Saturday, February 16, 2013

Where did it all start? Why was it so appealing?

While the Nazis were the first to implement it on such a widespread and radical scale, the "science" of eugenics did not originate with them. Rather, this concept was born from a selective reading of the evolutionary theories of Charles Darwin, and it was an international sensation. Most historians agree that eugenics was accepted by so many as a "science", not so much because of extensive evidence or research, but because of a boiling racial prejudice that plagued the major countries where it took root.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

So why was the US so jazzed about eugenics?

The following is a documentary entitled "War on the Weak: Eugenics in America". It goes well beyond the racial aspects of US eugenics, but does a very good job of explaining why it was so appealing to the US public, and thus so widely accepted though it would seem, today, obviously immoral.

Segment to watch: 0:00-1:50

Eugenics Tree of SCIENCE!

While in truth eugenics really had no solid scientific backing, it appealed to many Americans because it was essentially scientific rationalization of racist views and prejudice. The above is an example of eugenics propaganda designed to emphasize the scientific element of eugenics that made it so appealing.

Eugenics Cartoon

The US was once so deeply invested in the "science" of eugenics that several states passed laws barring marriages with those who were deemed eugenically unfit. The ultimate goal of these sort of laws was to create a system in which a Eugenic Certificate would be necessary before marriage.

Kaiser Wilhelm Institute of Anthropology, Human Heredity, and Eugenics

The above is a photograph of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute in the 1930s. After its founding in 1927, it quickly became the leading German institute in human genetics. But by 1942, it had become a tool in the hands of the state, serving as experts and consultants of Nazi racial policy. As this institute was so utilized by the Nazis, it may come as a surprise to hear that that the founding of the institute was actually funded by the Rockefeller foundation. When Nazi eugenics first developed, US eugenicists thought it was a pretty good idea.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

BBC video on the influence of US eugenics in Nazi ideology

This is an extract from a BBC documentary "The History of Racism". 

While the entire clip is relevant to the subject, the 5 minute portion of video that has been selected focuses on the influence of the US eugenics movement on the development of Nazi eugenics. 

Segment to watch: 3:20-8:20

Sterilization Questionnaire

While this questionnaire promotes sterilization of the mentally unfit and is not necessarily, in itself, racist, it is a great example of how these practices of US eugenics were promoted and sold to the people. This questionnaire shows how people in the US tried to rationalize practices that we would recognize today as extremely immoral. Eugenics in Germany triggered similar measures of sterilization, isolation, etc, then took the movement a step further: euthanasia.