Eugenics and the Holocaust
Grandpa, you told me about the Holocaust. I don’t understand how it could happen?
Chandler, I don’t think God does either.
Ethics is clear if the fogginess of reality does not get in the way.
He taught the Polish and Ukrainian volunteers how to kill Jews without feeling,
like he did.
My wife has a first cousin, Simcha. He is a “Black Hat” and a Rosh Yeshivah in Jerusalem.
Simcha and his wife Rifkah met us for dinner in Los Angeles. He was on one of his many fund raising trips for the Yeshivah. Simcha hugged me a large warm hello when we met at the restaurant but he would not even shake hands with my wife though she offered. The dinner started pleasantly at first. I guess Simcha wanted to release some angry experience from the day about the disgusting ethics he was finding in America. He brought up the subject of abortion.
Simcha launched into a railing burst of anger as he talked about abortionists.
“They kill, they murder. Abortionists are the lowest vermin on the earth. The Jewish ones, the Jewish doctors who abort Jewish women, should have their souls cut off from everything, may God curse their names,” he hissed.
I sat back and looked at him. The table was quiet after his outburst. Never one to speak loudly, I was easily heard. “Simcha, you know that my family were survivors,” I said looking deep into his eyes.
“My Uncle, Ezra, was a Doctor. He was a major abortionist. “
There was an audible gasp and curling of lips in anger across from me.
“In the Concentration Camp my Uncle was the Chief Abortionist of Jewish women.”
“In the Concentration Camp, if a Jewish woman was pregnant, the Nazis killed them immediately”, I continued looking at him calmly.
“Should his name be cursed? Should God cut off his soul from everything?” I asked.
Simcha did not answer.
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Dr. Karl Brandt
Karl Brandt was a German doctor and a Nazi war criminal. He was born in Mulhouse, German Alsace Loraine, January 8, 1904. His father was a minor official with the local police department. His mother came from a long line of doctors. Karl, when he grew up, decided to become a doctor. He graduated from medical school in 1928.
Brandt was an ambitious young man. He recognized the tide of power and success growing in Germany. Wanting to be on the right side, Brandt joined the Nazi Party in January 1932. A year later, he became a member of the paramilitary Sturmabteilungs (SA) – the Nazi Storm troopers, in 1933.
Curiously, Brandt was never known as an outspoken anti-Semite though he strongly agreed with the Nazi principles about Jews. He saw himself as an idealistic medical scientist, a servant of the State. Brandt spent much of 1933 aggressively applying the new Nazi eugenics law, Gesetz zur Verhutung erbkranken Nachwuchses (Law for the Prevention of Hereditarily Diseased Offspring). The law, which covered the entire national German population, was applied after a tribunal consisting of a judge, a medical practitioner and a medical officer reviewed each case. In essence German medicine had been granted the duty to cleanse and remove present and future genetically defective people from Germany. Brandt, along with other physicians and medical scientists, performed huge numbers of abortions on German women they decided were genetically, mentally, physically handicapped or racially inferior. Abortion was legal and encouraged as long as the physician believed that the fetus would be born genetically defective. The one legal prohibition against abortion was that no healthy Aryan fetus was to be aborted.
Brandt continued working his way toward the center of power using his fiance Anni Rehborn as an intro to Hitler. Rehborn, a beautiful world class champion swimmer, had been introduced to Hitler in 1928. Hitler enjoyed the company of young attractive women about him. Brandt and Rehborn were invited to the Berghof in the summer of 1933 to join Hitler for lunch. In the entourage to the mountain top lair, Hitler’s adjutant, Wilhelm Bruckner, was driving the car ahead of Brandt’s. Bruckner lost control on the narrow, winding road and was severely injured. Brandt responded immediately, personally, driving Bruckner to the nearest hospital where he operated on him. Brandt removed part of Bruckner’s crushed skull, one of his eyes and repaired broken bones. Brandt stayed by Bruckner’s side for six weeks until he was sure that Bruckner would recover. Hitler noticed Brandt’s professional and dedicated response. Being neurotic about his own health and always fearful of assassination or threats to his health, Hitler summoned Brandt a number of months later to become his personal physician. Brandt answered only to Hitler. His access granted him power and political influence. Brandt calculatingly joined the SS in August of 1934.
As Hitler’s personal escort physician, Brandt tightly insinuated himself into Hitler’s inner group of trusted “family.” By 1936, Brandt was Hitler’s personal intermediary on medical matters, and by 1939, the only person that Hitler personally trusted to represent his interests. For years, since Hitler had become Reich’s Fuehrer, he had wanted to strengthen the German people by “mercifully” ridding them of their weak, the mentally, physically, racially inferiors sucking the blood out of their society.
Hitler wanted to eugenically improve Germany for the future. Brandt fully agreed with Hitler and his euthanasia ambitions. He too believed it would be merciful to relieve the terrible personal suffering and burden of families to whom were born severely deformed and retarded children. Brandt believed it was good for the family, it was good for community, it was good for Nazi Germany, and it was good for the future not to have to devote resources to care for “useless eaters.” The opportunity to institute Hitler’s vision came in the spring of 1939.
A letter came to Hitler directed through the Reich’s Chancellery from Pomssen, a small village near Leipzig. The letter was from Richard Kretschmar, a farm laborer and his wife Lina Bretschmar. They were simple people. They were also convinced Nazis. In February, a son was born to them. They named him Gerhard. He was born blind, missing a limb, possibly deeply retarded. Gerhard was a terrible disappointment to the Kretschmars. They had produced a horrible burden on themselves and the German State. Gerhard would never be a positive contributor for the Reich.
