Friedlander, Henry. _The Origins of Nazi Genocide: from euthanasia to the final solution_. University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, 1995. pp. 25-30, 310, 392, 398. The sterilization law, issued on 14 July 1933 with the cumbersome name of Law for the Prevention of Offspring with Hereditary Diseases (Gesetz zur Verhuetung erbkranken Nachwuchses), opened the attack upon the handicapped and served as the cornerstone of the regime's eugenic and racial legislation. ^26 [...] The law included provisions for compulsory sterilization. Once the courts had decided in favor of sterilization, surgical intervention could be carried out "even against the will" of the individual. If needed, the police were empowered to use force to ensure compliance. ^31 [...] The medical profession's capacity to perform surgical sterilization in 1934 was not equal to the ability of the courts to mandate this procedure. Only about half of the imposed sterilizations were actually performed that year. Although this capacity increased in 1935 and 1936, the system did not catch up. The figures for 1937, available only for the first half of the year, show 28,430 operations, which does not alter that picture. (See table 2.2.) Table 2.2. Sterilization Surgeries, 1934-1936 Year Positive decisions Surgeries performed 1934 62,463 32,368 1935 71,760 73,174 1936 64,646 63,547 Source: BAK [Bundesarchiv Koblenz], R18/5585: "Uebersicht ueber die Durchfuehrung des Gesetzes zur Verhuetung erbkranken Nachwuchses." The number of men and women sterilized was more or less equal, with the number of men slightly higher. But the number of deaths resulting from surgery was far higher for women than for men, reflecting the greater difficulty of this operation when performed on women. (See table 2.3.) Table 2.3. Deaths from Sterilization Surger for Men and Women, 1934-1936 Men Women Deaths Deaths Deaths Year sterilized sterilized from surgery of men of women 1934 16,238 16,030 102 21 81 1935 37,834 35,340 208 35 173 1936 32,887 30,624 127 14 113 Source: BAK, R18/5585: "Uebersicht ueber die Durchfuehrung des Gesetzes zur Verhuetung erbkranken Nachwuchses." For the year 1934, a breakdown by diagnosis of victims undergoing mandatory sterilizations is available. ^35 The largest number -- 52.9 percent of all those sterilized -- were diagnosed as suffering from feeblemindedness; schizophrenics were the second largest category with 25.4 percent, and epileptics the third largest with 14 percent. The percentages of all other diagnoses were much smaller. Although roughly the same number of men and women were sterilized, their distribution among diagnoses differed slightly. Among those diagnosed as feebleminded, the largest category, women outnumbered men 9,169 to 7,901; among alcoholics, men outnumbered women 755 to 20. (See table 2.4.) Table 2.4. Sterilizations Classified by Disease, 1934 Sterilizations Men sterilized Women sterilized Diagnosis (percent) (percent) (percent) Congenital 17,070 (52.9%) 7,901 (48.7%) 9,196 (57.3%) feeblemindedness Schizophrenia 8,194 (25.4%) 4,261 (26.2%) 3,933 (24.5%) Hereditary 4,250 (14.0%) 2,539 (15.6%) 1,981 (12.4%) epilepsy Manic-depressive 1,017 (3.2%) 384 (2.4%) 633 (3.9%) psychosis Severe alcoholism 775 (2.4%) 755 (4.6%) 20 (0.1%) Hereditary deafness 337 (1.0%) 190 (1.2%) 147 (0.9%) Hereditary blindness 201 (0.6%) 128 (0.8%) 75 (0.5%) Severe malformations 94 (0.3%) 45 (0.3%) 49 (0.3%) St. Vitus's Dance 60 (0.2%) 37 (0.2%) 23 (0.1%) (Huntington's chorea) Source: BAK, R18/5585: "Uebersicht ueber die Durchfuehrung des Gesetzes zur Verhuetung erbkranken Nachwuchses." Despite the fact that these surviving statustics cover only the early years of the law's application, they indicate a trend. Of course, the reservoir of persons most available for sterilization -- patients suffering from mental illness (schizophrenics and manic-depressives), St. Vitus's dance, epilepsy, and severe malformations -- was not unlimited. Other categories, however, provided a pool of candidates that could be expanded. The nubmers involved fluctuated depending on the flexibility of the application of definitions. This was certainly true for blindness and deafness; the category of those diagnosed with malformations could be expanded indefinitely if harelips, clubfeet, and similar defects were -- as a matter of course -- considered sufficient cause for sterilization. Further, the definitions for the category of feeblemindedness, which in 1933-36 already provided the largest number of persons for sterilization, were largely determined by social criteria and therefore lacked scientific precision and could be applied to an ever increasing number of persons. The group deemed alcoholics, providing a small but substantial number for sterilization during 1933-34, had no doubt been selected on the basis of social and economic position and obviously had not been exhausted by the end of the 1930s. Although exact figures on the number of persons sterilized after 1936 are not available, it is generally agreed that at least 300,000 persons were sterilized during the years preceding World War II. During the war, when euthanasia largely replaced sterilization as a means to control so-called inferiors (_Minderwertige_), sterilization was devalued; still, an estimated additional 75,000 persons were probably sterilized after 1939, including those in areas recently incorporated into the German Reich: Austria, Sudetenland, Danzig, and Memel. ^36 Although the sterilization law was not implemented in the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, German citizens residing in the Protectorate were transferred to the incorporated Sudetenland for the sterilization operation. ^37 The conservative figure of about 375,000 persons sterilized is still very high, representing about .5 percent of the German population. ^38 26. _Reichsgesetzblatt_ 1933, 1:529, English translation in Control Commission for Germany (British Element), "Nazi Health Laws," pp. 1-5. See also Vogel, "Gesetz zur Verhuetung erbkranken Nachwuchses." 31. See DOeW [Dokumentationsarchiv des oesterreichischen Widerstandes, Vienna], file E19198, Reichsgau Wien, Hauptgesundheitsamt, for a sample form ordering an individual to report for sterilization. The form concludes with the following warning: "You are explicitly advised that the operation can also be performed against your will." 34. Results of sterilization proceedings, based on statistics accumulated by the RJM [Reichsjustizministerium (Reich Ministry of Justice)], were collected by the RMdI [Reichsministerium des Innern (Reich Ministry of Interior)] and can be found in BAK [Bundesarchiv Koblenz], R18/5585. 35. See also Proctor, _Racial Hygiene_, pp. 107-8. 36. For the regulations limiting sterilization during the war, see RMdI decree, 31 Aug. 1939 (_Reichsgesetzblatt_ 1:1560), and the various RMdI circulars of implementation and clarification (NARA Suitland [National Archives and Records Administration, Suitland (Maryland) Records Branch], Heidelberg Docs. 126,804-9, 126,811-12A, 126,813-15A, 127,501-9). 37. BA-MA [Bundesarchiv-Militaerarchiv, Freiburg im Breisgau], H20/463, 465: report on the Protectorate, Sept. 1942, p. 2. See also NARA Suitland, Heidelberg Docs. 126,822-24. 38. For a good summation and evaluation of all surviving statistics on sterilizations, see Bock, _Zwangssterilisation_, pp. 230-46. Bock, Gisela. _Zwangssterilisation im Nationalsozialismus: Studien zur Rassenpolitik und Frauenpolitik_. Opladen: Westdeutscher Verlag, 1986. Proctor, Robert. _Racial Hygiene: Medicine under the Nazis_. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1988.
Site Map ·
What's New? ·
© The Nizkor Project, 1991-2012
Home · Site Map · What's New? · Search Nizkor