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Introduction At the conclusion of World War II, the American Military Tribunal at Nuremberg indicted Major General Karl Brandt of the Waffen-SS for conspiracy to commit war crimes and crimes against humanity. Brandt had been Adolf Hitler’s personal physician and the most important medical authority in the Third Reich. The speci- fic crimes charged in the case of United States of America v. Karl Brandt et al. fell into three categories: 1. Implementing a “euthanasia” program in which the sick, the aged, the mentally ill, and the members of racial minorities were secretly executed in gas chambers. 2. Murdering concentration camp prisoners for the express purpose of collecting their skulls for research. 3. Performing medical experiments on defenseless death camp inmates against their will. These experiments involved sterilizing healthy men and women; forcing subjects to ingest lethal amounts of poison or seawater; performing mutilating and crippling bone, muscle, and nerve operations ; and exposing inmates to typhus, malaria, yellow fever, mustard gas, smallpox, burning phosphorus, freezing temperature, high altitude, and epidemic jaundice. Inhisdefense,Brandtintroducedintoevidenceabook published in Munich in 1925 that had vigorously advocated and justified the elimination of inferior peoples. Brandt highlighted for the court excerpts from the book that called on the state to destroy sickly infants and sterilize defective adults who were of no value to the community .Littlewonderthatuponreadingthebook,theFührer himself had announced: “This book is my Bible.” The American judges at Nuremberg were well aware that Brandt’s defense exhibit was actually the German translation of a work originally published in the United States in 1916: ThePassingoftheGreatRace, written by the prophet of scienti fic racism in America, Madison Grant. Grant’s book held that mankind was divided into a series of hierarchically arranged subspecies, with the blondhaired , blue-eyed Nordics at the top of the ethnological pyramid and the other, less-worthy races falling into place beneath the master race. In the 1920s and 1930s, it had been quite common for congressmen to read aloud from Grant’s book in the U.S. Capitol to argue for restricting the immigration of the “inferior ” non-Nordic races and even to justify the lynching of African Americans. The Nuremberg judges therefore had to come to terms with the discomfiting irony that the Nazi doctor was tracing the roots of the Third Reich’s eugenics program to a best-selling book by a recognized American scholar. The tribunal nonetheless found Dr. Brandt guilty and sentenced him to death—and the world seemingly passed the same judgment on the philosophies espoused in The Passing of the Great Race. In fact, the very name of Madison Grant was consigned to the ash heap of history after World War II. But Grant and his ideas have been resurrected in the twenty-first century, where they simmer just below the surface of respectable society and inspire—and are promulgated on the websites of—various white-power groups and antiimmigration organizations. There was a time, however, when Grant and his theories were accorded much greater respect. During the first four decades of the twentieth century, Grant was an important and admired figure who played a prominent role in several mainstream causes in the United States. Grant, for instance, was the leader of the eugenics movement, and in addition to convincing Congress to enact the immigration restriction legislation of the 1920s, his influence was crucial in the passage by a majority of the states of coercive sterilization statutes, by which tens of thousands of Americans deemed to be unworthy of procreation were sterilized from the 1930s to the 1970s. Grant also cooperated with southern white racists during this period to ban miscegenation, and he worked with northern black nationalists such as Marcus Garvey to repatriate America’s Negroes back to Africa. What is especially fascinating (or some might say distressing) is that even as Madison Grant sought to eliminate inferior races, he endeavored to preserve for posterity our nation’s natural beauty, and along with his friend Theodore Roosevelt he became one of the founders of the conservation movement. Among his many accomplishments, Grant preserved the California redwoods, saved the American bison from extinction, founded the Bronx Zoo, fought for strict gun-control laws, built the Bronx River Parkway, helped to create Glacier and Denali National Parks, and worked tirelessly to protect the whales in the ocean, the bald eagles in the sky, and the pronghorn antelopes on the prairie. xii Introduction In commemoration of his conservation efforts, the world’s...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9781584658108
Related ISBN
9781584657156
MARC Record
OCLC
667076920
Pages
508
Launched on MUSE
2012-07-31
Language
English
Open Access
No
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