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

Stefan Kuhl , Stefan K?hl
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

1 Feb 2002
shows how the Nazis drew upon American eugenic thought, scientific research, and widespread sterilization laws to install their program of eugenics after 1933.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 188 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; New Ed edition (1 Feb 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195149785
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195149784
  • Product Dimensions: 1.5 x 15 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 75,975 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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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 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 Kühl 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, Kühl 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. Kühl 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 Kühl'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.

A narrow but important study of the institutional, ideological and personal connections between the eugenic programmes of the two nations, (Journal of American Studies)

About the Author

is the most detailed book available on this disturbing chapter in American-German relations.

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The late 1980s witnessed a revival of public interest in scientific racism on North American campuses. Read the first page
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The American role in Nazi eugenics. 26 Sep 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a short book with a specific focus on the inter-relationship between eugenicism in the USA and Germany, especially Nazi Germany.

Kuhl traces the origins of the relationship to conferences in the early twentieth century and from this beginning, German eugenicists admired the achievements of their American counterparts with both subscribing to the notions that the handicapped should be sterilised and that eugenics could be used to improve the so-called 'White race'. Thus, when the Nazis came to power, their policies in these fields represented a continuation as opposed to a break with previous practice. Only later in the 1930's did some American eugenicists break with the Nazis over their antisemitism. The Nazis pointed out, quite correctly as it happened, that this was hypocrisy given the treatment of blacks in the USA. Afterall, US racists had complained that now the Germans were "beating them at their own game".

Kuhl also shows that eugenicism, and German eugenicists, were aided in their rehabilitation after WWII by American colleagues.

In many ways this book is too narrowly focused and could be a lot broader. Sometimes just a snippet of information is given, such as Hitler's admiration for US immigration laws without a clear explanation of the the content and purpose of such a law, and the reader is left pondering exactly what exactly Hitler found attractive. Also, Lothrop Stoddard is mentioned several times but the fact that the Nazi concept of the 'untermensch' owes much to Stoddard is never raised by Kuhl.

Still, the book is very valuable as it adds to evidence that Nazi Germany was not aberrant to Western civilisation but a clear part of it.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent 16 Sep 2010
Great piece of much needed research which links the [still present] USA's white supremisists' attitude to race with the NAZI party in 1930 Germany. The chapter which illustrated that the defence of the NAZI criminals at Nuremburg relied on the racist policies of the USA to illustrate that they were no different from some American states in their institutional racism.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Most Quoted Book on Eugenics 3 July 2013
By A.E. Samaan - Published on
Stefan Kuhl's book has to be the most quoted book on eugenics. It seems like every paper or book I read on the subject cites this book. It is for good reason: Stefan Kuhl pointed to the connections between American eugenics and the scientists running the infamous eugenic policies created by Hitler's Nuremberg Decrees.

First of all, it is important to remember that German science was rescued from the post-WWI catastrophe by American philanthropists, but most importantly, its eugenics movement was kept afloat by prominent American and British scientists while the rest of Germany sank into the depths of The Depression.

Most historians prior to Stefan Kuhl either missed the connection, or intentionally omitted it from their telling of history. Unfortunately, there are undeniable connections between Hitler's eugenic laws and American research institutions, as well as the legislatures and supreme courts of over 30 States and the United States Supreme Court. The founding members of various birth control institutions, as well as many leading universities and philanthropies, have an ugly history many would like to simply forget. I would go as far as to state that you simply cannot gain a workable understanding of the eugenics movement if you do not understand the contents of this book.
21 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Book 27 Feb 2005
By Kyle Purdy - Published on
This is a valuable book that explores the role of American intellectual and psuedo-scientific policies and how the played an important role in the maturation of Nazi Germany. A must read.
0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Revisionist 24 Feb 2014
By Andrew M. Fribley - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Very disappointing. The history of eugenics in the United States and Europe is very well documented and not the least bit unclear. As Eugenics (or rather the employment thereof) was at one point considered a subject of an academic nature, there is a comprehensive literature that leaves us only to consider how sinister or helpful the architects' intent. Kuhl does a terrible job trying to describe how race scientists outside of Germany were "really" the ones responsible for the holocaust. " wasn't my idea" is still a poor excuse for having done something or wrong. The Nazi Connection is neither well written nor convincing.
2 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Why I Dislike the Anti-Immigration Movement 30 Nov 2013
By SJ Reidhead - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Nazi Eugenics basically started here in the US, around the turn of the century. That's bad enough, but when one begins to delve into the history of eugenics, there are some very unsettling facts anyone in this country must face. The worst, today, is the fact that the rabid anti-immigration movement, which is funded and promoted by John Tanton, via FAIR, Numbers USA, etc. is a direct decedent of the Nazi Eugenics Machine. Kuhl provides the links, the facts, and the footnotes. It is just another damning link as to what is plaguing the Far Right. In my blog, I've been covering the anti-immgiration movement since 2005. Kuhl has the links I've been seeking, well documented. As a life-long Republican who is now so disputed by what I see in the GOP, this helps document the racism that has helped to ruin the party.
6 of 16 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Problem Focus 10 April 2011
By Zita Mueller - Published on
I find the focus of this book and other recent books that are primarily focused on the eugenics movement in the U.S. as being the cause of World War Two Germany's extermination policy, problematic. The author stated that Germany dominated the eugenics movement early on and was the first to hold an international conference on it before World War One. He also stated that he worked in a German facility for the handicapped that claimed to have not harmed the handicapped during World War Two, something that later research of his led him to doubt. Although the U.S, as did other countries have laws regarding sterilization of the handicapped, that could be applied, in fact they rarely were. The laws and attitudes in the U.S. that led to this are problematic, however they have been covered before and were fully public then and since. HOwever, what was missing in the author's book that was deeply disturbing, was any mention of what the German government was engaged in during World War Two. During World War Two, the German government exterminated approximately 800,000 handicapped Europeans. This is something that has received so little attention that it is disturbing that this was another book that portrayed the US as the "cause of all of Germany's actions" rather than Germany itself and a book and author who might have shed some light on why Germany and German institutions secretly exterminated hundreds of thousands of people because they were handicapped. As well it could have been a book, given the author's background, that explored why both the German government and institutions that might have been culpable, have been so unwilling to be open and honest about their actons in World War Two. Instead it's just another book that serves not to explain how and why the German government in World War Two turned to exterminating human beings for no reason at all.
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