02 "Racial Delusion and the Selective Breeding of Humans"
Eugenics and racial hygiene as the foundations of Nazi ideology
In the late 19th century a new discipline developed in Great Britain somewhere between anthropology, medicine, and biology for which its founder, Francis Galton, coined the term "eugenics". While "valuable" individuals were to be promoted ("positive eugenics"), carriers of an allegedly inferior genotype should be systematically excluded from reproduction ("negative eugenics"), which would lead to a genetic improvement of humankind. The idea met with public approval in many European countries and North America.
In Germany, it was above all the völkische Right (from which National Socialism developed) who advocated a considerably more radical form of eugenics, called "racial hygiene." The racial hygienists were less concerned with the prevention of individual suffering (the traditional role of medicine) than with biologically securing the power of the "Aryan Herrenmensch." For the Nazi eugenicists, the existence of the German people was endangered by the "interbreeding" with "foreigners" (Jews, Slavs, Roma and Sinti, and others) and the reproduction of the "inferior" among their own people (the handicapped, members of social fringe groups). The combination of anti-Semitism, racism, and eugenics became an essential part of Nazi doctrine.
When the National Socialists came to power in Germany, they began to implement their plans of social exclusion and annihilation. The first step was the Law for the Prevention of Progeny with Hereditary Disease of 14 July 1933 (see illustration 3.2). Subsequently, the Nuremberg Laws of September 1935 formed the basis for the systematic expulsion of the Jews from German society. Intermarriage and sexual intercourse between Jews and "Aryans" were prohibited and prosecuted by the courts as "racial disgrace." At the same time, the Marriage Health Law was passed, which envisaged marriage prohibitions for "genetically inferior" people. By then compulsory sterilizations were already a routine measure of Nazi health policy.
In Austria, the Wiener Gesellschaft für Rassenpflege (Rassenhygiene) (Viennese Society for Racial Care/Racial Hygiene) - founded in 1925 - propagated these ideas at universities and in public. Already long before 1938, this society had been a Nazi front organization.