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Where do I begin to express gratitude, when so many people in so many places have lent so many hands to advance the cause of this years-long project? More than fifty researchers in fifteen cities in four countries, assisted by scores of archivists and librarians at more than one hundred institutions, combined to ingather and organize some 50,000 documents, together with hundreds of pages of translation, as well as to review hundreds of books and journals, all to collectively tear away the thickets of mystery surrounding the eugenics movement around the world. I cannot name all who need naming because of space limitations. In many cases, I do not even know them all. Many helped behind the scenes. But if great projects depend upon great efforts by a vast network, then War Against the Weak is greatly indebted indeed.

I must begin by thanking my corps of skilled researchers, mostly volunteers. Because the information needed for War Against the Weak resided in many out-of-the-way archives as well as major repositories, the challenge was to locate the right person in the right place at the right time, from the hilly back country of southern Virginia to Berlin. Recruits came from the Internet, organizational bulletin boards, word of mouth and my personal website, as well as the devoted research team involved with my previous books, IBM and the Holocaust and The Transfer Agreement. Some worked for a few days in a strategic location to extract vital information; others worked for months at a time in archives or my office.

Thanks are due to at least eight people in Germany, including Dennis Riffel, Christina Herkommer and Jakob Kort, who worked tirelessly in Berlin, Munich, Heidelberg, Koblenz and Münster at the archives and libraries of the Max Planck Institutes (successor to the Kaiser Wilhelm Institutes), Bundesarchiv, Heidelberg University, Münster University, the Frei University and many other locations reviewing and summarizing thousands of pages. The laser-like ability of Riffel, Herkommer and their colleagues to identify connections spanning decades between Germans and Americans was indispensable.

In London, Jane Booth, Julie Utley, Diane Utley and several others spent months checking numberless documents, reviewing pamphlets and squinting at microfiche at the Public Record Office, Wellcome Library, University College of London Archives, British Library, Cambridge and other repositories to uncover links across the Atlantic.

In New York, more than a dozen researchers including Max Gross assisted me at the New York Public Library, the archives of New York University, Columbia University, and the Planned Parenthood Foundation. In Virginia, Susan Fleming Cook, Bobby Holt and Aaron Crawford dug through special and restricted library collections, archives, little-known museums, courthouse and institutional records, as well as the files of the ACLU. In California I was assisted by Lorraine Ramsey who worked in Chico, Sacramento and the University of California at Berkeley; Joanne Goldberg at the archives of the Hoover Institution and Stanford University; and others.

No fewer than eight researchers, including Christopher Reynolds and David Keleti, spent long hours at the American Philosophical Society archives in Philadelphia, the country’s most precious eugenic resource. I owe a debt to Ashley and Jodie Hardesty who, among a team of four, scoured the valuable files of Vermont eugenicists, which in many cases were still waiting to be processed. At Truman State University in Kirksville, Missouri, I recruited a cadre of students to scrutinize thousands of pages of documents from the files of Harry Laughlin in the Pickler Memorial Library and its archive, and two of the most helpful were Benjamin Garrett and Courtney Carter. The project was also aided when attorney Charles Bradley volunteered to provide follow-up at the Rockefeller Archives.

Of special importance was Phyllis Bailey of Montreal, who labored at university libraries in Montreal, the Public Records of Vermont, the American Philosophical Society in Philadelphia, and the Rockefeller Archives in Sleepy Hollow, New York. Bailey drove from archive to archive displaying extraordinary research skill and keen intellectual understanding of the injustices she was investigating.

My Washington, D.C., research staff—about a dozen individuals—displayed unflagging tenacity in researching at numerous archives, analyzing and organizing thousands of documents, as well as delivering incomparable research and manuscript detail work. No research project could ask for more. Here I include Kate Hanna, who worked at the National Library of Medicine and the Library of Congress, and, wielding her uncanny memory could recall almost every line of thousands of pages of eugenics journals she reviewed. Once Kate even corrected the date on an archival photograph.

Paul Dwyer displayed a special acumen for locating obscure volumes at numerous libraries, including American University, Catholic University, George Washington University, George Mason University, the University of the District of Columbia and others; he was also among a team of a dozen that pored through record groups at the National Archives. Eve Jones searched files at the National Archives and the Carnegie Institution, and my own considerable archival holdings.

John Corrado, assisted by Eve Jones, led the four-person fact and footnote verification team whose chore it was to cross-examine every fact and bit of fact context and then create the documentation trail, footnote by footnote, folder by folder. Corrado is also an exceptional researcher. Often, as I pounded my keyboard, I would call out an obscure name from decades past; within moments, Corrado was able to report the details. He is a researcher’s researcher.

Corrado, Jones, Hanna and Dwyer were augmented and assisted by Patricia Montesinos, Alexandra Carderelli, Greg Greer, Eric Smith, Erica Ashton and several others. Numerous translators worked arduously and often with little notice; chief among them was Susan Steiner, and Karl Lampl also helped.

War Against the Weak could never have been completed without the exceptional cooperation of literally scores of archivists and librarians. Some archivists helped by producing as many as five thousand photocopies from a single institution, often making an exception to their copying regulations, and with special file and fact searches, as well as fellowship.

In England, those who deserve thanks include Anne Lindsay, Helen Wakely, Tracy Tillotson, Chris Hilton and many others at the Wellcome Library; Stephen Wright and Julie Archer at University College of London; and numerous staffers at the Public Record Office and the British Library.

