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<- By Edwin Black. An excerpt of the article below:
Mr. Black is the author of IBM and the Holocaust and the just released War Against the Weak: Eugenics and America’s Campaign to Create a Master Race, from which the following article is drawn.
Hitler and his henchmen victimized an entire continent and exterminated millions in his quest for a co-called "Master Race."
But the concept of a white, blond-haired, blue-eyed master Nordic race didn’t originate with Hitler. The idea was created in the United States, and cultivated in California, decades before Hitler came to power. California eugenicists played an important, although little known, role in the American eugenics movement’s campaign for ethnic cleansing.
Eugenics was the racist pseudoscience determined to wipe away all human beings deemed "unfit," preserving only those who conformed to a Nordic stereotype. Elements of the philosophy were enshrined as national policy by forced sterilization and segregation laws, as well as marriage restrictions, enacted in twenty-seven states. In 1909, California became the third state to adopt such laws. Ultimately, eugenics practitioners coercively sterilized some 60,000 Americans, barred the marriage of thousands, forcibly segregated thousands in "colonies," and persecuted untold numbers in ways we are just learning. Before World War II, nearly half of coercive sterilizations were done in California, and even after the war, the state accounted for a third of all such surgeries.
California was considered an epicenter of the American eugenics movement. During the Twentieth Century’s first decades, California’s eugenicists included potent but little known race scientists, such as Army venereal disease specialist Dr. Paul Popenoe, citrus magnate and Polytechnic benefactor Paul Gosney, Sacramento banker Charles M. Goethe, as well as members of the California State Board of Charities and Corrections and the University of California Board of Regents.
Eugenics would have been so much bizarre parlor talk had it not been for extensive financing by corporate philanthropies, specifically the Carnegie Institution, the Rockefeller Foundation and the Harriman railroad fortune. They were all in league with some of America’s most respected scientists hailing from such prestigious universities as Stamford, Yale, Harvard, and Princeton. These academicians espoused race theory and race science, and then faked and twisted data to serve eugenics’ racist aims.
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.
In 1904, the Carnegie Institution established a laboratory complex at Cold Spring Harbor on Long Island that stockpiled millions of index cards on ordinary Americans, as researchers carefully plotted the removal of families, bloodlines and whole peoples. From Cold Spring Harbor, eugenics advocates agitated in the legislatures of America, as well as the nation’s social service agencies and associations.
The Harriman railroad fortune paid local charities, such as the New York Bureau of Industries and Immigration, to seek out Jewish, Italian and other immigrants in New York and other crowded cities and subject them to deportation, trumped up confinement or forced sterilization.
The Rockefeller Foundation helped found the German eugenics program and even funded the program that Josef Mengele worked in before he went to Auschwitz.
Much of the spiritual guidance and political agitation for the American eugenics movement came from California’s quasi-autonomous eugenic societies, such as the Pasadena-based Human Betterment Foundation and the California branch of the American Eugenics Society, which coordinated much of their activity with the Eugenics Research Society in Long Island. These organizations–which functioned as part of a closely-knit network–published racist eugenic newsletters and pseudoscientific journals, such as Eugenical News and Eugenics, and propagandized for the Nazis.
Eugenics was born as a scientific curiosity in the Victorian age. In 1863, Sir Francis Galton, a cousin of Charles Darwin, theorized that if talented people only married other talented people, the result would be measurably better offspring. At the turn of the last century, Galton’s ideas were imported into the United States just as Gregor Mendel’s principles of heredity were rediscovered. American eugenic advocates believed with religious fervor that the same Mendelian concepts determining the color and size of peas, corn and cattle also governed the social and intellectual character of man.
In an America demographically reeling from immigration upheaval and torn by post-Reconstruction chaos, race conflict was everywhere in the early twentieth century. Elitists, utopians and so-called "progressives" fused their smoldering race fears and class bias with their desire to make a better world. They reinvented Galton’s eugenics into a repressive and racist ideology. The intent: populate the earth with vastly more of their own socio-economic and biological kind–and less or none of everyone else.
The superior species the eugenics movement sought was populated not merely by tall, strong, talented people. Eugenicists craved blond, blue-eyed Nordic types. This group alone, they believed, was fit to inherit the earth. In the process, the movement intended to subtract emancipated Negroes, immigrant Asian laborers, Indians, Hispanics, East Europeans, Jews, dark-haired hill folk, poor people, the infirm and really anyone classified outside the gentrified genetic lines drawn up by American raceologists.
How? By identifying so-called "defective" family trees and subjecting them to lifelong segregation and sterilization programs to kill their bloodlines. The grand plan was to literally wipe away the reproductive capability of those deemed weak and inferior–the so-called "unfit." The eugenicists hoped to neutralize the viability of 10 percent of the population at a sweep, until none were left except themselves.
