The advance of medical science had presented society with an ever-increasing number of aged, as well as extended the lifespan of the disabled.
In the years of the Great Depression, governments worldwide had to review public expenses; spending on Social Welfare was regarded as one of the sectors where savings could be made. Considerations were given to EUTHANASIA, killing persons for whom doctors had given up hope to ever restore their health. Such programs were discussed, with as little publicity as possible, in countries such as the USA and Sweden.
In Nazi Germany, euthanasia was permitted by law. It was not only used to clear out institutions for mentally disabled, but later applied against any form of "life unworthy to live", according to the Nazi definition. Records of German hospitals in the 1940es show entries noting that Jewish patients, instead of medical treatment were given lethal injections. NS organizations propagated it would be necessary to protect the population from "degenerated elements" such as Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals, of people not fitting the ideal of an 'Arian'. Medical doctors and nurses, by giving lethal injections, have made themselves accomplices in a conspiracy the victims had no protection against.

After the war and the NUREMBERG WAR CRIME TRIALS, euthanasia has rightfully been regarded as one of the crimes the Nazis committed against humanity; in other countries, programmes advocating euthanasia have been silently dropped.


This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted in 2000, last revised on November 16th 2004

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