In Search of “Aryan Blood”

In Search of “Aryan Blood”: Serology in Interwar and National Socialist Germany

Rachel E. Boaz
Copyright Date: 2012
Edition: NED - New edition, 1
Pages: 256
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7829/j.ctt1282zr
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  • Book Info
    In Search of “Aryan Blood”
    Book Description:

    Explores the course of development of German seroanthropology from its origins in World War I until the end of the Third Reich. Gives an all encompassing interpretation of how the discovery of blood groups in around 1900 galvanised not only old mythologies of blood and origin but also new developments in anthropology and eugenics in the 1920s and 1930s. Boaz portrays how the personal motivations of blood scientists influenced their professional research, ultimately demonstrating how conceptually indeterminate and politically volatile the science of race was under the Nazi regime.

    eISBN: 978-615-5053-45-0
    Subjects: Health Sciences

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Figures
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Acknowledgements
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 1-8)

    In Nazi Germany, basic civil rights—and ultimately the right to live—depended on whether one had “German blood.” Meticulous racial categorization of individuals as either “German-blooded” or “non-German-blooded” relied primarily upon documentation, such as birth and baptismal certificates. Labeling was compulsory, as everyone was required to carry identification indicating their race. However, in cases where parentage was in dispute or the necessary records were missing, the state often referred the matter to so-called “racial experts.” In one such instance in 1940, Fritz Lenz explained to a district court that he could not give an expert opinion without first testing...

  6. CHAPTER I THE EMERGENCE OF BLOOD SCIENCE
    (pp. 9-40)

    Since its primitive beginnings in early modern Europe, racial anthropology traditionally relied upon physiognomic traits to determine an individual’s race. Physiognomic traits meant bodily characteristics, which often included measurements of one’s nose, various dimensions of the skull, and/or the pigmentation of the hair, skin, and eyes.27 The notion that race was evident in an individual’s appearance was accepted among racial anthropologists in general, but it was especially promoted by völkisch race theorists from their origins in the pan-German movements of late-nineteenth-century Europe until the end of the Third Reich. The later years of Imperial Germany and the early Weimar Republic,...

  7. CHAPTER II SEROANTHROPOLOGY IN THE EARLY 1920s: BLOOD, RACE, AND EUGENICS
    (pp. 41-70)

    The Hirszfelds’ research in Salonika was a remarkable anthropological study for its time. Not only did it propose a new method of racially screening populations, but it had surveyed an especially large subject group (8,000 people), which was crucial if the work was to receive a positive reception in the medical community. In addition, the implications of the findings were attractive in their simple claim that there had originally been two racial types: A in the West and B in the East. Furthermore, objective comparison was made possible by the biochemical race index, an equation that classified a group studied...

  8. CHAPTER III ORGANIZING SEROANTHROPOLOGY: THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE GERMAN INSTITUTE FOR BLOOD GROUP RESEARCH
    (pp. 71-88)

    By the mid-1920s there were enough blood type surveys to suggest that some affiliation might exist between blood and other physical characteristics. Völkisch physicians tended to interpret type B blood as a marker of Eastern descent and, though there had been findings to indicate otherwise, they further linked this type to other inferior traits—such as inherited conditions, amoral behavior, or even propensity for disease. A group of researchers in these nations believed that seroanthropology might assist in meeting their racial and eugenic objectives.

    Paul Steffan’s postwar blood type studies of native Germans drew the interest of anthropologist Otto Reche...

  9. CHAPTER IV SEROANTHROPOLOGY AT ITS HEIGHT: DISTINGUISHING THOSE WITH "PURE BLOOD"
    (pp. 89-116)

    Despite funding setbacks, the German Institute for Blood Group Research was able to pursue its research, albeit on a much less extensive scale than originally proposed. Although its directors welcomed analyses of non-German subjects, they were particularly interested in determining the serological makeup of what they termed “native Germans.” Finishing the “mapping out” of the German people would remain one of the institute’s main objectives, and throughout the late 1920s the institute would collect and examine the blood types of carefully selected German populations. Before 1926, institute co-founder Paul Steffan had been the first German physician to coordinate serological research...

  10. CHAPTER V THE JEW AS EXAMINER AND EXAMINED
    (pp. 117-148)

    Jews, or individuals of “Jewish descent,” figured prominently in both the development and advancement of blood science. Karl Landsteiner launched the discipline of serology with his discovery of the blood types in 1900. In 1906 German bacteriologist August von Wassermann developed a blood test for the diagnosis of syphilis that allowed for early detection of the disease and became the standard means for syphilis testing for much of the twentieth century. In 1918 Ludwik Hirszfeld was the first to trace a link between blood type and race. In 1924 in Berlin, the theory of blood group tests as a method...

  11. CHAPTER VI BLOOD AS METAPHOR AND SCIENCE IN THE NUREMBERG RACE LAWS
    (pp. 149-186)

    Hitler’s eugenic and racial beliefs attracted right-wing political and medical ideologues long before his appointment as chancellor in 1933. In 1930 German race theorist Fritz Lenz lauded him as the first politician “of truly great import, who has taken racial hygiene as a serious element of state policy.”517 The National Socialist Worker’s Party was arguably the first political party in which racial hygiene was a central part of the political platform. When they did seize power, the Nazis immediately began to apply these ideas by separating “real” Germans from those categorized as “non-German.” Because of the Nazi conviction that race...

  12. CHAPTER VII THE PEDAGOGY AND PRACTICE OF SEROANTHROPOLOGY DURING WORLD WAR II
    (pp. 187-224)

    Throughout the 1930s, the Third Reich focused primarily on stabilizing domestic matters in preparation for war. During this time, racial segregation in Germany continued to escalate; by 1939, more than 400 additional decrees, regulations, and amendments had consigned Jews and other “non-Aryan” groups to the outer fringes of society.641 Under these circumstances, some Jewish blood scientists felt compelled to comment on their work, its larger political implications and misuse, and the role of race in ongoing research as Germany advanced towards war and the carrying out of the Final Solution. Nazi oppression relied mainly upon the biological notion of race...

  13. CONCLUSION
    (pp. 225-242)

    While scientific studies of blood and race were not utilized by the Nazis in enforcing the identification and separation of different racial types, blood rhetoric remained politically useful. German race ideologues were able to exploit the flexible notion of blood defilement, which could function in either a clinical or sexual context. As advancements were made in blood science, these were incorporated into racial propaganda because science was felt to project an “objective and value free” image.824 The competing political ideologies of the interwar period were evident in studies of blood, which were related to widely disparate areas of concern. During...

  14. INDEX OF NAMES
    (pp. 243-245)