DEADLY MEDICINE: CREATING THE MASTER RACE
UNITED STATES HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL MUSEUM EXHIBITION DEADLY MEDICINE: CREATING THE MASTER RACE TO OPEN AT THE UNITED NATIONS
Traveling Exhibition to Premiere at United Nations—Commences Weeklong Schedule of UN Holocaust Remembrance Activities
January 16, 2009
“Nazism is applied biology.”
— Rudolf Hess, Deputy to Adolf Hitler
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s traveling exhibition, Deadly Medicine: Creating the Master Race, examines how the Nazi leadership, in collaboration with individuals in professions traditionally charged with healing and the public good, used science to help legitimize persecution, murder and, ultimately, genocide. It will premiere on Monday, January 26, at the United Nations Headquarters in the Visitor’s Lobby and mark the beginning of a weeklong schedule of programming at the UN in recognition of the International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust. The annual observance is held around the world on January 27, the anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi killing center Auschwitz-Birkenau.
“Deadly Medicine explores the Holocaust’s roots in then-contemporary scientific and pseudo-scientific thought,” explains exhibition curator Susan Bachrach. “At the same time, it touches on complex ethical issues we face today, such as how societies acquire and use scientific knowledge and how they balance the rights of the individual with the needs of the larger community. We are pleased to be bringing this important exhibition to the United Nations and an international audience.”
This version of Deadly Medicine is based on the acclaimed exhibition of the same name that originally opened at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., in April 2004. Two other successful traveling versions of the exhibition have been on display in Canada and Germany. An online version of the exhibition is available at www.ushmm.org/deadlymedicine.
A press preview with exhibition curator Susan Bachrach will be held on January 26 from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. Deadly Medicine will be open through March 22. Media interested in attending the press preview or speaking to Susan Bachrach should contact Jackie Berkowitz at (202) 488-2637.
Eugenics theory sprang from turn-of-the-century scientific beliefs asserting that Charles Darwin’s theories of “survival of the fittest” could be applied to humans. Supporters, spanning the globe and political spectrum, believed that through careful controls on marriage and reproduction, a nation’s genetic health could be improved.
The Nazi regime was founded upon the conviction that “inferior” races and individuals had to be eliminated from German society so that the fittest “Aryans” could thrive. The Nazi state fully committed itself to implementing a uniquely racist and antisemitic variation of eugenics to “scientifically” build what it considered to be a “superior race.” By the end of World War II, six million Jews had been murdered. Millions of others also became victims of persecution and murder through Nazi “racial hygiene” programs designed to cleanse Germany of “biological threats” to the nation’s “health,” including “foreign-blooded” Roma and Sinti (Gypsies), persons diagnosed as “hereditarily ill,” and homosexuals. In German-occupied territories, Poles and others belonging to ethnic groups deemed “inferior” were also murdered.
In response to the medical community’s interest in Deadly Medicine, the Museum established its Science and Medicine Initiative to augment medical ethics education in the healthcare professions. The Initiative is creating collaborative opportunities to explore the implications for contemporary bioethics by presenting the history in Deadly Medicine to prompt exploration of such 21st-century ethical issues as the rapid advances in genetics and medicine, and the value of individual lives, especially those of people considered to be disabled. Following its presentation at the United Nations, the exhibition will travel to medical schools and universities around the country. Exhibition brochures in French, German and Spanish will be available on site.
Holocaust remembrance activities at the United Nations are led by the Holocaust and the United Nations Outreach Programme of the Department of Public Information. The programme, as established by General Assembly resolution 60/7, aims to mobilize civil society for Holocaust remembrance and education, in order to help to prevent future acts of genocide. In partnership with its international network of civil society groups and Holocaust institutions, the programme organizes a film series, briefings and training seminars, and publishes discussion papers on Holocaust-related topics and innovative online information products. For more information, please contact Kimberly Mann at firstname.lastname@example.org and visit www.un.org/holocaustremembrance.
For media accreditation, please visit: www.un.org/media/accreditation or contact Gary Fowlie, Chief, Media Accreditation and Liaison Unit, United Nations Department of Public Information, Tel (212) 963-6937; Fax (212) 963 4642. All visitors to the United Nations are required to pass through Security at the entrance on First Avenue and 46 Street, and should possess valid photo identification.
This exhibition is made possible through the support the following donors from the greater New York area: The David Berg Foundation, The Blanche and Irving Laurie Foundation, The Lester Robbins and Sheila Johnson Robbins Traveling and Temporary Exhibitions Fund, and The Dorot Foundation.
A living memorial to the Holocaust, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum inspires citizens and leaders to confront hatred, promote human dignity and prevent genocide. Its far-reaching educational programs and global impact are made possible by the generosity of donors nationwide through legacy and annual giving. For more information, visit www.ushmm.org.