Best History Paper Award
By: Samantha Marmet
Unlike other genocides of the twentieth century, leaders and politicians of the Third Reich aimed to scientifically justify genocide using human genetic sciences.
Zygmunt Bauman was one of the first scholars to argue that the Holocaust was a “genocide with a purpose,” calling modern genocide an element of social engineering meant to bring about social order. Unlike other genocides of the twentieth century, leaders and politicians of the Third Reich aimed to scientifically justify genocide using human genetic sciences. A Nazi perversion of the Darwinian understanding of humanity shaped Nazi racial ideology, particularly the tenets of Aryan supremacy, anti-Semitism, and anti-miscegenation. Human evolution and genetic concepts were integral parts of Nazi racial policies, which promoted eugenics as the best way to save and propagate the Aryan race. The Nazi regime’s emphasis on biology and heredity, as well as Hitler’s dictatorship, silenced critics as Nazi eugenics permeated German society and institutions. German human geneticists helped systematically legitimize their scientific investigations through Nazi racial rhetoric, resulting in the genocide of six million Jews and five million other “undesirables” in the Holocaust. This deadly symbiosis radicalized the science of human heredity as well as Nazi racial policy, and its effects still cast a shadow on humanity’s collective memory. This paper investigates the ways human geneticists and German politics served to reinforce each other in a Faustian bargain: a willingness to sacrifice anything to satisfy a limitless desire for power.comments powered by Disqus