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The Nazi Connection: Eugenics, American Racism, and German National Socialism

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When Hitler published Mein Kampf in 1924, he held up a foreign law as a model for his program of racial purification: The U.S. Immigration Restriction Act of 1924, which prohibited the immigration of those with hereditary illnesses and entire ethnic groups. When the Nazis took power in 1933, they installed a program of eugenics--the attempted "improvement" of the populatio When Hitler published Mein Kampf in 1924, he held up a foreign law as a model for his program of racial purification: The U.S. Immigration Restriction Act of 1924, which prohibited the immigration of those with hereditary illnesses and entire ethnic groups. When the Nazis took power in 1933, they installed a program of eugenics--the attempted "improvement" of the population through forced sterilization and marriage controls--that consciously drew on the U.S. example. By then, many American states had long had compulsory sterilization laws for "defectives," upheld by the Supreme Court in 1927. Small wonder that the Nazi laws led one eugenics activist in Virginia to complain, "The Germans are beating us at our own game." In The Nazi Connection, Stefan Kuhl uncovers the ties between the American eugenics movement and the Nazi program of racial hygiene, showing that many American scientists actively supported Hitler's policies. After introducing us to the recently resurgent problem of scientific racism, Kuhl carefully recounts the history of the eugenics movement, both in the United States and internationally, demonstrating how widely the idea of sterilization as a genetic control had become accepted by the early twentieth century. From the first, the American eugenicists led the way with radical ideas. Their influence led to sterilization laws in dozens of states--laws which were studied, and praised, by the German racial hygienists. With the rise of Hitler, the Germans enacted compulsory sterilization laws partly based on the U.S. experience, and American eugenists took pride in their influence on Nazi policies. Kuhl recreates astonishing scenes of American eugenicists travelling to Germany to study the new laws, publishing scholarly articles lionizing the Nazi eugenics program, and proudly comparing personal notes from Hitler thanking them for their books. Even after the outbreak of war, he writes, the American eugenicists frowned upon Hitler's totalitarian government, but not his sterilization laws. So deep was the failure to recognize the connection between eugenics and Hitler's genocidal policies, that a prominent liberal Jewish eugenicist who had been forced to flee Germany found it fit to grumble that the Nazis "took over our entire plan of eugenic measures." By 1945, when the murderous nature of the Nazi government was made perfectly clear, the American eugenicists sought to downplay the close connections between themselves and the German program. Some of them, in fact, had sought to distance themselves from Hitler even before the war. But Stefan Kuhl's deeply documented book provides a devastating indictment of the influence--and aid--provided by American scientists for the most comprehensive attempt to enforce racial purity in world history.


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When Hitler published Mein Kampf in 1924, he held up a foreign law as a model for his program of racial purification: The U.S. Immigration Restriction Act of 1924, which prohibited the immigration of those with hereditary illnesses and entire ethnic groups. When the Nazis took power in 1933, they installed a program of eugenics--the attempted "improvement" of the populatio When Hitler published Mein Kampf in 1924, he held up a foreign law as a model for his program of racial purification: The U.S. Immigration Restriction Act of 1924, which prohibited the immigration of those with hereditary illnesses and entire ethnic groups. When the Nazis took power in 1933, they installed a program of eugenics--the attempted "improvement" of the population through forced sterilization and marriage controls--that consciously drew on the U.S. example. By then, many American states had long had compulsory sterilization laws for "defectives," upheld by the Supreme Court in 1927. Small wonder that the Nazi laws led one eugenics activist in Virginia to complain, "The Germans are beating us at our own game." In The Nazi Connection, Stefan Kuhl uncovers the ties between the American eugenics movement and the Nazi program of racial hygiene, showing that many American scientists actively supported Hitler's policies. After introducing us to the recently resurgent problem of scientific racism, Kuhl carefully recounts the history of the eugenics movement, both in the United States and internationally, demonstrating how widely the idea of sterilization as a genetic control had become accepted by the early twentieth century. From the first, the American eugenicists led the way with radical ideas. Their influence led to sterilization laws in dozens of states--laws which were studied, and praised, by the German racial hygienists. With the rise of Hitler, the Germans enacted compulsory sterilization laws partly based on the U.S. experience, and American eugenists took pride in their influence on Nazi policies. Kuhl recreates astonishing scenes of American eugenicists travelling to Germany to study the new laws, publishing scholarly articles lionizing the Nazi eugenics program, and proudly comparing personal notes from Hitler thanking them for their books. Even after the outbreak of war, he writes, the American eugenicists frowned upon Hitler's totalitarian government, but not his sterilization laws. So deep was the failure to recognize the connection between eugenics and Hitler's genocidal policies, that a prominent liberal Jewish eugenicist who had been forced to flee Germany found it fit to grumble that the Nazis "took over our entire plan of eugenic measures." By 1945, when the murderous nature of the Nazi government was made perfectly clear, the American eugenicists sought to downplay the close connections between themselves and the German program. Some of them, in fact, had sought to distance themselves from Hitler even before the war. But Stefan Kuhl's deeply documented book provides a devastating indictment of the influence--and aid--provided by American scientists for the most comprehensive attempt to enforce racial purity in world history.

