THE PIONEER FUND:
THE NAZI CONNECTION
The Pioneer Fund was established as a charitable trust on February 27,
1937 in New York City. Harry H. Laughlin, Frederick Osborn and textile
magnate Wickliffe Draper were the principle founders. The Fund's
stated purpose was to "improve the character of the American people"
by encouraging the procreation of descendants of "white persons"
and to provide aid in conducting research on "race betterment with
special reference to the people of the United States." The current
president of the Pioneer Fund is a shadowy figure named Harry F. Weyher,
a financier and corporate lawyer who eschews interviews and runs the
Fund without pay or staff from his offices in New York; he is assisted
in his work by four other "Trustees" - one of whom has been
Tom Ellis, a close associate of Pat Robertson and Tim LaHaye in the
Council on National Policy (CNP), the principle coordinating agency
in bringing together various members of the religious right with the
business right and the political right. All serve without pay and staff.
The Pioneer Fund has assets of about $5-million and gives away most
of its $1-million in annual income to a dozen or more scholars from
Northern Ireland to California who study IQ and genetics. The Pioneer
Fund supported a significant portion of the research cited in the recent
best-selling book on race and intelligence, The Bell Curve, by Richard
J. Herrnstein, a Harvard University psychologist who died in September
1994, and Charles Murray, a political scientist at the American Enterprise
Institute. In the billion dollar world of philanthropy, the money doled
out by the Pioneer Fund may seem paltry. But the numbers don't tell
the real story of the Fund's influence. "The Pioneer Fund has been
able to direct its resources like a laser-beam," says one critic,
Barry Mehler, a historian at Ferris State University who has been gathering
information on it since the 1970s. "I credit the Fund for being
a major factor in the present resurgence of the biological-determinism
movement - a factor that is far out of proportion to the amount of funds
people revere or revile the Fund, most say it has stretched relatively
few dollars a long way. "It suggests to me that as long as you
focus on your mission, you can make an impact," says Dwight Burlingame,
director of academic programs and research at Indiana University's Center
on Philanthropy. "A lot of small foundations search for this kind
of niche, where they can try to create an identity (and an impact)."
Mr. Weyher says his strategy has been to do just that. He chooses from
the 30 applications he receives each year those projects that are "too
much of a hot potato" to get money elsewhere.
All of the men connected to the establishment of the Fund were admirers
of Adolf Hitler. They believed unequivocally in white superiority and
held that it (i.e., white supremacy) derived from "the evolutionary
process." They were motivated to establish the Fund by what they
considered to be the overwhelming "success" of the Nazi eugenics
policy - a startling defamation, but one which is easily documented.
Take Harry Laughlin, the Fund's most energetic early personality, for
example: in May 1936, Dr. Carl Schneider, a professor of "racial
hygiene" at the University of Heidelberg and dean of the school's
faculty of medicine (and who, incidentally, also served as a "scientific
adviser" for the extermination of handicapped people in Germany)
offered Laughlin an honorary degree of "Doctor of Medicine."
Laughlin was deeply moved; he enthusiastically replied, "I stand
ready to accept this very high honor. Its bestowal will give me particular
gratification ... To me this honor will be ... valued because it comes
from a nation which for many centuries nurtured the human seed stock
which later founded my own country and thus gave basic character to
our present lives and institutions."
The lives of all the men connected to the founding of the Pioneer
Fund exhibit the same Nazi-like attachments and affinities - and this
despite the fact that most of them attempted to distance themselves
publicly from National Socialism as an outright political ideology.
Indeed, despite their inner ebullience towards Hitler, the men connected
to the Fund were conscious of the need NOT to appear too slavishly devoted
to fascism as a political philosophy. Madison Grant, author of The Great
Race and an admirer of the work of the Fund - warned Laughlin to this
effect in 1937; he wrote a letter to Laughlin cautioning him against
becoming too closely identified with the Nazis; he advised Laughlin
that, although "most people of our type" are in sympathy with
Germany's actions, eugenicists had to "proceed cautiously in endorsing
them" - hence the need to occasionally condemn anti-Semitism
and overt racism as such, if only to keep the Jews and other minorities
at bay. The dissembling apparent here has been all too much a part of
the history of the Pioneer Fund, and continues unabated, even today,
as - for example - the manner in which the Fund has attempted to hide
its connection to the passage of Proposition 187 in California (see
below); but insofar as the Nazi eugenics policy itself was concerned,
all of the men connected early on to the Fund would have had little
difficulty in agreeing with their colleague Frederick Osborn when he
said that the Nazi eugenics program was the "most important experiment
which has ever been tried (in the history of the world)."
