The Nazi Symbiosis
Human Genetics and Politics in the Third Reich
The Faustian bargain—in which an individual or group collaborates with an evil entity in order to obtain knowledge, power, or material gain—is perhaps best exemplified by the alliance between world-renowned human geneticists and the Nazi state. Under the swastika, German scientists descended into the moral abyss, perpetrating heinous medical crimes at Auschwitz and at euthanasia hospitals. But why did biomedical researchers accept such a bargain?
The Nazi Symbiosis offers a nuanced account of the myriad ways human heredity and Nazi politics reinforced each other before and during the Third Reich. Exploring the ethical and professional consequences for the scientists involved as well as the political ramifications for Nazi racial policies, Sheila Faith Weiss places genetics and eugenics in their larger international context. In questioning whether the motives that propelled German geneticists were different from the compromises that researchers from other countries and eras face, Weiss extends her argument into our modern moment, as we confront the promises and perils of genomic medicine today.
Introduction: An Old Legend and a New Legacy
Chapter One: Human Heredity and Eugenics Make Their International Debut
Chapter Two: The Devil’s Directors at Dahlem
Chapter Three: The Munich Pact
Chapter Four: The Politics of Professional Talk
Chapter Five: Politicized Pedagogy
Chapter Six: The International Human Genetics Community Faces Nazi Germany
Conclusion: The Road Not Taken Elsewhere: Was There Something Unique about Human Heredity during the Third Reich?
“Informative and compelling, The Nazi Symbiosis combines insightful analysis with the most up-to-date research on biomedicine in the Third Reich. Sheila Faith Weiss lays bare the notorious ‘Faustian bargain’ existing between German human geneticists and National Socialist officials in the construction of the deadly Nazi biocratic state. We now have the long-awaited comprehensive overview of one of the darkest chapters in the history of science.”
“Sheila Faith Weiss shows how German geneticists enhanced their careers through research agendas that both advanced and benefited from the Nazi state’s criminal aims. A frightening study of the politics of genetic science under Hitler.”