As a subject of scientific inquiry, eugenics remains indelibly associated with Hitler’s Germany and its dreams of a master race. For several decades, however, it was widely supported as progressive, not only by liberals such as economist John Maynard Keynes [...] but also by socialists such as leading biologist J. B. S. Haldane, who regularly contributed to the Communist Party’s Daily Worker, and even Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky.
Eugenic ideas first developed in Britain, the United States and Germany, and were taken up by a politically diverse range of governments. Women, people with learning difficulties and other disabled people were the principal victims. This article focuses on the rise of eugenics in the first 40 years of the 20th century and its role in legitimising “scientific racism”, then goes on to discuss the period since, particularly in relationship to the current growth of the far right. [...]