Archive/File: places/euthanasia/hitler.01 Last-Modified: 1994/06/03 "Hitler had an intense interest in direct medical killing. His first known expression of intention to eliminate the `incurably ill' was made to Dr. Gerhad Wagner at the Nuremberg Party rally of 1935. Karl Brandt, who overheard that remark, later testified that Hitler thought that the demands and upheavals of war would mute expected religious opposition and enable such a project to be implemented smoothly. Hitler was also said to have stated that a war effort requires a very healthy people, and that the generally diminished sense of the value of human life during war made it `the best time for the elimination of the incurably ill.' And he was reportedly affected by the burden imposed by the mentally ill not only on relatives and the general population but on the medical profession. In 1936, Wagner held discussions with `a small circle of friends' (specifically, high-ranking officials, some of them doctors) about killing `idiotic children' and `mentally ill' people and making files in `asylums and idiot homes' to demonstrate the misery of their lives. This theoretical and tactical linking of war to direct medical killing was maintained throughout.<13> By 1938, the process had gone much further. Discussions moved beyond high-level political circles; and at a national meeting of leading government psychiatrists and administrators, an SS officer gave a talk in which he stated that `the solution of the problem of the mentally ill becomes easy if one eliminates these people.'<14> Toward the end of 1938, the Nazi regime was receiving requests from relatives of newborns or very young infants with sever deformaties and brain damage for the granting of a mercy killing.<15> These requests had obviously been encouraged, and were channeled directly to the Chancellery - that is, to Hitler's personal office. Whatever the plans for using war as a cover, the program for killing children was well under way by the time the war began. And from the beginning, this program circumvented ordinary administrative channels and was associated directly with Hitler himself." [Discussion of Baby Knauer 'test case' omitted for brevity - the case initiated the routine killing of children with the approval and encouragement of Adolf Hitler himself. knm] "...On returning to Berlin, Brandt was authorized by Hitler, who did not want to be publicly identified with the project, to procede in the same way in similar cases: that is, to formalize a program with the help of the high-ranking Reich leader Philip Bouhler, chief of Hitler's Chancellery. This `test case' was pivotal for the two killing programs -- of children and adults." [Editor's note: the dates on the end-notes do not jive with the dates in the citation - it appears that I have included the wrong notes, or that the author is in error - anyone with access to the book is invited to double-check this and advise me. knm.] <13> J.A.M.A. 106 (1936):1582 <14> J.A.M.A. 103 (1934):766-67, 106 (1936):58, 308-9 <15> J.A.M.A. 104 (1935):2110 Extracted from--------------------------------------------------- THE NAZI DOCTORS: Medical Killing and the Psychology of Genocide. Lifton, Robert Jay, London: Papermac, 1986 (Reprinted 1990) ----------------------------------------------------------------- J.A.M.A. = Journal of the American Medical Association
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