Midwest Center for Holocaust Education collaborate with The National Archives

Special exhibit unites Midwest Center for Holocaust Education and NARA.

If the community wants to explore another aspect of the Jewish story, the Midwest Center for Holocaust Education and the National Archives-Central Plains Region are partnering for an exhibit titled “Deadly Medicine: Creating the Master Race.” The exhibition is on loan from the U.S. Holocaust Museum in DC and focuses on eugenics and the Nazi medical experiments that led up to the Holocaust and eventual World War II.  The exhibit opens at the Archives March 16 and runs through June 10.

After the German defeat in World War I, those that followed in German leadership believed they needed to weed out the “undesirable” traits and encourage the “right” traits. Historians estimate more than 200,000 children and adults were euthanized because of birth defects and undesirable mental conditions. The use of gas chambers started here. Probably another 400,000 Germans were sterilized at this time too to keep certain hereditary traits out of the German population.

The Center’s Executive Director Jean Zeldin says the chance to bring in the exhibit is serendipitous. “We were looking for a venue and needed exhibit space of about 3,000 square feet. The Archives, next to Union Station, fit the bill.”

Known as the secret enterprise “T4,” the project of sterilization and extermination are part of the sequences that led the Holocaust, Zeldin says. “It is a sober and somber experience to view this exhibit. Medical and scientific minds planned and executed horrific acts. It also shows how a democratic and cultured nation like Germany could become complicit in genocide. Doctors and nurses did so willing and they believed they were doing the right thing for the Fatherland. The exhibit contains the thoughts of other nations’ leaders to this too. We have to be vigilant of this kind of systematic and rational process. We have to speak up when we can speak up.”

Archivist Kimberlee Ried says the public will walk away with knowledge of a horrific time from the near past, but will see some parallels to the current world situation. “This is an exhibit that folks will stop and think. We aren’t sure what the reactions or emotions will be, but it will be educational. There’s a lot of detail to look at and read. It will probably take at least an hour to move through the exhibit.”

Kellie Houx

Kellie Houx is a writer and photographer. A graduate of Park University, she has 20 years of experience as a journalist. As a writer, wife and mom, she values education, arts, family and togetherness.

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