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Boston Studies in the Philosophy and History of Science

The Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Anthropology, Human Heredity and Eugenics, 1927-1945

Crossing Boundaries

Authors: Schmuhl, Hans-Walter

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  • The first book to examine German biomedical science and its social applications in the country’s most renowned institute for the human sciences in the inter-War years
  • Confronts the daunting question of how the life sciences under National Socialism could terminate in bestial medical crimes on "valueless" human beings
  • This case study offers a sophisticated analysis of the complex interface of science, politics and ethics – one that transcends the scope of this particular work
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Hardcover $219.99
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Softcover $219.99
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About this book

When the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Anthropology, Human Heredity and Eugenics opened its doors in 1927, it could rely on wide political approval, ranging from the Social Democrats over the Catholic Centre to the far rightwing of the party spectrum. In 1933 the institute and its founding director Eugen Fischer came under pressure to adjust, which they were able to ward off through Selbstgleichschaltung (auto-coordination). The Third Reich brought about a mutual beneficial servicing of science and politics. With their research into hereditary health and racial policies the institute’s employees provided the Brownshirt rulers with legitimating grounds. At international meetings they used their scientific standing and authority to defend the abundance of forced sterilizations performed in Nazi Germany. Their expertise was instrumental in registering and selecting/eliminating Jews, Sinti and Roma, "Rhineland bastards", Erbkranke and Fremdvölkische. In return, hereditary health and racial policies proved to be beneficial for the institute, which beginning in 1942, directed by Otmar Freiherr von Verschuer, performed a conceptual change from the traditional study of races and eugenics into apparently modern phenogenetics – not least owing to the entgrenzte (unrestricted) accessibility of people in concentration camps or POW camps, in the ghetto, in homes and asylums. In 1943/44 Josef Mengele, a student of Verschuer, supplied Dahlem with human blood samples and eye pairs from Auschwitz, while vice versa seizing issues and methods of the institute in his criminal researches.

The volume at hand traces the history of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Anthropology, Human Heredity and Eugenics between democracy and dictatorship. Special attention is turned to the transformation of the research program, the institute’s integration into the national and international science panorama, and its relationship to the ruling power as well as its interconnection to the political crimes of Nazi Germany.

Reviews

From the reviews:

“Schmuhl demonstrates how carefully and completely Fischer’s institute came to be integrated into the Nazi racial hygiene policies … . Schmuhl and other historians have scrutinized carefully the basic research carried out at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Anthropology. … this was both high-quality work by the standards of the day, and well-integrated into the racial hygiene policies of the regime. … make significant contributions to a more subtle and deeper understanding of how science and Nazism interacted.”­­­ (Mark Walker, Metascience, Vol. 19, 2010)

Table of contents (6 chapters)

Table of contents (6 chapters)
  • Introduction

    Pages 1-6

  • A “Purely Theoretical Institute for the Study of the Nature of Man”: The Founding of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Anthropology, Human Heredity, and Eugenics, 1920–1927

    Pages 7-39

  • “The Human of the Future Under the Scrutiny of Research”: The Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Anthropology, Human Heredity and Eugenics in the Weimar Republic, 1927–1933

    Pages 41-116

  • The “Faustian Bargain”: The Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Anthropology, Human Heredity and Eugenics in the National Socialist Era, 1933–1938/1942

    Pages 117-240

  • In the Realm of Opportunity: The Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Anthropology, Human Heredity and Eugenics during World War II, 1938/42–1945

    Pages 241-407

Buy this book

eBook $169.00
price for USA in USD (gross)
  • ISBN 978-1-4020-6600-9
  • Digitally watermarked, DRM-free
  • Included format: PDF
  • ebooks can be used on all reading devices
  • Immediate eBook download after purchase
Hardcover $219.99
price for USA in USD
  • ISBN 978-1-4020-6599-6
  • Free shipping for individuals worldwide
  • Usually dispatched within 3 to 5 business days.
Softcover $219.99
price for USA in USD
  • ISBN 978-90-481-7678-6
  • Free shipping for individuals worldwide
  • Usually dispatched within 3 to 5 business days.
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Bibliographic Information

Bibliographic Information
Book Title
The Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Anthropology, Human Heredity and Eugenics, 1927-1945
Book Subtitle
Crossing Boundaries
Authors
Series Title
Boston Studies in the Philosophy and History of Science
Series Volume
259
Copyright
2008
Publisher
Springer Netherlands
Copyright Holder
Springer Science+Business Media B.V.
eBook ISBN
978-1-4020-6600-9
DOI
10.1007/978-1-4020-6600-9
Hardcover ISBN
978-1-4020-6599-6
Softcover ISBN
978-90-481-7678-6
Series ISSN
0068-0346
Edition Number
1
Number of Pages
XIV, 468
Topics