Friedlander, Henry. _The Origins of Nazi Genocide: from euthanasia to the final solution_. University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, 1995. pp. 14-16, 307. The attitude exhibited by scientists toward the disabled "degenerates" among the lower classes could not, however, be described as moderate. As early as 1920, two eminent scholars proposed the most radical solution to the problem posed by institutionalized handicapped patients in Germany. In that year, Karl Binding and Alfred Hoche published a polemical work entitled _Die Freigabe der Vernichtung lebensunwerten Lebens_ (Authorization for the destruction of life unworthy of life). Karl Binding, a widely published legal scholar who died just before the book appeared, argued that the law should permit the killing of "incurable feebleminded" individuals. ^103 Alfred Hoche, a psychiatrist and specialist in neuropathology, analyzed Binding's arguments from a "medical perspective." ^104 [...] Binding argued that suicide, which he labeled a "human right," should not be unlawful. ^106 [...] The discussion of suicide and terminal cancer patients was ancillary to Binding's main concern. His polemic focused on the fate of individuals considered "unworthy of life [_lebensunwert_]," which could mean both individuals whose lives were no longer worth living because of pain and incapacity and individuals who were considered so inferior that their lives could be labeled unworthy. He used the argument that the terminally ill deserved the right to a relatively painless death to justify the murder of those considered inferior. Binding and all subsequent proponents of his argument consciously confused the discussion by pointing to the suicide rights of terminal cancer patients facing a certain and painful death when in reality they wanted to "destroy" the "unworthy life" of healthy but "degenerate" individuals. Binding's definition of unworthy life was not very precise, but he did make it clear that he referred to inferior who should be killed even if they could live painlessly for many years. He added a new criteria when he asserted that whether a life was worth living was determined not only by its worthy to the individual but also by its worth to society. ^108 Emphasizing in a footnote that millions had given their lives for their fatherland during the world war, Binding made the following point to underline his argument: "If one thinks of a battlefield covered with thousands of dead youth...and contrasts this with our institutions for the feebleminded [_Idioteninstitute_] with their solicitude for their living patients -- then one would be deeply shocked by the glaring disjunction between the sacrifice of the most valuable possession of humanity on one side and on the other the greatest care of beings who are not only worthless but even manifest negative value." ^109 Binding's comparison of the death of worthy individuals in the service of their nation and the survival of pampered inferiors was a staple of eugenic argumentation and, as we have seen, mirrored the argument in favor of sterilization advanced by Oliver Wendell Holmes. [...] In conclusion, Binding discussed the procedures necessary to implement the destruction of unworthy life. The handicapped patient, the physician, or the patient's relatives could apply for euthanasia, but Binding reserved the right to authorize the killing to the state, which would appoint an "authorization committee" composed of one jurist and two physicians to make an "objective expert evaluation." ^116 Binding added a number of further requirements: the decision had to rest on advanced scientific knowledge, the means to accomplish the killing had to be appropriate and "absolutely painless," and only an expert (_Sachverstaendiger_) could actually kill. ^117 Binding acknowledged the possibility of error (_Irrtumsrisiko_), except perhaps with "idiots," but he argued that "humanity loses to error so many members, that one more or less really does not make a difference." ^118 The Binding-Hoche polemic was followed by other publications favoring euthanasia for those deemed unworthy of life, and, although the idea was never officially accepted during the Weimar Republic, it was widely discussed in German medical circles. ^119 In the United States and Great Britain, where public discussion of euthanasia centered on mercy killing for terminal patients and not the killing of unworthy life, the Binding-Hoche polemic made no impression. ^120 In Germany, however, it was very influential; eventually the Nazi killers would adopt many of its arguments and later use them as justification. Although the German race hygienists did not originally advocate eugenic euthanasia, they did accept it as "the logical outgrowth of the cost-benefit analysis at the heart of race hygiene." ^121 103. Binding did not use the term _Schwachsinn_ for feeblemindedness but instead used the less scientific and less specific term _Bloedsinnig_. Hoche used the same term. Binding and Hoche, _Vernichtung lebensunwerten Lebens_, pp. 31, 51. 104. Ibid, p. 45. 106. Binding and Hoche, _Vernichtung lebensunwerten Lebens_, pp. 6-16. 109. Ibid, p. 27. 116. Ibid, pp. 35-36. 117. Ibid, p. 37 118. Ibid, pp. 39-40. 119. See Hafner and Winau, "Karl Binding und Alfred Hoche," p. 233, n. 46. 120. Ibid, p. 252. 121. Weiss, "Race Hygiene Movement," p. 234. Binding, Karl, and Alfred Hoche. _Die Freigabe der Vernichtung lebensunwertens Lebens: Ihr Mass und Ihre Form. Leipzig: Verlag von Felix Meiner, 1920. Weiss, Sheila Faith. "The Race Hygiene Movement in Germany." _Osiris_, 2nd ser., 3 (1987): 193-236.
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