Since the end of World War II eugenicists connected to the Fund have
tried to separate themselves from the legacy of the Holocaust and the
ideology of Nordic superiority by eliminating references to "ethnic
racism" in their official pronouncements and from the agendas of
their various "learned" societies. For example, in 1954, The
British Annals of Eugenics was renamed The Annals of Human Genetics;
in 1969, The Eugenics Quarterly, the successor of The Eugenics News,
was renamed The Journal of Social Biology. Moreover, eugenicists dropped
the term "eugenicist" in describing themselves and began referring
to themselves as "population scientists," "human geneticists,"
"psychiatrists," "sociologists," "anthropologists,"
and "family politicians" - all in an attempt to distance themselves
and their work from its hideous outcome in World War II and the Holocaust.
To this end, even the Fund dropped all references to "whites"
and the "white race" from its charter - and it's worked: these
moves have helped the Fund regain acceptance in the scientific community.
Today the Pioneer Fund has regained its foothold in academia, financing
projects connected to Harvard, Yale, the University of Delaware, the
University of California at Berkeley, etc. - and the same subterfuge
insofar as what the Fund is really all about continues without any apparent
letup. Take, for example, the manner in which the Fund has sought to
hide its connection to Proposition 187 (California's 1994 anti-immigrant
initiative). Opponents of Prop. 187 charged early on that the initiative
was being partially underwritten by the Pioneer Fund. "Not so!"
replied proponents of the measure - and, strictly speaking, they were
right. There has been no direct connection between the Fund and Prop.
187. But the indirect connection has been extensive and pervasive. The
examples are almost too numerous to mention; take just one: Alan Nelson.
Nelson is one of the authors of Prop. 187 and was a driving force behind
the measure. During the almost two-year "lead-up" to passage
of the measure, Nelson was occupied almost full-time on work connected
to the initiative. The question is, who paid him during this time? -
an organization calling itself FAIR (Federation for American Immigration
Reform). And where did FAIR get its income? - from the Pioneer Fund!
To say under such circumstances, then, that the Pioneer Fund did not
help bankroll Prop. 187 is disingenuous at best, and somewhat deceitful
at worst. It's precisely this kind of dissembling and duplicity that
contributes so greatly to the murky and even sinister aura which surrounds
the activities of the Fund.
German historian and sociologist Stephen Kuhl, author of The Nazi
Connection, cautions people of good-will in the United States to stay
clear of those who are connected to the Fund. He warns that the failure
of the German people - especially German Christians - to disassociate
themselves early on from people and institutions connected directly
or even indirectly to "race-science," so-called, helped pave
the way to the crematoria of Hitler's Death Camps. He cautions that
the Pioneer Fund is "a Fund that was founded by supporters of Hitler's
policies against ethnic minorities and handicapped people and that provided
money for introducing Nazi propaganda into the United States; it still
sponsors research (and projects) that have striking similarities to
the work that provided the scientific basis for Nazi measures."
Benno Muller-Hill, author of Murderous Science: Crimes against Germany's
Ethnic Minorities, echoes Kuhl; Muller-Hill writes that the Death Camps
of Hitler's Germany were not the result of a crazed minority of empty-headed
bumpkins, but rather "the result of the work of leading scholars
of international repute ... Nazi racial policies were the work of trained
scholars, not ignorant fanatics" - it was a science gone mad.
Written By S. R. Shearer
- Other founders included Malcolm Donald, and Vincent R. Smalley.
- Certificate of the Pioneer Fund, February 27, 1937, signed by Harry
H. Laughlin, Frederick Osborn, Wickliffe Draper, Malcolm Donald, and
Vincent R. Smalley. Laughlin Papers, Missouri State University,
- Please see Joye Mercer, "A Fascination With Genes: Pioneer
Fund is at center of debate over research on race and intelligence"
in The Journal of Higher Education, December 7, 1994, pg. 28.
- Ibid., pg. 28.
- Ibid., pg. 28.
- See Harriet A. Washington, "Vital Signs," in Emerge,
Jan. 31, 1995, pg., 22.
- Schneider to Laughlin, May 16, 1936 and Laughlin to Schneider, May
28, 1936, Laughlin Papers.
- Stephen Kuhl, The Nazi Connection, Eugenics, American Racism, and
German National Socialism, New York: Oxford University Press, 1994),
- Frederick Osborn, "Summary of the Proceedings of the Conference
on Eugenics in Relation to Nursing," February 24, 1937, American
Eugenics Society Papers: Conference on Eugenics in Relation to Nursing.
- Please see Mohinder Mann and Annie Dandavati, "The Anti-Immigrant
Initiative" in India Currents, October 31, 1994, pg. 7.
- Samuel R. Cacas, "Hearing Draws Differing Perspectives on Immigration's
Impact on Jobs in California" in Asian Week, October 15,
1994, pg. 1
- Op. Cit., Stephen Kuhl, pg. 106.
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