all of the facts. Males and females are tabulated separately, as are also the insane and feeble-minded. In this immense but highly important task, the staff of the Foundation has been helped by six SERA workers furnished by the Bureau of Juvenile Research. The study should be completed within the next year, and will not merely bring up to date the previous study which this Foundation made (beginning in 1926), but will extend it and result in a great deal of new and valuable information.

The Foundation has a poster exhibit in connection with the annual meeting of the American Public Health Association in Pasadena in September. Frank C. Reid of the Foundation staff spent most of the time during the week in charge of this exhibit, contacting leaders in the field of public health from all over the United States. An outstanding feature of the meeting was also the eugenics exhibit of the German government, which was devoted largely to sterilization. This is re- ...

Goethe of Sacramento, one of the members of the Foundation, wrote as [illegible] to Mr. Gosney:

"You will be interested to know that your work has played a powerful part in shaping the opinions of the group of intellectuals who are behind Hitler in this epoch-making program. Everywhere I sensed that their opinions have been tremendously stimulated by American thought, and particularly by the work of the Human Betterment Foundation. I want you, my dear friend, to carry this thought with you for the rest of your life, that you have really jolted into action a great government of 60,000,000 people."

The offices of the Foundation are frequently visited by distinguished people from out of town. Among the most recent callers who were in- [illegible] in eugenic sterilization were: Dr. Harry H. Benjamin of New York, Dr. Wilhelm Krauss of the Institute of Race Biology, Sweden; and ...


Nazi eugenicist Dr. Otmar Freiherr von Verschuer examining twins; his assistant, Josef Mengele, continued the experiments at Auschwitz. MAX PLANCK GESELLSCHAFT ARCHIV


Nazi eugenicist Dr. Otmar Freiherr von Verschuer examining twins; his assistant, Josef Mengele, continued the experiments at Auschwitz. MAX PLANCK GESELLSCHAFT ARCHIV


Auschwitz's murderous doctor, Josef Mengele. AUSCHWITZ ARCHIV
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Re: War Against the Weak: Eugenics and America's Campaign to

Postby admin » Thu Jul 31, 2014 6:55 am

CHAPTER 14: Rasse und Blut

Negative eugenic solutions appeared in Germany at the end of the nineteenth century.

From 1895 to 1900, German physician Gustav Boeters worked as a ship's doctor in the United States and traveled throughout the country. He learned of America's castrations, sterilizations and numerous marriage restriction laws. When Boeters returned to Germany, he spent the next three decades writing newspaper articles, drafting proposed legislation and clamoring to anyone who would listen to inaugurate eugenic sterilization. Constantly citing American precedents, from its state marriage restriction statutes to sterilization laws from Iowa to Oregon, Boeters passionately argued for Germany to follow suit. "In a cultured nation of the first order -- the United States of America -- that which we strive toward [sterilization legislation], was introduced and tested long ago. It is all so clear and simple." Eventually, Boeters became so fixated on the topic that he was considered delusional and was forced to retire from his post as a medical officer in Saxony -- but not before prompting German authorities to seriously consider eugenic laws. [1]

While Boeters was touring America, so was German physician Alfred Ploetz. A socialist thinker, Ploetz had traveled to America in the mid-1880s to investigate utopian societies. He became caught up in the post-Civil War American quest to breed better human beings. In Chicago, in 1884, he studied the writings of leading American utopians. He also spent several months working at the Icarian Colony, an obscure utopian community in Iowa. Ploetz was disappointed to find the Icarians socially disorganized, and he began to believe that racial makeup was the key to social success. [2]

Ploetz also opened a medical practice in Springfield, Massachusetts, and began to breed chickens. Later, he moved to Meriden, Connecticut, where he graduated to human breeding projects. By 1892, Ploetz had already compiled 325 genealogies of local families and hoped to gather even more from a nearby secret German lodge. A colleague recalled that Ploetz was convinced "the Anglo-Saxons of America would be left behind, unless they adopted a policy that would change the relative proportions of the population." [3]

Like his medical and utopian colleagues, Ploetz was undoubtedly a devotee of the late nineteenth century's hygiene and sanitary movement that sought to eradicate germs and disease. One of the leading exponents of this movement was Benjamin Ward Richardson, inventor of the lethal chamber and author of Hygeia, A City of Health. The same conflicts that perplexed late-nineteenth-century British and American social Darwinists, from Spencer to New York's human breeding advocates, also confronted German hereditarians. By the mid-1880s, Ploetz had propounded a eugenic racial theory. Galton's term eugenics had not yet been translated, and Ploetz coined the term Rassenhygiene (racial hygiene). He articulated his notions of racial and social health in a multivolume 1895 work, The Foundations of Racial Hygiene. Volume one was entitled Fitness of Our Race and the Protection of the Weak. His colleagues later argued that the term Rassenhygiene should not be translated into English as race hygiene, but as eugenics. The two were one and the same. [4]

Ploetz believed that a better understanding of heredity could help the state identify and encourage the best specimens of the German race. Ironically, while Ploetz believed in German national eugenics and harbored strong anti-Semitic sentiments, [5] he included the Jews among Germany's most valuable biological assets. After returning to Germany, Ploetz in 1904 helped found the Journal Archiv fur Rassen- und Gesellschaftsbiologie (Archives of Race Science and Social Biology), and the next year he organized the Society for Racial Hygiene (Gesellschaft fur Rassenhygiene) to promote eugenic research. Both entities functioned as the principal clearinghouses for German eugenics for years to come. Understandably, Ploetz emerged as Germany's leading race theorist and was often described as "the founder of eugenics as a science in Germany." [6]

Even as Boeters and Ploetz were formulating their American-influenced ideas, German social theorist Alfred Jost argued in his 1895 booklet, The Right to Death, that the state possessed the inherent right to kill the unfit and useless. The individual's "right to die" was not at issue; rather, Jost postulated, it was the state's inherent "rights to [inflict] death [that are] the key to the fitness of life." [7] The seeds of German negative eugenics were planted.

With Nordic superiority as the centerpiece of American eugenics, Davenport quickly established good personal and professional relations with German race hygienists. As director of the Carnegie Institution's Station for Experimental Evolution, Davenport was more than happy to correspond frequently with German eugenic thinkers on matters major and mundane. In the first decade of the twentieth century, typed and handwritten letters sailed back and forth across the Atlantic, encompassing requests for copies of the latest German research to replies to German appeals for Carnegie donations for a memorial to Mendel. [8]

Quickly, Davenport and the Carnegie Institution became the center of the eugenic world for German researchers. America was enacting a growing body of eugenic laws and governmental practices, and the movement enjoyed wealthy backers and the active support of U.S. officials. While a small group of German social thinkers merely expounded theory, America was taking action. At the same time, by virtue of their blond and blue-eyed Nordic nature as well as their stellar scientific reputation, Germany's budding eugenicists became desirable allies for the Americans. A clear partnership emerged in the years before World War I. In this relationship, however, America was far and away the senior partner. In eugenics, the United States led and Germany followed.

One of Davenport's earliest German allies was the anthropologist and eugenicist Eugen Fischer. Fischer was among the first "corresponding scientists" recruited by Davenport when the Cold Spring Harbor facility opened in 1904. Before long Davenport and Fischer were exchanging their latest research, including studies on eye color and hair quality. In 1908, Fischer expanded into research on race mixing between whites and Hottentots in Africa, focusing on the children known as "Rehoboth bastards." Miscegenation fascinated Davenport. He and his colleagues, both German and American, jointly pursued studies on race mixing for years to come. [9]

When Davenport elevated eugenics into a global movement, he chose German eugenicists for a major role, and British leaders went along. Indeed, the First International Congress of Eugenics in London was scheduled for July of 1912 to coincide with summer visits to Great Britain by leading German and American eugenicists. At the time, these two groups were seen as the giants of eugenic science. [10] But in fact there was only room for one giant in the post-Galtonian world -- and that would be America. When Ploetz founded the Society for Racial Hygiene in Berlin in 1905, it was little more than an outgrowth of his own social circle and his publication, Archiv fur Rassen- und Gesellschaftsbiologie. By the end of 1905, the Society for Racial Hygiene had just eighteen German and two non- German members. Even when so-called "branches" opened in other German cities, these chapters usually claimed only a handful of members. The society was less a national organization devoted to Germany's territorial borders than it was a Germanic society devoted to the Nordic roots and Germanic language innervating much of northwestern Europe. Ploetz himself maintained Swiss citizenship, as did some of his key colleagues. Thinking beyond Germany's borders, Ploetz expanded the group within a few years into the International Society for Race Hygiene. So-called branches were established in Norway and Sweden, but again, these branches were comprised of just a handful of eugenic compatriots. [11]

As society members traveled through other traditionally Germanic and Nordic lands, however, they recruited more fellow travelers. By 1909, Ploetz's growing international organization numbered more than 120 members, although most were German nationals. In the summer of that year, the organization gained prestige when Galton agreed to become its honorary president, just as he had for the budding Eugenics Education Society. [12]

Two years later, in 1911, Ploetz raised his group's profile again, this time by participating in the International Hygiene Exhibition in Dresden. But the Anglo-American bloc was clearly reluctant to see the German wing rise on the world eugenic stage. After a series of negotiations, the Anglo- American group for all intents and purposes absorbed Ploetz's budding international network into their larger and better-financed movement. [13]

Ploetz was brought in as a lead vice president of the First International Congress of Eugenics in London in 1912. He was one of about fifteen individuals invited back to Paris the next year to create the Permanent International Eugenics Committee. This new and elite panel evolved into the International Eugenics Commission and later became the International Federation of Eugenic Organizations, which governed the entire worldwide movement. After some failed attempts to regain leadership, Ploetz and his societies finally bowed to American eugenicists and their international eugenics agencies. [14]

After 1913, the United States continued to dominate by virtue of its widespread legislative and bureaucratic progress as well as its diverse research programs. These American developments were closely followed and popularized within the German scientific and eugenic establishment by Geza von Hoffmann, an Austro-Hungarian vice consul who traveled throughout the United States studying eugenic practices. Von Hoffmann's 1913 book, Racial Hygiene in the United States (Die Rassenhygiene in den Vereinigten Staaten von Nordamerika), exhaustively detailed American laws on sterilization and marriage restrictions, as well as methods of field investigation and data collection. With equal thoroughness, he delineated America's eugenic organizational structure -- from the Rockefeller Foundation to the institutions at Cold Spring Harbor. Then, in alphabetical order, he summarized each state's eugenic legislation. A comprehensive eighty-four-page bibliography was appended, with special subsections for such topics as "euthanasia" and "sterilization." [15]

Most importantly, von Hoffmann's comprehensive volume held up American eugenic theory and practice as the ideal for Germany to emulate. "Galton's dream," he wrote, "that racial hygiene should become the religion of the future, is being realized in America .... America wants to breed a new superior race." Von Hoffmann repeatedly chided Germany for allowing mental defectives to roam freely when in America such people were safely in institutions. Moreover, he urged Germany to follow America's example in erecting race-based immigration barriers. For years after Racial Hygiene in the United States was published, leading German eugenicists would credit von Hoffmann's book on America's race science as a seminal reference for German biology students. [16]

Laughlin and the Eugenics Record Office were the leading conduits of information for von Hoffmann. The ERO sent von Hoffmann its special bulletins and other informational summaries. In turn, von Hoffmann hoped to impress Laughlin with updates of his own. He faithfully reported the latest developments in Germany and Austria, such as the formation of a new eugenic research society in Leipzig, a nascent eugenic sexology study group in Vienna, and genetic conference planning in Berlin. [17]

But it was the American developments that captivated von Hoffmann. Continually impressed with Laughlin's ideas, he frequently reported the latest American news in German medical and eugenic literature. "I thank you sincerely," von Hoffmann wrote Laughlin in a typical letter dated May 26, 1914, "for the transmission of your exhaustive and interesting reports. The far-reaching proposal of sterilizing one tenth of the population impressed me very much. I wrote a review of [the] report ... in the Archiv fur Rassen- und Gesellschaftsbiologie [Ploetz's journal]." [18]

Eager to be a voice for German eugenics in America, von Hoffmann also contributed articles about German developments to leading U.S. publications. In October of 1914, his article "Eugenics in Germany" appeared in the Journal of Heredity, explaining that while sterilization was being debated, "the time has not yet come for such a measure in Germany." In the same issue, the Journal of Heredity published an extensive review of Fischer's book about race crossing between Dutch and Hottentots in Africa, and the resulting "Rehoboth bastard" hybrids. Indeed, German eugenic philosophy and progress were popular in the Journal of Heredity. In 1914, for example, they published an article tracing the heredity of Bismarck, an article outlining plans for a new experimental genetics lab in Berlin, an announcement for the next international genetics conference in Berlin, and reviews of the latest German books. [19]

In the fall of 1914, the Great War erupted. During the war, "the eugenics movement in Germany stood entirely still," as one of Germany's top eugenic leaders later remembered in Journal of Heredity. Ploetz withdrew to his estate. Sensational headlines in American newspapers reported and denounced German atrocities against civilians, such as bayoneting babies and mutilating women's breasts. Many of these stories were later found to be utterly unfounded. But despite the headlines, the American eugenics movement strengthened ties with its German scientific counterparts. In 1916, Madison Grant's The Passing of the Great Race declared that the white Nordic race was destined to rule the world, and confirmed the Aryan people's role in it. German nationalists were heartened by America's recognition of Nordic and Aryan racial superiority. Reviews of the book inspired a spectrum of German scientists and nationalists to think eugenically even before the work was translated into German. [20]

American fascination with the struggling German eugenics movement continued right up until the United States entered the war in April of 1917. In fact, the April issue of Eugenical News summarized in detail von Hoffmann's latest article in Journal of Heredity. It outlined Germany's broad plans to breed its own eugenically superior race after the war to replace German men lost on the battlefield. The article proposed special apartment buildings for desirable single Aryan women and cash payments for having babies. [21]

America entered the war on April 6, 1917. Millions died in battle. At the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918, a defeated Germany finally agreed to an armistice, ending the bloody conflict. The Weimar Republic was created. A peace treaty was signed in June of 1919. American eugenics' partnership with the German movement resumed. [22]

Laughlin prepared a detailed pro-German speech for the Ninth Annual Meeting of the Eugenics Research Association, held at Cold Spring Harbor in June of 1920. In the text, Laughlin analyzed Germany's newly imposed democratic constitution point by point, identifying the clauses that authorized eugenic and racial laws. These included a range of state powers, from "Article 7 ... [allowing] protection of plants from disease and pests" to "Articles 119 to 134 inclusive [which] prescribe the fundamental law of Germany in reference to the social life." Declaring that "modern civilization" itself depended on German and Teutonic conquest, Laughlin closed by assuring his colleagues, "From what the world knows of Germanic traits, we logically concede that she will live up to her instincts of race conservation .... " Laughlin never actually delivered the speech, probably because of time constraints, so Eugenical News published it in their next issue, as did a subsequent edition of the official British organ, Eugenics Review. Reprints of the Eugenics Review version were then circulated by the ERO. [23]

Scientific correspondence also resumed. Shortly after Laughlin's enthusiastic appraisal, a eugenicist at the Institute for Heredity Research in Potsdam requested ERO documentation for his advisory committee's presentation to the local government. Davenport dispatched materials and supporting statements "that will be of use to you in your capacity as advisor to the Government in matters of race hygiene." ERO staffers had missed their exchanges with German colleagues, and Davenport assured his Potsdam friend, "I read your letter to our staff at its meeting on Monday and they were interested to hear from you." Information about the new advisory committee was published in the very next issue of Eugenical News. German race scientists reciprocated by sending their own research papers for Davenport's review, covering a gamut of topics from inherited human traits to mammalian attributes. [24]

But efforts by German eugenicists to join America's international movement were still hampered by the aftershocks of the war. Under the Treaty of Versailles, Germany agreed to pay the Allies massive war reparations, 132 billion marks or 33 billion dollars. This crippled the finances of all of Germany, including its raceologists. Meanwhile, German nationalists were enraged because France and Belgium now occupied the Rhineland. France's army had long included African soldiers from its colonies -- such as Senegal, Mali and North Africa -- who were now mingling with German women and would ultimately father several hundred children of mixed race in Germany. [25]

Infuriated Germans refused to cooperate with international committees that included Belgian or French scientists. Nor did they have the money to travel, even within Europe. The International Congress of Hygiene, for instance, originally scheduled for May of 1921 in Geneva, was cancelled because "the low value of the currency of many countries and the high value of the Swiss franc make it impossible for many countries to send delegates," as one published notice explained. [26]

Hence German scientists were unable and unwilling to attend the Second International Congress of Eugenics in New York in September of 1921. Instead, they sent bitter protest letters to Cold Spring Harbor, denouncing the French and Belgian occupation of their land and seeking moral support from colleagues in America. Indeed, even though invitations to the congress were mailed to eugenicists around the world by the State Department, the Germans were excluded due to escalating postwar diplomatic and military tensions. Three weeks before the Second Congress, Davenport wrote to one prominent Berlin colleague, Agnes Bluhm, "profound regrets that international complications have prevented formal invitations to the International Eugenics Congress in New York City." He added his "hope that by the time of the following Congress such complications will have been long removed." So once again American science took center stage in international eugenics. Alienated from much of the European movement, Germany's involvement in the field was now mainly limited to correspondence with Cold Spring Harbor. [27]

In 1922, Germany defaulted on its second annual reparations payment. France and Belgium invaded Germany's rich industrial Ruhr region on January 11, 1923, to seize coal and other assets. During the height of the harsh Ruhr occupation, the Weimar government began printing money day and night to support striking German workers. This shortsighted move made Germany's currency worthless nearly overnight, leading to unprecedented hyperinflation. [28]

All of these factors contributed to Germany's isolation from organized eugenics. Efforts by Davenport in 1920 and 1921 to include German scientists in the International Eugenics Commission were rebuffed. None of the players wanted to sit together. Determined to bring German eugenicists back into the worldwide movement, Davenport traveled to Europe in 1922. He selected Lund, Sweden, as the site of the 1923 conference, because, as he confided to a German colleague, "it would be convenient to Berlin." It also circumvented Allied nations such as Belgium, England and France. Davenport then arranged for his colleagues on the IEC to take the first step and formally invite German representatives to join the commission. But tensions over the Rhineland and reparations were still too explosive for the Germans to agree. By the spring of 1923, Davenport had to concede in frustration, "German delegates would not meet in intimate association with the French." [29]

Davenport wrote to one key German eugenicist, "I implore you, that you will use your influence to prevent such a backward step. The only way we can heal the wounds caused by the late war is to repress these sad memories from our scientific activities. It will do a lot to restore international science and to set an example for other scientific organizations to follow if a delegate is sent to the meeting of the Commission to be held in Lund next autumn." [30]

But the occupation of the Ruhr by French and Belgian forces further inflamed angry German eugenicists. "Cooperative work between Germans and French seems to be impossible so long as the Ruhr invasion lasts," one embittered German eugenic leader wrote Davenport. "If in America a foreign power had entered and held in its grasp the chief industrial area surely no American man of science would sit with a representative of that other nation at a table. Therefore, one should correspondingly not expect Germans to do this." [31]

Weimar continued to print money around the clock, creating hour-to-hour hyperinflation. Fabulous stories abounded of money being carted around in wheelbarrows and being used to stoke furnaces. One famous story centered on a Freiburg University student who ordered a cup of coffee listed on the menu for 5,000 marks; by the time he ordered a refill, the second cup cost 9,000 marks. Another told of an insurance policy redeemed to buy a single loaf of bread. The American dollar, which had traded for 1,500 marks in 1922, was worth 4.2 trillion marks by the end of 1923. [32]

German extremists tried to exploit the hyperinflation crisis to start a political revolution to abrogate the Treaty of Versailles. Among the agitators was Adolf Hitler. In November of 1923, Hitler organized the Beer Hall Putsch in Munich. He hoped to seize power in Bavaria and march all the way to Berlin. His rebellion was quickly put down. Hitler was sentenced to five years in prison, to be served at Landsberg Fortress. Referring to his jail cell as his "university," Hitler read voraciously. It was during these prison years that Hitler solidified his fanatical eugenic views and learned to shape that fanaticism into a eugenic mold. [33]

Where did Hitler develop his racist and anti-Semitic views? Certainly not from anything he read or heard from America. Hitler became a mad racist dictator based solely on his own inner monstrosity, with no assistance from anything written or spoken in English. But like many rabid racists, from Plecker in Virginia to Rentoul in England, Hitler preferred to legitimize his race hatred by medicalizing it, and wrapping it in a more palatable pseudoscientific facade -- eugenics. Indeed, Hitler was able to recruit more followers among reasonable Germans by claiming that science was on his side.

The intellectual outlines of the eugenics Hitler adopted in 1924 were strictly American. He merely compounded all the virulence of long-established American race science with his fanatic anti-Jewish rage. Hitler's extremist eugenic science, which in many ways seemed like the logical extension of America's own entrenched programs and advocacy, eventually helped shape the institutions and even the machinery of the Third Reich's genocide. By the time Hitler's concept of Aryan superiority emerged, his politics had completely fused into a biological and eugenic mindset.

When Hitler used the term master race, he meant just that, a biological "master race." America crusaded for a biologically superior race, which would gradually wipe away the existence of all inferior strains. Hitler would crusade for a master race to quickly dominate all others. In Hitler's view, eugenically inferior groups, such as Poles and Russians, would be permitted to exist but were destined to serve Germany's master race. Hitler demonized the Jewish community as social, political and racial poison, that is, a biological menace. He vowed that the Jewish community would be neutralized, dismantled and removed from Europe. [34]

Nazi eugenics would ultimately dictate who would be persecuted, how people would live, and how they would die. Nazi doctors would become the unseen generals in Hitler's war against the Jews and other Europeans deemed inferior. Doctors would create the science, devise the eugenic formulas, write the legislation, and even hand-select the victims for sterilization, euthanasia and mass extermination.

Hitler's deputy, Rudolf Hess, coined a popular adage in the Reich, "National Socialism is nothing but applied biology." [35]

While in prison, at his "university," Hitler codified his madness in the book Mein Kampf, which he dictated to Hess. He also read the second edition of the first great German eugenic text, Foundation of Human Heredity and Race Hygiene (Grundriss der menschlichen Erblichkeitslehre und Rassenhygiene), which had been published in 1921. Germany's three leading race eugenicists, Erwin Baur, Fritz Lenz and Eugen Fischer, authored the two-volume set. [36] All three of the book's authors were closely allied to American eugenic science and Davenport personally. Their eugenics originated at Cold Spring Harbor.

Baur, an intense racist, closely studied American eugenic science and formulated his ideas accordingly. He was comfortable confiding to his dear friend Davenport just how those ideas fused with nationalism. For example, in November of 1920, about a year before Foundation of Human Heredity and Race Hygiene went to press, Baur wrote to Davenport in almost perfect English, "The Medical Division of the Prussian Government has asked me to prepare a review of the eugenical laws and Vorschriften [regulations] which have already been introduced into the differed States of your country." He emphasized, "Of especial interest are the marriage certificates (Ehebestimmung) -- certificates of health required for marriage, laws forbidding marriage of hereditarily burdened persons among others -- [and] further the experiments made in different states with castration of criminals and insane. [37]

"It is at present extraordinarily difficult [here in Germany] to gather together the desired material [about U.S. legislation]," Baur continued. "I am thinking, however, that perhaps in your institute [Carnegie Institution] all this material has been already gathered. That, perhaps, there may be some recent printed report on the matter. If my idea is correct I would be exceedingly thankful to you if you could help me with a collection of the material." [38]

Baur then bitterly complained about confiscatory war reparations under the Treaty of Versailles, and the presence of French and Belgian- African troops as enforcers. "The entire work of eugenics is very difficult with us," Baur reported, "all children in the cities are entirely insufficiently nourished. Everywhere milk and fat are lacking, and this matter will become yet greater if we now shall give up to France and Belgium the milch [milk] cows which they have requisitioned [for war reparations]. The entirely unnecessary huge army of occupation eats us poor, but eugenically the worst is what we call the Black Shame, the French negro regiments, which are placed all over Germany and which in the most shameful fashion give free rein to their impulses toward women and children. By force and by money they secure their victims -- each French negro soldier has, at our expense, a greater income than a German professor -- and the consequence is a frightful increase of syphilis and a mass of mulatto children. Even if all French-Belgian tales of mishandling by German soldiers were true, they have been ten times exceeded by what now -- in peace! -- happens on German soil. [39]

"But I have wandered far from my theme," Baur continued. "We have under the new government an advisory commission for race hygiene ... [which] will in the future pass upon all new bills from the eugenical standpoint. It is for this commission that I wish to prepare the Referate [reports] on American eugenic laws." Baur added that the Carnegie researcher Alfred Blakeslee's "paper is in press [for publication in Germany], the plate is at the lithographers." [40]

Baur was one of the principal German scientists Davenport had implored to join the International Eugenics Commission. [41]

Baur's coauthor, Fritz Lenz, like many German eugenicists, was long an aficionado of American sterilization. He lectured German audiences that they were lagging far behind America. Like Baur, Lenz was among the German eugenic leaders Davenport beckoned to join him at the helm of world eugenics. Lenz reluctantly refused Davenport's entreaties to attend either an international commission or congress, and in 1923 candidly declared to Davenport, "Europe goes with rapid steps toward a new frightful war, in which Germany will chiefly participate .... That is the position in Europe and, therefore, I do not believe the time for international congresses has arrived so long as France occupies the Ruhr, that is, not before the second World War. I do not wish this certainly; I know that our race in it would suffer more heavily than in the past World War but it cannot be avoided." [42]

Lenz suggested to Davenport that while he could not participate in international gatherings, German and American eugenics could and should continue to advance eugenic science between them, mainly by corresponding. California eugenic leader Popenoe had already established a vigorous exchange with Lenz. Lenz wanted such bilateral contact extended to the ERO as well. "I would be thankful," he wrote Davenport, "if I also could secure the publications of the Eugenics Record Office in order to notice them [report on them] in the Archiv fur Rassen- und Gesellschaftsbiologie [Archives of Race Science and Social Biology]. I have much missed the bulletins of these last years." Lenz closed his letter with "the hope of a work of mutual service."43 Lenz later predicted, "The next round in the thousand year fight for the life of the Nordic race will probably be fought in America." [44]

The third coauthor of Foundation of Human Heredity and Race Hygiene was Eugen Fischer, a Carnegie Institution "corresponding scientist" since 1904. Fischer was a close colleague of Davenport's, and they would form an international eugenic partnership that would last years. [45]

The two-volume Foundation of Human Heredity and Race Hygiene that Hitler studied focused heavily on American eugenic principles and examples. The book's short bibliography and footnotes listed an abundance of American writers and publications, including the Journal of Heredity, various Bulletins of the Eugenics Record Office, Popenoe's Applied Eugenics, Dugdale's The Jukes, Goddard's The Kallikak Family and Davenport's own three books, Heredity in Relation to Eugenics, The Hill Folk and The Nams. Of course, the Baur-Fischer-Lenz work also featured themes and references from von Hoffmann's Racial Hygiene in the United States and Hitler's favorite, Madison Grant's The Passing of the Great Race. [46]

The Baur-Fischer-Lenz volumes also included repeated explorations and reiterations of American eugenic issues. World War I U.S. Army testing had revealed that "the high percentage of blue eyes [among recruits] is remarkable." The authors then noted the decline of blue-eyed men since the trait was measured in Civil War recruits. The anthropological fine points of American immigration were probed. For example, Fischer wrote, "In the children of Jews who have emigrated from eastern or central Europe to the United States, the skulls are narrower than those of their broad-skulled parents, and this comparative narrowness is more marked in proportion to the number of years that have elapsed since the migration .... Sicilians acquire somewhat broader heads in the United States." Repeated references to American Indian, Negro, and Jewish characteristics were liberally sprinkled throughout the volumes. They also included information on the Eugenics Record Office and Indiana's pioneering sterilization doctor, Harry Clay Sharp. [47]

The Baur-Fischer-Lenz volumes were well received in Cold Spring Harbor. Davenport promised he would write a review for Eugenical News. Both Eugenical News and Journal of Heredity ran favorable reviews of each subsequent revised edition. One of Popenoe's reviews in Journal of Heredity, this one in 1923, lauded the work as "worthy of the best traditions of German scholarship, and ... to be warmly recommended." Popenoe especially praised Lenz's sixteen-point program, which outlined plans to cut off defective lines of descent and the "protection of the Nordic race." [48]

It was no accident that Hitler read Foundation of Human Heredity and Race Hygiene. It was published by Julius Lehmann of Lehmanns Verlag, Germany's foremost eugenic publishing house. Someone at Lehmanns happily reported to Lenz that Hitler had read his book. Lehmanns Verlag also published Ploetz's Archiv fur Rassen- und Gesellschaftsbiologie, the Monatsschrift fur Kriminalbiologie (Monthly Journal of Criminal Biology), and von Hoffmann's Racial Hygiene in the United States. The year after Hitler was imprisoned, Lehmanns published the German translation of Grant's The Passing of the Great Race. [49]

Julius Lehmann was not just a publisher with a proclivity for race biology. He was a shoulder-to-shoulder coconspirator with Hitler during the 1923 Beer Hall Putsch, and was at Hitler's side on November 8, 1923, when the National Socialists launched their abortive coup against the Bavarian government. After the beer hall ruckus, Bavarian officials were held hostage at Lehmann's ornate villa until the uprising was suppressed. As the revolt collapsed, Lehmann, a financial supporter as well as a friend, convinced the Nazi guards to allow their captives to escape rather than execute them. Lehmann was the connection between the theory of the Society for Racial Hygiene and the action of militants such as the Nazis. [50]

Hitler openly displayed his eugenic orientation and thorough knowledge of American eugenics in much of his writing and conversation. For example, in Mein Kampf he declared: "The demand that defective people be prevented from propagating equally defective offspring is a demand of the clearest reason and, if systematically executed, represents the most humane act of mankind. It will spare millions of unfortunates undeserved sufferings, and consequently will lead to a rising improvement of health as a whole." [51]

Hitler mandated in Mein Kampf that "The Peoples' State must set race in the center of all life. It must take care to keep it pure .... It must see to it that only the healthy beget children; that there is only one disgrace: despite one's own sickness and deficiencies, to bring children into the world .... It must put the most modern medical means in the service of this knowledge. It must declare unfit for propagation all who are in any way visibly sick or who have inherited a disease and can therefore pass it on, and put this into actual practice." [52]

Hitler railed against "this ... bourgeois-national society [to whom] the prevention of the procreative faculty in sufferers from syphilis, tuberculosis, hereditary diseases, cripples, and cretins is a crime .... A prevention of the faculty and opportunity to procreate on the part of the physically degenerate and mentally sick, over a period of only six hundred years, would not only free humanity from an immeasurable misfortune, but would lead to a recovery which today seems scarcely conceivable .... The result will be a race which at least will have eliminated the germs of our present physical and hence spiritual decay." [53]

Repeating standard American eugenic notions on hybridization, Hitler observed, "Any crossing of two beings not at exactly the same level produces a medium between the level of the two parents. This means: the offspring will probably stand higher than the racially lower parent, but not as high as the higher one .... Such mating is contrary to the will of Nature for a higher breeding of all life." [54]

In some cases, Hitler's eugenic writings resembled passages from Grant's The Passing of the Great Race. Grant wrote, "Speaking English, wearing good clothes and going to school and to church do not transform a Negro into a white man. or was a Syrian or Egyptian freedman trans formed into a Roman by wearing a toga and applauding his favorite gladiator in the amphitheater." [55]

In a similar vein, Hitler wrote, "But it is a scarcely conceivable fallacy of thought to believe that a Negro or a Chinese, let us say, will turn into a German because he learns German and is willing to speak the German language in the future and perhaps even give his vote to a German political party." He also noted, "Surely no one will call the purely external fact that most of this lice-ridden [Jewish] migration from the East speaks German a proof of their German origin and nationality." [56]

Grant wrote, "What the Melting Pot actually does in practice can be seen in Mexico, where the absorption of the blood of the original Spanish conquerors by the native Indian population has produced the racial mixture which we call Mexican and which is now engaged in demonstrating its incapacity for self-government. The world has seen many such mixtures and the character of a mongrel race is only just beginning to be understood at its true value." [57]

In a similar vein, Hitler wrote, "North America, whose population consists in by far the largest part of Germanic elements who mixed but little with the lower colored peoples, shows a different humanity and culture from Central and South America, where the predominantly Latin immigrants often mixed with the aborigines on a large scale." [58]

Mein Kampf also displayed a keen familiarity with the recently-passed U.S. National Origins Act, which called for eugenic quotas. "There is today one state in which at least weak beginnings toward a better conception [of immigration] are noticeable. Of course, it is not our model German Republic, but the [United States], in which an effort is made to consult reason at least partially. By refusing immigrants on principle to elements in poor health, by simply excluding certain races from naturalization, it professes in slow beginnings a view which is peculiar to the Peoples' State." [59]

In page after page of Mein Kampf's rantings, Hitler recited social Darwinian imperatives, condemned the concept of charity, and praised the policies of the United States and its quest for Nordic purity. Perhaps no passage better summarized Hitler's views than this from chapter 11: "The Germanic inhabitant of the American continent, who has remained racially pure and unmixed, rose to be master of the continent; he will remain the master as long as he does not fall a victim to defilement of the blood." [60]

Hitler proudly told his comrades just how closely he followed American eugenic legislation. "Now that we know the laws of heredity," he told a fellow Nazi, "it is possible to a large extent to prevent unhealthy and severely handicapped beings from coming into the world. I have studied with great interest the laws of several American states concerning prevention of reproduction by people whose progeny would, in all probability, be of no value or be injurious to the racial stock .... But the possibility of excess and error is still no proof of the incorrectness of these laws. It only exhorts us to the greatest possible conscientiousness .... It seems to me the ultimate in hypocrisy and inner untruth if these same people [social critics] -- and it is them, in the main -- call the sterilization of those who are severely handicapped physically and morally and of those who are genuinely criminal a sin against God. I despise this sanctimoniousness .... " [61]

Reflecting upon the race mixing caused by occupying French-African troops and his hope for Nordic supremacy, Hitler later told one reporter, "One eventually reaches the conclusions that masses of men are mere biological plasticine [clay]. We will not allow ourselves to be turned into niggers, as the French tried to do after 1918. The nordic blood available in England, northern France and North America will eventually go with us to reorganize the world." [62]

Moreover, as Hitler's knowledge of American pedigree techniques broadened, he came to realize that even he might have been eugenically excluded. In later years, he conceded at a dinner engagement, "I was shown a questionnaire drawn up by the Ministry of the Interior, which it was proposed to put to people whom it was deemed desirable to sterilize. At least three-quarters of the questions asked would have defeated my own good mother. If this system had been introduced before my birth, I am pretty sure I should never have been born at all!" [63]

Nor did Hitler fail to grasp the eugenic potential of gas and the lethal chamber. Four years before Mein Kampf was written, a psychiatrist and a judge published their treatise, Permission to Destroy Life Unworthy of Life, which insisted that the medical killing of the unfit, such as the feebleminded, was society's duty; but the extermination had to be overseen by doctors. Several subsequent publications endorsed the same view, making the topic au courant in German eugenic circles. Hitler, who had himself been hospitalized for battlefield gas injuries, wrote about gas in Mein Kampf "If at the beginning of the War and during the War twelve or fifteen thousand of these Hebrew corrupters of the people had been held under poison gas, as happened to hundreds of thousands of our best German workers in the field, the sacrifices of millions at the front would not have been in vain. On the contrary: twelve thousand scoundrels eliminated in time might have saved the lives of a million real Germans, valuable for the future." [64]

On January 30, 1933, Adolf Hitler seized power following an inconclusive election. During the twelve-year Reich, he never varied from the eugenic doctrines of identification, segregation, sterilization, euthanasia, eugenic courts and eventually mass termination of germ plasm in lethal chambers. During the Reich's first ten years, eugenicists across America welcomed Hitler's plans as the logical fulfillment of their own decades of research and effort. Indeed, they were envious as Hitler rapidly began sterilizing hundreds of thousands and systematically eliminating non-Aryans from German society. This included the Jews. Ten years after Virginia passed its 1924 sterilization act, Joseph DeJarnette, superintendent of Virginia's Western State Hospital, complained in the Richmond Times- Dispatch, "The Germans are beating us at our own game." [65]

Most of all, American raceologists were intensely proud to have inspired the purely eugenic state the Nazis were constructing. In those early years of the Third Reich, Hitler and his race hygienists carefully crafted eugenic legislation modeled on laws already introduced across America, upheld by the Supreme Court and routinely enforced. Nazi doctors and even Hitler himself regularly communicated with American eugenicists from New York to California, ensuring that Germany would scrupulously follow the path blazed by the United States. [66] American eugenicists were eager to assist. As they followed the day-to-day progress of the Third Reich, American eugenicists clearly understood their continuing role. This was particularly true of California's eugenicists, who led the nation in sterilization and provided the most scientific support for Hitler's regime. [67]

In 1934, as Germany's sterilizations were accelerating beyond five thousand per month, the California eugenic leader and immigration activist C. M. Goethe was ebullient in congratulating E. S. Gosney of the San Diego-based Human Betterment Foundation for his impact on Hitler's work. Upon his return in 1934 from a eugenic fact-finding mission in Germany, Goethe wrote Gosney a letter of praise. The Human Betterment Foundation was so proud of Goethe's letter that they reprinted it in their 1935 Annual Report. [68]

"You will be interested to know," Goethe's letter proclaimed, "that your work has played a powerful part in shaping the opinions of the group of intellectuals who are behind Hitler in this epoch-making program. Everywhere I sensed that their opinions have been tremendously stimulated by American thought, and particularly by the work of the Human Betterment Foundation. I want you, my dear friend, to carry this thought with you for the rest of your life, that you have really jolted into action a great government of 60 million people." [69]
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Re: War Against the Weak: Eugenics and America's Campaign to

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CHAPTER 15: Hitler's Eugenic Reich

On the evening of Friday, September 27, 1929, the upper echelon of eugenics met in majestic and Mussolini-ruled Rome, in the high-ceilinged library of the newly created Central Statistical Institute. [1]

They came from Sweden, Norway, Holland, Italy, England, Germany and the United States, gathering as the International Federation of Eugenic Organizations. Among this group, two men ruled supreme: Charles Davenport and Eugen Fischer. A large map dominated the room. This was no ordinary map, but an atlas of the defective populations on every inhabited continent. [2]

The men were flushed with excitement. Just two hours earlier, they had met personally with Mussolini at the Piazza Venezia, with a view of Trajan's Column of antiquity. Indeed, their mission was a return to hereditary antiquity. All were intensely aware that they were assembled for a sacred duty in a city they revered as "the oldest capital of the world." Davenport read the preliminary report of the Committee on Race Crossing. Entire populations of the unfit were designated. The eugenic atlas and other maps were scrutinized for the "regions in which the Committee had ascertained that tolerably pure races were intermarrying ... [creating] first generation hybrids." These would be the first people subjected to eugenical measures. [3]

Jon Alfred Mjoen of Norway displayed a map of his country, pinpointing regions with high concentrations of tuberculosis; he proclaimed that the tubercular zones constituted "a map of race crosses in Norway." Mjoen wanted to target Lapp, Finn and Norwegian hybrids. Captain George Pitt- Rivers of England called for anthropologists to help catalog ethnographic statistics, asserting that the most dangerous effect of miscegenation was its disruption of "the ethnic equilibrium shown in the differential survival rate." The Dutch representative focused on the mixed breeds of the Java islands. In describing America's problem, Davenport spoke of U.S. Army intelligence testing that documented high levels of mental defectives. He also discussed tuberculosis rates in Virginia, comparing what he called "the Black Belt" against other areas in the state. Fischer insisted that the "whole weight of the Federation should be engaged in supporting this work." He suggested that "Jew-Gentile crosses providing excellent material were obtainable in most European countries, and that bastard twins would give splendid data." [4]

During the course of their deliberations, the eugenic leaders agreed that paupers, mental defectives, criminals, alcoholics and other inferior strains should be incarcerated en masse. They resolved that "all ... members [should] bring to the notice of their governments the racial dangers involved in allowing defective persons, after training and rehabilitation in institutions, to return to free life in the community." In other words, they were advocating permanent incarceration. Only later did someone think to amend the resolution to read, "whilst retaining their ability to procreate." [5]

The worldwide cataloging of the unfit was to begin at once. It would start on "the American continent and certain small and large islands in the oceans." At this point, America was still the only country with years of experience in state-sanctioned sterilization and other eugenic legislation. Fischer chimed in, however, that changes in the German criminal code were coming, and these would soon enable widespread sterilization and other eugenic measures there. [6]

Hitler's arrival on the eugenic scene changed the entire partnership between German and American eugenicists.

