The Lebensborn Project

The topic of eugenics cannot be discussed without encountering the Holocaust, but this is as it should be. When contemporary geneticists, genetics counselors and clinical geneticists wonder why it is that genetics receives special attention from those concerned with ethics, the answer is simple and can be found in history.
The events which led to the sterilization, torture and murder of millions of Jews, Gypsies, Slavs and children of mixed racial heritage in the years just before and during the era of the Third Reich in Germany were rooted firmly in the science of genetics (Muller-Hill, 1988). Rooted not in fringe, lunatic science but in the mainstream of reputable genetics in what was indisputably the most advanced scientific and technological society of its day. The pursuit of genetic purity in the name of public health led directly to Dachau, Treblinka, Ravensbruck and Auschwitz.
As early as 1931 influential geneticists such as Fritz Lenz were referring to National Socialism as “applied biology” in their textbooks (Caplan, 1992). As difficult as it is for many contemporary scientists to accept (Caplan, 1992; Kater, 1992), mainstream science provided a good deal of enthusiastic scientific support for the virulent racism that fueled the killing machine of the Third Reich.
When the Nazis came to power they were obsessed with securing the racial purity of the German people. The medical and biomedical communities in Germany not only endorsed this concern with “negative eugenics,” they had fostered it.Racial hygiene swept through German biology, public health, medicine and anthropology in the 1920s and 1930s, long before the Nazis came to power (Weiss, 1987, Muller-Hill, 1988; Proctor, 1988; Kater, 1992). Many in the medical profession urged the Nazi leadership to undertake social policies that might lead to enhancing or increasing the genetic fitness of the German people (Kater, 1992).
Eugenics consumed the German m…

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