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American Eugenics and the Holocaust

The genocide of Jewish people, disabled people, Roma people, LGBTQ people, and other people deemed "unfit" during the Holocaust remains the most extreme and violent manifestation of white supremacy and eugenic thought

Many Nazi officials were deeply influenced by American eugenics. Historians such as Stefan Kühl and James Whitman have extensively traced the connections between American eugenic research and the foundations for the German Holocaust. During the twentieth century, networks of eugenicists from across the globe, representing every political identity, formed with one goal: eliminating dysgenic, or unfit, populations. 

One such group was the Human Betterment Foundation (HBF), founded in Pasadena, California, by Stanford's first president, David Starr Jordan. Jordan was a key figure in securing funding for the organization, allowing it to research sterilization and heredity. The HBF regularly networked with prominent Nazis, sending them the latest statistics on sterilization and eugenic research.

Eugenic researchers such as the HBF and David Starr Jordan helped lay the foundation for the Holocaust, as many early Nazi eugenic and racial hygiene laws were heavily influenced by similar American laws and eugenic theories.  

Picture of an article titled "The German Sterilizaton Law" by "Paul Popenoe, Human Betterment Foundation, Pasadena." Popenoe praises Adolf Hitle an his eugenic policies, citing Mein Kampf and the 1934 sterilization law
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