The Kretschmar’s wrote to the Fuehrer for his intercession to have the child killed. They knew it was illegal and could not bring themselves to do it secretly. Hitler sent Brandt to see them. Brandt was to evaluate the situation and make a decision about euthanizing the baby. Brandt did what he was told to do. The baby was killed within a few days of Brandt’s visit, possibly by the family pediatrician.
The Kretschmars were concerned about the murder of their child. They were concerned if they would be implicated in the murder. Brandt assured them that they would not be prosecuted and were not guilty of breaking any German laws seeking the euthanizing of their son. He told them the Fuehrer would issue orders protecting them. Brandt was lying. The euthanization of the baby was a direct violation of German law. Neither Hitler nor Brandt had legal authority to kill the infant. No one dared question Brandt and certainly no one challenged Hitler. Brandt wisely tried to keep the baby’s identity secret. Brandt then helped position Hitler public image as the one who was distressed at the necessity for mercy killing.
The first official euthanization had occurred. Infant euthanization, simply withdrawing of life support by doctors, midwives and others, sometimes placing severely damaged children at birth outside in the snow to see if they lived or died on their own, had been done quietly and without pride by societies for thousands of years. The machinery creating a national system of euthanization to mandatorily clean and improve the German people could proceed. It was officially set in motion September 1, 1939. The scope, the plan, the legal institutionalization of German national eugenics had never existed before in civilized human society. The most important realization was, with absolute power, the Nazis could do what they wished.
September 1, 1939 was an infamous date in world history. The German invasion of Poland began on September 1, 1939. It had been in German war plans for years. The plan to euthanize the German population eugenically had been in plan for years. The two events occurred on the same day. Hitler almost never put any of his orders in writing that might be considered criminal or morally and legally corrosive to him. Perhaps he felt invincible, and over confident with the successful invasion of Poland. Hitler backdated, at the end of September 1939, one of his few surviving direct written orders that later would be defined as a crime against humanity.
Berlin, 1 Sept. 1939. Reich Leader Bouhler and Dr. Med. Brandt are charged with the responsibility of enlarging the powers of specific physicians, designated by name, so that patients who, on the basis of human judgment, are considered incurable, can be granted mercy death after the most careful assessment of their condition. Signed – A. Hitler.
The T-4 project was born. The name T4 was an abbreviation of “Tiergartenstrasse 4”. The name means Zoo Street number 4. It was located in a section of Berlin, near the city Zoo. The official name of the powerful, legalized German euthanasia program modestly posted on the building’s street headquarters, the Gemeinnutzige Stiffung fur Heil-und Anstaltspflege – The Charitable Foundation for Curative and Institutional Care. The building was destroyed in the Russian 1945 siege of Berlin. Today, a historic marker set in concrete near the Berlin Philharmonic on Tiergartenstrasse, marks where it once stood.
Officially the T-4 project, overseen by Brandt, experimented and developed various effective and efficient forms of “mercy” killings. It took two years, before the German church (s) was finally outraged enough to loudly protest and demand the end to euthanasia. Brandt had officiated over the murder of more than 70,000 men women and children. Late 1941, the program was officially ended. It continued, unofficially, until 1945. Another 200,000 plus were murdered before Germany surrendered.
Nazi military victories in 1939, 1940 and 1941 pushed the reach of Nazi Germany throughout much of Europe. Most of European Jewry fell under their control. German racial policies and rabid societal anti-Semitism, supported and aided by many of the conquered European communities, provided an opportunity the Nazis did not ignore. The Nazis had absolute control over the lives of millions of Jews they felt were not deserving of life. They believed living Jews were genetically corrupting German bloodlines, despoiling, destroying Aryan life and dominance. The Jews were a cancer within the European body.
Even before the official closing of the T-4 program, gas euthanasia technology, developed by its medical scientists and engineers, was transferred to the East. The Wannsee Conference of January 1942, codifying the plan to exterminate all Jews under German control, confirmed a reality. Through 1941, the Germans and their allies had been shooting, starving and doing whatever they could to kill Jews. However, the sheer numbers of exterminating an additional 4,500,000+ was not technically possible. The strain on the German war machine, resources and men was increasing destructive to Germany’s effort to win the war. They needed a better way. Brandt provided the technology. The German engineers upgraded Brandt’s T-4 technology to industrial levels.
Brandt on trial, August 20, 1947
“Brandt was captured by Allied forces after the end of the war and held as a Nazi war criminal.
He was tried, along with twenty-two others, all eugenicists, at the Palace of Justice in Nuremberg, Germany. The trial was officially titled United States of American v. Karl Brandt et. al. but is more commonly referred to as the “the “Doctor’s Trial”; it began on December 9, 1946. He was charged with four counts: 1: conspiracy to commit war crimes and crimes against humanity as described in counts 2 and 3; 2: War crimes: performing medical experiments, without the subjects’ consent, on prisoners of war and civilians of occupied countries, in the course of which experiments the defendants committed murders, brutalities, cruelties, tortures, atrocities, and other inhuman acts. Also planning and performing the mass murder of prisoners of war and civilians of occupied countries, stigmatized as aged, insane, incurably ill, deformed, and so on, by gas, lethal injections, and diverse other means in nursing homes, hospitals, and asylums during the euthanasia Program and participating in the mass murder of concentration camp inmates: 3: Crimes against humanity: committing crimes described under count@ also on German nationals; 4: Membership in a criminal organization, the SS. The charges against him included special responsibility for, and participation in, Freezing, Malaria, Gas, Sulfanilamide, Bone, Muscle, Nerve Regeneration, Bone Transplantation, Sea-Water, Epidemic, Jaundice, Sterilization, and Typhus experiments on human beings.
