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Sliding calipers from a carrying case containing anthropometry instruments used in Nazi Germany

Object | Accession Number: 1990.272.1.2

Abawerke sliding calipers for measuring noses and ears, from a set of anthropometry instruments used as part of eugenics studies conducted in Nazi-controlled Germany from 1933 to 1945. Anthropometry is a branch of Anthropology that focuses on how to systematically identify and classify a range of physical characteristics found within different populations of people. This methodological approach was well-suited to the rising emphasis on eugenics, often referred to as racial hygiene, in Germany during the 1920s and 1930s. Many supporters linked eugenics to race, and believed that “race mixing,” modern medicine, keeping the “unfit” alive to reproduce, and costly welfare programs hindered natural selection and would lead to the biological “degeneration” of society. These ideas and practices began to inform government policy, and were absorbed into the ideology and platform of the newly formed Nazi Party during the 1920s. Following Hitler’s appointment as Chancellor in January 1933, a politically extreme, antisemitic variation of eugenics shaped Nazi policies and permeated German society and institutions. These policies touted the “Nordic race” as its eugenic ideal, and made efforts to exclude anyone deemed hereditarily “less valuable” or “racially foreign,” including Jews, “Slavs, Roma (gypsies), and blacks.” Racial hygiene studies assigned individuals to state-defined races, ranked from “superior” to “inferior,” based on family genealogies, anthropometric measurements, and intelligence tests. Many German physicians and scientists, who had supported racial hygiene ideas before 1933, embraced the Nazi emphasis on biology and heredity, in order to take advantage of new career opportunities and additional funding for research.

Date
use:  approximately 1933-1945
manufacture:  after 1897-1945
Geography
use: Germany
manufacture: Aschaffenburg (Germany)
Classification
Tools and Equipment
Object Type
Calipers (lcsh)
Genre/Form
Equipment.
Credit Line
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of the Institut für Humangenetik der Universität Göttingen
 
Record last modified: 2020-09-02 10:04:14
This page: https://collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/irn3374