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Monday, November 17




Book records American efforts to create pure Nordic race

The initial reaction people have to Edwin Black's book, "War Against the Weak" (Four Walls Eight Windows, $27), is one of "extreme disconsolation," the author says.

"People were very saddened to learn about 'The Transfer Agreements' (his first book, about an arrangement in 1933 between Zionist organizations and the Nazis to transfer some 50,000 Jews, and $100 million of their assets, to Jewish Palestine in exchange for stopping the worldwide Jewish-led boycott threatening to topple the Hitler regime in its first year), but they could blame the times. They were outraged about 'IBM and the Holocaust' (his second book, documenting the previously unknown 12-year strategic relationship between IBM and Hitler's Third Reich), but they could blame the company."

But of "War Against the Weak," in which Black outlines the collaboration between the American eugenics movement of the early 20th century and the architects of the Nazi plan to create a single, pure race, "people are 10 times more shocked, stunned, and there's no one to blame but an entire culture, and it's ours."

Eugenics, Black writes in the introduction to his book, was a systematic plan to rid the United States of "undesirable" people.

"Throughout the first six decades of the twentieth century, hundreds of thousands of Americans and untold numbers of others were not permitted to continue their families by reproducing. Selected because of their ancestry, national origin, race or religion, they were forcibly sterilized, wrongly committed to mental institutions where they died in great numbers, prohibited from marrying, and sometimes even unmarried by state bureaucrats," Black writes. "In America, this battle to wipe out whole ethnic groups was fought not by armies with guns nor by hate sects at the margins. Rather, this pernicious white-gloved war was prosecuted by esteemed professors, elite universities, wealthy industrialists and government officials colluding in a racist, pseudoscientific movement called eugenics. The purpose: create a superior Nordic race."

Black, who will be in Sarasota on Thursday to discuss his book as part of the seventh annual Jewish Book Fair at the Flanzer Jewish Community Center, began to encounter bits and pieces of the story as he was writing "IBM and the Holocaust" (published in 2001).

"After I did 'IBM and the Holocaust,' I wrote about eugenics, but I treated it superficially as a bizarre Nazi pseudoscientific notion that didn't merit much notice," he said in a telephone interview last week. "After I wrote the book I began to see some of the same patterns in the United States. Soon these patterns were more than just similarities, more than just coincidences. As the documentation showed, we originated these ideas and actively transferred them to Nazi Germany."

The eugenics program targeted poor people of every race and ethnicity, immigrants, blacks, Jews, Native Americans, people with alcoholism and other diseases, the mentally ill "and anyone else who did not resemble the blond and blue-eyed Nordic ideal the eugenics movement glorified," Black writes.

Scientists in the program believed in "survival of the fittest," Black said, but it was a "self-managed evolution, and murder was the highest expression of their self-managed evolution."

Black points to the Carnegie Institution, which funded a eugenics enterprise at Cold Spring Harbor on Long Island, and the Rockefeller Foundation as the primary financial backers of the program.

Eugenics advocates took on a lower profile as news of the Nazi atrocities filtered around the world. But Black contends they simply renamed themselves "geneticists." The threat remains, he said.

"We don't blame the advent and discovery of genetic information for the way it is twisted and distorted into an ongoing war against the weak," he said.

"The average person, as they look toward our 21st century and they are dazzled by the genie of genetics, needs to examine these companies and developments with great trepidation to ensure that genetics does not return from whence it came."

Black relied on a team of dozens of researchers around the world to gather background for his book. He financed the research through a "grant" from his credit-card companies.

"Mastercard, Visa and American Express, and they want their grand back on the 28th of next month," he said wryly. "I'm not beholden to any foundation, any grant. Like every journalist in America, I owe my allegiance only to the truth."

Last modified: November 02. 2003 12:00AM

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