America had shown Germany the way during the first two decades of the twentieth century, treating the struggling German movement with both parental fascination and Nordic admiration. But when Hitler emerged in 1924, the relationship quickly shifted to an equal partnership. National Socialism promised a sweeping hereditary revolution, establishing dictatorial racial procedures American activists could only dream of. During the period between wars, the American movement viewed National Socialism as a rising force that could, if empowered, impose a new biological world order. Nazi eugenicists promised to dispense with the niceties of democratic rule. So even if America's tower of legislation, well-funded research and entrenched bureaucratic programs still monopolized the world of applied eugenics in the 1920s, National Socialism promised to own the next decade. American eugenicists welcomed the idea.

As early as 1923, Davenport and Laughlin decided that Eugenical News should add a subtitle to its name. It became Eugenical News: Current Record of Race Hygiene. [7] In doing so, the publication discarded any pretense that it might be anything other than a race science journal. Adding Germany's unique term for eugenics, race hygiene, was also a bow by the American movement to the Germans.

By 1923, articles from Archiv fur Rassen- und Gesellschaftsbiologie (Archives of Race Science and Social Biology) were highlighted and summarized almost quarterly in Eugenical News. In fact, no longer did such reviews bear specific headlines about interesting articles; rather, the summaries appeared as though they were regular columns, often just headlined "Archiv fur Rassen- und Gesellschaftsbiologie," and proceeded to explore the contents of the journal's latest issue. Articles by Lenz, Fischer and Baur were among those most frequently featured. [8]

In the 1920s, German raceologists became even more sought after as authors and topics for the Journal of Heredity and Eugenical News, thus increasing their influence in American eugenic circles. For instance, in May of 1924 Fritz Lenz authored a long article for the Journal of Heredity simply titled "Eugenics in Germany," with the latest news and historical reminiscences. California eugenicist Paul Popenoe, head of the Human Betterment Foundation, functioned as Lenz's principal translator in the United States. Similar articles were published from time to time as updates, thus keeping the American movement's attention riveted on the vicissitudes of the German school. A typically enthralled review of the latest German booklet on race hygiene ran in the October 1924 Eugenical News with the lead sentence: "It was a happy thought that led Dr. Lewellys F. Barker, a leading eugenicist as well as a physician, to translate the little book of Dr. H.W. Siemens, of Munich, into English." [9] Such fawning editorial treatment appeared in virtually every edition of American eugenic journals.

Nor was coverage of German race hygienists and their work limited to the eugenic press. They were reported as legitimate medical news in almost every issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, chiefly by the journal's German correspondent. For example, in May of 1924, Erwin Baur's latest lecture to Berlin's local eugenics society was covered in great detail in a two-column story. JAMA repeated, without comment or qualification, Baur's race politics. "A person of moderate gifts may be educated to be very efficient," the article read, "but he will never transmit other than moderate gifts to his own offspring. The attempts to elevate the negroes of the United States by giving them the same educational advantages the white population receives have necessarily failed." The article also regurgitated Baur's contention that the Jukes family was proof positive of eugenically damaged ancestry. "Race suicide," JAM A continued from Baur's speech, "brought about the downfall of Greece and Rome, and Germany is confronted by the same peril." JAMA used no quotation marks and presented the statements as unredacted medical knowledge. [10]

Nor did the rise of Hitler in Weimar race politics, after 1924, diminish the frequency or prominence of German raceologists' exposure in the American eugenic press. The January 1926 issue of Eugenical News featured a long article, written by Lenz, entitled "Are the Gifted Families in America Maintaining Themselves?" Dense with statistics and formulas, Lenz's article analyzed recent California eugenic research with a German mindset, warning "the dying out of the gifted families ... of the North American Union [United States] proceeds not less rapidly; and also among us in Europe .... I think one ought not to look at the collapse of the best elements of the race without action." [11]

When Lehmann's fascist publishing house released a series of race cards, that is, popular trading cards depicting racial profiles -- from the Tamils ofIndia to the primitive Baskirs of the Ural Mountains -- their availability was fondly reported in Eugenical News. Fascinated with the novelty, Eugenical News suggested, however, that the cards could be improved if the pictures would reveal more body features. German race cards, just like many baseball cards, came ten to a package. [12]

In May of 1927, Eugenical News reported the introduction of a German "race biological index," to eugenically rate different ethnic groups. The article repeated German warnings "of the danger of an eruption of colored races over Europe, through the French colonies and colonial troops." In the article, German researchers urged "further studies in America, both of Indians and American negroes, as compared with those still living in Africa." [13] German race analyses of American society were always well received.

Unqualified German racial references to Jews gradually became commonplace in American publications as well. For example, in the April 1924 issue of Eugenical News, an article reviewing a new German "racial pride" book published by Lehmanns mentioned, "In an appendix the Jews are considered, their history and their role in Germany." A German article on consanguineous marriages summarized in the November 1925 issue of Eugenical News stated, "Their evil consequences ... are pointed out [and] ... are commoner among Jews and royalty than elsewhere in the population." A December 1927 summary of a German article reported, "The social biology and social hygiene of the Jew is treated by the distinguished anthropologist, Wissenberg of Ukrania. This has largely to do with the vital statistics of the Jews in Odessa and Elizabethgrad, with special relation of the Jews to acute infection." In April of 1929, a Eugenical News book review entitled "Noses and Ears" informed readers, "The straight nose of Gentiles seems to dominate over the convex nose of Jews." [14] No explanation was necessary or offered for these out-of-context references to Jews. That Jews were eugenically undesirable was a given in German eugenics, and many American eugenicists adopted that view as well.

By the mid-twenties, Germany had achieved preeminence in both legitimate genetic research and racial biology. Germany's new status arose, in large measure, from its distinguished Kaiser Wilhelm Institutes. An outgrowth of the esteemed Kaiser Wilhelm Society, the Kaiser Wilhelm Institutes would over time develop a network of research institutions devoted to the highest pursuits of science. These included the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Physics, boasting a shelf of Nobel Prizes, a sister institute for chemistry, another for biology, another for pathology, and many more. The twenty-plus Kaiser Wilhelm organizations were easily confused and bore related names. But while they were related, they were independent and often located in different cities. In fact, at one point Davenport confessed to a London colleague, "There are so many Kaiser Wilhelm Institutes, that it is necessary to specify." [15]

Also among the Kaiser Wilhelm Institutes were several that would soon make their mark in the history of medical murder. The first was the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Psychiatry. The second was the Institute for Anthropology, Human Heredity and Eugenics. The third was the Institute for Brain Research. All received funding and administrative support from Americans, especially the Rockefeller Foundation.

J ames Loeb, an American banker and art lover of German-Jewish descent who lived in Europe, was among the first to subsidize the organizations that evolved into the Kaiser Wilhelm group. In early 1916, Loeb granted 500,000 marks to the German Psychiatric Institute in Munich. [16] Loeb's money, however, was quickly overshadowed by the Rockefeller Foundation's.

Rockefeller's connection to German biomedicine traced back to the early years of the twentieth century, when Germany's scientific preeminence was first challenged by America and its new system of corporate philanthropic funding begun by Carnegie, Rockefeller and Harriman. Medical educator Abraham Flexner was among the first to establish significant corporate philanthropic financial links with Germany. Flexner completed his monumental Carnegie Institution survey, Medical Education in the United States and Canada, in 1910. The prodigious report compared North America's medical inadequacy to Germany's excellence. Flexner next turned to Europe, creating the 1912 report, Medical Education in Europe. Soon Flexner was renowned for his pioneering reports and was invited to help lead medical efforts at Rockefeller's powerful new foundation. [17]

One of Flexner's first Rockefeller efforts yielded the 1914 study, Prostitution in Europe, which featured an introduction by John D. Rockefeller Jr. himself. Prostitution was a topic of recurring interest to both Rockefeller and his foundation. At about this time, 1914, German academicians began to realize that generous American-style philanthropy was a springboard to higher scientific achievement. Several esteemed German academicians and industrialists organized the Kaiser Wilhelm Society in this vein, with Kaiser Wilhelm II as its chief patron. The society sponsored the Kaiser Wilhelm Institutes, dedicated to a spectrum of new scientific disciplines. But the First World War, the Treaty of Versailles, and the crippling inflation of the early twenties paralyzed the KWI and German scientific progress. [18]

To literally save German science, Rockefeller money -- guided by Flexner's recommendations -- came to the rescue in November of 1922. Because anti-German feeling engendered by the war still roiled in America, and because Rockefeller, like many, distrusted German universities, viewing them as hotbeds of political agitation and warmongering academics, the Rockefeller Foundation circumvented the universities, the traditional channels of scientific funding. Instead, the foundation inaugurated its own special funding committee. Flexner selected his longtime Berlin friend Heinrich Poll to lead the committee. Poll had assisted Flexner during his earlier survey of German medical schools. Poll, also a leading eugenicist, advised the Prussian Ministry of Health and lectured extensively on hereditary traits and feeblemindedness. Since relations between Germany and the United States were still uneasy late into 1922, the foundation in large part administered the massive donations through its Paris office. [19]

Rockefeller Foundation money began to flow immediately. During the final weeks of 1922, 194 fellowships were awarded, totaling $65,000. The next year, 262 fellowships were awarded for a total of $135,000. By 1926, Rockefeller had donated some $410,000 -- almost $4 million in twenty-first- century money -- to hundreds of German researchers, either directly or indirectly through international programs that passed funds through to German recipients. [20]

Quickly, Rockefeller's freely flowing money, distributed by Poll, became a forceful and intrusive factor in German research. Scientists across Germany eagerly sent in reports of their worthiness, each hoping to be the next recipient. By March of 1923, leading German researchers, such as Fritz Haber, were grumbling to each other about "King Poll," whom they said exercised an intolerable control over Rockefeller grants and therefore German science itself. [21]

Ignoring any criticism, the Rockefeller Foundation only increased its extravagant spending. Loeb was instrumental in convincing Flexner to marshal Rockefeller millions for Loeb's favorite, the German Psychiatry Institute. Rockefeller officials were fascinated with the promise of psychiatry, and they began aligning themselves with German psychiatrists of all stripes. The German Psychiatry Institute was the first to receive big money. In May of 1926, Rockefeller awarded the institute $250,000 shortly after it amalgamated with the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute to become the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Psychiatry. The following November, Rockefeller trustees allocated the new institute an additional $75,000. [22]

Among the leading psychiatrists at the institute was Ernst Rudin, who headed the genealogical and demographic department. Rudin would soon become director of the institute. Later, he would become an architect of Hitler's systematic medical repression. [23]

Who was Rudin? A founding father of German eugenics in the Weimar days, Rudin was considered by American circles as among the most promising raceologists in Germany. In the 1890s, Rudin joined Alfred Ploetz in a quest for utopian socialism. The two men became fast friends after Ploetz married Rudin's sister. From the beginning, Rudin's impulse was to stop dangerous human breeding. At the 1903 International Congress Against Alcoholism, Rudin declared that the condition was an inherited trait. Alcoholics, he argued, should be segregated and allowed to marry only if they were first sterilized. In 1905, Rudin cofounded the Society for Racial Hygiene (Gesellschaft fur Rassenhygiene) with Ploetz. During the next several years, Rudin pontificated against the unfit in articles and in his travels. [24]

After World War I, as the chief of the German Psychiatry Institute's genealogical and demographic department, Rudin began assembling a massive catalog of family profiles from the records of prisons, churches, insane asylums, hospitals, and from family interviews. By 1926, Rudin was granted special permission by the Reich Ministry of the Interior to consult criminal and institutional records and report back with his own findings. In other words, Rudin's operation began forming the same types of discreet governmental relationships that the Eugenics Record Office had structured in the United States during the previous fifteen years. [25]

Rudin, of course, was quite visible in America. Articles by and about him had run in the national eugenic press for years. In May of 1922, the Journal of Heredity published a brief about a discussion by Rudin on the inheritance of mental defects. In June of 1924, Eugenical News informed its readership that Rudin was building an extensive collection of family histories, and assured "a vast quantity of data has been obtained." Later that year, in the September issue, Eugenical News published a follow-up report, asserting that Rudin's studies of the "inheritance of mental disorders are the most thorough that are being undertaken anywhere. It is hoped that they will be long continued and expanded." A 1925 Eugenical News article praising the family tree archives of the German Psychiatric Institute celebrated Rudin, "whose dynamic personality infuses itself throughout the entire establishment." By this time Rudin was the star of German eugenics. Later, the Journal of the American Medical Association also published a long report about Rudin's work on heredity and mental disease. [26]

Davenport's efforts to bring the Germans back into the international movement were more than successful. In 1928, the International Federation of Eugenic Organizations met in Munich. Rudin functioned as the gracious host when IFEO members, including the impressed American delegation, were treated to a guided tour of Rudin's department at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Psychiatry. The next year, the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Psychiatry was selected for IFEO membership. In 1932, Davenport consented to relinquish the presidency of the IFEO, and Rudin was elected to succeed him. Laughlin was proud to offer the nomination. The vote was unanimous. [27] German race hygiene was now primed to seize the reins of the international movement and become senior in its partnership with the American branch.

In 1927, the Kaiser Wilhelm Institutes added another eugenic establishment, the Institute for Anthropology, Human Heredity and Eugenics (Kaiser Wilhelm Institut fur Anthropologie, menschliche Erblehre und Eugenik), located in Berlin-Dahlem. The name itself symbolized the affinity between the American and German movements. Earlier, Eugenical News had adopted a subtitle in homage to the German term race hygiene; now the Kaiser Wilhelm Institutes reciprocated by including the term eugenics in tribute to the American movement. [28]

The first director of the Institute for Anthropology, Human Heredity and Eugenics was Eugen Fischer, a longtime Carnegie Institution associate and Davenport collaborator. This new institute was not funded by American capital, but rather by an assortment of German government agencies -- local, Prussian and federal -- to whom eugenics and race science were becoming increasingly important. The Ministry of the Interior provided the largest single donation: 500,000 marks. The Prussian Ministry of Science donated some 400,000 marks, including the land itself. Small amounts were also contributed by the provinces of Upper Silesia, the Rhine, Westphalia and the municipality of Essen. Funds from industrialists, such as the Thyssen brothers, comprised just token monies. [29] While the institute's initial funding was German, it enjoyed both the envy and unqualified support of the American eugenics establishment.

The grand opening of the Institute for Anthropology, Human Heredity and Eugenics took place in September of 1927 as an official function of the Fifth International Congress on Genetics in Berlin. Davenport was chairman of the human eugenics program and an honorary president of the congress. Baur was chairman of the local German eugenics committee. The congress was the first major international scientific event to be held in Germany since the Great War. [30]

The congress began on September 11, 1927, with approximately one thousand delegates from all over the world gathered in a gala Berlin setting. Registrants were first greeted with a Sunday dinner at the zoo, then a barrage of sumptuous banquets staged by the Berlin Municipality and formal dinner events enlivened by divertimenti, followed by the finest liquors and cigars. Museum tours were scheduled for the ladies, and everyone was invited to a special performance at the Opera House. [31] Germany was unfurling the red carpet to celebrate its regained scientific leadership.

Welcoming grandiloquence by both government officials and local academics eventually gave way to the real business of the conference: genetics. A procession of several dozen research papers and exhibits reported the latest developments in a spectrum of related disciplines, from genuine scientific revelations about the genetics of plants and animals, to the most recent advances in cytology, to the newest slogans and Mendelian math of traditional racial eugenics. A large Carnegie contingent was on hand to contribute its own research, proffering papers and delivering lectures. [32]

On the afternoon of September 27, Davenport and his colleagues traveled to Berlin-Dahlem for the much-anticipated grand opening of the new Institute for Anthropology, Human Heredity and Eugenics. Davenport had been eager to congratulate his friend Fischer in person from the moment he had learned about his appointment almost a year earlier. Situated on about an acre of land, with a museum in the basement and a complex of lecture rooms, measurement labs and libraries on most other floors, the institute was the new centerpiece of eugenic research in Germany. As the leader of American eugenics, Davenport proudly delivered one of the commemorating addresses at the grand opening. The next year, the IFEO added the new institute to its roster. Davenport was so impressed with Fischer's institute that he felt obliged to provide a brief history of eugenic progress in America to the institute's administration. [33]

The third Kaiser Wilhelm Institute in Germany's eugenic complex was the Institute for Brain Research. Like other Kaiser Wilhelm Institutes, this one grew out of a research operation created years earlier by the family of psychiatrist Oskar Vogt, which merged into the KWI in 1915. In those days the Institute for Brain Research was housed in a modest neurological laboratory also run by Vogt. Everything changed when the Rockefeller money arrived in 1929. A grant of $317,000 allowed the institute to construct a major building and take center stage in German race biology. Rockefeller funders were especially interested in the Institute's Department of Experimental Genetics, headed by Russian geneticist Nikolai Timofeeff-Ressovsky. The Institute for Brain Research received additional grants from the Rockefeller Foundation during the next several years. [34]

By the late twenties, Davenport and other Americans had created a whirlwind of joint projects and entanglements with German eugenics. No longer content to direct purely domestic efforts, the two schools now eyed the rest of the world. They graduated from discussion and philosophy to concrete plans and actions. Among the most ambitious of these was a project to identify and subject to eugenic measures every individual of mixed race, everywhere. The approach would be along the lines created in the United States. Identification was the first step. In 192 7, Davenport proposed a systematic survey of mixed-race populations in every region of the world. It would cover all Africans, Europeans, Asians, Mexicans, indigenous peoples and others who had mixed during centuries of modern civilization.

The global search for hybrids originated around February of 1926. Davenport had made the acquaintance of wealthy raceologist Wickliffe Draper, who shared Davenport's anxiety about human hybridization. The plan was to conduct field surveys using questionnaires, just as eugenicists had done in various counties and remote areas around the United States. But this time they would cover not just a state, not just a nation, but eventually every populated region on earth. [35]

They needed a demonstration project. Davenport's first impulse was to survey New York City, but he thought mixed-race individuals would be easier to identify in foreign countries or colonies. "I am suggesting Jamaica," Davenport wrote Draper on February 23, 1926, " ... because I take it that there is a larger proportion of mulattoes." Within three weeks, Draper wrote a check to the Eugenics Research Association for $10,000 to defray the costs of a two-year study of "pure-blooded negroes, as found in the western hemisphere ... and of white, as found in the same places with especial reference to inheritance of the differential traits in mulatto offspring." [36]

Over the next two years, Davenport's investigators deftly researched the family backgrounds of 370 individuals, taken from the local penitentiary and from the city center of Kingston. The American Consul in Jamaica interceded with the British Colonial Office to provide special access to the island's jails, schools and doctors. Some eight thousand sheets of information were generated by field workers and archived in the Eugenics Record Office. [37]

But the Jamaica project featured something totally new. For the first time, personal information and eugenic traits were punched into IBM's Hollerith data processing machines. International Business Machines would be a perfect match for eugenics. People tracking was the company's business. IBM's technology involved hundreds of thousands of custom-designed punch cards processed through punching, tabulating and sorting machines. Hollerith punch cards could store an almost unlimited amount of information on people, places and processes by virtue of the holes strategically punched into their columns and rows. Hollerith processors then read these holes and tabulated the results. Hollerith cards were originally developed for the U.S. Census, and IBM enjoyed a global monopoly on data processing. More than just counting machines, Hollerith systems could cross-tabulate all information on individuals and then match or cross-reference the data to their plain paper or already-punched street addresses or other geographic identifiers. Hence, people identified with certain traits could be easily located for additional eugenic action. [38]

For example, these high-speed tabulators could quickly identify a specific class of eugenic subjects, say, all first-generation morons of Mexican extraction with vision problems. All relatives across extended family trees could be connected to the selected individuals. Or the machines could identify all eugenically inferior residents in a single village, plus their descendants living elsewhere. At the rate of 25,000 cards per hour, IBM machines could rapidly search out the holes, stack the cards and provide seemingly miraculous results. Continuous refinements in high-speed Hollerith technology would soon permit alphabetizing and printouts. As massive numbers of individuals passed from identification to segregation to sterilization and beyond, even the workflow could be managed by IBM technology, using card designs, punching patterns and equipment arrays, each custom configured to a specific use. Mass eugenics required efficient systems. [39] IBM was willing.

IBM managers desired the lucrative ERO account, but the process of punching in the hundreds of thousands of existing index cards at Cold Spring Harbor was simply too massive and expensive an undertaking. But if brought into a project at the outset, IBM could cost-effectively tabulate all names, racial information, medical characteristics and other eugenic data. This required IBM engineers to confer with Davenport's eugenic investigators to jointly plan the program, ensuring that data was collected in a fashion that could be systematically coded and punched into Hollerith machines for later retrieval and management. To design the system correctly, the IBM engineers needed to know both the eugenic information that Carnegie researchers wanted to input as well as how they wanted the results retrieved. IBM always needed to know the end result in order to design the system. In a report on the Jamaica project, Davenport confirmed, "The test records were scored as received chiefly by Miss Bertha Jacobson. Codes for each of the traits to be tabulated were worked out, adapted to the Hollerith punch cards. Ratios were computed." [40]

IBM custom-designed the layout for at least forty-five variables to be punched in on the Jamaica project for later retrieval by eugenicists. Sex and race were to be punched into column 1. Age in column 2. Height in columns 3 and 4. Cranial capacity in column 18. Foot length in column 24. Army Alpha intelligence testing in column 33, and Beta testing in column 32. Information on fingerprints was punched into columns 44 and 45. At one point, Davenport considered securing data from banks about how much money was in each individual's account and cross-referencing this information against eugenic standards. [41]

The 1927-1928 Jamaica race-crossing investigation was the first time IBM devised a system to track and report racial characteristics. Five years later, IBM, under the leadership of its president, Thomas J. Watson, would adapt the same technology to automate the race warfare and Jewish persecution in Hitler's Reich. IBM custom-designed the indispensable systems that located European Jews and other undesirables, and then provided a multiplicity of custom-tailored punch card programs to help the Nazis trace family trees, index bank accounts and other property, organize eugenic campaigns and even manage extermination in death camps. Indeed, a decade later, the SS Race Office employed a punch card with physical attributes specified column-by-column in a fashion almost identical to those first worked out for the Jamaica study. [42]

The pilot investigation in Jamaica went well, so well that the Carnegie Institution proudly published a major research volume on the project. Even as the program was underway, in February of 1927, Davenport was confident enough to contact Fischer in Germany and discuss ideas with him. "No one has greater experience in the field than you," wrote Davenport, "and we shall of course want to get the benefit of that experience." A few days later, he notified the IFEO secretary in London that a race-crossing committee would be needed "in view of ... the international nature of the problem." In short order, Fischer was invited to join the committee. Davenport would chair the panel. [43]

The campaign to identify mixed-race people of all varieties across America began on November 14, 1928, with one of the ERO's well-honed, massive letter-writing efforts. Beginning that day, scores of letters were mailed by Davenport to eugenic contacts at universities, prisons, agricultural colleges, as well as to members of the American Breeders Association and other interested parties in every state from California to Florida and even the Alaska territory. It was the first step in searching out the racially unacceptable. Davenport's letters were all variations on a few forms:

The I.F.E.O. is making a survey of the points of contact of dissimilar human races in different parts of the world. In carrying out this program may I call upon you for some assistance? We should be glad if you would inform us if there are areas where widely different races of mankind have recently begun to come into contact in your state. By races we have in mind not only primary races, like white, negro, Indian and Orientals but also very dissimilar European races. Especially important would be localities where the first and second hybrid generations can be secured in considerable numbers. [44]

A letter went to sociologist Raymond Bellamy at the Florida State College for Women; Bellamy replied, "I am glad to do anything I can to help," and specified Negroes and Seminole Indians in South Florida, and Cubans in Tampa. A copy went to W. E. Bryan, a plant breeder at the University of Arizona in Tucson; Bryan reported race-mixing between American Indians and Mexicans, and suggested using a field worker who could speak Spanish. A letter went to J.S. Blitch, superintendent of the Florida State Reformatory; Blitch responded that of his 1,640 prisoners, fewer than a third were white, the rest being "plain negro stock." UCLA official Bennet Allen replied that Los Angeles was home to many ethnic groups, including Japanese, Mexican, Italian, and Portuguese. He also reported that the Mexicans and the Japanese rarely married outside their respective groups. Henry Bolley of the North Dakota Agricultural College's Botany Department reported "half-breeds among our North Dakota Indians, but I think largely of French origin," as well as farmers of Russian and possibly Polish heritage. [45]

On February 29, 1929, Davenport went global. He mass mailed letters to eugenic contacts and official sources in countries on every continent, signing them as president of the IFEO's Committee on Race Crossing. The letters all declared:

The committee on race crossing of the Federation is seeking to plot the lines, or areas, where race crossing between dissimilar, more or less pure races is now occurring or has been occurring during the last two generations. The committee would appreciate very much your assistance. We should be glad to have a statement from you as to the location in your country or the principal regions of such race crossing, the races involved (e.g. European and negro, European and Amerindian, Chinese, Malay, North European and Mediterranean) together with the number of generations during which hybridization has been going on on a significant scale. [46]

In Norway, Dr. Halfdan Bryn focused on "the northern parts of the country," where, over the centuries, Laplanders and Alpines had mixed with pure Nordics; Bryn added that his forthcoming book, to be published by Lehmann in Munich, would include plenty of pictures of "Norwegian hybrids." In Moscow, Professor Bunak, director of the Institute of Anthropology, explained that the Eastern European plains, the Caucasus, Siberia and Turkistan all featured "numerous tribes, [such] as North European, Baltic, Mediterranean, Armenoid, Uralian (Ougrofinnic), Mongolic, Turck and others" who had intermingled during the past twenty to thirty centuries; more recently, Yakoutian-Russians and other "race-hybrids" had proliferated through the regions. In colonial Rhodesia, a museum zoologist acknowledged some Bantu and Asiatic mixtures, but he assured Davenport that "miscegenation is regarded by decent persons as severely as it probably is in the Southern States of the USA." Reports came from Brazil, China, Holland, France, Fiji, Chile and many more countries. [47]

In locations with no known eugenic contacts, Davenport resorted to Laughlin's network of American consuls. In the Azores, Vice-Consul Prescott Childs demonstrated an excellent knowledge of eugenic principles and reported that due to the islands' remoteness, very few of Breton or Flemish blood had mixed with pure Portuguese; Childs added that his real "eugenic concern" was too much intermarriage, which he believed led to increased insanity. In Harbin, American Consul C. C. Hansen pointed out that a number of Russians had migrated into North Manchuria resulting in "intermingling of Chinese men with Russian women"; Hansen reported the villages along various rivers where "half-caste children ... of the first generation" could be located. In Nairobi, American Consul Charles Albrecht outlined the geographic districts of Kenya and attached a list of photographers "who might be able to furnish you with photographs of race hybrids." In Estonia, Tahiti and other remote locations, American consuls pledged their assistance. [48]

At 6:15 P.M. on Friday, September 27, 1929, the International Federation of Eugenic Organizations met in Rome to consider the preliminary report of the Committee on Race Crossing. From their perspective, identification and eugenic countermeasures of all sorts were more than pressing -- the world was in crisis, and they were in a race against time. Mussolini, a dictator, was not hampered by the checks and balances of democracy. The IFEO wanted to enlist him to help impose stern eugenic measures in Italy. Since the summer, Fischer and Davenport had been working on a special appeal to Il Duce. Now, in the Piazza Venezia, they and their colleagues would have an audience with Mussolini. [49]

Fischer stepped forward to read the long appeal. It was not lost on the delegation that they were in Rome, seat of the Catholic Church, which strenuously opposed all forms of eugenics. "It seems natural and desirable," Fischer read, "when considering eugenic problems, that some expression of our hopes and wishes should be addressed to the great statesman who ... shows more than any other leader today ... how much he has the eugenic problems of his people at heart." Fischer went on to label the effects of race mixing "catastrophes," and urged immediate measures to "[set] a model to the world by showing that energetic administration can make good the damage." In an emotional crescendo to his appeal, Fischer declared, "The urgency brooks no delay; the danger is imminent." [50]

Two hours later, the men retreated to the elegant library of the Central Statistical Institute where they huddled over maps, reports, tables and surveys as they plotted the course of their global eugenic action. Virginia, the Java Islands, Norway, Germany, all of Europe, all of the United States, all of the British Empire. The world. With trained field workers and Hollerith data processing equipment, the unfit could be quickly and methodically identified, quantified, qualified and prioritized for countermeasures -- whether they resided in big cities, the hinterlands or island villages. Every delegate was instructed to lobby his government for cooperation. [51]

Davenport was encouraged. Fascism was on the rise in Europe, and he realized it was time to relinquish the reins. On December 2, 1929, Davenport wrote to Fischer asking him to assume chairmanship of the Committee on Race Crossing. Rudin would soon replace Davenport as IFEO president as well. The Germans were the future. Davenport wrote Ploetz in Munich, "Personally, I am very glad that the Federation is now under the Leitung [leadership] of a German." [52]

Fischer was willing to assume leadership of the Committee on Race Crossing, but who would pay the postage and printing costs? Davenport replied that the IFEO treasury would, since "it is more important to spend our money that way than almost any other." Davenport and Fischer coauthored a questionnaire to be sent worldwide "to the persons living and working in foreign regions, physicians, missionaries, merchants, farmers and travelers," asking them to "send as detailed and significant data as possible." The questionnaires would be produced in English, Spanish and German. Davenport and Fischer reported in a joint memo that the data would eventually identify not only race-crossed individuals, "but entirely foreign people, that is the so-called colored ones." [53]

As the thirties opened, many key players in the American eugenics movement continued to support German raceology. In December of 1929, the Rockefeller Foundation began a five-year subsidy of Fischer's German national "anthropological survey" with a donation totaling $125,000. Although the study was labeled "anthropological," it was in fact racial, eugenic and, in part, directed at German Jewry. German officials who supported the proposal for the study made this clear in a letter to the foundation. They would not survey a single large sample of people "of an ancient type"; instead, they would select multiple smaller cross-sections of the general population, which would "be examined in its genealogical and historical relationships with the help of church records, place and family histories." The Germans specified, "In this way it is hoped to find new solutions about the appearance of certain signs of degeneration, especially the distribution of hereditary pathological attributes." [54]

The letter continued, "From the eugenic standpoint, questions will be submitted on the biological conditions of families, the number of births and abortions, succession and rate of births, and finally questions on the decline of births and birth registration in the region being investigated .... A determination of blood groups will also be undertaken .... There is also planned an investigation of the Westphalian aristocracy, of the old-established Jewish population of Frankfurt, and the so-called old lineage of some other towns .... For certain eugenic discussions it seemed of the greatest importance to obtain useful support for the question of ... pathological lines of heredity among the population." [55]

Rockefeller executives quickly approved the idea, channeling the money through the Emergency Fund for German Science. Rockefeller trustees authorized the grant in the midst of the devastating worldwide depression ignited by the stock market crash of 1929. As breadlines stretched across American cities, the economic crisis also crippled the German economy. [56] German eugenicists needed all the financial assistance they could get.

In August of 1930, Germany's Archiv fur Rassen- und Gesellschaftsbiologie ran a tribute to Ploetz on his seventieth birthday. Among those extending kudos were Davenport and Popenoe on behalf of the United States. In October of 1930, Eugenical News called the edition "a worthy tribute of esteem and affection for the genial and high-minded scholar whom it honors." In the same issue of Eugenical News, an article entitled "Jews in West Africa" reviewed a book claiming "evidence of Jewish infiltration" among the Masai tribes of Africa as a result of a "trek of Jews from Jerusalem to the Niger." The book was deemed "a good example of the deductive method ... so great as to make the book a very valuable contribution." The next news item congratulated J. F. Lehmann, now openly Nazi, for being Germany's leading eugenic publisher. At about that time, the IFEO created a Committee on Racial Psychiatry under Rudin's chairmanship. [57]

In December of 1930, Eugenical News reprinted Rudin's long paper, "Hereditary Transmission of Mental Diseases." In it Rudin declared, "Humanity demands that we take care of all that are diseased -- of the hereditarily diseased too -- according to our best knowledge and power; it demands that we try to cure them from their personal illnesses. But there is no cure for the hereditary dispositions themselves. In its own interest, consequently, and with due respect to the laws of nature, humanity must not go so far as to permit a human being to transmit his diseased hereditary dispositions to his offspring. In other words: Humanity itself calls out an energetic halt to the propagation of the bearer of diseased hereditary dispositions." [58]

Rudin advocated sterilization of all members of an unfit individual's extended family. "It becomes clear," he argued, "that, in these cases, propagation ought to be renounced ... for other degrees of relationship, e.g., for the nephews and nieces, grandchildren .... We must make the eugenic ideal a sacred tradition. It must be rooted so deeply in man, and at the right time, that the respect he owes it becomes a matter of course with him, and that he will find love without trespassing on the laws of eugenics." [59]

In 1931, Rockefeller approved an additional ten-year grant totaling $89,000 to Rudin's Institute for Psychiatry. This grant funded research by two doctors into the links between blood, neurology and mental illness. It reflected a growing trend among some philanthropic foundations to avoid funding scientific organizations focused on eugenics, which in recent years had come under fire for being too political and too scientifically shoddy [.6]0 Genetics, psychiatry, brain research, anthropology and sociology were all preferable destinations for American biologic research dollars. One Rockefeller memo observed, "Race biology today suffers immensely from its mixture with political dogmas and drives"; in that instance, the foundation had granted $90,000 to a eugenic geneticist who had studied at Cold Spring Harbor, because they felt the recipient was worthy. Moreover, eugenicists were constantly seeking the "carriers" -- the normal people who transmitted defective genes that might crop up once in several generations. Because of the bad publicity surrounding this idea, and the growing belief that eugenics was more racism than science, the new breed of eugenicists began looking for blood identifiers that seemed ethnically neutral. Even still, the searches remained race-specific. [61]

Whether under the banner of psychiatry, anthropology, genetics or race hygiene, American funding was still consciously promoting eugenic research. For example, in 1931, the Carnegie Institution contributed $5,000 for an international genetics congress and the separate Carnegie Endowment added $3,500. Davenport also contacted the Rockefeller Foundation to enlist their support for this event. [62]

Also in 1931, the famous Baur-Fischer-Lenz volume, Foundation of Human Heredity and Race Hygiene (Grundriss der menschlichen Erblichkeitslehre und Rassenhygiene), was translated into English. One chapter was entitled "Racial Psychology" and cited a study demonstrating that "the racial endowment of the Jews finds expression in the nature of the offences they commit." Another passage asserted that "fraud and the use of insulting language really are commoner among Jews," adding, "It is said that Jews are especially responsible for the circulation of obscene books and pictures, and for carrying on the White Slave Trade. Most of the White Slave traders are said to be Ashkenazic Jews." Another passage insisted, "The Jews could not get along without the Teutons." The term Jewish Question (Judenfrage), which was used throughout the book, required no explanation. [63]

A 1931 review of the newly translated book in Eugenical News lauded the work and declared, "the section on methodology is especially valuable," adding that it was now the "standard treatise" on the topic. The review concluded, "We welcome the English translation, which seems to have been well done .... We bespeak for it a wide circulation." [64]

During 1931 and 1932, Hitler became an increasingly loud and pernicious voice for persecution, fascist repression and warlike territorial occupation. In America he was heard on radios, seen in newsreels and read in newspapers. Virulent and very public anti-Semitism was sweeping across Germany. [65] None of this caused American eugenic circles to pause in their support of German eugenics.

