EXHIBITS: Twisted Science

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Science  24 Feb 2006:
Vol. 311, Issue 5764, pp. 1079a
DOI: 10.1126/science.311.5764.1079a

Hitler's regime distorted anthropology, psychology, and genetics to justify murdering millions of Jews and other people deemed inferior. Deadly Medicine, an online version of an exhibit at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., reviews how the Third Reich's pursuit of “racial hygiene” led to mass homicide.

The Nazis absorbed eugenic ideas that were prevalent in Germany and elsewhere, the site notes, but went further than other countries in their efforts to “strengthen the national body.” From mandatory sterilization of people with schizophrenia and other supposedly inherited diseases, they moved on to euthanasia of children with birth defects and institutionalized patients. In video conversations, the exhibit's curator explores disturbing documents from the time, such as the mid-1930s poster warning against the crime of “racial defilement,” or mixing between Jews and non-Jews. Brief profiles describe scientists and doctors who helped shape the Reich's racial policies and in many cases resumed their careers after the war.

www.ushmm.org/museum/exhibit/online/deadlymedicine

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