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Hitler, Genocide, & the California Connection

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Sunday, November 9, 2003 copyright 2003 San Francisco


Hitler and his henchmen victimized an entire continent

and exterminated millions in his quest for a so-called Master Race. But the concept of a white, blond-haired, blue-eyed

master Nordic race didn't originate with Hitler. The idea was created in the United States, and cultivated in California, decades before Hitler came to power. California

eugenicists played an important, although little-known, role in the American eugenics movement's campaign for ethnic cleansing.

Eugenics was the pseudoscience aimed at "improving"

the human race. In its extreme, racist form, this meant wiping away all human beings deemed "unfit," preserving only those who conformed to a Nordic stereotype.

Elements of the philosophy were enshrined as national

policy by forced sterilization and segregation laws, as well as

marriage restrictions, enacted in 27 states. In 1909, California became the third state to adopt such laws. Ultimately, eugenics practitioners coercively sterilized some

60,000 Americans, barred the marriage of thousands,

forcibly segregated thousands in "colonies," and persecuted untold numbers in ways we are just learning. Before World War II, nearly half of coercive sterilizations were

done in California, and even after the war, the state

accounted for a third of all such surgeries.

California was considered an epicenter of the American

eugenics movement. During the 20th century's first decades, California's eugenicists included potent but little-known race scientists, such as Army venereal disease specialist Dr. Paul Popenoe, citrus magnate Paul Gosney, Sacramento banker

Charles Goethe, as well as members of the California

state Board of Charities and Corrections and the University of

California Board of Regents.

Eugenics would have been so much bizarre parlor talk

had it not been for extensive financing by corporate philanthropies, specifically the Carnegie Institution, the Rockefeller Foundation and the Harriman railroad fortune.

They were all in league with some of America's most

respected scientists from such prestigious universities as Stanford, Yale, Harvard and Princeton.

These academicians espoused race theory and race

science, and then faked and twisted data to serve eugenics' racist aims.

Stanford President David Starr Jordan originated the

notion of "race and blood" in his 1902 racial epistle "Blood of a Nation," in which the university scholar declared that human qualities and conditions such as talent and poverty were passed through the blood.

In 1904, the Carnegie Institution established a

laboratory complex at Cold Spring Harbor on Long Island that stockpiled millions of index cards on ordinary Americans, as researchers carefully plotted the removal of families, bloodlines and whole peoples. From Cold Spring Harbor, eugenics advocates agitated in the legislatures of America, as well as the nation's social service agencies and associations.

The Harriman railroad fortune paid local charities, such as the New York Bureau of Industries and Immigration, to seek out Jewish, Italian and other immigrants in New York and other crowded cities and subject them to deportation, confinement or forced sterilization.

The Rockefeller Foundation helped found the German eugenics program and even funded the program that Josef Mengele worked in before he went to Auschwitz.

Much of the spiritual guidance and political agitation

for the American eugenics movement came from California's

quasi-autonomous eugenic societies, such as Pasadena's Human Betterment Foundation and the California branch of

the American Eugenics Society, which coordinated much

of their activity with the Eugenics Research Society in Long Island. These organizations -- which functioned as part of a closely-knit network -- published racist eugenic

newsletters and pseudoscientific journals, such as

Eugenical News and Eugenics, and propagandized for the Nazis.

Eugenics was born as a scientific curiosity in the

Victorian age. In 1863, Sir Francis Galton, a cousin of Charles Darwin, theorized that if talented people married only other talented people, the result would be measurably

better offspring. At the turn of the last century,

Galton's ideas were imported to the United States just as Gregor Mendel's principles of heredity were rediscovered. American eugenics advocates believed with religious

fervor that the same Mendelian concepts determining

the color and size of peas, corn and cattle also governed the social and intellectual character of man.

In a United States demographically reeling from immigration upheaval and torn by post-Reconstruction chaos, race conflict was everywhere in the early 20th century. Elitists, utopians and so-called progressives fused their

smoldering race fears and class bias with their desire

to make a better world. They reinvented Galton's eugenics into a repressive and racist ideology. The intent: Populate the Earth with vastly more of their own

socioeconomic and biological kind -- and less or none

of everyone else.

The superior species the eugenics movement sought was

populated not merely by tall, strong, talented people. Eugenicists craved blond, blue-eyed Nordic

types. This group alone, they believed, was fit to

inherit the Earth. In the process, the movement intended to subtract emancipated Negroes, immigrant Asian laborers, Indians, Hispanics, East Europeans, Jews, dark- haired hill

folk, poor people, the infirm and anyone classified

outside the gentrified genetic lines drawn up by American raceologists.