Landsberg Prison Execution of a war criminal at Landsberg Prison
The defense was led by Robert Sevatius. August 19, 1947, Brandt was found guilty on counts 2-4 of the indictment. With six other, he was sentenced to death by hanging. All were executed at Landsberg Prison, June 2, 1948. Nine others defendants received prison terms of between fifteen years and life, while a further seven were found not guilty.”1
The Doctors, who were sentenced to long or even life prison terms, all had their sentences commuted. They were released within three to eight years. They returned to private lives, some even to distinguished careers in medicine.
The Hippocratic Oath had been sworn
to by generations of graduating young doctors. Beginning in 1870, the
Oath began to be phased out by many medical schools.
I swear by Apollo, the healer, …
But I will preserve the purity of my life and my arts.
…In every house where I come I will enter only for the good of my patients, keeping myself far from all intentional ill-doing and all seduction…
If I keep this oath faithfully, may I enjoy my life and practice my art, respected by all humanity and in all times; but if I swerve from it or violate it, may the reverse be my life.
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The Hippocratic Oath was replaced by some Medical schools with an oath based upon the values of the great Jewish physician – Moses Maimonides.
The oath (Maimonides)
The eternal providence has appointed me to watch over the life and health of Thy creatures… for the enemies of truth and philanthropy could easily deceive me and make me forgetful of my lofty aim of doing good to Thy children.
May I never see in the patient anything but a fellow creature in pain.
Grant me the strength, time and opportunity always to correct what I have acquired, always to extend its domain; for knowledge is immense and the spirit of man can extend indefinitely to enrich itself daily with new requirements.
Today he can discover his errors of yesterday and tomorrow he can obtain a new light on what he thinks himself sure of today. Oh, God, Thou has appointed me to watch over the life and death of Thy creatures; here am I ready for my vocation and now I turn unto my calling
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After World War II a new physician’s oath came into usage.
The Physician's Oath
At the time of being admitted as a member of the medical profession:
I solemnly pledge myself to consecrate my life to the service of humanity;
I will give to my teachers the respect and gratitude which is their due;
I will practice my profession with conscience and dignity; the health of my patient will be my Number One consideration;
I will maintain by all the means in my power, the honor and the noble traditions of the medical profession; my colleagues will be my brothers;
I will not permit considerations of religion, nationality, race, party politics, social standing, or sexual orientation to intervene between my duty and my patient;
I will maintain the utmost respect for human life from the time of conception, even under threat, I will not use my medical knowledge contrary to the laws of humanity;
I make these promises solemnly, freely and upon my honor.
Karl Brandt never acknowledged that his actions were criminal or wrong.
In the months of his trial, right up to his execution, he justified his participation in the Nazi eugenics and euthanasia programs.
“We German physicians look upon the state as an individual to whom we owe prime allegiance, and we therefore do not hesitate to destroy an aggregate of, for instance, a trillion cells in the form of a number of individual human beings we believe they are harmful to the total organism – the state – or if we fell that the state will thrive without them.” 2
“Would you believe that it was a pleasure to me to receive the order to start euthanasia? For fifteen years I had labored at the sick-bed and every patient was to me like a brother, every sick child I worried about as if it had been my own… And thus I affirmed euthanasia. I realize the problem is as old as man, but it is not a crime against man nor against humanity. Here I cannot believe like a clergyman or think as a Jurist. I am a doctor and I see the law of nature as being the law of reason. For that grew in my heart the love of man and it stands before my conscience.” 3
June 2, 1948, Major General, Dr. Karl Brandt stood on the scaffold of Landsberg Prison. He rejected the opportunity to seek spiritual peace and forgiveness offered by the priest standing near him. Instead, he accused the United States of hypocrisy. Germany was not the country that instituted human experimentation, euthanasia and societal eugenics; it was the United States and Britain who were equally guilty, he said.
“How can the nation which holds the lead in human experimentation in any conceivable form, how can that nation dare to accuse and punish other nations which only copied their experimental procedures? And even euthanasia! Only look at Germany, and the way her misery has been manipulated and artificially prolonged. It is, of course, not surprising that the nation which in the face of the history of humanity will forever have to bear the guilt for Hiroshima and Nagasaki, that this nation attempts to hide itself behind moral superlatives. She does not bend the law: Justice has never been here! Neither in the whole nor in the particular. What dictates is power. And this power wants victims. We are such victims. I am such a victim.”
The court thought otherwise when it convicted Brandt of war crimes. The judges wrote in their verdict,
“Whether or not a state may validly enact legislation which imposes euthanasia upon certain classes of its citizens, is likewise a question which does not enter into the issues. Assuming that it may do so, the Family of Nations is not obligated to give recognition to such legislation when it manifestly gives legality to plain murder and torture of defenseless and powerless human beings of other nations.” 4
“The next day the American newspaper Stars and Stripes reported that the hanged men had;
‘Paid an eye for 10,000 eyes, a tooth for 10,000 teeth. In a chilling rain, they died un-frightened… A new-type knot developed by the Americans at Landsberg brought death quickly. It was over in an hour. All were found criminally responsible for horrible medical experiments conducted on helpless concentration camp inmates under the guise of scientific research. “5
Karl Brandt was wrong but not totally wrong. As he stood on the gallows, Brandt’s last words about American and British euthanasia and eugenics policies had a certain degree of truth.