Eighteen solutions were explored in a Carnegie-supported 1911 "Preliminary Report of the Committee of the Eugenic Section of the American Breeder’s Association to Study and to Report on the Best Practical Means for Cutting Off the Defective Germ-Plasm in the Human Population." Point eight was euthanasia.
The most commonly suggested method of eugenicide in America was a "lethal chamber" or public locally operated gas chambers. In 1918, Popenoe, the Army venereal disease specialist during World War I, co-wrote the widely used textbook, Applied Eugenics, which argued, "From an historical point of view, the first method which presents itself is execution… Its value in keeping up the standard of the race should not be underestimated." Applied Eugenics also 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."
Eugenic breeders believed American society was not ready to implement an organized lethal solution. But many mental institutions and doctors practiced improvised medical lethality and passive euthanasia on their own. One institution in Lincoln, Illinois fed its incoming patients milk from tubercular cows believing a eugenically strong individual would be immune. Thirty to forty percent annual death rates resulted at Lincoln. Some doctors practiced passive eugenicide one newborn infant at a time. Others doctors at mental institutions engaged in lethal neglect.
Nonetheless, with eugenicide marginalized, the main solution for eugenicists was the rapid expansion of forced segregation and sterilization, as well as more marriage restrictions. California led the nation, performing nearly all sterilization procedures with little or no due process. In its first twenty-five years of eugenic legislation, California sterilized 9,782 individuals, mostly women. Many were classified as "bad girls," diagnosed as "passionate," "oversexed" or "sexually wayward." At Sonoma, some women were sterilized because of what was deemed an abnormally large clitoris or labia.
In 1933 alone, at least 1,278 coercive sterilizations were performed, 700 of which were on women. The state’s two leading sterilization mills in 1933 were Sonoma State Home with 388 operations and Patton State Hospital with 363 operations. Other sterilization centers included Agnews, Mendocino, Napa, Norwalk, Stockton and Pacific Colony state hospitals.
Even the United States Supreme Court endorsed aspects of eugenics. In its infamous 1927 decision, Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes 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…. Three generations of imbeciles are enough." This decision opened the floodgates for thousands to be coercively sterilized or otherwise persecuted as subhuman. Years later, the Nazis at the Nuremberg trials quoted Holmes’s words in their own defense.
Only after eugenics became entrenched in the United States was the campaign transplanted into Germany, in no small measure through the efforts of California eugenicists, who published booklets idealizing sterilization and circulated them to German official and scientists.
Hitler studied American eugenics laws. He tried to legitimize his anti-Semitism by medicalizing it, and wrapping it in the more palatable pseudoscientific facade of eugenics. Hitler was able to recruit more followers among reasonable Germans by claiming that science was on his side. While Hitler’s race hatred sprung from his own mind, the intellectual outlines of the eugenics Hitler adopted in 1924 were made in America.
During the ’20s, Carnegie Institution eugenic scientists cultivated deep personal and professional relationships with Germany’s fascist eugenicists. In Mein Kampf, published in 1924, Hitler quoted American eugenic ideology and openly displayed a thorough knowledge of American eugenics. "There is today one state," wrote Hitler, "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."
Hitler proudly told his comrades just how closely he followed the progress of the American eugenics movement. "I have studied with great interest," he told a fellow Nazi, "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."
Hitler even wrote a fan letter to American eugenic leader Madison Grant calling his race-based eugenics book, The Passing of the Great Race his "bible."
Hitler’s struggle for a superior race would be a mad crusade for a Master Race. Now, the American term "Nordic" was freely exchanged with "Germanic" or "Aryan." Race science, racial purity and racial dominance became the driving force behind Hitler’s Nazism. Nazi eugenics would ultimately dictate who would be persecuted in a Reich-dominated Europe, 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, and even hand-select the victims for sterilization, euthanasia and mass extermination."
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Original Artwork Showing Feathers, from Article in Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh v.59, n.d. ‘Studies in Plumage in the Male Brown Leghorn Fowl’, pl.IV (p.178)
Image by CRC, University of Edinburgh
This image depicts original artwork proofs for J. P. Chu’s c.1938 publication in the Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. At this time he was studying at the Institute of Animal Genetics and his research focused on changes in the pigmentation of plumage in related to endocrine function. He attended the University on a two year scholarship in physiology.
J.P. Chu (Renbao Zhu) was born 8 February 1909 in Zhejiang Jinhua Ling Xia Zhu, China. During his youth Chu experienced poverty and a turbulent political atmosphere caused by Japanese invasions. Chu left home at a young age to study in Jinhua, and after graduation was admitted to the Department of psychology at Zhejiang University. In 1931 he moved to Nanjing Centre College and graduated from university in 1962. From 1932 to 1936 he worked as an assistant to the biology department at Zhejaing University.