In the March-April edition of Eugenical News, the long essay "Hitler and Racial Pride" heaped praise on the up-and-coming leader. One passage proclaimed, "The Aryans are the great founders of civilizations .... The mixing of blood, the pollution of race ... has been the sole reason why old civilizations have died out." The Hitlerite term Aryan was now becoming synonymous with the traditional Nordic. In another passage, the article cited an earlier New York Times report declaring, "The Hitlerites hold the Nordic race to be 'the finest flower on the tree of humanity' ... It must be bred ... according to the 'criteria of race hygiene and eugenics."' [66]

On May 13, 1932, the Rockefeller Foundation in New York dispatched a radiogram to its Paris office:


At about that time, Fischer and other eugenicists were busy presenting drafts of compulsory sterilization laws to the Weimar authorities. During a committee meeting on the subject in the summer of 1932, Fischer shouted at the Nazi representative, "Your party has not been in existence nearly as long as our eugenic movement!" One leading eugenicist at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Biology later bristled, "The Nazis took over the whole draft and they used the most inhumane and execrable methods to put the humane measures, which we had conscientiously and responsibly drafted, into everyday practice." [68]

The Third International Congress of Eugenics was held in New York City in August of 1932, once again at the American Museum of Natural History. Although organizations such as the Rockefeller Foundation were donating vast sums to German eugenics for research and travel, the grants were frequently limited to specific activities within Germany or neighboring countries. Hence there was no money for the German delegation to travel to Manhattan. or did Carnegie make up the shortfall. Davenport apologized in a letter to Fischer. "Of course, the depression at this time has interfered with our efforts to secure funds to help defray the expense of our foreign colleagues .... We are very much disappointed that you and other friends from Europe may not be able to ... come to the United States and see the work going on there. We had hoped you would come and find your expenses paid by giving some lectures." But the German delegation did not come, and instead sent a few poster exhibits from the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Anthropology, Human Heredity and Eugenics. At the opening ceremonies Davenport lamented the absence of the German delegation and lauded their leadership. [69]

The September-October Eugenical News carried another long article praising Hitler and his eugenic ideas. It also explained how his ideology had been guided by such American authors as Lothrop Stoddard and Madison Grant. German elections were looming, and the article prophesied the results. "The Hitler movement sooner or later promises to give him full power, [and] will bring to the Nordic movement general recognition and promotion by the state." The article added, "When they [the Nazis] take over the government in Germany, in a short time there may be expected new race hygienic laws and a conscious Nordic culture and 'foreign policy."' [70]

The next month, November of 1932, Germany held a fractious election. Hitler received twelve million votes, approximately a third, but no majority. A coalition government was out of the question because other parties refused to share power with Hitler and vice versa. [71]

January 30, 1933, as America awoke, swastikas flew above Berlin, Munich, Leipzig and the other strongholds of Nazi agitation. Brown-shirted mobs marched through the streets in celebration, swaggered in beer halls, rode their bicycles in tandem and joyously sang the "Horst Wessel Song." For years the Nazis had promised that upon assuming power they would rebuild Germany's economy, dismantle its democracy, destroy the German Jewish community and establish Aryans as the master race. On January 30, 1933, President Paul von Hindenburg, exasperated with fruitless all-night attempts to create a governing coalition, finally exercised his emergency powers. Hindenburg appointed Adolf Hitler interim chancellor. The Third Reich was born. [72]


Years later, many would deny knowledge of what Germany was doing, would claim they only discovered Hitler's merciless anti-Semitic and political repression, as well as the Reich's fascist medical programs, after the Allies triumphed in 1945. But in truth, Hitler's atrocities against Jews and others were chronicled daily on the pages of America's newspapers, by wire services, radio broadcasts, weekly newsreels, and national magazines. [73] Germany bragged about its anti-Jewish measures and eugenic accomplishments. An entire propaganda operation was established under Joseph Goebbels to publicize the information. [74] Simultaneously, American eugenicists kept day-to-day tabs on the Nazi eugenic program. As of January 30, 1933, however, the American-German eugenic partnership was obsolete. Germany was now completely leading the way, despite a hurricane of anti-Nazi denunciations and retaliatory economic boycotts. [75]

Once in power, Hitler's government immediately began issuing legal decrees to exclude Jews from professional and governmental life, and used other brutal methods -- including condoned street violence -- to eliminate political opponents. Dachau concentration camp opened on March 20, 1933, amid international news coverage of the event. Refugees, including many Jewish scientists, poured out of Germany. Their plight was visible in the cities of the world. [76]

It did not take Germany long to implement its eugenic vision. The first law was decreed July 14, 1933: Reich Statute Part I, No. 86, the Law for the Prevention of Defective Progeny. It was a mass compulsory sterilization law. Rudin was coeditor of the official rules and commentary on the law. [77]
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Re: War Against the Weak: Eugenics and America's Campaign to

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Nine categories of defectives were identified for sterilization. At the top of the list were the feebleminded, followed by those afflicted by schizophrenia, manic depression, Huntington's chorea, epilepsy, hereditary body deformities, deafness and, of course, hereditary blindness. Alcoholism, the ninth category, was listed as optional to avoid confusion with ordinary drunkenness. The Reich announced that 400,000 Germans would immediately be subjected to the procedure, beginning January 1, 1934. [78]

A massive sterilization apparatus was created: more than 205 local eugenic or hereditary courts would be ruled by a physician, a eugenicist and a panel chairman. For contested cases, there were at least twenty-six special eugenic appellate courts. Anyone could be reported for investigation. Doctors who failed to report their suspect patients would be fined. In hearings, physicians were obligated to provide confidential patient information. Fischer's institute was asked to quickly train the legion of race experts required for the task. [79]

Germany's program was immediately seized upon by the world's media as the latest example of Hitler's inhumane regime. Many eugenic leaders felt pressured into publicly disassociating themselves from Nazi barbarism, but their denunciations were only lip service. An anxious C.P. Blacker, director of Britain's Eugenics Society, watched as his own sterilization campaign lost public support as the obvious comparisons were made. "This Society deprecates the use of the term Eugenics to justify racial animosities," Blacker announced, adding that he condemned, "its misuse as an instrument of tyranny by racial or social majorities." [80]

While much of the world recoiled in revulsion, American eugenicists covered eugenic developments in Germany with pride and excitement. By the summer of 1933, Eugenical News had become bimonthly due to Depression-era finances, and had changed its subtitle again, this time to Current Record of Genetic News and Race Hygiene. Cold Spring Harbor quickly obtained a full copy of the eighteen-paragraph Nazi sterilization law from German Consul Otto Kiep, and rushed a verbatim translation into the next issue as its lead item. In accompanying commentary, Eugenical News declared: "Germany is the first of the world's major nations to enact a modern eugenical sterilization law for the nation as a unit .... The law recently promulgated by the Nazi Government marks several substantial advances. Doubtless the legislative and court history of the experimental sterilization laws in 27 states of the American union provided the experience, which Germany used in writing her new national sterilization statute. To one versed in the history of eugenical sterilization in America, the text of the German statute reads almost like the 'American model sterilization law."' [81]

Proudly pointing out the American origins of the Nazi statute, the article continued, "In the meantime it is announced that the Reich will secure data on prospective sterilization cases, that it will, in fact, in accordance with 'the American model sterilization law,' work out a census of its socially inadequate human stocks." [82]

Countering criticism that Hitler's program constituted a massive human rights abuse, Eugenical News asserted, "To one acquainted with English and American law, it is difficult to see how the new German sterilization law could, as some have suggested, be deflected from its purely eugenical purpose, and be made 'an instrument of tyranny,' for the sterilization of non-Nordic races." The publication argued that in the 16,000 sterilizations performed in America over recent years, not a single "eugenical mistake" had been made. The publication concluded, "One may condemn the Nazi policy generally, but specifically it remained for Germany in 1933 to lead the great nations of the world in the recognition of the biological foundations of national character." [83]

Throughout 1933, American eugenic groups continued their enthusiastic coverage of and identification with German mass sterilization. Birth Control Review ran an extensive article entitled "Eugenic Sterilization, An Urgent Need," authored by Rudin himself, and also reprinted a pamphlet he had prepared for British eugenicists. "Act without delay," urged Rudin. By this time Margaret Sanger had left the publication, and Birth Control Review had relaxed its previous position that birth control was for everyone, not just the unfit, and that it was wrong to encourage greater birth rates for the eugenically preferred. Indeed, Rudin's article did just that. "Not only is it our task to prevent the multiplication of bad stocks," he demanded, "it is also to preserve the well-endowed stocks and to increase the birth rate of the sound average population." [84]

Eugenic influence continued in mainstream medical publications. In 1933, the Journal of the American Medical Association reported on the new sterilization statute as if it were an almost routine health measure. JAMA's coverage included unchallenged data from Nazi eugenicists such as: "The fact that among the Jews the incidence of blindness is greater than among the remainder of the population of Germany (the ratio is 63 to 53) is doubtless due to the increased danger of hereditary transmission resulting from marriage between blood relatives." [85]

JAMA, in another 1933 issue, continued its tradition of repeating Nazi Judeophobia and National Socialist doctrine as ordinary medical news. For example, in its coverage of the German Congress of Internal Medicine in Wiesbaden, JAMA reported that the congress chairman "brought out the following significant ideas: ... A foreign invasion, more particularly from the East, constitutes a menace to the German race. It is an imperative necessity that this menace be now suppressed and eliminated .... Racial problems and questions dealing with hereditary biology must receive special consideration." The article continued, "Eugenics and the influences of heredity must be the preferred topics [at future medical meetings]," and then warned of "the severity of the measures to be adopted for the preservation of the German race and German culture." [86]

Eugenical News spoke in similar terms. In a September-October 1933 review of yet another Lehmann-published anti-Semitic epistle, Race Culture in the Nationalistic State (Rassenflege in Volkischenstaat), Eugenical News insisted in italics, "There is no equal right for all .... Nature is not democratic, but aristocratic .... [German racial] demands appear harsh, but ... the very existence of the race is at stake." [87]

Rockefeller money continued to stream across the Atlantic. The 1933 financial books of the Institute for Anthropology, Human Heredity and Eugenics reflected the foundation's continuing impact. Page four of the balance sheet: Rockefeller paid for a research assistant, a statistician, two secretaries and a gardener. Page six of the balance sheet: Rockefeller paid clerical costs associated with research on twins. Ironically, while Fischer remained in charge at the Institute for Anthropology, Human Heredity and Eugenics, he was being replaced at the Society for Racial Hygiene. He had taken over the society for Ploetz, but in 1933 Nazis overran the society and Fischer was considered too moderate. He was replaced by Rudin, then president of the IFEO. [88]

Unlike eugenic leaders associated with Eugenical News, Rockefeller officials did not propagandize for Nazism, nor did they approve of the Reich's virulent repression. The Rockefeller Foundation's agenda was strictly biological to the exclusion of politics. The foundation wanted to discover the carriers of defective blood -- even if it meant funding Nazi-controlled institutions. Moreover, Rockefeller executives knew their money carried power, and they used it to ensure that the most talented scientists continued at the various Kaiser Wilhelm Institutes, frequently shielding them from periodic Nazi purges.

For example, in early June of 1933, one of the foundation's favorite researchers, Oskar Vogt, head of the Institute for Brain Research, was threatened with removal because of his perceived socialist leanings. Rockefeller mobilized. [89] On June 7, 1933, H.J. Muller, a University of Texas geneticist working at the Institute for Brain Research, alerted Robert A. Lambert in Rockefeller's Paris office. Just days before, Lambert had toured various Berlin research facilities. In his letter, Muller warned Lambert, "If this director loses his position it is a foregone conclusion, and common knowledge, that the head of the genetics department and all other non-Germans, as well as Germans closely associated with the director, will also lose their positions .... I realize that the Rockefeller Foundation must preserve its neutrality so far as matters of politics are concerned. On the other hand, it wishes to have its funds used so that they can best serve the furtherance of truly scientific work." [90]

Muller asked Lambert and other Rockefeller executives to consider "the making of a statement, not necessarily a public one, but, it may be, one expressed in a letter to some responsible person, such as for example [physicist] Dr. [Max] Planck, which could then be shown to the authorities concerned, so that they could be informed of your policy, in advance. Some statement similar to that which you made orally to the director of the institute here, would suffice, namely, that the Rockefeller Foundation would not feel justified, from the point of view of the furtherance of scientific work, in sending additional funds to the support of institutions in Germany, (1) if, on grounds other than their scientific work, worthy scientists, not engaged in political activity, are dismissed from institutions which have been founded or supported in part by funds of the Foundation, or (2) if persons who have been assigned stipends from the Foundation are dismissed from such institutions." [91]

Oskar Vogt was not removed. He remained at his post until well after his Rockefeller funding had run its course. [92]

With each passing day, the world was flooded with more Jewish refugees, more noisy anti-Nazi boycotts and protest marches against any scientific or commercial exchanges with Germany, more public demands to isolate the Reich, and more shocking headlines documenting Nazi atrocities and anti-Jewish legislation. Still, none of this gave pause to America's eugenicists. Correspondence on joint research flowed freely across the Atlantic. American eugenicists, and their many organizations and committees, from New York to California and all points in between, maintained and multiplied their contacts with every echelon of official and semiofficial German eugenics. As the Reich descended into greater depths of depraved mistreatment and impoverishment of Jews, as well as territorial threats against its neighbors, these contacts seemed all the more insulated from the human tragedy unfolding within Europe. Eager and cooperative letters, reports, telegrams and memoranda did not number in the hundreds, but in the thousands of pages per month.

While concentration camps, pauperization and repression flourished in Nazi Germany, and while refugees filled ships and trains telling horrifying stories of torture and inhumanity, it was business as usual for eugenics.

Nor were the contacts and scientific support a secret. For example, in March of 1934, eugenicist W.W. Peter published a long article in the American Journal of Public Health defending Germany's sterilization program. Peter had traveled some 10,000 kilometers over the course of six months, visiting every region of Germany to study the Reich's plan. He gave it an unqualified endorsement, declaring, "This particular program which Germany has launched merits the attention of all public health workers in other countries." [93]

Sterilizations had begun January 1 of that year. Within forty-eight hours, the Reich Interior Ministry's eugenics expert announced that the list would include a vast cross-section of the population -- from children as young as ten to men over the age of fifty. The ministry added that the first to be sterilized would not be residents of "institutions," but those who were "at large." Quickly, the procedure became known as the Hitlerschnitte, or "Hitler's cut." During 1934, the Third Reich sterilized at least 56,000 individuals -- approximately one out of every 1,200 Germans. [94]

In mid-July of 1934 the IFEO met in Zurich, and congratulated Germany on a campaign being conducted "with characteristic thoroughness and efficiency ... mainly on sound and truly eugenic lines." That conclusion was publicized in Eugenical News. The idea was to rebut mounting criticism that the Reich's mass sterilization program was not only a medical sham, but undisguised racial persecution. In Germany, "racial persecution" invariably meant "Jewish persecution." Newspapers around the world were filled with condemnation of Germany and its treatment of the Jews. [95]

Jews were indeed on the minds of the eugenicists at Cold Spring Harbor. For example, the New York Times of January 7,1934, had run an article on Hitler's race policy headlined "NAZIS INSIST REICH BE RACE MINDED," and subheadlined "No One Knows Exactly What That Means There, Except That Jews Are Target." The article went into Laughlin's clipping folder. So did other New York Times articles from January and early February about German-Jewish refuges in Europe, as did articles about financial assistance to Jews in the United States. [96] The folder grew thick.

With so much anti-Nazi publicity in the air, putting a positive face on the Reich's conduct was a continuing priority at Eugenical News. Even as the New York Times was denigrating the Reich's eugenics as pure racial and religious oppression, and using quotes from Interior Minister Wilhelm Frick to illustrate the point, Laughlin was assuring colleagues that the Cold Spring Harbor publication would help counteract that impression among eugenicists. Laughlin's January 13, 1934, letter to Madison Grant explained, "We propose devoting an early number of the Eugenical News entirely to Germany, and to make Dr. Frick's paper the leading article. Dr. Frick's address sounds exactly as though spoken by a perfectly good American eugenicist in reference to what 'ought to be done,' with this difference, that Dr. Frick, instead of being a mere scientist is a powerful Reichsminister in a dictatorial government which is getting things done in a nation of sixty million people. Dr. Frick's speech marks a milepost in statesmanship. The new German attitude and resolution mean that in the future, regardless of nationality, every statesman, who takes the long view of his country's problems, will be compelled to look primarily to eugenics for their solution." [97]

In the very next issue, March-April 1934, the speech in question, delivered by Frick nine months earlier, led off an edition devoted to German eugenics. It included a detailed directory of the Third Reich's leading eugenicists, exuberant praise of the Nazi sterilization campaign, and one article describing the flood of Jewish refugees with the phrase, "it is 'raining' German Jews." Another article examined the destinations of some 60,000 German-Jewish refugees: 25,000 had fled to France, 6,500 to Palestine, 6,000 to Poland and so on. [98]

There was room in the issue to discuss other minorities as well. One article discussed the question of sterilizing some six hundred "negroid children in the Rhine and Ruhr districts -- Germany's legacy from the presence of French colonial troops there during the war." [99] In a salute to the Fuhrer, another article clearly suggested that Hitler's eugenics would soon be applied across all of Europe. "This State Cause does not only concern Germany but all European peoples. But may we be the first to thank this one man, Adolf Hitler, and to follow him on the way towards a biological salvation of humanity." [100]

Eugenical News was the official voice of the American eugenics movement. Its masthead declared it "the official organ of the Eugenics Research Association, the Galton Society, The International Federation of Eugenic Organizations, [and] the Third International Congress of Eugenics." It was published at the Carnegie offices in Cold Spring Harbor. A three-man editorial committee, listed on every masthead, tightly controlled all text: Harry Laughlin, Charles Davenport and Morris Steggerda (Davenport's assistant on the Jamaica project). [101]

Eugenical News was read by virtually the entire eugenics community in America and enjoyed an equally attentive overseas readership. In Nazi Germany, race hygienists followed the publication closely. After the March-April 1934 issue, for example, Ploetz wrote a letter to the editor correcting several typos and adding a clarification. "The 60,000 Jews ... were not expelled .... Nobody chased them away.... They went, frightened by the Jewish reports of horror." Ironically, in the same issue, Eugenical News ran a report headlined "Jewish Physicians in Berlin" that declared, "The city of Berlin quite logically is trying to reduce the number of its Jewish physicians, which is not in keeping with the racial composition of the general population." The article added that anti-Jewish laws were still not working and the numbers of Jewish doctors "were but slightly reduced." [102]

Rockefeller funding continued even as anti-Nazi protest groups complained directly to foundation executives. For example, shortly after Hitler attained power, Rudin and the Kaiser Wilhelm Institutes became known as mere scientific fronts for Nazi ideology. The foundation's own best contact within Rudin's institute, Dr. Walther Spielmeyer, confirmed in a November 3, 1933, letter, "Prof. Rudin ... also holds the post of Reichskomissar for Race Investigation." Once word surfaced in late 1933 of the foundation's ties to Rudin and his Munich-based Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Psychiatry, the anti-Nazi boycotters and protest movement mobilized. One typical complaint letter from New Republic editor Bruce Bliven to the Rockefeller Foundation, sent December 20, 1933, asked whether the reported link could be true. Concerned officials at the foundation jotted notes on Bliven's letter: "June 3, 1932 $9,000 3 for 3 yrs." Under that, someone wrote, "Inst for Anthro." Under that: "Sexuality & Genetics." [103]

On January 10,1934, Rockefeller executive Thomas Appleget replied to Bliven that the foundation had indeed helped erect the building some years before, and had then approved another eight-year grant for two of its doctors. But, Appleget added, "Strictly speaking this [Rudin's institute] is not an institute of the Kaiser Wilhelm Gesellschaft." A Rockefeller colleague who saw the falsity scribbled in the margin, "TBA -- What basis for this?" On January 31, Appleget wrote to Bliven "in correction of my earlier communication" and admitted that the Institute for Psychiatry was indeed "one of the regular institutes." [104]

Protests did not subside. Two days later, Jewish newspapers across the country published notices similar to the one that appeared in the American Hebrew: "Recently the American Committee Against Fascist Oppression in Germany declared that the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute, a German institute for psychiatric research with headquarters in Munich, and subsidized by the Rockefeller Foundation is carrying on a bitter pro-Nazi agitation .... The Committee accuses the Institute of spreading Nazi propaganda under the cloak of science and paid for by the money of the Rockefeller Foundation .... One of the Institute's departments, devoted to the study of racial theories, has 'proved' through 'scientific claims' that Hitler's theory regarding the superiority of the 'Nordic race' and the inferiority of the Semitic and other races is altogether correct .... Dr. Theodore Lang, founder of the National Socialist Doctors' Association, is also a research worker at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute; his Doctors' Association is carrying on a bitter campaign against Jewish physicians in Germany." [105]

The Federal Council of the Churches of Christ in America continued the pressure, sending the foundation the American Hebrew article and asking for an explanation. Worried Rockefeller officials sent a note to a foundation attorney explaining, "As a matter of fact, it is not research that would lend itself to propaganda purpose. Rudin was, and continues to be, a member of the staff of the [Kaiser Wilhelm] Institute [for Psychiatry]. No grants have ever been made for his work or for the general budget of the Institute. Rudin's present political affiliations are not under the control of the Institute or the Kaiser William Gesellschaft [Society]. Undoubtedly some of the [anti-Semitic] publications, which your correspondent describes, have been written in the building that we donated .... In the circumstances, I think it is quite untrue to say that Foundation funds are being used to subsidize race prejudice." [106]

Yet the protest letters still flowed in. "We are getting a number of inquiries from various liberal groups as to our connection with the Forschungsanstalt fur Psychiatrie [Research Institute for Psychiatry] in Munich .... The principal complaint is that Professor Rudin ... [is] apparently very active in the preparation of the anti-Jewish propaganda." Rockefeller officials tried to provide assurances to protestors that they were not funding Rudin himself but rather two doctors working under his direction. But this hardly believable story was itself internally contradicted. A March 16, 1934, letter to Appleget by the foundation's Paris representative reminded, "There is however another grant of funds made through ... the Notgemeinschaft der [Deutschen] Wissenschaft [Emergency Fund for German Science] which at least in part is utilized by Professor Rudin .... $125,000 over a period of five years." The sum of $125,000 equals more than a million dollars in twenty-first-century money. [107]

Despite anti-Nazi protests, Rockefeller continued its subventions to Germany. Indeed, the foundation made periodic increases to account for the fluctuating exchange rate. Moreover, it quickly learned that while its grants specified that money go to one project, Nazi science administrators were quite willing to divert it to another department with a greater ideological priority. For example, in October of 1934, Alan Gregg, director of the foundation's Division of Medical Sciences received a blunt letter from the foundation's most reliable contact in Rudin's institute, Dr. Spielmeyer. "In the field of medicine," Spielmeyer unhappily conceded, "both practice and scientific research is concerned primarily with genetics and race hygiene, as you know. You convinced yourself of that this summer, during your visit." He went on to explain that the space and resources that the foundation financed for his blood chemistry research had been appropriated by Rudin's race investigations. Rudin, reported Spielmeyer, simply required more space, more stenographers and more race investigators. "For this reason, it was unfortunately not possible to maintain the chemical division properly .... The Rockefeller Foundation has, for the past four years, provided funds for the maintenance of the chemical division," said Spielmeyer, but those funds were now being used for "racial research." [108]

At about the same time, an internal note was circulated to Rockefeller Foundation officials informing them that a Jewish doctor at the Institute for Anthropology, Human Heredity and Eugenics had made clear to the foundation that, "In his lifetime, the Jews will not be permitted to return to Germany." Nonetheless, the foundation found additional recipients for its German research funding. [109]

The foundation began financing biologist Alfred Kuhn's hormone studies on meal moths. German race hygienists had been actively researching moths for years, claiming they exhibited what Lenz in the Archiv fur Rossen- und Gesellschaftsbiologie called "Mendelian segregation in later generations." As such, moths were an ideal species to study for "carriers" of defective genes. Rockefeller official Wilbur Tisdale commented on Kuhn's 1934 grant, "However uncertain the political situation might make a large or longtime project, [we are] safe in dealing with sound men as Kuhn on a year-to-year basis." Tisdale added, "Nowhere in the continent or England [does one] find chemists, embryologists, and geneticists willing to cooperate among themselves as are these German scientists." [110]

For Rockefeller, it was just eugenics. But for Hitler, science and technology were magical weapons to wield against the Jews and all other non-Aryan undesirables. Just after Hitler rose to power, IBM initiated an aggressive commercial compact with Nazi Germany, generating windfall profits as it organized and systemized the Reich's anti-Jewish and eugenic programs. As the Hitler regime took each step in its war against the Jews and all of Europe, IBM custom-designed the punch cards and other data processing solutions to streamline those campaigns into what the company described as "blitzkrieg efficiency." [111]

It began in 1933, when the company designed and executed Hitler's first census. From there, IBM's involvement with the Reich mushroomed. On January 8, 1934, IBM opened a million-dollar factory in Berlin to manufacture Hollerith machines and coordinate data processing functions. At the factory opening, the manager of IBM's German subsidiary, Willi Heidinger, spoke vividly about what IBM technology would do for Germany's biological destiny. Standing next to the personal representative of IBM president Thomas J. Watson, and with numerous Nazi Party officials in attendance at a ceremony bedecked by swastika flags and Storm Trooper honor guards, Heidinger emotionally declared that population statistics were key to eradicating the unhealthy, inferior segments of German society. [112]

"The physician examines the human body and determines whether ... all organs are working to the benefit of the entire organism," asserted Heidinger to the crowd of Nazi officials. "We [IBM] are very much like the physician, in that we dissect, cell by cell, the German cultural body. We report every individual characteristic ... on a little card. These are not dead cards, quite to the contrary, they prove later on that they come to life when the cards are sorted at a rate of 25,000 per hour according to certain characteristics. These characteristics are grouped like the organs of our cultural body, and they will be calculated and determined with the help of our tabulating machine. [113]

"We are proud that we may assist in such task, a task that provides our nation's Physician [Adolf Hitler] with the material he needs for his examinations. Our Physician can then determine whether the calculated values are in harmony with the health of our people. It also means that if such is not the case, our Physician can take corrective procedures to correct the sick circumstances .... Our characteristics are deeply rooted in our race. Therefore, we must cherish them like a holy shrine, which we will -- and must -- keep pure. We have the deepest trust in our Physician and will follow his instructions in blind faith, because we know that he will lead our people to a great future. Hail to our German people and der Fuhrer!" [114]

Most of Heidinger's speech, along with a list of the invited Nazi Party officials, was rushed to Manhattan and immediately translated for Watson. The IBM leader cabled Heidinger a prompt note of congratulations for a job well done and sentiments well expressed. [115]

Following up, an August 1934 article in IBM's German customer newsletter, Hollerith Nachrichten, extolled the benefits of advanced data processing for eugenics. The article, entitled "An Improved Analysis of Statistical Interdependencies via Hollerith Punch Card Process," illustrated how complex data calculations could be better interpreted and predict probabilities. As a prime example, the journal cited "the field of medicine, and the science of genetics and race." Complex tabulations could be rendered, the article suggested, regarding "the size of fathers and their children, number of children and parents. Diphtheria and age, and the different racial characteristics." [116]

Medical questionnaires to be filled out by hand were jointly designed by IBM engineers and Nazi disability or welfare experts for compatibility with Hollerith cards. For example, diseases were coded: influenza was 3, lupus was 7, syphilis was 9, diabetes was 15; these were entered into field 9. As a notice from IBM's German subsidiary advised, the questionnaires would have to be adapted to the technical demands of IBM's Hollerith system, not the other way around. A vertical notice printed along the bottom left of typical welfare forms often indicated the information was to be processed "by the punch card office," generally an in-house bureau. [117]

Raceology in Nazi Germany was enabled as never before. Statistical official Friedrich Zahn extolled the fact that "registered persons can be observed continually, [through] the cooperation of statistical central offices ... [so] other statistical population matters can be settled and regulated." Zahn proposed "a single file for the entire population to make possible an ethnic biological diagnosis [to] turn today's theory into tomorrow's practice. Such a file would serve both practical considerations as well as science." He added, "Clarified pictures of the volume of genetic diseases within the population ... now gives science a new impetus to conduct research ... which should promote good instead of bad genetic stock." [118]

Mathematic formulas and high-speed data processing of population and medical records would indeed become the key to Jewish persecution in Nazi Germany. In November of 1935, Germany took the next step.

Defining just who was a Jew was problematic, since so many of Jewish ancestry were practicing Christians or unaffiliated. Throughout 1935, German race specialists, bolstered by population computations and endless tabular printouts, proffered their favorite definitions of Jewishness. Some proposals were so sweeping as to include even those with the faintest Jewish ancestry -- similar to the familiar "one drop" race purity laws in Virginia. But many tried to create complex pseudoscientific castes, comprised of "full Jews," who professed the religion or possessed four Jewish grandparents, as well as the so-called "three-quarter," "half," and "one-quarter" Jews with fewer Jewish ancestors. [119]

Adolf Hitler was personally aware of preliminary findings showing that while only about a half million Germans had registered as Jews in the census, the veins of many more coursed with traces of Jewish blood. About a million more, he thought. [120] The Jews Hitler feared most were the ones not apparent -- what eugenicists called the "carriers."

Suddenly, on September 13, 1935, der Fuhrer demanded that a decree defining Jewishness be hammered out in time for his appearance two days later before the Reichstag (Parliament) at the culmination of Party Day festivities. Top eugenic experts of the Interior Ministry flew in for the assignment. Working with drafts shuttled between Hitler's abode and police headquarters, they finally patched together twin decrees of disenfranchisement and marriage restriction. The Law for the Protection of German Blood and a companion statute, the Reich Citizenship Law, deprived Jews of their German citizenship. These laws -- the Nuremberg Laws -- would apply not only to full Jews, but also to half and quarter Jews, all defined according to complex eugenic mathematics. Jewish hybrids were called Mischling, or mixed-breeds. [121] High-speed Hollerith systems offered the Reich the speed and scope that only an automated system could deliver to identify not only half and quarter Jews, but even eighth and sixteenth Jews. It was a new, automated system, yet applied to the well-developed, decades-old Cold Spring Harbor procedure of developing family pedigrees. [122]

The new formulaic approach to Jewish persecution exploded into world headlines. Under a page one banner story, the New York Times's lead was typical: "National Socialist Germany definitely flung down the gauntlet before the feet of Western liberal opinion tonight ... [and] decreed a series of laws that put Jews beyond the legal and social pale of the German nation." The newspaper went on to detail the legal import of the new ancestral fractions. [123]

The news was everywhere and inescapable. Centuries of religious prejudice had now been quantified into science. Even if Germans of Jewish ancestry had been practicing Christianity for generations -- as many had -- henceforth, they would all be legally defined as a race, without regard to religion. That was in 1935.

Eleven years earlier, Harry H. Laughlin's memo to Representative Albert Johnson's House Committee on Immigration and Naturalization regarding Jewish racial quotas read: "For this purpose, it would be necessary to define a Jew. Tentatively, such a definition might read, 'A Jew is a person fifty percent or more of whose ancestry are generally recognized as being Jewish in race. The definition applies entirely to race and in no manner to religion."' [124]

Shortly after the Nuremberg Laws were promulgated in 1935, and in view of the negative publicity race laws were receiving, Nazi eugenicist Ernst Rodenwaldt thought it might be helpful to give Laughlin special recognition for his contribution to Reich policy. Rodenwaldt suggested an honorary degree for Laughlin. In a December 1935 letter to Carl Schneider, dean of the University of Heidelberg's medical school, Rodenwaldt wrote, "Every race hygienist knows Laughlin as a champion of the eugenic sterilization. Thanks to his indefatigable studies and his indefatigable propaganda activity in America, there exist, since the end of the twenties, in several states of America, sterilization laws and we can report about 15,000 sterilizations until 1930, mainly in California. Professor Laughlin is one of the most important pioneers on the field of racial hygiene. I got to know him in 1927 in Cold Spring Harbor. ... Heidelberg University honoring professor Laughlin's pioneer work would, in my opinion, make a very good and compensating impression in America, where racial hygienic questions are propagated in the same way as here, but where many questions of the German racial hygienic laws are mistrusted." [125]

Schneider gladly approved the honor. Laughlin could not travel to Heidelberg to accept, but he expressed his gratitude in a letter to Schneider. "I was greatly honored," Laughlin wrote, "to accept this degree from the University of Heidelberg which stands for the highest ideals of scholarship and research achieved by those racial stocks which have contributed so much to the foundation blood of the American people .... I consider the conferring of this high degree upon me not only as a personal honor, but also as evidence of a common understanding of German and American scientists of the nature of eugenics as research in and the practical application of those fundamental biological and social principles." [126]

Some three years after Laughlin's award, shortly after World War II broke out in September of 1939, the same Carl Schneider helped organize the gassing of thousands of adults adjudged mentally handicapped. The project was code named T-4 after the address of the staff, located at Tiergartenstrasse 4 in Berlin. Mass gassings with carbon monoxide, which began in January 1940 at locations across Germany, proved most efficient. Victims were told to undress and to enter a room resembling a shower complete with tiled surfaces, benches and a drain. Crematoria were erected nearby to dispose of the bodies. [127]

From 1936 to early 1939, Nazi Germany was considered a threat to the other countries of Europe, and indeed to all humanity. Refugees flooded the world. The Third Reich continued arming for war and demanded territorial concessions from its neighbors. In 1938 the Nazis annexed Austria, and then in early 1939 the Reich overran Czechoslovakia in prewar aggression and consolidation. Concentration camps of gruesome notoriety, from Dachau to Buchenwald, were established across Germany; the horror stories they inspired became common talk of the day. Nazi subversion was a new fear in American society. [128]

Certainly, there were many vocal Nazi sympathizers in America. But those who supported any aspect of the Hitler regime, from economic contacts to scientific exchanges, did so at a substantial moral risk. Genuine revulsion with Nazified eugenics was beginning to sweep over the ranks of previously staunch hereditarians who could no longer identify with a movement so intertwined with the race policies of the Third Reich. A group of longtime eugenicists and geneticists spoke of a resolution to disassociate eugenics from issues of race. Letters to Davenport calling for his support were unsuccessful. Institutions such as the Eugenics Research Association, the American Eugenics Society, the Eugenics Record Office and a labyrinth of related entities all remained intact in their support of Germany. [129]

Monthly coverage in JAMA became more skeptical and detached starting about 1936, with headlines such as "Strangulation of Intellectualism" placing the Nazi takeover of medical science into clearer perspective. One JAMA article unambiguously explained, "The president of the new [medical] society is no distinguished clinician; he is the Nazi district governor of Vienna, that is to say a politician who is also an official of the Nazi bureau of national health." JAMA also began inserting quotation marks around Nazi medical expressions and statements to differentiate them from ordinary medical discourse. [130]

After Raymond Fosdick assumed the presidency of the Rockefeller Foundation in 1936, the charitable trust became increasingly unwilling to fund any projects associated with the term eugenics, even Fischer's genealogical studies. The idea of investigating family trees was just too emblematic of repressive Nazi persecution. Funding was also curtailed for some of the foundation's traditional programs at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institutes. Money continued to flow for eugenic projects, but only when they were packaged as genetics, brain research, serology or social biology. For example, Rockefeller fellowships and scholarships from 1936 through 1939 allowed German genetic researchers to travel to Cold Spring Harbor and California for further study. But the fact that Rockefeller executives became exceedingly cautious about their continued sponsorship of Nazi medicine was a testament to the controversial nature of any contact with the Third Reich. [131]

Indeed, on June 6, 1939, Fosdick circulated a pointed memo to Rockefeller Foundation executives. "I have read with a good deal of interest your Letter no. 40 of May 25th about our general relation with totalitarian countries, and particularly about the fellowship situation. The rumor which Mr. Kittridge brought back from Geneva to the effect that the Foundation was boycotting all requests from Germany is of course hardly correct .... I am frank in saying that at the present moment it would be not only embarrassing, but probably impossible, to make any major grants in Germany. There is a matter of public policy involved here which has to be taken into consideration, and I do not believe that this is the moment to consider any sizable requests for assistance from German sources." Fosdick added that individual fellowships to German scientists would still be possible, but only if "sifted with rigid scrutiny to make sure that we are not being used for ulterior purposes." He added, "I earnestly hope that this evil hour will soon pass." [132]

Despite Nazi Germany's descent into pariah status, core eugenic leaders were steadfast in their defense of, fascination with, and general admiration for Hitler's program. In late 1935, ERA president Clarence Campbell traveled to Berlin for the World Population Congress, an event staged under the patronage of Nazi Interior Minister Frick. Fischer was president of the congress. Campbell created a scandal back home when he loudly and passionately proclaimed his admiration for Hitler's policy. "The leader of the German nation, Adolf Hitler," declared Campbell, "ably supported by Frick and guided by this nation's anthropologists, eugenists and social philosophers, has been able to construct a comprehensive racial policy of population development and improvement that promises to be epochal in racial history. It sets a pattern which other nations and other racial groups must follow if they do not wish to fall behind in their racial quality, in their racial accomplishments and in their prospects for survival." [133]

Campbell's speech made headlines in the next morning's New York Times: "US EUGENIST HAILS NAZI RACIAL POLICY." When Campbell returned to America, he hit back at his critics in the lead article of the March-April 1936 issue of Eugenical News. "It is unfortunate that the anti-Nazi propaganda with which all countries have been flooded has gone far to obscure the correct understanding and the great importance of the German racial policy." [134]

Throughout 1936, the American eugenic leadership continued its praise for Hitler's anti-Jewish and racial policies. "The last twenty years witnessed two stupendous forward movements, one in our United States, the other in Germany," declared California raceologist C. M. Goethe in his presidential address to the Eugenics Research Association. He added with a degree of satisfaction, "California had led all the world in sterilization operations. Today, even California's quarter century record has, in two years, been outdistanced by Germany." [135]

Eugenicist Marie Kopp toured 15,000 miles across Nazi Germany, and with the assistance of one of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institutes, was able to undertake extensive research on the Nazi program in cities and towns. Kopp was even permitted access to the secret Nazi Heredity Courts. Throughout 1936, Kopp wrote articles for eugenic publications, participated in promotional roundtables with such luminaries as Margaret Sanger, and presented position papers praising the Nazi program as one of "fairness." Kopp was able to assure all that "religious belief does not enter into the matter," because Jews were defined not by their religious practices, but by their bloodlines. [136]

At one American Eugenics Society luncheon, Kopp emphasized, "Justice Holmes, when handling down the decision in the Buck versus Bell case, expressed the guiding spirit .... 'It is better for all the world, if instead of waiting to execute degenerate offspring for crime or let them starve for their imbecility, society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind. Three generations of imbeciles are enough."' [137]

In 1937, Laughlin and his Cold Spring Harbor office became the U.S. distributor of a two-reel Nazi eugenic propaganda film entitled E1'bkrank (The Hereditarily Diseased). Erbkrank began with scenes of squalid German slums where superior Nordic families were forced to live because so much public money was spent on bright, well-constructed institutions to house the feebleminded. Laughlin loaned the film to high schools in New York and New Jersey, to welfare workers in Connecticut, and to the Society for the Prevention of Blindness. Although he acquired the film from the Race Policy Office of the Nazi Party (Rassenpolitisches Amt der NSDAP), he assured, "There is no racial propaganda of any sort in the picture; it is [simply] recognized that every race has its own superior family-stocks and its own degenerate strains." [138]

Yet in fact the film declared, "Jewish liberal thinking forced millions of healthy volk-nationals into need and squalor-while the unfit were overly coddled." In another frame the movie explained, "The Jewish people has a particularly high percentage of mentally ill." Indeed, one archetypal defective citizen was a mental patient described as a "fifty-five year old Jew -- deceitful- rabble-rouser." [139]

No matter how dismal the plight of the Jews in Germany, no matter how horrifying the headlines, no matter how close Europe came to all-out war, no matter how often German troops poured across another border, American eugenicists stood fast by their eugenic hero, Adolf Hitler.

