Since ancient times, when sickly children were left outside to die from exposure, euthanasia has been practiced, debated or condemned by various societies. Much of it involves around shortage of food and elitist thinking such as the economist Malthus. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries the debate over euthanasia took a new turn when it gained popularity among some doctors and lawyers. These advocates proposed that medicine play a role in offering “dying help: to the suffering. Proponents of such an ethic unwittingly laid the philosophical groundwork for the massive euthanasia program that would take place in the late 1930s and early 1940s in Germany.
When Adolf Hitler took power in Germany, one of his top priorities was to purify the race and to build the genetically pure Aryan man. It was an objective he had discussed in his early manifesto, Mein Kampf. One of the first major laws passed by the Nazi regime in 1934 was the forced sterilization program of those with hereditary illnesses. This program was intended to develop eventually into a full-scale program of euthanasia for those judged “unworthy of life,” especially the mentally and physically disabled. To prepare public opinion in greater Germany, a systematic and widespread propaganda campaign was put into effect to provide the scientific and political rationale for these proposals and to build support among the public at large.
”Works such as Jost’s Das Recht auf den Tod (The Right to Death) and Binding and Hoche’s Die Freigabe der Vernichtung Lebensunwerten Lebens (The Permission to Destroy Life Unworthy of Life) greatly influenced the German medical profession of the 1920s and 30s. In his book, The Nazi Doctors, historian Robert Lifton describes the latter work as “crucial” in creating acceptance among medical professionals for euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide. Published 13 years before Hitler took power, The Permission to Destroy Life Unworthy of Life proposed that “sterbehilfe,” the German word for “dying help,” be offered to the “incurably ill” and “lives in a condition of total helplessness, requiring care by another.” ( Elise Erhard )
Native Merican activist/poet/musician John Trudell has a very articulate grasp on the notion of Eugenics as it relates to genocide of First Nations, as well as what has been termed ”creeping fascism”. His assertion is that the Allies won the war but the victory, in the end was Fascism’s, just not the Nazi variant of it.
”It’s about our D and A. Descendants and ancestors. We are the descendants and we are the ancestors. D and A, our DNA, our blood, our flesh and our bone, is made up of the metals and the minerals and the liquids of the earth. We are the earth. We truly, literally and figuratively are the earth. Any relationship we will ever have in this world to real power — the real power, not energy systems and other artificial means of authority — but any relationship we will ever have to real power is our relationship to the earth.
…Our power comes from the earth. And because we are made up of the earth — our common ground, so to speak — we are all the descendants of tribes. Each and every one of us is a descendant of a tribe. We have genetic memories. Inside of our genetic memories, that power connection exists to our ancestral past. We are all descendants of tribes. But the tribes of the planet earth have encountered a technological religious mind set that removes all spiritual value and real value about life from the earth and puts it into theoretical heavens or hells. And it does it under a male image of a male dominator god.
In our tribal ancestry each and every one of our ancestors resisted that notion, that imposition. Tribes of Europe, tribes of Africa, tribes of here. Every tribe resisted it. It started in different time frames in different parts of the planet. It’s almost like a disease. A virus, a virus, a disease that lives in the human. A disease of the spirit. It’s almost like a diseased spirit affects the perception of reality of the carrier of the disease, the human being.” ( John Trudell )
Its Trudell’s claim, and a legitimate one, that what has happened to the Indians is what will happen to increasingly large segmens of society. What Kissinger referred to as ”useless eaters”. According to Trudell, it’s imperative we understand who we are in relationship to power, because we have been tricked and lied to, almost in a way one would say, “brainwashed”, into looking at authority as power. ”It is very important that we make this distinction because we need to have something to pass to the next generations.Authority is not power. Authority is authority. All authority is usually based upon aggression or implied aggression or active aggression. Authority is authority. Power is something else. Power is what we come from. It is a part of the natural order of the universe — power.”
