The Origins of Nazi Genocide: From Euthanasia to the Final Solution

By Henry Friedlander | Go to book overview

Chapter 11 Physicians and Other Killers

Physicians played an important role in the euthanasia killing operation. We have seen how scientists and physicians advocated the exclusion of those considered "unworthy of life" and how their racial and eugenic theories were absorbed and integrated into the Nazi movement. Using scientists to legitimize their ideology, the Nazi leaders granted them limited control over the implementation of exclusionary policies. Physicians and scientists thus served the state as theorists and experts. During the 1930s, they implemented sterilization legislation against the handicapped and provided expert advice on classifying Jews and Gypsies. As we have seen, once the regime moved from exclusion to extermination in late 1939--a decision made by political leaders, not expert advisers--physicians helped to manage the killings, while scientists did not hesitate to profit from the enterprise. Scientists and physicians thus proposed, justified, and managed the killings. Some joined the ranks of the bureaucratic killers (Schreibtischtäter). But some also became killers on the scene (tatnahe Täter).

The move from theory to realization, from advocacy of the "destruction of life unworthy of life" to the actual killing of human beings, was, even for theorists, a giant step. For example, in November 1939, Brack asked Paul Nitsche, a leading advocate of euthanasia, to "establish gas chambers and to assume supervision over their operation." Pointing to his "advanced age" and his distaste for the "secrecy game [Geheimnistuerei]," Nitsche refused to supervise a killing center.1 Of course, once the centers operated, Nitsche and his colleague Heyde could not resist the opportunity to watch a killing procedure.2

For the killing jobs, Τ4 needed physicians who were young, aggressive, and ambitious. Such men staffed the killing centers and the children's killing wards. Of course, older physicians were also involved in killings with injections, tablets, and starvation--but not with gas. But such older physicians-- Hermann Pfannmüller at Eglfing-Haar, Valentin Faltlhauser at Kaufbeuren- Irsee, and Adolf Wahlmann at Hadamar--were exceptions and usually gave orders to younger physicians and to nurses who did the actual killing.

Various myths have been created to explain the role of physicians in Nazi killing operations. Authors dealing with Nazi crimes have ascribed to physicians as a group a unique commitment to serve humanity and have thus viewed their participation in these crimes as a particularly egregious fall from grace. The mystification of physicians started early. On one side, they were described as "angels of death," a phrase widely applied to Josef Mengele, who

-216-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
The Origins of Nazi Genocide: From Euthanasia to the Final Solution
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Table of Contents vii
  • Tables ix
  • Preface xi
  • Acknowledgments xv
  • Abbreviations xix
  • Note on Language xxi
  • Chapter 1 - The Setting 1
  • Chapter 2 - Excluding the Handicapped 23
  • Chapter 3 - Killing Handicapped Children 39
  • Chapter 4 - Killing Handicapped Adults 63
  • Chapter 5 - The Killing Centers 86
  • Chapter 6 - Toward the Killing Pause 111
  • Chapter 7 - The Expanded Killing Program 136
  • Chapter 8 - The Continued Killing Program 151
  • Chapter 9 - The Handicapped Victims 164
  • Chapter 10 - Managers and Supervisors 187
  • Chapter 11 - Physicians and Other Killers 216
  • Chapter 12 - Excluding Gypsies 246
  • Chapter 13 - Killing Handicapped Jews 263
  • Chapter 14 - The Final Solution 284
  • Notes 303
  • Bibliography 385
  • Index 403
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen
/ 421

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.