“Deadly Medicine: Creating the Master Race” at the Countway, April 14 – July 17

By , January 2, 2011

Nazi officials at the “The Miracle of Life” exhibition, German Hygiene Museum, Dresden, 1935. The new Nazi museum leadership asserted that societies resembled organisms that followed the lead of their brains. The most logical social structure was one that saw society as a collective unit, literally a body guided by a strong leader. Courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration.

The Center for the History of Medicine is pleased to announce that the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Deadly Medicine: Creating the Master Race travelling exhibition will visit the Countway Library April 14 through July 17, 2011.

From 1933 to 1945, Nazi Germany carried out a campaign to “cleanse” German society of individuals viewed as biological threats to the nation’s “health.” Enlisting the help of physicians and medically trained geneticists, psychiatrists, and anthropologists, the Nazis developed racial health policies that began with the mass sterilization of “genetically diseased” persons and ended with the near annihilation of European Jewry.

Deadly Medicine: Creating the Master Race inspires reflection on the continuing attraction of biological utopias that promote the possibility of human perfection. From the early twentieth-century international eugenics movements to present-day dreams of eliminating inherited disabilities through genetic manipulation, the issues remain timely. (For more information about the exhibit, see the Museum’s website.) Deadly Medicine has been made possible by The Lerner Foundation and Eric F. and Lore Ross.

The Center for the History of Medicine’s companion exhibit, Galton’s Children: the Rise and Fall of the Eugenics Movement, examines the social phenomenon of eugenics from its origins and period of greatest influence in the early twentieth century, to discredit in the 1930s and its associations with the racial hygiene policies of Nazi Germany, and the persistence of eugenic ideas today.

Visitors are welcome to tour the exhibits Monday through Friday from 9 A.M. to 5 P.M. and on Saturday and Sunday from 12 noon to 5 P.M.

Groups larger than 12 people must make a reservation. Group visit information and and registration forms are available here: Planning_a_Visit and Group Visit Form. Questions about group visits can be directed to Francesca Holinko (Francesca_Holinko@hms.harvard.edu).

Public lectures relating to the exhibit will be held on on the Harvard Medical School campus:

Thursday, April 14, 7 pm: Why Deadly Medicine Matters Today: Medical Ethics in the Shadow of the Holocaust

Wednesday, April 27, 4 pm: Genetic Determinism Then and Now: Confronting the Legacy of Eugenics

Thursday, May 12, 7 pm: When the State Makes Demands: Medical Professionalism, Dual Loyalty, and Human Rights

Directions to the Countway Library and the Harvard Medical School campus can be found on the school website.

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