Eugenics Revisited

Eugenics Revisited

A German physicist who worked for the Nazis, Herbert Matare, 97, lives in northern Germany now. He was interviewed by a writer for The Atlantic Monthly (March 2010).

Matare said that he had never been a Nazi. He told of being questioned by the SS for suggesting to a neighbor that Hitler should be killed to speed up the end of the war.

Lately his interest has turned to eugenics. He seems to have “a deeply held fear that surging populations in the developing world will one day overwhelm and destroy the West. Compounding his concern, he said, is ‘the simple fact’ that people of Africa, the Middle East, and Asia are not as intelligent as people of European descent. ‘There’s a gene you can check for brain development, and this gene is not there,’ he told me. [This is nonsense.] The more such populations are allowed to multiply, the likelier it becomes that they will pollute the gene pool and, in doing so, impede human progress.” He wants to “rein in birth rates in the developing world.”

Given his opposition to the Nazis, how does he reconcile his views with theirs?

“You can always do something in exaggeration. The Third Reich went overboard because they didn’t have the guts to decide who was really useless and who was not…. People say what they did was eugenic. It was dysgenic! It was dysgenic because the Jews were more intelligent than the Germans.”

A small mistake someone made?

Eugenics, clearly, remains a scary, dangerous point of view.

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