"Blood and Homeland": Eugenics and Racial Nationalism in Central and Southeast Europe, 1900-1940

By Marius Turda; Paul J. Weindling | Go to book overview
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From "Prisoner of War Studies" to Proof
of Paternity:
Racial Anthropologists and the Measuring
of "Others" in Austria

Margit Berner

From the beginning of the twentieth century, the separation of physical and cultural anthropology occurred differently in English-speaking and German-speaking countries. Traditional academic seats of learning in Germany, and the names of the oldest learned societies, such as the German Society for Anthropology, Ethnology and Prehistory (Berliner Gesellschaft für Anthropologie, Ethnologie und Urgeschchte), or the Viennese Anthropological Society (Anthropologische Gesellschaft in Wien), reflected distinct branches of anthropology. Accordingly, separate faculties were created in acknowledgement of the different strands within the discipline. In the textbook Lehrbuch für Anthropologie (Textbook of Anthropology), first published in 1914, Rudolf Martin (1864–1925) urged German-speaking anthropologists to follow his methods of classifying observations, morphognosis and the verifying of hypotheses through measurements. The shortcoming of this methodology is that it did not allow for a broader biological and evolutionary context.1 In 1908, the racial anthropologist Eugen Fischer (1874–1967) traveled to the German protectorate of South-West Africa (Deutsch-Südwestafrika) to investigate the anthropological traits of "mixed-race" inhabitants, the offspring of "Boers and Hottentots." He published the results of his work in 1913 as Die Rehobother Bastards und das Bastardisierungsproblem beim Menschen (The Bastards of Rehoboth and the Problem of Miscegenation in Man). This study led to the assumption that complex racial traits segregate in Mendelian fashion. The consequences of free combination of genes for the development of races were not taken into account. The concept of race therefore remained static.2

In 1913, the first Chair in Anthropology and Ethnography was established at the University of Vienna; Rudolf Pöch (1870–1921) was its first recipient. Prior to his appointment Pöch had trained as a physician,

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