Cover image for Racial hygiene : medicine under the Nazis
Racial hygiene : medicine under the Nazis
Proctor, Robert, 1954-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Cambridge, Mass. : Harvard University Press, 1988.
Physical Description:
viii, 414 pages ; 25 cm
General Note:
Includes index.
Format :

On Order

Reviews 2

Library Journal Review

Despite a significant body of writing on medical science and dogma under National Socialism (e.g., Alan Beyerchen's Scientists Under Hitler , LJ 10/1/77, and Robert Jay Lifton's The Nazi Doctors , LJ 9/15/86), this book provides depth and perspective on a historical period that still must be studied. Proctor (New School for Social Research) gives a rich explanation of the interaction of culture, politics, and science that engages and alerts the reader. Though Proctor is too good a historian to indulge in moralistic judgments, his careful research seduces the reader into doing so. If one accepted Aryan supremacy, Proctor shows how decisions, such as the Nuremberg Race Laws of 1935, became eminently rational. Proctor reveals a superb knowledge of the proliferation of medical literature under National Socialism. A work of stature and significance belonging in all academic libraries.Frances Groen, McGill Univ. Medical Lib., Montreal (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Based on the analysis of available archives and a review of the medical journals of the period, Proctor explores the role of biomedical scientists in the inception, development, justification, and administration of Nazi racial policies. The first three chapters of the book provide the historical background, based on the social Darwinism of the later 19th century, on which the German biomedical profession adapted its concepts and functions to Nazi ideology. The next five chapters detail the role of the biomedical profession that provided a biological explanation for the various forms of social, sexual, political, or racial deviances and for environmental pollutants as health hazards, thereby providing justification for, as well as participating in, the array of racial and social prosecutionary practices of the period. Chapter 9 examines the limited but organized resistance that developed. In the final chapter, Proctor considers, in a wider context, some of the moral and political issues raised by the action of scientists under Nazism and discusses how politics can actually shape the practice of science. The book is clearly written, skillfully illustrated, and well annotated. It joins a long list of publications incriminating the biomedical community for its actions and inactions during the most disgraceful period in the history of humanity. Academic and public library collections. -G. Eknoyan, Baylor College of Medicine