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So God created Man in His image of God, He Created him; male and female, He created them.
Few people know his name anymore. It is not politically correct to know his name. It is not politically correct to acknowledge or honor some of the things he did even though they are some of the most respected and important values of the contemporary American left.
Madison Grant is an enigma today. In his day, he was a mainstream anthropologist, writer, sociologist, eugenicist, and conservationist. He was a personal friend of Presidents, American intellectuals, scientists, doctors and sincerely admired by Adolf Hitler.
Madison Grant was born in New York City, November 19, 1865, to a wealthy American old line family. His Grants were rumored to be Jacobites, who escaped from Scotland after the defeat of Bonnie Prince Charlie in 1745. Grant’s father, Gabriel Grant, was a physician, a three times wounded veteran of the Union Army and a recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor for bravery. Surgeon Grant repeatedly dashed into the middle of fighting to save the lives of wounded men on the battlefield.
Madison Grant’s upbringing was typical of the patrician class into which he was born. He attended private schools as a child and traveled to Europe and the Middle East with his father. He graduated from an Ivy League school - Yale University - with honors and went on to receive a law degree from Columbia Law School.
Grant was never particularly interested in law. He turned his attention, as a liberal American patrician, to Progressive issues such municipal reform, health, poverty, criminal reform, and especially conservation of America’s natural resources. Conservation as a Progressive issue drew his greatest energies from the late 1890’s through the 1910’s. He was instrumental in saving of the American bison. At one time there were over 30,000,000 American bison roaming the American plains. By the early 20th century they had been hunted to near extermination until there were only 85 left.
During his life, Grant was central to the creation of the Bronx Zoo and saving the redwoods in California. He was an early advocate of saving the whales and rational limitations on American game hunting and land use. Grant was an important influence creating Denali and Glacier National parks. Most important of all, he understood, wrote and lectured about how to preserve, propagate and improve America’s natural wildlife. He wanted everyone to understand the importance of proper breeding stock and husbandry. He wanted American to learn why and how it was essential to preserve America’s natural heritage.
Grant’s views were parallel to his close friend, the greatest public conservationist of the liberal Progressives, President Theodor Roosevelt. Roosevelt would later call for the establishment of a national home for the Jews in Palestine in 1917.
William Zebina Ripley, (October 13, 1867 – August 16, 1941) was an American professor of economic and political science at Harvard and Columbia Universities. He developed anthropological theories centered about race migrations in Europe and the development of European life. Ripley became a racial theorist. His work on racial anthropology was taken up by physical anthropologists, eugenicists and eventually white supremacists.
Ripley and Grant were members of the same private club in New York, the Half – Moon Club. The Club was dedicated to the advancement of knowledge and science. The elitist members of the club were wealthy, old family American aristocracy. They were deeply concerned with the visible changes to America. They could see clearly in New York that immigration was altering American racial characteristics.
America had always been a country of immigration but mainly from Western Europe. From the 1870’s on, massive immigration of peoples, Jews, Eastern and Southern Europeans, Orientals flooded into America. Not only were the immigrants different racially from the perceived historic American stock but they were religiously, culturally and pro-creatively different. In simple terms, Grant saw the Anglo-Saxon reproductive rates collapsing and the enormous families of the inferior immigrants as threatening to America. The United States political system, based upon Democratic principles, was in danger of being subsumed.
Early 1908, Ripley introduced Grant to anthropology. He convinced Grant that the natural extension of animal conservationism and management was human Darwinism. Human beings, in the revolutionary scientific breakthrough of British Natural scientist Charles Darwin, were advanced animals on the evolutionary tree.
Charles Darwin’s scientific voyage on the Beagle, to the Galapagos Islands off the Coast of western South America, observations were published in 1859, The Origin of the Species. Darwin theorized that all life had descended from a common life form evolving over time into the varied species of life on earth today. Mankind was a species that had evolved and then branched off from other species by a simple but irrefutable law – the survival of the fittest. The best and most likely to survive, pro-create and dominate, were the strongest, the fittest for that particular environment.
By the 1870’s, Darwinian evolutionary theory had swept the scientific world and been adopted as accepted fact. Darwinism, though, was largely not understood nor had it been scientifically tested to be so quickly codified as absolute scientific Natural law.
Darwin, in his early career, never branched extensively outside of his Natural observations to logically extrapolate and interpret human society and its evolution. But, his cousin did, Sir Francis Galton.
Sir Francis Galton, (February 16, 1822 – January 17, 1911) was an English Victorian polymath, anthropologist, eugenicist, tropical explorer, geographer, inventor, meteorologist, proto-geneticist, and statistician. Galton developed statistical concepts he used with his studies of human inheritance and intelligence. He was a pioneer eugenicist, coining the phrase, “nature vs. nurture” for his highly influential book. Hereditary Genius. He built upon his cousin’s (Charles Darwin) study of evolution and hereditary re: the survival of the fittest.
Galton’s studies meshed tightly with Darwin’s revolutionary theories. Darwin had postulated how life formed and developed. Galton provided a simple, logical and flowing explanation for the struggling changes of England and world society in the industrializing world.
Darwinism, as Galton explained, was not the survival of the fittest but the survival of the strongest resulting in the destruction of the best.
