[Program and practice of psychiatric genetics at the German Research Institute of Psychiatry under Ernst Rüdin: on the relationship between science, politics and the concept of race before and after 1993].Medizinhist J. 2002; 37(1):21-55.MJ
The first research institution exclusively devoted to psychiatric genetics was the Department of Genealogy and Demography at the German Psychiatric Research Institute (Deutsche Forschungsanstalt für Psychiatrie) in Munich. From its foundation in 1917 until 1945 it was directed by Ernst Rüdin, one of the protagonists of the racial hygiene movement in Germany. In scientific terms, colleagues from abroad regarded the research undertaken by Rüdin and his collaborators as outstanding in 1933/34, and as remarkable even in the post-1945 period. This paper analyses programme and practice of psychiatric genetics at the Munich Institute as well as Rüdin's involvement in Nazi mental health policy including his active support of the systematic patient killings ('euthanasia'). It is argued that the idea of a healthy 'race' was a guiding principle motivating all of Rüdin's research and political activities, and that it is not possible to distinguish in his work a phase of 'good' research (in scientific terms) untainted by racial ideas from a phase of 'bad' (pseudo-) research contaminated by racial ideology.