How? By identifying so-called defective family trees

and subjecting them to lifelong segregation and sterilization programs to kill their bloodlines. The grand plan was to literally wipe away the reproductive capability of

those deemed weak and inferior -- the so-called unfit.

The eugenicists hoped to neutralize the viability of 10 percent of the population at a sweep, until none were left except themselves.

Eighteen solutions were explored in a Carnegie-supported 1911 "Preliminary Report of the Committee of the Eugenic Section of the American Breeder's Association to Study and to Report on the Best Practical Means for Cutting

Off the Defective Germ-Plasm in the Human Population."

Point No. 8 was euthanasia.

The most commonly suggested method of eugenicide in

the United States was a "lethal chamber" or public, locally operated gas chambers. In 1918, Popenoe,

the Army venereal disease specialist during World War

I, co-wrote the widely used textbook, "Applied Eugenics," which argued, "From an historical point of view, the first method which presents itself is execution . . . Its value

in keeping up the standard of the race should not be

underestimated." "Applied Eugenics" also devoted a chapter to "Lethal Selection," which operated "through the destruction of the individual by some adverse feature

of the environment, such as excessive cold, or bacteria, or by bodily deficiency."

Eugenic breeders believed American society was not

ready to implement an organized lethal solution. But many mental institutions and doctors practiced improvised medical lethality and passive euthanasia on their own. One institution in Lincoln, Ill., fed its incoming patients milk from

tubercular cows believing a eugenically strong individual would be immune.

Thirty to 40 percent annual death rates resulted at

Lincoln. Some doctors practiced passive eugenicide one newborn infant at a time. Others doctors at mental institutions engaged in lethal neglect.

Nonetheless, with eugenicide marginalized, the main

solution for eugenicists was the rapid expansion of forced segregation and sterilization, as well as more marriage restrictions. California led the nation, performing nearly all

sterilization procedures with little or no due process. In its first 25 years of eugenics legislation, California sterilized

9,782 individuals, mostly women. Many were classified as "bad girls," diagnosed as "passionate," "oversexed" or "sexually wayward." At the Sonoma State Home,

some women were sterilized because of what was deemed

an abnormally large clitoris or labia.

In 1933 alone, at least 1,278 coercive sterilizations

were performed, 700 on women. The state's two leading sterilization mills in 1933 were Sonoma State

Home with 388 operations and Patton State Hospital

with 363 operations. Other sterilization centers included Agnews, Mendocino, Napa, Norwalk, Stockton and Pacific Colony state hospitals.

Even the U.S. Supreme Court endorsed aspects of

eugenics. In its infamous 1927 decision, Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote, "It is better for all the world, if instead of waiting to execute degenerate offspring for crime, or to let them starve for their imbecility, society can

prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing

their kind . . . Three generations of imbeciles are enough." This decision opened the floodgates for thousands to be coercively sterilized or otherwise persecuted

as subhuman. Years later, the Nazis at the Nuremberg

trials quoted Holmes words in their own defense.

Only after eugenics became entrenched in the United

States was the campaigntransplanted into Germany, in no small measure through the efforts of California eugenicists, who published booklets idealizing sterilization and

circulated them to German officials and scientists.

Hitler studied American eugenics laws. He tried to

legitimize his anti- Semitism by medicalizing it, and wrapping it in the more palatable pseudoscientific facade of eugenics. Hitler was able to recruit more followers among reasonable Germans by claiming that science was on his side.

Hitler's race hatred sprung from his own mind, but the

intellectual outlines of the eugenics Hitler adopted in 1924 were made in America.

During the '20s, Carnegie Institution eugenic scientists cultivated deep personal and professional relationships with Germany's fascist eugenicists. In "Mein Kampf," published in 1924, Hitler quoted American eugenic ideology

and openly displayed a thorough knowledge of American

eugenics. "There is today one state," wrote Hitler, "in which at least weak beginnings toward a better conception (of immigration) are noticeable. Of course, it is not our

model German Republic, but the United States."

Hitler proudly told his comrades just how closely he

followed the progress of the American eugenics movement. "I have studied with great interest," he

told a fellow Nazi, "the laws of several American

states concerning prevention of reproduction by people whose progeny would, in all probability, be of no value or be injurious to the racial stock."

Hitler even wrote a fan letter to American eugenics

leader Madison Grant, calling his race-based eugenics book, "The Passing of the Great Race," his "bible."

Now, the American term "Nordic" was freely exchanged

with "Germanic" or"Aryan." Race science, racial purity and racial dominance became the driving force behind Hitler's Nazism. Nazi eugenics would ultimately dictate who

would be persecuted in a Reich-dominated Europe, how

people would live, and how they would die. Nazi doctors would become the unseen generals in Hitler's war against the Jews and other Europeans deemed inferior. Doctors

would create the science, devise the eugenic formulas,

and hand-select the victims for sterilization, euthanasia and mass extermination.