“Modern society, by providing such benefits as medical care to the sick and charity to the poor, allows those weaklings who would otherwise perish to survive. These unfit people then irresponsibly propagate a new generation of unfit people, who in turn take advantage of society to create even more unfit people. Furthermore, the weak classes are also “imprudent”: they marry at a young age than the fitter classes, and therefore produce more children and more generations within a given period. The result is that the weak wind up out-breeding the strong, which is exactly the opposite of how natural selection is supposed to operate. “Modern industrial civilization,” concluded Galton, deteriorates the breed.” To counteract this, eugenics, would “sternly forbid all forms of sentimental charity that are harmful to the race. “ Ending charity “may seem monstrous, “conceded Galton, “But it is still more monstrous that the races best fitted to play their part on the stage of life, should be crowed out by the incompetent, the ailing, and the desponding.”
Galton wrote nine books and some two hundred scientific papers in his lifetime. He earned a position of eminence in the international scientific community. At the age of only thirty-one he was elected a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society. Three years later he was elected to the Royal Society. He was befriended by such men as Herbert Spencer, Thomas Huxley, Sir Richard Burton, and Lord Avebury. Galton was knighted by the king in 1909. In addition, Galton’s ideas on eugenics were fully sanctioned by his admiring cousin. In the Decent of Man, Charles Darwin extolled the “remarkable” and ingenious” work of Galton. Darwin affirmed the central tenet of eugenics that mental traits are inherited along with the physical: ‘we not know, through the admirable labours of Mr. Galton, that genius… tends to be inherited.’
Furthermore, Darwin, like Galton – observed that “the reckless, degraded and often vicious members of society tend to increase at a quicker rate than the provident and generally virtuous members.’ This differential rate of reproduction worried Darwin, and he came close to endorsing negative eugenics. After all, he observed, ‘hardly any one is so ignorant as to allow his worst animals to breed. In fact, in the breeding of domestic animals, the elimination of those individuals… which are in any marked manner inferior, is by no means an unimportant element towards success.’ At the very least, opined Darwin, society must take cognizance of the dysgenic effects of charity, which prevents weak individuals from dying off and therefore leads to the survival of the un-fittest: ‘We civilized men…build asylums for the imbecile, the maimed, and the sick: we institute poor-laws; and our medical men exert their utmost skill to save the life of every one to the last moment… Thus the weak members of civilized societies propagate their kind. No one who has attended to the breeding of domestic animals will doubt that this must be highly injurious to the race of man.” 67
Gregor Mendel, an Austrian Augustinian Friar and geneticist, along with August Weismann, a German evolutionary biologist, provided the intellectual foundation for the new science that grew logically grew from Darwinian Theory, eugenics.
Eugenics is the social science movement to “improve” the genetic composition of the human population.
“Eugenicists were quick to draw the logical conclusion from the research of Weismann and Mendel: intelligence and other human traits are determined by genes, which are impervious to environmental influences. It was now clear to any scientifically literate person that social reforms, however well intended, could not improve the inherited nature of man. Society could spend great amounts of time and money educating inferior persons, but their germ plasm would remain unaffected, and hence the improvements would not be passed on to their offspring. Therefore reformers, who were serious about improving the human race, and not just about acquiring reputations as do-gooders, would do better to devote their efforts to eugenic programs that strove to eliminate defective germ plasm from the population. Nature had finally vanquished nurture.”8
The simplicity of the argument belied the complexity of reality. In the confusing caldron of industrializing societies, it provided a very neat explanation for what was happening. It provided a very neat explanation for what had happened and what would happen to future society if nothing or if the wrong things were done. What were the right things to be done evolved into the wrong things, culminating in National Socialism, Nazism, and the Holocaust.
Madison Grant grasped the linear pseudo-scientific connection of Darwinian evolution, husbandry, conservation and the decay of American human society. Grant, liked most of the intellectual, scientific world of his day, did not understand the complexity of human genetics. They did not understand that inherited traits were not simple Mendelian pea pods but a series of complex gene and environmental interactions. Darwinism became the new religion.
“Eugenicists saw themselves as Progressive reformers. Typical progressive endeavors -prohibition, birth control, public health, child welfare, prison reform, factory safety, amelioration of poverty, decent housing, proper care of the insane and world peace.”9
Madison Grant became the leading force behind the American eugenics movement. He did what he did, not because he wanted bad for America, but because he wanted the best. The best was from his perspective of racial values. Grant was motivated by four factors.
The first was personal. It came from his patrician, aristocratic, Anglo-Saxon background.
The second was spiritual. Grant was not a religious man. However, Darwinism proffered a new scientifically reinforced religion.
“Eugenics offered the postmillennial hope that through good breeding, the victory of the righteous would be assured and the perfect kingdom could be established on hearth.”10
“The herald of this secular faith was Sir Francis Galton. In fact, Galton expressed the hope on many occasions that eugenics, by catering to the spiritual needs of men immersed in a scientific age, would become the religion of the twentieth century… The scriptural texts of the new dispensation were the writings of Galton, along with those of Darwin, Haeckel, Davenport, and Goddard. The priests were the biologists who understood the mysteries of Mendelian genetics and instructed the populace in the proper application of these precepts to matters of marriage and procreation. ‘Eugenical truth,’ declared Grant’s disciple Albert E. Wiggam, ‘is the highest truth men will ever know.’ He explicitly referred to the genetics laboratory as ‘the new Mount Sinai’ and announced that the findings of eugenics were the Ten Commandments of science.”11
The third was professional. Eugenics was scientific. It was intellectual and practical. It was conservationism for human genetic management.
Once the philosophical and moral decision was made that eugenic selection was the right thing, the proper thing to do, eliminate surplus, inferior and degenerative members of the wildlife population – it was easy to extrapolate the lessons to the human population.
The forth was political.
“Eugenics appealed to his progressive instincts.
