Spitfire List Web site and blog of anti-fascist researcher and radio personality Dave Emory.

For The Record  

FTR #32 Part I: Fascism, Eugenics and Euthanasia

Lis­ten now: Side 1 | Side 2

As the debate over physi­cian assist­ed sui­cide inten­si­fies in the Unit­ed States and else­where, it is increas­ing­ly impor­tant to under­stand some of the far-reach­ing polit­i­cal impli­ca­tions of this issue. This pro­gram focus­es on the rela­tion­ship between the inter­na­tion­al eugen­ics move­ment and the inter­na­tion­al euthana­sia move­ment, as well as their sem­i­nal influ­ence on the Nazi racial laws and exter­mi­na­tion pro­grams. The Third Reich’s racial laws were pro­found­ly influ­enced by Amer­i­can eugen­ics phi­los­o­phy and leg­is­la­tion. In turn, the eugen­ics move­ment in Ger­many gave rise to the “T‑4” euthana­sia pro­gram, which was the begin­ning of and the oper­a­tional foun­da­tion of Nazi geno­cide. Among oth­er issues, the broad­cast dis­cuss­es the sem­i­nal Amer­i­can influ­ence on the “Law for the Pre­ven­tion of Hered­i­tar­i­ly Ill Prog­e­ny” (the first of the Nazi racial laws) and dis­cuss­es the Knauer case. The lat­ter was the euth­a­niz­ing of a deformed child (at the request of the par­ents). This killing opened the judi­cial door to offi­cial, state autho­rized killing in Nazi Ger­many. (There is a sim­i­lar case work­ing its way through the U.S. court sys­tem, as of ear­ly 1995.) (Record­ed on 1/26/97.)


One comment for “FTR #32 Part I: Fascism, Eugenics and Euthanasia”

  1. http://www.timesofisrael.com/austria-probes-gruesome-fate-of-nazi-era-disabled/

    Aus­tria probes grue­some fate of Nazi-era dis­abled

    Dis­cov­ery of grave­yard reveals wide­spread abuse of hos­pi­tal patients by doc­tors, includ­ing star­va­tion and the break­ing of bones
    By George Jahn Octo­ber 20, 2012, 4:37 pm 6

    HALL, Aus­tria (AP) — Foren­sic crews scrap­ing away dirt from the remains of the Nazi-era psy­chi­atric patients were puz­zled: The skele­tal fin­gers were entwined in rosary beads. Why, the experts won­dered, would the Nazis — who con­sid­ered these peo­ple less than human — respect them enough to let them take their reli­gious sym­bols to their graves?

    It turns out they didn’t.

    A year after the first of 221 sets of remains were exhumed at a for­mer Aus­tri­an hos­pi­tal ceme­tery, inves­ti­ga­tors now believe the beads were like­ly noth­ing more than a cyn­i­cal smoke­screen, placed to mis­lead rel­a­tives attend­ing the buri­als into think­ing that the last stage of their loved ones’ lives was as dig­ni­fied as their funer­als.

    But skele­tons don’t lie. Foren­sic work shows that more than half of the vic­tims had bro­ken ribs and oth­er bone frac­tures from blows like­ly dealt by hos­pi­tal per­son­nel. Many died from ill­ness­es such as pneu­mo­nia, appar­ent­ly caused by a com­bi­na­tion of phys­i­cal injuries, a lack of food and being immo­bi­lized for weeks at a time.

    Nei­ther do med­ical records, which show that med­ical per­son­nel cursed their patients as “imbe­ciles,” ”idiots” and “use­less eaters.”

    Indeed, there is now lit­tle doubt that for many of the dead — men­tal­ly and phys­i­cal­ly dis­abled peo­ple con­sid­ered by the Nazis to be human garbage — their final months were hell on Earth.

    Nazi exter­mi­na­tion of the men­tal­ly and phys­i­cal­ly dis­abled has been doc­u­ment­ed since the end of World War II. But infor­ma­tion gath­ered from the hos­pi­tal ceme­tery in Hall, an ancient Tyrolean town of nar­row, cob­ble-stoned alleys, cozy inns and grace­ful church spires east of Inns­bruck, has filled out the pic­ture in chill­ing new ways.

    His­to­ri­ans, anthro­pol­o­gists, physi­cians and archae­ol­o­gists say the Hall project rep­re­sents the first time that inves­ti­ga­tors can match hos­pi­tal records with remains, allow­ing them to iden­ti­fy, for exam­ple, cas­es in which patients had bro­ken ribs, noses and col­lar­bones that were not list­ed in their med­ical his­to­ries, sug­gest­ing that the patients had been beat­en by those respon­si­ble for their care.

    Faced with the hor­rors of the find­ings, those involved in the probe strug­gle to main­tain the detached atti­tude of an inves­ti­ga­tor.

    “At first, I sat here and worked through these doc­u­ments in a rel­a­tive­ly dry man­ner from the point of view of a sci­en­tist,” psy­chi­a­trist Chris­t­ian Har­ing said. “But as you read on at some point, you sud­den­ly find your­self in a world where the goose bumps appear.”

