Article ID: CBB001213098

The Loyal Genetic Doctor, Otmar Freiherr von Verschuer, and the Institut für Erbbiologie und Rassenhygiene: Origins, Controversy, and Racial Political Practice (2012)


Reporting on the results of the 1935 World Population Conference hosted in the capital of the new Germany for members of the nation's medical community, the renowned racial anthropologist and director of the prestigious Kaiser-Wilhelm-Institut für Anthropologie, menschliche Erblehre und Eugenik (KWIA), Eugen Fischer (1874--1967), commented on the significance of a new type of physician, one whose duties were intricately linked with the goals of the Nazi state. Just as the house doctor of old was able to prevent and recognize when an individual patient was in imminent medical danger by having carefully watched over his charge---intervening when necessary---so, too, must the Erbarzt (genetic doctor) do the same for the entire Volk by overseeing, and, if need be, managing, the hereditary lineages of all its composite members. This not merely entailed evaluating the trajectory of genetic diseases in different segments of the German population, but it also demanded something equally important. As getreuer Ekkehardt [loyal Ekkehardt] with his hand on the pulse of the life of his Volk, Fischer commented, the genetic doctor had to supervise its racial purity. This was to ensure that its racial essence---the presupposition of all cultural and mental attributes of the Volk---was inherited unchanged.

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Authors & Contributors
Weiss, Sheila Faith
Braun, Birgit
Sorvillo, Craig
Wittmann, Emily
Westermann, Stefanie
Snelders, Stephen
History of Psychiatry
New Books Network Podcast
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences
Michael Quarterly
Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences
Wallstein Verlag
University of Chicago Press
Palgrave Macmillan
Münster Lit
National Socialism
Human genetics
Science and politics
Physicians; doctors
Meggendorfer, Friedrich
Rüdin, Ernst
Haeckel, Ernst
Darwin, Charles Robert
Time Periods
20th century, early
20th century
19th century
20th century, late
Weimar Republic (1919-1933)
United States
Great Britain
Kaiser-Wilhelm-Institut für Anthropologie, Menschliche Erblehre und Eugenik
Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gesellschaft zur Förderung der Wissenschaften
Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena
Interessengemeinschaft Farbenindustrie Aktiengesellschaft

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