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Sheila F. Weiss

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Professor of History
277 Bertrand H. Snell Hall
Phone: 315-268-3993

B.A., Northwestern University
M.A., Ph.D., The Johns Hopkins University

Courses Taught
  • Twentieth Century Germany
  • The Holocaust
  • Nazi Germany

Scholarly Interests
What, if anything, was uniquely "Nazi" about human genetics under the swastika? How, if at all, does this explain why so many German biomedical professionals made the "Faustian bargain" with the Nazi state (some going as far as to undertake medical experiments on individuals without rights in concentration and extermination camps as well as "euthanasia hospitals")? These have always been the queries with which I attempted to wrestle in both my research and teaching. I am presently working on a biography of the German human geneticist and mentor of the infamous Josef Mengele, Baron Otmar von Verschuer



The Nazi Symbiosis: Human Genetics and Politics During the Third Reich, University of Chicago Press, 2010.

Race Hygiene and National Efficiency: The Eugenics of Wilhelm Schallmayer, Berkeley and New York: University of California Press, 1987.


“The Loyal Genetic Doctor:  Otmar Freiherr von Verschuer and the Institut für Erbbiologie und Rassenhygiene, Origins, Controversy and Racial Political Practice,” forthcoming in Central European History, March, 2013

“After the Fall:  Political Whitewashing, Professional Posturing and Personal Refashioning in the Post-War Career of Otmar Freiherr von Verschuer,” Isis 101 (2010), pp.722-758

“Human Genetics and Politics as Mutually Beneficial Resources: The Case of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Anthropology, Human Heredity and Eugenics During the Third Reich,” has been published in the Journal of the History of Biology 39 (2006), pp. 41-88.

“Human Heredity and Politics: A Comparative Institutional Study of the Eugenics Record Office at Cold Spring Harbor (United States), the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Anthropology, Human Heredity and Eugenics (Germany) and the Maxim Gorky Medical Genetics Institute (USSR) (with Mark B Adams and Garland E. Allen), Osiris, Second Series, 20 (2005), pp. 232-262.

“German Eugenics, 1890-1933” in Deadly Medicine: Creating the Master Race ed. Susan Bachrach and Dieter Kuntz (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2004), pp. 15-39; 206-207.

Fellowships and Grants

Professor Weiss has been the recipient of several Fubright fellowships to Germany, a year-long NEH stipend, as well as fellowships from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). In 2006 she was the DaimlerChrysler Fellow at the American Academy in Berlin
“The Sword of Our Science,” NSF (277,114)
“Human Heredity, Genetics, and Politics During the Third Reich,” NSF ($78,748)