This is Part 3. You should probably read the first two parts first.
You can find Part 1 by clicking here.
You can find Part 2 by clicking here.
To understand the fucked up things that happened next. One must also understand that throughout the earliest twentieth century there was a widely held belief that humankind was on the brink of a Malthusian collapse. Rapid increases in the consumption of natural resources, caused by rapid population growth and industrialization, was expected to outstrip the ability of the planet to produce said resources by the second half of the century. While many believed that such issues could be overcome by embracing scientific progress, many others contended that the self-destruction of society was inevitable. All the progress that had been made in the preceding centuries would be lost as the world was swallowed by famine, plagues, and warfare. Such thinking helped spur on a new age of imperialism at the end of the nineteenth century, with countries vying to claim as much territory as possible to ensure they controlled enough resources to survive the coming cataclysm. The belief by many that such conflict was inevitable was what turned the belief system of eugenics from another terrible point in history to one of the most horrifying chapters in human history.
The economic collapse which became known as the Great Depression rattled every bit of society. Eugenics was not immune. With so many once wealthy and successful people cast down into what they once would’ve considered poverty, people began to more greatly question the idea of economic value being a proxy for human worth. However, many of the larger ideas of eugenics had become so embedded that they were hard to shake off. The Great Depression was also seen by many Malthusians to be the start of the long expected societal collapse. As a result, some people began to meld the theory of evolution and the ideas of eugenics with the overall idea of a nation-state. Whereas in many nations the rise of nationalism was centered on the idea of moral superiority, these thinkers added in the idea of genetic superiority as well. As in nature, only the strong survived, which meant that it was okay to do anything in order guarantee the continued existence of the nation. While supporters of such ideas remained the minority in most countries, in others, such as Germany and Japan, they became the dominant force with terrible consequences.
For both Germany and Japan, the starting of World War II was an effort to secure enough land and resources to guarantee the survival and expansion of each country’s declared master race. In the case of the Japanese, the view of other groups as being inferior resulted in the murder of around 6 million people in China and southeastern Asia via civilian massacres. Germany, as we all know, was much worse. Germany was the culmination of the ultimate idea of eugenics. From the moment the Nazis took control of Germany, they began a policy of ethnic cleansing that increased in brutality and efficiency as time went on, eventually resulting in the establishment of death camps to do away with the undesirables. This list included Jews, Roma, the disabled, gay men, Poles, and Slavs. Some 17 million people were estimated to have been killed directly by the Nazis, with millions more killed by policies that restricted food and medicine to those deemed less than human. It was to be just the beginning. Plans for after the war called for depopulating huge areas for future German expansion. Though eventually won by the Allies, World War II resulted in the death of some 85 million people, 4 percent of the world population.
The horrors of the war, combined with the terrors revealed during the Nuremberg Trials, ended the widespread belief in the need for eugenics. The once lauded ideas that had shaped the world, began to crumble and fall away over the next several decades, replaced by an increased sense of the sanctity of an individual’s right to exist. This helped push forward many movements, including the end of Imperialism and many Civil Rights movements. Beginning in the Great Depression, and really hitting its stride in the 1950’s, new research better highlighted the importance of environment on human development. Genetic research eventually showed no major differences between the genetic codes of people of different nationalities and races. Though many of the policies once supported by the eugenics movement have been swept away, the after effects of the era continue to haunt global society to this day.