”The pro-euthanasia movement of that time was not limited to Germany. As Robert Proctor documents in Racial Hygiene: Medicine Under the Nazis, support for legalized euthanasia was building throughout Europe and the United States. In 1935, a number of British physicians formed the Voluntary Euthanasia Legalization Society, headed by the president of the Royal College of Surgeons. That same year, French-American Nobel Prize winner Alex Carrel suggested in his book Man the Unknown that the criminally insane should be “humanely and economically disposed of in small euthanasia institutions supplied with proper gas.” W.G. Lennox, in a speech at Harvard University, advocated “the privilege of death for the congenitally mindless and for the incurable sick who wish to die.” A 1937 Gallup poll found that 45 percent of Americans favored euthanasia for “defective infants.” In fact, Nazi physicians cited American support for euthanasia in their defense at Nuremberg. American support for euthanasia sharply declined after the war.”
”As human beings we understand in this technologic religious mind set that the authoritarian system, the industrial fascism, the industrial Reich that we live under, we understand that they can mine the other natural resources of the earth, and through refinement processes take old dinosaurs out of the ground and turn them into energy to run the machine world that we’re very addicted to and partly enslaved to.
”We have to make the connection that we are just a different shape but our value is no more or no less than the rest of the natural resources of the earth, the rest of the DNA of the earth. So it’s very possible that we are being mined in the same way that the dinosaurs are, out of the ground. Human being, human physical, being spirit. Human physical, being spirit. Human physical, being spirit. And we live under an authoritarian system, an industrial technologic mind set that has discovered and developed a way to mine, to take the being part of human, the spirit part of human and convert it into energy and then use thnergy to power their system, to run their system. They are literally eating our spirits.
Literally eating our spirits.” ( John Trudell )
Nazi propaganda films portrayed euthanasia as a loving and compassionate act. In the Nazi propaganda film, “I Accuse! (Ich klage an!)”, a woman with multiple sclerosis asks her husband who is a doctor to permanently relieve her of her suffering. He agrees to give her a lethal injection of morphine while his friend (who is also a doctor) plays tranquil music on the piano. At his trial he argues that he committed an act of mercy, not murder. He is acquitted. As Hannah Arendt reported on the Eichmann trial in Jerusalem, the accused, Eichmann, passed all psychiatric tests with flying colors; loves children and kind to animals, likely the same diagnosis that testing of Kevorkian likely revealed. Something is missing is missing in the equation. Regarding Eichmann :”Half a dozen psychiatrists had certified him [Eichmann] as ‘normal’–’More normal, at any rate, than I am after having examined him,’ one of them was said to exclaim.”
The situation depicted in “I Accuse!” is almost identical to Dr. Jack Kevorkian’s murder of a woman with multiple sclerosis by lethal injection only a few years ago. Like the character in the film, Kevorkian’s attorney used emotional arguments to sway the jury, and Kevorkian was acquitted. The only difference is that Kevorkian did not play music for his victim.
“I Accuse!” and similar propaganda films greatly influenced German public opinion. It is not surprising, then, that the first phase of the Nazi euthanasia program (titled Operation T4) actually began with parental requests for the “merciful deaths” of their severely disabled or ill children.
The Third Reich soon set up a commission to establish criteria for euthanasia candidates. Those who qualified included children under the age of three suffering from “idiocy and mongolism (Down syndrome), microcephaly, hydrocephaly, malformations and paralysis.” The child program eventually led to the adult euthanasia program and Hitler’s edict that “Reichsleiter Bouhler and Dr. Brandt are hereby commissioned to allow certain specified doctors to grant a mercy death to patients judged incurably sick, by critical medical examination.”
