Theories of eugenics shaped many persecutory policies in Nazi Germany. Learn about the radicalization and deadly consequences of these theories and policies
Diploma issued by the International Refugee Organization (IRO) certifying that Naftali Froimowicz was trained as a shoemaker in Turin, Italy on November 14, 1949. Froimowicz lived in several displaced persons (DP) camps in Italy after the war.
A leading researcher of sex, sexuality, and gender, German Jewish doctor Magnus Hirschfeld was forced to live in exile after the Nazi rise to power.
The Institute for Sexual Science was founded in Germany by Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld, a leading researcher of sex, sexuality, and gender. In 1933, the Nazis looted the institute and forced it to close. Photo published in 1924.
Eugenics in Germany Following Germany’s defeat in World War I and during the political and economic crises of the Weimar Republic, ideas known as racial hygiene or eugenics began to inform population policy, public health education, and government-funded research. Proponents of eugenics argued that by keeping the “unfit” alive to reproduce and multiply, modern medicine and costly welfare programs interfered with natural selection. (Natural selection was the concept that Charles Darwin applied to the…
Racial antisemitism is the discriminatory idea that Jews are a separate and inferior race. This type of antisemitism dates back to the late 1800s.
Simone Weil earned this diploma, which certified her to teach kindergarten in France, from the School of Social Work in Strasbourg in 1940. Weil assumed a false identity in late 1943 to facilitate her resistance activities as a member of the relief and rescue organization Oeuvre de Secours aux Enfants (Children's Aid Society; OSE). Among the papers documenting Weil's new identity was a forged version of this diploma bearing the name "Simone Werlin".
Simone Weil used this forged diploma and other false papers to document a new identity assumed in late 1943. As Simone Werlin, she could avoid arrest and change residence to facilitate her rescue of Jewish children as a member of the relief and rescue organization Oeuvre de Secours aux Enfants (Children's Aid Society; OSE). Weil had earned the diploma, which certified her to teach kindergarten in France, from the School of Social Work in Strasbourg in 1940. The director of the school willingly forged this…
A newspaper clipping with the headline "Against the Un-German Spirit" announces the plundering of the Institute for Sexual Science. The photo shows students marching to the institute's entrance before the looting began on May 6, 1933. The institute's books and documents were among those targeted during the Nazi book burnings.
Key dates in the life of Reinhard Heydrich, chief of the Reich Security Main Office, the SS and police agency most directly concerned with implementing Final Solution.
Sigmund Freud was the founder of psychoanalysis. The Nazis abhorred his new science and Jewish heritage. His works were burned in Germany in 1933. Learn more.
The Medical Case, or Doctors Trial, was Case #1 of 12 Subsequent Nuremberg Proceedings against leading German industrialists, military figures, SS perpetrators, and others.
H.G. Wells was an author best known for science fiction titles. The Nazis objected to "The Outline of History," a non-fiction work, which was burned in 1933.
Walther Rathenau was a liberal democratic politician and the first Jew to hold a cabinet post in Germany. His books were burned in Nazi Germany in 1933. Learn more.
Learn more about the shared foundational element of eugenics on the history of racial antisemitism in Germany and racism in the United States
Leah and her four brothers were raised in a religious Jewish family in the city of Lvov. After obtaining her high school diploma, Leah attended university for one year. In 1931 she married Joseph Rapaport, and the couple settled in Warsaw. 1933-39: The Rapaports lived in the suburbs, and Joseph worked as a banker. Their daughter Zofia was born in May 1933. Each year at the Jewish holiday of Passover, they returned to Lvov to visit Leah's parents. Two days after Joseph was mobilized for military duty in…
Persecution of Roma (Gypsies) in Prewar Germany and throughout Europe preceded the Nazi takeover of power in 1933. For example, in 1899, the police in the German state of Bavaria, formed the Central Office for Gypsy Affairs (Zigeunerzentrale) to coordinate police action against Roma in the city of Munich. This office compiled a central registry of Roma that grew to include data on Roma and Sinti from other German states. After the Nazis came to power in 1933, police in Germany began more rigorous…
At great risk, George Kadish secretly documented life in the Kovno ghetto in Lithuania, creating a key photographic record of ghetto life during the Holocaust.
Dr. Mohamed Helmy and Frieda Szturmann helped save a Jewish family in the heart of Nazi Germany. Helmy was the first Arab recognized as Righteous Among the Nations.
After WWII, many Holocaust survivors, unable to return to their homes, lived in displaced persons camps in Germany, Austria, and Italy. Read about Santa Maria di Bagni DP camp.
Benno Müller-Hill, professor of Genetics, University of Cologne, and author of Murderous Science, discusses genetics and eugenics. [Photo credits: Getty Images, New York City; Yad Vashem, Jerusalem; Max-Planck-Institut für Psychiatrie (Deutsche Forschungsanstalt für Psychiatrie), Historisches Archiv, Bildersammlung GDA, Munich; Bundesarchiv Koblenz, Germany; Dokumentationsarchiv des österreichischen Widerstandes, Vienna; Kriemhild Synder: Die Landesheilanstalt Uchtspringe und ihre Verstrickung in…
To implement their policies, the Nazis had help from individuals across Europe, including professionals in many fields. Learn about the role of doctors and nurses.
December 1941 saw both defeat of the German army in its attempt to take Moscow and the entry of the United States into World War II. It became clear to German authorities that Germany would have to fight a long war. Facing growing labor shortages and the ongoing need to produce armaments, machinery, airplanes, and ships to replace German losses, the SS established more SS-owned firms. It also signed contracts with state and private firms to produce goods and provide labor for the German armaments and…
The Nazi Kripo, or Criminal Police, was the detective force of Nazi Germany. During the Nazi regime and WWII, it became a key enforcer of policies based in Nazi ideology.
When Agnes was a teenager, she attended Budapest's prestigious Baar Madas private school, run by the Hungarian Reformed Church. Although she was the only Jewish student there, Agnes' parents believed that the superior education at the school was important for their daughter. Agnes' father, a textile importer, encouraged his daughter to think for herself. 1933-39: In 1936 Agnes studied educational techniques with Signora Maria Montessori in Italy and earned a diploma so she could teach. Hoping to improve…
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