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From Racism to Genocide: ANTHROPOLOGY IN THE THIRD REICH Hardcover – October 27, 2004


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: University of Illinois Press; 1St Edition edition (October 27, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0252029305
  • ISBN-13: 978-0252029301
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.3 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,746,163 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"An informative textbook with a clear message about scientific responsibility and morality. . . . The author should be praised."--Patterns of Prejudice

Book Description

In paperback for the first time, From Racism to Genocide is an explosive, richly detailed account of how Nazi anthropologists justified racism, developed practical applications of racist theory, and eventually participated in every phase of the Holocaust. 

 

Using original sources and previously unpublished documentation, Gretchen E. Schafft shows the total range of anti-human activity from within the confines of a particular discipline. Based on seven years of archival research in the United States and abroad, the work includes many original photos and documents, most of which have never before been published. It uses primary data and original texts whenever possible, including correspondence written by perpetrators. The book also reveals that the United States was not merely a bystander in this research, but instead contributed professional and financial support to early racial research that continued through the first five years of Hitler’s regime.

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Charlotte I. Miller on May 13, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This book is a combination of carefully researched historical analysis, biographical vignettes, and personal memoir written by medical anthropologist Gretchen Schafft. It documents work done by German anthropologists employed by foundations, academic institutions and the German government from the 1930s until the end of World War II. These anthropologists apparently embraced Nazi ideology so thoroughly that they left behind their scientific methods and ethics to become co-opted into the processes undertaken by the Nazi party, the SS and other government officials to eliminate political opponents, people of color, homosexuals, Roma, Polish, and Jews from German and German-occupied territory. Their ability to deceive themselves into believing that their work in categorizing people destined for death camps was scientifically valuable is astonishing. The fact that they were never punished for their complicity in the Final Solution is extremely sad.

Dr. Schafft has done an extremely thorough job of reviewing holocaust literature and newly available archival materials from both the Smithsonian Institution and sources in Europe to bring the reader extensive understanding of this co-option. She places the activities of the Third Reich's anthropologists in the context of other well known events from the rise of Nazism and the war. This convincing saga has, as Schafft says "no smoking gun" pointing to the crimes (including euthanasia, trafficking in body parts, and unethical torture filled medical experimentation) that these anthropologists very probably were complicit in.

I bought this book because I am interested in the moral lessons of the holocaust.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Karen H. Lindsey on October 1, 2008
Format: Paperback
This book is a facsinating view of how racism, policy, and science converged into state practice in the Third Reich. The depth of research is overwhelming;yet, inspiring. Some of the practices remain in our own society today. Practices which act to seperate and identify us as different from each other. The book echos to many issues we currently face.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book really opened my eyes to exactly who was doing what in the Nazi era to identify, classify, and basically mark for extermination, those who were part of the genocide. I had given little thought, as an anthropologist, as to what were the disciplines of those trying to use "racial identification and features" as tools to separate non-Aryans. The fact that they, for the most part were those with anthropology degrees was difficult to understand. However the author explains how they were participants. Wehn I teach about Race and Ethnicity in my Anthropology classes, from now on they will understand how our discipline was participatory.
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Format: Paperback
Schafft's work is concise, scholarly, and comprehensive. Her primary field of study is social anthropology and linguistics and much of the research in the work is from primary data she was involved in (11). FRG has both a broad and narrow focus. Her story of the Jews in Tarnow cannot be told without the broader surrounding story of the Third Reich in general. So, most of this is a historical `putting-into-perspective' work of anthropologists in the Third Reich, with a specific emphasis of the anthropologists at Tarnow. The ending brings the reader back into the present to discuss issues like scientism, racism, and denial (on both its civic and professional levels, cf. x).

Essentially, Schafft argues that the Third Reich anthropologists desire for scientism was a primary cause in the atrocities of the Third Reich, in the sense that -- if Hitler's policies were going to be carried out, someone from the university had to willfully and wholeheartedly do what the anthropologists did. She defines scientism as "the urge to follow lines of inquiry to the ultimate conclusion regardless of human consequences and without respect for standards of scientific thought and process" (1). This pursuit was at least partly the result of personal career building (1).

Of course there is an inherent power structure that the anthropologists are participating in. The anthropologists fit their research to "match government agency agendas without offering clear statements about the limitations such funding and policy influences place upon the scientific enterprise" (3). But it was not a one way street. Anthropologists helped to develop and support the Third Reich racial plans as well (3). Specifically at Tarnow, ". . .
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