International Hygiene Exhibition, 1911 promotional poster: The eugenics movement pre-dated Nazi Germany. A 1911 exhibition at the German Hygiene Museum in Dresden included a display on human heredity and ideas to improve it. Deutsches Historisches Museum, Berlin More
As the head of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute’s Department for Human Heredity, Dr. Otmar von Verschuer, a physician and geneticist, examined hundreds of pairs of twins to study whether criminality, feeble-mindedness, tuberculosis, and cancer were inheritable. Archiv zur Geschichte der Max-Planck-Gesellschaft, Berlin-Dahlem More
"Adolf Hitler as the Doctor of the German Nation,” National Health Guardian, 1935. Rudolf Hess referred to Nazism as “applied biology.” National Library of Medicine, Bethesda, MD More
Head shots showing various racial types. Most western anthropologists classified people into “races” based on physical traits such as head size and eye, hair and skin color. US Holocaust Memorial Museum More
Heads of racial types, created by anthropologists from plaster molds of the faces of living subjects, were mass produced in Nazi Germany for use in exhibitions and racial hygiene classes. This head portrays the “Negro” racial type. Blinden-Museum an der Johann-Agust-Zeune-Schule fur Blinde, Berlin More
Heads of racial types, created by anthropologists from plaster molds of the faces of living subjects, were mass-produced in Nazi Germany for use in exhibitions and racial hygiene classes. This head portrays the “Dinaric” (Balkan) racial type. Blinden-Museum an der Johann-Agust-Zeune-Schule fur Blinde, Berlin More
A popular health manual, German Gold (1942) advised: “Mothers, you must absolutely avoid alcohol and nicotine during pregnancy and when nursing.” Producing healthy, “fit” mothers and children was an overriding aim of the Third Reich. US Holocaust Memorial Museum More
Nazi officials at the “The Miracle of Life” exhibition, German Hygiene Museum, Dresden, 1935. The new Nazi leadership asserted that the most logical social structure was one that saw society as a collective unit, literally a body guided by a strong leader. National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, MD More
A clandestine photograph taken by a farmer who lived in the vicinity of Hartheim, showing smoke rising from the chimney of the crematorium. Operation T-4 targeted mostly adult patients in private, state, and church-run institutions. Wolfgang Schuhmann More
“Don’t Go Blindly into Marriage!” Eugenics had the support of many scientists worldwide, including the US. This drawing illustrated a 1924 pamphlet that urged couples to be informed about the health, including genetic health, of prospective spouses. US Holocaust Memorial Museum More
Students at the Berlin School for the Blind examine racial head models circa 1935. Students were taught Gregor Mendel’s principles of inheritance and the purported application of those laws to human heredity and principles of race. Blinden-Museum an der Johann-August-Zeune-Schule fur Blinde, Berlin More
The head of a Jewish youth was sculpted from wood by the Jewish artist M. Winiarski for German officials in the occupied Polish city of Lodz. US Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Zydowski Instytut Historyczny imienia Emanuela Ringelbluma More
Dr. Eugen Fischer was director of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Anthropology, Eugenics, and Human Heredity from 1927 to 1942. After 1933, Fischer adapted his institute’s activities to serve Nazi antisemitic policies. Archiv zur Geschichte der Max-Planck-Gesellschaft, Berlin-Dahlem More
Dr. Ernst Wentzler’s Berlin pediatric clinic served many wealthy families and high-ranking Nazi officials. He supported ending the lives of the “incurably ill” and served as a primary coordinator of the pediatric “euthanasia” program. National Library of Medical Science, Bethesda, MD More
“You Are Sharing the Load! A Hereditarily Ill Person Costs 50,000 Reichsmarks on Average up to the Age of Sixty,” reproduced in a high school biology textbook by Jakob Graf. The image illustrates Nazi propaganda on the need to prevent births of the “unfit.” US Holocaust Memorial Museum More
Deadly Medicine: Creating the Master Race is a traveling exhibition produced by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Through reproductions of photographs and documents, films, and survivor testimony, it traces how the persecution of groups deemed biologically inferior led to the near annihilation of European Jewry. It also challenges viewers to reflect on the present-day interest in genetic manipulation that promotes the possibility of human perfection.
View the current schedule for the traveling exhibition.
The images provided here are for the promotion of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum only. Any reproduction of the images must include full caption and credit information. Images may not be cropped or altered in any way or superimposed with any printing.