I recently visited the U.S. Holocaust Museum. While there, I saw the “State of Deception: The Power of Nazi Propaganda” exhibit and spent a little time in the Wexner Center on the Nuremberg Trials. I hope to return some day and complete my tour.
While there I spoke with Dr. Patricia Heberer, a medical ethics historian. As is well known, The Nazis carried out experiments on eight to ten thousand involuntary human subjects. According to Dr. Heberer, these studies were often not soundly conducted and frequently were testing racist hypotheses (she gave an example of an attempt to prove that Aryan immune systems were better than French ones, which were better than Slavic ones, and so on down the supposed racial hierarchy).
(Disclaimer: my memory is imperfect and I didn’t take notes, so this next paragraph might be numerically less-than-perfect. Any mistakes are mine.)
However, Dr. Heberer also related the Nazis less well-known euthanizing activities, which began in 1930 as a centralized effort and expanded in 1932 to eighty clinics across the Third Reich. In the initial, centralized effort, hospital personnel were at fired and a new (Nazi-sympathetic) staff was hired; however, as the evil spread doctors and nurses were sworn to secrecy and conscripted to help with the execution of 200,000 persons, on the order of twenty per day, according to Dr. Heberer. The mentally disabled are still targets of termination, as 92% of individuals affected with Down Syndrome are aborted.
Institutions performing these eugenic killings simultaneously took care of other patients to maintain appearances. Victims were initially children (who were usually brought voluntarily by parents who accepted lies about institutions that used the most modern treatments), then adults. Gas was used at first, then overdoses of medications. Eugenics still goes on; we know about India’s and China’s sex-selection abortion, but what about ours? (The Lozier Institute and Live Action both address this issue.)
It was difficult for nurses to escape these hospitals. Most were male (in mental institutions before sedatives), so some chose to volunteer for the Russian front rather than cooperate in the killings. Others took the more difficult night shift, since the evening shift was when most deaths occurred. Are nurses able to escape orders that violate their consciences now?
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