November 21, 2023 | Jerry Bergman

Darwinism Played a Central Role in Nazi Crimes

A fact documented by a new study
published by the leading
journal The Lancet


by Jerry Bergman, PhD

The most extensive review of the central role that health professionals (primarily doctors and nurses) played in the Nazi crimes has just been published this month, on November 8,  2023.[1]  The 73-page study written by 20 international experts was supported by 878 scholarly references. It was added to the many other studies completed by scholars, including American psychiatrist and Harvard associate Robert Lifton.

Dr. Lifton documented the horrors of Nazi medical techniques, concluding that it was the doctors that ordered, supersized, and sometimes carried out the murder of over a million persons in Auschwitz.[2] Lifton called Auschwitz “the racial cure” for the problems of Germany.[3]

Researchers Annas and Grodin further commented that Nazi physicians also “became leaders in the National Socialist Party and were honored for their work.… The Nazi theory, based on a social Darwinist view of genetics and racial purity, meshed perfectly with the Nazi ideology.”[4] Actually, the Nazi nurses (most of whom were women) directly killed many more patients than did the Nazi physicians.[5]

The Lancet Commission Results

The Lancet Commission is the most authoritative work on the Holocaust completed to date, and will likely be the main reference used in future studies of the subject. The report did not shy away from focusing on the central role that Darwinism played in causing the Holocaust and the horrors of the Nazi movement. They openly acknowledged that the “core element of medicine’s role” in producing the Holocaust “was so-called race hygiene (Rassenhygiene). Developed in the early decades of the 20th century and based on Darwinian terms of selection and struggle and Herbert Spencer’s concept of survival of the fittest.”[6]

The concept of eugenics was developed around 1880 by Darwin’s cousin Francis Galton

to describe an ‘endeavor to further evolution, especially that of the human race’. Soon after, the German physician Alfred Ploetz introduced the term race hygiene. Eugenics and race hygiene were often used interchangeably.”[7]

The report added that race hygiene described a set

of assumptions, ideological beliefs, and practices that were intended to create a strong national body by fostering the procreation of desirable elements and eradicating those considered racially undesirable or genetically unfit. Implementation of race hygiene, which overlapped considerably with the field of eugenics, became the central pillar of public health during the Nazi period.[8]

The report stressed the importance of Darwin’s views, concluding that

Racism, increasingly anchored in scientific thought since the late 18th century, added the notion that skin color or ethnic origin were presumed markers of genetic, and therefore social, value, or in Social Darwinist terms, fitness. Eugenics and race hygiene entwined science and politics: the political objective of improving the biological quality of a given population motivated research programs, and science provided legitimization for social policy, medical interventions, and public health interventions.[9]

In short, the

Developments in the biomedical sciences, such as Darwinism and ….  a perception of an escalating crisis in public health, came together to generate great professional and public interest in eugenics. Eugenics came to influence many governments’ policies… . In Germany under Nazi rule, eugenics—mostly referred to as race hygiene—reached its most radical manifestation. [10]


Medical atrocities during the Nazi era were not solely carried out by “a few extremist doctors” or perpetrators that acted “under coercion”… By 1945, between 50 to 65 percent of non-Jewish German doctors had joined the Nazi party, which represents a “much higher proportion than in any other academic profession.”[11]

Auschwitz death camp

Staggering Numbers of Casualties

In addition to the 6 million Jews and 5 million Poles, 250,000 to 500,000 Roma and Sinti people, plus political prisoners, were murdered.[12] The Nazi eugenics and murder programs during World War II resulted in an additional 230,000 deaths of ethnic Germans, including 7,000 to 10,000 children. Over 310,000 to 350,000 forced sterilizations were also performed on victims who were labeled “genetically inferior.”[13]

Despite ample evidence to the contrary, the common misconception that medicine in Nazi Germany merely amounted to pseudoscience, is incorrect. In fact, it was the extreme result of the widespread acceptance of Darwinism and eugenics at this time.[14] German scientists were, in fact, “part of broader international networks exploring and promoting eugenics and developing racist medical rationales” and Nazi research was even sometimes integrated into the “canon of medical knowledge.”[15]

The report concluded that this background of the eugenic cause of the Holocaust should be taught in courses that cover the health professions. If this recommendation is followed, it may be the first time that the well-documented harm that Darwinism caused in society may legally become part of the public school curriculum.


The Lancet Commission report is the culmination of hundreds of reviews that have documented in detail the harm Darwinism has caused society in the last century. Denial of this fact is close to equivalent to denial of the Holocaust itself. Nonetheless, atheists and others have worked hard to deny the connection between Darwin and Hitler, such as at shown in reference [16].


Darwin’s connection to eugenics documented.

[1] Lancet Commission. “Health professionals played ‘central role’ in Nazi crimes:, 9 November 2023.

[2] Lifton, Robert Jay. The Nazi Doctors: Medical Killing and the Psychology of Genocide. Basic Books, New York, NY, p. 18, 1986.

[3] Lifton, 1986, p. 145.

[4] Annas, G., and M. Grodin (editors). The Nazi Doctors and the Nuremberg Code. Oxford University Press, New York, NY, p. 15.

[5] Benedict, S., and L. Shields. Nurses and Midwives in Nazi Germany: The “Euthanasia Programs.Routledge Publishing, New York, NY, 2014; McFarland-Icke, R. Nurses in Nazi Germany: Moral Choice in History. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ, 1999.

[6] Czech, Herwig, et al. “The Lancet Commission on medicine, Nazism, and the Holocaust: Historical evidence, implications for today, teaching for tomorrow.”, p. 7, 2023.

[7] Czech, et al., 2023, p. 7.

[8] Czech, et al., 2023. p. 7. Note: the British spelling was edited to the American style. Emphasis added.

[9] Czech, et al., 2023. p. 7. Note: the British spelling was edited to the American style. Emphasis added.

[10] Czech, et al., 2023. p. 7. Note: the British spelling was edited to the American style

[11] Lancet Commission, 2023.

[12] Lancet Editorial. “Preventing healers from becoming killers.”, 8 November 2023.

[13] Lancet Editorial, 2023.

[14] Bergman, Jerry. Hitler and the Nazi Darwinian Worldview: How the Nazi Eugenic Crusade for a Superior Race Caused the Greatest Holocaust in World History. Joshua Press, Kitchener, Ontario, Canada, 2012.

[15] Lancet Commission, 2023.

[16] Hill, Gary. On The Myth That Darwin Influenced Hitler.;; Trollinger, William. Charles Darwin was Responsible for the Vietnam War?

Dr. Jerry Bergman has taught biology, genetics, chemistry, biochemistry, anthropology, geology, and microbiology for over 40 years at several colleges and universities including Bowling Green State University, Medical College of Ohio where he was a research associate in experimental pathology, and The University of Toledo. He is a graduate of the Medical College of Ohio, Wayne State University in Detroit, the University of Toledo, and Bowling Green State University. He has over 1,300 publications in 12 languages and 40 books and monographs. His books and textbooks that include chapters that he authored are in over 1,800 college libraries in 27 countries. So far over 80,000 copies of the 60 books and monographs that he has authored or co-authored are in print. For more articles by Dr Bergman, see his Author Profile.

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