Eugenics offered a modern, rational, technocratic method of reforming society and improving the human species. Poverty, insanity, alcoholism, criminality, and genetic disease could all be eliminated if the tenets of eugenics were systematically applied. After Darwin, Mendel, and Weismann, we could no longer afford to leave the propagation of the human race to sentimental amateurs.”12
Eugenics was about power. It was about who would rule and make the rules for the future.
Grant was no different than were many others of the American ruling elite.
“Charles R. Van Hise, president of the University of Wisconsin ( and a leading conservationist) expressed this (about Eugenics) in 1914: ‘We know enough about agriculture so that the agricultural production of the country could be doubled if the knowledge were applied; we know enough about disease so that if the knowledge were utilized, infectious and contagious diseases would be substantially destroyed in the United State within a score of years: we know enough about eugenics so that if the knowledge were applied, the defective classes would disappear with a generation.” 13
In 1916, Grant wrote an anthropologic study of European racial migrations with implications for the racial settlement and development of America. The book was titled, The Passing of the Great Race. The book received mixed public acceptance.
The book affirmed negative populist American racial concerns. Continuing American open immigration policy was changing the social character of America. Grant termed the new immigrants, "racially inferior stock".
He recommended eugenic solutions to "better" American society by restricting the immigration of non-Nordic people. He advocated segregating "unfavorable" races in ghettos and using the public health system to accomplish it.
Grant wrote "A rigid system of selection through the elimination of those who are weak or unfit—in other words social failures—would solve the whole question in one hundred years, as well as enable us to get rid of the undesirables who crowd our jails, hospitals, and insane asylums. The individual himself can be nourished, educated and protected by the community during his lifetime, but the state through sterilization must see to it that his line stops with him, or else future generations will be cursed with an ever increasing load of misguided sentimentalism. This is a practical, merciful, and inevitable solution of the whole problem, and can be applied to an ever widening circle of social discards, beginning always with the criminal, the diseased, and the insane, and extending gradually to types which may be called weaklings rather than defectives, and perhaps ultimately to worthless race types”.
Grant's leadership of the American eugenics movement and the Immigration Restriction League led to the closing of open American immigration in 1924. He shaped American eugenic, miscegenation and involuntary sterilization laws and policies that continued to be applied until the 1970's.
The 1927 U.S. Supreme Court Case, Buck v. Bell, was a custom designed test case of eugenic policy. The Supreme Court upheld a Virginia law that compulsorily required sterilization of the unfit and mentally retarded “for the protection and health of the state.” Twenty four states eventually had mandatory sterilization laws. An estimated 60,000+ Americans were sterilized by their States to prevent their reproducing. The States most active in compulsory involuntary sterilizations were not only the popularly assumed Southern states but liberal states such as New York and California.
Grant’s views were popularly received. His views were very respected by his friends, the leaders and elites of his day, such as Presidents Theodor Roosevelt, Herbert Hoover and the writer T.S. Eliot. It rang true with Nativist Americans in the age that lynched Leo Frank, the Jewish president of the B’Nai Brith Chapter in Atlanta, for the alleged rape and murder of a young white girl, Mary Phagan. The Passing of the Great Race rang, as if it were “Gospel” truth, in the ears of the reborn, very powerful, and dangerous Ku Klux Klan.
Nine years after it came out, 1925, "The Passing of the Great Race", was translated into German. Adolf Hitler wrote to Grant that Grant's book "is his bible".
1924 was the apogee of Grant’s eugenic influence. Grant’s was successful in legislatively closing the American immigration door in 1924.
The wild freedom of the American Roaring 20’s began shifting the American public’s interest away from Grant’s increasingly racist ideas. The white supremacist Ku Klux Klan, which at one time claimed 15% of the American population, spiraled down in rapid decline by the mid 20’s. Revelations of internal moral decay and extremism made association with the racist organization politically incorrect. The Great Depression, and the eventual association with Nazi Germany further weakened the American eugenic movement. Contrary to Grant’s eugenic faith, the inferior immigrants he tried to keep out of America, integrated successfully into American society benefiting everyone. Genetic research proved there was no such thing as a pure race.
Grant's writings helped add to Nazi intellectual justification for the Holocaust. Grant’s book was quoted as part of the defense for Nazi eugenics physician Karl Brandt's 1946 trial in Nuremberg for crimes against humanity. After Grant, there was no one of his stature who wanted to pick up the banner of national eugenic leadership.
Grant died in 1937. His funeral was attended by hundreds. He had been mostly bed ridden for the last ten years of his life with various ailments. If the eugenic policies he advocated had been put into place, he would have been euthanized for never marrying or producing children for the master Nordic (Aryan) white race. Grant would have long been euthanized as a disabled, medical bedsore.
Madison Grant was laid to rest in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, New York, under a plain stone that acknowledged his existence only in that he was the son of Gabriel Grant.
Grant’s significant legacy as a conservationist was eclipsed by his work as a racial eugenicist.
Grant died never understanding man was not an animal. He rejected Genesis 1:27 that Man and Woman had been created in the image of God. To him, it was a religious concept, not a scientific one. As a eugenicist, he tried breeding out the old God. As a eugenicist, he advocated breeding the “new superman” who worshiped at the feet of the eugenicist’s new God, Darwinism.
Grant helped release the uncontrolled monsters of the Holocaust.
The Headless Horseman rode the night that Grant was buried in Sleepy Hollow.
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SS UntersharFuhrer Wilhelm Oder
He taught the Polish and Ukrainian volunteers how to kill Jews without feeling,
without emotion, like he did.