During the Reich's early years, eugenicists across America welcomed Hitler's plans as the logical fulfillment of their own decades of research and effort. California eugenicists republished Nazi propaganda for American consumption. They also arranged for Nazi scientific exhibits, such as an

August 1934 display at the L.A. County Museum, for the

annual meeting of the American Public Health Association.

In 1934, as Germany's sterilizations were accelerating

beyond 5,000 permonth, the California eugenics leader C. M. Goethe, upon returning from Germany, ebulliently bragged to a colleague, "You will be interested to know that your work has played a powerful part in shapingthe opinions of the

group of intellectuals who are behind Hitler in this

epoch-making program. Everywhere I sensed that their opinions have been tremendously stimulated by

American thought . . . I want you, my dear friend, to

carry this thought with you for the rest of your life, that you have really jolted into action a great government of 60 million people."

That same year, 10 years after Virginia passed its

sterilization act, Joseph DeJarnette, superintendent of Virginia's Western State Hospital, observed in

the Richmond Times-Dispatch, "The Germans are beating

us at our own game."

More than just providing the scientific roadmap,

America funded Germany's eugenic institutions.

By 1926, Rockefeller had donated some $410,000 --

almost $4 million in today's money -- to hundreds of German researchers. In May 1926, Rockefeller awarded $250,000 toward creation of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for

Psychiatry. Among the leading psychiatrists at the

German Psychiatric Institute was Ernst Rüdin, who became director and eventually an architect of Hitler's systematic medical repression.

Another in the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute's complex of

eugenics institutions was the Institute for Brain Research. Since 1915, it had operated out of a single room. Everything changed when Rockefeller money arrived in 1929. A

grant of $317,000 allowed the institute to construct a

major building and take center stage in German race biology. The institute received additional grants from the Rockefeller Foundation during the next several years. Leading the institute, once again, was Hitler's medical henchman Ernst

Rüdin. Rüdin's organization became a prime director

and recipient of the murderous experimentation and research conducted on Jews, Gypsies and others.

Beginning in 1940, thousands of Germans taken from old

age homes, mental institutions and other custodial facilities were systematically gassed. Between 50,000 and 100,000 were eventually killed.

Leon Whitney, executive secretary of the American

Eugenics Society, declared of Nazism, "While we were *****-footing around ... the Germans were calling a spade a spade."

A special recipient of Rockefeller funding was the

Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Anthropology, Human Heredity and Eugenics in Berlin. For decades,

American eugenicists had craved twins to advance their

research into heredity.

The Institute was now prepared to undertake such

research on an unprecedented level. On May 13, 1932, the Rockefeller Foundation in New York dispatched a radiogram to its Paris office: JUNE MEETING EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE





At the time of Rockefeller's endowment, Otmar Freiherr

von Verschuer, a hero in American eugenics circles, functioned as a head of the Institute for Anthropology, Human Heredity and Eugenics. Rockefeller funding of that

institute continued both directly and through other

research conduits during Verschuer's early tenure. In 1935, Verschuer left the institute to form a rival eugenics facility in Frankfurt that was much heralded in the American

eugenics press. Research on twins in the Third Reich

exploded, backed by government decrees. Verschuer wrote in Der Erbarzt, a eugenics doctor's journal he edited, that Germany's war would yield a "total solution to the

Jewish problem."

Verschuer had a longtime assistant. His name was Josef


On May 30, 1943, Mengele arrived at Auschwitz.

Verschuer notified the German Research Society, "My assistant, Dr. Josef Mengele (M.D., Ph.D.) joined me

in this branch of research. He is presently employed

as Hauptsturmführer (captain) and camp physician in the Auschwitz concentration camp. Anthropological testing of the most diverse racial groups in this concentration camp is being carried out with permission of the SS Reichsführer (Himmler)."

Mengele began searching the boxcar arrivals for twins.

When he found them,

he performed beastly experiments, scrupulously wrote

up the reports and sent the paperwork back to Verschuer's institute for evaluation. Often, cadavers, eyes and other body parts were also dispatched to Berlin's eugenic


Rockefeller executives never knew of Mengele. With few

exceptions, the foundation had ceased all eugenicsstudies in

Nazi-occupied Europe before the war erupted in 1939. But by that time the die had been cast. The talented men Rockefeller and Carnegie financed, the great institutions they

helped found, and the science they helped create took

on a scientific momentum of their own.

After the war, eugenics was declared a crime against humanity -- an act of genocide. Germans were tried and they cited the California statutes in their defense -- to no avail. They were found guilty.

However, Mengele's boss Verschuer escaped prosecution.