Operation T4 excluded Jews. Third Reich officials believed that the Jews did not deserve the “benefit” of euthanasia. It was considered too compassionate and humane. In fact, Nazi doctors justified the euthanasia program on grounds of compassion when defending themselves at Nuremberg. The words of Dr. Karl Brandt, who headed the program, sound strikingly contemporary:
“Do you think that it was a pleasure for me to receive the order to permit euthanasia?…It is a pity for the incurable, literally. Here I cannot believe like a clergyman or think as a jurist. I am a doctor and I see the law of nature as being the law of reason.”
This same “law of reason” is at work today in the Netherlands, where euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide are both legal and common. The Dutch government’s own research has documented that in more than 1,000 cases a year physicians actively cause or hasten death without the patient’s permission.
IN an effort to ensure that the Nazi euthanasia program was carried out in a painless manner, Nazi medical staff at hospitals such as Hadamar originally killed patients by lethal injection. They eventually switched to carbon-monoxide gassing, however, as the program expanded. In the end, more than 75,000 “patients” were killed under Operation T4.
When Operation T4 switched over to gassing, Nazi officials made what they considered a useful discovery – gassing was an efficient form of extermination. After the euthanasia program was officially suspended in 1941 (although lethal injections continued throughout the war), the gassing equipment at Hadamar and other hospitals was dismantled and transported to Treblinka, Auschwitz and other death camps in preparation for the Final Solution.
The film argues that the hereditarily ill become guilty only when they transfer their illness to their offspring. These genetic diseases come from the parents, who may not show any visible signs of it. Jews and Blacks, in particular, are considered to be common carriers of these defective genes and to make up an especially large proportion of the mentally ill population. The only solution is to stop transmission, and it is the duty of the state to do this. Anything else is dereliction of duty on the part of the government. The problem is presented in Darwinian terms: only the healthy will succeed in the new state and become “good Nazis” capable of
building the Thousand Year Reich. Statistics are presented which show the number of mentally ill as having increased by 450% in the previous 70 years while the total population has grown 50%. This information is used to support a projection that within fifty years there will be one mentally ill person for every four healthy people. ( Jay Lamonica )
Hitler understood from the start that the concept of systematically murdering thousands of handicapped German citizens would be controversial and contentious within German society. The Gestapo’s vast system of informants provided him with a highly accurate version of public opinion polling, broken down by age, occupation, and religion. The sterilization program had been generally supported by the populace, who came to accept the racial, scientific, and economic arguments that were used to justify it. But the euthanasia program called for a more cautious treatment. Early indoctrination films on supporting sterilization had effectively stigmatized and criminalized the mentally ill and disabled. But these films had also promised that the living ill would be taken care of—only their procreation would be stopped: “The hereditarily sick are innocent of what they inherited from their parents. They will receive thebest care until the end” (from Victims of the Past). There is evidence that in 1933 Hitler spoke to Hans Lammers, the chief of the Reich Chancellory about killing the mentally ill. He seems to have been well aware of the political difficulties such a program would face.( Jay Lamonica )
The HBO movie on assisted suicide advocate Jack Kevorkian premiers on Saturday. It stars Al Pacino. Much of the Hollywood crowd believes in abortion and assisted suicide like the establishment does. It glorifies Jack’s life in a sick way. The biopic is called “You Don’t Know Jack.” Jack Kevorkian was imprisoned for killing a disabled patient on national television. People have criticized the film already. Kevorkian wrote a book during his life in prison and the manuscript has been turned into an upcoming HBO movie entitled “You Don’t Know Jack.” Pacino plays Kevorkian in a role he said that he appreciated. He said that it’s an honor and he looks exactly like him. The attorney and author Wesley J. Smith said that the movie offers a revisionist history. The truth is that Kevorkian killed more than 120 people in assisted suicides. “The revisionist project to create a fictional Jack Kevorkian as merely a lovable, if sometimes tactless, man of compassion–rather the misanthropic and ghoulish nut that he really is–continues,” he says. Smith believes that the media is playing a willing accomplice by ingoring Kevorkian’s exploits in its coverage of the movie.