"The Biology of the Holocaust"

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Paul J. Weindling

(Oxford Brookes University)

"The Biology of the Holocaust"


Paper presented to the conference:

"Crafting Humans:From Genesis to Eugenics and Beyond"

8-10 September 2011, Queens College, Oxford


Second Annual Conference of the Berendel Foundation, in association with the Centre for health Medicine and Society and History of Race and Eugenics Research Group at Oxford Brookes University, the University of Oxford, and the Wellcome Trust


Abstract: Many myths surround Nazi race theory and reproductive biology. Human experiments and other forms of coercive research under National Socialism are one of the most notorious areas of Nazi atrocities. Yet surprisingly little is known about many of the victims. The paper will consider the reasons for this neglect. I will consider the origins of the experiments and how and why they were distinct from normal research. One key question is the relationship to animal research.  Another issue is the extent to which the experiments were initiated and administered by the SS. I will examine the different phases of the experiments, and consider reasons for their intensification as well as diverse rationales. The emphasis will be on the victims, as they provide evidence of the extent and nature of the experiments that has hitherto been overlooked. Here I will draw on collaborative research on the high numbers of victims who were killed and survived the Nazi human experiments. However questionable the biomedical significance, the bioethical legacy was to be considerable.


Short Bio: Paul Weindling is Wellcome Trust Research Professor in the History of Medicine at Oxford Brookes University, and his research covers evolution and society, public health, and human experimentation post-1800. He has especial interests in eugenics, human experiments, corporate philanthropies like the Rockefeller Foundation, and medical refugees. He is the author of numerous books, including the acclaimed Health, Race and German Politics between Unification and Nazism, 1870-1945 (1989).He has just completed a biographical project on the remarkable life of psychiatrist John West Thompson.



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