Verschuer re- established his connections with California

eugenicists who had gone underground and renamed their crusade "human genetics." Typical was an exchange July 25, 1946, when Popenoe wrote Verschuer,

"It was indeed a pleasure to hear from you again. I have been very anxious about my colleagues in Germany . . . I suppose sterilization has been discontinued in Germany?" Popenoe offered tidbits about various American eugenics luminaries and then sent various eugenics publications. In a

separate package, Popenoe sent some cocoa, coffee and other goodies.

Verschuer wrote back, "Your very friendly letter of

7/25 gave me a great deal of pleasure and you have my heartfelt thanks for it. The letter builds another bridge between your and my scientific work; I hope that this bridge

will never again collapse but rather make possible

valuable mutual enrichment and stimulation."

Soon, Verschuer again became a respected scientist in

Germany and around the world. In 1949, he became a corresponding member of the newly formed

American Society of Human Genetics, organized by

American eugenicists and geneticists.

In the fall of 1950, the University of Münster offered

Verschuer a position at its new Institute of Human Genetics, where he later became a dean. In the early and mid-1950s, Verschuer became an honorary member of numerous

prestigious societies, including the Italian Society

of Genetics, the Anthropological Society of Vienna, and the Japanese Society for Human Genetics.

Human genetics' genocidal roots in eugenics were

ignored by a victorious generation that refused to link itself to the crimes of Nazism and by succeeding generations that never knew the truth of the years leading up to war. Now governors of five states, including California, have issued public apologies to their citizens, past and present, for

sterilization and other abuses spawned by the eugenics movement.

Human genetics became an enlightened endeavor in the

late 20th century. Hard-working, devoted scientists finally cracked the human code through the Human Genome Project. Now, every individual can be biologically identified

and classified by trait and ancestry. Yet even now,

some leading voices in the genetic world are calling for a cleansing of the unwanted among us, and even a master human species.

There is understandable wariness about more ordinary

forms of abuse, for example, in denying insurance or employment based on genetic tests. On Oct.

14, the United States' first genetic anti-discrimination

legislation passed the Senate by unanimous vote. Yet because genetics research is global, no single

nation's law can stop the threats.

Edwin Black is author of the award-winning "IBM and

the Holocaust" and the recently released "War Against the Weak" (published by Four Walls Eight Windows), from which this article is adapted.

http://wwf.org http://greenpeaceusa.org

http://www.peta.org http://www.webreleaf.com




http://www.e-thepeople.com http://www.speakout.com

http://www.petitiononline.com http://www.alphacdc.com







Helpsites and places where twigs of poetree grow original.gif








Metaphorical Poet original.gif


Autumn Leaves original.gif


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What are all your thoughts on this ForRizzle?

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Hummm - I am a little disturbed by the fact the US had until the late 1970's a program of forced Sterilization in many of the US states. And seemed to be the seeds of Hitlers Genocide in Mein Kampf. The US programs targeted the poor, criminals, and mentally ill. Most did not even consent to the sterilization. It was call "Eugenics" fo those who care to google and research it. It was state sponsored sterilization of "undesirables".. I never thought we did anything like that and was shocked to learn of it. I saw North Carolina is now paying the living victims or families $25k which is really nothing! This is a shocker which most Americans have never heard of because it is suppressed somewhat by mainstream media due to the implications..


Eugenics: America's dark past

By Rishi Mehta

Published: Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Article Tools: Page 1 of 2

During the 20th century, at least 30 states adopted eugenics, ordering the forced sterilization of almost 100,000 Americans. While the practice ended in the late 1970s, the tragedy still lingers, as thousands alive today are left involuntarily sterile for reasons ranging from low IQ test scores to laziness.

As these living victims speak out about America's dark past, states must begin to take responsibility for a practice which had far-reaching effects not only within our country but outside as well. We must assure that such a past does not repeat itself with future generations, by creating a national memorial and a museum to house the history of America's eugenics program. Such a history is marked with a "pseudo-science" that had Nazi ramifications and was continually supported by all Americans.

Armed with the "science" of eugenics, for fifty years state governments preyed on those individuals who suffered from alcoholism, diabetes, depression, and epilepsy. Often using test scores and biased pedigrees, the program made the homeless, orphaned, blind, deaf, feebleminded, and promiscuous sterile. Proponents of such a program believed the government should sterilize those who are lazy, promiscuous, and feebleminded, so that the social problems of America do not get passed to future generations.

Raymond Hudlow was one such individual who was forcefully sterilized. He was institutionalized at age 16 when his abusive father blamed him for a house fire. By the age of 17, the state deemed him a "moron" and ordered him to be castrated. Now at age 76, Mr. Hudlow holds onto his three medals of honor from World War II as proof that he was in no shape or form a moron. While no one can deny the tragedy that Mr. Hudlow endured, there were those who endured greater pain, as they were made involuntary sterile without even knowing it.