    Anthro­pol­o­gist George McG­lynn said more than half of the sets of remains have bro­ken bones, many of them unex­plained in the patients’ med­ical records.

    “Why is a stubbed toe talked about in three dif­fer­ent (doc­u­ments), but six rib frac­tures that cause ter­ri­ble pain isn’t even men­tioned?” he asked.

    While such injuries did not kill direct­ly, they may often have led to death. Many of the patients are list­ed as dying of pneu­mo­nia, and McG­lynn said the “scary con­clu­sion” is that rib injuries com­bined with seda­tion and forced immo­bil­i­ty — patients are sus­pect­ed to have been strapped to their beds for weeks at a time — may have gen­er­at­ed fatal inci­dences of the dis­ease.

    “Nobody is being exe­cut­ed here, like you see in con­cen­tra­tion camps,” he said. “It was done in a more sin­is­ter, insid­i­ous way — peo­ple are loaded up with drugs until they get a lung infec­tion.”

    Foren­sic exam­i­na­tion of the bones shows a type of infec­tion that start­ed at the skin lev­el, then “goes right into the mus­cle and all the way to the bone,” McG­lynn said.

    Oth­ers appar­ent­ly starved — if not to death, then to the point where they were sus­cep­ti­ble to dis­eases that then killed them.

    “We can assume that the patients suf­fered mas­sive­ly from hunger,” said Har­ing, the psy­chi­a­trist, speak­ing of “enor­mous” loss­es in weight.

    The Nazis called peo­ple deemed too sick, weak or dis­abled to fit Hitler’s image of a mas­ter race “unwor­thy lives,” in the ter­ri­ble cul­mi­na­tion of the cult of eugen­ics that gained inter­na­tion­al pop­u­lar­i­ty in the ear­ly 1900s as a way to improve the “racial qual­i­ty” of future gen­er­a­tions.

    “Patients, who on the basis of human judg­ment are con­sid­ered incur­able, can be grant­ed mer­cy death after a dis­cern­ing diag­no­sis,” Hitler wrote in a 1939 decree that opened the flood gates to the mass killings.

    More than 70,000 such peo­ple were killed, gassed to death or oth­er­wise mur­dered between 1939 and 1941, when pub­lic protests stopped most whole­sale mas­sacres. From then until the end of the war in 1945, the killings con­tin­ued at the hands of doc­tors and nurs­es. In all, at least 200,000 phys­i­cal­ly or men­tal­ly dis­abled peo­ple were killed by med­ica­tion, star­va­tion, neglect or in the gas cham­bers dur­ing the war.

    After 1941, McG­lynn said, “a lot of the small­er insti­tu­tions were giv­en carte blanche to take care of things them­selves. No longer were peo­ple being trans­port­ed to [killing] cen­ters. They were being put to sleep right there.”

    Hun­dreds of psy­chi­atric patients from Hall were among those shipped to killing cen­ters before 1941, but what hap­pened there after that was unknown until two years ago, when an archivist search­ing through old hos­pi­tal files dis­cov­ered the grave­yard dur­ing a hos­pi­tal expan­sion.

    The records show that as the war pro­gressed, and able-bod­ied men and women became scarce behind the front lines, the Nazis made a cyn­i­cal adjust­ment in their mea­sure­ment of patients’ val­ue.

    ” ‘Wor­thy of life’ and ‘unwor­thy of life’ were the terms used back then,” Har­ing said. “The dif­fer­ence was abil­i­ty to work or not.”

    Excerpts of med­ical his­to­ries described one of the patients as suf­fer­ing from “imbe­cil­i­ty,” but most were objec­tive, bereft of demean­ing descrip­tions. McG­lynn, how­ev­er, said he had exam­ined records that show emo­tion­al abuse in addi­tion to the phys­i­cal vio­lence the remains attest to.

    “Peo­ple are being threat­ened: ‘If you don’t do this, we are going to stuff this tube down your nose and pump you full of stuff,’ ” he said. “These peo­ple were at the mer­cy of their cap­tors.”

    Oth­er evi­dence backs up his find­ings.

    Doc­u­ments show that the ceme­tery was cre­at­ed in 1942, a year after the for­mal end of the mass-killing cam­paign meant that Hall patients could no longer be shipped to gas cham­bers. It was shut down and aban­doned in 1945, when the war end­ed. Dur­ing that time, deaths in the psy­chi­atric ward rose from an aver­age of 4 per­cent a month in ear­ly 1942 to as high as 20 per­cent in some months before the end of the war.

    Har­ing, an affa­ble, soft-spo­ken man, is vis­i­bly shak­en as he speaks of the hor­rors per­pe­trat­ed by the pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tion of psy­chi­a­trists. But he hes­i­tates to assign indi­vid­ual guilt to any­one caught up in the inhu­man machin­ery of the Third Reich.

    “It is easy for us now to point the fin­ger and say, ‘What have they done?’ ” he said. “But . . . I am not sure that I would have act­ed dif­fer­ent­ly. We were sim­ply par­a­lyzed.”

    Posted by Vanfield | October 22, 2012, 2:29 pm

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