EUGENICS BETWEEN SCIENCE AND POLITICS IN LATVIA DURING WORLD WAR II: THE INVESTIGATION FILE OF THE MINISTRY OF STATE SECURITY OF THE LATVIAN SSR IN THE CASE OF THEODOR UPNERS

Uldis Krēsliņš
Institute of Latvian History at the University of Latvia

Abstract. This study, based on the materials of the 1948 investigation of the Ministry of State Security of the Latvian SSR, traces and analyzes the scientific and administrative activities of Theodor Upners (1898-1992) during the Nazi occupation regime in Latvia. From 1942 until the end of the occupation in 1944, Upners was formally the leading eugenics specialist in Latvia. During this time, in 1942 he visited Germany on a scientific trip, gave a course on eugenics at the University of Riga, and in 1943 published the book “The Role of Eugenics in the Life of the Nation and the State”. In the 1948 investigation, he was accused of collaborating with the Nazi occupation authorities and glorifying Nazi racial theory. The materials of the investigation indicate that the Upners’ Case was, at least in part, an episode of the repressions towards genetic that began in the Soviet Union. Upners acknowledged his collaboration with the Nazi occupation authorities, but denied – and this is confirmed by his published work – the glorification of racial theory and any calls for racial hygiene. Upners continued to fight to have these charges dropped until his rehabilitation in 1990. In this study, analyzing Upners’ activities during the Nazi occupation in the range between collaboration and resistance, against the background of his story, it is argued that the ideas of Nazi racial hygiene did not find support and adherents among Latvian academic scientists, and the rare public speeches about racial superiority were a tribute to political interests of the occupation regime.

Keywords: Upners, Eugenics, Latvia, Nazi Occupation Regime, Racial Hygiene, Lysenko

Volume 6, Issue 8(58) p. 15-24 PDF

DOI: 10.52013/2658-7556-58-8-3