From 1936-1938 Chu attended the University of Edinburgh to study physiology at the Institute of Animal Genetics. In 1938 Chu moved to Hampstead, London, to study at the National Institute of Medical Research with Dr. A. S. Parkes. He was awarded a PhD in from the University of Edinburgh, and returned to China in 1940 to take the post of Professor of Animal Husbandry at Nanking University. During his time in the UK Chu focused his studies on glandular functions in Leghorn Fowl and after returning to China went on to research in various areas including anti-radiation, shock prevention, grafting, and stem cells. He held a fellowship at the Military Medical Science Academy, and was later to become the Director of the Institute of Radiation Medicine at the same institute. Chu published over 100 articles and died 24 October 1987.
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© The University of Edinburgh Library
Image from page 11 of “The chronicles of America series” (1918)
Image by Internet Archive Book Images
Title: The chronicles of America series
Year: 1918 (1910s)
Authors: Lomer, Gerhard Richard, 1882- Jefferys, Charles W. (Charles William), 1869-1951 Huntington, Ellsworth, 1876-1947. Red man’s continent Richman, Irving Berdine, 1861-1938. Spanish conquerors Wood, William Charles Henry, 1864-1947. Elizabethan sea-dogs Munro, William Bennett, 1875-1957. Crusaders of New France Johnston, Mary, 1870-1936. Pioneers of the old South Andrews, Charles McLean, 1863-1943. Fathers of New England Goodwin, Maud Wilder, 1856-1935. Dutch and English on the Hudson Fisher, Sydney George, 1856-1927. Quaker colonies Andrews, Charles McLean, 1863-1943. Colonial folkways Wrong, George McKinnon, 1860-1948. Conquest of New France Becker, Carl Lotus, 1873-1945. Eve of the revolution Wrong, George McKinnon, 1860-1948. Washington and his comrades in arms Farrand, Max, 1869-1945. Fathers of the Constitution Ford, Henry Jones, 1851-1925. Washington and his colleagues Johnson, Allen, 1870-1931. Jefferson and his colleagues Corwin, Edward Samuel, 1878-1963. John Marshall and the Constitution Paine, Ralph Delahaye, 1871-1925. Fight for a free sea Skinner, Constance Lindsay, 1882-1939. Pioneers of the old southwest Ogg, Frederic Austin, 1878-1951. Old Northwest Ogg, Frederic Austin, 1878-1951. Reign of Andrew Jackson Hulbert, Archer Butler, 1873-1933. Paths of inland commerce Skinner, Constance Lindsay, 1882-1939. Adventures of Oregon Bolton, Herbert Eugene, 1870-1953. Spanish borderlands Stephenson, Nathaniel W. (Nathaniel Wright), 1867-1935. Texas and the Mexican war White, Stewart Edward, 1873-1946. Forty-niners Hough, Emerson, 1857-1923. Passing of the frontier Dodd, William Edward, 1869-1940. Cotton kingdom Macy, Jesse, 1842-1919. Anti-slavery crusade Stephenson, Nathaniel W. (Nathaniel Wright), 1867-1935. Abraham Lincoln and the Union Stephenson, Nathaniel W. (Nathaniel Wright), 1867-1935. Day of the Confederacy Wood, William Charles Henry, 1864-1947. Captains of the Civil War Fleming, Walter L. (Walter Lynwood), 1874-1932. Sequel of Appomattox Slosson, Edward Emery, 1865-1929. American spirit in education Perry, Bliss, 1860-1954. American spirit in literature Orth, Samuel Peter, 1873-1922. Our foreigners Paine, Ralph Delahaye, 1871-1925. Old merchant marine Thompson, Holland, 1873-1940. Age of invention Moody, John. Railroad builders Hendrick, Burton Jesse, 1870-1949. Age of big business Orth, Samuel Peter, 1873-1922. Armies of labor Moody, John. Masters of capital Thompson, Holland, 1873-1940. New South Orth, Samuel Peter, 1873-1922. Boss and the machine Ford, Henry Jones, 1851-1925. Cleveland era Buck, Solon J. (Solon Justus), 1884-1962. Agrarian crusade Fish, Carl Russell, 1876-1932. Path of empire Howland, Harold. Theodore Roosevelt and his times Seymour, Charles, 1885-1963. Woodrow Wilson and the World War Skelton, Oscar D. Canadian dominion Shepherd, William R. (William Robert), 1871-1934. Hispanic nations of the New World
Publisher: New Haven : Yale University Press
Contributing Library: Harold B. Lee Library
Digitizing Sponsor: Brigham Young University
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