In 1938, Germany accelerated the humiliation of the Jews, as well as the Aryanization and confiscation of their property. On November 10, 1938, the world was shocked by the German national anti-Jewish riots and pogroms known as Kristallnacht. Over one hundred synagogues were burned across the Reich, and thousands of Jews were marched off to concentration camps. The Gestapo and SS had by now subsumed the Kaiser Wilhelm Institutes, the Society for Racial Hygiene and indeed all of German medicine. [140]

Fischer, Lenz, Rudin and the other stalwarts became the medical generals of Hitler's campaign against humanity. In 1936, Rudin assumed leadership of the Institute for Racial Hygiene in Munich, one of the main centers tasked with deciding which German citizens possessed Jewish blood, and how much. In 1937, Lenz and Rudin, in a joint operation with the Gestapo, orchestrated the identification and rounding-up of some five hundred to six hundred "Rhineland bastards," the offspring of Black French colonial soldiers; they were all secretly sterilized. Some 200,000 Germans of all backgrounds had been sterilized by 1937. After that the records were not published. [141]

Fischer was increasingly accompanied by SS officer Wolfgang Abel, who was usually dressed in a typical black Nazi uniform. The two could be seen in each other's company even when visited by American eugenicists at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Anthropology, Human Heredity and Eugenics. Together, Fischer and Abel manufactured fictitious eugenic profiles of Jews, Gypsies and other non-Aryan undesirables, accusing them of numerous hereditary afflictions. In order to justify their eugenic persecution, the Reich falsely ascribed flat feet, mental illness and an assortment of other maladies to those the Reich wanted to eliminate. [142]

In one lecture, Fischer declared, "When a people wants, somehow or other, to preserve its own nature, it must reject alien racial elements, and when these have already insinuated themselves, it must suppress them and eliminate them. The Jew is such an alien and, therefore, when he wants to insinuate himself, he must be warded off. This is self-defense. In saying this, I do not characterize every Jew as inferior, as Negroes are, and I do not underestimate the greatest enemy with whom we have to fight. But I reject Jewry with every means in my power, and without reserve, in order to preserve the hereditary endowment of my people." [143]

The concept of describing people as leading a "life unworthy of life," sometimes known as "worthless eaters," rose to the fore. [144] Eugenic terminology and conceptualizations such as subhuman and bacterium were becoming more than jargon. They were becoming policy guidelines. Leon Whitney, executive secretary of the American Eugenics Society, declared, "While we were pussy-footing around ... the Germans were calling a spade a spade." Goddard expressed his frustration another way: "If Hitler succeeds in his wholesale sterilization, it will be a demonstration that will carry eugenics farther than a hundred Eugenics Societies could. If he makes a fiasco of it, it will set the movement back where a hundred eugenics societies can never resurrect it." [145]

On September 1, 1939, Germany launched its blitzkrieg against Poland, beginning Word War II. The Reich needed hospital beds, and had to ration its wartime resources. Now the medical men of German eugenics would graduate from sterilization to organized euthanasia. Lenz helped draft euthanasia guidelines whereby a patient could be killed "by medical measures of which he remains unaware." The continued existence of those classed defective could no longer be justified in Hitler's war-strapped Reich. Beginning in 1940, thousands of Germans taken from old age homes, mental institutions and other custodial facilities were systematically gassed. Between 50,000 and 100,000 were eventually killed. Psychiatrists, steeped in eugenics, selected the victims after a momentary review of their records, jotted their destinies with a pen stroke, and then personally supervised the exterminations. [146]

With the war raging, Lothrop Stoddard, a leader of the Eugenics Research Association, traveled to Nazi Germany. His 1940 book, Into the Darkness, celebrated Hitler and Nazi eugenics. "Nothing is so distinctive in Nazi Germany as its ideas about race," wrote Stoddard. "Its concept of racial matters underlies the whole National Socialist philosophy of life and profoundly influences both its policies and practices. We cannot intelligently evaluate the Third Reich unless we understand this basic attitude of mind. [147]

"As is well known, the Nazi viewpoint on race and the resultant policies are set forth by Adolf Hitler himself in the pages of Mein Kampf, the Bible of National Socialism. The future Fuehrer therein wrote: 'It will be the duty of the People's State to consider the race as the basis of the community's existence. It must make sure that the purity of the racial strain will be preserved .... In order to achieve this end the State will have to avail itself of modern advances in medical science. It must proclaim that all those people are unfit for procreation who are afflicted with some visible hereditary disease, or are the carriers of it ... having such people rendered sterile." [148]

Focusing on Hitler's Jewish policy, Stoddard observed, "The relative emphasis which Hitler gave racialism and eugenics many years ago foreshadows the respective interest toward the two subjects in Germany today. Outside Germany, the reverse is true, due chiefly to Nazi treatment of its Jewish minority. Inside Germany, the Jewish problem is regarded as a passing phenomenon, already settled in principle and soon to be settled in fact by the physical elimination of the Jews themselves from the Third Reich." [149]

Stoddard was so favored by Hitler that der Fuhrer granted him a rare, exclusive audience. In a chapter entitled "I See Hitler," Stoddard wrote of the moment of his encounter in these words, "At that moment I was bidden to the Presence." [150]

Goebbels's ministry escorted Stoddard around Berlin and arranged access to other senior Reich officials, especially those concerned with race policy. The Eugenics Courts, normally conducted in secret, granted Stoddard extraordinary permission to sit on the bench next to the judges and observe their racial judgments of Jews and non-Jews alike. His courtroom experiences were recounted in a chapter entitled "In a Eugenics Court," in which he bemoaned the race tribunals for being "almost too conservative." [151]

As Hitler's divisions smashed through Europe, his eugenic ideal would be enforced not only against those in Germany, but also against those in conquered or dominated countries. In country after country, Hitler rounded up the defective Jews and other subhumans, systematically making one region after another judenrein -- Jew free. As Hess insisted, "National Socialism is nothing but applied biology." [152]

For decades, Hitler's bloody regime, the Holocaust and the Second World War would be perceived as merely the outgrowth of the unfathomable madness and blind hatred of one man and his movement. But in fact Hitler's hatred was not blind; it was sharply focused on an obsessive eugenic vision. The war against the weak had graduated from America's slogans, index cards and surgical blades to Nazi decrees, ghettos and gas chambers.
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Re: War Against the Weak: Eugenics and America's Campaign to

Postby admin » Thu Jul 31, 2014 8:34 am

CHAPTER 16: Buchenwald

Buchenwald concentration camp near Weimar. The "Little Camp" -- the isolation and quarantine section of Buchenwald. Block 57. One morning in late May of 1944. [1]

Three-tiered geometric boxes lined the barrack. Each housed as many as sixteen emaciated humans per shelf. A thirsty and exhausted Frenchman named Oliv struggled to climb down from the top level for his day's work. But he was too weak to climb out and negotiate the eight feet down. As Oliv lay limp, a fat, well-fed inmate doctor walked in. The other French prisoners pleaded with the doctor that Oliv was too ill and suffered from severe rheumatism, making his every movement painful. The frail man needed medical attention. A small infirmary, stocked with medicines and called "the hospital," had been established in the Little Camp. The doctor controlled access to the facility and the drugs. Those admitted to the hospital could be excused from work until nursed back to working strength -- and thereby live another day. [2]

But the doctor, himself a prisoner yet reviled as a barbaric stooge of the SS, was known for refusing admission to the hospital except to those he favored -- or those who could bribe their way in by turning over their relief packets. Most of all, the doctor hated the French communists. They -- and their diseases -- were everywhere in the Little Camp. The doctor believed that each inferior national group was a carrier of its own specific set of diseases. Frenchmen, he thought, brought in diphtheria and related throat diseases as well as scarlet fever. Simply put, the Little Camp doctor was unwilling to use his limited hospital to lessen the prisoners' loads, extend their lives or relieve their suffering. The prisoners' job was to work. His job was to ensure they kept working -- until they could work no more. [3]

Furious and impatient, the Little Camp doctor pushed the others out of the way, stepped onto the lowest of the three tiers, reached up and grabbed Oliv's emaciated foot as it dangled over the edge. He then yanked Oliv over the short sideboard and down the eight feet to the floor. Oliv tumbled to the floor like a doll and cracked his skull. Blood soaked down the back of his shirt. As the life seeped out of Oliv, his comrades hauled him onto the lowest bunk, and then hurried out to their backbreaking labors at the quarry. When they came back to Block 57 that night, Oliv was dead. Next to the bathroom was a makeshift morgue; they moved his body there. Later, Oliv's body waited its turn at the crematorium. [4]

The French inmates of the Little Camp never forgot the brutality the doctor showed them, while exhibiting seemingly incongruous medical compassion to others. They never forgot that while most of them were worked and starved into skeletons, the doctor ate well. Many prisoners lost 40 percent of their weight shortly after arriving in the Little Camp. But the doctor arrived at Buchenwald fat and stayed fat. No one could understand how a talented physician could render his skills so effectively to some, while allowing others to die horrible deaths. After Buchenwald was liberated in April of 1945, the stories about Dr. Edwin Katzen-Ellenbogen emerged in French reports and then in occupation German newspapers and the Allied armed forces media. Katzen-Ellenbogen was accused of murdering a thousand prisoners by injection. [5]

The United States military conducted war crimes trials at Dachau for a variety of lesser-known concentration camp Nazis and their inmate collaborators, especially the medical killers. Katzen-Ellenbogen was among them, and was found guilty of war crimes, right along with the other so-called "butchers of Buchenwald." He was sentenced to a long term in prison. The court finding, however, was not an easy one. It was complicated by conflicting stories of Katzen-Ellenbogen's outstanding academic background and prewar record. [6]

Many found Dr. Katzen-Ellenbogen and the many lives he led incomprehensible. How could he alternately function as a gifted psychiatrist and as a murderous man of medicine? At the time, none understood that Katzen-Ellenbogen viewed humanity with multiple standards. He was an American eugenicist. Nor was he just any eugenicist. Katzen-Ellenbogen was a founding member of the Eugenics Research Association and the chief eugenicist of New Jersey under then-Governor Woodrow Wilson. [7]

Viewing humanity through a eugenic prism, Katzen-Ellenbogen was capable of exhibiting great compassion toward those he saw as superior, and great cruelty toward those he considered genetically unfit. In Buchenwald, the French, with their Mediterranean and aFrican hybridization, were eugenically among the lowest. They were not really worthy of life. At the same time, in Katzen-Ellenbogen's view, those of Nordic or Aryan descent were treasured -- to be helped and even saved. It all followed classic eugenic thought. But in Buchenwald, it was the difference between life and death.

How did one of America's pioneer eugenicists wend his way from New Jersey to Buchenwald's notorious Little Camp? The story begins in late nineteenth-century Poland. Katzen-Ellenbogen was the name of a famous line of Polish and Czech rabbis going back centuries. However, as the doctor's life was built, he -- or perhaps his immediate branch of the family -- obscured any connection with a Jewish heritage. Like many European Jews who had drifted from tradition, he spelled his last name numerous ways, hyphenated and unhyphenated, and sometimes even signed his name "Edwin K. Ellenbogen." He was probably born as Edwin Wladyslaw Katzen-Ellenbogen in approximately 1882, in Stanislawow, in Austrian-occupied Poland. [8]

As a youth, Katzen-Ellenbogen developed severe vision problems. But he achieved academic success despite the affliction, attending fine schools and developing extraordinary powers of observation and ratiocination. First, he studied at a Jesuit high school in Poland. Then he attended the University of Leipzig, where he secured his medical degree in 1905. While in medical school, he became engaged to a girl from Massachusetts, Marie A. Pierce, daughter of a judge and scion of a prominent family of Americans dating back to the Minutemen. In 1905, Katzen-Ellenbogen sailed for America, settling briefly in Massachusetts, where he married Marie. He added "Marie" to his various middle names, and utilized her family's connections to further his academic pursuits. Various letters of introduction were provided, as was the money Katzen-Ellenbogen needed to continue his university work in Europe. There he studied psychiatry with some of the best names in the field, during the formative years of the profession, and he also learned the mystifying medical art ofhypnosis. [9]

In 1907, Katzen-Ellenbogen returned to the United States, where he was naturalized as a citizen and started work in state institutions, such as the Danvers State Hospital of Massachusetts. One of the early exponents of Freud in America, Katzen-Ellenbogen became a Harvard lecturer in abnormal psychology. He developed expertise on fake symptoms. He authored an article in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology on "The Detection of a Case of Simulation of Insanity by Means of Association Tests." [10]

Katzen- Ellenbogen began to specialize in epilepsy, especially with regard to mental deficiency. His expert testimony was pivotal in convicting a murderer who claimed diminished mental capacity due to an epileptic attack; the convicted man was electrocuted in 1912. He authored numerous articles on the subject and became a coeditor of the international quarterly, Epilepsia. One of his articles asserted that different races should have their own standards for imbecility. A child, he posited, "may be inferior as to race, but be up to the mark for its own racial standards ... especially ... in America." [11]

In 1911, Woodrow Wilson became governor of new jersey. Katzen-Ellenbogen was asked to become scientific director of the State Village for Epileptics at Skillman, New jersey. It was there that he would develop his eugenic interests. "While there," recalled Katzen-Ellenbogen, "I particularly studied ... the hereditary background of epilepsy." As the state's leading expert, Katzen-Ellenbogen was then asked by Wilson to draft New jersey's law to sterilize epileptics and defectives. In the process, he became an expert on legal and legislative safeguards and jurisprudence. [12]

As a leading member of the National Association for the Study of Epilepsy, Katzen-Ellenbogen delivered an address on epilepsy and feeblemindedness at Goddard's Vineland Training School. In 1913, Katzen- Ellenbogen became charter member #14 of the Eugenics Research Association at Cold Spring Harbor. The doctor continued his active membership even after he sailed for Russia in 1915, never to return to the United States. [13]

Katzen-Ellenbogen bounced around the capitals of Europe for the next few years. He was about to board a ship in Holland when he received a telegram informing him that his only son had died in America after falling from a roof. Katzen-Ellenbogen was never the same. He became morose and introspective, questioning the value of human life, at least his own. "I contemplated to offer myself as physician to the leprosy colony in the upper State of New York," he recounted. He also considered suicide. At the same time, Katzen-Ellenbogen deepened his fascination with things Catholic, purchasing a valued copy of a rare Madonna. [14]

As Katzen-Ellenbogen wandered through Europe, he impressed many people as a kind humanitarian. He met one woman briefly on a train in 1921 and discussed his favorite Madonna. More than two decades later, even after learning of his notorious war crimes, she wrote him, "I cannot believe that anyone who likes a picture of the Madonna can be entirely bad." Years later, another woman, recalling their fond encounter in Germany, insisted, "There still are people in this world who believe in you." [15]

In 1925, Katzen-Ellenbogen developed a relationship with a woman named Olga. She described him as "the companion of my life." He described her as "my old housekeeper." By any measure, Katzen- Ellenbogen developed deep parental feelings for Olga's two orphaned grandsons, and raised them as though they were his own. Together with his daughter, Katzen-Ellenbogen led an ad hoc family of five. [16]

They were living in Germany when Hitler rose to power. Despite his Catholic observances, after the 1935 Nuremberg Laws Katzen-Ellenbogen found himself defined as Jewish and subject to encircling anti-Jewish decrees. Like many practicing Christians of Jewish ancestry, he fled across the Czech border in 1936, establishing a clinic in Marienbad. When anti- Jewish agitation spread into Czechoslovakia, Katzen-Ellenbogen moved again, this time to the democratic stronghold of Prague, where in 1938 he began working with refugee groups. [17]

After Hitler invaded Czechoslovakia in March of 1939, Katzen- Ellenbogen followed a typical route of flight. First, he crossed into Italy. After war broke out in September of 1939, he escaped to France. But when the Nazis bifurcated France in 1940, Katzen-Ellenbogen was caught in the occupied zone in Paris. As a result of his many recent relocations, he was a suspicious refugee in a city teeming with Gestapo agents. In 1941 he was arrested by Gestapo counter-intelligence corps, but he was soon released. Like many foreigners living in Nazi-occupied Paris, Katzen-Ellenbogen was ultimately arrested several times for questioning or detention. He was denied permission to leave for neutral Portugal. Finally, just as he was planning to leave for Prague in the late summer of 1943, Nazi security agents came for him. The knock on the door came at six in the morning. [18]

Many eugenicists considered Nazi racial policies a biological ideal. Katzen-Ellenbogen discounted his Jewish ancestry, considering himself a eugenicist first and foremost. This made him different, and almost appealing to the Gestapo, especially under the circumstances.

Although a prisoner, he was given access to top Nazi generals in Paris to discuss his detention status. The war-stretched Nazis needed doctors, especially in occupied lands. As a distinguished physician and psychiatrist who spoke German and also enjoyed American citizenship, Katzen-Ellenbogen became very useful to both the Gestapo and the Wehrmacht. Twice he was brought to the Reich military prison in France to examine a German soldier suffering from mental problems. Katzen-Ellenbogen even testified as an expert at the soldier's court martial. [19]

Katzen-Ellenbogen found himself in a somewhat unique position. "I was the only doctor in France, a psychiatrist," he recalled, "who was [also] qualified in Germany as a doctor, and they didn't have anybody [with those skills] in the army." Eventually, the overworked regular German army doctor visiting the military prison asked Katzen-Ellenbogen, "As you speak French anyway and other languages, relieve me here. And when something very important happens, they can telephone for me." Thus, Katzen- Ellenbogen became a general practitioner for the German military in Paris even as he remained in custody. Eventually, Katzen-Ellenbogen's services were requested for German military men outside the prison. For all intents and purposes, he was at the disposal of the German medical staff. But in September of 1943, when orders came from Berlin to transfer prisoners in France to slave labor camps in the Reich, Katzen-Ellenbogen was put on a train and shipped to the dreaded Buchenwald. [20]

Buchenwald functioned for two purposes: to inflict cruelty on the Nazis' enemies and to systematically work its inmates to death in service of the Reich -- in that order. In the hierarchy of hell, Buchenwald was considered among the worst of Nazi labor camps. Hundreds to thousands of people died within its confines each week from beatings, disease, starvation, exhaustion or execution. [21]

Cruel and painful medical experiments were conducted at Buchenwald, especially in Block 46, known for its frosted windows and restricted access. Nazi doctors deliberately infected prisoners with typhus, converting their bodies into so many living test tubes, kept alive only as convenient hosts for the virus. Doctors then carefully observed the progress of the disease in order to help evaluate potential vaccines. Some six hundred men died from such infections. In addition, Russian POWs were deliberately burned with phosphorus to observe their reactions to drugs. As part of the Reich's program to develop mass sterilization techniques, fifteen men were castrated to observe the effects. Two died from the operation. Experimental Section V employed gland implants and synthetic hormones on homosexuals to reverse their sex drive; the SS officers delighted in joking about the men. Those who survived these heinous tests, or otherwise outlived their usefulness, were often murdered with injections of phenol. [22]

Horrible punishments were everyday occurrences. Many were hung from their wrists with their hands tied behind their backs, thus painfully tearing arms from their sockets. Weakened inmates who did not die quickly enough were bludgeoned with a large blood-encrusted club. Russian POWs were systematically shot in the back of the neck through a small hole as they stood at the height-measuring wall. [23]

Large electric lifts continuously shuttled corpses to waiting crematoria, which operated ten hours a day and produced prodigious heaps of white ash. Death was an hourly event at Buchenwald -- ultimately more than 50,000 perished. More French died than any other national group. But before the victims were burned, they performed additional service to the Reich. Pathologists in Block 2 dissected some 35,000 corpses so their body parts could be studied and then stored in various jars on shelves. Tattooed prisoners were especially prized. In Block 2, their skins were stripped off, tanned and stretched into lampshades and other memorabilia. [24]

Nuremberg Trial judges denounced "conditions so ghastly that they defy description. The proof is overwhelming that in the administration of the concentration camps the German war machine, and first and foremost the SS, resorted to practices which would shame the most primitive race of savage barbarians. All the instincts of human decency which distinguished men from beasts were forgotten, and the law of the jungle took command. If there is such a thing as a crime against humanity, here we have it repeated a million times over." [25]

In assessing Buchenwald just after liberation, a British Parliamentary delegation declared, "We have endeavored to write with restraint and objectivity, and to avoid obtruding personal reactions or emotional comments. We would conclude, however, by stating ... that such camps as this mark the lowest point of degradation to which humanity has yet descended. The memory of what we saw and heard at Buchenwald will haunt us ineffaceably for many years." [26]

Most new arrivals at Buchenwald were instantly shocked by the camp's brutality and the physical cruelty heaped upon them by the guards. Upon initial entry, it was common for new prisoners to run a two-hundred-meter gauntlet of guards, who viciously beat them with clubs and truncheons as they passed. But Katzen-Ellenbogen seemed fascinated. Recalling his first moments in the camp, he said, "I was really amazed about the efficiency and quickness about everything that happened there." He added, "We were treated not badly there .... " Katzen-Ellenbogen was in fact privileged from the moment he entered the camp. While other prisoners at that time were forced into tattered zebra-stripe uniforms, the doctor was permitted to wear civilian attire, including a three-piece suit and tie. But he complained that the shirt with its button-down collar was too small, and the trousers too long. His warm furry hat and medical armband gave him a distinctive look as he toured the barracks. [27]

Early on, Buchenwald administrators learned through the prisoner grapevine of Katzen-Ellenbogen's helpfulness to the Gestapo in France. He quickly became a trusted prisoner to the camp's medical staff as well as its SS officers, especially chief camp doctor Gerhard Schiedlausky. Katzen- Ellenbogen announced to everyone that he was an American doctor from New Jersey, and a skilled hypnotist to boot. None of this failed to impress the camp administrators, who often referred to him by the name Dr. K. Ellenbogen. One senior Nazi medic dared Katzen-Ellenbogen to demonstrate his skill as a hypnotist. A test subject was brought over, and within five minutes Katzen-Ellenbogen successfully placed him in a trance. [28]

Thereafter, Katzen-Ellenbogen was assigned to the hospital at the Little Camp, which functioned as the segregated new prisoner intake unit. Unlike the other inmates who slept sixteen-deep on stark wooden shelves and were fed starvation rations, Katzen-Ellenbogen enjoyed a private room with a real bed that he shared with only one other block trustee. He ate plenty of vegetables and even meat purchased through black market sources in Weimar. From time to time he cooked his own meals, an almost unimaginable prisoner luxury. The doctor was able to count SS and Gestapo officers among his friends even as fellow prisoners detested him and despised their Nazi taskmasters. He was widely believed to be a Gestapo spy. [29]

One day in mid-1944, the camp doctor, Schiedlausky, summoned Katzen-Ellenbogen to the SS hospital. "You're a hypnotizer," said Schiedlausky with distress, "You're a psychotherapist. Save me." In the midst of the human depravity he oversaw, Schiedlausky had become unable to sleep. Self-administered drugs were no help. Katzen-Ellenbogen replied, "I can help you only, Doctor, if you will forget that I am a prisoner and you are the SS doctor." Schiedlausky collegially replied, "Naturally." [30]

As Katzen-Ellenbogen analyzed Schiedlausky's dreams, he concluded that the SS doctor's mind was troubled by a great burden. "Unless you are willing to tell me what it is," Katzen-Ellenbogen told him, "no further treatment would be of value." Schiedlausky answered, "You're right, but I can't tell you." At one point Katzen-Ellenbogen carne upon Schiedlausky weeping uncontrollably and consoled the man. Katzen-Ellenbogen continued to treat Schiedlausky, whose mental state deteriorated. Soon Katzen- Ellenbogen was exercising great influence over the camp doctor. [31]

Schiedlausky was so impressed with Katzen-Ellenbogen that he asked him to treat other SS men unable to sleep because of their murderous deeds. Even though Katzen-Ellenbogen was a prisoner, the Nazis opened up to him. For example, a bloodthirsty Austrian-born SS lieutenant named Dumbock admitted to Katzen-Ellenbogen that he was haunted -- day and night -- by the ghosts of at least forty men he had personally beaten to death. As though confessing to a priest, Dumbock admitted that sometimes when he caught someone stealing vegetables from the garden, he just "[couldn't] control himself." It would typically begin as an urge to only slap the prisoner, but then Dumbock would begin jumping on the man's body until his ribs caved in. Katzen-Ellenbogen helped Dumbock realize why he could not sleep: the killings. "That's it exactly," Dumbock agreed. Dumbock was so grateful that he granted Katzen-Ellenbogen special privileges -- ironically, to the vegetables in the garden. [32]

Katzen-Ellenbogen proudly remembered that the SS men "trusted me as a doctor very much." [33]

Back at the Little Camp, Katzen-Ellenbogen administered cruel medicine. He forced Frenchmen to exercise in the frigid outdoors without their scarves and often without their shirts -- this to "cure" infected throats. He smuggled in needed medicines through the SS medics but then sold them for money or favors. Such extortions allowed him to deposit some 50,000 francs into a camp bank account. He also cached large quantities of Danish food, medicines and cigarettes in his bedroom, mainly pilfered from the Danish Red Cross packets turned over by the sick and injured. [34]

Denying medical treatment was an entrenched eugenic practice at the state institutions Katzen-Ellenbogen was familiar with, from Danvers in Massachusetts to Skillman and Vineland in New Jersey. In those institutions, eugenic psychiatrists felt that medical care only kept alive those whom nature intended to die off. Katzen-Ellenbogen applied the same principles in Buchenwald.

Katzen-Ellenbogen capriciously decided who entered the hospital. Another camp doctor confirmed in court, "It depended on Katzen- Ellenbogen whether a certain person would be admitted into the little hospital ... or in the main hospital." A Czech doctor added, "If he [Katzen-Ellenbogen] found a man with appendicitis or pneumonia and said, 'I will not send you to the hospital,' then the man would not get through because he, Dr. Katzen-Ellenbogen, was the only medical liaison [in the Little Camp]." [35]

Katzen-Ellenbogen himself casually admitted at his trial, "We selected .... Let's say there were 35 [needing hospitalization, and I was told] there are only 17 free [beds]. Which 17 should have preference for immediate hospitalization?" He held the power of life and death over those who desperately needed his help, and he sadistically exercised this power every day. [36]

In 1944, for instance, two French arrivals -- a Protestant minister named Roux and a doctor named Rodochi -- suffered greatly during the horrific railroad trip to Buchenwald. Upon entering the Little Camp, com patriots asked that Roux and Rodochi be admitted to the hospital. Katzen- Ellenbogen refused the first day. Even as they became weaker, he continued his refusals for two more days. On the fourth day, the two died during roll call, having never been seen by any doctor. [37]

After the war, a French physician internee identified as Denis told investigators that many men died who might have recovered had they been admitted to the hospital. But when French prisoners approached, Katzen- Ellenbogen often chased them away, slapped and punched them, or simply "beat them with any instrument handy." Other inmates who were physicians would sometimes complain that Katzen-Ellenbogen stocked the necessary medicines, but that the Little Camp doctor would snarl that they were in Buchenwald to "die like dogs -- not to be cured." [38]

At his trial, prosecutors demanded answers.

PROSECUTOR: Isn't it also a fact, doctor, that many a prisoner died while he was waiting his turn to be examined there at the dispensary?

KATZEN-ELLENBOGEN: ... When patients arrived he [a medical staffer] went always outside and looked who was the most ill and needs immediate attention or in a dangerous condition, to get them there first.

Q: Just answer the question please.

A: ... If you want me to answer the question yes or no, then I will have to answer no.

Q: All right then your answer is: at no time did any prisoner die while waiting his turn to be examined in the dispensary.

A: You say those questions [as though] with a revolver with "hands up." It is impossible to answer whether yes or no.

Q: You were there were you not?

A: I was there.

Q: You know whether a man is living or dead, don't you?

A: Yes.

Q: All right. Did any man die while he was awaiting his turn in that line?

A: Sure he did.

Q: I thought you said a moment ago that he didn't.

A: Yes, that is what I said -- that is "a revolver," a little so -- yes, but not while he was awaiting his turn [and] because of waiting, but because he was in a condition that a few minutes later while they brought him in he was dead.

Q: Just listen to my questions please, Doctor. I did not ask you because he was waiting in that line?

A: I know. That is what I said: yes. [39]

Failure to be hospitalized also bestowed a death sentence because it often facilitated assignment to the fatal work details at the nearby Dora works. At Dora, slave laborers were systematically worked to death tunneling into a mountain, constructing the secret German V-2 missile facilities. Dora's death rate was among the highest of any of the thousands of labor camps and subcamps in all of Nazi-occupied Europe. Many of Dora's victims were shuttled in from Buchenwald. Transports regularly delivered thousands of prisoners at a time, and some twenty thousand of them died in backbreaking labor. In fact, for the Nazi campaign known as Extermination by Labor, Dora was a convenient final destination to extract a prisoner's final ergs of energy. [40]

The weakened inmates whom Katzen-Ellenbogen callously refused to exempt from Dora work transports were essentially sentenced to death. In one typical transport of 1,000 to 1,200 French workers whom Katzen-Ellenbogen reviewed, only 97 came back alive. Indeed, the Dora Kommando, or work detail, was known everywhere as a "death kommando." One Frenchman, when condemned to duty at Dora, turned to Katzen-Ellenbogen and declared, "Caesar, morituri te satutant." ("We who are about to die salute you.") Katzen-Ellenbogen recalled jocundly that the man "still had a sense of humor." [41]

At his trial Katzen-Ellenbogen was asked by prosecutors, "The personnel in the Medical Department ... certainly knew that Dora was a death commando, isn't that so?" Katzen-Ellenbogen replied, "I should guess so." [42]

Prisoners reported that Katzen-Ellenbogen actually encouraged unsuspecting French inmates to volunteer for "death details." In one instance, a Frenchman discovered the ruse and warned comrades to remove their names from the volunteer roster. Katzen-Ellenbogen reported the Frenchman who spread the warning and the prisoner was brutally punished. [43]

Certainly, many concentration camp trustees, capos and block elders curried favor by demonstrating heightened brutality toward the inmates under their authority. But many used their trusted positions to subtly connive and cajole the SS, in small ways helping others survive. For example, Austrian journalist Eugen Kogon worked as a clerk in Buchenwald's hospital under the notorious Dr. Erwin Ding-Schuler. It was Ding-Schuler who in 1941 wrote in his diary, "Since tests on animals are not of sufficient value, tests on human beings must be carried out." When testifying against Katzen-Ellenbogen, Kogon explained to prosecutors that it was not necessary to be merciless even when working for the most depraved doctors. "I worked in exactly the opposite way," he said. "I made Major Dr. Ding Schuler a tool of the prisoners and all this only in a positive manner from the beginning to the end .... That's the difference." Kogon went on to write numerous articles and books on the inhumanity of concentration camps such as Buchenwald. [44]

Camp medical men did more than just withhold treatment. Many actively participated in the murder process itself. Katzen-Ellenbogen was publicly accused of finishing off a thousand men with injections. The fact that thousands were killed by an instantly-acting injection -- 20cc of phenol -- was amply proved. But there were no witnesses to corroborate that Katzen-Ellenbogen was among the medics who wielded the hypodermics. He never directly denied being involved in injections, although he asserted he was unaware of Schiedlausky's mass injection campaign in Block 61. When the subject of injections was brought up in court, Katzen-Ellenbogen nonchalantly testified that the allegation against him was just that -- an allegation in the newspapers that could not be proved. [45]

However, Katzen-Ellenbogen's guilt-ridden colleague, camp doctor Schiedlausky, did admit his involvement in the injections as well as the other medical atrocities that took place in Block 61. Katzen-Ellenbogen denied claims that he exercised a "sinister influence" over Schiedlausky that could have made a difference. Prosecutors charged, "You could have stopped it, is that correct?" [46]

With typical insouciance, Katzen-Ellenbogen replied, "Not that I could stop it, but that I would do my best, and I think that I would have succeeded to persuade Schiedlausky not to burn his fingers." Prosecutors shot back, "Well, isn't it a fact, doctor, that you [previously] testified that you would have had enough influence that his extermination of prisoners in Block 61 would never have happened?" Katzen-Ellenbogen admitted, "Yes, I said it before. It is the same thing I just said." [47]

Q: Well, then, you certainly were able to exercise a considerable power over Schiedlausky, is that not correct?

A: I wouldn't use the word "power." Influence, yes.

Q: Well, was there any other man in Buchenwald that could exercise that same influence over Schiedlausky?

A: Probably not, because Schiedlausky was a very secretive man, who, for instance, didn't say anything to anybody, even his colleagues .... Due to the fact that he was a patient of mine -- I have a certain influence of psychoanalysis which is exercised over a patient." [48]

But ghastly science continued in Block 61. Heinous surgical procedures involving eye color and corneas were among the experiments performed by Nazi eugenicists operating in concentration camps. At Auschwitz, chemicals were injected into the eyes of children to observe color changes. At Buchenwald, trachoma was among the eye diseases investigated. [49]

Katzen-Ellenbogen claimed that he did not participate in the deliberate infections, painful experiments and euthanasia at Buchenwald, only pure research. One Nazi doctor, Werner Greunuss, received life imprisonment for his activities at Buchenwald. While admitting that he assisted Greunuss, Katzen-Ellenbogen explained, "I conducted with him scientific research about vision, and the experiments were made by [prisoner medical assistants] Novak and Sitte on rabbits." He added, "I worked on literature, particularly as my doctor thesis was in this region. Dr. Greunuss was able to read all my work which was then in German, and furnish me books from Jena University Library." [50] Nothing further was proved about Katzen-Ellenbogen's involvement with eye research.

