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"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

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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