American Eugenics Opened Door For Nazi Movement
American Eugenic Laws
So most of us have heard of Adolf Hitler and his crimes against the Jews and many other races before and during WWII, but I ask you, do you know where it started. Where such a foul thought on racism began, where the Ku Klux Clan found it’s information on Aryan superiority?
When I first read of the women in Virginia that was involuntarily sterilized, I was shocked. I couldn’t believe that such things could happen in this free world of ours. However that was nothing compared to what I found with a little digging.
It all starts in the early 1900’s when a form of doctoral study was started, Eugenics. This was the study and belief that some races were predestined for mental retardation, criminal acts and a person predisposition to these. It was also thought that a person that had any of these bad traits in their family were prone to have them as well. The thought arose from many immigrants moving to America and people were concerned what it would do to the race. Their thought was that these different groups of people were going to bring sickness, retardation, darker pigment to our skin and lowered stature.
So in this mind set, Indiana passed the first law in 1907. Note that the date is almost twenty five years before the Nazi Germans passed a similar law in 1933. With this law in Indiana, many people where involuntarily sterilized for cost cutting efforts to minimize the next generations need for mental hospitals and so forth. Their idea was if they got rid of all the “Bad Blood” they could purge our nation of lower races and persons.
By 1914, 12 states in America had enacted similar laws as well. Maybe this is when the anecdote started “apple doesn’t fall far from the tree” which I still hear today. The language in the law encompassed, feeble minded, insane, criminalists, epileptic, ne’er do wells, tramps, homosexuals, homeless and paupers. By the year 1924, over 3000 had been involuntarily sterilized. 2500 of those were in California alone.
In 1924, Virginia enacted the same law stated it as a “cost-saving strategy to relieve the tax burden of the state.” Virginia law assess that “heredity plays an important part in the transmission of insanity, idiocy, and crime which reproductions would be a menace to society.”
The first to be chosen for sterilization in Virginia was a 17 year old girl who had just had a child out of wedlock. Her mother was already in an institution for health issues and her offspring was found to be below standard. Ms. Carrie Buck fought the decision and appealed all the way to the Supreme Court where the sentence was found to be sound. Included in Buck vs. Bell precedent, the infamous words were said, “It is better for the world, if instead of waiting to execute degenerate for crime or to let them starve of their own imbecility, society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind, three generations of imbecile is enough.”
Believe it or not, the Buck vs. Bell precedent was never over turned and the practice of involuntary sterilization was continued into the mid 1970’s. Over 60,000 people were sterilized in this dark period in our History, 85 percent were women and over 40 percent were of the African American descent. The law was solely based on Laughlin Model Law, which won him a honorary degree from the University of Heidelberg for his work in “the science of racial cleansing.”
German Eugenics Laws and Practices
So you ask how this has to do with Hitler, well the Nazi Germans adopted Laughlin’s Model Law in 1933, making their own law of involuntary sterilization. Hitler of course went a step further and wanted to get rid of races that he found to be inadequate as well. The cost that was involved with housing and sterilizing the “undesirables” as they were called became too much and it was decided that the “humane killing” of those people would be more cost effective. Over 500,000 people were sterilized before the idea of killing them was thought.
By 1939, Hitler wrote to several doctors stating the “lives were not worth living” and euthanasia was the only way to rid the German population of the “sickness” that was the weaker races and people. Law was passes making it legal for these “mercy killings.” Children were sent to camps to starve to death while adults were lethally injected and gassed in large chambers.
Jews and Gypsy that were not euthanized found themselves in over populated ghettos were they would usually die of sickness or starvation. High documented cases of cannibalism and suicide were found in these ghettos.
By 1942 state sanctioned genocide was enacted. Jews and other races were sent to camps to be experimented on and torture or killed in gas chambers. A select few were picked to work for the Reich, however their jobs included picking those who would be sent to the camps and who would be used for experimentation purposes. Landmark studies on starvation, high-altitude testing, twins testing, sea water studies and so many other forms of non consented human experimentation.
In the end of it all, by 1945 over 6 million Jews had been murdered and an estimated 50 million had died in the second World War. Immediately following Hitler’s down fall, many doctors and nurses were found guilty of conspiracy, war crimes and crimes against humanity. Those proceedings brought forth the first ten rules in human experimentation, mandating by the first rule that no adult could be used for experiments without consent. In the trial, Doctors talked of similar laws and practices in America on our prison populations and many other places in the world. It was decided then that a human life was worth more than knowledge.
“The wrongs which we seek to condemn and punish have been so calculated, so malignant, and so devastating, that civilization cannot tolerate their being ignored because it cannot survive their being repeated.”
Justice Robert H. Jackson
So maybe America didn’t take the course the German Nazis did, however it makes you who opened the door to the chaos? And why did it never get over ruled and why did we continue to practice this until the mid 1970’s. Today some of these thoughts still occur, we still find worth in color and stature. Racism is still alive and well today and many situations as of present still hold these ideals. Doctor’s urge patience with diseases to refrain from having children. KKK followers still hide their hate for other nations, I wonder if they even know why or where these ideas came from. I never would have guessed we had a hand in the Nazi genocide, however I feel we had a pinnacle part in Hitler’s decisions. Makes you wonder why that was never in the history books.