Deadly medicine: Creating the Master Race traveling exhibition

Deadly medicine: Creating the Master Race traveling exhibition

Jan. 18, 2013

Exhibit Author: U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum

Sponsor: Arizona Health Sciences Library; UA College of Medicine Program in Medical Humanities; and the Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona

Exhibit Start Date: Jan 18, 2013
Exhibit End Date: Mar 31, 2013
Hours: Sunday - Thursday, 7 AM - 9 PM; Friday - Saturday, 7 AM - 7PM
Location: Arizona Health Sciences Library, Tucson Campus, 1501 N. Campbell Ave.

From 1933 to 1945, Nazi Germany carried out a campaign to “cleanse” German society of individuals viewed as biological threats to the nation’s “health.” With the help of physicians and medically-trained geneticists, psychiatrists and anthropologists, the Nazis developed racial health policies that began with the mass sterilization of “genetically diseased” persons and ended with the near annihilation of European Jewry.

To relate this history, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum has assembled high quality scans of artifacts and documents, photographs and historic film footage and presents them in settings evoking medical and scientific environments in a traveling exhibition, Deadly Medicine: Creating the Master Race.

“Deadly Medicine explores the Holocaust’s roots in then-contemporary scientific and pseudo-scientific thought,” explains exhibition curator Susan Bachrach. “At the same time, it touches on complex ethical issues we face today, such as how societies acquire and use scientific knowledge and how they balance the rights of the individual with the needs of the larger community.”

From the early twentieth-century international eugenics movements – which sprang from the turn-of-the-century scientific beliefs asserting that Charles Darwin’s theories of “survival of the fittest” could be applied to humans – to present-day dreams of eliminating inherited disabilities through genetic manipulation, the issues explored in the exhibit remain timely. Deadly Medicine inspires reflection on the continuing attraction of biological utopias that promote the possibility of human perfection.

The exhibit is free and open daily to the public. Directions and parking information for the Arizona Health Sciences Library can be found here. Please note, there are fees for parking on the UA Campus and at the UA Hospital. The opening reception with refreshments and guest speakers will be held Wednesday, Jan. 23 at 4 p.m., at the AHSL, Tucson Campus. is also open to the public. (Update: read Mayor Rothschild's remarks from the opening reception.)

In addition, the public is invited to a free lecture by bioethics and medical ethics expert Norman Fost, MD, MPH, on Monday, Feb. 11, at noon, at the AHSL, Tucson Campus. Dr. Fost is professor of pediatrics and bioethics and director of the Program in Bioethics at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. (Update:  view Dr. Fost's lecture, "The Wisconsin Cystic Fibrosis Newborn Screening Study: Ethical and Regulatory Issues.")

Also of note, Ada Wilkinson-Lee, PhD, Assistant Professor, University of Arizona, delivered a talk on Forced Sterilization, on March 25 at noon.  In the first half of the 20th century, several programs on “compulsory sterilization” were instituted in countries around the world, usually as part of eugenics programs intended to prevent the reproduction and multiplication of members of the population considered to be carriers of defective genetic traits.  (View Dr. Wilkinson-Lee's PowerPoint presentation, "Forced Sterilization. PDF, 653 KB).

For more information about the exhibit and related events visit the website, where you may also find information about past exhibits at the Arizona Health Sciences Library, Tucson.

Exhibit References

Deadly Medicine: Creating the Master Race exhibition is produced by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and presented locally in partnership with the Arizona Health Sciences Library, Tucson campus; the program in Medical Humanities at the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson, and the Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona.

Credit for graphic: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum