1932–1933: Medical Profession Endorses Nazi Policies & Actively Engages in Medical Atrocities

Extracts from Deutsches Ärzteblatt (Journal of the German Medical Association)

  • Nov. 1932: Dr. Haedenkamp, executive director of the Hartmannbund (one of the two largest German medical associations); he is editor of its journal, Deutsches Ärzteblatt () sent a petition to the ministry of the interior: “with the request that it should draw up as soon as possible a national law which would permit and regulate sterilization on eugenic grounds. Reduced reproduction of persons carrying mental or physical handicaps of genetic origin must be achieved in order to guarantee the integrity of the population’s gene pool”
  • January 1933: declared that the main theme of the next national meeting would be “eugenic questions” and launched a competition for the best research paper suggesting “ways general practitioners can take part in genetic and eugenic investigations or in the acquisition of human specimens.”
  • Financial Strategy: In 1933 an estimated 17% of doctors in Germany were classified as “Jewish”; in large cities such as Berlin, 40% to 50% of physicians were Jewish. Leading professional medical associations led a rapid-fire campaign to prohibit Jewish doctors from practicing medicine. The “primary intention,” according to Dr. Haedenkamp is “to implement an employment enhancing strategy within the medical profession itself.”
  • In 1933, within weeks of the inauguration of Hitler’s regime — before any state mandated repressive anti-Semitic directives against Jewish physicians had been issued — the medical establishment took actions on its own. Jewish physicians were summarily dismissed from Berlin hospitals; from teaching posts in Bavaria; Jewish doctors were no longer allowed to treat insured patients in Baden. (Hanauske-Abel, 2013)
  • March 23, 1933: the two major professional medical associations took unilateral actions to expel Jewish physicians from their associations; and urged insurance companies to replace Jewish doctors enrolled in their programs “as soon as possible.”
  • April 6, 1933: reports that the removal of Jewish colleagues from councils and committees of the professional organizations had been achieved without difficulty as “an act of self-purification.” Furthermore, the Association announces its new discriminatory policy: “Germans are to be treated by Germans only.”
  • April 8, 1933: publishes a detailed list of the measures directed against Jewish colleagues, which “have been implemented in the meantime . . . just for the time being, we are still bound by the existing law.” Accordingly, “care must be taken” not only in excluding Jewish physicians from the professional organizations but in “eliminating” them from any and all professional functions in society.
  • June 1933: the ministry of the interior establishes an advisory panel of experts, chaired by Prof. Rudin “to assist in the conception and rapid formulation of eugenic legislation.”
  • June 24, 1933: Dr. Haedenkamp proclaimed: “A new era, new tasks and new goals are replacing those of yesterday. Whatever is worthy of preservation shall be preserved; whatever is obsolete shall be cast aside. . . To serve this State must be the sole objective of the medical profession . . . all that is of German blood and German descent, all this alone can be the bearer of the German future. Our characteristic features have in the past been overlaid or mixed with alien features. . . Without a profoundly alarming awareness of the vulnerability and impending degeneration of our genetic composition no national recovery can be imagined. The physician has a duty to extend this knowledge and to deepen this awareness. Never before was the medical profession so intimately linked with the wisdom and the aims of the State as today. All the more joyfully must the profession welcome this extension of its duties and the challenge to fulfill its true vocation”
  • April 22, 1933: The first in a series of state decrees against non-Aryan doctors is issued, four weeks after the unilateral actions by the medical associations; its implementation is assigned to the Hartmanbund whose executive director is Dr. Haedenkamp.
  • May 20, 1933: Eminent British scientists led by Lord Rutherford sign an appeal publicly protesting the actions of German universities compelling scholars and teachers to resign from their posts “on the grounds of religion, political opinion or race.”
  • July 14, 1933: Sterilization for the Prevention of Genetically Diseased Offspring. Its goal was to “purify” the gene pool of the German “Aryan race”; the law defined in detail the “genetically determined” diseases — “feeblemindedness, schizophrenia, manic-depression, epilepsy, blindness, deafness, deformities and alcoholism — and called for the sterilization of people with those conditions or who were deemed to be carriers. The entire German health care system was mobilized: selection for forced sterilization was a medical procedure; physicians registered patients with “genetic illness” just like they register births and deaths. High ranking medical academics submitted written “expert medical opinions” attesting to individual’s disability was due to a “genetically determined” disease. Final authorization for forced sterilization was made by Hereditary Health Courts — made up of two physicians and a judge. The Sterilization Law served as a model for all subsequent Nazi eugenic legislation.
  • July 14, 1933: Professor Max Planck, president of the Kaiser-Wilhelm Society, sent a memorandum to the minister of the interior stating: “I am honored to most humbly inform you that the Kaiser-Wilhelm Society for the Advancement of Sciences is willing to systematically serve the Reich in all aspects pertinent to the research on racial hygiene.” To that end Prof. Planck appointed a special commission headed by Prof. Rudin.
  • July 29, 1933: declares: “the [sterilization] law must be looked upon as an expression of loving care for the coming generations, and as an act of altruism. The elimination of defective genes is not of itself sufficient to keep our nation healthy and energetic, for this purging of the common gene palmist must be complemented by positive population measures” [Not Slippery Slope] An estimated 400,000 German people were sterilized. The number of men and women sterilized was more or less equal, but the number of deaths was far higher for women. (Friedlander . . . From Euthanasia to Final Solution, 1995)
  • August 19, 1933: asserts, “every doctor must be a genetic doctor.” An article by Prof. F. Pommel, “The Physician and Genetic Improvement,” explicitly endorses use of coercive medical interventions to ensure eugenically determined birth control, creation of a master race, and medical murder — “extermination”: “breeding in the interest of the race”; “legally enforced sterilizations”; “creation of a new, biologically based nobility”; “extermination of life not worth living.”
    • The fate of Jewish physicians in Germany:
      “In 1933 an estimated 9000 doctors in Germany are thought to be categorized as non-Aryan. By 1938 only some 285 of these “mosaic sick treaters,” as they will then officially be termed, will remain, relegated to treating only Jews. It has been estimated that of all non-Aryan German colleagues practicing in January 1933, at least 5% will perish of suicide, at least 25% will be murdered, and those remaining will survive only by taking refuge on virtually every continent on earth.” (Kater cited by Hanauske-Abel)“As far as the medical profession [is] concerned, Nazi policy had been effective; Germany [is] practically judenrein” (MH Kater cited by Hanauske-Abel)

By July 26, 1933, 700 people are in “protective custody” and several dozen concentration camps are operating as legal institutions, among them Dachau. The German Medical Association encourages the full participation of physicians in the Nazi regime’s institutionalized murderous operations.

  • Lucrative positions for doctors in these camps are advertised in medical journals.
  • Physicians suppress findings of torture and certify that tortured prisoners are in excellent health; that starved, emaciated inmates are fit to work; and that deaths were due to natural causes. (Hanauske-Abel. Not a Slippery Slope, BMJ, 1996)