Katzen-Ellenbogen did engage in other experimental medical activity, however. He regularly applied his skills as an accomplished hypnotist, including posthypnotic suggestions. There were the bedwetters, for example. In a hell where Katzen-Ellenbogen regularly ignored the severest diseases, injuries and afflictions, the doctor took an inexplicably keen interest in enuresis, or bedwetting. Many young boys, gripped by fright and mistreatment, urinated uncontrollably at night. These boys were brought to the doctor, who placed them under hypnotic suggestion to cure their problem. But prisoners openly accused Katzen-Ellenbogen of using his hypnotic skills to extract information and confessions for the SS and Gestapo. Katzen-Ellenbogen was proud of his work. In one case, a young man between eighteen and twenty years old was brought in at 4 P.M. on a Sunday afternoon; he was placed under a trance in the presence of other SS doctors. On this point, Katzen-Ellenbogen in open court denied that he "was hypnotizing people in order to extort confession of political prisoners and deliver them to the Gestapo." Yet he was never able to explain why he rendered service for bedwetters when he denied medical attention to so many others who were dying. [51]

Eugenics was always an undercurrent at Buchenwald. One block was known as the Ahnenforschung barrack, or ancestral research barrack. It was worked by a small detachment known as Kommando 22a, mainly Czech prisoners, researching and assembling family trees of SS officers. SS officers were required to document pure Aryan heredity. In addition, the SS Race and Settlement Office was systematically sweeping through Poland looking for Volksdeutsche, that is, persons of any German ancestry. When this agency discovered Polish children eugenically certified to have Aryan blood, the youngsters were kidnapped and raised in designated Nazi environments. This program was called "Germanization." As a skilled and doctrinaire eugenicist, Katzen-Ellenbogen was assigned to perform eugenic examinations of Polish prisoners, seeking those fit for Germanization. Eugenic certification saved them from extermination. [52]

In describing Katzen-Ellenbogen's duties, one Buchenwald medical colleague, Dr. Horn, said, "The first one, he was consulting psychiatrist. That is, later on they were Germanizing Poles. For that reason you had to examine the Poles somatically and psychically and since later on the SS used us for this delicate mission, I used Katzen-Ellenbogen to write the psychiatric reports. It was a pretty difficult job to talk about the intelligence of a Polish farm worker who didn't even speak German and Katzen- Ellenbogen speaks some sort of Slavic Esperanto very well and in all the cases that he wrote for me, and there were at least 60 cases which he did, he recommended that for every one of them that they should be Germanized, so none of them were hanged." [53]

To protect those fit for Germanization, Katzen-Ellenbogen engaged in all manner of medical charades. "So I manufactured all kinds of new forms of insanity and made false reports about their condition," he recalled. "As the invalids were not sent out at that time, they were probably saved from being gassed at one of the extermination camps. In many cases, similar cases, particularly when Rogge, one of the SS Doctors, was making selections for the transport, I trained them to throw a fit, epileptic fit, and I don't think that so many epileptics were ever in one place at one time as in Buchenwald." Katzen-Ellenbogen did not save others in a similar fashion, just the fifty or so Polish prisoners he eugenically certified as possessing Aryan qualities, in spite of their mental or intellectual conditions. [54]

Katzen-Ellenbogen was an expert at faking symptoms. While on the witness stand at his trial, he was asked if someone could be trained to feign symptoms. He bragged, "To throw a fit? With training, he could do it. I myself, for instance, could give a wonderful performance in that respect." Asked if a specialist could be fooled, Katzen-Ellenbogen rejoined, "To fool [SS] Dr. Rogge [who was making selections], yes. But not a real specialist." Asked again, Katzen-Ellenbogen repeated, "Not a real specialist." [55]

Katzen-Ellenbogen was very sure of himself. When called to testify against other doctors in the so-called "Doctors Trial" at Nuremberg, his usual brashness was more than evident. When a prosecutor asked when he had joined the Nazi Party, Katzen-Ellenbogen snapped back, "When I was in America, I never asked a nigger whether he had syphilis, only when he got syphilis." Later he explained, "That's about the same [as the] question he put to me." [56]

By any measure, the forgotten story of Katzen-Ellenbogen, an expert American eugenicist in Buchenwald, is one that stands alone. Kogon recalled it this way for prosecutors: "Katzen-Ellenbogen's power in the Little Camp was an entirely extraordinary one. An extraordinarily large one, it should be. He was the man who was feared by the prisoners in the little camp as 'the man in the background.' He had under his command the block doctors ... and his influence upon them was considerable." [57]

When it came time to bring Katzen-Ellenbogen to justice, prosecutors found his record filled with contradictions. He saved Polish men with German blood, he let Frenchmen die before his eyes, and he sent thousands to their deaths by not exempting them from death kommandos. He was a Nazi collaborator; he was an eminent New Jersey doctor with Harvard credentials. The haze around Katzen-Ellenbogen's record grew thicker in the postwar chaos. The witnesses were gone -- either returned to their homes or incinerated -- the evidence was burned, and Nazi medical cohorts were quick to support each other with glowing affidavits.

Moreover, Katzen-Ellenbogen was an expert on the fine points of American jurisprudence -- the standard that applied to his trial for war crimes. His court record is riddled with procedural jousting as he corrected prosecutors on what questions they were allowed to ask, and how questions should be phrased. At one point the prosecutor asked, "So that everything else, other than what you have qualified, has been of your own personal knowledge?" The defendant replied, "Most of the things I testified to was of my own personal knowledge. Still, I did not say that everything I said is correct, because I know too well the psychology of testimony, and I think you know it too, from your point of view that every witness tells objectively spoken truth." [58]

In one tense exchange, a prosecutor failed to establish the proper legal foundations for a fact; in other words he did not introduce the particulars first and then ask the defendant's relation to it. "As a matter of fact," the prosecutor asked, "do you not know that the treatment that was given him was this: that you had him stretched and spread-eagled out on one of those bunks?" Katzen-Ellenbogen rebutted the prosecutor's form, "Are you testifying again yourself or are you --" [59]

Q: You answer my question, Doctor? .. Is it not fact that you let him lay there for approximately three days without any food, any water or any treatment at all?

A: That new case that you are testifying about ....

Q: Answer my questions, is it or is it not a fact?

A: No. If you want a case like that, I answer you no ....

Q: Did he or did he not die?

A: I am not an author of fiction, Mr. Prosecutor.

Q: Is your answer yes or no?

A: Mr. Denson [the prosecutor], you are the author. You must have known whether you killed in the fiction that patient or not? I don't know. [60]

In another exchange, Prosecutor William Denson attempted to poke holes in Katzen-Ellenbogen's stories.

Q: Is it not a fact, doctor, that they were beaten two to three hours later at Schebert's order?

A: I couldn't say yes or no to that. I refer once more to the well known psychology of the testimony that if a man, month after month, tells the same story, then he is lying.

Q: That is the reason you are not telling the same story?

A: Maybe so, because if everybody -- I heard here so many testimonies, I am influenced. I made in Harvard experiments of students [who] wanted to kill somebody and they made a statement immediately and four weeks later. You would see the discrepancy between the first and second statement. I am not above that myself. [61]

When it finally came time to sum up, Katzen-Ellenbogen virtually commanded the judges to take the contradictions and inconsistencies into account. From the witness box, he reminded the judges: "It is a legal principle of all courts of all nations, the Romans as well in that time, in dubio pre vero, which in the English says: 'give them the benefit of the doubt.' That means if you are in doubt about my guilt, you have to acquit me." [62]

Then he actually invited the judges to commit a reversible error. "[But] I reverse that case," he continued. "If you are in any doubt that I am not guilty, convict me because I would have a chance then in higher court or any other place to defend myself in a way that I perhaps didn't do here." [63]

On August 14, 1947, in a Dachau barrack set up for war crimes trials, Katzen-Ellenbogen stood, somewhat disheveled, before the military tribunal. Flanked by three shiny-helmeted MPs, his shoelaces removed to prevent suicide, bright lights above to aid the photographers, Edwin Marie Katzen-Ellenbogen awaited his judgment. [64]

Without evidence of specific murders, he could not be hanged, as were other medical war criminals at Buchenwald. Instead, the tribunal used the legal theory that applied to so many Nazi conspirators. This theory was called "common design," meaning that Katzen-Ellenbogen joined "a common design" to perpetrate the horrors of Buchenwald on the inmates. "It is clear," concluded the tribunal, "that the accused, although an inmate, cooperated with the SS personnel managing the camp and participated in the common design." [65]

Judgment: Guilty. Sentence: Life imprisonment. [66]

Katzen-Ellenbogen appealed, issuing a pro se cascade of letters, petitions and motions, stressing his American citizenship and desire to help mankind. Upon review, his sentence was commuted to fifteen years. Katzen-Ellenbogen then appealed for special clemency on the grounds of poor health. In July of 1950, a clemency board comprised of three civilian attorneys reduced his sentence to just twelve years, concluding, "Katzen-Ellenbogen's health is poor. He is suffering from a coronary insufficiency causing severe myocardic damage, and a chronic congestive heart failure." [67]

He had all the symptoms.
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Re: War Against the Weak: Eugenics and America's Campaign to

Postby admin » Thu Jul 31, 2014 7:15 pm


CHAPTER 17: Auschwitz

After two or three days of terror in a sealed train, the Jews of Europe arrived at their eugenic apocalypse: Auschwitz.

Suddenly the wooden boxcar doors would growl open. The stifling stench inside from the sick and dying and the overflowing bucket of defecation would be replaced by the throat-stinging pungency of burning flesh as the victims glimpsed Hitler's sprawling extermination center. SS troops, backed up by barking German shepherds, would begin shouting for the eighty or ninety people in each boxcar to jump down from the train and onto the ramp.

Quick! Schnell! Terrified, the helpless Jews massed into orderly groups, unaware they were being assembled for eugenic selection. Teams of doctors swarmed everywhere, organizing people into lines. Two groups would be selected: those strong enough to be worked to death, and those to be gassed immediately. Women and children under fourteen to one side. Men to the other. [1]

Then camp doctor Josef Mengele, the Angel of Death, would review the frantic lines: one by one, Jew by Jew. Then with the power of his thumb, he pointed to the left, to the left, to the left, to the right, to the right, to the left. As he condemned and spared, moment-to-moment, he whistled, as though conducting a Devil's orchestra. [2]

Jews sent to the left were hustled to the showers for gassing, a procedure completely administered and supervised by doctors from start to finish. Once doctors gave the all-clear signal, groups of prisoners called Sonderkommandos were compelled to scavenge piles of corpses for gold teeth and rings. Only then were bodies carted off for cremation to destroy the evidence. [3]

Those sent to the right could live another day and in the process endure their own brutalities and degradation. The living were registered and tattooed. The exterminated required no registration. [4] Subject to this selection, many survived and perhaps 1.5 million at this camp complex alone were murdered -- some quickly, and some very slowly. [5]

Among those selected for death at Auschwitz, several hundred, mostly children, were briefly exempted. Some even lived to tell their stories. These lucky albeit misfortunate few were chosen for cruel medical experiments conducted by Mengele. First these children were coddled and fed well to keep them in pristine shape. Then they were subjected to painful procedures. Often they were murdered as soon as the tests were completed, so they could be fastidiously dissected. [6]

After the war Mengele's sadistic experiments were considered by many to be the inexplicable actions of a scientist gone utterly mad. But in fact Mengele was following a fascinating research topic that was continuously discussed among eugenicists going back to Galton. This topic was as important to the researchers at Cold Spring Harbor and the funders at the Rockefeller Foundation as it was to Nazi medical murderers in Berlin, Munich and Frankfurt.

No words will ever capture the inhumanity of Auschwitz. But one word does explain why Auschwitz was the last fanatic stand of the eugenic crusade to create a super race, a superior race -- and finally a master race. As the cattle cars emptied their human cargo onto the ramp, as the helpless millions lined up for selection, they all heard one word, shouted twice. One word shouted twice could help them live as those next to them were sent to the gas chambers. One word shouted twice would link the crimes of Mengele to the war against the weak waged by the eugenics movement.


Dr. Otmar Freiherr von Verschuer was crucial to the work at Auschwitz.

Verschuer lived the Nazi ideal long before Hitler emerged. A virulent anti-Semite and a violent German nationalist, he was among the student Freikorps militia that staged the Kapp Putsch in March of 1920. Two years later, Verschuer articulated his eugenic nationalist stance in a student article entitled "Genetics and Race Science as the basis for Volkische [People's Nationalist] Politics." "The first and most important task of our internal politics is the population problem .... This is a biological problem which can only be solved by biological-political measures." [7]

In 1924, at about the time Hitler staged his Beer Hall Putsch in Munich, Verschuer lectured that fighting the Jews was integral to Germany's eugenic battle. He was speaking on race hygiene to a nationalist student training camp when the question of Jewish inferiority came up. "The German, Volkische struggle," he told the students, "is primarily directed against the Jews, because alien Jewish penetration is a special threat to the German race." The next year, he helped found the Tubingen branch of Ploetz's Society for Racial Hygiene and became its secretary. In 192 7, Verschuer distinguished himself among German race hygienists when he was appointed one of three department heads at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Anthropology, Human Heredity and Eugenics. Verschuer chaired its Human Heredity department. [8]

In 1933, Verschuer published numerous tables setting forth the exact ratios of environmental influences to human heredity. Later that year, when the State Medical Academy in Berlin offered its initial course on genetics and racial hygiene, Verschuer was one of the featured lecturers. He joined other eminent Nazi eugenicists in the program, such as Eugen Fischer and Leonardo Conti, who was a chief Nazi Party health officer and would later become Hitler's main demographic consultant when the 1935 Nuremberg Laws were being formulated. Later, Conti was put in charge of the 1939 euthanasia program. [9]

In June of 1934, Verschuer launched Der Erbarzt (The Genetic Doctor) as a regular supplement to one of Germany's leading physicians' publications, Deutsches Arzteblatt, published by the German Medical Association. In it, Verschuer asked all physicians to become genetic doctors, which is why his eugenic publication was a supplement to the German Medical Association's official organ. Sterilization of the unfit was of course a leading topic in Der Erbarzt. Eugenic questions from German physicians were answered in a regular "Genetic Advice and Expertise" feature. In the first issue, Verschuer editorialized that Der Erbarzt would "forge a link between the ministries of public health, the genetic health courts, and the German medical community." Henceforth, he insisted, doctors must react to their patients not as individuals, but as parts of a racial whole. A new era had arrived, in Verschuer's view: medical treatment was no longer a matter of doctor and patient, but of doctor and state. [10]

After the Nazi sterilization law took effect in 1934, German eugenicists were busy creating national card files, automated by IBM, to cross-index people declared unfit. A plethora of eugenic research institutes were established at various German universities to advance the effort. Their researchers scoured the records of the National Health Service, hospitals and hereditary courts, and then correlated health files on millions of Germans. In this process, Verschuer considered himself nothing less than a eugenic warrior. In 1935, he left the Institute for Anthropology, Human Heredity and Eugenics to found Frankfurt University's impressive new Institute for Hereditary Biology and Racial Hygiene. Boasting more than sixty rooms, including labs, lecture halls, libraries, photography sections, ethnic archives and clinical rooms, the new institute was the largest of its kind in Germany. The institute's mission, according to Verschuer, was to be "responsible for ensuring that the care of genes and race, which Germany is leading worldwide, has such a strong basis that it will withstand any attacks from the outside." More than just a research institute, Verschuer's institution held courses and lectures for the SS, Nazi Party members, public health and welfare officials, as well as medical instructors and doctors in general to indoctrinate them with scientific anti-Semitism and eugenic theory. [11]

Soon the Institute for Hereditary Biology and Racial Hygiene had surpassed the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute in race biology and race politics, becoming the new model for German eugenic centers. Verschuer was doing his part to ensure that racial eugenics, the fulcrum of which was rabid Jew-hatred, became the standard for all medical training in Germany. He would soon boast that eugenics had become completely integrated into "the normal course of studies of medical students.'; In a report to the Nazi Party, he advocated registering all Jews and half-Jews. Hitler, said Verschuer, was "the first statesman to recognize hereditary biology and race hygiene." [12]

By 1937, Verschuer had gained the trust of the highest Nazi authorities and was beginning to eclipse his colleagues, and by 1939 he was describing his personal role as pivotal to Nazi supremacy. "Our responsibility has thereby become enormous," said Verschuer. "We continue quietly with our research, confident that here also, battles will be fought which will be of greatest consequence for the survival of our people." In an article for a series called Research into the Jewish Question (Forschungen zur Judenfrage), Verschuer wrote, "We therefore say no to another race mixing with Jews just as we say no to mixing with Negroes and Gypsies, but also Mongolians and people from the South Sea. Our volkisch attitude to the biological problem of the Jewish Question ... is therefore completely independent of all knowledge of advantages or disadvantages, positive or negative qualities of the Jews .... Our position in the race question has its foundation in genetics." In another article he insisted, "The complete racial separation between Germans and Jews is therefore an absolute necessity." [13]

Quickly, Verschuer became a star in American eugenic circles as well. His career and his writings fascinated the U.S. movement. When he became secretary of the Tubingen branch of the Society for Race Hygiene in 1925, Eugenical News announced it. His 1926 article on environmental influences for Archiv fur Rassen- und Gesellschaftbiologie (Archives of Race Science and Social Biology) was promptly summarized in Eugenical News. The publication also noted Verschuer's 1927 appointment as one of three department heads at the Institute for Anthropology, Human Heredity and Eugenics. In 1928, Verschuer's presence as a guest at an International Federation of Eugenic Organizations meeting was mentioned in Eugenical News. In the years leading up to the ascent of Hitler, his articles continued to be cited in Eugenical News. [14]

Even after the Nazis assumed power in 1933, the American eugenic and medical media kept Verschuer in the spotlight. In January of 1934, the Journal of the American Medical Association cited a paper he presented at the German Congress of Gynecology. That same month, Journal of Heredity reviewed his book on the relationship between eugenics and tuberculosis. In the spring of that year, both Eugenical News and American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology highlighted him as a leader for his work in developing more than a thousand Nazi marriage screening centers. In September of 1934, JAMA questioned Verschuer's estimate that the frequency of hereditary blindness in vulnerable populations was a full third, but this only confirmed his status as a major voice in genetic science. That same month, Eugenical News published an article entitled "New German Etymology for Eugenics" and cited two definitions for Rassenhygiene; Verschuer's definition ran first, and Ploetz's second. In Eugenical News's next issue, November-December, Verschuer was listed in a feature titled "Names of Eminent Eugenicists in Germany." [15]

By 1935, Verschuer was so admired by American eugenicists that Eugenical News heralded the opening of his Institute for Hereditary Biology and Racial Hygiene with the simple headline "Verschuer's Institute." The publication's ecstatic article asserted that Verschuer's new facility was the culmination of decades of preliminary research by Mendel, race theorist Count Gobineau, Ploetz and even Galton himself. Suggesting the far-reaching nature of his enterprise, Eugenical News made clear that Verschuer's mission was not merely the "individual man" but "mankind" itself. Among the new institute's several dozen rooms, the paper reported, were a number for "special investigators." Eugenical News was so enamored that it departed from its usual text-only format and included two photographs: a picture of the building's exterior plus one of an empty, nondescript corridor. The article closed, "Eugenical News extends best wishes to Dr. O. Freiherr von Verschuer for the success of his work in his new and favorable environment." [16]

Goodwill among American eugenicists toward Verschuer was ceaseless. On April 15, 1936, Stanford University anatomist C. H. Danforth wrote to Verschuer offering to translate abstracts of one of Verschuer's journals. On July 7, 1936, Goddard, now located at Ohio State University, sent Verschuer several of his publications hoping that they might be useful to experiments at the new institute. On July 16, 1936, Popenoe wrote from the Human Betterment Foundation asking for statistics to rebut negative publicity about German sterilizations, saying, "We are always anxious to see that the conditions in Germany are not misunderstood or misrepresented." E. S. Gosney, Popenoe's partner at the Human Betterment Foundation, sent Verschuer three letters and two pamphlets in two months with the latest information on California's sterilization program. [17]

Laughlin himself sent two letters, one in German offering reprints of his own articles and a second in English conveying salutations from America on Germany's accomplishment. Writing on Carnegie Institution ERO letterhead, Laughlin stated, "The Eugenics Record Office and the Eugenics Research Association congratulate the German people on the establishment of their new Institute for the Biology of Heredity and Race Hygiene .... We shall be glad indeed to keep in touch with you in the development of eugenics in our respective countries." [18]

Verschuer sent back an effusive letter of appreciation. He congratulated Laughlin on his recent honorary degree from the University of Heidelberg, adding, "You have not only given me pleasure, but have also provided valuable support and stimulus for our work here. I place the greatest value on incorporating the results of all countries into the scientific research that takes place here at my Institute, since this is the only way of furthering the construction of the edifice of science. The friendly interest that you take in our work gives me particular pleasure. May I also be allowed to express my pleasure that you have been awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Heidelberg and congratulate you on this honor? You have surely concluded from this that we German hereditarians and race hygienists value the pioneering work done by our American colleagues and hope that our joint project will continue to progress in friendly cooperation." [19]

Verschuer and his institute remained prominent in the American medical and eugenic press. When in mid-1935, Verschuer's new institute began deploying a force of young women as field workers to assemble family trees, Eugenical News reported it. JAMA covered the new institute in-depth in its September 1935 issue, specifying that cards on individuals arising from the investigations were being sent to other Reich health bureaus. JAMA reported on Verschuer's work again a few months later in 1936, focusing on his desire to engage in mass research on heredity and illness. [20]

Verschuer's well-received book, Genetic Pathology (Erbpathologie), claimed that Jews disproportionately suffered from conditions such as diabetes, flat feet, deafness, nervous disorders and blood taint. In its January-February 1936 edition, Eugenical News enthusiastically reviewed Genetic Pathology and parroted Verschuer's view that a physician now owed his first duty to the "nation," adding, "The word 'nation' no longer means a number of citizens living within certain boundaries, but a biological entity." Verschuer's language on citizenship was a clear precursor to the Reich's soon-to-be-issued decree declaring that Jews could no longer be citizens of Germany, even if they resided there. Stripping German Jews of their citizenship was the next major step toward mass ghettoization, deportation and incarceration. Eugenical News closed its review of Genetic Pathology with this observation: "Dr. von Verschuer has successfully bridged the gap between medical science and theoretical scientific research." [21]

Verschuer's popularity with American eugenicists had soared by 1937. Senior U.S. eugenicists were clamoring for his attention. Anti-Semite and Nazi sympathizer Charles M. Goethe sent a letter introducing himself. "I am National President of the Eugenics Research Association of the United States," Goethe wrote. "I have heard much of your work at Frankfurt .... May I ask whether I could visit your Institution? I feel, because of the violent anti-German propaganda in the United States, our people know almost nothing of what is happening in Germany." [22]

Later that year, Goethe sent an equally fawning correspondence, apologizing for not visiting Germany but appealing to Verschuer's anti-Jewish sentiment. "It was with deep regret that I was unable to come to Frankfurt this year," he wrote. "Dr. Davenport and Dr. Laughlin of the Carnegie Institute have told me so much about your marvelous work .... I feel passionately that you are leading all mankind herein. One must exercise herein the greatest tact. America is flooded with anti-German propaganda. It is abundantly financed and originates from a quarter which you know only too well [Jews] .... However, this ought to not blind us to the fact that Germany is advancing more rapidly in Erbbiologie than all the rest of mankind." [23]

By 1938, the plight of the Jews in Germany and thousands of refugees had become a world crisis, prompting the Evian Conference. Hitler's Reich had become identified in the media with brutal concentration camps. Germany was again menacing its neighbors' territory. Yet Goethe continued his zealous propagandizing for Nazism. "Again and again," Goethe wrote Verschuer in early 1938, "I am telling our people here, who are only too often poisoned by anti-German propaganda, of the marvelous progress you and your German associates are making." In November of 1938, less than two weeks after the Kristallnacht riots, Goethe again wrote Verschuer, this time to lament, "I regret that my fellow countrymen are so blinded by propaganda just at present that they are not reasoning out regarding the very fine work which the splendid eugenists of Germany are doing .... I am a loyal American in every way. This does not, however, lessen my respect for the great scientists of Germany." [24]

Clyde Keeler, a Harvard Medical School researcher at Lucien Howe's laboratory, visited Verschuer's swastika-bedecked institute at the end of 1938. There he was able to see the center's anti-Jewish program and its devotion to Aryan purity. Upon his return to the United States, Keeler gave fellow eugenicists a glowing report. On February 28, 1939, Danforth of Stanford wrote Verschuer to applaud him, adding that Keeler "thinks that you have by all means the best equipped and most effective establishment of the sort that he has seen anywhere. May I extend my congratulations and express the hope that your group will long continue to put out the same excellent work that has already lent it distinction." [25]

Davenport was equally inspired by Verschuer. On December 15, 1937, he asked Verschuer to prepare a special summary of his institute's work for Eugenical News, "to keep our readers informed." Davenport also asked Verschuer to join three other prominent Nazi eugenicists on Eugenical News's advisory committee. Falk Ruttke, Eugen Fischer and Ernst Rudin were already members. With a letter of gratitude, Verschuer agreed to become the fourth. [26] Verschuer was now an essential link between American eugenics and Nazi Germany.

Otmar Freiherr von Verschuer had an assistant. His name was Josef Mengele.


Mengele began his career as a doctrinaire Nazi eugenicist. He attended Rudin's early lectures and embraced eugenic principles as part of his fanatic Nazism. Mengele became a member of the SA, also known as the Storm Troopers, in 1934. His first academic mentor was the anti-Semitic eugenicist Theodor Mollison, a professor at Munich University. Just as Goddard claimed he could identify a feebleminded individual by a mere glance, Mollison boasted that he could identify Jewish ancestry by simply examining a person's photograph. Under Mollison, Mengele earned his Ph.D. in 1935. His dissertation on the facial biometrics of four racial groups -- ancient Egyptians, Melanesians and two European types -- asserted that specific racial identification was possible through an anthropometric examination of an individual's jawline. Medical certification in hand, Mengele became a practicing doctor in the Leipzig University clinic. But this was only temporary. Mengele's dream was research, not practice. In 1937, on Mollison's recommendation, Mengele became Verschuer's research assistant at the Institute for Hereditary Biology and Racial Hygiene in Frankfurt. Here Mengele's eugenic knowledge could be applied. Some of Mengele's work involved tracing cranial features through family trees. [27]

Verschuer and his new assistant quickly bonded. Mengele had applied for Nazi Party membership as soon as the three-year ban was lifted in 1937. He and Verschuer made a good professional team. Together the two wrote opinions for the Eugenic Courts enforcing anti-Jewish Nuremberg Laws. In one case, a man suspected of having a Jewish father was prosecuted for engaging in sexual relations with an Aryan woman. Under the Nuremberg Laws, this was a serious criminal offense calling for prison time. As the prosecution's eugenic consultants, Mengele and Verschuer undertook a detailed examination of the suspect's family tree and carefully measured his facial features. Their eugenic report declared the man to be fully of Jewish descent. [28]

However, the accused man provided convincing evidence that he was in fact the illicit offspring of Christians. His father was indeed Jewish, but his mother was not. The man claimed to be the product of his non-Jewish mother's illicit affair with a Christian; hence he was no Jew. Illegitimacy was a common refrain of Jews seeking safe harbor from the Nuremberg statutes. The court believed the man's story and freed him. The decision outraged Mengele and Verschuer, who wrote a letter to the Minister of Justice complaining that their eugenic assessment had been overlooked. Approximately 448 racial opinions were ultimately offered by Verschuer's institute; these were so doctrinaire that Verschuer frequently appealed when the opinions were not accepted. [29]

Mengele's relationship with Verschuer was more than collegial. Staff doctors at the institute recalled that Mengele was Verschuer's "favorite." Verschuer's secretaries enjoyed Mengele's constant visits to the office, and nicknamed him "Papa Mengele." He would drop by the Verschuer home for tea, sometimes bringing his family. Mengele even made an impression on Verschuer's children, who years later remembered him in friendly terms. [30]

In 1938, Mengele joined the SS and received his medical degree, yet continued his close association with Verschuer. In fact his SS personnel file, number 317885, listed his employment in 1938 as an assistant doctor at the Institute for Hereditary Biology and Racial Hygiene. In the fall of that year, preparing for field assignment with an SS unit, Mengele underwent three months of rigorous basic training. Afterwards, he returned to Verschuer's institute in Frankfurt to resume eugenic research. For example, he examined the inheritance of ear fistulas and chin dimples, and then published the results. In a summary of 1938 projects for the German Research Society, Verschuer listed Mengele's work on inherited deformities and cited two of Mengele's papers, including one he completed for another doctor. [31]

In December of 1938, Mengele and Verschuer, as well as two other Nazi doctors associated with the institute, requested a grant from the Ministry of Science and Education to attend the International Congress of Genetics in Edinburgh, scheduled for the last week of August 1939. All four men secured initial authorization to attend as part of a large Nazi delegation, approved by the Party. Train and ferry schedules were researched. But after further review, the ministry lacked the funds to send them all. Ministry officials decided Mengele could not go. Germany began World War II on September 1, 1939. England and Germany were now enemies, so Nazi conferees returned in the nick of time. [32]

Mengele wanted to get into the war, but a kidney condition prevented him from joining a combat unit. He continued working with Verschuer and in early 1940 was still listed on Institute for Hereditary Biology and Racial Hygiene rosters as being on Verschuer's staff. An internal list of publications and papers, dated January 1939, listed two papers written by Verschuer with the help of assistants including Mengele. One was entitled "Determination of Paternity," recalling their days providing genealogical testimony for the Eugenic Courts. Mengele authored a third paper on the list with two of Verschuer's other assistants. [33]

Mengele also contributed several book reviews to Verschuer's publication, Del• Erbarzt, in 1940. One review covered a book called Fundamentals in Genetics and Race Care, in which Mengele criticized the author for failing to adequately describe "the relationship between the principal races that are to be found in Germany and the cultural achievements of the German people." In another review critiquing a book about congenital heart defects, Mengele complained, "Unfortunately the author did not use subjects where the diagnosis could be verified by an autopsy." [34]

By June of 1940, when Germany was advancing on Western Europe, Mengele could no longer wait to enter the battle. He joined the Waffen SS and was assigned to the Genealogical Section of the SS Race and Settlement Office in occupied Poland. He undoubtedly benefited from Verschuer's March 1940 letter of recommendation averring that Mengele was accomplished, reliable and trustworthy. At the SS Race and Settlement Office, his mission was to seek out Polish candidates for Germanization. He would perform the racial and eugenic examinations. Eventually, in 1941, he was transferred to the Medical Corps of the Waffen SS, and then to the elite Viking unit operating in the Ukraine, where he rendered medical assistance under intense battlefield conditions. He was awarded two Iron Crosses and two combat medic awards. The next year, 1942, as the Final Solution was taking shape, Verschuer arranged for Mengele to transfer back to the SS Race and Settlement Office, this time to its Main Office in Berlin. [35]

By 1942, an aging Fischer was preparing to retire from the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Anthropology, Human Heredity and Eugenics in Berlin. His replacement was a major source of debate within eugenic and Nazi Party circles. By this time, Hitler's war against the Jews had escalated from oppressive disenfranchisement to systematic slaughter. [36]

Fischer had emerged as a major advocate of "a total solution to the Jewish question." His view was that "Bolshevist Jews" constituted a dangerous and inferior subspecies. At a key March 1941 conference on the solution to the Jewish problem held in Frankfurt, Fischer had been the honored guest. It was at this meeting that Nazi science extremists set forth ideas on eliminating Jews en masse. A leading idea that emerged was the gradual extinction (Volkstod) of the Jewish people by systematically concentrating them in large labor camps to be located in Poland. Later, Fischer specified that such labor must be unpaid slave labor lest any "improvement in living standards ... lead to an increase in the birth rate." [37]

Given Fischer's high profile in Nazi Party extermination policies, his successor would have to be selected carefully. Lenz was considered for the job, but Fischer worked behind the scenes with the Nazi Party to have Lenz passed over. Fischer thought Lenz was too tutorial, and not bold enough for the challenges ahead. Instead, Fischer's hand-picked successor would be Verschuer -- something Fischer had actually planned on for years. [38]

In 1942, Verschuer wrote in Der Erbarzt that Germany's war would yield a "total solution to the Jewish problem." He wrote a friend, "Many important events have occurred in my life. I received an invitation, which I accepted, to succeed Eugen Fischer as director of the Dahlem Institute [Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Anthropology, Human Heredity and Eugenics at Berlin-Dahlem]. Great trust was shown toward me, and all my requests were granted with respect to the importance and authority of the institute .... I will take almost all my coworkers with me, first Schade and Grebe, and later Mengele and Fromme." Even though Mengele was still technically attached to the Race and Settlement Office, he was still Verschuer's assistant. Mengele's name was even added to the special birthday list for the institute's leading staff scientists. [39]

In January 25, 1943, with Hitler's extermination campaign in full swing, Verschuer wrote to Fischer, "My assistant Mengele ... has been transferred to work in an office in Berlin [at the SS Race and Settlement Office] so that he can do some work at the Institute on the side." [40]

On May 30, 1943, Mengele arrived at Auschwitz.


Eugenics craved one type of human being above all others to answer its biological questions and to achieve its ultimate biological goal. The quest to locate this type of human being arose at the dawn of eugenics, and continued ceaselessly for four decades, throughout the voluminous discourse, research and publishing of the worldwide eugenic mainstream. To the eugenic scientist, no subject was of greater value. Young or old, healthy or diseased, living or dead, they all wanted one form of human -- twins.

Twins were the perfect control group for experimentation. How people developed, how they resisted or succumbed to disease, how they reacted to physical or environmental change -- all these questions could be best answered by twins precisely because they were simultaneous siblings. While fraternal twins sprang from two separate eggs fertilized at the same time, identical twins were, in fact, one egg split in two. Identical twins were essentially Nature's clones. [41]

Twins were valued for a second eugenic reason: Nature itself could be outmaneuvered if desirable individuals could be biologically enabled to spawn twins -- or even better, triplets, quadruplets and quintuplets. In other words, a world of never-ending multiple births was the best assurance that the planned super race would remain super.

About a decade before Galton coined the term eugenics, he was convinced he could divine the secret of human breeding by studying twins. In 1874 and 1875, he published various versions of a scientific essay entitled "The History of Twins as a Criterion of the Relative Powers of Nature and Nurture." In analyzing whether environment or heredity was responsible for an individual's success, Galton complained that his investigations were always hampered by the unending variables -- that is, until he located biological comparables. "The life history of twins supplies what I wanted," he wrote. Galton had closely studied some eighty sets of twin children by the time he wrote that essay. These included twins of the same and different gender as well as identical and non-identical twins. [42]

Cold Spring Harbor's handwritten outlines for key Mendelian traits listed twinning as one of the ten salient physical characteristics to explore. Davenport's 1911 textbook, Heredity in Relation to Eugenics, included a section on twins with the introduction, "It is well known that twin production may be an hereditary quality." Three years later, Heinrich Poll, Rockefeller's first fund administrator in Germany, published a major volume on twin research; Poll's interest in the topic dovetailed with the Rockefeller Foundation's years-long support of the subject. [43]

American eugenic publications constantly dotted their pages with the latest twin theory and research. Identifying the mechanism governing the creation and development of twins quickly became a major pursuit for eugenics. In 1916, Eugenical News published three articles on the subject, including one that examined a recent article in Biological Bulletin on armadillo quadruplets, hoping to apply the principle to multiple births in humans. One of the 1917 articles on twins in Eugenical News indicated that in about a quarter of same sex twins, "there is some factor that definitely forces the two children to be of the same sex." A second article in 1917 announced that a doctor in a Michigan institution for the feebleminded was searching the nation for mongolism in twins, especially cases in which only one of the siblings manifested the condition. [44]

The problem with studying twins was that in adulthood most twins lived separate lives, often in separate cities and even in different countries. It was hard to locate them, let alone bring them together for examination. In 1918, the American Genetic Association, the renamed American Breeders Association, announced that it desired to "communicate with twins living in any part of the world." The AGA explained, "It has been discovered that twins are in a peculiar position to help in the elucidation of certain problems of heredity .... 'Duplicate' twins have a nearly (though never an absolutely) identical germ plasm .... It is fortunate for our knowledge ... on account of the chance it gives [us] to study the relative importance of heredity and of environment." Within a year of its announcement, the AGA had identified some six hundred twins, and by soliciting photos it had assembled a photo archive of several hundred. [45]

The ERO initiated its own twin study with a detailed four-page questionnaire. Among its numerous questions: "What is your favorite fruit?" and "Do you prefer eggs boiled soft or hard?" It also provided a place for each twin's fingerprints and the names and addresses of family members. ERO investigators located one especially fertile family in Cleveland that had repeatedly produced multiple births. When Davenport wrote up the case for Journal of Heredity in 1919, he explained that it had taken more than six visits by field workers to determine the full scope of the original couple's fecundity. Later, Eugenical News announced that Columbia, Missouri, was home to more twins than any other city in the nation -- one pair for every 477 people. [46]

Hereditarians sought twins of all ages -- not just children -- for proper study. The family tree of a New England family of twins, including one pair ninety-one years of age, fascinated eugenicists. Geneticists excavated old journals to discover even earlier examples, such as a seventeenth-century Russian woman who gave birth twenty-seven times, each time producing twins, triplets or quadruplets, yielding a total of sixty-nine children. [47]

Race and twins quickly became an issue for American eugenicists. In a 1920 lecture series, Davenport raised the issue of "racial difference in twin frequency" in the same geographic area. He pointed out that from 1896 to 1917, in Washington, D.C., the "negro rate [of twins] is 20 percent higher than the white rate." For whites in the nation's capital, it was 1.82 pairs of twins per hundred births, while blacks had 2.27 per hundred. At about the same time, Eugenical News, analyzing recent census data, claimed that twin births overall still occurred at a frequency of approximately 1 percent nationwide; but the percentage of multiple births among Blacks was almost one-fifth greater than among whites. Davenport followed up such observations in his Jamaica race-crossing study, which featured in-depth studies of three sets of twins. [48]

Diagnostic and physiological developments in twin studies from any sector of the medical sciences were of constant interest to eugenic readers. So Eugenical News regularly summarized articles from the general medical literature to feed eugenicists' unending fascination with the topic. In 1922, when a state medical journal reported using stethoscopes to monitor a twin pregnancy, it was reported in Eugenical News. When a German clinical journal published a study of tumors in twins, this too was reported in Eugenical News. [49]

With each passing issue, Eugenical News dedicated more and more space to the topic. The list of such reports became long. By the early 1920s, articles on twins became increasingly instructive. One typical article explained how to more precisely verify the presence of identical twins using a capillary microscope. Journal of Heredity also made twins a frequent subject in its pages. For example, it published Popenoe's article entitled "Twins Reared Apart," and Hermann Muller's article "The Determination of Twin Heredity," and regularly reviewed books about twins. [50]

Every leading eugenic textbook included a section on twins. Popenoe's Applied Eugenics explained that identical twins "start lives as halves of the same whole" but "become more unlike if they were brought up apart." Baur-Fischer-Lenz's Foundation of Human Heredity and Race Hygiene cited several studies including those written by Popenoe in Journal of Heredity. The German eugenicists wrote, "Of late years, the study of twins has been a favorite branch of genetic research" and thanked Galton for his "flash of genius" in "[recognizing] this a long while ago." [51]

In a similar vein, most international eugenic and genetic conferences included presentations or exhibits on twins-their disparity or similarity, their susceptibility to tuberculosis, their likes and dislikes. R. A. Fisher opened one of his lectures to the Second International Congress of Eugenics with the phrase: "The subject of the genesis of human twins ... has a special importance for eugenicists." The third congress offered an exhibit on mental disorders in twins, an exhibit illustrating fingerprint comparisons, a third juxtaposing identical and fraternal twins, and a fourth offering an array of fifty-nine anthropometric photos. [52]

The quest for a superior race continued to intersect with the availability of twins. In the July-August 1935 edition of Eugenical News, Dr. Alfred Gordon published a lengthy article entitled "The Problems of Heredity and Eugenics." His first sentence read: "Regulation of reproduction of a superior race (eugenics) is fundamentally based on the principles of heredity." Gordon went on to explain, "The role of heredity finds its strongest corroboration in cases of psychoses in twins." He then gave an example of just two case studies of twins. Such enthusiastic coverage in the biological and eugenic media was prompted a few months before by the extensive examination of just a single pair of twins undertaken at New York University's College of Dentistry, this to identify pathological dentition. [53]

There were so few twins to study that surgeons in the eugenics community passed along their latest discoveries, one by one, to advance the field's common knowledge. In one case, Dr. John Draper of Manhattan wrote to Davenport, "Last Thursday, I opened the abdomen of twin girls, fourteen years old. They presented very similar physical characteristics and the psychoses so far as could be determined were identical." Davenport replied, "Your observations upon the internal anatomy of the twin girls is exceedingly important, as very few observations of this type have been made upon twins." He offered to dispatch a field worker to make facial measurements. Such random reports were precious to eugenicists because physical experimentation on large groups was essentially impossible. [54]

All that changed when Hitler came to power in 1933. Germany surged ahead in its study of twins. The German word for twins is Zwillinge. There were tens of thousands of twins in the Reich. In 1921 alone, 19,573 pairs were born, plus 231 sets of triplets. In 192 5, 15,741 pairs of twins were born, as well as 161 sets of triplets. Twins were now increasingly sought to help combat hereditary diseases and conditions, real and imagined. Verschuer's book, Twins and Tuberculosis, was published in 1933 and received a favorable review in Journal of Heredity. In 1934, a Norwegian physician working with Verschuer and Fischer published in a German anthropology journal his analysis of 116 pairs of identical twins and 127 pairs of fraternal twins for their inheritance of an ear characteristic known as Darwin's tubercle. [55]

But many more twins would be needed to accomplish the sweeping research envisioned by the architects of Hitler's master race. In early December of 1935, Verschuer told a correspondent for the Journal of the American Medical Association that eugenics had moved into a new phase. Once Mendelian principles of human heredity were established, the correspondent wrote, "Further progress was achieved with the beginning of research on twins, by means of which it is possible to measure hereditary influence even though the hereditary processes are complicated .... Many of these researches, however, as Freiherr von Verschuer recently pointed out, are of questionable value .... What is absolutely needed is research on series of families and twins selected at random ... examined under the same conditions, a fixed minimum of examinations being made in all cases." The article went on to cite Verschuer's view that meaningful research would require entire families -- from children to grandparents. [56] In plain words, this meant gathering larger numbers of twins in one place for simultaneous investigation.

