Exhibition Examines Role Of Scientists And Doctors In Holocaust

Holocaust, eugenics
This is a poster for the Nazi eugenics program. Printed in 1936, it proclaims, “We are not alone.” The column on the left shows the countries that already had forced sterilization for certain “social undesirables.” The columns on the bottom and right show countries considering eugenics programs.

Note the American flag on the left. Various U.S. states practiced compulsory sterilization as early as 1907, when Indiana instituted sterilization of “confirmed criminals, idiots, imbeciles, and rapists.” The law was overturned in 1921, only to be replaced in 1927 with a law requiring sterilization of the “Insane, feeble minded or epileptic.” That law stayed on the books until 1974. Many states had similar laws and this “social cleansing” program heavily influenced the Nazis.

The Nazis instituted their Law for the Prevention of Hereditarily Diseased Offspring in 1933, the same year Hitler came to power. Many scientists and doctors were quick to jump onto the Nazi bandwagon and began “studies” to prove how the Germanic peoples were superior to all other races. This gave a scholarly stamp of approval to the forced sterilization, and eventual killing, of millions of Jews, Gypsies, Slavs, and physically and mentally disabled.

This unseemly link between science and the Holocaust is being examined in a new exhibition at the National WWII Museum in New Orleans. “Deadly Medicine: Creating The Master Race” brings together posters, leaflets and photos of scientific examinations to show how the scientific community became complicit in the greatest crime of the 20th century.

It also shows how these ideas were sold to the German people. One picture in a high school textbook shows a German man bent under the weight of an alcoholic and a brutish-looking man, perhaps meant to portray a mentally disabled person, with the caption, “You are sharing the load! A hereditarily ill person costs 50,000 Reichsmarks on average up to the age of sixty.”

“Deadly Medicine: Creating The Master Race” runs until October 15, 2012.

[Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons]

Never forget: Holocaust museums and memorials around the world


Never forget: Holocaust museums and memorials around the world


Here at Gadling, our goal is to introduce readers to travel ideas that are relevant. While we strive to find the new and the cool, we realize that some journeys must occasionally lead us to confront difficult episodes in our past, whether on a personal or global scale.

Today is International Holocaust Remembrance Day, designated by the United Nations in 2005 to mark the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp on January 27, 1945. As we get further away from the Nazi atrocities of World War II and as we lose more Holocaust survivors to old age, a day to commemorate the Holocaust becomes ever more important.

During college, as I was considering a career as a Holocaust historian, I interned as a research assistant at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) in Washington, DC, one of the most comprehensive collections of Holocaust artifacts and documents in the entire world. My job was to transcribe video testimonies from Holocaust survivors, in particular men and women who had lived in the Jewish ghettos of Warsaw, Riga, and Vilnius. Watching those films and, indeed, encountering documents, photos, and memorabilia from the Holocaust on a daily basis brought home to me the significance of the mission of the USHMM and other Holocaust museums throughout the world.

While the best way to fully understand the magnitude of the Holocaust is to visit Auschwitz, Bergen-Belsen, Dachau, Sachsenhausen, or any of the other concentration camps in Central and Eastern Europe, museums and memorials in numerous cities and countries around the world serve to educate young and old and ensure that we never forget those who perished or the ones who lived to tell their stories. Take some time to reflect on this Holocaust Remembrance Day with this gallery of some of the world’s most renowned Holocaust museums and memorials.

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Photo: USHMM

Art thought destroyed by the Nazis is discovered


The Nazis called it “Degenerate Art”, works that didn’t conform to their taste for Germanic propaganda. Anything too experimental, anything too avantgarde, anything too Jewish, got locked away or destroyed.

Before they did that, however, they held the art up to public ridicule at a 1937 exhibition called Degenerate Art. Thousands of Germans went to this exhibition, although it’s hard to say how many came to lap up Nazi propaganda and how many came for a last look at works they assumed they’d never see again. The photo above shows Hitler visiting the exhibition. Notice how the paintings are hung at angles and angry graffiti is scrawled all around them.

Now a treasure trove of art long thought to have been destroyed by the Nazis is on display at Berlin’s Neues Museum. Eleven sculptures that were part of the Degenerate Art exhibit were found in a rubble-filled cellar on Königstrasse in Berlin. Like most of the city, this street was hit hard in the war and when new buildings were put up, they were built on the rubble of previous buildings. Archaeologists excavating ahead of a new subway line discovered the art.

It’s unclear how these sculptures survived. One theory is that someone who loved beauty more than Hitler hid them away in an apartment that was later destroyed. All the sculptures are fire damaged and some had to be pieced back together, yet this has only added to their dignity. The German magazine Der Spiegel has an excellent photo gallery of the sculptures.

[Photo courtesy Tyrenius via Wikimedia Commons]

Exhibition explores Germany’s relationship with Hitler

More than sixty years after the end of World War Two, Germans are still struggling with their Nazi past. While most of the population is too young to be culpable for World War Two, their parents or grandparents were involved. Many Germans opposed Hitler’s rise to power, but many more supported him, at least in the beginning.

A new exhibition at Berlin’s Deutsches Historisches Museum explores the German people’s relationship with Hitler. Hitler and the Germans: Nation and Crime brings together a wide range of artifacts and documents showing how Nazism came to dominate every part of German life. Hitler was everywhere–on postage stamps, magazine covers, even toys–and the Nazi party sought to have its ideology permeate every aspect of life.

During the 1920s the German economy was in ruins after losing the First World War and getting caught up in a global economic crisis. In his early speeches Hitler called on Germans to be proud, and blamed Germany’s loss in the First World War on Jews, socialists, and other “foreign elements”. Hitler became even more popular when he got into power and revived the economy. People who suddenly had good jobs after years of hardship and pessimism turned a blind eye to the regime’s seamier side.

Doing an exhibition on Nazism is tricky in Germany and some earlier attempts have been rejected by the police. It’s illegal to display the swastika except in a scientific or historical context, and the common fear is that any exhibition on Hitler will attract neo-Nazis. So far this exhibition has been well received and there have been no incidents.

Hitler and the Germans: Nation and Crime runs until 6 February 2011.

[Photo courtesy user Professional Assassin via Wikimedia Commons]

Schindler’s List factory becomes museum

During World War Two, German industrialist Oskar Schindler saved some 1,200 of his Jewish workers from extermination. His enamelware and munitions factories were considered vital for the German war effort and he claimed his workers all had special skills vital for the operation of his factories, whether they had or not. Many of his “skilled mechanics” were in fact children or handicapped people.

Schindler became the subject of the book Schindler’s Ark and later the movie Schindler’s List. Now part of his factory in Krakow has become a museum to the city’s war years.

The exhibitions cover the outbreak of the war, the German invasion of Poland, Polish resistance movements, and Schindler’s struggle to save his workers. The museum is a branch of the Krakow City Historical Museum. The front page of their website has a short video about Schindler that’s quite powerful, even if you don’t understand Polish.

Photo courtesy Noa Cafri via Wikimedia Commons.