Elaine Riddick of North Carolina was raped and impregnated at age 14 in 1968 and was subsequently ordered by the state to be sterilized, citing "continual promiscuity." While giving birth, Ms. Riddick was made sterile, as she assumed doctors were just performing a routine post-birth procedure, as. She would find out four years later of the horrific act.

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Edited by ForRizzle

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Modern eugenics originated in the United States, and then spread to Europe, Japan, and South America. Here is a review of three books on American eugenics:

War Against the Weak: Eugenics and America's Campaign to Create a Master Race by Edwin Black, 2003.

The Unfit: A History of a Bad Idea by Elof Axel Carlson, 2001.

American Eugenics: Race, Queer Anatomy, and the Science of Nationalism by Nancy Ordover, 2003.

A review of three recent books on eugenics by Matt Nuenke, October, 2003: http://home.comcast.net/~neoeugenics/Unfit.htm

Edited by Asian

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China's current eugenics policies, excerpt from http://www.amren.com/0111issue/0111issue.htm#article1

Prof. Lynn is convinced, however, that an Asian country—most likely China—will soon institute a mandatory ES program for its population, and that the resulting improvement in its gene pool will tip the international balance of power decisively in its favor. Attitudes in China radically differ from those in the West. Chinese law already requires sterilization of mental retardates and those with genetic illnesses. Prenatal testing of fetuses is mandatory, and defectives must be aborted. No one with mental illness, venereal disease, or hepatitis may marry.

In the mid-1990s, a poll-taker asked Chinese and Western doctors the following question: Should there be mandatory sterilization for a single, blind woman on public welfare who has already had three children by three different men, all of whom are absent from the household? Only five percent of Western doctors but 82 percent of Chinese doctors said “yes.”

Now that socialism is discredited, Prof. Lynn thinks the Chinese will fill the ideological void with eugenics. He predicts it will become the first, full-fledged eugenic state: all 12-year-old girls will be fitted with contraceptives, only approved couples will be permitted to have children, and ES will be used for all births. Psychopathy and genetic diseases will be eliminated, and IQ will stabilize at the theoretical maximum of about 200 in six or seven generations. Licensing parents will seem just as reasonable as licensing drivers.

Prof. Lynn predicts that in the short run, China’s rulers will clone themselves. In most cases this will mean talent and ability are passed on to the next generation, and it will make it easier for the oligarchs to pass on power to people they can trust—their own twins.

Prof. Lynn’s best guess at a timetable is that ES will be perfected and in obligatory use in China within ten years. Twenty years later there will be the first generation of ES adults, and 20 years after that, half the working population will have come from selected embryos. In 50 years, therefore, China will be the world’s most formidable power.

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[The following is the first essay from Jewish Eugenics and Other Essays, Three Papers Read Before the New York Board of Jewish Ministers, 1915, Bloch Publishing Company, New York, 1916.]

Jewish Eugenics

By Rabbi Max Reichler

Who knows the cause of Israel’s survival? Why did the Jew survive the

onslaughts of Time, when others, numerically and politically stronger,

succumbed? Obedience to the Law of Life, declares the modern student

of eugenics, was the saving quality which rendered the Jewish race

immune from disease and destruction. “The Jews, ancient and modern,”

says Dr. Stanton Coit, “have always understood the science of eugenics,

and have governed themselves in accordance with it; hence the

preservation of the Jewish race.”1

I. Jewish Attitude

To be sure eugenics as a science could hardly have existed among the

ancient Jews; but many eugenic rules were certainly incorporated in the

large collection of Biblical and Rabbinical laws. Indeed there are clear

indications of a conscious effort to utilize all influences that might

improve the inborn qualities of the Jewish race, and to guard against any

practice that might vitiate the purity of the race, or “impair the racial

qualities of future generations” either physically, mentally, or morally.2

The Jew approached the matter of sex relationship neither with the horror

of the prude, nor with the passionate eagerness of the pagan, but with

the sane and sound attitude of the far-seeing prophet. His goal was the

creation of the ideal home, which to him meant the abode of purity and

happiness, the source of strength and vigor for body and mind.4

II. Home of the Pure Bloods

The very founder of the Jewish race, the patriarch Abraham, recognized

the importance of certain inherited qualities, and insisted that the wife of

his “only beloved son” should not come from “the daughters of the

Canaanites,” but from the seed of a superior stock.4

In justifying this seemingly narrow view of our patriarch, one of the

Rabbis significantly suggests: “Even if the wheat of your own clime does

not appear to be of the best, its seeds will prove more productive than

others not suitable to that particular soil.”5

This contention is eugenically correct. Davenport tells of a settlement

worker of this city who made special inquiry concerning a certain unruly

and criminally inclined section of his territory, and found that the

offenders came from one village in Calabria, known as “the home of the

brigands.”6 Just as there is a home of the brigands, so there may be “a

home of the pure bloods.”

