Nazi Medicine
# Introduction
Eugenics / Racial Hygiene
NS-Forced Sterilization
Children Euthanasia
Operation »T4«
»Wild Euthanasia«
After 1945

The racist idea of »Volksgesundheit« (»people’s health«) was at the core of NS-medicine. Human life was subjected to »cost and value« criteria. The extermination of those of »lesser value« (»Minderwertige«), a central doctrine of National Social-ism, was based on racist and racist-hygienic concepts of the previous decades. The crimes of the Nazis in the medical sphere were manifold: forcing Jewish doctors and university staff to leave their jobs and country; the cruel medical experiments on concentration camp inmates; official forced sterilization; and the extermination of »worthless« lives, which has been incorrectly termed »euthanasia« since the word means »beautiful death« or »merciful death« in Greek.

The euthanasia policy started in summer 1939 with the killing of »deformed and idiotic children« in hospital departments established for that purpose. In October 1939 followed the murder of adults in closed institutions, in an operation called »Aktion T4,« for example, in the Hartheim castle near Linz. The experience gained thereby paved the way for the Holocaust in terms of organization, technology, and the experts involved. Some euthanasia institutions also served to kill off sick or »unwanted« concentration camp prisoners (»Aktion 14f13«) and incapacitated forced laborers (»Eastern Workers«/»Ostarbeiter«). With the cessation of »Aktion T4« in August 1941, the »euthanasia« program was continued on a decentralized basis in several psychiatric institutions.

The transition from forced sterilization to the murder of handicapped, mentally ill, and non-conforming individuals at the outbreak of World War II was no coincidence. Eliminating »useless eaters« was in the eyes of the Nazis a measure to counteract the current negative »selection« process – the death or mutilation of the healthy in time of war. Another motive for the mass murder was the radical cutting of social costs (hospital beds, medical staff, food, medication, etc.) to relieve the war industry.


Download:  Organization chart of the euthanasia program


On the Role of Medicine in National Socialism