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Jewish Journal

Loyola hosts Nazi medicine exhibit

by Tom Tugend

September 27, 2010 | 12:51 pm

Students at the Berlin School for the Blind examine racial head models circa 1935. Students were taught Gregor Mendel’s principles of inheritance and the purported application of those laws to human heredity and principles of race. During the Third Reich, German born deaf or blind, like those born with mental illnesses or disabilities, were urged to submit to compulsory sterilization as a civic duty.  Credit: Blinden-Museum an der Johann-August-Zeune-Schule fur Blinde, Berlin

Students at the Berlin School for the Blind examine racial head models circa 1935. Students were taught Gregor Mendel’s principles of inheritance and the purported application of those laws to human heredity and principles of race. During the Third Reich, German born deaf or blind, like those born with mental illnesses or disabilities, were urged to submit to compulsory sterilization as a civic duty. Credit: Blinden-Museum an der Johann-August-Zeune-Schule fur Blinde, Berlin

“Deadly Medicine: Creating the Master Race,” an exhibit illustrating how German doctors and Nazi ideologues misused science to legitimize persecution, murder and genocide, is now on display at Loyola Marymount University, through Nov. 24.

The exhibition “explores the Holocaust’s roots in then-contemporary scientific and pseudo-scientific thought,” curator Susan Bachrach said. “At the same time, it touches on complex ethical issues we face today, such as how societies acquire and use scientific knowledge, and how they balance the rights of the individual with the needs of the larger community.”

According to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, which created the traveling exhibit, eugenics theory sprang from the turn-of-the-century scientific beliefs that Charles Darwin’s “survival of the fittest” could also be applied to humans.

Advocates in Europe and the United States believed that through careful control of marriage and reproduction, a nation’s genetic health could be improved.

The Nazi regime was founded on the conviction that “inferior” races and individuals had to be eliminated from German society so that the fittest “Aryans” could survive. The Nazis implemented a uniquely racist and anti-Semitic variation of genetics to “scientifically” build a “superior race.”

Hitler’s “racial hygiene” programs led to the killing of six million Jews, as well as of “foreign-blooded” Roma and Sinti (Gypsies), those considered “hereditarily ill,” homosexuals and “inferior” races in Poland and the Soviet Union.

Along with the exhibition, LMU will host the 10th annual Southern California Teacher Forum on Holocaust Education, Oct. 7-9. The three-day conference assists educators in teaching the history of the Holocaust and related contemporary issues.

The exhibit at the William H. Hannon Library on LMU’s Westchester campus is open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday-Friday, and 11 a.m.-8 p.m. on weekends. Admission and parking are free. For additional information, contact Jamie Hazlitt at (310) 338-5234, or e-mail .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

For information on the Teacher Forum, contact Annette Pijuan at (310) 338-3769, or e-mail .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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