Eugenicists also claim that though consanguineous marriages are in

most cases injurious to the progeny, yet where relatives possess

“valuable characters, whether apparent or not, marriages between them

might be encouraged, as a means of rendering permanent a rare and

valuable family trait, which might otherwise be much less likely to

become an established characteristic.”7

Abraham’s servant, Eliezer, so the Midrash states, desired to offer his

own daughter to Isaac, but his master sternly rebuked him, saying:

“Thou art cursed, and my son is blessed, and it does not behoove the

cursed to mate with the blessed, and thus deteriorate the quality of the


III. Early Marriages

The aim of eugenics is to encourage the reproduction of the good and

“blessed” human protoplasm and the elimination of the impure and

“cursed” human protoplasm. According to Francis Galton, it is “to check

the birthrate of the unfit, and to further the productivity of the fit by early

marriages and the rearing of healthful children.”

The Rabbis may or may not have had such a definite purpose in mind,

but their Halachic legislation and Haggadic observations naturally

tended to bring about the same results. Early marriages were praised as

most desirable. Rabbi Ishmael claimed that God was greatly displeased

with the man who did not marry before the age of twenty.9 Rav Hunah

refused to see Rav Hammuna, a man of great repute (adam gadol), after

the former discovered that his visitor was a bachelor.10 “He who is not

married,” runs a Talmudic saying, “is destitute of all joy, blessing, and

happiness.”11 “He has no conception of the sweetness of life”;12 indeed

“he cannot be regarded as a man at all.”13

IV. Reproduction

Among the seven types not acceptable before God are included both the

unmarried man and the married man without children.14 A man without

children experiences death in life,15 and surely deserves our pity when he

departs from this earth.16 For only he is dead who leaves no son behind

to continue his work, while he who leaves even one worthy son is not

really dead but merely sleeps.17 He who does not contribute his share to

the reproduction of the race, reduces the divine type,18 causes the

Shechinah to depart from Israel,19 and is guilty of murder.20 The duty of

reproduction is incumbent on all, both young and old..21

The Rabbis, like the eugenists of to-day, measured the success of a

marriage by the number and quality of the offspring. In their judgments

the main objects of marriage were the reproduction of the human race

(leshem piryah veribyah), and the augmentation of the favored stock

(lethikun havlad).22 Hence they advised that an extremely tall man

should not marry an extremely tall woman, lest the children be awkwardly

tall; nor should one of short stature marry a woman of the same size, lest

their offspring be dwarfed. For the same reason, the intermarriage

between blonds or between dark-complexioned people was not

countenanced.23 A number of precautions in sexual relations were

prescribed in order to prevent the birth of defectives, such as lepers,24

epileptics,25 the deaf and the dumb, the lame and the blind.26

V. Intelligent Love

Raba advised every young man not to marry a girl before he knew all

about her immediate family, especially about her brothers, for “children

usually inherit the traits of their mother’s brothers.”27 “Take your time,”

counsels a Talmudic proverb, “before you ask a woman to be your

wife”;28 in other words, “fall in love intelligently.” Other well-known

Rabbinic maxims are: “a man drinketh not out of a cup which he hath not

inspected,”29 and “a bride whose eyes are defective, ought to undergo a

general physical examination.”29

In the opinion of Rabbi Jonathan both Eliezer, the servant of Abraham,

and Saul, king of Israel, acted most indiscreetly by treating marriage in a

rather frivolous manner. Eliezer said: “Behold the virgin which will say

drink, and I will also draw for the camels, that is the woman whom the

Lord hath appointed for my master’s son.” Suppose that woman had

some physical defects, would she have been a suitable mate for Isaac?

