Chapter ID: CBB001500062

The Emergence of Genetic Counselling in the Federal Republic of Germany: Continuity and Change in the Narratives of Human Geneticists, c.1968--80 (2013)


Whereas modern genetic counselling was already established in the UK and the USA by the 1940s, it was not until the beginning of the 1970s that it became institutionalized in the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG). During the first decades after World War II, it was provided sporadically to single persons, families, couples and parents of unborn children, who asked for advice from human geneticists established at the universities. In the 1970s regular genetic counselling services were introduced, driven, in part, by the increased interest of public health authorities. By then genetic counselling had become an acknowledged medical service, receiving government support and public acceptance. This essay traces the emergence of a climate favourable to genetic counselling. In particular, it analyses how eugenic motives shaped the discourse of human geneticists involved in the institutionalization of genetic counselling. Over the past decades, an increasing amount of historical research has identified the longevity of eugenic discourses and practices -- from the turn of the last century, when eugenics emerged as a biopolitical concept defined by the aim of improving the `hereditary health' of the `national body' (Volkskörper), to well beyond 1945. Although eugenicists propagated voluntary `genetic marriage counselling' long before the political upheaval of 1933, eugenics is usually regarded as a political programme demanding authoritarian implementation, a nexus epitomized by Nazi racial hygiene.

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Book Gausemeier, Bernd; Müller-Wille, Staffan; Ramsden, Edmund (2013) Human Heredity in the Twentieth Century. unapi

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Authors & Contributors
Weiss, Sheila Faith
Sloan, Phillip R.
Rheinberger, Hans-Jörg
Kaufmann, Doris
Lenoir, Timothy
Hays, Marguerite
Journal of the History of Biology
Endeavour: Review of the Progress of Science
Annals of the History and Philosophy of Biology
Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society
British Journal for the History of Science
Current Anthropology
University of Notre Dame Press
Wallstein Verlag
University of Chicago Press
Human genetics
National Socialism
Societies; institutions; academies
Science and politics
Rüdin, Ernst
Dobzhansky, Theodosius
Dunn, Leslie Clarence
Stern, Curt
Verschuer, Otmar von
Grant, Madison
Time Periods
20th century, early
20th century
19th century
20th century, late
United States
Weimar Republic (1919-1933)
Liverpool (England)
Great Britain
Kaiser-Wilhelm-Institut für Anthropologie, Menschliche Erblehre und Eugenik
Human Genome Project
Interessengemeinschaft Farbenindustrie Aktiengesellschaft
Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gesellschaft zur Förderung der Wissenschaften
Max-Planck-Gesellschaft zur Förderung der Wissenschaften

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