University of Vermont

The College of Arts and Sciences

Center for Holocaust Studies


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Breeding Better Germans and Vermonters

Nazi and American Eugenics in History and Memory


Sunday, March 28, 2010

1:00-5:00 PM

Waterman Memorial Lounge (Room 338)

Free and Open to the Public

ADA: Individuals requiring accommodation should contact Sally Knight at 802-656-3166 no later than March 19, 2010.



1:00-1:15 PM

Opening Remarks

Alan E. Steinweis, Director, Miller Center for Holocaust Studies, UVM


1:15-2:15 PM

Giving a Face to a Faceless Crime: Profiles of Victims of the Nazi 'Euthanasia' Program

Patricia Heberer, United States Holocaust Museum

From October 1939 until the final days of World War II, the National Socialist “euthanasia” (T4) program and its corollary operations claimed the lives of an estimated 200,000 disabled patients residing in institutional settings in Nazi Germany. Relatively little research has attempted to reconstruct the lives and fates of “euthanasia” victims. This presentation hopes to create a victim composite for those patients murdered at Kaufbeuren, a notorious “euthanasia” facility near Augsburg in southern Germany from 1942 to 1945. Gleaned from clinical and administrative records, the study allows us a glimpse of the individual lives of “euthanasia” victims and reconstructs their daily existence in the harrowing world of the killing center.


2:15-2:30 PM

Coffee and Refreshments (provided)


2:30-3:30 PM

The Memory of Murdered Children: Commemoration at Sites of “Special Children’s Wards” (Kinderfachabteilungen) in Germany, Austria, Poland, and the Czech Republic

Lutz Kaelber, University of Vermont

The “Euthanasia” project involved the killing of over 300,000 persons with disabilities in National Socialist Germany and occupied territories. A core part of the Nazi “bio-political developmental dictatorship” (Hans-Walter Schmuhl) was the establishment of about 30 “special children’s wards” (Kinderfachabteilungen) where at least 5,000 disabled or socially marginalized infants, children, and youths were murdered. This paper will address how these crimes have been represented, and their victims commemorated, at sites of the “special children’s wards” in Germany, Austria, Poland, and the Czech Republic over the past 65 years.


3:30-3:45 PM

Coffee and Refreshments (provided)


3:45-4:45 PM

The Role of Eugenics in Constructing the 20th Century Vermont Identity and Its Continuing Influence

Nancy Gallagher

Since the revelations of the horrors of the death camps in Nazi Germany after World War II and the efforts on the part of Americans since 1960 to confront their own role in the global eugenics movement, the historiography of American eugenics has undergone successive transformations, first enabling Americans to examine and disown our own history, and subsequently confronting it with renewed interest and regret. Through an examination of the role the Eugenics Survey of Vermont played in constructing a unique Vermont identity in the early twentieth century, Nancy Gallagher will discuss her recent work on the impact of eugenics on those Vermont families targeted for extinction and examine how Holocaust scholarship has served as both an obstacle and a catalyst in confronting our own eugenics past and recognizing it’s continuing influence in Vermont culture, society, and politics today. 


4:45-5:00 PM

Closing Remarks


Speaker Profiles

Patricia Heberer has served as an historian with the Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies at the United States Holocaust Memorial  Museum in Washington since 1994. There she functions as the Museum’s in-house specialist on medical crimes and eugenics policies in Nazi Germany.  Dr. Heberer earned her BA and Ma from Southern Illinois University; she pursued doctoral studies at the Free University of Berlin and the University of Maryland, receiving her Ph.D. from the latter institution.   A contributor and consultant historian for two United States Holocaust Memorial Museum publications, 1945: The Year of Liberation and In Pursuit of Justice: Examining Evidence of the Holocaust, she is currently producing a source edition, Children and the Holocaust for the Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies’ series Documenting Life and Destruction. A further publication, Atrocities on Trial: The Politics of Prosecuting War Crimes in Historical Perspective, co-edited with Juergen Matthäus, appeared in 2008 with the University of Nebraska Press.

Lutz Kaelber is Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Vermont, He has research and teaching interests in social theory ,religion, memory, and comparative historical sociology. He is the author of Schools of Asceticism: Ideology and Organization in Medieval Religious Communities (1998; recipient ofthe 1999 Best Book Award of the American Sociological Association's Sociology of Religion section); the translator of Max Weber's History of Commercial Partnerships in the Middle Ages (2003);the co-editor of The Protestant Ethic Turns 100: Essays on the Centenary of the Weber Thesis (2005; with William Swatos)and three compilations of teaching materials published bythe American Sociological Association. Hisrecent publications address trauma and memory in Berlin (Canadian Journal of Sociology Online, 2007) and virtual traumascape at Auschwitz (e-Review of Tourism Research, 2007). His current research, funded by grants and awards from the College of Arts and Sciences, the Office of the Vice President for Research, and the Center for Teaching and Learning, is on American eugenics and commemorative practices at sites of "euthanasia" crimes in Nazi Germany. His website on the "Special Children's Wards" can be visited at

Nancy Gallagher holds a Bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry from the University of Wisconsin, an M. Ed. from St. Michael's College, and an M.A. in History from the University of Vermont.  As a veteran science teacher in Vermont schools, her interest in interdisciplinary studies and the role of science in public policy inspired her research on the Vermont eugenics movement for her M.A. thesis.  Her resulting book, Breeding Better Vermonters:  The Eugenics Project in the Green Mountain State (Hanover: University Press of New England, 1999) traces the origins and development of the Vermont eugenics movement, explores how the idea of "human betterment through selective breeding" functioned within Vermont's own political and cultural landscape, and illuminates many of the ethnic, religious, and political origins of present controversies over the collection and uses of human genetics information. Since 1999, Nancy Gallagher has served as a resource for students and educators on eugenics history in Vermont, lecturing to student, professional, and community groups. For the past six years she has worked collaboratively with members of those families targeted for extinction by the Eugenics Survey in an effort to restore their true history and understand the intergenerational impact of investigations and interventions on their lives and their identity.  She was a Graduate Teaching Fellow for the UVM Holocaust Course in 1994 and a member of the steering committee for the Center for Holocaust Studies Miller Symposium, "German Medicine and Ethics Under National Socialism" in 2000.  As content specialist and architect for the web resource, “Vermont Eugenics:  A Documentary History” (, she seeks to foster a broader understanding of eugenics history and its legacies.


Last modified March 23 2010 08:00 AM