The Rise and Fall of the Caucasian Race: A Political History of Racial Identity

By Bruce Baum | Go to book overview

5

The Color Line and the “Caucasian
Race” Revival, 1935–51

Racialism is a myth, and a dangerous myth at that.

—Julian Huxley and A. C. Haddon, We Europeans (1935)1

[A]t the present time most anthropologists agree on classifying the
greater part of present-day humanity into three major divisions, as
follows: the Mongoloid Division, the Negroid Division, the Cauca-
soid Division. The biological processes which the classifier has here
embalmed, as it were, are dynamic, not static. These divisions were
not the same in the past as they are at present, and there is every rea-
son to believe that they will change in the future.

—UNESCO, “Statement on Race” (1950)2

Between 1933 and 1945, from Hitler's rise to power to Germany's defeat in World War II, Europe realized De Lapouge's 1899 prediction that a “conflict of races is now about to start” in which “people will slaughter each other by the million because of a difference of a degree or two in the cephalic index” (see chapter 4). Violent conflict between “races” had characterized modern politics since the seventeenth century. Now, however, it came home to Europe with a vengeance. The Nazis enacted an aggressive eugenics program through the Sterilization Law of 1933. They denied German Jews citizenship and expropriated Jewish businesses with the 1935 Nuremberg Laws, which were followed by Kristallnacht (Night of Broken Glass) in 1938, forced “resettlement” of Jews, and eventually “the Final Solution”—mass murder of Jews that began in 1941–42. All told, the Nazis systematically murdered nearly 6 million European Jews, tens of thousands of Roma, about two hundred thousand mentally and physically disabled persons, not to mention the millions of war fatalities.3

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