Magazine article First Things; A Monthly Journal of Religion and Public Life

Karl Brandt, the Nazi Doctor: Medicine and Power in the Third Reich

Magazine article First Things; A Monthly Journal of Religion and Public Life

Karl Brandt, the Nazi Doctor: Medicine and Power in the Third Reich

Article excerpt

KARL BRANDT, THE NAZI DOCTOR: MEDICINE AND POWER IN THE THIRD REICH by Ulf Schmidt Continuum, 480 pages, $21.95 paper

It is well known that the Nazis' "mercy killing" program was a stepping stone to the Final Solution; less known are the doctors who designed and led it In Karl Brandt· The Nazi Doctor, UIf Schmidt a professor of modern history at the University of Kent explores the life and legacy of Karl Brandt Hitler's personal physician, who was appointed head of the T-4 Euthanasia program, which forcibly took the lives of seventy to a hundred thousand disabled people from 1939 to 1941. Later, he presided over brutal and horrifying medical experiments on helpless victims, for which he was prosecuted and hanged after the war. His upbringing and education gave no indication he was headed for a life of evil. How such an intelligent and gifted young physician could betray everything that medicine-not to mention Western civilization-stood for, is the main theme of Schmidt's spellbinding book.

Interestingly, Brandt like many other Nazis, was a man of the left, who was heavily influenced by Friedrich Naumann, a nineteenthcentury socialist pastor, who had declared: "As politicians we are national socialists, and as Christians we are searching for an evangelism which is true and alive. …

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