Saturday, March 15, 2008

Holocaust Resources

In response to my last post, I was doing a bit of poking around the Internet.

A British academic has a nice page on Genocide and Mass Killings including the Holocaust, the Rape of Nanking, even the atomic bombs dropped by the US.

Here's some information on why what the Third Reich did was murder, not euthanasia.

During the Third Reich a minority of medical practitioners and public health officials in positions of authority, following an authorization decreed by Adolf Hitler in August 1939,directly implemented a policy of extermination respecting segments of the population who were diagnosed as suffering from severe mental and/or physical dysfunction. A much larger percentage of these groups were complicit directly or indirectly in the programme. Scholars habitually refer to this as the 'Euthanasia' programme, the term appearing with some regularity in the titles of academic treatises on this thrust of Nazi demographic policy. Two examples are Michael Burleigh's Death and Deliverance, subtitled 'Euthanasia' in Germany 1900-1945 (Cambridge University Press, 1994), and Dick de Mildt's more recent In the Name of the People... which carries the sub-subtitle The 'Euthanasia' and `Aktion Reinhard' Trial Cases (Martinus Nijhoff, 1996)

Although both Burleigh and Mildt necessarily refer to killings and extermination, the consistent use of the term 'euthanasia' in this context is somewhat misleading. The Chambers Dictionary includes in its definitions "the act or practice of putting painlessly to death, esp in cases of incurable suffering." The Shorter Oxford Dictionary refers to "a quiet and easy death," and the "action of inducing" the same. However, the "incurable suffering" that the underlying ideology that rationalised the killings referred to was not that of the patient-victims, but that of the policy originators, their willing bureaucratic assistants, and those who directly handled the victims, whether transporting them, channeling them into gas chambers, injecting them with morphine-scopolamine, or managing their slow and agonising starvation; an efficient synergy of those Lifton referred to as the "killing professionals" and the "professional killers". Their demise was not painless, quiet or easy. Many were not suffering from any mental or physical dysfunction aside from the physical consequences arising from having fallen into Nazi hands, as was the case with respect to those Poles and Russians who were exterminated in some of the same institutions used for eliminating those with mental or physical handicap. The dying rituals and procedures applied under the auspices of this "programme" were invariably identical to those that obtained in the extermination camps. The underlying objective was the same-the eradication of unwanted segments of the populace. In both instances no term other than murder is congruent with the circumstances. |"Life Unworthy of Life" and other Medical Killing Programmes|


Yad Vashem, the Holocaust memorial society in Jerusalem also has a basic bibliography available.

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