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Episode 6: The Science of Escape

The Story of William Nussbaum

As a highly trained German-Jewish physician with an interest in heredity and physical anthropology, William Nussbaum studied under some of the leading proponents of race science and eugenics at the University of Berlin. When the Nazis rise to power, rather than quit his inquiries, he launches a bold project to use the methods of race science to disprove Nazi racial theories. The Gestapo tolerates his research – briefly – but it is a eugenics-informed immigration policy in the United States that threatens to keep him from his youngest child.

The William & Lotte Nussbaum Collections in the Archives of the Leo Baeck Institute in New York includes correspondence between William and Lotte, William’s paintings and poetry, as well as records of the "Working Group for Jewish Genetic Research and Eugenics."

Exile is a production of LBI New York | Berlin and Antica Productions.

It’s narrated by Mandy Patinkin.

Executive Producers include Katrina Onstad, Stuart Coxe, and Bernie Blum. Senior Producer is Debbie Pacheco. Associate Producers are Hailey Choi, Jacob Lewis, and Emily Morantz. Research and translation by Isabella Kempf. Sound design and audio mix by Philip Wilson. Theme music by Oliver Wickham.

Thank you to Outloud Audio, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and the National Archives and Records Administration, Veronika Lipphardt and Alexandra Weinschenker for sharing their research. And to the Nussbaum family for being so generous with additional materials.

Want more about William Nussbaum?

View our panel discussion featuring John Efron (University of California, Berkeley), Veronika Lipphardt (University of Freiburg), and Peter Nussbaum (attorney, grandson of William Nussbaum). Moderated by David Brown (Leo Baeck Institute).