To attract more twins, the Nazi Party and the National Socialist Welfare League promoted "twin camps" for the holidays. Verschuer circulated handy text references for all German physicians who might encounter twins. When Verschuer opened his Institute for Hereditary Biology and Racial Hygiene in 1936, the event created such fanfare in Eugenical News partially because, "Dr. Verschuer states that the object of his investigation is mankind, not the individual man, but families and twins; and in this work there will not [only] be investigated ... interesting twins, but all twins and families of definite geographical origin." [57]

At about that time, German neuropsychiatrist Heinrich Kranz of the University of Breslau published extensive genealogical details about seventy- five pairs of twin brothers and fifty pairs of opposite gender twins, seeking correlations on criminal behavior. In a Journal of Heredity essay, Popenoe lauded Kranz's investigation and predicted that such efforts would help identify "born criminals." Popenoe welcomed more such German research because "it has become one of the most dependable methods of studying human heredity." [58]

Indeed, a plethora of Nazi scientific journals were brimming with regular coverage of eugenic investigations of twins. Several publications were devoted solely to the subject, such as Zwillingsforschungen (Twin Research) and Zwillings- und Familienfonchungen (Twin and Family Research). Verschuer frequently wrote for these journals. In some cases Mengele coauthored the articles, including an article on systemic problems and cleft palate deformation published in Zwillings- und Familienforschungen. Some published twin research credited Mengele as the principal investigator, such as an article on congenital heart disease, also for Zwillings- und Familienforschungen. [59]

Verschuer's preoccupation with twin studies expanded feverishly. He required more and more twins. In a September 1938 application for funds from the German Research Society, Verschuer explained his plans. "Large-scale research on twins is necessary to explore the question of the hereditary aspects of human characteristics, especially illnesses. This research can take two paths: 1. Testing of all twins in a specific geographic area, done at our institute by Miss Liebmann. All twins in the Frankfurt district back to 1898 have been listed and almost all have been examined; she discussed some interesting cases in several articles and a comprehensive summary is being done. 2. Listing of series of twins. Based on cases in over 100 hospitals in west and southwest Germany, the number of twins among them were determined and the cases were examined according to illnesses." He listed rheumatism, stomach ulcers, cancer, heart defects, anemia and leukemia as the conditions he was focusing on. Verschuer assured, "A good deal of material has been collected." [60]
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Re: War Against the Weak: Eugenics and America's Campaign to

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In 1939, Interior Minister Frick issued a public decree compelling all twins to register with their local Public Health Office and make themselves available for genetic testing. The Reich Statistics Bureau would cooperate in the identification campaign. The announcement in the Nazi medical publication Ziel und Weg (Goal and Path) was published with a lengthy quotation from Mein Kampf on the cover: "We must differentiate most stringently between the state as a mere container and race as its contents. This container is meaningful only when it has the ability to preserve and protect the contents; otherwise it is worthless." [61]

American eugenicist T. U. H. Ellinger was in Germany shortly after the decree to visit with Fischer at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Anthropology, Human Heredity and Eugenics. In a Journal of Heredity essay on his visit, Ellinger flippantly reported to his colleagues, "Twins have, of course, for a long time been a favorite material for the study of the relative importance of heredity and environment, of nature and nurture. It does, however, take a dictatorship to oblige some ten thousand pairs of twins, as well as triplets and even quadruplets, to report to a scientific institute at regular intervals for all kinds of recordings and tests." [62]

When twins did report to the Institute for Anthropology, Human Heredity and Eugenics, they were often placed in small, specially-constructed examination rooms, each lined with two-way mirrors and motion picture camera lenses camouflaged into the wallpaper. The staff proudly showed Ellinger all of these facilities. [63] However, eugenicists at the institute could only go so far with mere observations.

Reich scientists needed more if they were to take the next step in creating a super race resistant to disease and capable of transmitting the best traits. Autopsies were required to discover how specific organs and bodily processes reacted to various experiments. Verschuer needed more twins and the freedom to kill them. The highest ranks of the Hitler regime agreed, including Interior Minister Frick, who ran the concentration camps, and SS Chief Heinrich Himmler. [64] Millions of dispensable human beings from across Europe -- Jews, Gypsies and other undesirables -- were passing through Hitler's camps to be efficiently murdered. Among these millions, there were bound to be thousands of twins.

Shortly after Verschuer took over for Fischer at the Institute for Anthropology, Human Heredity and Eugenics, he proposed a Zwillings-lager, or "twins camp," within Auschwitz. He applied to the German Research Society, which between July and September of 1943 passed his application through the various steps needed for approval and funding. The grant covered a six-month period beginning in October 1943 under contract number 0296/1595. The camp was approved and was bureaucratically filed under the keyword "Twins Camp." [65]

At the end of May 1943, Mengele arrived in Auschwitz, where he took control of the ramps where Jews were brought in. Verschuer notified the German Research Society, "My assistant, Dr. Josef Mengele (M.D., Ph.D.) joined me in this branch of research. He is presently employed as Hauptsturmfuhrer [captain] and camp physician in the Auschwitz concentration camp. Anthropological testing of the most diverse racial groups in this concentration camp are being carried out with permission of the SS Reichsfuhrer [Himmler]." [66]

Nazi Germany had now carried eugenics further than any dared expect. The future of the master race that would thrive in Hitler's Thousand-Year Reich lay in twins. For this reason, there would now be a special class of victims at Auschwitz. There would be a special camp, special medical facilities and special laboratories -- all for the twins.

After the locomotives lurched to a final stop at Auschwitz, after the whistle shrieked and the doors rolled open, after the bewildered masses tumbled out of the boxcars and onto the ramp, above the tumult of their own fear and the incessant barking dogs, all of them heard one word, and they heard it shouted twice.

As the SS passed through the trembling crowds lining up for the gas chambers, they cried out for all to hear:

Zwillinge! Zwillinge! Twins! Twins!

LEA LORINCZI: "When we got off the trains, we could hear the Germans yelling, 'Twins, twins!'" Lea and her brother were spared. [67]

MAGDA SPIEGEL: "SS guards were yelling, 'Twins, twins, we want twins.' I saw a very good-looking man coming toward me. It was Mengele." They were also spared. [68]

JUDITH YAGUDAH: "When it was our turn, Mengele immediately asked us if we were twins. Ruthie and I looked identical. We had similar hairdos. We were wearing the same outfits. Mengele ordered us to go in a certain direction -- and our mother, too." Judith and Ruthie were spared. [69]

EVA MOZES: "As I clutched my mother's hand, an SS man hurried by shouting, 'Twins! Twins!' He stopped to look at us. Miriam and I looked very much alike. We were wearing similar clothes. 'Are they twins?' he asked my mother. 'Is that good?' she replied. He nodded yes. 'They are twins,' she said." Eva and Miriam were also pulled out of the gas chamber line. [70]

ZVI KLEIN: "My twin brother and I were marching toward the gas chambers when we heard people yelling, 'Twins! Twins!' We were yanked out of the lines and brought over to Dr. Mengele." Zvi and his brother were spared. [71]

MOSHE OFFER: "I heard my father cry out to them he had twins. He went over personally to Dr. Mengele and told him, 'I have a pair of twin boys.'... But we didn't want to be separated from our mother, and so the Nazis separated us by force. My father begged Mengele ... As we were led away, I saw my father fall to the ground." The Offer boys lived. Their parents disappeared into the selection. [72]

HEDVAH AND LEAH STERN: "Some prisoners told [my mother] in Yiddish, 'Tell them you have twins. There is a Dr. Mengele here who wants twins. Only twins are being kept alive. '" The Stern sisters lived to tell their story. [73]

All of them lived through the Selektion. But now they lived in Mengele's world of torture and testing, electroshock and syringes, eye injections and other hideous experiments -- where live children and fresh cadavers were equally prized -- all to achieve the eugenic ideal of a superior race in a place where mankind had sunk to the nadir of humanity.


Sadistic science at Auschwitz was part of Nazi Germany's eugenic desire to create its master race.

Like Verschuer, Mengele considered himself a warrior in the battle for eugenic supremacy. In an autobiographical account, Mengele spoke of his desire to create a super race as his initial motive for becoming a doctor. He traced his own family pedigree -- pure Aryan stock -- back four generations. An inmate anthropologist, Martina Puzyna, saved from death in order to work with Mengele, recalled, "He believed you could create a new super-race as though you were breeding horses .... He was mad about genetic engineering." A prisoner pathologist forced to work closely with Mengele wrote that the Angel of Death was obsessed with "the secret of the reproduction of the race. To advance one step in the search to unlock the secret of multiplying the race of superior beings destined to rule was a 'noble goal.' If only it were possible, in the future, to have each German mother bear as many twins as possible." [74]

Shortly after arriving at Auschwitz, Mengele established Verschuer's twin camp at Barrack 14 in Camp F. Mengele had his pick of assistants from the finest doctors and pathologists in Europe, who came to Auschwitz condemned in sealed boxcars. One whom he selected from the ramp was a Hungarian Jewish pathologist named Miklos Nyiszli, a graduate of Friedrich Wilhelm University medical school in Breslau. He became one of Mengele's favorite assistants. Nyiszli's task was to dissect the endless torrent of special corpses and create meticulous postmortem reports. For this process, Mengele would not settle for a typical ramshackle, makeshift concentration camp facility. Instead, amid the filth and squalor of Auschwitz, Mengele requisitioned and created a modern well-equipped pathology lab. [75]

The lab had everything needed for perfect autopsies. It was eerily professional, with light green painted walls surrounding a red concrete floor. A polished marble dissection table with fluid drains abutted a utility basin with shiny nickel faucets. Three white porcelain sinks lined the wall. Mosquito screens covered the windows. In the adjacent room, Nyiszli found a well-stocked library with the latest publications, three microscopes, and a closet full of mortuary supplies -- everything from aprons to gloves. Nyiszli recalled it as "the exact replica of any large city's institute of pathology." [76]

Dina, a Czech inmate known for her skillful paintings, was selected at the ramp to become Mengele's anthropological artist. She would create anatomical drawings of the twins' features: noses, ears, mouths, hands, feet and skulls. Her artwork would accompany the experimentation data in each patient's folder. [77]

Mengele was happy in his work, frequently whistling as he selected human guinea pigs, discarded others to the gas chambers, inflicted his experiments and then reviewed the autopsies. A broad smile lit up his face as he surveyed his precious subjects, especially the children. "Almost like he had fun," one surviving twin recalled, adding, "He was very playful." Diligent and detailed, he once noticed a smudge on a bright blue file cover and sternly turned to Nyiszli, asking, "How can you be so careless with these files, which I have compiled with so much love!" [78]

Love was a corrupted word for Mengele. He certainly loved his work. At times, he seemed to love the youngest twins. All of Mengele's twins were better fed than other prisoners and even allowed small personal freedoms, such as roaming around the camp. Sometimes he served the children chocolates, patted them on the head affectionately, chaperoned them to camp concerts and made them feel as though he were a father figure looking after them. Eva Kupas remembered that once, when she wanted to see her twin brother, Mengele personally escorted her and "held my hand the whole way." He seemed to identify with one very young boy who somewhat resembled him, and actually trained the child to say "My name is 'Mengele."' [79]

But without warning Mengele could fly into uncontrollable murderous frenzies. One teenage girl wept and begged when she was separated from her mother and sisters. She recounted that Mengele "grabbed me by the hair, dragged me on the ground and beat me." When the girl's mother pleaded, Mengele brutally beat her with his riding crop. In one case, a frantic mother fought to remain with her younger daughter. Mengele simply drew his pistol and shot the woman and her daughter, then waved the entire transport to the gas chambers, remarking, "Away with this shit!" Another time he caught a woman named Ibi, who had cleverly evaded the gas chambers six times by jumping off the truck just in time. A suddenly enraged Mengele shrieked, "You want to escape, don't you. You can't escape now! ... Dirty Jew!" As he screamed, Mengele viciously beat the woman to death and kept beating her until her head resembled a bloody, formless mass. After these savage incidents, Mengele could immediately Jekyll-Hyde back to the charming, whistling clinician enchanted with his subjects and his science. [80]

In fact, Mengele loved his twins not because he thought they should be preserved, but only because they briefly served his mad scientific quest. Nyiszli recounted that siblings were subjected "to every medical examination that can be performed on human beings," from blood tests to lumbar punctures. Each was rigorously photographed naked, and calipered from head to toe to complete the record. But these were only the baselines and vital signs. Then came the actual experiments. The Reichenberg boys, mistakenly thought to be twins because they so closely resembled each other, piqued Mengele's interest because one possessed a singer's voice while the other couldn't carry a tune. After crude surgery on both boys' vocal chords, one brother lost his speech altogether. Twin girls were forced to have sex with twin boys to see if twin children would result. Efforts were made to surgically change the gender of other twins. [81]

One day, Mengele brought chocolates and extra clothing for twin brothers, Guido and Nino, both popular with the medical personnel. A few days later the twins were brought back, their wrists and backs sewn together in a crude parody of Siamese twins, their veins interconnected and their surgical wounds clearly festering. The boys screamed all night until their mother managed to end their agony with a fatal injection of morphine. [82]

Mengele suspected that two Gypsy boys, about seven years of age and well-liked in the lab, carried latent tuberculosis. When prisoner doctors offered a different opinion, Mengele became agitated. He told the assembled staff to wait a while. An hour later he returned and sedately declared, "You are right. There was nothing." After a brief silence, Mengele acknowledged, "Yes, I dissected them." He had shot both in the neck and autopsied them "while they were still warm." [83]

It was imperative that twins be murdered simultaneously to analyze them comparatively. "They had to die together," Nyiszli recounted. For example, the bodies of four sets of Gypsy twins under the age of ten were delivered to Nyiszli for autopsy in one shipment. Twelve sets of gassed twins were diverted from the furnace so they could be dissected as a group; to facilitate identification among the hundreds of twisted corpses, the twelve had been coded with chalk on their chests before they entered the chamber. One girl recovered from an implanted infection too soon; he killed her quickly so both siblings would be freshly deceased. [84]

If one of Mengele's precious human guinea pigs was harmed before he could complete his work, he became incensed. Guards were under strict instructions to keep Mengele's twins alive, or face his wrath if they died during the night prior to his handling. Some 1,500 twins were subjected to Mengele's atrocities. Fewer than two hundred survived. [85] Those who lived had simply not yet been killed.

Mengele also sought dwarfs and the physically deformed -- really any specimen of interest. He ghoulishly and capriciously explored the effects of genetics, disease and mass breeding. In one case, Mengele removed part of a man's stomach without administering anesthesia. To investigate the pathology of dysentery, Mengele told Nyiszli to prepare for 150 emaciated corpses, and to autopsy them at the rate of seven per day; Nyiszli protested that he could only complete three per day if he was to be thorough. Eye color was a favorite subject for experimentation. Eager to discover if brown eyes could be converted to Nordic blue, Mengele would introduce blue dyes, sometimes by drops, sometimes by injection. It often blinded the subjects, but it never changed their eye color. [86]

While evidence of mass murder in the trenches of Russia and the gas chambers of Poland was systematically destroyed, Mengele's murders were enshrined in the protocols of science. Mengele's ghastly files did not remain his private mania, confined to Auschwitz. Every case was meticulously annotated, employing the best scientific method prisoner doctors could muster. Then the files were sent to Verschuer's offices at the Institute for Anthropology, Human Heredity and Eugenics in Berlin-Dahlem for study.

An adult prisoner, chosen to help care for the youngest twins, recounted, "The moment a pair of twins arrived in the barrack, they were asked to complete a detailed questionnaire from the Kaiser-Wilhelm Institute in Berlin. One of my duties as [the] 'Twins' Father' was to help them fill it out, especially the little ones, who couldn't read or write. These forms contained dozens of detailed questions related to a child's back ground, health, and physical characteristics. They asked for the age, weight, and height of the children, their eye color and the color of their hair. They were promptly mailed to Berlin." [87]

Nyiszli, who had to fill out voluminous postmortem reports, recalled Mengele's warning: "'I want clean copy, because these reports will be forwarded to the Institute of Biological, Racial and Evolutionary Research at Berlin-Dahlem.' Thus I learned that the experiments performed here were checked by the highest medical authorities at one of the most famous scientific institutes in the world." [88]

The reports, countersigned by Mengele and sent to Berlin, were not just received and warehoused, they were carefully reviewed and discussed. A dialogue developed between Verschuer's institute and Mengele. Another prisoner assistant recounted that Mengele "would receive questions about the twins from the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute in Berlin, and he would send them the answers." [89]

The volume of exchange was massive. In a March 1944 memo from Verschuer to the German Research Society, which financed his work, he asked for more clerical assistance and supplies for the Auschwitz project. The memo, entitled "On the continuation of hereditary-psychological research" and filed under the keyword "Twins camp," was coded G for geheime, or "secret." Verschuer explained, "Analysis of material obtained from the twins camp continued during the half-year reporting period October 1943 to March 15, 1944. Some 25 psychological analyses, each of which consisted of about 200 pages, were dictated during this period, continuing to round out the overall description of the experiences gained through the twins camp. These analyses were continued, following the same methods as those analyses which began in the summer of 1943. The evaluation system employed has proven useful and was developed further. Several secretaries will be necessary in order to continue the evaluation, as well as sufficient amounts of typing paper, steno blocks and other writing equipment. Some 10,000 sheets of paper will be needed for the coming quarter-year." [90]

More than just reports, Nyiszli sent body parts. "I had to keep any organs of possible scientific interest," he remembered, "so that Dr. Mengele could examine them. Those which might interest the Anthropological Institute at Berlin-Dahlem were preserved in alcohol. These parts were specially packed to be sent through the mails. Stamped 'War Material -- Urgent,' they were given top priority in transit. In the course of my work at the crematorium I dispatched an impressive number of such packages. I received, in reply, either precise scientific observations or instructions. In order to classify this correspondence I had to set up special files. The directors of the Berlin-Dahlem Institute always warmly thanked Dr. Mengele for this rare and precious material." [91]

Among his many grisly memories, one case especially haunted Nyiszli. Mengele spotted a hunchbacked Jew, a respected cloth merchant from Lodz, Poland, and his teenage son, handsome but with a deformed foot supported by an orthopedic shoe. Mengele ordered his slave pathologist, Nyiszli, to interview the father and son for the file. Nyiszli did so, not in the dissecting room, which reeked of formaldehyde, but in an adjacent study hall, trying his best not to alarm them. After the interview, the father and son were shot. Nyiszli performed detailed autopsies, complete with copious notes. Mengele was fascinated with the eugenic potential of the information, since each individual carried his own deformity. "These bodies must not be cremated," Mengele ordered. "They must be prepared and their skeletons sent to the Anthropological Museum in Berlin." After some discussion, Nyiszli began the gruesome chore of creating two lab-quality skeletons. This involved cooking the corpses to detach all flesh. During the long cooking process in the courtyard, four starving Polish slave workers mistook the contents of the vats and began eating. Nyiszli ran out to stop them. The cooled and treated skeletons were then wrapped in large sacks, labeled "Urgent: National Defense," and mailed to the Institute for Anthropology, Human Heredity and Eugenics. [92]

In the depths of his misery, Nyiszli wondered if he had witnessed too much. "Was it conceivable," he wrote, "that Dr. Mengele, or the Berlin-Dahlem Institute, would ever allow me to leave this place alive?" [93]

Like many eugenic research organizations, the Institute for Anthropology, Human Heredity and Eugenics valued twins' eyes. For decades, American eugenicists had stressed the research importance of twins' eyes, and the German movement naturally adopted the precept. Indeed, typical enthusiasm for the topic was evident in the March-April 1933 edition of Eugenical News in an article headlined "Hereditary Eye Defects," which reviewed a newly released book that included a chapter on "eyes of twins." Eugenical News closed its review with the comment, "We have nothing but praise for the assiduity in the gathering of the data .... We are happy to have this long needed work done and so well done." Similarly enthusiastic reviews and articles on the subject of twins' eyes and vision were published in Eugenical News during the latter 1930s. [94]

In 1936, a colleague had sent Laughlin a request to expand the eye color question of the ERO's Twin Schedule. The new instructions would read: "Look at the colored part of the eye carefully in a good light with the help of a mirror. Is there any difference that you can see in the color or pattern of marks in the right and left eyes? Blue and gray eyes have brownish streaks, sometimes a few, which can be easily counted and usually more in one eye than in the other. Please describe any such difference between your eyes." [95]

Like his American colleagues, Verschuer was long interested in twin eye color. He wanted eye color studies included in his Auschwitz experiments, and the German Research Society funded one such project in September of 1943. Mengele was careful to gather all the eyes Verschuer needed. [96]

Inmate doctor Jancu Vekler never forgot what he saw when he entered one room at the Gypsy camp. "There I saw a wooden table with eyeballs laying on it. All of them were tagged with numbers and little notes. They were pale yellow, pale blue, green and violet." Vera Kriegel, another slave doctor, recalled that she walked into one laboratory and was horrified to see a collection of eyeballs decorating an entire wall, "pinned up like butterflies .... I thought I was dead," she said, "and was already living in hell." [97]

One day a prisoner transcriptionist was frantic because while a family of eight had been murdered, only seven pairs of eyes were found in the pathology lab. "You've given me only seven pairs of eyes," the assistant exclaimed. "We are missing two eyes!" He then scavenged similar eyes from other nearby corpses to complete the package for Verschuer's institute -- without Mengele being the wiser. [98]

Chief recipient of the eyes was Karin Magnussen, another Verschuer researcher at the institute who was investigating eye anomalies, such as individuals with irises of different colors. In a March 1944 update subheaded "Work on the Human Eye" and submitted to the German Research Society, Magnussen reported, "The first histological work, which was concluded in the fall, 'On the Relationship Between Iris Color, Histological Distribution of Pigment and Pigmentation of the Bulb of the Human Eye,' to be published in the Zeitschrift fur Morphologie und Anthropologie [Journal for Morphology and Anthropology], is currently in press. Material for a second series of experiments is currently being prepared for histological examination. The article on the determination of iris color, which was intended for publication in Erbarzt in December 1943, was printed but destroyed by enemy attacks and is now being reprinted. Observations continue on links among certain anomalies in humans. Other observations of humans had to be temporarily suspended for war-related reasons, but are to resume in summer if possible. Material is constantly being collected and evaluated for the expert opinions." [99]

Among the several scholarly articles on eyes from Auschwitz that Magnussen was authoring was one intended for the journal Zeitschrift fur Induktive Abstammungslehre und Vererbungsforschung (Journal for Inductive Genealogical Science and Hereditary Research). Editorial board member Professor George Melchers, who reviewed the submission draft, remembered, "I was struck by the fact that the whole family -- grandparents, parents and children -- had died at the same time. I could only assume they had [all] been killed in a concentration camp." The war was coming to an end, so Melchers never submitted Magnussen's article to the full board. [100]

Magnussen later told her denazification tribunal, "I became acquainted with Dr. Mengele, who had been inducted as a medical officer, in [Berlin-] Dahlem during the war, when he visited the institute while on leave. I spoke with him a few times during such visits to the institute about scientific projects and scientific problems .... I completed my research, although after [a Gypsy] clan with heterochromatic eyes was imprisoned in Auschwitz, I was refused all access to these family members. Completion of my research was only possible through the help given me by Dr. Mengele, who coincidentally had been transferred to the camp. At that time, he helped me trace the hereditary path by determining eye color and family relationships. Through him I also learned that one of the most important families in the clan was contaminated with tuberculosis. I then asked him if he could send me the autopsy and pathological tissue from the eyes if someone from this family should die." She added, "The impression I received from the cases of illness and from the very responsible and very humane and very decent behavior exhibited by Dr. Mengele toward his imprisoned patients and subordinates ... was such that I would never have thought that anything could have happened in Auschwitz that violated laws of the state, medicine or of humanity." [101]

In addition to eyes, Verschuer wanted blood. Liters of it. For decades, eugenicists had sought the genetic markers for "carriers," or people who appeared normal but were likely to transmit a Mendelian predisposition for a range of defective traits from pauperism to epilepsy. This effort was at first bogged down in early attempts to assemble race-based family trees and to create pseudoscientific ethnic and class countermeasures. But by the twenties, the most talented eugenicists and geneticists were working hard to analyze blood serum to solve the question of defective germ plasm. They weren't sure whether they were seeking a specific hormone, an enzyme, a protein, genetic material or other blood molecule. They only knew that mankind's eugenic destiny was lurking in the blood and waiting to be discovered. [102]

In 1924, Davenport had told the Second International Congress of Eugenics, "The hormones that determine our personality, constitute the bridge that connects this personality on the one hand, with the specific enzymes packed away in the chromosomes of the germ cells, on the other." Davenport went on to explain, "You and I differ by virtue of the ... atomic activity of the enzymes and hormones which make up that part of the stream of life-yeast which has got into and is activating our protoplasm and will activate that of the fertilized egg that results from us and our consorts." He stressed that a human being was dictated "by virtue of the peculiar properties of those extraordinary activating substances, which are specific for him and other members of his family and race or biotype. The future of human genetics lies largely in a study of these activities .... Of these [studies], one of the most significant is that of twin-production." [103]

The Eugenical News report on the 1927 grand opening of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Anthropology, Human Heredity and Eugenics pointed out, "In the section on human genetics, twins and the blood groups were specially considered." On May 13, 1932, the Rockefeller Foundation's Paris office dispatched a radiogram to its New York headquarters asking for funds to support Verschuer's research while he was at the Institute for Anthropology, Human Heredity and Eugenics. The foundation approved a three-year grant totaling $9,000 to "KWG Institute [for] Anthropology for research [on] twins and effects on later generations of substances toxic for germ plasm." [104]

At the same time, the foundation was already funding an array of vocal German anti-Semites in a five-year $125,000 study. Internal foundation reports described the study as "the racial or biological composition of the German people and of the interaction of biological and social factors in determining the character of the present population." Twin research was repeatedly cited as a key facet of the research. Among the scientists listed on the foundation's roster was Rudin in project items 9 and 10; project item 16 was Verschuer. This $125,000 grant was not made directly, but channeled through the Emergency Fund for German Science (Notgemeinschaft der Deutschen Wissenschaften), which evolved into the German Research Society (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft). [105]

When Hitler came to power the next year, Rockefeller did not cease its funding of race biology in Germany. However, unlike many American eugenic leaders, Rockefeller officials were more circumspect. Rockefeller executives did not propagandize for Nazism, nor did they approve of the Reich's virulent repression. The foundation's agenda was strictly biological to the exclusion of politics. It wanted to discover the specific genetic components of the blood of the unfit -- even if that meant funding Nazi-controlled institutions.

Rockefeller's seed money was not wasted. In 1935, Eugenical News published a notice entitled "Blood Groups of Twins," which summarized a Nazi medical journal article based on Verschuer's research. "The Kaiser- Wilhelm Institute fur Anthropologie Menschliche Erblehre und Eugenik, at Dahlem-Berlin," reported Eugenical News, "is conducting, through Dr. O. v. Verschuer, studies on twins. Of 202 one-egg twins on whom the blood group was determined, in every case the serologic findings were the same; that is, both fell into the same blood group, just as both are of the same sex. On the other hand, in the case of two-egg twins the blood groups of the twins, whether of same or opposite sex, were frequently unlike." [106]

After attorney Raymond Fosdick assumed the presidency of the Rockefeller Foundation in 1936, the charitable trust became increasingly reluctant to fund any projects associated with the term eugenics. Rockefeller money continued to flow into prewar Nazi Germany to fund eugenic projects, but only when the proposals were packaged as genetics, brain research, or serology investigations attempting to locate the specific substances in the blood. However, Rockefeller financing was often too slow for Verschuer, who now sought faster and closer funding through the Reich Research Fund in Berlin, which in the thirties continued to enjoy annual Rockefeller monies. In June of 1939, when the Rockefeller Foundation tried to convince protestors that it was not financing Nazi science, Fosdick was forced to remind his colleagues that such denials were "of course hardly correct." Rockefeller money was still flowing through the Emergency Fund for German Science, now the German Research Society. [107]

A cascade of German Research Society grants financed Verschuer's continuing heredity research, including a 1935 grant for twin studies. In 1936 and 1937, Verschuer again received funding for twin research and his search for the specific components in blood. The grants continued through the war years, supporting a broad array of concentration camp experimentation. [108]

In the late summer of 1943, Verschuer received German Research Society funding for serology experiments filed under the keyword Spezifische Eiweisskorper, alternately translated as "Specific Proteins" or "Specific Albuminous Matter." His project would require voluminous blood samples, as he was seeking the specific blood proteins or albuminous matter that carried genetic traits, from epilepsy to eye color. Verschuer explained in a memo that the blood would come from the Twins Camp at Auschwitz. Mengele, wrote Verschuer, would supervise the operation with the explicit permission of Himmler. "The blood samples are being sent to my laboratory for analysis." [109]

Victim after victim, Mengele extracted large amounts of blood from twins and gypsies. He siphoned it from their arms, sometimes both arms, from the neck, sometimes from fingers. Hedvah and Leah Stern recalled, "We were very frightened of the experiments. They took a lot of blood from us. We fainted several times." One twin survivor remembered years later, "Each woman was given a blood transfusion from another set of twins so Mengele could observe the reaction. We two each received 350 cc of blood from a pair of male twins, which brought on a reaction of severe headache and high fever." [110]

Mengele returned to Berlin from time to time. On one of these trips, he visited his mentor Verschuer for a cozy family dinner. Mengele was asked whether his work at Auschwitz was hard. Years later, Verschuer's son recalled Mengele's reply to his mother: "It's dreadful," Mengele said. "I can't talk about it." [111]

Nevertheless, Mengele was tireless in his bloodletting, his eyeball extractions, his infecting, his autopsying and his selecting, most to the left and some to the right. In mid-August of 1944, his superior filed a letter of commendation. "During his employment as camp physician at the concentration camp Auschwitz," Verschuer asserted, "he has put his knowledge to practical and theoretical use while fighting serious epidemics. With prudence, perseverance and energy, he has carried out all tasks given him, often under very difficult conditions, to the complete satisfaction of his superiors and has shown himself able to cope with every situation." [112]

Years later, Verschuer's medical technician, Irmgard Haase, was interviewed about the work at Auschwitz. She admitted, "There was the research work, which included enzymes in the blood of Gypsy twins and of Russian prisoners of war .... From the middle of 1943 onwards, there were several consignments of 30 ml samples of citrated blood." Asked where the blood had come from, she replied, "I don't know. The specimens were in boxes, which had been opened. I never saw the sender's name." She added, "I thought that they were from a camp for prisoners." Auschwitz? "I never heard the word at that time." [113]

Mengele? "Never heard of him." She emphasized, "Specific enzymes in the blood were being investigated by means of ... protective enzyme reactions." Were there any misgivings? Haase responded no: "It was science, after all." [114]


Mengele was not alone. Hitler's doctors operated a vast network of experimentation in Nazi concentration camps, euthanasia mills and other places in the territories it occupied. Much of that experimentation was eugenic and genetic, such as the work of Mengele. Much of it was strictly medical, such as the testing at Buchenwald designed to find cures or medicines for well-known diseases. Much of it was simply strategic, such as the cruel ice water and high altitude tests at Dachau intended to benefit Luftwaffe pilots bailing out over the North Atlantic. [115]

But even when strictly medical or military testing was inflicted on helpless subjects, it was most often imposed along eugenic lines. More specifically, many Aryans -- such as habitual criminals, Jehovah's Witnesses and socialists -- were imprisoned in camps under beastly conditions. Mostly, it was the worthless and expendable -- Jews, Gypsies, Russians and other "subhuman" prisoners -- who were victimized as medical fodder. The exceptions were those Germans considered hereditary misfits, such as homosexuals and the feebleminded. All of it was in furtherance of Hitler's biological revolution and his quest for a master race in a Thousand-Year Reich.

Hitler's master race would be more than just chiseled blond and blue-eyed Nordics. Special breeding facilities were established to mass-produce perfect Aryan babies. [116] They would all be closer to super men and women: taller, stronger and in many ways disease-resistant. Therefore Verschuer was the vanguard of a corps of Nazi medical men who saw the struggle against infirmity and sickness as consonant if not intrinsic to their struggle for eugenic perfection. Nazi Germany was indeed engaged in advanced medical genetics, now amply funded by the Reich's plunder, and militarized and regimented by the fascist state.

Therefore, even as Verschuer and the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Anthropology, Human Heredity and Eugenics were supervising the eugenic murders at Auschwitz, they enjoyed military contracts and German Research Society funding to attack a gamut of dreaded inherited diseases. This research could be conducted in concentration camps such as Buchenwald and Birkenau, or in Kaiser Wilhelm's grandiose complex of centers for higher learning.