In Germany, the list is long and represents the best of Germany’s unparalleled archival services, as well as its dedication to understanding its own history. At the top of the list is Matthias M. Weber, archivist at the Max Planck Institute for Psychiatry and an expert on German eugenics, who spent many hours assisting my project. Wilhelm Lenz and Annegret Neupert at Bundesarchiv both in Berlin and Koblenz greatly expedited our work. Hans Ewald Kessler gave good advice and facilitated our access at Heidelberg University archives and Robert Giesler did the same at the university archives at Münster. Harry Stein at Buchenwald Archive was indispensable in locating and providing copies of Katzen-Ellenbogen trial materials lost at the National Archives in Washington. Helmut Freiherr von Verschuer granted permission to freely examine his father’s records. Many more German librarians and archivists are not named for lack of space and I apologize.

In the United States, I worked with dozens of repositories, many holding local and seemingly innocuous materials and unaware of their international value. The list stretched from community historical societies and corporate libraries to the major eugenic archives. Four institutions rendered profound assistance and their archivists reside at the apex of archival personalities preserving the history of eugenics. Judith Sapko, archivist extraordinaire at Pickler Memorial Library, labored more than I am permitted to say; Sapko was in constant contact with me during months of research. James Byrnes and Jennifer Johnsen at Planned Parenthood’s McCormack Library displayed unrivalled and unflinching cooperation by continuously faxing materials—often within minutes of my request—to verify or disprove information about Margaret Sanger. At Cold Spring Harbor, Clare Bunce was a champion of research assistance, helping even as her own archives were in flux; Mila Pollock was also an important help. Valerie Lutz and Rob Cox, undermanned and greatly taxed, did their utmost to respond to pressing needs at the American Philosophical Society for more than a year.

There were many more in America. Marie Carpenti at the National Archives, Amy Fitch and Tom Nussbaum at the Rockefeller Archives and John Strom at the Carnegie Institution Archives all helped continuously.

Several people at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum assisted greatly, including archivist Henry Mayer, several librarians, Tom Cooney and Andy Hollinger. Unfortunately, the executive staff at USHMM refused to open its records regarding IBM and certain other corporations, as well as the topic of American corporations and eugenics, and even rebuffed a Freedom of Information Act request, claiming the museum was immune to FOIA requests. But this did not stop others at the museum from doing their best to provide other traditional historical materials, and I thank them.

In addition, dozens of librarians helped, finding and copying rare newspapers, journals and other special materials in their collections. At the top of the list is Janice Kaplan at the New York Academy of Medicine Library, and David Smith, a reference librarian of the New York Public Library; both worked with me for months. Anne Houston at Tulane University and the staff of the Rockville Public Library also deserve special mention, as does Charles Saunders and the staff at the Richmond Times-Dispatch newspaper morgue. I apologize to many more who cannot be listed for lack of space.

Numerous state officials went above and beyond. These include Margaret Walsh, Judith Dudley and James S. Reinhard at Virginia’s Department of Hygiene, for allowing me to be the first to receive documents from the files of the Central Virginia Training School regarding Carrie Buck. I also thank state of Vermont officials for helping with important archival documents relating to the Hitler regime. Many more state officials worked with me on a confidential basis to reveal closed records. Their names cannot be revealed, but they know who they are.

Literally dozens of experts, eyewitnesses and other sources gave of their time to provide documentation in their possession, help trace facts or exchange ideas. In some instances the exchanges were brief, and in some cases the consultations were extensive and spanned weeks of effort. Among them were Sam Edelman, Nancy Gallagher, Daniel Kevles, Paul Lombardo, Barry Mehler, K. Ray Nelson, Diane Paul, Steve Selden, and Stephen Trombley.

Great guidance, page by page, stretching over many weeks, was rendered by Max Planck archivist Matthias Weber and geneticist Benno Müller-Hill in Germany; health policy historian Paul Weindling in England; eugenics author J. David Smith at the University of Virginia; and National Archives Nazi historian and archivist Robert Wolfe in the U.S. I am also grateful to the many other draft readers whose comments were so essential, including S. Jay Olshansky, a health issues expert at the University of Illinois; William Seltzer, a demographic and census expert at Fordham University; archivist Piotr Setkiewicz at Auschwitz Museum; William Spriggs of the National Urban League; Ariel Szczupak in Jerusalem; Abraham H. Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League; Malcolm Hoenlein at the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations; and more than a dozen others.

In each of my books, I have paid tribute to the musical talents of those who have inspired and energized me. Crowning the playlist are Danny Elfman, Jerry Goldsmith and Hans Zimmer. To this I add John Barry, BT, Moby, Afro Celt Sound System, John Williams and, of course, Dmitri Shostakovich.

Polishing a manuscript is a never-ending process, and here I extend special recognition to Elizabeth Black, Eve Jones, Phyllis Bailey and many others who devoted endless hours to the numerous revisions, tweaks and updates. In particular, Jones’s deft understanding of both the historical facts and editorial fine-tuning will be felt on every page.

No author could have asked for a better publishing team. I have been blessed with great editors during the past three decades and among the very finest was Jofie Ferrari-Adler, who melded with every sentence and brought great skill and polish to the finished product. Four Walls Eight Windows publisher John Oakes believed in the book from the beginning and mobilized the entire company behind it; it has been an honor to travel with him. Publicist Penny Simon, who worked with me on IBM and the Holocaust, aided this project with her ceaseless energies. Most of all, this project would not have been possible without the steadfast support of my agent and manager, Lynne Rabinoff, who embodies the best of literary representation here and abroad; few authors are fortunate enough to have an agent so dedicated and energized, and Lynne’s imprint will be felt throughout this book.

A special word must be written for my family, robbed of my presence for two years while I was holed up amidst stacks of documents. Their indulgence was indispensable.

Edwin Black
Washington D.C
June 1, 2003