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Crying hands: eugenics and deaf people in Nazi Germany by Horst Biesold

By Horst Biesold

Now to be had in paperback; ISBN 1-56368-255-9

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Extra info for Crying hands: eugenics and deaf people in Nazi Germany

Example text

12 For the disabled, the first step was simple, as the sterilization law listed the disabilities that would define the members of the excluded group. The second stepidentificationrequired greater effort; although it too posed no serious problems, it was never totally successful. No national register of disabled individuals existed in 1933. Still, the state could use some existing data at the start of the sterilization campaign: lists of persons committed to institutions or attending special schools.

5 The eugenic movement in Germany was in the beginning, prior to World War I, relatively moderate. It emphasized "positive" eugenics and did not adopt the anti-Semitism popular on the German right. World War I radicalized the German eugenic movement. Not only did eugenicists begin to advocate "negative" eugenics, particularly sterilization, but many also adopted a racist viewpoint. German eugenicists agreed on "negative" eugenics but divided into a Nordic and anti-Nordic wing on the question of race.

The new regime provided unlimited opportunities for the practitioners of race hygiene to implement their program. In turn, the race scientists provided the legitimacy the regime needed for its policies. "7 As soon as the Nazis had assumed power, they moved with alacrity to implement their racial and eugenic program. The disabled were among the first victims targeted by exclusionary legislation. On July 14, 1933, just four and a half months after assuming power, Hitler and his cabinet promulgated a sterilization law for persons suffering from a variety of mental and physical disabilities, and in the process defined the groups to be excluded from the national community.

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