Similarly Saul proclaimed: “The man who killeth Goliath, the king will give

him his daughter.” If that man had been a slave or possessed other

hereditary defects, would Saul have sanctioned the marriage?31

VI. Non-Eugenic Marriages

The attempt to limit the multiplication of the undesirable elements in the

jewish race, resulted in three kinds of prohibitions. First, prohibition

against the marriage of defectives by reason of heredity (pesul

yocyesin); secondly, the prohibition against the marriage of personal

defectives (debar shebagufon); thirdly, the prohibition against

consanguineous marriages (ervah).32

Besides the prohibition against defective marriages mentioned in the

Mosaic code,33 the Talmud forbade on to marry into a confirmed leprous

or epileptic family,34 or to marry a woman who had buried three

husbands.35 The union between an old man and a young girl was

condemned in unequivocal terms.36 Persons or families manifesting

continuous antagonism to each other were advised not to intermarry.37

Great, in the eyes of the Rabbis, was the offense of him who married a

woman from an element classed among the unfit. His act was as

reprehensible as if he had dug up every fertile field in existence and sown

it with salt.38 A quintuple transgression was his,39 for which he will be

bound hand and foot by Elijah, the great purifier,40 and flogged by God

himself. “Woe unto him who deteriorates the quality of his children and

defiles the purity of his family,” is the verdict of Elijah endorsed by

God.41 On the other hand, the mating of two persons possessing unique

and noble traits cannot but result in the establishment of superior and

influential families.42 When God will cause his Shechinah to dwell in

Israel, only such which scrupulously preserved the purity of their

families, will be privileged to witness the manifestation of the Holy


VII. Psychical Eugenics

The distinctive feature, however, of Jewish eugenics lies in the greater

emphasis laid on the psychical well-being of posterity, in

contradistinction to the merely physical well-being which is the chief

concern of modern eugenists. At the Congress of Eugenics recently

held at London, one of our modern eugenists, Professor Samuel C. Smith

of the University of Minnesota, exclaimed: “if I were to choose my own

father, I would rather have a robust burglar than a consumptive bishop.”

The Rabbis, on the other hand, tell us that when the question came up

whether or not the Gibeonites should be permitted to intermarry with the

children of Israel, David tested them, in order to ascertain not so much

their physical fitness but rather their psychical fitness, and found them

wanting. He discovered that they did not possess the three “unit

characters” peculiar to Israel, namely: sympathy, modesty and

philanthropy. He there fore thought it eugenically inadvisable to allow

their mating with a spiritually better-developed stock.44 Rabbi Levi

enumerates nine undesirable psychical qualities which ought to be

eliminated from amongst the Jewish race.45

VIII. Eugenics and Religion

The Jew took his spiritual mission as representing a “kingdom of priests

and a holy kingdom” quite seriously, and used all possible eugenic

means to preserve those rare emotional and spiritual qualities developed

during centuries of slow progress and unfolding. Intuitively he felt the

truth, so well express by a modern student of eugenics, that “Religion

would be a more effective thing, if everybody had a healthy emotional

nature; but it can do nothing with natures that have not the elements of

love, loyalty and devotion.”46 The Rabbis would say: Religion can do

nothing with natures that have not the elsments of wympathy, modesty

and philanthropy. Hence they urged that a man should be willing to

offer all his possessions for the opportunity of marrying a member of a

psychically well-developed family.47

The marriage between the offspring of inferior stock and that of superior

stock, such as the marriage between a scholar and the daughter of an am-

haarez, or between an am-haarez and the daughter of a scholar, was

considered extremely undesirable, and was condemned very strongly.48

Moreover, no Rabbi or Talmid Chacham was allowed to take part in the

celebration of such a non-eugenic union.49

An historical case is cited by Rabbi Eliezer to prove that one should

always select his soul-mate from amongst the spiritually better-

developed families. Moses married a daughter of Jethro, a heathen

priest, and the result was that one of his grandsons, Jonathan, became

an idolatrous priest. Aaron, on the other hand, married the daughter of

Abinadab, and history records the name of his grandson Phinehas as the

hero who defended the honor and purity of Israel.50

Parents living normal and righteous lives are not only a blessing to

themselves, but also to their children and children’s children, until the

end of all generations; while parents living abnormal and immoral lives

bring ruin and calamity not only on themselves, but also on their children

and children’s children, to the end of all generations.51

IX. Heredity

A parallel to the “rough eugenic ideal” of marrying “health, wealth and

wisdom”52 is found in the words of Rabbi Akiba, who claims that “a

father bequeaths to his child beauty, health, wealth, wisdom and

longevity.”53 Similarly, ugliness, sickness, poverty, stupidity and the

tendency to premature death, are transmitted from father to offspring.54

Hence we are told that when Moses desired to know why some of the

righteous suffer in health and material prosperity, while others prosper

and reap success; and again, why some of the wicked suffer, while

others enjoy success and material wee-being; God explained that the

righteous and wicked who thrive and flourish, are usually the

descendants of righteous parents, while those who suffer and fail

materially are the descendants of wicked parents.55

X. Priceless Heritage

Thus the Rabbis recognized the fact that both physical and psychical

qualities were inherited, and endeavored by direct precept and law, as

well as by indirect advice and admonition, to preserve and improve the

inborn, wholesome qualities of the Jewish race. It is true that they were

willing to concede that “a pure-bred individual may be produced by a

hybrid mated with a pure bred,” for they found examples of that nature in

Ruth the Moabitess, Naamah the Ammonitess,56 Hezekiah and

Mordecai.57 As a general eugenic rule, however, they maintained that

one cannot produce “a clean thing out of an unclean,” and discouraged

any kind of intermarriage even with proselytes.58 Their ideal was a race

healthy in body and in spirit, pure and undefiled, devoid of any

admixture of inferior human protoplasm.59

Such an ideal, though apparently narrow and chauvinistic, has its

eugenic value, as the following suggestive quotation from a well-known

eugenist clearly indicates. “Families in which good and noble qualities

of mind and body have become hereditary, form a natural aristocracy;

