Eugen Fischer

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Eugen Fischer
Eugen Fischer.jpg
Eugen Fischer with photographs of Rehoboth bastards, circa 1938.
Born (1874-07-05)July 5, 1874
Karlsruhe, Grand Duchy of Baden
Died July 9, 1967(1967-07-09) (aged 93)
Freiburg im Breisgau, West Germany
Nationality German
Occupation Professor
Known for Nazi Eugenics

Eugen Fischer (5 July 1874 – 9 July 1967) was a German professor of medicine, anthropology and eugenics. He was director of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute of Anthropology, Human Heredity, and Eugenics between 1927 and 1942. He was appointed rector of the Frederick William University of Berlin by Adolf Hitler in 1933, and later joined the Nazi Party.


Fischer was born in Karlsruhe, Grand Duchy of Baden, in 1874. In a 1906 paper, Fischer was described as professor at the University of Freiburg.[citation needed] After the war, he completed his memoirs, which critics claim whitewash his role in the genocidal program of the Third Reich. He died in 1967.

Early work[edit]

In 1908 Fischer conducted field research in German Southwest Africa (now Namibia). He studied the Basters, offspring of German or Boer men who had fathered children by the native women (Hottentots) in that area. His study concluded with a call to prevent a "mixed race" by the prohibition of "mixed marriage" such as those he had studied. It included unethical medical practices on the Herero and Namaqua people.[1] He argued that while the existing Mischling descendants of the mixed marriages might be useful for Germany, he recommended that they should not continue to reproduce. His recommendations were followed and by 1912 interracial marriage was prohibited throughout the German colonies.[2][3] As a precursor to his experiments on Jews in Nazi Germany, he also did medical experimentation on African prisoners of war in concentration camps in Namibia that has been referred to as genocide.[4][5]

His ideas expressed in this work, related to maintaining the purity of races, influenced future German legislation on race, including the Nuremberg laws.[3]

In 1927, Fischer became the director of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Anthropology, Human Heredity, and Eugenics (KWI-A), a role for which he'd been recommended the prior year by Erwin Baur.[6] In 1933, Adolf Hitler appointed him rector of the Frederick William University of Berlin, now Humboldt University.[7] Fischer retired from the university in 1942.

Nazi Germany[edit]

In the years of 1937–1938 Fischer and his colleagues analysed 600 children in Nazi Germany descending from French-African soldiers who occupied western areas of Germany after First World War; all children were illegally subjected to sterilization afterwards[8]

Fischer didn't officially join the Nazi Party until 1940.[9] However, he was influential with National Socialists early on. A two-volume work, Foundations of Human Hereditary Teaching and Racial Hygiene, co-written by him and Erwin Baur and Fritz Lenz, served as the "scientific" basis for Nazism's attitude toward other races.[10] He also authored The Rehoboth Bastards and the Problem of Miscegenation among Humans (1913) (German: Die Rehobother Bastards und das Bastardierungsproblem beim Menschen), a field study which provided context for later racial debates, influenced German colonial legislation and provided "scientific" support for the Nuremberg laws.[11]

Under the Nazi regime, Fischer developed the physiological specifications used to determine racial origins and developed the so-called Fischer–Saller scale. He and his team experimented on Gypsies and African-Germans, taking blood and measuring skulls to find scientific validation for his theories.

Efforts to return the Namibian skulls harvested by Fischer were started with an investigation by the University of Freiburg in 2011 and completeted with the return of the skulls in March 2014.[12][13][14] Such requests had previously met significant resistance in Germany. The skulls have been accorded an appropriate burial.


To 1909[edit]

  • Fischer, Eugen. 1899. "Beiträge zur Kenntniss der Nasenhöhle und des Thränennasenganges der Amphisbaeniden", Archiv für Mikroskopische Anatomie. 55:1, pp. 441–478.
  • Fischer, Eugen. 1901. "Zur Kenntniss der Fontanella metopica und ihrer Bildungen". Zeitschrift für Morphologie und Anthropologie.4:1. pp. 17–30.
  • Fischer, Eugen, Professor an der Universität Freiburg i. Br. 1906. "Die Variationen an Radius und Ulna des Menschen". Zeitschrift für Morphologie und Anthropologie. Vol. 9. No. 2.
  • Fischer, Eugen. 1908. Der Patriziat Heinrichs III und Heinrichs IV. Tübingen: J.C.B. Mohr (Paul Siebeck). Fischer's PhD thesis.

1910 to 1919[edit]

  • Maass, Alfred. Durch Zentral-Sumatra. Berlin: Behr. 1910. Additional contributing authors: J.P. Kleiweg de Zwaan and E. Fischer.
  • Fischer, Eugen. 1913.Die Rehobother Bastards und das Bastardierungsproblem beim Menschen: anthropologische und ethnographiesche Studien am Rehobother Bastardvolk in Deutsch-Südwest-Afrika, ausgeführt mit Unterstützung der Kgl. preuss, Akademie der Wissenschaften. Jena: G. Fischer.
  • Gaupp, Ernst Wilhelm Theodor. Eugen Fischer (ed.) 1917. August Weismann: sein Leben und sein Werk. Jena: Verlag von Gustav Fischer.

1920 to 1929[edit]

  • Schwalbe, G. and Eugen Fischer (eds.). Anthropologie. Leipzig: B.G. Teubner, 1923.
  • Fischer, E. and H.F.K. Günther. Deutsche Köpfe nordischer Rasse: 50 Abbildungen mit Geleitwarten. Munich: J.F. Lehmann. 1927.

1940 to 1949[edit]

  • Fischer, Eugen and Gerhard Kittel. Das antike Weltjudentum : Tatsachen, Texte, Bilder. Hamburg: Hanseatische Verlagsanstalt, 1943.

1950 to 1959[edit]

  • Sarkar, Sasanka Sekher; Eugen Fischer and Keith Arthur, The Aboriginal Races of India, Calcutta: Bookland. 1954.
  • Fischer, Eugen. Begegnungen mit Toten: aus den Erinnerungen eines Anatomen. Freiburg: H.F. Schulz. 1959.

See also[edit]



  • Fangerau H., Müller I. (2002). "Das Standardwerk der Rassenhygiene von Erwin Baur, Eugen Fischer und Fritz Lenz im Urteil der Psychiatrie und Neurologie 1921-1940". Der Nervenarzt 73 (11): 1039–1046. doi:10.1007/s00115-002-1421-1. PMID 12430045. 
  • Mendes-Flohr, Paul R. (1995). The Jew in the Modern World: A Documentary History. Oxford University Press US. ISBN 0-19-507453-X (''Mendes-Flohr'') Check |isbn= value (help). 
  • Schmuhl, Hans-Walter. "The Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Anthropology, Human heredity and Eugenics, 1927-1945", Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science vol. 259, Wallstein Verlag, Göttingen, 2003
  • Weindling P. (1985). "Weimar eugenics: The kaiser wilhelm institute for anthropology, human heredity and eugenics in social context". Annals of Science 42 (3): 303–318. doi:10.1080/00033798500200221. PMID 11620696. 
  • Friedlander, Henry. 1997. The origins of Nazi genocide: from euthanasia to the Final Solution. University of North Carolina Press. ISBN 0-8078-2208-6 ISBN 0807846759.

External links[edit]