Moral responsibility is a concept related to moral obligations. Disobeying moral obligations becomes grounds for justified punishment. Deciding what justifies punishment, is a guiding principle of ethics. People who have moral responsibility for an action are called moral agents. Agents are capable of reflecting on their situations and deciding how they will act or not act on their moral responsibilities. At the heart of moral responsibility is free will.
Society holds people responsible for their actions, assigning blame or praise depending upon what the person decides to do. Moral responsibility is not the same as legal responsibility. A person is legally responsible for their actions when it is that person who is liable to be tried for what they have done. Being morally responsible and being legally responsible are not always the same thing.
Madison Grant helped create the ethics of eugenics. Dr. Karl Brandt created the framework for the Nazi application of eugenics. SS Corporal, (UnterscharFuhrer) Wilhelm Oder15 applied the ethical framework to the Jews. Grant was a theorist. Brandt was the bureaucrat who needed Oder, and many others like him, to do his dirty work. The Oders were the technicians who followed the orders. Without the trained killers of the German army and SS, the Final Solution could not have been implemented.
Wilhelm Oder and his brother Hermann were born and grew up near Linz, Austria. Raised as Catholics, they and their family were never particularly religious. Culturally and religiously, they, as many Austrians were, had been were weaned for generations on the societal milk of rabid anti-Semitism. Hatred of the Jew was normal. It was the common nourishing, reassuring element that although they were not members of the elite of society, they were superior to the Jew.
There was an innate sense of anger and violence with the Oder brothers. The terrible economic hardships of the Great Depression, compounded by the breakup of Austrian Empire at the end of World War I, followed by societal chaos and social distress, the emergence of Nazism seemed the perfect solution to the Oders. Hitler had grown up near Linz. He called it his hometown. Adolf Eichmann had lived in Linz.
The Oders were attracted to the aggressiveness of Nazism. They were very comfortable with its Fascist direction and especially comfortable with its racist anti-Semitism. Early on, they joined the Nazi party in Austria. With little reluctance they were involved in the assassination of Austrian Chancellor Engelbert Dollfus in 1934. They were arrested and tried for their part in the murder. They were condemned to death.
Awaiting their execution, the firing squad readied, the Oder brothers awaited death. Hitler, in front of his German Legions, marched triumphantly into Austria. The crowds cheered wildly in the streets as Germany absorbed Austria in the Anschluss. Austria became part of the Third Reich. The execution of the Oders was stopped. They were released to freedom, to acclaim and honors.
Wilhelm joined the Waffen-SS who recognized special qualities about him that they found useful. He was sent to Dachau for training.
Bad Rabka is a small spa, a health resort town that straddles both sides of the Raba River. It is about halfway between Krakow and Zakopane just above the Austrian border. When Germany invaded Poland in 1939, there were about 1,500 Jews in Rabka out of a population of 7,000. The Jewish population swelled sharply as Jews in the besieged larger cities fled to the countryside to escape the fighting.
Early in 1940, Rabka attracted the attention of German and SS administrative needs. It had access to good roads and a rail station. The SS, after murdering 300 Jewish men, women and children in the basement of Rabka’s main hotel, moved outside of town. They took over a girl’s high school. It was a four story structure that was quickly converted into a special school for SS. The school’s purpose was to train selected candidates of the Sipo-SD, Ukrainians, Polish Police Officers and others under the leadership of Commandant, SS Hauptsurmfuhrer Hans Kruger.
Specialized training “courses” were given for the men doing emergency work for the Waffen-SS. The course instructor was Wilhelm Oder. Oder worked diligently, efficiently, at his job from the autumn of 1941 until March of 1943.
Oder’s job was to teach the men how to kill Jews without feeling, without emotion. Oder’s weapon of choice was a Walther PPK, caliber 765. Oder would take Jews out to a nearby field and demonstrate a technique he had personally developed, how to kill Jews with a single shot. Oder learned that placing the Walther 10-20 centimeters from the nape of the victim’s neck and firing was the most effective means of killing Jews quickly and efficiently. The technique Oder developed was called the Genickschuss method. The Genickschuss murder technique became the standard operational method of hand killing Jews in the German effort to exterminate European Jewry. For additional practice and teaching demonstrations, Oder would line Jewish children up and kill them with machine gun fire.
Oder had the students repeat the killing procedures on new Jewish victims. If any of the volunteers showed reluctance, inability or moral hesitation, Oder culled them from the classes. Removed men were sent to the Russian front as punishment. The Rabka school was the central training facility for SS and Ukrainian extermination squads.16
As the Russians pushed the German army back, 1945, they captured Wilhelm Oder in Poland. He escaped. Aided by the confusion of the ending war and the assistance of Nazi sympathizers, Wilhelm hid in Eichman´s old foxhole in the Austrian mountains,
Simon Wiesenthal began his search for Nazi war criminals almost immediately after the war ended. Wiesenthal began his search mistakenly looking for the wrong man, Hermann Oder. He did not know that there were two Oder brothers. The trail had been deliberately confused to keep Wiesenthal off. Wilhelm Oder was finally, correctly identified. He arrested by the Americans, March 5, 1948.
Oder was brought to trial in 1952. Austrian Nazi sympathizers had done an excellent job destroying evidence, intimidating witness, covering the trail of all the guilty. Wilhelm Oder was only convicted of mistreating prisoners. He was sentenced to six months hard labor. He was never convicted of murder.
Seventeen years later, in 1969, Wiesenthal finally uncovered incontrovertible evidence against Oder. Receiving the court summons, Wilhelm Oder suffered a fatal heart attack.