and if such families take pride in recording their pedigrees, marry among

themselves, and establish a predominant fertility, they can assure

success and position to the majority of their descendants in any political

future. They can become the guardians and trustees of a sound inborn

heritage, which, incorruptible and undefiled, they can preserve in purity

and vigor throughout whatever period of ignorance and decay may be in

store for the nation at large. Neglect to hand on undimmed the priceless

germinal qualities which such families possess, can be regarded only as

betrayal of a sacred trust.”60


1. Cf. also _Social Direction of Human Evolution, by Prof. William E.

Kellicott, 1911, p. 231.

2. Sir Francis Galton defines eugenics as “the science which deals with

all influences that improve the inborn qualities of the race.”

3. Cf. Ps. Cxxviii, 3-4. The National Conference on Race Betterment

which met recently at Battle Creek declared that “the core of race

betterment consists in promoting more and better homes.”

4. Gen. Xxiv, 3-4.

5. Ber. Rabbah 59, 11.

6. _Heredity in Relation to Eugenics_, by Charles B. Davenport, New

York, 1911, p. 183.

7. _Social Direction of Human Evolution_, p. 154; _Heredity in Relation

to Eugenics_, p. 185.

The Biblical expression “a bone of my bones” (Gen. Ii, 23), refers,

according to the Rabbis, to a man who marries one of his relatives.

(Bere****h Rabbah 18,5). The marriage between uncle and niece is also

recommended. (Yebamoth 63b).

8. Ber. Rabbah 59, 12; cf. Gen. ix, 25-26.

9. Kiddushin 29b.

10. Ibid.

11. Midrash Lekach Tob, Gen. 2, ed. Buber p. 21.

12. Ber. Rabbah ch. 17.

13. Yalkut Gen. ii, 23.

14. Pesachim 113b.

15. Nedarim 64b.

16. M. K. 27b.

17. B. B. 110b.

18. Yebamoth 63b.

19. Ibid. 64a.

20. Ibid 63b, 64a.

21. Ibid 62b. Cf. Koheleth Rabbah 7, 8, also _Social Direction of Human

Evolution_, p. 124, concerning pathological defects of first born and

earlier members of the family.

22. Cf. Tur Eben Haezer ch.25.

23. Bechoroth 45b.

24. Sifra, Mezora ch. 3.

25. Pesachim 112b.

26. Nedarim 20a.

27. B. B. 110a.

28. Yebamoth 63a.

29. Kethuboth 75b.

30. Shir Hashirim Rabbah 4, 1-3; cf. Taanith 24a.

31. Taanith 4a.

32. Tur Eben Haezer, Piryah Veribyah, ch. 4.

33. Deuteronomy xxiii, 2.

34. Yebamoth 64a.

35. Niddah 64a. It is interesting to note that a late authority insists that

the same rule should apply to a man who buried three wives. Cf. Beer

Heteb to Eben Haezer, Ishoth 9, 2.

36. Sanhedrin 76a; cf. also Yebamoth 106b and Ruth Rabbah 3, 10.

37. Kiddushin 71b. Cf. _Heredity in Relation to Eugenics_, p.8, where

the suggestion is made that the curious antipathy of red-hairled persons

of the opposite sexes for each other, may be an eugenic antipathy.

38. Kiddushin 70a.

39. Aboth Derabbi Nathan, ch. 26.

40. Cf. Kiddushin 71a.

41. Kiddushin 70a.

42. Bamidbar Rabbah 3,4.

43. Kiddushin 70b.

44. Yebamoth 79a.

45. Nedarim 20b.

46. _Heredity in Relation to Eugenics_, p. 225

47. Pesachim 49b.

48. Kiddushin 49b; cf. also Pesachim 49b.

49 Pesachim 49b.

50. B. B. 109b.

51. Yoma 87a>

52. _Heredity in Relation to Eugenics_, p.8.

53. Eduyoth 2, 9.

54. Yer. Kiddushin 1,7.

55. Berachoth 7a.

56. Yebamoth 63a.

57. Bamidbar Rabbah, Chukath ch. 19.

58. Pesachim 112b, Kiddushin 70b.

59. Yer. Kilayim ch. 1.

60. See _Social Direction of Human Evolution_, p. 238.

Edited by Asian

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