“Biological Soldiers”: 1 War and the Nazi Euthanasia Killings
This essay argues that, by marrying the ideological with the pragmatic, World War II justified existing pre-war stigma surrounding the disabled, and motivated that hatred to genocidal ends. The war also provided the cover needed for the Nazi state to murder hundreds of thousands of institutionalized or medical care-reliant people without stirring public ire and to produce arguments that justified those murders to the medical community. By instilling the medical community with a militarized mindset, the line between healing the sick and killing patients dissolved—killing became the way of cleansing the nation of people whose ailments were supposedly doing the nation great harm. In this essay, I track the development of these tragic eugenic ideas in the wake of World War I and delve into the causes, effects, and results of the Nazi medical community’s personal battlefield.
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