It looks like you're using an Ad Blocker.
Please white-list or disable AboveTopSecret.com in your ad-blocking tool.
Some features of ATS will be disabled while you continue to use an ad-blocker.
The word eugenics derives from the Greek word eu (good or well) and the suffix -genēs (born), and was coined by Sir Francis Galton in 1883, who defined it as "the study of all agencies under human control which can improve or impair the racial quality of future generations".
As a social movement eugenics reached its height of popularity in the early decades of the 20th century. By the end of World War II eugenics had been largely abandoned, though current trends in genetics have raised questions amongst critical academics concerning parallels between pre-war attitudes about eugenics and current "utilitarian" and social darwinistic theories. At its pre-war zenith, the movement often pursued pseudoscientific notions of racial supremacy and purity.
Eugenics was practiced around the world and was promoted by governments, and influential individuals and institutions. Its advocates regarded it as a social philosophy for the improvement of human hereditary traits through the promotion of higher reproduction of certain people and traits, and the reduction of reproduction of certain people and traits.
Today it is widely regarded as a brutal movement which inflicted massive human rights violations on millions of people. The "interventions" advocated and practised by eugenicists involved prominently the identification and classification of individuals and their families, including the poor, mentally ill, blind, "promiscuous" women, homosexuals and entire "racial" groups——such as the Roma and Jews——as "degenerate" or "unfit"; the segregation or institutionalisation of such individuals and groups, their sterilization, euthanasia, and in the extreme case of Nazi Germany, their mass extermination.
There are three main ways by which the methods of eugenics can be applied. One is mandatory eugenics or authoritarian eugenics, in which the government mandates a eugenics program. Policies and/or legislation is often seen as being coercive and restrictive.
Another is promotional voluntary eugenics, in which eugenics is voluntarily practiced and promoted to the general population, but not officially mandated. This is a form of non-state enforced eugenics, using a liberal or democratic approach, which can mostly be seen in the 1900s. The third is private eugenics, which is practiced voluntarily by individuals and groups, but not promoted to the general population.
Nazi eugenics were Nazi Germany's racially-based social policies that placed the improvement of the race through eugenics at the center of their concerns and targeted those humans they identified as "life unworthy of life" (German Lebensunwertes Leben), including but not limited to the criminal, degenerate, dissident, feeble-minded, homosexual, idle, insane, religious, and weak, for elimination from the chain of heredity. More than 400,000 people were sterilized against their will, while 70,000 were killed in the Action
The Nazis based their eugenics program on the United States' programs of forced sterilization.
The Law for the Prevention of Hereditarily Diseased Offspring, proclaimed on July 14, 1933, required physicians to register every case of hereditary illness known to them, except in women over forty-five years of age. Physicians could be fined for failing to comply.
Since the postwar period, both the public and the scientific communities have associated eugenics with Nazi abuses, such as enforced racial hygiene, human experimentation, and the extermination of "undesired" population groups. However, developments in genetic, genomic, and reproductive technologies at the end of the 20th century have raised many new questions and concerns about what exactly constitutes the meaning of eugenics and what its ethical and moral status is in the modern era.