The Nazi Ancestral Proof

The Nazi Ancestral Proof

Genealogy, Racial Science, and the Final Solution
Eric Ehrenreich
Distribution: World
Publication date: 10/10/2007
Format: Hardback 9 b&w photos
ISBN: 978-0-253-34945-3
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How could Germans, inhabitants of the most scientifically advanced nation in the world in the early 20th century, have espoused the inherently unscientific racist doctrines put forward by the Nazi leadership? Eric Ehrenreich traces the widespread acceptance of Nazi policies requiring German individuals to prove their Aryan ancestry to the popularity of ideas about eugenics and racial science that were advanced in the late Imperial and Weimar periods by practitioners of genealogy and eugenics. After the enactment of Nazi racial laws in the 1930s, the Reich Genealogical Authority, employing professional genealogists, became the providers and arbiters of the ancestral proof. This is the first detailed study of the operation of the ancestral proof in the Third Reich and the link between Nazi racism and earlier German genealogical practices. The widespread acceptance of this racist ideology by ordinary Germans helped create the conditions for the Final Solution.

Author Bio

Eric Ehrenreich holds a law degree from the University of California, Davis, and a Ph.D. in history from the University of Wisconsin. He was Douglas and Carol Cohen Postdoctoral Fellow at the U.S. Holocaust Museum's Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies. He currently practices law in Washington, D.C.


“[A] fascinating study which will contribute to the general understanding of how a technologically advanced, sophisticated German people were capable of complying with many of the racial policies instituted by the National Socialist regime.”
 — Beth A. Griech-Polelle, author of Bishop von Galen: German Catholicism and National Socialism

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Table of Contents

List of Abbreviations
1. Racial Science
2. The Origins of Racist Eugenics in Imperial Germany
3. The Spread of Racist Eugenics in Weimar
4. Making the Ancestral Proof in Nazi Germany
5. The Reich Genealogical Authority and Its Tasks
6. The Reich Genealogical Authority and the Ancestral Proof
7. Three Beneficiaries of the Ancestral Proof
8. Other Means of Generating Acceptance of Racism
9. Racial Scientific Ideology and the Holocaust