Eugenics--a side effect of progressivism? analysis of the role of scientific and medical elites in the rise and fall of eugenics in pre-war Poland.
Vesalius : acta internationales historiae medicinae 2010 Jun; 16(1): 10-5
The eminent geneticist, Benno Muller-Hill, described eugenics as"explosive mixture between something we might call hard science, that is, human genetics, and the sphere of political action. On the one hand, geneticists needed politicians to implement their ideas. On the other hand, Hitler and the Nazis needed scientists who could say that anti-Semitism has scientific theoretical foundations." For some Polish eugenicists, the Third Reich was not the home of the Nuremberg Laws, but a country that "boldly embarked on racial hygiene." This enthusiastic attitude of Polish intellectual circles towards Nazi eugenic laws was characteristic of the status of pre-war science in Poland, which in many areas, such as anthropology and psychiatry, remained strongly influenced by the paradigm of German science. While the professional and scientific context of the day promoted eugenic and racist ideas within the framework of the academic milieu and the curriculum of the medical and scientific community, eugenicists in Poland tended to refrain from anti-Semitic and racist phraseology. Indeed, the Polish eugenic movement was class- rather than race-orientated. The hybrid language of eugenics, combining social sensitivity with repulsion and contempt for the sick and the weak, illustrated the ambiguous stance of the Polish eugenicists on politics and science in Nazi Germany, for the Third Reich provided the German eugenicists with what had always been an unfulfilled dream to the Polish eugenicists--political power and the ability to implement their ideas.
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