From firstname.lastname@example.org Mon Sep 9 10:30:13 2002
Date: Sun, 8 Sep 2002 11:20:51 -0500 (CDT)
Subject: The American Origins of the Nazi Holocaust
A superb chapter on the history of the eugenics movement can be found in the current book, Mad in America, whose author, journalist Robert Whitaker, will be the keynote speaker at the NARPA annual conference in Portland this November.
To summarize Whitaker’s story, the Eugenics movement began with
a cousin of Darwin who professed that behavioral characteristics
followed the same Mendelian laws of heredity as red hair or freckles.
The philosophy caught fire in the U.S. with endorsements from the
industrial leaders of the day such as Carnegie, Rockefeller, Harriman,
Kellogg, and Eastman. It was also supported by the New York Times,
and Harvard President Charles Eliot. 22 states passed eugenic
sterilization laws, which were upheld by the Supreme Court in 1927,
with a majority opinion by Oliver Wendell Holmes stating that the laws
to prevent our country from being swamped with
incompetence. By 1945, 45,127 eugenic sterilizations had been
performed in the United States.
Only after the United States set the pace in eugenics did Germany enter the arena. In 1925 the Rockefeller Foundation gave $2.5 million to the Psychiatric Institute of Munich, Germany for the study of Eugenics (around the time that Prescott Bush (George’s grandfather) got involved in financing the german war industrial machine via his investment bank, Brown Brothers Harriman). Germany later performed 375,000 forced sterilizations between 1933-39.
According to Whitaker (Mad in America), the idea of killing
psychiatric inmates had origins in this country, even hinted at in the
New York Times as
merciful extinction. In 1916, Madison Grant,
a New York lawyer wrote a best seller that was translated in several
languages including German. In his book, The Passing of the Great
Race, Grant said,
The Laws of Nature require the obliteration of
the unfit. Hitler read the book and wrote Grant a letter.
Beginning in 1940 Germany started killing mental patients.... 70,000
in 18 months. The
final solution of the
utilizing psychiatric mass extermination technology, was simply a
logical extension of this psychiatric