30 review for The Nazi Connection: Eugenics, American Racism, and German National Socialism

  1. 5 out of 5

    Alex

    Just a few days ago at work, I overheard a colleague talk about how Hitler manipulated an entire nation. It is a pet-thesis of mine that this was not the case, that people knew, or could have known, precisely what they were getting themselves into. Of course, Hitler lied. He lied about helping big business, he lied about helping the worker, and he lied about respecting the Reichskonkordat, which he broke ten days after it was signed. However, all that is to be expected. Politicians lie, especial Just a few days ago at work, I overheard a colleague talk about how Hitler manipulated an entire nation. It is a pet-thesis of mine that this was not the case, that people knew, or could have known, precisely what they were getting themselves into. Of course, Hitler lied. He lied about helping big business, he lied about helping the worker, and he lied about respecting the Reichskonkordat, which he broke ten days after it was signed. However, all that is to be expected. Politicians lie, especially popular ones. Obama didn't close Guantanom, Trump did not imprison Hillary, and Hitler, despite his explicit promises, sold out to the Soviets. Nothing to see here. His lies may have been particularly egregious, but that's only a question of degree. Yet, everyone knew that Hitler was militaristic. The SA was outwardly modeled after the military, and in Mein Kampf, Hitler constantly praised the military. Do you expect such a man to keep the peace? Likewise, everyone knew Hitler wanted the Jews gone, even if they didn't know about the Holocaust per se. Everyone knew he saw Jews as subhumans and destroyers of civilization, because he talked openly about that. Is it any surprise he mistreated them? The Nazi Connection deals with another topic that Hitler, and the Nazis as a whole, were shockingly honest about: Eugenics. Stylistically, this book is weak, and you won't find a great depth of thought in it. Apparently, Kühl rushed the book out, and it shows, except in his meticulous research, all of which is sourced. If you're working on your own book about the Nazis, or you want to get an overview of the facts before you come to your own conclusions, this is the book for you. Kühl narrates how relations between the Nazis and eugenicists around the globe were, and comes to the conclusion that they were quite cordial. England, the US and Nazi Germany were the triumvirate of eugenics, with the US being more radical than England, and Nazi Germany eventually becoming more radical than the US, but all three were in it and approved of each others policies. Some eugenicists went as far as to praise the low rate of death resulting from compulsory sterilization of women in Nazi Germany: 0,4 percent, a few thousand women in total. Eugenics was the state of the art at its time, it was not widely disparaged, beloved figures like Teddy Roosevelt and Winston Churchill spoke in support of it, and when the Church urged people to please not kill mental retards, it gathered angry remarks for holding back human progress. Sounds familiar? It should. As this book is quite tedious for its length and not at all a fun read, I would only recommend it for historians of the period, but to them without qualifications, concerning the particular topic it deals with.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    The definitive book to read to understand the connections between German, American, and British eugenicists and how eugenics thrives today. He moves from the progression and incubation of "scientific racism" in the states on to the trans-Atlantic ties that innovated Nazi racial hygienists. They justified their atrocities by citing American sterilization laws at the Nuremberg Doctors Trials, and American prosecutors were sympathetic to this. The concluding chapters prove how their American counte The definitive book to read to understand the connections between German, American, and British eugenicists and how eugenics thrives today. He moves from the progression and incubation of "scientific racism" in the states on to the trans-Atlantic ties that innovated Nazi racial hygienists. They justified their atrocities by citing American sterilization laws at the Nuremberg Doctors Trials, and American prosecutors were sympathetic to this. The concluding chapters prove how their American counterparts rehabilitated them swiftly after WWII while they lied about being associated with the worst crimes of Nazi Germany, a very common trope. Kühl's research dismantles the mythology of the "few scientists who got out of control" by carefully analyzing those he classified as "mainline", "reform", and "socialist" eugenicists. American eugenicists' desires to create a purified national body were only "sullied" by the logical conclusion of what the practices and ideology meant -- mass killings and eventually the Holocaust. Do not expect to receive political analysis readymade for you from this book. Its strongest point is that it is important reference material put in one book that is too often diffuse. Kühl presents extensive documentation, and I look forward to connecting the criminals he names with the existing organizations that purport to be kinder, friendlier eugenicists in the 21st century for my own research.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Yellow-craion

