Monday, December 7, 2020

October 7, 1933: Nazi's Plan to Kill Incurables to End Pain.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

German monument to the victims of euthanasia
The Associated Press published an article on the proposed German euthanasia program on October 7, 1933; which was then published in the New York Times on October 8, 1933, not long after the Nazi party took control of Germany. The article states:
The Ministry of Justice in a detailed memorandum explaining the Nazi aims regarding the German penal code today announced its intention to authorize physicians to end the sufferings of incurable patients.

The memorandum, still lacking the force of law, proposed that "it shall be made possible for physicians to end the tortures of incurable patients, upon request, in the interests of true humanity."

This proposed legal recognition of euthanasia-the act of providing a painless and peaceful death-raised a number of fundamental problems of a religious, scientific and legal nature.
Medical leaders did not oppose euthanasia. The article stated:
In medical circles the question was raised as to just when a man is incurable and when his life should be ended.
The article examines the proposed euthanasia plan:
According to the present plans of the Ministry of Justice, incurability would be determined not only by the attending physician, but also by two official doctors who would carefully trace the history of the case and personally examine the patient.
In other words, the decision was completely subjective, not objective. The article continues:
In insisting that euthanasia shall be permissible only if the accredited attending physician is backed by two experts who so advise, the Ministry believes a guarantee is given that no live still valuable to the State will be wantonly destroyed.
Who then would be eligible to die? The article explains:
The legal question of who may request the application of euthanasia has not been definitely solved. The Ministry merely has proposed that either the patient himself shall "expressly and earnestly" ask it, or "in case the patient no longer is able to express his desire, his nearer relatives, acting from motives that do not contravene morals, so request."
We do not live under a dictatorship, but the Associated Press article from 1933 offers a similar ideology that we experience today.

1 comment:

gordon friesen said...

We do not live under a dictatorship, but the Associated Press article from 1933 offers a similar ideology that we experience today.

It is virtually identical in fact. Even including the exact same absurd "safeguards" such as supporting doctor opinion, (which is an empty formality as like minded-doctors would never presume to over-rule one another's judgement outside the most extreme circumstances.) (And once euthanasia has been normalized, there remains nothing extreme about it.)

The only difference between Germany then and Canada today is that in Canada we do not (yet) explicitly state that a doctor may end the life of a patient (in consultation with family) if that patient "no longer is able to express his desire" (one also would like to know about a patient without family, or a doctor who thinks a decision must be made "on the fly"...). All of this, of course, is the burning subject of the euthanasia of the "incapable", which will definitely come front and center, probably sooner than later.

According to this logic : At first consent is required, but it is still OK to proceed with those who can not provide it. And then, as subsequent German history shows : consent was no longer required at all, because good sense and good practice demanded that certain people "objectively" should be dead.

One small comment however : You speak about the "subjectivity" of the doctor's decision. This is correct. However, the INTENTION was (and is today) objective. In other words, they were acting "as if" a clear (objective) diagnosis (of whatever criteria) would in fact justify the euthanasia.

Once again, this does not detract from your assertion that the decisions were actually being made "subjectively" by the doctors involved. They were !

They were (and are), if I might use such language, buying into their own B.S. They claimed the objective purity of "science" as a moral justification. But in reality, the application remains idiosyncratic to the judgement of the particular doctor. Ironic. Stupid. Just like today.