For example, Hans Nachtsheim, who also worked under Verschuer, investigated epilepsy and other illnesses under German Research Society aegis and military contract SS 4891-5376, filed under "Research into Heredity Pathology." One typical status memo in October of 1943 reported that, "Experiments on the significance of a lack of oxygen for the triggering of epileptic seizures in epileptic rabbits, which were carried out jointly with Dr. Ruhenstroth-Bauer from the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Biochemistry ... have essentially been concluded. A preliminary report of the research is currently being printed in the journal Klinische "Wochenschrift [Clinical Weekly]; a comprehensive report is in the process of being drawn up to be published in the journal Zeitschrift fur menschliche Vererbungs- und Konstitutionslehre [Journal for Science of Human Genetics and Constitution]." [117]

The depth of Nachtsheim's learning was evident. "Further experiments," he continued, "are concerned with the effect of the epilepsy gene in association with other genes [Gengesellschaft]. It has been determined that a single dosage of the epilepsy gene may suffice to induce epilepsy in combination with certain other genes, although the epilepsy gene is usually recessive, meaning that it must be present in a double dosage in order to become effective. Thus, a carrier of two albino genes and a single epilepsy gene can become an epileptic. The albino gene is the most extreme and most recessive allele [chromosomal pair] of a series of 6 alleles. In order to understand the essence of genes and their interaction, it is important to know how the other alleles act in combination with the epilepsy gene. Up to now, it could be proven that the allele most closely related to the albino gene ... reacts just as the albino factor, while the normal allele, which is dominant over all other alleles in the series, suppresses the outbreak of epilepsy even in a single dosage in the presence of even one epilepsy gene. Experiments with the other alleles remain to be done." [118]

Verschuer studied tuberculosis in rabbits under German Research Society aegis and contract SS 4891-5377. One typical report explained that, "In addition to crossbreeding, pure breeding continued; in particular, the attempt was made to determine why the members of one family were always killed by lung tuberculosis while this form did not develop in the other family. The attempt was made to change the way in which tuberculosis presented in the various breeds. This was done by means of sac blockage, reinfections and organ implants. These experiments have not yet been concluded, but it appears that the development of tuberculosis in the breeds is extremely resistant. It will be necessary to expand these experiments, since their results could be of fundamental significance for the treatment of tuberculosis in humans." [119]

Similar genuine science could be seen in the other reports of the various Kaiser Wilhelm Institutes. One of them was the Institute for Brain Research, an organization financed by Rockefeller money from the ground up starting in the late 1920s. Senior researchers Drs. Julius Hallervorden and Hugo Spatz published their pioneering work on a form of inherited brain degeneration, which was eventually named Hallervorden-Spatz Syndrome. After Institute for Brain Research founder Oskar Vogt was removed for his lack of Nazi activism, Spatz took his place and the organization was fully integrated into the Nazi killing process. While Hallervorden held the neuropathology chair at the Institute for Brain Research, he was also appointed senior physician at Brandenburg State Hospital, one of six institutions operating gas chambers under the T-4 euthanasia program. Ultimately, more than 70,200 Germans classed feebleminded were gassed under T-4. In 1938, four autopsies were performed at the Brandenburg facility. During the next five years, 1,260 would be completed. The brains -- nearly 700 -- went to Hallervorden. [120]

Hallervorden to his interrogators after the war: "I heard that they were going to do that, and so I went up to them and told them, 'Look here now, boys, if you are going to kill all those people, at least take the brains out so that the material could be utilized.' ... There was wonderful material among those brains, beautiful mental defectives, malformations and early infantile disease .... They asked me: 'How many can you examine?' and so I told them an unlimited number -- the more the better. ... They came bringing them in like the delivery van from the furniture company. The Public Ambulance Society brought the brains in batches of 150-250 at a time .... I accepted the brains, of course." [121]

Direct Rockefeller funding for Hallervorden and Spatz's Institute for Brain Research during the Hitler regime stopped in 1934, and funding for Rudin's Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Psychiatry ended in 1935. However, there were undoubtedly additional Rockefeller funds made available to institute researchers through the German Research Society. Rockefeller also provided the seed money for research at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Biology until the war broke out. Moreover, the foundation continued to fund individual physicians, such as Tubingen forensic psychiatrist Robert Gaupp, Breslau patho-psychologist Kurt Beringer, Munich psychiatrist Oswald Bumke and Freiburg neurologist Werner Wagner, each affiliated with his own institution. During these years, Rockefeller also subsidized social scientists in Nazi-annexed Vienna. Much of this money continued until 1939. During the thirties, millions in Rockefeller Foundation grants also flowed to other Kaiser Wilhelm Institutes devoted to the physical sciences. One such was the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Physical Chemistry and Electrochemistry, which was engaged in weapons research. [122]

The mentality behind the foundation's biological funding could best be seen in the words of Rockefeller Natural Science Director Warren Weaver. Just a few months after Hitler came to power in 1933, Weaver circulated a report to the trustees entitled "Natural Sciences -- Program and Policy: Past Program and Proposed Future Program." That report asserted, "Work in human genetics should receive special consideration as rapidly as sound possibilities present themselves. The attack planned, however, is a basic and long-range one." A year later, Weaver asked "whether we can develop so sound and extensive a genetics that we can hope to breed, in the future, superior men?" [123]

In pursuing its breeding goals, the Rockefeller Foundation could reassure itself and others that it was not actually furthering the pseudoscience of eugenics. In fact, that 1933 report to the trustees specifically stated, "The attack [for heredity research] planned, however, is a basic and long-range one, and such a subject as eugenics, for example, would not be given support." After rejecting eugenics by name, the report went on to advocate that "support should be continued and extended to include the biochemical, physiological, neurological and psychological aspects of internal secretions in general." [124]

But while openly eschewing eugenics with statements and memos, Rockefeller in fact turned to eugenicists and race scientists throughout the biological sciences to achieve the goal of creating a superior race.

Rockefeller never knew of Mengele. With few exceptions, the foundation had ceased all eugenic studies in Nazi-occupied Europe when the war erupted in 1939. But by that time the die had been cast. The talented men Rockefeller financed, the great institutions it helped found, and the science it helped create took on a scientific momentum of their own.

What could have stopped the race biologists of Berlin, Munich, Buchenwald and Auschwitz? Certainly, the Nazis felt they were unstoppable. They imagined a Thousand-Year Reich of super-bred men. Hence when the twins, the prisoner doctors and those selected for the gas chamber looked at Mengele, time after time they reported the piercing look in his eyes. That look -- Mengele's glare -- was the Nazi vision wedded to a fanatical science whose soul had been emptied, its moral compass cracked; a science backed not merely by iron dogma but by men wielding machine guns and pellets of Zyklon B. All of them were versed in the polysyllabics of cold clinical murder. Surely, to the victims of Auschwitz, it must have seemed like nothing could stop Nazi science from its global biological triumph.

But something did defeat Mengele and his colleagues. Not reason. Not remorse. Not sudden realization. Nazi eugenicists were impervious to those powers. But two things did stop the movement. On June 6, 1944, the Allies invaded at Normandy and began defeating the Nazis, town by town and often street by street. They closed in on Germany from the west. The Russian army overran the Auschwitz death camp from the east on January 27, 1945. Mengele fled. [125]

Hence, Auschwitz was indeed the last stand of eugenics. The science of the strong almost completely prevailed in its war against the weak. Almost.
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Re: War Against the Weak: Eugenics and America's Campaign to

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PART THREE: Newgenics

CHAPTER 18: From Ashes to Aftermath

On January 17, 1945, as the Russian army approached Auschwitz, Mengele went from office to office methodically gathering his research materials. "He came into my office without a word," recounted pathologist Martina Puzyna. "He took all my papers, put them into two boxes, and had them taken outside to a waiting car." Mengele and the documents fled first to Gross-Rosen concentration camp, and then into Czechoslovakia. There he joined up with Hans Kahler, a close friend, coauthor and one of Verschuer's twins researchers. The Russians liberated Auschwitz on January 27, at about 3 P.M., and Mengele's horrors were quickly discovered. International commissions listed him as a war criminal. But Mengele slipped through the Allied manhunt and eventually escaped to South America. [1]

Even as the Allies closed in, Verschuer still hoped he and Hitler's Reich would prevail in its war against the Jews. Just months before Mengele abandoned Auschwitz, Verschuer published part of a lecture proclaiming, "The present war is also called a war of races when one considers the fight with World Jewry .... The political demand of our time is the new total solution [Gesamtlosung] of the Jewish problem." By the beginning of 1945, the Reich was collapsing. On February 15,1945, amid the chaos of Berlin's last stand, Verschuer found two trucks with which to ship his lab equipment, library, and several boxes of records to his family home in Solz. [2]

Nazi eugenicists continued their cover-up, in progress since the Normandy invasion. On March 12, 1945, Hans Nachtsheim, assistant director at the Institute for Anthropology, Human Heredity and Eugenics, wrote Verschuer in Solz. "A mass of documents have been left here which should be or have to be destroyed should the enemy ever come close to here .... We should not choose a moment ... too late to destroy them." [3] In the first days of May, the Reich was reduced to rubble and der Fiihrer had killed himself. [4] Nazism and its eugenics were defeated. But now its architects and adherents would reinvent its past.

In April of 1946, the military occupation newspaper in Berlin, Die Neue Zeitung, published an article on various doctors who had fled Germany, and followed it up on May 3 with specific accusations against Verschuer. In the article, Robert Havemann, a communist and chemist who had resisted the Nazis, expressed out loud what many knew. He openly accused Verschuer of using Mengele in Auschwitz to obtain blood samples and eyeballs from whole murdered families. [5]

A nervous Verschuer reacted at once. He sent a sworn statement to Otto Hahn, the occupation-appointed administrator of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institutes, insisting that he had always opposed racial concepts. "Even before 1933," averred Verschuer, "but also after, I took personal risks and attacked, as a scientist, in speeches and in writing, the race concept of the Nazis .... I argued against attributing values to races, I warned against the high estimation of the Nordic race, and I condemned the misuse of the results of anthropology and genetics to support a materialistic and racial point of view of life and history." [6]

He went on to concede his relationship with Mengele, referring to him only as "Dr. M.," and insisting it was totally innocent. Verschuer stated, "A post-doc of my former Frankfurt Institute, Dr. M., was sent against his will to the hospital of the concentration camp in Auschwitz. All who knew him learned from him how unhappy he was about this, and how he tried over and over again to be sent to the front, unfortunately without success. Of his work we learned that he tried to be a physician and help the sick.... [7]

"After I went to Berlin [from Frankfurt]," Verschuer continued, "I began research on the individual specificity of the serum proteins and the question of their heredity .... For these experiments I needed blood samples of people of different geographic background .... At that time my former post-doc Dr. M. visited me and offered to obtain such blood samples for me within the context of his medical activity in the camp Auschwitz. In this manner I received -- during this time, certainly not regularly -- a few parcels of 20-30 blood samples of 5-10 mls." [8]

Verschuer then asked Hahn to give him a character reference, and even drafted a statement for Hahn to sign: "Professor von Verschuer is an internationally known scientist who has kept away from all political activity .... Professor von Verschuer had nothing to do with the errors and misuses of the Nazis, by which his scientific field was particularly hit. He kept his distance from them and, whenever he was confronted by them, he criticized them courageously." Hahn would not sign such a document. [9]

So Verschuer sought support from his allies in American eugenics. Shortly after Havemann's expose, Verschuer wrote to Paul Popenoe in Los Angeles, hoping to reestablish cooperative ties. On July 25, Popenoe wrote back, "It was indeed a pleasure to hear from you again. I have been very anxious about my colleagues in Germany .... I suppose sterilization has been discontinued in Germany?" Popenoe offered tidbits about various American eugenic luminaries and then sent various eugenic publications. In a separate package, Popenoe sent some cocoa, coffee and other goodies. [10]

Verschuer wrote back, "Your very friendly letter of 7/25 gave me a great deal of pleasure and you have my heartfelt thanks for it. The letter builds another bridge between your and my scientific work; I hope that this bridge will never again collapse but rather make possible valuable mutual enrichment and stimulation." Seeking American bona fides, Verschuer tried to make sure his membership in the American Eugenics Society was still active. "In 1940, I was invited to become a member of the American Eugenics Society," Verschuer wrote. "Now that this calamitous war has ended, I hope that this membership can be continued. I would be grateful if you might make a gesture in this matter. In this context, I would like to mention that in recent months a former employee, a person devoid of character, has made extremely defamatory statements about me, which have also found their way into the American press. Therefore, it is possible that persons who do not know me better might have formed a wrong opinion of me. You will surely understand that it is important to me that any damage to my reputation be repaired and I would be very grateful for your kind help in doing so." [11]

Verschuer wrote again at the end of September 1946, requesting Popenoe's help. Because Verschuer was considered part of the Nazi medical murder apparatus, the Americans had halted his further work. "Since I wrote you," said Verschuer, "I have learned that the American military government does not intend to permit the continuation of my scientific work. This attitude can only be due to the spread of false information about me and my work. I have regularly sent you all of my scientific publications and you have known me for many years through correspondence. Therefore, may I ask for two things? 1. For a letter of recommendation from yourself and other American scientists who know me, stating that you know me as a serious scientific researcher and that you value my continued scientific work; 2. I ask you and other American geneticists and eugenicists who know me to undertake steps with the American military government in Germany to bring about the granting of permission for me to continue my life's work as a scientific researcher. It is my urgent wish that I be able to rebuild genetic and eugenic science from the ruins we stand upon in every area in Germany, a science that -- free of the misuse of past years -- may again attain international renown." [12]

Popenoe, who had also been corresponding with Lenz, was eager to be helpful, but uncomfortable standing up for an accused Nazi doctor. "I am distressed to hear that you may not be allowed to go ahead with your scientific work," Popenoe replied to Verschuer on November 7, 1946, "but it is hard for me to see how any of us over here could give any evidence that would be of value to you, even if we knew where to send it. Of course we could all testify that your scientific work before the war was objective and maintained very high standards. But if you have been 'denazified,' as I take to be the case from what you say, it was certainly not for that work, which is the only work I know about. None of us over here knows anything about what was going on in Germany from about 1939 onwards, but I suppose the action taken against you is due to your prominence in public life, as the successor of Eugen Fischer (who has been attacked bitterly in this country), etc. I could say nothing that would be pertinent, because I don't know anything about it. I am being perfectly frank with you, as you see .... But as it stands now, all I could say is: 'All his work that I saw before the war was of high quality,' and the authorities would presumably reply, 'That has nothing to do with it.''' [13]

Correspondence bounced back and forth between the two until Popenoe finally sent a brief letter of endorsement, limited to the prewar years. Verschuer then asked if he could be invited to join the faculty of an American university. "I have inquired from some leaders in American genetics," Popenoe replied, "and they all feel that it will be a long time before any university here is ready to offer a position to any German scientist who occupied an important position in Germany during the war years. As you perhaps know, our army brought over a number of physicists and other specialists, and their presence in this country has led to many protests and recriminations. I think it is out of the question, therefore, for you to look forward to any scientific activity here in the next few years -- much as I myself should like to have a visit from you." [14]

Throughout late 1947 and 1948, Verschuer continued corresponding with leading eugenicists and geneticists at American institutions, seeking to reestablish academic exchanges and professional standing. He submitted one of his older books for a new review by the American Eugenics Society. Popenoe promptly assured he would review it in a new eugenic publication called Family Life, and then bemoaned the loss of German eugenic publications. "It is sad to think," Popenoe wrote, "that the scientific journals, and even the publishing houses that produced them no longer exist!" Verschuer also began exchanges with scientists at the University of Michigan and the University of Minnesota. These were received with goodwill and even enthusiasm. When Nazi agitator C. M. Goethe of California received Verschuer's letter, he replied that he was "thrilled." [15]

While Verschuer was busy reestablishing his support in America, he was rehabilitating himself in occupied Germany as well. After making his accusations public, Havemann organized a committee of Kaiser Wilhelm Institute scientists to examine the evidence against Verschuer. They ruled that Verschuer indeed had engaged in despicable acts in concert with Mengele at Auschwitz, but their report was kept secret for fifteen years. In 1949, while the first report remained under lock and key, a second board of inquiry was urged to reexamine the issue. This second board unanimously ruled that he had committed no transgressions involving Auschwitz, and indeed that "Verschuer has all the qualities which qualify him to be a researcher and teacher of academic youth." Virtually comparing Verschuer to Christ being crucified, the esteemed panel of German scientists declared they could not sit in judgment of him as "Pharisees" (Pharisaerhaft). [16]

Soon, Verschuer once again became a respected scientist in Germany and around the world. In 1949, he became a corresponding member of the newly formed American Society of Human Genetics, organized by American eugenicists and geneticists. Hermann Joseph Muller of Texas, a Rockefeller fellow who had worked at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Brain Research during 1932, served as the first president of the American Society of Human Genetics. [17]

In the fall of 1950, the University of Munster offered Verschuer a position at its new Institute of Human Genetics, where he later became a dean. At about that time he helped found the Mainz Academy of Sciences and Literature, which later published his books, including one on cancer. In the early and mid-1950s, Verschuer became an honorary member of numerous prestigious societies, including the Italian Society of Genetics, the Anthropological Society of Vienna, and the Japanese Society for Human Genetics. [18]

A later president of the American Society of Human Genetics, Kurt Hirschhorn, remembered his own encounter with Verschuer in about 1958. An Austrian Jew, Hirschhorn had come to the United States as a refugee during the Hitler era. Hirschhorn became a genetic researcher and, while on a fellowship to Europe, he had visited Verschuer at the University of Munster. "Verschuer was partly responsible for the whole extermination," Hirschhorn related emphatically during a February 2003 interview. "He was the one that gave the Nazis the pseudo-genetic rationale to destroy the Jews and Gypsies. He was part of the organization [American Society of Human Genetics] in 1949 because in those days ... it was all covered up. No one really knew. But I'll never forget. I was sitting in his university office in Munster as a young man, and he asked a lot of personal questions about my background, and so forth, until he found out I was Jewish. I knew who he was by that time. I took a great deal of pleasure in telling him that I came to the United States from Austria, and when I turned eighteen, I enlisted in the army and went over there and fought the Nazis -- and went right through Munster. He was taken aback." [19]

In the 1960s, Frankfurt prosecutors were obliged by international pressure to continue their hunt for Nazis. The same prosecutors who investigated Mengele examined his relationship to Verschuer but concluded there was no connection between the two. Benno Muller-Hill, a German geneticist, later investigated Verschuer's activities. Muller-Hill reviewed Verschuer's many written defenses, including the one in which Verschuer claimed that while in Auschwitz, Mengele "tried to be a physician and help the sick." Writing in the journal History and Philosophy of Science, Muller- Hill described Verschuer's account as "Lies, lies, lies." [20]

Verschuer was never prosecuted. In 1969, he was killed in an automobile accident. But the legacy of his torturous medicine, twisted eugenics and conscious war crimes lives on.


As the ashes of Jews and Gypsies wafted into the air of Europe and were dumped into the Vistula River coursing through the heart of Europe, so their victimization flowed into the mainstream of modern medical literature. Medical literature evolves from decade to decade. As American eugenic pseudoscience thoroughly infused the scientific journals of the first three decades of the twentieth century, Nazi-era eugenics placed its unmistakable stamp on the medical literature of the twenties, thirties and forties.

The writings of Nazi doctors not only permeated the spectrum of German medical journals, they also appeared prominently in American medical literature. These writings included the results of war crime experimentation at concentration camps. Verschuer's own bibliographies, circa 1939, enumerated a long list of Nazi scientific discoveries, authored by him, his colleagues and assistants, including Mengele. Such scientific publication continued right through the last days of the Third Reich. The topics included everything from rheumatism, heart disease, eye pathology, blood studies, brain function, tuberculosis, and the gastric system to endless permutations of hereditary pathology. [21] Much of it was sham science. Some of it was astute. Both types found their way into the medical literature of the fifties and sixties. Hence, Nazi victimization contributed significantly to many of the modern medical advances of the postwar period.

For example, the Nazis at Dachau, using ice water tests, were the first to experimentally lower human body temperature to 79.7 degrees Fahrenheit -- this to discover the best means of reviving Luftwaffe pilots downed over the North Sea. Nazi scientists learned that the most effective method was rapid rewarming in hot water. Nuremberg testimony revealed that Dr. Sigmund Rascher, who oversaw these heinous hypothermia tests, prominently reported his breakthroughs at a 1942 medical symposium with a paper entitled "Medical Problems Arising from Sea and Winter." [22]

After the war, Rascher's conclusions were gleaned from Nazi reports and reluctantly adopted by British and American air-sea rescue services. A Nuremberg war crimes report on Nazi medicine summed up the extreme discomfort of Allied military doctors: "Dr. Rascher, although he wallowed in blood ... and in obscenity ... nevertheless appears to have settled the question of what to do for people in shock from exposure to cold .... The method of rapid and intensive rewarming in hot water ... should be immediately adopted as the treatment of choice by the Air-Sea Rescue Services of the United States Armed Forces." [23]

Rascher reported to Hubertus Strughold, director of the Luftwaffe Institute for Aviation Medicine. Strughold attended the Berlin medical conference that reviewed Rascher's revelations. A Nazi scientist wrote at the time that there were no "objections whatsoever to the experiments requested by the Chief of the Medical Service of the Luftwaffe to be conducted at the Rascher experimental station in the Dachau concentration camp. If possible, Jews or prisoners held in quarantine are to be used." [24]

After the war, Strughold was smuggled into the United States under the infamous Operation Paperclip project, which offered Nazi scientists refuge and immunity in exchange for their scientific expertise. Once in the U.S., Strughold became the leader in American aviation medicine. His work was directly and indirectly responsible for numerous aeromedical advances, including the ability to walk effortlessly in a pressurized air cabin -- now taken for granted -- but which was also developed as a result of Dachau experiments. He was called "the father of U.S. Space Medicine," and Brooks Air Force Base in Texas named its Aeromedical Library in his honor. A celebratory mural picturing Strughold was commissioned by Ohio State University. When Jewish and Holocaust-survivor groups, led by the Anti-Defamation League, discovered the honors extended to Strughold, they objected. Ohio State University removed its mural in 1993. The U.S. Air Force changed its library's name in 1995. [25]

In 2003, the state of New Mexico still listed Strughold as a member of its International Space Hall of Fame. But on February 13, 2003, when this reporter asked about their honoree's Nazi connection, a startled museum official declared, "Ifhe was doing experiments at Dachau, it would give one pause why anyone would ever nominate him in the first place." Museum officials added they would immediately look into removing his name. [26]

Another case involved Nazi doctors Hallervorden and Spatz. In 1922, the two had successfully identified a rare and devastating brain disease caused by a genetic mutation. The disease came to be known as Hallervorden-Spatz Syndrome in their honor. During the Hitler era, while working at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Brain Research, Hallervorden and Spatz furthered their research by utilizing hundreds of brains harvested from T-4 victims. Right through the 1960s, Hallervorden authored numerous influential scientific papers on the subject. For decades, the name Hallervorden-Spatz has been used by the leading medical institutions in the world, honoring the two Nazis who discovered the disorder. Thousands of articles and presentations have been made on the topic, using the name Hallervorden-Spatz. Medical investigators created an "International Registry of Patients with Hallervorden-Spatz Syndrome and Related Disorders." [27]

Leading family support groups involved with the disorder have also taken their organizational names from the two Nazi doctors. But the news about Hallervorden and Spatz's Nazi past recently became known to many in the field. In 1993, two doctors expressed the view of many in a letter to the editor of the journal Neurology. "It is also time to stop using the term, 'Hallervorden-Spatz disease' whose only purpose is to honor Hallervorden by using his name." Another journal, Lancet, expressed a similar view in 1996, describing the continued honorary use of the name "Hallervorden-Spatz" as "indefensible" because "both Hallervorden and Spatz were closely associated with the Nazi extermination policies." [28]

In January of 2003, the Hallervorden-Spatz Syndrome Association renamed itself the NBIA Disorders Association; the acronym was derived from "neurodegeneration with brain iron accumulation." Just after the announcement, the newly-renamed association's president, Patricia Wood, told this reporter that the name change was certainly due to the legacy of Nazi experiments attached to Hallervorden and Spatz. The association's website confirmed that the name change was driven by "concerns about the unethical activities of Dr. Hallervorden (and perhaps also Dr. Spatz) involving euthanasia of mentally ill patients during World War II." [29]

The National Institutes of Health also adopted the Hallervorden-Spatz appellation for its research into the disease. NIH convened a two-day workshop on the disorder in May of 2000. As of March 2003, the National Institutes of Health continues to maintain a Hallervorden-Spatz Disease Information web page. On February 13, 2003, an NIH spokesman said that the institute was becoming aware of the Hallervorden-Spatz Nazi legacy and monitoring name changes in the field. "It is unfortunate that the two people who have discovered and researched this disease have undergone political scrutiny," the spokesman said, "but I don't see any name change at this time." The spokesman stressed that the problem was mere "political scrutiny." The spokesman did confirm that the institute would adjust its website's search engine to permit the term "NBIA" to reach its Hallervorden-Spatz information sites. [30]

Nazi medical victims suffered torture to substantially advance Reich scientific knowledge and modern medicine. Then the murdered specimens were delivered to the likes of Verschuer and Hallervorden and their eugenic institutions. But then what? After the war, victims' remains were transferred to or maintained by some of Germany's leading medical research facilities. Hence the exterminated continued to provide organic service to German medicine. In 1989, the Max Planck Institute for Brain Research, the successor to Hallervorden's center, admitted that it still possessed thirty tissue samples in its files. That same year, tissue samples and skeletons were also found in universities in Tubingen and Heidelberg. In 1997, investigators confirmed that the University of Vienna's Institute of Neurobiology still housed four hundred Holocaust victims' brains. The University of Vienna had functioned as part of the Reich after Austria's union with Germany in 1938. Similar discoveries have been made elsewhere in former Nazi-occupied Europe. [31]

In many cases, local officials, acting nearly a half-century after the fact, have elected to cremate the remains respectfully and bury them in memorial cemeteries. At one such burial service, conducted by Eberhard-Karls University in Tubingen, Professor Emeritus of Neuropathology Jurgen Peiffer spoke solemnly. "We must remember," he eulogized, "that there is a dangerous possibility that we may bury our bad consciences together with these tissue remains, thereby avoiding the necessity of remembering the past .... I know that there are those who think we are acting out of faintheartedness and anxiety; some ask whether 'dust to dust' really applies to glass slides and whether this act is the appropriate answer?" He answered his own question when he read aloud the inscription on the tablet. [32]

Displaced, oppressed, maltreated,
Victims of despotism or blind justice,
They first found their rest here.
Science, which did not respect
Their rights and dignity during life,
Sought even to use their bodies after death.
Be this stone a reminder to the living. [33]
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Re: War Against the Weak: Eugenics and America's Campaign to

Postby admin » Thu Jul 31, 2014 11:02 pm


CHAPTER 19: American Legacy

America's retreat from eugenics was precipitated by the convergence of two forces: Hitler's ascent in Germany and the climactic exit of the pseudoscience's founding fathers from Cold Spring Harbor. But it was not a moment of truth that finally convinced the Carnegie Institution and the eugenic establishment to turn away from their quest for a superior Nordic race. Rather, the end was an inexorably slow process devoid of mea culpas, one that saw the major players withdraw only with great reluctance.

The real father of eugenics was of course Charles Benedict Davenport. Galton was merely the grandfather. It was Davenport who twisted Galton's stillborn Victorian vision into self-righteous social-biological action. Eugenics always risked veering completely out of control. It did in Nazi Germany.

During the twelve-year Hitler regime, Davenport never wavered in his scientific solidarity with Nazi race hygiene. Nor did he modify his view that the racially robust were entitled to rule the earth. But Germany's triumph in the thirties wielding his principles did not bring Davenport the personal fulfillment he craved. During all his years at the pinnacle of international eugenic science, Davenport remained the same sad, embittered, intellectually defensive man who had first embarked upon a biological crusade at the turn of the century. As one lifelong friend remembered, Davenport remained "a lone man, living a life of his own in the midst of others, feeling out of place in almost any crowd." Davenport could acquire international celebrity, but never personal happiness. [1]

Correction. Davenport did find personal joy in one thing: his children, especially his son Charlie, born January 8, 1911. Little Charlie unlocked the affectionate quality guarded deep within men like Davenport. Proudly, Davenport would call out through the neighborhood for Charlie to come back for dinner after a day's play. A family friend remembers the intense "pride and devotion" Davenport felt when it came to little Charlie. [2]

The same year Charlie was born, Davenport published his cornerstone volume, Heredity in Relation to Eugenics, which explained the biological basis of the superior family. Even as millions were devastated by crippling diseases, such as tuberculosis and polio, Davenport's answer was to blame their ancestry, or more precisely, unsound protoplasm. "It is an incomplete statement," asserted Davenport's book, "that the tubercle bacillus is the cause of tuberculosis, or alcohol the cause of delerium tremens or syphilis the cause of paresis. Experience proves it .... In general, the causes of disease as given in the pathologies are not the real causes. They are due to inciting conditions acting on susceptible protoplasm. The real cause of death of any person is his inability to cope with the disease germ or other untoward conditions." Fatal epidemics did not kill, preached Davenport, only defective germ plasm. [3]

On the evening of September 5, 1916, Davenport came face to face with his own dogma. That night, young Charlie was stricken by polio. Death entered the Davenport household quickly; within hours of showing symptoms, Charlie was dead. The next day the boy was interred in the family plot of a Brooklyn cemetery. Davenport never recovered from the loss. A close associate recounted a broken man, a man absolutely "prostrated." After the funeral, both he and his wife retired to a sanitarium for several weeks. When he emerged, Davenport became even more cloistered and relentless in his work. [4]

For years, Davenport uncompromisingly continued to seek out the imperfect, the inferior, the weak and the susceptible, demanding their elimination. In 1934, at age sixty-eight, after a three-decade crusade, Davenport retired from the Carnegie Institution. Officials at the Washington office allocated a small room at the Eugenics Record Office to him, along with clerical help. On June 28, he delivered his final official address, "Reminiscences of Thirty Years." The next day, Davenport began the remainder of his joyless life. The letter he dictated to his secretary almost stoically informed the Carnegie Institution: "I am now getting settled in a corner of the south room, second floor, of the Eugenics Record Office, and am looking forward to a chance of uninterrupted research." [5]

Davenport of course continued to be active as the elder statesman of eugenics into the 1940s, even as the Nazis assumed international leadership and swept Davenport's principles into a brutal war. As late as 1943, Davenport was protesting, in Eugenical News, the widespread opposition to stern racial policies. But during his retirement years, Davenport mostly busied himself with continuous private investigations of mice, children, and other organisms. [6]

In January of 1944, Davenport became fixated on a killer whale that had beached itself off Long Island. He was determined to have its skull to exhibit at his new whaling museum at Cold Spring Harbor. Night after night, in a steam-filled but uninsulated shed, Davenport boiled the whale's head in a great cauldron. It was a slow process. The enormous orca was tough and resistant. Even as the weather became more and more brutal, Davenport would not give up. He fought the elements and the whale skull for two weeks, determined to beat them both. He became weaker and weaker. [7]

Colleagues remembered that one night Davenport appeared at an ERO staff meeting reeking of blubber. He sat off by himself, seventy-eight years old and still unshakable. Shortly thereafter, Davenport came down with a severe case of pneumonia. On February 18, 1944, Davenport died, not of old age, but of germs. [8]


The Carnegie Institution continued to back eugenics long after its executives became convinced it was a worthless nonscience based on shabby data, and years after they concluded that Harry Hamilton Laughlin himself was a sham.

Laughlin and eugenics in general had become the butt of jokes and the object of reprehension as far back as 1912, when the world learned that its proponents planned to sterilize millions in America and millions more in other nations. Scientists from other disciplines ridiculed the movement as well. Despite the widespread derision, eugenics persevered as a science under siege, battling back for years, fortified by its influential patrons, the power of prejudice and the big money of Carnegie. But the Carnegie Institution's patience began to erode as early as 1922, when Laughlin became a public font of racist ideology during the Congressional immigration restriction hearings. [9]

Carnegie president John C. Merriam continued to be embarrassed by Laughlin's immigration rantings throughout the 1920s. But he tolerated them for the greater agenda of the eugenics movement. However, Laughlin struck a particular nerve in the spring of 1928, while Merriam and a U.S. government official were touring Mexican archaeology sites. During the tour, Mexican newspapers splashed a story that Merriam's Carnegie Institution was proposing that Congress severely limit immigration of Mexicans into the United States. It was Laughlin who prompted the story. [10]

Merriam immediately instructed Davenport to muzzle Laughlin. "He [Merriam] feels especially that you ought not go further," Davenport wrote Laughlin, "... helping the [House] committee on a definition of who may be acceptable as immigrants to the United States from Spanish America. The Spanish Americans are very sensitive on this matter .... It will not do for the Carnegie Institution of Washington, or its officers, to take sides in this political question."
Anticipating Laughlin's predictable argument, Davenport continued, "I know you regard it properly as more than a political question and as a eugenical question -- but it is in politics now, and that means that the institution has to preserve a neutrality." [11]

Yet Laughlin did nothing to restrict his vocal activities. By the end of 1928, Merriam convened an internal committee to review the value of the Eugenics Record Office. In early February of 1929, the committee inspected the Cold Spring Harbor facility and concluded that the accumulation of index cards, trait records and family trees amounted to little more than clutter. They "are of value only to the individual compiling them," the committee wrote, and even then "in most cases they decrease in importance in direct proportion to their age." Some of the files were almost two decades old, and all of them reflected nineteenth-century record-keeping habits now obsolete. The mass of records yielded much private information about individuals and their families, but little hard knowledge on heredity. [12]

Nonetheless, with Davenport and Laughlin lobbying to continue their work, the panel rejected any "radical move, such as relegating them [the files] to dead storage." Instead, Carnegie officials decided a closer affiliation with the Eugenics Research Association [The ERA was affiliated with the American Association for the Advancement of Science (fittingly through Section F: "The Zoological Sciences") and had two seats on the Council of the AAAS.] would help the ERO achieve some approximation of genuine science. Hence the Carnegie Institution would continue to operate the ERO under Carnegie's Department of Genetics. [13]

Genetics, however, was not the emphasis at Cold Spring Harbor. Laughlin and his ERO continued their race-based political agitation unabated. Moreover, once Hitler rose to power in 1933, Laughlin forged the ERO, the ERA and Eugenical News into a triumvirate of pro-Nazi agitation.
But things changed when Davenport retired in June of 1934. Laughlin lost his greatest internal sponsor, and with Davenport out of power, Carnegie officials in Washington quickly began to move against Laughlin. They pointedly questioned his race science and indeed the whole concept of eugenics in a world where the genuine science of genetics was now emerging.

Carnegie officials first focused on Eugenical News, which had become a compendium of American raceology and Nazi propaganda. Although Eugenical News was published out of the Carnegie facilities at the ERO, by a Carnegie scientist, and functioned as the official voice of Carnegie's eugenic operations, the Carnegie Institution did not legally own or control Eugenical News. It was Laughlin's enterprise. Carnegie wanted an immediate change and made this clear to Laughlin. [14]

Laughlin became very protective. He had always chosen what would and would not run in Eugenical News, and he even authored much of the text. In a September 11, 1934, letter to Davenport's replacement, Albert F. Blakeslee, Laughlin rebuffed attempts to corral Eugenical News, defensively insisting, "In this formative period of making eugenics into a science, the ideals of the Eugenics Record Office, of the Eugenics Research Association, of the International Congresses and Exhibits of Eugenics, and of the Eugenical News are identical. I feel that the position of the Eugenical News as a scientific journal is quite unique, in that eugenics is a new science, and that the trend and rate of its development, and its ultimate character, will be influenced substantially by the Eugenical News." [15]

Laughlin made clear to Carnegie officials that they simply could not control Eugenical News, because it was legally the property of the Eugenics Research Association -- and Laughlin was the secretary of the ERA. To drive home his point, a Laughlin memo defiantly included typed-in excerpts from committee reports and letters to the printer, plus sample issues going back to 1916 -- all demonstrating the ERA's legal authority over Eugenical News. "I feel that the Institution should go into the matter thoroughly," insisted Laughlin, "and make a clean-cut and definite ruling concerning the relationship of the Carnegie Institution (represented by the Eugenics Record Office) to the Eugenical News." [16]

By now, Carnegie felt it was again time to formally revisit the worth of Laughlin and eugenics. A new advisory committee was assembled, spearheaded by archaeologist A.V. [Alfred Vincent] Kidder. He began assembling information on Laughlin's activities
, and Laughlin was only too happy to cooperate, almost boastfully inundating Kidder with folder after folder of material. With Davenport in retirement, Laughlin undoubtedly felt he was heir to Cold Spring Harbor's throne. He sent Washington a passel of demands about revamping Cold Spring Harbor's administrative structure, renovations of its property and new budget requests for 1935. [17]

Kidder was not encouraging. He wrote back, "I think I ought to tell you that I feel quite certain that the administrative and financial changes which you advocate are extremely unlikely, in my opinion, to be carried into effect in 1935." Kidder was virtually besieged with Laughlin's written and printed submissions to support his requests for a sweeping expansion of the ERO. On November 1, 1934, Kidder acknowledged, "I am at present reviewing all the correspondence and notes in my possession relative to the whole Cold Spring Harbor situation and in the course of a few days I shall prepare a memorandum for Dr. Merriam." But within two days, Kidder conceded that he was overwhelmed. "I have read all the material you sent me with close attention," he wrote Laughlin. "I have also read all the Year Book reports of the Eugenics Record Office .... I am now trying to correlate all this information in what passes for my brain." [18]

On Sunday, June 16 and Monday, June 17, 1935, the advisory committee led by Kidder visited Cold Spring Harbor, touring both the ERO and the adjacent Carnegie Station for Experimental Evolution. Laughlin's residence, provided by the Carnegie Institution, was one of the buildings in the compound, and Mrs. Laughlin graciously prepared Sunday lunch and Monday dinner for the delegation. The men found her hospitality delightful, and Laughlin's presentations exhaustive. But after a thorough examination, the advisory committee concluded that the Eugenics Record Office was a worthless endeavor from top to bottom, yielding no real data, and that eugenics itself was not science but rather a social propaganda campaign with no discernible value to the science of either genetics or human heredity. [19]

Almost a million ERO records assembled on individuals and families were "unsatisfactory for the scientific study of human genetics," the advisory committee explained, "because so large a percentage of the questions concern ... traits, such as 'self-respect,' 'holding a grudge,' 'loyalty,' [and] 'sense of humor,' which can seldom truly be known to anyone outside an individual's close associates; and which will hardly ever be honestly recorded, even were they measurable, by an associate or by the individual concerned." [20]

While much ERO attention was devoted to meaningless personality traits, key physical traits were being recorded so sloppily by "untrained persons" and "casually interested individuals" that the advisory committee concluded this data was also "relatively worthless for genetic study." The bottom line: a million index cards, some 35,000 files, and innumerable other records merely occupied "a great amount of the small space available ... and, worst of all, they do not appear to us really to permit satisfactory use of the data." [21]

The advisory committee recommended that all genealogical and eugenic tracking activities cease, and that the cards be placed in storage until whatever bits of legitimate heredity data they contained could be properly extracted and analyzed using an IBM punch card system. A million index cards had accumulated during some two decades, but because of the project's starting date in 1910 and Laughlin's unscientific methodology, the data had never been analyzed by IBM's data processing system. This fact only solidified the advisory committee's conclusion that the Eugenics Record Office was engaged in mere biological gossip backed up by reams of worthless documents. The advisory committee doubted that the demographic muddle would "ever be of value," and added its hope that "never again ... should records be allowed to bank up to such an extent that they cannot be kept currently analyzed."[22]

The advisory committee vigorously urged that "The Eugenics Record Office should engage in no new undertaking; and that all current activities should be discontinued save for Dr. Laughlin's work in preparation of his final report upon the Race Horse investigation." Moreover, the advisory committee emphasized, "The Eugenics Record Office should devote its entire energies to pure research divorced from all forms of propaganda and the urging or sponsoring of programs for social reform or race betterment such as sterilization, birth-control, inculcation of race or national consciousness, restriction of immigration, etc. Hence it might be well for the personnel of the Office to discontinue connection with the Eugenical News." Committee members concluded, [b]"Eugenics is by generally accepted definition and understanding not a science." They insisted that any further involvement with Cold Spring Harbor be devoid of the word eugenics and instead gravitate to the word genetics.