    krótkie (ostatnie 20 stron to bibliografia itp) i tresciwe, znalezione w bibliografii 'Systemic racism' i dlatego przeczytane, wypożyczone z BUŁy, o polit imigracyjnej mniej, raczej o relacjach eugeników USA (i innych) z nazistowskimi przed w trakcie i po wojnie, i nawet jest o hipokryzji odrobinka że usańczycy zarzucają niemcom rasizm i straszne rzeczy a sami mają też obok RPA i III rzesza apartheid plus lincze i nie dopuszczanie czarnych do uniwersytetów (str 98) a czepiają się że naziści wpro krótkie (ostatnie 20 stron to bibliografia itp) i tresciwe, znalezione w bibliografii 'Systemic racism' i dlatego przeczytane, wypożyczone z BUŁy, o polit imigracyjnej mniej, raczej o relacjach eugeników USA (i innych) z nazistowskimi przed w trakcie i po wojnie, i nawet jest o hipokryzji odrobinka że usańczycy zarzucają niemcom rasizm i straszne rzeczy a sami mają też obok RPA i III rzesza apartheid plus lincze i nie dopuszczanie czarnych do uniwersytetów (str 98) a czepiają się że naziści wprowadzają ustawy norymberskie i sterylizują ludzi opisane glownie relacje - typu wycieczki do niemieckich uczelni czy sądow, korespondencja z hitlerem, jakioes artykuly pisane i wykorztystywane pozniej przez propagande, kampanie spoleczne - miedzy usanskimi (i innymi tez troche) a niemieckimi eugenikami, przed w trakcie i po wojnie. ze wcale kontakty nie oslably jak nazisci doszli do wladzy i zaczeli robic przymusowa sterylizacje, wrecz byly kregi wsrod naukowcow w usa ktorzy chwalili czy podziwiali jakie genialne to prawo hitler wprowadzil bo przeciez to tylko ulepszy jakosc populacji i jedyne o co sie martwili to ze bedzie prawo naduzywane ale przy tylu wycieczkach i takim cieplym przyjeciu (bo wiadomo ze zewnetrzni goscie dodaja wiarygodnosci) bylo oczywiste ze nie ma w III rzeszy mowy o naduzyciach nawet jak zaczela sie wojna to jeszcze jakies wycieczki byly dopiero jak usa wlaczyla sie do wojny oficjalnie to juz sie naukowcy zaczeli wycofywac i ewentyualnie tracic na wiarygodnosci czy poparciu jesli wczesniej popierali nazistow, a po wojnie oczywiscie ani slowem o tym sie nie wspominalo, byle tylko zatrzec, bo "gdzie tam, jakie poparcie i jakie bliskie relacje? nie, tego nie bylo!" i pod koniec mi sie spodobalo, bo w sumie liczylam ze to zostanie poruszone i nazisci faktycznie jak spadlo im usanskie poparcie tez o tym zaczeli pisac w prasie itp - ze no jak to? usanczycy krytykuja sterylizacje i segregacje w rzeszy a sami maja w 30 stanach legalna sterylizacje, segregacja rasowa kwitnie, do tego masowe lincze i czarni nie maja co myslec o dostepie do uczelni wyzszych jeszcze byla wzmianka ze poza rzesza i usa to w rpa tez byla segregacja przeciez i ze ustawy o sterylizacji (ale to juz chyba dobrowolne?) byly w skandynawii tez wprowadzane. tylko pytanie czy to bylo bo rzesza tak robi i im tak to cudownie wychodzi, czy moze to byla reakcja na ten wielki kryzys co byl i proba ciecia wydatkow (aka mniej ludzi do utrzymania itp)chociaz pewnie polaczenie obu i jeszcze inne czyniki

  4. 4 out of 5

    Kevin

    Puts the US squarely in the middle of Hitler's experiments. Tracks how the programs were funded and who wanted them done. A good collection of scientific thought around the idea of forced natural selection. No one was innocent.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Chad Lamb

    Interesting look at how American eugenics movement affected Nazi Germany. A little too dull and not my most interesting topic.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Amal Nasser

  7. 5 out of 5

    Raquel

  8. 4 out of 5

    Tammy

  9. 4 out of 5

    Erin

  10. 4 out of 5

    Huckleberry

  11. 5 out of 5

    anton

  12. 5 out of 5

    Justin Hawkins

  13. 4 out of 5

    M Flare13

  14. 4 out of 5

    Hamdi Gzara

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jaclyn

  16. 4 out of 5

    Finbarr

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jerrad Benedict

  18. 4 out of 5

    Christine Louis Dit Sully

  19. 4 out of 5

    Cory

  20. 4 out of 5

    Corey Graziade

  21. 4 out of 5

    Sara Bytheway

  22. 5 out of 5

    Michael Wehmeyer

  23. 4 out of 5

    Natalie

  24. 5 out of 5

    Dennis Blewitt

  25. 5 out of 5

    Carl

  26. 4 out of 5

    David

  27. 4 out of 5

    Holly

  28. 5 out of 5

    Marlene

  29. 4 out of 5

    Robert Holm

  30. 4 out of 5

    Alex Smith

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