Oder, the man who pulled the trigger to murder, the man who coldly, efficiently, and who effectively taught others to pull the trigger and murder, died unrepentant. He died never having been convicted by the courts for his actual crimes.
Like many thousands of Nazi murderers, Oder escaped the hangman. A few generals, a few administrators, a few bureaucrats, a few doctors were executed by the Allies for Crimes against Humanity. The vast majority of the Nazi war criminals lived successful, protected, even respected lives, dying comfortably in old age surrounded by their families and friends. The details of their past was never spoken of.
Werner Oder, Wilhelm’s son, told me his father did not die a peaceful death. It was a tormented death. Perhaps, it was his conscience. Perhaps, it was his fear or retribution that made him fearful and paranoid releasing his violent streak that terrified Werner and his sister as children. They lived in terrible fear for their own lives.
Werner said “when he came home, he brought all his demons with him. My sister and I were totally traumatized”.
Werner told me his family were
unrepentant Nazis. They lived in a dark Jew obsessed world of
anti-Semitism. The filth of hate and racial hatred was transferred to
Werner. “I became insane, intensely violent, aggressive, and
developed a blind hatred towards the Jews”, he recounted.
“The traumatized child’s nightmares lasted for six years.”18 Unrelenting, nightly the same nightmare came to Werner. Werner describes his young childhood as one long night, curled up in bed like a terrified animal. He says he knew he was going to die.
As a teenager, Werner turned to violence and evil, drugs and crime, almost as though he were following in his father’s footsteps. More than once, his own violence brought him close to being killed. Werner still has a bullet crease scarring the side of his head where a fractional inch of the bullet’s path meant life or death.
Perhaps it was destiny or fate for young Werner; he met a German Evangelical Christian, Peter Wiegand, who offered him a life that was different than the animal existence of tooth and claw, survival of the fittest, that he had been living. Werner was introduced to an Evangelical path to God. Werner learned something about Jews that disturbed him to his very core. Werner learned that Jesus had been a Jew. The Jews were God’s chosen people. He began to pray for the peace of Jerusalem.
Returning to his family, he asked them, “What did you do to the Jews? Do you know that Jesus is a Jew?” Werner said it was as if he threw a hand grenade into his family. “All hell broke loose.”19
His home was no more. Werner moved to England to attend Bible school in Capernwray. He became an Evangelical Pastor and ministers to a small church in Bournemouth, the Tuckton Christian Fellowship. He is an ardent supporter of Israel and preaches actively about the Jews and their right to live safely in the land that God has given to them.
Pastor Werner Oder speaks to Jewish groups in many countries seeking to let them know that he, the son of a Nazi War Criminal, is not the demon his father was because of faith. He wrote a personal story about his life and struggle to separate from his Nazi past, Battling with Demons. Pastor Oder loves his Austrian roots very much. He goes back to Austria to see his family periodically on a neutral basis. His desire to bring his message to, in his view, an unrepentant Austria of today, remains.
Pastor Oder is a creationist. He believes that the world was created by God. Pastor Oder rejects the absolutes of Darwinism. Werner knows what unexamined, un-tempered and uncontrolled Darwinism leads to.
Contemporary society, especially liberals and intellectuals scoff at Evangelical creationism as superstitious ignorance. They ridicule people of faith who challenge unrestricted scientific manipulation of life since the discovery of the Double Helix – DNA.
For all the environmental arguments begun by the anthropologist school of Franz Boaz and the photographic evidence presented by Jacob Riis against Madison Grant’s and the eugenicists, science has slowly swung back to recognize there is something to heredity. Investigations of the Human Genetic code suggest Madison Grant may have been partially correct. Modern science has discovered genes that affect intelligence, moods, even religiosity. Dozens of Jewish organizations exist for the sole purpose of genetic screenings and gene manipulation to ensure genetically disease free children.20
There is irony in that the eugenic movement and the Holocaust’s focus on the very people the Nazis wished to exterminate, the Jews, are amongst the most successful, dynamic, adaptive, and creative people in the world. The Jewish genetic materials that would have been the best lubricant of Grant’s new supermen were the ones the Nazis feared the most. Had the Nazis won the war, the genetic lines of the Wilhelm Oders would have had to be exterminated because of their “genetic predisposition to violence”. They would not have been needed anymore. They would have not been desired anymore. They would have been feared by the ruling class.
The greatest irony of all: the survivors of the Holocaust were the survival of the fittest. They became the founders of the modern state of Israel.
Jerry Klinger is president of the Jewish American Society for Historic Preservation
2Karl Brandt, The Nazi Doctor, Medicine and Power in the Third Reich, by Ulf Schmidt Continuum Books, London, 2007, pg. 376
7Defending the Master Race, Conservation, Eugenics and the Legacy of Madison Grant, Jonathan Spiro, University of Vermont Press, 2009 pg. 121-122.
8Ibid. pg. 125
9Ibid, Spiro 135
10Ibid, Spiro 135
11Ibid Spiro pg. 135
12Ibid Spiro pg. 134
13Ibid Spiro 136
14Photograph of Wilhelm Oder, courtesy of his son, Pastor Werner Oder.
15His son, Werner Oder, corrected the information found on the internet and in early War Crime depositions. His father had been a corporal not a sergeant. The early records were deliberately misdirected to protect Wilhelm’s identity and role. They named his brother Hermann as a sergeant at Rabka when in fact it was Wilhelm Oder who was there. Hermann never was in Rabka.
from the April 2012 Edition of the Jewish Magazine
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