Geneticist L. C. Dunn, a member of the advisory committee traveling in Europe at the time, added his opinion in a July 3, 1935, letter, openly copied to Laughlin. Dunn was part of a growing school of geneticists demanding a clean break between eugenics and genetics. "With genetics," advised Dunn, "its relations have always been close, although there have been distinct signs of cleavage in recent years, chiefly due to the feeling on the part of many geneticists that eugenical research was not always activated by purely disinterested scientific motives, but was influenced by social and political considerations tending to bring about too rapid application of incompletely proved theses. In the United States its [the eugenics movement's] relations with medicine have never been close, the applications having more often been made through sociology than through medicine, although the basic problems involved are biological and medical ones." [24]

Dunn wondered if it wasn't time to shut down Cold Spring Harbor altogether and move the operation to a university where such an operation could collaborate with other disciplines.
"There would seem to me to be no peculiar advantages in the Cold Spring Harbor location." As it stood, '''Eugenics' has come to mean an effort to foster a program of social improvement rather than an effort to discover facts." In that regard, Dunn made a clear comparison to Nazi excesses. "I have just observed in Germany," he wrote, "some of the consequences of reversing the order as between program and discovery. The incomplete knowledge of today, much of it based on a theory of the state, which has been influenced by the racial, class and religious prejudices of the group in power, has been embalmed in law, and the avenues to improvement in the techniques of improving the population have been completely closed." [25]

Dunn's July 3 letter continued with even more pointed comparisons to Nazi Germany. "The genealogical record offices have become powerful agencies of the [German] state," he wrote, "and medical judgments even when possible, appear to be subservient to political purposes. Apart from the injustices in individual cases, and the loss of personal liberty, the solution of the whole eugenic problem by fiat eliminates any rational solution by free competition of ideas and evidence. Scientific progress in general seems to have a very dark future. Although much of this is due to the dictatorship, it seems to illustrate the dangers which all programs run which are not continually responsive to new knowledge, and should certainly strengthen the resolve which we generally have in the U.S. to keep all agencies which contribute to such questions as free as possible from commitment to fixed programs." [26]

Carnegie's advisory committee could not have been more clear: eugenics was a dangerous sham, the ERO was a worthless and expensive undertaking devoid of scientific value, and Laughlin was purely political. But as Hitler rose and the situation of the Jews in Europe worsened, and the plight of refugees seeking entry into the United States became ever more desperate, the Carnegie Institution elected to ignore its own findings about Cold Spring Harbor and continue its economic and political support for Laughlin and his enterprises. Shortly after Merriam reviewed the advisory committee's conclusions, the Reich passed the Nuremberg Laws in September of 1935. Those of Jewish ancestry were stripped of their civil rights. Laughlin, Eugenical News and the Cold Spring Harbor eugenics establishment propagandized that the laws were merely sound science. Eugenical News even gave senior Nazi leaders a platform to justify their decrees. The Carnegie Institution still took no action against its Cold Spring Harbor enterprise.

In 1936, the brutal Nazi concentration camps multiplied. Systematic Jewish pauperization accelerated. Jews continued fleeing Germany in terror, seeking entry anywhere. But American consulates refused them visas. In the face of the humanitarian crisis, Laughlin continued to advise the State Department and Congress to enforce stiff eugenic immigration barriers against Jews and other desperate refugees. The Carnegie Institution still took no action against its Cold Spring Harbor enterprise. [27]

In 1937, Nazi street violence escalated and Germany increasingly vowed to extend its master race to all of Europe -- and to completely cleanse the continent of Jews. Laughlin, Eugenical News and the eugenics establishment continued to agitate in support of the Reich's goals and methods, and even distributed the anti-Semitic Nazi film, Erbkrank. The Carnegie Institution still took no action against its Cold Spring Harbor enterprise. [28]

One of hard propaganda Nazi films produced by the Office of Racial Policy in the National Socialist Racial and Political Office meant to warn the greater public about the dangers and costs posed by mentally ill and mentally retarded people.

"Erbkrank” [The Hereditary Defective] was directed by Herbert Gerdes. It was one of six propagandistic movies produced by the NSDAP, Reichsleitung, Rassenpolitisches Amt or the Office of Racial Policy, from 1935 to 1937 to demonize people in Nazi Germany diagnosed with mental illness and mental retardation.

The goal was to gain public support for the T4 Euthanasia Program then in the works. This film, as the others, was made with actual footage of patients in Nazi German psychiatric institutions.

Adolf Hitler reportedly liked the film so much that he encouraged the production of the full-length film "Opfer der Vergangenheit: Die Sünde wider Blut und Rasse” (English: Victims of the Past: The Sin against Blood and Race).
In 1937, Erbkrank was reportedly showing in nearly all Berlin film theaters.

-- Erbkrank (1936), by Tiergartenstrasse 4 Association

In 1938, as hundreds of thousands of new refugees appeared, an emergency intergovernmental conference was convened at Evian, France. It was fruitless. Germany then decreed that all Jewish property was to be registered, a prelude to comprehensive liquidation and seizure. In November, Kristallnacht shocked the world. Nazi agitation was now spreading into every country in Europe. Austria had been absorbed into the Reich. Hitler threatened to devour other neighboring countries as well. Laughlin, Eugenical News and the eugenics establishment still applauded the Hitler campaign. By the end of 1938, however, the Carnegie Institution realized it could not delay action much longer. [29]

On January 4, 1939, newly installed Carnegie president Vannevar Bush put Laughlin on notice that while his salary for the year was assured, Bush was not sure how much funding the ERO would receive -- if any. At the same time, Jews from across Europe continued to flee the Continent, many begging to enter America because no other nation would take them. In March of 1939, the Senate Immigration Committee asked Bush if Laughlin could appear for another round of testimony to support restrictive "remedial legislation." Bush permitted Laughlin to appear, and only asked him to limit his unsupportable scientific assertions. But Laughlin was not prohibited from again promoting eugenic and racial barriers as the best basis for immigration policy. Indeed, the Carnegie president reminded him, "One has to express opinions when he appears in this sort of inquiry, and I believe that yours will be found to be a conservative and well-founded estimate of the situation facing the Committee." Bush added that he had personally reviewed Laughlin's prior testimony and felt it was "certainly well handled and valuable." [30]

After testifying, Laughlin received a postcard at the Carnegie Institution in Washington from an irate citizen in Los Angeles. "As an American descendant of Americans for over 300 years, I'd like to learn what prompted you to supply [the Senate Immigration Committee] ... with so much material straight from Hitler's original edition of Mein Kampf." [31]

At about this time, Laughlin was also permitted to testify before the Special Committee on Immigration and Naturalization of the New York State Chamber of Commerce. In May of 1939, Laughlin's report, Immigration and Conquest, was published under the imprimatur of the New York State Chamber of Commerce and "Harry H. Laughlin, Carnegie Institution of Washington." The 267-page document, filled with raceological tenets, claimed that America would soon suffer "conquest by settlement and reproduction" through an infestation of defective immigrants. As a prime illustration, Laughlin offered "The Parallel Case of the House Rat," in which he traced rodent infestation from Europe to the rats' ability "to travel in sailing ships." [32]

Laughlin then explained, in a section entitled "The Jew as an Immigrant Into the United States," that Jews were being afforded too large a quota altogether because they were being improperly considered by their nationality instead of as a distinct racial type. By Laughlin's calculations, no more than six thousand Jews per year ought to be able to enter the United States under the existing national quota system -- the system he helped organize a half-decade earlier -- but many more were coming in because they were classified as German or Russian or Polish instead of Jewish. [b]He asked that Jews in the United States "assimilate" properly and prove their "loyalty to the American institutions" was "greater than their loyalty to Jews scattered through other nations." Immigration and Conquest's precepts were in many ways identical to Nazi principles. Laughlin and the ERO proudly sent a copy to Reich Interior Minister Wilhelm Frick, as well as to other leading Nazis, including Verschuer, Lenz, Ploetz and even Rudin at a special address care of a university in occupied Czechoslovakia. [33]

In late 1938, the Carnegie Institution finally disengaged from Eugenical News. The publication became a quarterly completely under the aegis of the American Eugenics Society, published out of AES offices in Manhattan, with a new editorial committee that did not include Laughlin or any other Carnegie scientist. The first issue of the reorganized publication was circulated in March of 1939. Shortly thereafter, the Carnegie Institution formalized Laughlin's retirement, effective at the end of the year. On September 1, 1939, the Nazis invaded Poland, igniting World War II. Highly publicized atrocities against Polish Jews began at once, shocking the world.[/b] Efforts by Laughlin in the final months of 1939 to find a new sponsor for the ERO were unsuccessful. On December 31, 1939, Laughlin officially retired. The Eugenics Record Office was permanently closed the same day. [34]

Laughlin and his wife immediately moved back to Kirksville, Missouri. The last years of his life were uneventful, and he died in Kirksville on January 26, 1943. Davenport eulogized him in Eugenical News as a great man whose views were opposed by those of "a different social philosophy which is founded more on sentiment and less on a thorough analysis of the facts." Davenport saluted his protege, predicting that within a generation Laughlin's work would be "widely appreciated" for what it really was: "preservation ... from the clash of opposing ideals and instincts found in the more diverse racial or geographical groups." [35]

Strangely enough, Laughlin, the staunch defender of strong germ plasm and warrior against the feebleminded and the hereditarily defective, left no children. The family kept it a secret, but the rumor was that Laughlin himself suffered from an inherited disease that made him subject to uncontrollable seizures. These seizures had occasionally occurred in front of his colleagues at the ERO. Laughlin's condition had been discovered in the 1920s upon his return from Europe. During one episode, Laughlin reportedly drove off the road near Cold Spring Harbor and almost ran into the water. An obstruction stopped his vehicle. Laughlin nearly died that night, and his wife reportedly never allowed him to drive a car again. [36]

Among his many crusades, Laughlin may best be remembered for his antagonism toward epileptics. He claimed that epilepsy was synonymous with feeblemindedness, and that people with epilepsy did not belong in society. He fought to keep such people out of America and demanded their sterilization and even their imprisonment in segregated camps. No wonder the family kept his condition a secret. Childless and frustrated, Harry Hamilton Laughlin reportedly suffered his genetic disease in silence and died under its grip. The disease: epilepsy. [37]


Once Laughlin retired on December 31, 1939, Carnegie began the immediate and systematic dismantling of the ERO, abandoning three decades of support for racial eugenics. Mail addressed to the ERO, and even letters specifically addressed to Laughlin or Davenport, were not forwarded to either man. Instead, a series of standard responses were typed up for clerical staff to utilize in replying to all correspondents. The message: work at the office had been suddenly discontinued and no questions could be answered. [38]

Personal correspondents were told to contact Laughlin or Davenport directly at their home addresses. But if a letter involved even the slightest reference to eugenics or the Cold Spring Harbor installation, it was answered with a vague customized form letter. For example, on February 19, 1940, the widow of Lucien Howe sent a handwritten personal note to Davenport lamenting the news that the ERO had been discontinued. An officer of the Carnegie Institution replied for him, writing back to the aging Mrs. Howe, "Your letter of the 19th to Dr. Davenport has been turned over to me for reply" and so on. [39]

When eugenic enthusiasts earnestly mailed in their family trees or genealogical trait records, or requested copies of their files or pertinent information from them, they were deftly answered with noncommittal form letters. When a Texas man offered family information, he received a curt note, "Doctor Laughlin has resigned, and for the time being at least, the Genetics Record Office is not in a position to file and index family records." The same type of reply was mailed out time and time again. The ERO had operated under the name "Eugenics Record Office" until 1939, when Carnegie officials insisted on a cosmetic name change to "Genetics Record Office." From 1939 on, Carnegie Officials consistently referred to the ERO as the "Genetics Record Office" or sometimes simply the "Record Office," avoiding any use of the word eugenics. [40]

Letters came in for years. Carnegie officials generally acted as though they had no access to Laughlin's files and therefore could not answer specific questions. But in fact Carnegie administrators kept the files close at hand and quietly checked them in some cases. For example, when Jane Betts in Wichita asked about record #51323 on February 29, 1944, a Carnegie official quickly plucked her record out of a million files and replied about its status. With few exceptions, however, questions addressed to the Eugenics Record Office were generally answered with no real information except that the office was closed and no data was available. [41]

After World War II, when the magnitude of Hitler's eugenicide became apparent, the Carnegie Institution decided to get rid of its records. It sold the ERO building at Cold Spring Harbor but retained the rest of the facilities. Officials destroyed many of Laughlin's years-old unpublished worksheets on horse racing and breeding (an adjunct to his investigations in human heredity), but finding recipients for the rest of the ERO's enormous and controversial collection was not easy. In May of 1947, a leading heredity clinic at the University of Michigan was offered the files but wondered whether Carnegie would provide a stipend to house the materials. Carnegie would not. So Carnegie kept searching for someone to take the files. [42]

In September of 1947, a Carnegie administrator overseeing the dismantled Cold Spring Harbor operation wrote to the Dight Institute, an independent eugenic research organization at the University of Minnesota. "If any institution is interested in the records of the Genetics Record Office, I am confident that arrangements could be made ... to transfer them." But, the note added, "there is very little chance that those funds [formerly used to run the ERO] would be transferred with the records." [43]

Dight director Sheldon Reed, an ardent eugenicist, replied, "It seems a great pity to me that the work must be abandoned." As for transferring the voluminous files to Dight, Reed posed a number of questions about the size and breadth of the collection and the cost of the transfer. Dight did not want to pay any of the moving expenses. As Dight officials pondered the usefulness of a collection they termed "colossal," Reed was frank with the Carnegie Institution. "I am sorry to take up your time with this business [the many logistical questions]," he wrote, "but it may be that you are even more interested in getting rid of records than I am in obtaining them." [44]

Eventually, Carnegie officials decided the best idea was to disperse the ERO records. In January of 1948, the Dight Institute agreed to house the ERO's extensive individual trait and family documents if Carnegie would defray the expected $1,000 shipping costs. Some six months later the Minnesota Historical Society agreed to take a half-ton of biographical jubilee books, family genealogical volumes and related materials. At the same time, the New York Public Library received a thousand ERO volumes of family genealogical books and local histories. Horse racing and stud breeding publications were handed over to the family that had originally sponsored the research. Carnegie donated Davenport's voluminous papers and Laughlin's ERO operational papers to the American Philosophical Society in Philadelphia, while maintaining some documents at a Cold Spring Harbor archive and retaining some others in Washington. When the Dight Institute closed its doors in the 1990s, its ERO papers were also sent to the American Philosophical Society, which now holds the largest consolidated eugenic collection anywhere. [45]

The dispersal of the records of the Cold Spring Harbor enterprise did not end the flow of letters to the ERO. For decades, people continued to send requests for eugenic information, updates of their pedigrees, and proof of their family's biological worth. In 1952, a dozen years after the ERO's closure, Clifford Frazier, an attorney in Greensboro, North Carolina, wrote offering to "bring my family data heretofore furnished up to date." In 1953, James Brunn, a realtor in Kansas City, Missouri, wrote requesting information to help trace his lineage back to the Revolutionary War. In 1959, Minnie Williams of Harrison, Ohio, wrote to say that she had finally assembled as much information as she could about her family pedigree; she had been working at it for years. In 1966, Elsie Van Guilder addressed a letter to "American Breeders Association, Eugenics Section, Cold Spring Harbor" seeking to trace her family. In 1976, E. Taylor Campbell of St. Joseph, Missouri, explained that he had been working on his family tree for fifty-one years, and he still needed nine more forms. [46]

Indeed, eugenic enthusiasts continued remitting family traits and proffering inquiries for decades. Letters continued into the 1980s, forty years after the ERO was dismantled. They probably never stopped. In February of 2003, a North Carolina attorney told this reporter than he had just discovered old ERO forms from his father's day; the attorney said his daughter was working with them to advance the family genealogy. Laughlin's work was that en grained in America. It persevered -- not only in the mindsets of generations of Americans, but also in America's laws. [47]

Although the ERO stopped functioning in 1939, America's eugenic laws did not. Tens of thousands of Americans continued to be forcibly sterilized, institutionalized and legally prevented from marriage on the basis of racial and eugenic laws. During the 1940s, some 15,000 Americans were coercively sterilized, almost a third of them in California. In the fifties, about ten thousand were sterilized. In the sixties, thousands more were sterilized. All told, an estimated 70,000 were eugenically sterilized in the first seven decades of the twentieth century; the majority were women. California consistently outdistanced every other state. [48]

Victims, especially those who only discovered their sterilizations years after the fact, eventually began to initiate litigation. One such victim was Joseph Juhan, a Tennessee war veteran with little formal education but with a pointed message for the Carnegie Institution. In late 1976, he penned a letter filled with poorly formed characters and numerous misspellings, randomly employing parentheses for emphasis, that nevertheless poignantly asserted his legal rights. The letter was addressed to "Dr. Charles Davenport, Dept of Experimental Evolution" at Cold Spring Harbor.
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Re: War Against the Weak: Eugenics and America's Campaign to

Postby admin » Thu Jul 31, 2014 11:03 pm


Dear Sir: I write to "request" your help. In the year of "1954" while a patient at the (State Hospital), at Milledgeville, Ga, a visectomy or sterilization operation was performed upon me, by orders of a state (eugenics board). A mental (deficiency dygnoses was made of my case. At the time I was only 18 years old.

I was wondering as the (Carnegie Instutions Dep. of experimental evolution or (eugenics studies) have have been ingaged in the study of (state mental inistutions records of (certain mental deficiency cases, if to your "knowledge" there has been in (eugenic's studys connected with the (Carnegie Inistutions at the (Milledgeville State Hosp in the State of Ga, in 1954.

The purpose of this "inquirey" is to obtain records for the American Civil Liberty's Union, in order to present be for a (U.S. Court of Law the (circumstances of my case, in 1954, whereby a (State Hospital acting under orders of a (Eugenics) Board did cause a (vocectomy) or sterlization operation, upon me at the age of 18.

I feel this was (uncessary, in violation of the (Fundimental, or basic freedoms guaranteed under the (U.S, Contitution) as no (mental deficiency of a genetic nature has ever exzisted in my case.

Your help in this matter will be greately appriecated.

I am Sincerely
Joseph Juhan
c/o U.S., VA Hospital
Murfreesboro, Tenn 37130 [49]

A response came from Agnes Fisher, the Record Office's secretary.

Dear Mr. Juhan,

I am writing in reply to your letter addressed to Dr. Charles Davenport. (Dr. Davenport retired from the Carnegie Institution in 1934, and died in 1944.)

You inquired about the possibility that eugenic studies were made by the Carnegie Institution at the Milledgeville State Hospital in 1954.

The Eugenics Record Office, formerly connected with the Department of Genetics in Cold Spring Harbor, was closed in 1939 upon the retirement of its director, Dr. H.H. Laughlin. At that time all studies and activities carried on by the Record Office or its staff were discontinued. Therefore no such studies could have been made in 1954. [50]

The American Civil Liberties Union never filed a sterilization suit in Georgia. But a few years later, in 1980, the ACLU in Richmond did file a historic suit against the state of Virginia on behalf of the victims of the Lynchburg Training School where Carrie Buck was sterilized. The ACLU ultimately forced Virginia to confront its history. In May of 2002, the governor of Virginia formally apologized to victims living and dead for decades of eugenic sterilizations. The governors of California, Oregon, North Carolina and South Carolina have followed suit. [51]

Nonetheless many of the laws are still on the books. For example, North Carolina's eugenic sterilization law, although not used for years, remains in force and was even updated in 1973 and 1981. Chapter 35, Article 7 still allows for court ordered sterilization for moral as well as medical improvement. While most states stopped enforcing sterilization statutes in the sixties and seventies, the practice did not stop everywhere. Across the country, additional thousands of poor urban dwellers, Puerto Rican women and Native Americans on reservations continued to be sterilized -- not under state laws, but under special federal provisions. [52]

In the seventies, for example, a group of Indian Health Service physicians implemented an aggressive program of Native American sterilization. According to a U.S. General Accounting Office study, hospitals in just four cities sterilized 3,406 women and 142 men between 1972 and 1976. The women widely reported being threatened with the loss of welfare benefits or custody of their children unless they submitted to sterilization. A federal court ordered that all future Indian Health Service sterilizations employ the proper safeguards of legitimate therapeutic procedures, and that "individuals seeking sterilization be orally informed at the outset that no Federal benefits can be withdrawn because of failure to accept sterilization." During the same four-year period, one Oklahoma hospital alone sterilized nearly 8 percent of its fertile female patients. No one will ever know the full scope of Indian sterilization in the postwar period because medical records were either not kept or were incomplete. [53]

Eugenics left behind more than sterilization laws. Marriage prohibitions remained in force. For example, Walter Plecker's Racial Integrity Act and numerous similar state statutes endured long after the ERO and Plecker disappeared. These laws potentially affected millions in ways that society can never measure. In 1958, two Virginians, a black woman named Mildred Jeter and a white man named Richard Loving, were married in Washington, D.C., to avoid violating Plecker's law. Upon their return to Virginia, they were arrested and indicted by the Caroline County grand jury. The trial judge suspended their one-year jail sentence on the condition that they leave Virginia and not return together for twenty-five years. [54]

From their new residence across the river in Washington, D.C., the Lovings appealed the infringement of their civil rights. Appellate courts, one after another, affirmed Virginia's law and the couple's conviction. Finally, almost nine years later in 1967, the United States Supreme Court considered the case. [55]

Writing for the majority, Chief Justice Earl Warren declared: "There can be no doubt that restricting the freedom to marry solely because of racial classifications violates the central meaning of the Equal Protection Clause .... The freedom to marry has long been recognized as one of the vital personal rights essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men. Marriage is one of the 'basic civil rights of man,' fundamental to our very existence and survival. ... To deny this fundamental freedom on so unsupportable a basis as the racial classifications embodied in these (Virginia] statutes, classifications so directly subversive of the principle of equality at the heart of the Fourteenth Amendment, is surely to deprive all the State's citizens of liberty without due process of law.... These convictions must be reversed. It is so ordered." [56]

After the Lovings' victory in 1967, other states' racial integrity laws became unenforceable. In 2000, Alabama became the last state in the union to repeal its antimiscegenation statute. [57]

With the science stripped away, all that remained to justify eugenic legislation was bigotry. Late in the twentieth century, in an enlightened postwar era, the eugenic notions that gripped a nation and then a world were finally understood. It had all just been colossal academic hubris masquerading as erudition.


By the late 1920s, the Carnegie Institution had confirmed by its own investigations what many in the scientific world and society at large had long been saying: that the eugenic science it helped create was a fraud.58 Nevertheless, Carnegie allowed its Cold Spring Harbor enterprise to supply the specious information needed to validate Virginia's legal crusade to sterilize Carrie Buck. Relying on Laughlin's pseudoscience and his own prejudices, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes had established the law of the land. In 1927, Holmes' famous opinion decreed:

It is better for all the world, if instead of waiting to execute degenerate offspring for crime, or to let them starve for their imbecility, society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind .... Three generations of imbeciles are enough. [59]

With Holmes' decision in hand, Carnegie's Cold Spring Harbor enterprise had unleashed a national campaign to reinforce long dormant state laws, enact new ones and dramatically increase the number of sterilizations across America. Sterilizations multiplied, marriage restrictions were broadened. Hundreds of thousands were never born. Untold numbers never married. The intent had been to stop the reproduction of targeted non-Nordic groups and others considered unfit. It continued into the 1970s, probably even later. It was all said to be legal, based on science, sanctioned by the highest courts. But what was it really?

As early as December of 1942, the Nazi plan was obvious. In a highly-publicized warning simultaneously broadcast in more than twenty-three languages the world over, the Allies announced that the Nazis were exterminating five million Jews and murdering millions of other national peoples in a plan to perpetrate a master race. The Allies vowed to hold war crimes trials to punish the Nazis and all those who abetted them. [60] Ultimately, the trials would bring to justice more than just the executioners, but those who ordered them, financed them, inspired them, facilitated their crimes and gave them scientific and medical support. These war crimes trials would ultimately include bankers, industrialists, philosophers, a newspaper editor, a radio propagandist, and many doctors and scientists.

By 1943, humanity needed a new word for the Third Reich's collective atrocities. The enormity of Nazi butchery of whole peoples by physical extermination, cultural obliteration, biological deracination and negative eugenics defied all previous human language. Nothing like it on so sweeping a scale had ever occurred in history.

Raphael Lemkin, a Jewish refugee at Duke University, formerly a prosecutor from Warsaw and an expert on international law, was commissioned by human rights organizations to study the crime. After a few months fighting as a partisan, Lemkin had fled Poland for Sweden and ultimately settled in the United States. His new word describing the overall Nazi campaign in Europe sprang from the same Greek root Galton had used. Eugenics was the study of "well-born life." Lemkin's new word, contemplated by him since 1940, encompassed the systematic destruction of an entire group's life. His new word was genocide. [61]

On October 30, 1943, as Lemkin was finalizing his study, the Allies met in Moscow and issued a joint declaration reconfirming that there would be war crimes trials for Nazi perpetrators, to be conducted in both the victimized countries and in Germany. The Allies demanded that all such crimes cease during the final turbulent days of Europe's liberation. "Let those who have hitherto not imbrued their hands with innocent blood beware lest they join the ranks of the guilty, for most assuredly the three Allied powers will pursue them to the uttermost ends of the earth and will deliver them to their accusors in order that justice may be done." The declaration was signed by Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, and Josef Stalin. [62]

Days later, on November 15,1943, Lemkin completed his study, Axis Rule in Occupied Europe, which was published a year later. In a chapter entitled "Genocide," Lemkin listed the several physical and administrative "techniques of genocide." Among the techniques was a section labeled "Biological." Lemkin later explained the principle: "The genocidal policy [of the Nazis] was far-sighted as well as immediate in its objectives. On the one hand an increase in the birth rate, legitimate or illegitimate, was encouraged within Germany and among Volksdeutsche in the occupied countries .... On the other hand, every means to decrease the birth rate among 'racial inferiors' was used. Millions of war prisoners and forced laborers from all the conquered countries of Europe were kept from contact with their wives. Poles in incorporated Poland met obstacles in trying to marry among themselves. Chronic undernourishment, deliberately created by the occupant, tended not only to discourage the birth rate but also to an increase in infant mortality. Coming generations in Europe were thus planned to be predominantly of German blood, capable of overwhelming all other races by sheer numbers." [63]

Axis Rule in Occupied Europe even quoted a relevant Hitler speech: "We are obliged to depopulate as part of our mission of preserving the German population. We shall have to develop a technique of depopulation. If you ask me what I mean by depopulation, I mean the removal of entire racial units. And that is what I intend to carry out .... Nature is cruel, therefore we, too, may be cruel. ... I have the right to remove millions of an inferior race that breeds like vermin! And by 'remove,' I don't necessarily mean destroy; I shall simply take the systematic measures to dam their great natural fertility .... There are many ways, systematical and comparatively painless, or at any rate bloodless, of causing undesirable races to die out." [64]

Some five months later, Lemkin's chapter on genocide was popularized in an article entitled "Genocide -- A Modern Crime," appearing in Free World, a new United Nations multilingual magazine. In Free World, Lemkin again cited "Biological" techniques as a means of genocide. By this time Lemkin had become an advisor to the Judge Advocate General of the U.S. Army, and military tribunal planners were working with him and his concepts as they prepared to bring Nazi war criminals to justice. [65]

Within a month of the publication of "Genocide -- A Modern Crime," the Third Reich fell. Lemkin's codified principles of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity became pivotal. In August of 1945, the victorious Allies met in London and chartered an international military tribunal to bring the highest-ranking Nazi war criminals to justice. The so-called Nuremberg Trials began just three months later. The dock was hardly limited to those Nazis who pulled triggers and ordered murders -- such as Interior Minister Wilhelm Frick and Governor-General of Poland Hans Frank -- but also included key propagandists and facilitators, such as newspaper editor Julius Streicher and radio director Hans Fritzche. At the same time, international justice groups continued to further define the prior acts of genocide in anticipation of more war crimes tribunals, these for individuals of lesser stature who were nonetheless instrumental in Nazi genocide. These additional trials would prosecute doctors, scientists and industrialists. Many of these tribunals would be conducted exclusively by the United States. [66]

On December 11, 1946, as the United States was readying its own prosecutions, the United Nations approved Resolution 96 (I), which embedded the concept of "genocide" into international law. It proclaimed: "Genocide is a denial of the right of existence of entire human groups, as homicide is the denial of the right to live of individual human beings; such denial of the right of existence shocks the conscience of mankind, results in great losses to humanity in the form of cultural and other contributions represented by these human groups, and is contrary to moral law and the spirit and aims of the United Nations." [67]

Shortly thereafter, the articles of a forthcoming Treaty Against Genocide were formulated and later adopted through a succession of resolutions, conventions and treaties to become settled international law. The international convention enumerated crimes against humanity and crimes of genocide in five categories; the last two categories -- in subsections (d) and (e) -- squarely confronted eugenic policies: sterilization and the kidnapping of eugenically qualified children to be raised as Aryans. Article II stated: "In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:

(a) Killing members of the group;

(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;

(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;

(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;

(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group." [68]

Article III assigned equal guilt to those who were responsible for "direct and public incitement" to commit the crimes described as genocide, and those who in other ways become complicit. Article IV declared that the law could punish anyone in any country, "whether they are constitutionally responsible rulers, public officials or private individuals." American prosecutors at the subsequent Nuremberg Trials took their cue from the treaty. [69]

In early July of 1947, the Allies indicted the leaders of the Reich's militarized eugenics umbrella organization, the SS Race and Settlement Office, which forcibly sterilized thousands, kidnapped Polish children with Nordic racial features, organized the Nordic breeding program known as Lebensborn, developed extensive genealogy files on millions and conducted eugenic examinations of prisoners before deciding if they should be saved or exterminated. For these activities, SS Race and Settlement Office leader General Otto Hofmann stood among those in the dock. [70]

The indictment clearly enumerated the various aspects of Nazi eugenics as genocide: "Kidnapping the children of foreign nationals in order to select for Germanization those who were considered of 'racial value.' ... Encouraging and compelling abortions on Eastern workers .... Preventing marriages and hampering reproduction of enemy nationals." [71]

A week after the indictment was served on the accused, the military occupation's semiofficial newspaper, Die Neue Zeitung, drove home the point to the German people, publishing extracts of the U.N. Treaty on Genocide. The newspaper announced: "On 10 June the Secretary's Office of the United Nations completed the first draft of an international convention for the punishment of government officials who attempted to exterminate racial, religious, national, or political groups .... Three distinct types of 'genocide' are listed." The paper then itemized actions that qualified as genocide, including "open mass murder" and housing people in conditions calculated to kill. Die Neue Zeitung explained that the other of the three most significant forms of genocide was "sterilization of large groups and forcible separation of families as 'biological genocide.'" The article itself was entered into the Nuremberg Trial record. [72]

During the long trial, which lasted almost a year, prosecutors outlined a lengthy bill of eugenic particulars, including the murder of those who did not pass eugenic tests. "The SS Race and Settlement Main Office (RuSHA) was responsible," prosecutors declared, "among other things, for racial examinations. These racial examinations were carried out by RuSHA leaders or their staff members, called racial examiners." Prosecutors charged that as part of the Reich's genocidal campaign, RuSHA was continually engaged in "classification of people of German descent." It added, "RuSHA, in carrying out racial investigations and examinations, took a leading part in the accomplishment of the [extermination] program. Since negative results of racial investigations and examinations led to the extermination or imprisonment in concentration camps of the individuals concerned, the Staff Main Office ... acted in close cooperation with the SS Reich Security Main Office [the chief SS agency overseeing physical extermination]. The Reich Security Main Office imposed capital punishment and imprisonment in concentration camps upon individuals designated by RuSHA." [73]

An entire portion of the prosecutors' case, "Section 4: Sterilization," presented documents and evidence concerning the mass sterilization of unfit individuals by Nazis throughout Europe during the Reich's twelve-year reign of terror. Leaving no doubt, prosecutors declared, "The fundamental purpose ... was to proclaim and safeguard the supposed superiority of 'Nordic' blood, and to exterminate and suppress all sources which might 'dilute' or 'taint' it. The underlying objective was to assure Nazi dominance over Germany and German domination over Europe in perpetuity." [74]

Eugenics was also pivotal to a gamut of other war crimes. Often before burning a town or murdering an entire community, Nazis identified and kidnapped the eugenically fit Nordic children so they could be raised in Aryan institutions. This was done, prosecutors stated, "in accordance with standards ... [of] Nazi racial and biological theories." What had occurred in Lidice, Czechoslovakia, was read into the record as an example. After Lidice was selected for obliteration, every adult man in the village was executed and most of the village's women were deported to Ravensbruck concentration camp. But the village's children were dispatched to Poland for a thorough "medical, eugenic, and racial examination carried out by the physicians of the health offices." Those deemed sufficiently Nordic were sent to live with Aryan families where they would undergo Germanization. Those deemed unfit were "deported." The prosecutor stated, "Here ends all traces of these 82 children of Lidice." [75]

"And so," prosecutors solemnly explained, "the final balance gives us these terrible facts: 192 men and 7 women shot; 196 women taken into concentration camps, of whom 43 died from torture and maltreatment; 105 children kidnapped .... The village was burned, buildings leveled, streets taken up and all other signs of habitation completely erased." To protest the utter eugenic extermination of Lidice, many small towns later adopted the name of the village. Hence the people are gone, but the memory of Lidice lives on. [76]

Count after count recited the fact that "racial value" following a eugenic analysis made all the difference between life and death, genocide and survival.77 Prosecutors sorted Germany's many eugenic atrocities into specific categories of war crimes. Point 15, entitled "Hampering Reproduction of Enemy Nationals," specified sterilization and marriage restriction: "To further weaken enemy nations, both restrictive and prohibitive measures were taken to discourage marriages and reproduction of enemy nationals. The ultimate aim and natural result of these measures was to impede procreation among nationals of Eastern countries." Point 18, entitled "Slave Labor," explained that through the racial examinations of RuSHA, "foreign nationals without any German ancestry were sent to Germany as slave labor," where they were worked to death. [78]

Point 21, "Persecution and Extermination of Jews," explained how genealogy offices were critical to Hitler's war against the Jews across Europe. "RuSHA also participated extensively in the persecution and extermination of Jews. The Genealogy Office (Ahnentafelamt) of RuSHA prepared and retained in its files the names of all Jewish families in the Reich and persons having any Jewish ancestry. This office also participated in preparing similar files in the Netherlands, Belgium, Norway, Denmark, Danzig, and France where it worked together with the SS Reich Security Main Office. These files were used for enforcing discriminatory measures against Jews and preparing transport lists of Jews to be taken from Germany and the occupied countries to the extermination camps in the East." [79]

On January 20, 1942, SS Race and Settlement Office leader Hofmann had attended the infamous Wannsee Conference, the planning session associated with the Final Solution. The Wannsee Protocol produced after the conference made the eugenic guidelines clear. Mixed Jews of the "first degree," that is, Jews with substantial German blood in their ancestry, could be exempted from "evacuation," the code word for extermination, but only if they were sterilized. The Wannsee Protocol recorded: "Hofmann is of the opinion that extensive use must be made of sterilization." The protocol also recorded that "[Persons of mixed blood] exempted from evacuation will be sterilized in order to obviate progeny and to settle the [mixed blood] problem for good. Sterilization is voluntary, but it is the condition for remaining in the Reich." [80]

Confronted by prosecutors at his trial with charges of eugenic extermination, Hofmann said little in his own defense, and openly admitted he was a Nazi eugenicist.

PROSECUTOR: When did you become chief of the Eugenics Office in RuSHA?

HOFMANN: At the beginning of 1939 I was appointed to this task ....

Q: What were your duties there?

A: The Eugenics Office was responsible for carrying out the betrothal and marriage order which Himmler had issued on 31 December 1931 to the SS.... The RuSHA leader had to look after the eugenics research offices of the SS, regiments, and, according to his qualifications and talents, he influenced cultural life within the areas of the main district. [81]

Hofmann could not understand why the United States thought his actions were crimes against humanity. He placed into evidence a special report on America produced by the Nazi Party's Race-Political Office years before on July 30, 1937. "The United States," asserted the report, "however, also provides an example for the racial legislation of the world in another respect. Although it is clearly established in the Declaration of Independence that everyone born in the United States is a citizen of the United States and so acquires all the rights which an American citizen can acquire, impassable lines are drawn between the individual races, especially in the Southern States. Thus in certain States Japanese are excluded from the ownership of land or real estate and they are prevented from cultivating arable land. Marriages between colored persons and whites are forbidden in no less than thirty of the Federal States. Marriages contracted in spite of this ban are declared invalid." Typical laws were recited from Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California and Florida. [82]

The special report added, "Since 1907, sterilization laws have been passed in twenty-nine States of the United States of America." [83]

Hofmann's document made one other point. It offered the following justification, originally translated from English into German and then back into English for the trial:

In a judgment of the [U.S.] Supreme Court ... it says, among other things:

"It is better for everybody if society, instead of waiting until it has to execute degenerate offspring or leave them to starve because of feeble-mindedness, can prevent obviously inferior individuals from propagating their kind." [84]

Hofmann was sentenced to twenty-five years imprisonment. [85]

For three -- perhaps four -- decades after the Treaty Against Genocide was adopted, the United States continued to sterilize targeted groups because of their eugenic or racial character, real or supposed; continued to prevent marriages because of their eugenic or racial character, real or supposed; and continued to hamper reproduction, interfere with procreation, and prevent births in targeted groups. After the Hitler regime, after the Nuremberg Trials, some twenty thousand Americans were eugenically sterilized by states and untold others by federal programs on Indian reservations and in U.S. territories such as Puerto Rico.

They said it was legal. They said it was science. What was it really?
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