“... Most of all, American raceologists were proud to have inspired the strictly eugenic state the Nazis were constructing. ... Stanford President David Starr Jordan originated the notion of 'race and blood' in his 1902 racial epistle 'Blood of a Nation,' in which the university scholar declared that human qualities and conditions such as talent and poverty were passed through the blood. ..."
Jerusalem Post, December 30, 2012
Introduction: If America’s response to the unfolding Holocaust is characterized as passive, its role in promoting the science behind Nazi racism, justification for the Holocaust, was active, even aggressive. American participation in the evolution of Germany’s rassenhygiene took place on many levels from biologists to physicians, from academicians to philanthropists. Two presidents supported the goal of a pure American race, and the US Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes in a majority decision wrote, “`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.''
Returning to Edwin Black’s observation,
As I allowed Black to introduce last weeks discussion so will I do in the present:
“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 away the senior partner. In eugenics, the United States led and Germany followed.
“This relationship continued during the Third Reich. During the 1920s, the politically neutral Rockefeller Foundation played a major role in establishing and sponsoring major eugenic institutions in Germany, and during the Hitler years it funded Nazi-controlled institutions both in Germany and Austria until 1939. The Carnegie Foundation continued to fund the [Long Island, New York-based] Eugenic Records Office until 1939, despite the office’s support for the Nazi persecution of the Jews. In 1935, Hitler thanked Leon Whitney of the American Eugenics Society for sending him a copy of “The Case for Sterilization,” a 1934 book that promoted the idea of using sterilization to protect the racial health of Anglo-Saxon America.”
We discussed the evolution of American eugenics last week. This week we turn to America’s role in what may be described as the use of Germany as a real-time laboratory for testing eugenics as applied social engineering on a nation-wide scale.
"We do not stand alone": Nazi poster from 1936 introducing compulsory sterilization legislation. First flag on the poster is that of the United States, Germany’s teacher and sponsor, and world leader of Eugenics. (Wikipedia)
American support for German “race science” began long before Hitler a debt Hitler would gratefully acknowledge:
Even the epithets applied by Hitler to the Jews, “bacteria,” vermin,” etc., were first introduced by American eugenicists decades earlier in referring to their own “unfit.”
It was the model of eugenics introduced into American law that provided Germany the rationale for state controlled social engineering geared to the creation of its own Aryan Master Race.
Eugenics provided the “scientific” veneer justifying future atrocities which, following Israel’s capture and trial of Adolf Eichmann, would come to be termed, “the Holocaust.”
America funds Rassenhygiene: We have already seen that the Carnegie Institute was supporting German eugenics as early as the 1920’s. But Carnegie was not alone.
One important project of the Institute involved distinguishing “racial variation” by blood groups. Another was twin studies:
Verschuer’s research assistant was a young doctor, Josef Mengele who, as camp physician at Auschwitz Mengele found himself in the perfect environment to pursue his
“twins experiments.” Every transport provided new specimens for his “researches.” Vershuer, under whose supervision Mengele conducted his “experiments,” wrote that his protégé was conducting, “Anthropological testing of the most diverse racial [populations]… being carried out with permission of the SS Reichsführer [Himmler].”
Propaganda for Nazi Germany's T-4 Euthanasia Program:
America teaches Germany eugenics: In 1928 Harry Laughlin, assistant director at the Carnegie-funded Cold Spring Harbor Laboratories, the main eugenics research center in the United States, delivered a speech in Munich followed by a paper the following year. In it he claimed that,
As early as 1928, five years before Hitler, American eugenics was enthusiastically providing the Reich America’s Aryan Master Race goal, and the means by which Germany too could achieve it.
Just how envious the Americans were of their German disciples and the emerging Nazi state is expressed by the executive secretary of the American Eugenics Society:
This was one year after Hitler was elected chancellor and began Germany’s rigorous application of American eugenics in pursuit of its own “blond hair, blue-eyed Master Race;” one year before the Reichstag passed the Nuremberg Laws removing citizenship from German Jewry; and ten years after the United States Congress overwhelmingly passed its antisemitic legislation slamming shut the doors of refuge to Europe’s Jews. Harry Laughlin, a leading light of America’s eugenics movement, “often bragged that his Model Eugenic Sterilization laws had been implemented in the1933 Nuremberg racial hygiene laws.
American support of Nazi eugenics did not end with Auschwitz (although most eugenicists hid their enthusiasm between 1941 and 1945). Nor did their loyalty and support for their Nazi disciples end with reports of the horrific crimes they committed. With American assistance accused Nazi war criminals not only escaped judgment at Nuremberg but were assisted to return to prominent teaching and research careers. Mengele’s boss, Otmar Freiherr von Verschuer, for one example,
Afterword: After the Holocaust American eugenics generally adopted new titles, cosmetic changes disguising their continuing racist agenda. The American Society of Human Genetics for example annually celebrates the success of the Human Genome Project, conducts an aggressive educational outreach to students K through twelve and beyond.
One present day non-profit organization, the Pioneer Fund, created in 1937, remains openly dedicated to the goal of American race betterment, aspires to an eventual American Aryan state.
Recent writings in this Series:
1. Foundations of Holocaust: Eugenics and America's Master Race
2. Foundations of Holocaust: American Insecurity/ American Zionism
3. Foundations of Holocaust: Zionism as Jewish response
4. Foundations of Holocaust: American antisemitism and the lynching of Leo Max Frank