Biology and Philosophy

, Volume 17, Issue 2, pp 223–249 | Cite as

The Architects of the Evolutionary Synthesis in National Socialist Germany: Science and Politics

  • Thomas Junker
  • Uwe Hoßfeld

Abstract

The Synthetic Theory of Evolution (SyntheticDarwinism) was forged between 1925 and 1950.Several historians of science have pointed outthat this synthesis was a joint venture ofSoviet, German, American and Britishbiologists: A fascinating example of scientificcooperation, considering the fact that theevolutionary synthesis emerged during thedecades in which these countries were engagedin fierce political, military and ideologicalconflicts. The ideological background of itsAnglo-American representatives has beenanalyzed in the literature. We have examinedthe scientific work and ideological commitmentsof the German Darwinians during the ThirdReich. We based our analysis on four criteria:1) General attitude towards the Third Reich. 2) Membership in the NSDAP and other nationalsocialist organizations. Endorsement anddisapproval of the state ideology in 3) scientific and 4) other publications. We willmainly discuss the various authors that havecontributed to Die Evolution derOrganismen (1943), a collection thatrepresented the evolutionary synthesis inGermany. Most of the authors promoted eugenicideas, but not all of them adopted the racistinterpretation of the Third Reich. Anotherfinding is that there existed no directconnection between party membership andpromotion of the state ideology.

Bernhard Rensch Erwin Baur eugenics evolutionary synthesis national and international science N.V. Timoféeff-Ressovsky science and ideology Synthetic Darwinism Third Reich Walter Zimmermann 

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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thomas Junker
    • 1
  • Uwe Hoßfeld
    • 2
  1. 1.Fakultät für BiologieEberhard-Karls-Universität TübingenTübingenGermany
  2. 2.Institut für Geschichte der Medizin, Naturwissenschaft und Technik, Ernst-Haeckel-HausFriedrich-Schiller-Universität JenaJenaGermany

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