The obsession of the Nazi Germany involved the creation of a perfect Aryan race. While a lot of atrocities resulted from the sinister motives, Germans were still imparted with some health benefits during WW II. The dangers of smoking were found by studies and established that cigarette smoking is bad and the most advanced anti-smoking campaign was launched to protect only Aryan Germans.
Robert Proctor is a Stanford researcher and author of The Nazi War on Cancer. He said that Nazi Germany was ruled by health conscious political elites that are twisted on genocidal extermination and European conquest. Tobacco was then considered among the threats to the chosen people’s health.
Cigarette Smoking Directly Causes Cancer
It was in 1939 when the German scientists Franz Millet presented the first ever epidemiological study that links smoking to cancer. In 1943, German scientists Eberhard Schairer and Erich Schöniger at the Jena University prepared a paper that confirmed this study. For the first time, it convincingly established that smoking is the direct cause of lung cancer.
For the first time, German doctors’ research revealed the harms of secondhand smoke and has coined the term passive smoking.
Proctor said that Schairer and Schöniger’s paper should be considered as political document, as a product of Nazi ideological focus on tobacco as the corrupting force that must be eliminated in order to result to racial hygiene.
The agenda of the Nazi is focused on the idea of maintaining and establishing the German Aryan master race that is illness-free and impurity-free. Tobacco is an influence that could undermine the master race.
Before 1900, a Toxicological Sciences article stated that lung cancer was still very rare around the world, but incidences dramatically increased by 1930s. This matched with the growing popularity of smoking starting at the end of the 20th century. The link between lung cancer and smoking was never identified until the Nazi era scientists revealed it.
Tobacco Harmful effects studies were funded by Institute for Struggle Against Tobacco, a 1941-established institute that Hitler’s Reich Chancellery funded. Karl Astel led the institute. Proctor said that Dr. Astel was a high ranking SS officer and was keen anti-Semite.
Astel’s institute financed and distributed pamphlets on tobacco’s harmful effects. In conducted research on the potential mutations or damages that nicotine could cause genetic material on the master race. Astel and scientists under him conducted animal and human experiments. They also interviewed families of those smokers who died of lung cancer. Anti-smoking efforts were not limited to research labs and universities.
Nazi Tobacco Control
Under the Nazi control, Germany started the first ever and most comprehensive anti-smoking campaign of the modern era. Smoking in workplace, cinemas and schools was banned. Servicemen and policemen were not allowed to smoke while in uniform. Women cigarettes were not to be sold in cafes and public places. Tobacco advertising was also restricted.
True fascist fashion involved smoking warnings featuring Hitler. Proctor said that the campaign likewise involved nicotine gums, psychological counseling and methods that will make cigarette distasteful through silver nitrate mouthwash and disagreeable sensation with injections of chemicals bonded with tobacco compounds.
However, Nazi Germany never outlawed tobacco. From them till now, tobacco has been an important revenue source. By 1941, tobacco taxes made up 1/12of the government’s revenue. Funding was very important during the time of war.
The anti-tobacco campaign ended when the Third Reich was defeated and research that ties smoking to cancer was grouped together with Nazi Germany atrocities. Astel committed suicide in 1945 for fear that wartime crimes could come up to him. Nonetheless, the anti-smoking campaign of Nazi paternalism caused about 20,000 German women to avoid lung cancer deaths as women were discouraged to smoke.
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