Exhibits explore eugenics and its implications for modern medicine
Cleveland, Ohio (September 5, 2007) —A chilling exhibition on Nazi eugenics featuring hundreds of photographs and graphic reproductions as well as original artifacts, film footage, stunning eyewitness accounts and survivor testimonies, Deadly Medicine: Creating The Master Race, is on view at the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage in Beachwood for a limited engagement, opening Tuesday, September 25, 2007.
According to The New York Times, this exhibition “…should be part of every citizen’s experience.” (January 8, 2005). A traveling exhibition from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) in Washington, D.C., it has been seen in Dresden, Germany, The Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta and at The Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh.
From 1933 to 1945, Nazi Germany’s government promoted a nationalism comprised of territorial expansion and claims of biological superiority, an “Aryan master race”, which led to their “euthanasia” murder program and genocide of European Jewry. Enlisting physicians, geneticists, psychiatrists and anthropologists who believed that the control of heredity could enhance the human race, they implemented public health and population policies aimed at “cleansing” German society of biological threats. Victims included not only Jews, deemed “racially foreign”, but the mentally ill and disabled, homosexuals, and others seen as sources of “biological degeneration”. Deadly Medicine explores the Holocaust’s roots in then-contemporary scientific and pseudo-scientific thought.
“This stunning exhibition is a shocking history lesson”, comments Judi Feniger, Executive Director of the Maltz Museum. “Eugenics didn’t begin and end in Germany; it was an international phenomenon in many countries, including America. Our Museum emphasizes tolerance, humanity and the beauty of diversity, and we learn from the lessons of history, as our Immigration, Hate, Holocaust and Survivor areas, in particular, attest. As we began working with Deadly Medicine, we realized that questions about eugenics echo today in heated debates on topics like disability rights, assisted suicide, genetic selection and others. Cleveland’s excellent medical and academic community is the perfect place to take a look at what happened then, and what’s happening now.”
To explore current topics, The Maltz Museum will debut Where Would You Draw the Line?, a thought-provoking exhibit that enables visitors to record their opinions on several current-day medical questions. It was conceived and created at The Maltz Museum, with input from local medical and religious leaders, and will be featured concurrently on the Museum’s website, www.maltzjewishmuseum.org.
“We are so pleased to work with the USHMM”, continues Feniger. “The community came right on board when we told them what we had planned. Our sponsors were the first to take an active role, and we formed an Advisory Committee that’s been a tremendous resource. We’re expanding on the themes of Deadly Medicine and Where Would You Draw the Line? with months of original public programming and educational forums featuring some of Northeast Ohio’s leading medical, ethical and academic thinkers”. The Museum is also taking advantage of Cleveland’s tremendous resources to conduct and promote related programs on and off-site, working with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Cuyahoga County Public Library, Facing History and Ourselves, The Federal Reserve Bank and others.
Deadly Medicine is on loan from The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and is sponsored in part by The Samburg Family Foundation, the Dorot Foundation, the Viterbi Family Foundation of the Jewish Community Foundation of San Diego, and the Rosenbluth Family.
Local sponsors are the Cleveland Clinic, Forest City Enterprises, the Lerner Foundation, Medical Mutual of Ohio, the Mt. Sinai Health Care Foundation, the John P. Murphy Foundation and University Hospitals.
About The United States Memorial Holocaust Museum
A living memorial to the Holocaust, the Museum inspires leaders and citizens to confront hatred, prevent genocide, promote human dignity and strengthen democracy. Since its dedication in 1993 on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., more than 25 million have visited including more than 8 million school children and 85 heads-of-state. Go to www.usmhmm.org for more information on this and other exhibitions and programs.