The famous evolutionist biologist Ernst Haeckel was a close friend and supporter of Darwin. To support the theory of evolution, he put forward the theory of recapitulation, which maintained that the embryos of different life forms resembled one another in their initial stages. It was later realized that in putting forward that claim, Haeckel had produced forged drawings. (See Embryological evolution.)
While perpetrating such scientific frauds, Haeckel also engaged in propaganda in favor of eugenics. He was the first to adopt and disseminate the idea of eugenics in Germany. (See Eugenic slaughter.) He recommended that deformed newborns babies should be killed without delay and that the evolution of society would thus be accelerated. He went even further, maintaining that lepers, patients with cancer and the mentally ill should be ruthlessly done away with, lest such people prove to be a burden on society and slow its evolution.
George Stein summarized Haeckel’s blind devotion to the theory of evolution:
. . . [Haeckel] argued that Darwin was correct . . . humankind had unquestionably evolved from the animal kingdom. . . humankind’s social and political existence is governed by the laws of evolution, natural selection, and biology, as clearly shown by Darwin. To argue otherwise was backward superstition. 197
197 George Stein, “Biological science and the roots of Nazism,” American Scientist, Vol. 76(1), 1988, p. 54.