Alexis Carrel

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Alexis Carrel : biography

June 28, 1873 – November 5, 1944

Honors

In 1972, the Swedish Post Office honored Carrel with a stamp that was part of its Nobel stamp series. In 1979, the lunar crater Carrel was named after him as a tribute to his scientific breakthroughs.

In February 2002, as part of celebrations of the 100th anniversary of Charles Lindbergh’s birth, the Medical University of South Carolina at Charleston established the Lindbergh-Carrel Prize, given to major contributors to "development of perfusion and bioreactor technologies for organ preservation and growth". Michael DeBakey and nine other scientists received the prize, a bronze statuette created for the event by the Italian artist C. Zoli and named "Elisabeth" after Elisabeth Morrow, sister of Lindbergh’s wife Anne Morrow, who died from heart disease. It was in fact Lindbergh’s disappointment that contemporary medical technology could not provide an artificial heart pump which would allow for heart surgery on her that led to Lindbergh’s first contact with Carrel.

Man, The Unknown (1935)

In 1935, Carrel published a book titled L’Homme, cet inconnu (Man, The Unknown), which became a best-seller. The book discussed "the nature of society in light of discoveries in biology, physics, and medicine". It contained his own social prescriptions, advocating, in part, that mankind could better itself by following the guidance of an elite group of intellectuals, and by implementing a regime of enforced eugenics. Carrel claimed the existence of a "hereditary biological aristocracy" and argued that "deviant" human types should be suppressed using techniques similar to those later employed by the Nazis.

"A euthanasia establishment, equipped with a suitable gas, would allow the humanitarian and economic disposal of those who have killed, committed armed robbery, kidnapped children, robbed the poor or seriously betrayed public confidence," Carrel wrote in L’Homme, cet Inconnu. "Would the same system not be appropriate for lunatics who have committed criminal acts?" he suggested.

In the 1936 preface to the German edition of his book, Alexis Carrel added a praise to the eugenics policies of the Third Reich, writing that:

(t)he German government has taken energetic measures against the propagation of the defective, the mentally diseased, and the criminal. The ideal solution would be the suppression of each of these individuals as soon as he has proven himself to be dangerous.Quoted in Andrés Horacio Reggiani. Alexis Carrel, the Unknown: Eugenics and Population Research under Vichy (French historical studies, 25:2 Spring 2002) , p. 339. Also quoted in French by Didier Daeninckx in Quand le négationnisme s’invite à l’université., on Amnistia.net website, , URL consulted on January 28, 2007

Carrel also wrote in his book that: (t)he conditioning of petty criminals with the whip, or some more scientific procedure, followed by a short stay in hospital, would probably suffice to insure order. Those who have murdered, robbed while armed with automatic pistol or machine gun, kidnapped children, despoiled the poor of their savings, misled the public in important matters, should be humanely and economically disposed of in small euthanasic institutions supplied with proper gasses. A similar treatment could be advantageously applied to the insane, guilty of criminal acts.Quoted in Szasz, Thomas. The Theology of Medicine New York: Syracuse University Press, 1977.