Deadly Medicine: Creating the Master Race

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Exhibition Deadly Medicine: Creating the Master Race on display at the Central Library of Rochester & Monroe County March 9 – September 25, 2020

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s traveling exhibition Deadly Medicine: Creating the Master Race examines how the Nazi leadership, in collaboration with individuals in professions traditionally charged with healing and the public good, used science to help legitimize persecution, murder, and ultimately, genocide.
The exhibition opens at The Central Library of Rochester & Monroe County on March 9, 2020 and will be on display through September 25, 2020. The Rundel Memorial Building is temporarily closed to the public. To view the exhibit you will need to make a reservation. Send an email to

“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.”
Eugenics theory sprang from turn-of-the-20th-century scientific beliefs asserting that Charles Darwin’s theories of “survival of the fittest” could be applied to humans. Supporters, spanning the globe and political spectrum, believed that through careful controls on marriage and reproduction, a nation’s genetic health could be improved.
The Nazi regime was founded on the conviction that “inferior” races, including the so-called Jewish race, and individuals had to be eliminated from German society so that the fittest “Aryans” could thrive. The Nazi state fully committed itself to implement a uniquely racist and antisemitic variation of eugenics to “scientifically” build what it considered to be a “superior race.” By the end of World War II, six million Jews had been murdered. Millions of others also became victims of persecution and murder through Nazi “racial hygiene” programs designed to cleanse Germany of “biological threats” to the nation’s “health,” including “foreign-blooded” Roma and Sinti (Gypsies), persons diagnosed as “hereditarily ill,” and homosexuals. In German-occupied territories, Poles and others belonging to ethnic groups deemed “inferior” were also murdered.

Online Programs being held in conjunction with Deadly Medicine: Creating the Master Race

Eugenics Under the Nazis: Made in America
Monday, August 24th, 2020, 6:30 – 8:00 pm
ONLINE via Zoom. 

Laurence B. Guttmacher, M.D., Professor of Clinical Psychiatry and Clinical Medical Humanities & Bioethics at the University of Rochester Department of Medical Humanities and Bioethics (URSMD) will share how Eugenics flowered in America, championed by the best and the brightest including Margaret Sanger to Theodore Roosevelt. It was a profoundly optimistic view, that humanity could be improved by controlling human breeding. The Nazi death camp horrors were directly based upon laws in Indiana and California which allowed for involuntary sterilization.” For more information, please contact the Science, History & Social Sciences Division at 585.428.8110.

Deadly Medicine: The Complicity of Physicians
Tuesday, August 25th, 2020, 12:00 PM – 1:30 PM
Central Library of Rochester & Monroe County – Online via Zoom
This program is presented through a collaboration with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Historian Patricia Heberer will discuss how physicians played an important role as planners and implementers of Nazi racial hygiene policy. This lecture discusses how medical professionals enforced two significant aspects of Nazi policy: compulsory sterilization and the clandestine “Euthanasia” program, the Nazis’ first program of mass murder. Compulsory sterilization, through which 400,000 Germans were legally sterilized, was enforced through the German legal system and involved physicians in the roles of denouncers, jurists, and enforcers of sterilization policy. Likewise, medical professionals instigated and carried out the so-called Nazi “euthanasia” program, which claimed the lives of 200,000 mentally and physically disabled patients and set an important precedent for the Holocaust. This program is free and open to the public.

This exhibition is made possible through the support of The David Berg Foundation, The Blanche and Irving Laurie Foundation, The Lester Robbins and Sheila Johnson Robbins Traveling and Temporary Exhibitions Fund established in 1990, and The Dorot Foundation.

This installation is locally sponsored by The Friends & Foundation of the Rochester Public Library, the William & Sheila Konar Foundation, and the Israel & Helen Wortman Memorial Fund of the Foundation of the Jewish Federation of Greater Rochester.