Creating the Master Race
August 8, 2009 through Feb. 14, 2010 NOW CLOSED
Adolf Hitler’s efforts to build a nation of superior Aryan beings in World War II Germany is examined in the exhibit Deadly Medicine: Creating the Master Race.
Organized by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the exhibit traces the journey of eugenics from its start as a scientific concept in the late 19th century to its deadly use by Nazi Germany as a justification for the sterilization and murder of millions of people.
“Eugenics proponents argued that by keeping the ‘unfit’ alive to reproduce and multiply, modern medicine and costly welfare programs were interfering with natural selection, the concept Charles Darwin called the ‘survival of the fittest’ in the animal and plant world,” said Chief Curator of History Fritz Hamer.
includes many photographs, posters, films and artifacts which tell the story of the effort to build a “master race.”
Girl being measured in 1932 as part of a large anthropological research study, on the hereditary composition of the German population, conducted at dozens of sites.
Ullstein Bild, Berlin
Museum guests will see books containing the theories which the Nazis used to justify the sterilizations of an estimated 400,000 Germans, and the gassing murders (in the name of euthanasia, or “mercy” deaths) of 70,000 patients deemed “unproductive” in private, state and church-run institutions.
Other artifacts include calipers used to measure heads to determine the perfect head shape; a brass microscope used by scientists of the period; a bronze “Honor Cross of German Motherhood” pin awarded to Germanic women who had four or five children (silver and gold pins were awarded for more children); a glass replica of a 1930s German female figure, which embodied the promise of science and medicine in the early 20th century; a fortified door from an isolation cell of a German psychiatric clinic; a poster from the 1911 International Hygiene Exhibition in Dresden; and much more.
Hamer said he hopes viewers will learn “the danger” of thinking that there is or could be an ideal version of humanity. “Every human being can contribute to society, given the right circumstance and support.”
Deadly Medicine is sponsored in part by the Samberg Family Foundation, the Dorot Foundation, the Viterbi Family Foundation of the Jewish Community Foundation of San Diego, and the Rosenbluth Family – Al, Sylvia, Bill and Jerry. Additional support was provided by the Takiff Family Foundation and the David Berg Foundation.
Local sponsor of Deadly Medicine is the South Carolina Council for the Holocaust.
A catalogue of this exhibit is available for sale in the Museum store, the Cotton Mill Exchange.
Viewer Discretion Advised
This exhibit contains material that may be disturbing to some viewers.