Archiv für Sozialgeschichte

Stefan Kühl, Die Internationale der Rassisten. Aufstieg und Niedergang der internationalen Bewegung für Eugenik und Rassenhygiene im 20. Jahrhundert, Campus Verlag, Frankfurt/Main etc. 1997, 339 S., kart., 38 DM.

Whereas there is now a substantial literature on eugenics in different national contexts, international dimensions have received far less attention to date. In this sociologically well-informed study, Stefan Kühl provides an account that is in many ways pioneering. After introducing the topic of eugenics, he consider the transition from a »white international« to a racial brotherhood, excluding Lamarckian, socialist an feminist eugenics which were widely prevalent in the 1920s. One might, however, object that Lamarckism was by no means a monopoly of the left, and that feminism and socialism could have their racial advocates.

Whereas it has been the trend to stress eugenics as a factor in the modernisation of welfare states, Kühl reconstructs international networks of eugenicists, anthropologists and demographers. He demonstrates their interaction in a range of arenas as polarisation increased over Nazi racism. We are introduced to a vast and sprawling set of interrelations of different groupings in international population policy and eugenics. Paris World Exhibition provided an occasion for attack on eugenic racism of the Germans, instigated by Ignaz Zollschan in conjunction with certain French anthropologists. This provides a precursor for the UNESCO declaration on race. The Second World War is discussed only briefly, although a new German international was sustained with links to Axis allies and puppet states. After the war a shift occured to concerns with overpopulation. Here a new network of United Nations and other international organisations proliferated, which rehabilitated racialbiologists internationally, just as they became human geneticists and family welfare experts within Germany.
Kühl has produced an important an pioneering study. It is densely documented, and this ist a strength. It is also quite compressed, and given the vast nature of the topic, it will be referred to in many years to come

Paul Weindling, Oxford

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