Marks of Cain: Further Themes
Eugen Fischer was a notorious race scientist who worked in German Southwest Africa (now Namibia) during the brutal German colonisation of the 1900s.
When he was in Namibia, Fischer discovered that the Hottentots, aka the Bushmen, exhibited physical “abnormalities”. To Fischer this was sufficient to class Hottentots as “non human” – a different species. Fischer was equally obsessed by the Basters of Rehoboth.
Following his research on the Hottentots and the Basters, Fischer wrote several books outlining his racial theory: specifically, that some populations could be regarded as literally “inferior”. These ideas fuelled the brutality of the German occupation of Namibia, resulting in the genocides of 1904-7, when the Germans deliberately tried to wipe out the Herero and Witboii tribes, killing tens of thousands.
The Nazis and Fischer
When Hitler came to power one of his first major moves in academic circles was to appoint Eugen Fischer head of anthropology, at the famous Kaiser Wilhelm Institute in Berlin. He wanted his favourite racial scientist to prove Nazi racial science.
A few years later, as the war began in earnest, Hitler turned his entire attention to racial problems once again: especially the Jews.
Prior to 1941 Hitler had been entertaining various solutions to the “Jewish problem” – sending all the European Jews to Madagascar, perhaps, or forcing them to North Russia.
But then something changed – in 1941 Hitler abandoned his previous schemes for European Jewry; instead he decided to have them all exterminated. No one knows why Hitler suddenly changed his mind in 1941. Arguably the decision contributed to German defeat in the war – as so much time, effort, manpower and capital was expended by the Nazis on the “Final Solution”.
Whatever the truth behind Hitler’s fateful decision, the treatment of “Nazi doctors” like Fischer at the end of the war was, in the eyes of many people, remarkably lenient. Physicians who had participated in the cruellest of experiments were given sentences of a few years, even a few months, in jail; astonishingly, some of the worst offenders were allowed to return directly to German society, with their reputations unsullied.
Eugen Fischer is a classic example. After the war he became professor Emeritus at Freiburg University, and in 1952 he was appointed honorary president of the newly-founded German Anthropological Society. Another notorious case is Professor Doctor Fritz Lenz, the head of eugenics at Berlin Dahlem, and a co-author of key works on Nazi racial theory.
He returned to work immediately after the war, and was offered the chair in Human Heredity at the University of Gottingen.
For more examples of Nazi doctors and their unsettling post-war punishment – or lack of – see here
Contrary to received opinion, humanity is still evolving – indeed we are now evolving faster than any other species in history. A recent American study has shown that “the speed of human evolution increased rapidly during the last 40,000 years, and is accelerating”. The findings, published in 2007 by a team of U.S. anthropologists in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, overturned the widely-held belief that modern life’s relative ease has slowed or even stopped human adaptation.
Such a speed of evolution would, in the normal run of things, lead to speciation: to different species evolving from a common ancestor: homo sapiens. Theories along these lines have been propounded by evolutionary scientists like Oliver Curry, of the London School of Economics – he expects a master-race to emerge, alongside a smaller, stupider underclass.
Even if we don’t accept that some races of man are already speciated, it is now known that mankind has come close to speciation in the relatively recent past. A 2008 report in the American Journal of Genetics said this: “Ancient humans started down the path of evolving into two separate species before merging back into a single population. The genetic split in Africa resulted in distinct populations that lived in isolation for as much as 100,000 years. This near speciation could have been caused by arid conditions isolating different breeds of homo sapiens.
See this article on homo floresiensis for intriguing evidence of a very recent speciation of humanity.
For fifty years it has been commonly assumed that humans worldwide are becoming genetically more alike, because of long distance travel, liberal attitudes to intermarriage, large scale migration, and so forth. However, this may be untrue: at least according to Dr Henry Harpending, a professor of anthropology at the University of Utah, who completed a study in 2005 – into the speed of evolution in the DNA of 270 people from around the world.
Harpending remarked on his own findings: “The research showed that the population explosion since the Ice Age 10,000 years ago had accelerated the rate of genetic change. We aren’t the same as people even 1,000 or 2,000 years ago. The dogma has been these changes are cultural fluctuations, but almost any temperament trait you look at is under strong genetic influence.” He added: “In other words, human races are evolving away from each other. Genes are evolving fast in Europe, Asia and Africa, but almost all of these are unique to their continent of origin. To put it bluntly, We are getting less alike, not merging into a single, mixed humanity.”
Try this for size, if you want to know more.
Someone asked me this the other day: what I personally believe about the chances of human speciation, and the further and deeper division of human races. I said that – even if these things are happening, or will happen – I agree with the character in the American film Bulworth: the best hope for humanity is for everyone to have sex with everyone else, until we are all the same colour.