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The Submerged Tenth: American Eugenics & German Racial Hygiene in the Early 20th Century by W. Jake Newsome abstract:Within contemporary society, concepts such as the selective breeding of humans, the vanquishing of the “unfit,” and the quest for a master race, all conjure up images of highflying swastika banners. But the truth is that the idea of establishing a superior race is by no means an exclusively Nazi one. On the eve of the twentieth century, scientific and social ideologies of the Western world culminated into a movement known as eugenics. While eugenic ideology took hold in many Western cultures, one country was the first to establish a social and legal framework to push through legislation aimed at blocking the transference of “tainted blood” from one generation to the next by means of segregation, execution, and forced sterilization. Surprisingly, this nation was not Nazi Germany, but instead one that rested on the western shores of the Atlantic: the United States of America. This paper traces the development of the eugenics movement in the United States and reveals the direct connections between U.S. institutions and certain Nazi scientific establishments in the early twentieth century.

I: Introduction

I

n contemporary society, concepts such as the selective breeding of humans, the vanquishing of the “unfit,” and the quest for a master race, all conjure up images of highflying swastika banners. But the truth is the idea of establishing a superior race is by no means an exclusively Nazi one. In fact, one can trace the desire for physical and mental perfection as far back as the ancient Greeks. But in the modern world, one nation stood as the clear forerunner in what became an international movement to purge the world of those deemed inadequate and unworthy of life. One country was the first to establish a social and legal framework to push through legislation which was aimed toward blocking the transference of “tainted blood” from one generation to the next by means of segregation, execution, and forced sterilization. Surprisingly, this nation is not Nazi Germany, but instead one that rests on the western shores of the Atlantic: the United States of America.

II: Eugenics

On the eve of the twentieth century, scientific and social ideologies of the Western world culminated into a movement known as eugenics. The

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Omnino - Volume 1  

VSU's Undergraduate Research Journal, 2010-11

Omnino - Volume 1  

VSU's Undergraduate Research Journal, 2010-11