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File:Eugen Fischer.jpg

Eugen Fischer, circa 1938.

Eugen Fischer (July 5, 1874 – July 9, 1967) was a German professor of medicine, anthropology and eugenics. He was one of those responsible for the Nazi German scientific theories of racial hygiene that legitimized the extermination of Jews, sent an estimated half a million Gypsies to their deaths, and led to the compulsory sterilization of hundreds of thousands of other individuals, deemed racially defective, such as the Rhineland Bastards, the mentally ill, and the mentally challenged.

Biography

Fischer was born in Karlsruhe, Grand Duchy of Baden, in 1874.

In 1908 he conducted field research in German Southwest Africa (now Namibia). He studied the offspring of German or Boer fathers who had fathered children by the native women (Hottentots) in that area. His study concluded with a call to prevent a "mixed race" by the prohibition of "mixed marriage" such as those he had studied. It included unethical medical practices on the Herero and Namaqua people[1]. He argued that while the existing Mischling descendants of the mixed marriages might be useful for Germany, he recommended that they should not continue to reproduce. His recommendations were followed and by 1912 interracial marriage was prohibited throughout the German colonies.[2] As a precursor to his experiments on Jews in Nazi Germany, he also did medical experimentation on African prisoners of war in concentration camps in Namibia that has been referred to as genocide[3][4].

In the years of 1937-1938 Fischer and his colleagues analysed 600 children in Nazi Germany descending from French-African soldiers who occupied western areas of Germany after First World War; all children were illegally sterlized afterwards[5]

Fischer didn't officially join the Nazi Party until 1940.[6] However, he was influential with National Socialists early on. A two-volume work, Foundations of Human Hereditary Teaching and Racial Hygiene, co-written by him and Erwin Baur and Fritz Lenz, served as the "scientific" basis for Nazism's attitude toward other races.[7] He also authored The Rehoboth Bastards and the Problem of Miscegenation among Humans (1913) (Template:Lang-de), a field study which provided context for later racial debates, influenced German colonial legislation and provided "scientific" support for the Nuremberg laws.[2]

He served as the head of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute of Anthropology, Human Heredity, and Eugenics, until 1933, when Adolf Hitler appointed him rector of the Frederick William University of Berlin, now Humboldt University[8].

Under the Nazi regime, Fischer developed the physiological specifications used to determine racial origins and developed the so-called Fischer–Saller scale. He and his team experimented on Gypsies and African-Germans, taking blood and measuring skulls to find scientific validation for his theories.

Fischer retired from the university in 1942. After the war, he completed his memoirs, which critics claim whitewash his role in the genocidal program of the Third Reich. He died in 1967.

Efforts are under way to have the skulls harvested by Fischer returned from Germany to Namibia. There they will be accorded an appropriate burial. So far, such requests have met significant resistance in Germany.

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Footnotes

Reference Works

  • Fangerau H., Müller I. (2002). "Das Standardwerk der Rassenhygiene von Erwin Baur, Eugen Fischer und Fritz Lenz im Urteil der Psychiatrie und Neurologie 1921-1940". Der Nervenarzt 73 (11): 1039–1046. doi:10.1007/s00115-002-1421-1. PMID 12430045.
  • Weindling P. (1985). "Weimar eugenics: The kaiser wilhelm institute for anthropology, human heredity and eugenics in social context". Annals of Science 42 (3): 303–318. doi:10.1080/00033798500200221. PMID 11620696.

External links

See also

de:Eugen Fischer (Mediziner) es:Eugen Fischer fr:Eugen Fischer no:Eugen Fischer pl:Eugen Fischer pt:Eugen Fischer fi:Eugen Fischer

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