Books by Stefan Kühl

Released: Jan. 1, 1994

Narrowly focused yet chillingly effective indictment of the American scientists and social theorists who inspired and applauded Nazi racist ideology. Eugenics—part science, part twisted Social Darwinism, according to German sociologist KÅhl—was first defined in 1883 by Francis Galton as the ``science of improving the stock''—a science that went on to give academic respectability to the earliest expressions of Nazi racism. Insisting that many of the assumptions underlying Nazi thought were ``by no means limited to German scientists,'' the author skillfully dismantles postwar attempts to marginalize the activities of the worldwide eugenics establishment, particularly in the US. With European ties frayed post-WW I, America became the main scientific reference point for German theorists seeking international legitimacy: it unfortunately proved an influential model, not only intellectually but politically. A 1907 Indiana law permitting the sterilization of the mentally handicapped long predated Germany's 1933 Law on Preventing Hereditarily Ill Progeny, and the 1924 American Immigration Restriction Act was later praised by the future FÅhrer in Mein Kampf. Meanwhile, US sponsors—including the Rockefeller Foundation and Jewish philanthropist James Loeb—helped fund major eugenics institutes in Germany. In turn, many of these sought greater recognition by offering honorary degrees to leading US eugenicists- -two of whom, Leon Whitney and Madison Grant, are glimpsed here proudly comparing appreciative letters from Hitler. A brief reference to a resurgence of scientific racism in today's academia adds an especially pertinent cautionary note. More a monograph than a fully realized history but, still, a well-documented revisionist rebuke to those who would isolate Nazism as a unique phenomenon. Read full book review >