Today, many think of eugenics as a remnant of America’s past or of Hitler’s Third Reich. But, as we read of the far left’s call for the right to murder a child up to age three, or the introduction of ‘right to die’ legislation, or a woman’s right to abortion at any stage of the child’s development, one must come to understand how deeply this anti-life ideology is embedded into the American psyche.
In pre-WWII Germany, the twin movements of eugenics, the pseudo-science of improving the quality of human stock by weeding out the unfit, and euthanasia, the painless murder of the disabled or unfit, were heavily financed by powerful American based foundations involved in the American eugenics movement.
The concept of “useless eaters” was not a Nazi invention. The first mass killers in pre-war Germany were psychiatrists, physicians, pediatricians and nurses backed up by an incredibly vast and efficient government bureaucracy.
In Destruction of Life Devoid of Value, published in 1920, psychiatrist Alfred Hoche and jurist Karl Binding argued that the killing of “worthless people” was not a criminal act. A practical suggestion on how such killings might be carried out was provided by French born medical scientist Dr. Alexis Carrel, a Nobel-prize winner, who in his 1933 best seller Man the Unknown called for the creation of small euthanasia stations equipped with suitable gases to “humanely and economically dispose of the mentally ill and criminal class” whom Dr. Carell described as “useless and harmful beings.”
The very first victims of Germany’s euthanasia program were ordinary citizens from disadvantaged families who were considered “mentally deficient,” a category which included children of all races and religions. According to Henry Friedlander, author of The Origins of Nazi Genocide, it was not until 1940 that the decision to murder handicapped Jewish patients simply for being Jews. .
Hitler did not order doctors to kill, he only gave them permission. It was the legislators who laid down the rules for deciding who would live and who would die. As time elapsed, the category of other potential ‘beneficiaries’ of the euthanasia program was expanded to include crippled and maimed WWI veterans, patients with polio, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and brain tumors. Legislators played God and gloried in their power over life and death.
In A Sign for Cain, Dr. Frederic Wertham devoted a chapter, “The Geranium in the Window” to these pre-war murders. He described a special department established at a pediatric psychiatric center outside of Munich that contained twenty-five beds and cribs in a small room in which four or five times a month handicapped children from ages 6 months to sixteen years were taken by a psychiatrist and nurse to be murdered by lethal injection. The child’s brains were extracted, placed in carefully labeled jars and sent to a psychiatric research institution for microscopic studies and then their bodies burned.
These murders were organized and planned by prominent members of Germany’s medical profession at university-based centers who justified their actions under the headings of ‘help for the dying’ or mercy killings.
Public opinion was carefully molded to accept it. Adults were propagandized by films like “I Accuse” in which a doctor murders his wife who has MS to the accompaniment of soft piano music. School children were taught to compute the cost benefit ratio of eliminating state care for the “the crippled, the criminal and the insane.”
Germany’s religious leadership was willing to tolerate euthanasia under certain circumstances, much like some churches of today who are willing to ‘tolerate’ abortion and mercy killings which, I might add, always include the elimination of the mentally and physically disabled.
After the war ended very few of the doctors were ever tried and the few that were tried were not sentenced to life imprisonment or death. In the opinion of the judges and juries in Munich, the extermination of mental patients was not murder, but manslaughter. In Cologne, a court acquitted a doctor who had conducted one of the euthanasia programs by rationalizing that the patients he killed were just “burned-out human husks.”
And lest we forget, Germany’s euthanasia and eugenics programs were imported from America. Supported by the likes of Carnegie, Rockefeller, the Harriman Railroad fortune and John H. Kellogg, and pushed by numerous universities, writers, doctors, scientists and feminists, the most famous of which was Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood, the desire to rid the world of the “unfit” ran rampant in early 20th century America. Since poverty and race was associated with prostitution and ‘mental idiocy,’ women of the lower classes, predominately immigrants or women of color were the first to be deemed ‘unfit’ and discouraged from bearing children by means of birth control or abortion.
In 1911 a Carnegie Institute report mentioned euthanasia as one of the most recommended solutions to the problem of cleansing society of unfit genetic attributes by setting up local gas chambers. While everyday America wasn’t ready for ethnic cleanings, many doctors found clever ways to implement the program in medical institutions. For example, a mental institution in Lincoln, Illinois, fed its incoming patients milk infected with tuberculosis, resulting in 30 to 40 percent annual death rates. Other doctors practiced euthanasia through various forms of ‘lethal neglect.’
The drive-by media, and Hollywood pushed the eugenics and euthanasia through stories and films of mercy killings. In 1931 the Homeopathic Medicine Association began lobbying for the right to euthanize ‘imbeciles’ and other defects. Numerous states instituted eugenics based compulsory sterilization laws and by 1933 California had subjected more people to forceful sterilization than all other U.S. states combined.
The Rockefeller Foundation helped develop and fund various German eugenics programs, including the one that Josef Mengele worked in before he went to Auschwitz.
Some people would proclaim how far we have come but, I would say how little things have changed.
Eugenics and Euthanasia movements are still active today only now they are hidden under popular euphemisms of sustainable development, ObamaCare, reproductive rights and the right to die.