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In Search of “Aryan Blood”

Serology in Interwar and National Socialist Germany

By Rachel E. Boaz

Publication Year: 2012

Explores the course of development of German seroanthropology from its origins in World War I until the end of the Third Reich. Gives an all encompassing interpretation of how the discovery of blood groups in around 1900 galvanised not only old mythologies of blood and origin but also new developments in anthropology and eugenics in the 1920s and 1930s. Boaz portrays how the personal motivations of blood scientists influenced their professional research, ultimately demonstrating how conceptually indeterminate and politically volatile the science of race was under the Nazi regime.

Published by: Central European University Press

Series: CEU Press Studies in the History of Medicine

Title Page, Copyright

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List of Figures

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pp. vii

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pp. ix

I received support and assistance from many in writing this manuscript. For their guidance and advice, I want to thank Richard A. Steigmann-Gall, Shelley O. Baranowski, Elizabeth M. Smith, and Alison Fletcher. Marius Turda and Paul Weindling provided both invaluable judgment and sharing of information. I am indebted to both Marius and...

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pp. 1-8

In Nazi Germany, basic civil rights—and ultimately the right to live— depended on whether one had "German blood." Meticulous racial categorization of individuals as either "German-blooded" or "non-German-blooded" relied primarily upon documentation, such as birth and baptismal certificates. Labeling was compulsory, as everyone...

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I. The Emergence of Blood Science

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pp. 9-40

Since its primitive beginnings in early modern Europe, racial anthropology traditionally relied upon physiognomic traits to determine an individual's race. Physiognomic traits meant bodily characteristics, which often included measurements of one's nose, various dimensions of the skull, and/ or the pigmentation of the hair, skin, and eyes...

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II. Seroanthropology in the early 1920s: Blood, Race, and Eugenics

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pp. 41-69

The Hirszfelds' research in Salonika was a remarkable anthropological study for its time. Not only did it propose a new method of racially screening populations, but it had surveyed an especially large subject group (8,000 people), which was crucial if the work was to receive a positive reception in the medical community. In addition, the implications...

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III. Organizing Seroanthropology: the Establishment of the German Institute for Blood Group Research

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pp. 71-88

By the mid-1920s there were enough blood type surveys to suggest that some affiliation might exist between blood and other physical characteristics. Völkisch physicians tended to interpret type B blood as a marker of Eastern descent and, though there had been findings to indicate otherwise, they further linked this type to other...

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IV. Seroanthropology at its Height: Distinguishing Those with "Pure blood "

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pp. 89-115

Despite funding setbacks, the German Institute for Blood Group Research was able to pursue its research, albeit on a much less extensive scale than originally proposed. Although its directors welcomed analyses of non-German subjects, they were particularly interested in determining the serological makeup of what they termed...

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V. The Jew as Examiner and Examined

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pp. 117-148

Jews, or individuals of "Jewish descent," figured prominently in both the development and advancement of blood science. Karl Landsteiner launched the discipline of serology with his discovery of the blood types in 1900. In 1906 German bacteriologist August von Wassermann developed a blood test for the diagnosis of syphilis that...

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VI. Blood as Metaphor and science in the Nuremberg Race Laws

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pp. 149-185

Hitler's eugenic and racial beliefs attracted right-wing political and medical ideologues long before his appointment as chancellor in 1933. In 1930 German race theorist Fritz Lenz lauded him as the first politician "of truly great import, who has taken racial hygiene as a serious element of state policy...

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VII. The Pedagogy and Practice of Seroanthropology During World War II

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pp. 187-223

Throughout the 1930s, the Third Reich focused primarily on stabilizing domestic matters in preparation for war. During this time, racial segregation in Germany continued to escalate; by 1939, more than 400 additional decrees, regulations, and amendments had consigned Jews and other "non- Aryan" groups to the outer fringes of...

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pp. 225-241

While scientific studies of blood and race were not utilized by the Nazis in enforcing the identification and separation of different racial types, blood rhetoric remained politically useful. German race ideologues were able to exploit the flexible notion of blood defilement, which could function in either a clinical or sexual context. As advancements...

Index of Names

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pp. 243-245

Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9786155053450
Print-ISBN-13: 9789639776500

Page Count: 257
Publication Year: 2012

Series Title: CEU Press Studies in the History of Medicine