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The Origins of Nazi Genocide: From Euthanasia to the Final Solution

The Origins of Nazi Genocide: From Euthanasia to the Final Solution [Kindle Edition]

Henry Friedlander
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Product Description


One of the distinguishing features of this study is the meticulous description of the administration of the euthanasia program.Gordon A. Craig, "New York Review of Books"

Product Description

Tracing the rise of racist and eugenic ideologies, Henry Friedlander explores in chilling detail how the Nazi program of secretly exterminating the handicapped and disabled evolved into the systematic destruction of Jews and Gypsies. He describes how the so-called euthanasia of the handicapped provided a practical model for the later mass murder, thereby initiating the Holocaust.

The Nazi regime pursued the extermination of Jews, Gypsies, and the handicapped based on a belief in the biological, and thus absolute, inferiority of those groups. To document the connection between the assault on the handicapped and the Final Solution, Friedlander shows how the legal restrictions and exclusionary policies of the 1930s, including mass sterilization, led to mass murder during the war. He also makes clear that the killing centers where the handicapped were gassed and cremated served as the models for the extermination camps.

Based on extensive archival research, the book also analyzes the involvement of the German bureaucracy and judiciary, the participation of physicians and scientists, and the nature of popular opposition.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 4862 KB
  • Print Length: 448 pages
  • Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press; 3 edition (1 Jan 1995)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B002F9LR10
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #500,738 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
In spite of the large volume of studies of what is now called the Holocaust , little attention had been paid the Aktion T4 program one of the harbingers of the Final Solution.
Andre Pichot in his book ' The Pure Society from Darwin to Hitler ' notes that Raoul Hilberg (author of 'The Destruction Of The European Jews') seems to have little to say about the Aktion T4 killings nor for that matter the existing racial legislation of many countries in that time. Henry Friedlander had filled this gap by showing that the so called euthanasia program of Nazi Germany was organised by the Chancellery of the Führer(KdF),the Reich Ministry of Interior and the organisation T4.

The German medical profession and scientists in biological disciplines such as geneticists and anthropologists held eugenic ideas and views as did the International scientific community notably geneticists of all political tendencies.These eugenic ideas fused with the Nazis' anti-Semitic and racist ideology.One of the outcomes of this was 'Aktion T4' program.

Friedlander does not write about a policy of mercy killing or euthanasia. Euthanasia was a euphemism used by the Nazis to carry out the murder of handicapped Jews,Gypsies and Germans.The Aktion T4 program had nothing to do with terminating the life of persons with painful terminal disease. Aktion T4 was the elimination of 'life unworthy of Life'.
These murders of disabled and mentally ill Germans were the prelude to the systematic extermination of Jews,Gypsies,Slavs and other 'degenerate ' groups such as homosexuals and communists.Once a decision had been made to kill the handicapped then the rest was mere pragmatism.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.1 out of 5 stars  9 reviews
32 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What we don't remember can kill us. 19 Jan 2000
By Kayla Rigney - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
From Euthanasia to Genocide is a very very small step. This book is the best and wisest on the subject. It illustrates exactly how easy it was for Nazis to use the American psuedo-science of "eugenics" to aclimate Germany to "life unworthy of life." How simple to use the idea of "mercy death" to rid society of "useless eaters." The members of T4 were ruthless in their quest to define and rid Nazi Germany of deformed infants, the mentally ill, the deaf, the old, the young, the indigent, the DIFFERENT. No marginalised group was safe.
Of the killing centers, Hadamar is the best known -- a hub, so to speak. Nobody really knows how many people were gassed there. The buses arrived like clockwork, on schedule... Day in; day out.
Significantly, there was little civilian protest until T4 moved on to private Christian instutions. The "euthenasia" program was halted "officially" after several churches protested the gassings of institutionalised patients. (Unofffically, the program went on until AFTER the end of the war!) The members of T4 were absorbed into the killing machine known as the Final Solution. Which, of course, was the goal all along....
I reread The Origins of Nazi Genocide periodically just to remind myself that ANYONE can be marginalised -- including me and thee.
21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Who Cries for the Different? 21 Aug 2000
By A Customer - Published on
Henry Friedlander provides a compelling and accurate portrayal of the origins of the Holocaust in the elimination of the mentally ill and physically handicapped. He starts with a description of the origins of German theories of racial superiority based upon social Darwinism which began long before the Nazis came to power. Many German physicians believed that the handicapped were a burden to society and that one of Medicine's chief functions was to be merciful and weed out the lame and feeble and remove them, painlessly, of course. With the advent of National Socialism and coming to power of Adolf Hitler, these doctors willingly joined in the sterilization and euthanistic practices of the Master Race. Gypsies and Jews were the main groups selected but all handicapped were gathered up. The author describes in detail the frustrations experienced by these teutonic genetic warriors because they could not more efficiently kill and maim and remove the untermeunschen. This book is a nightmare which can happen again. The world still witnesses the open genocide of Central Europe and parts of Africa and Asia. While Hitler's bodily presence has been gone for 55 years, his philosophical dementia remains with us. This book is an excellent reminder of science misused and politicized.
24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Disturbing, researched account of beginnings of Holocaust 2 Aug 2000
By K. L Sadler - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
As a Deaf person and an activist for the rights of the disabled in education and medical care, I was appalled to find out that the disabled were singled out for sterilization and euthanasia long before the Jews had been. I was even more upset that prior to medical school, I had never even heard of the willing collaboration of doctors and scientists in Germany with the Nazi political machine to rid their race of defective people (it didn't seem to matter when impairment began or how, or these people were educable and able to work). Not to ever dismiss the horror of the Jewish Holocaust and the amount of lives taken, but it is imperative that we remember and we teach that the slope leading to extermination of races began with the ideas of Social Darwinism, natural selection, and survival of the fittest, which were the scientific theories/beliefs used to justify the removal of anyone with a difference. This belief system still pervades society today, when someone like Kervorkian (who only worked with dead bodies) could take it upon himself to decide whether someone's life was of any worth, on the basis of 'normalcy'.
Henry Friedlander does an excellent job of writing and researching into the lives and minds of the doctors and administrators who ran the secret programs that killed first, German children who were born with disabilities, then led to the removal from schools and homes of older children with disabilities to meet their deaths through starvation and drugs, and finally to include adults with disabilities in mass murders. It was on these people that the Nazis perfected their instruments of genocide, and yet, even at Nurenburg their suffering was dismissed as "lives unworthy of life" just because of their disabilities.
This can happen again, especially with the completion of the human genome. NO laws have been suggested to curtail the use of information gleaned from the genome to prevent discrimination of any kind against the disabled. It is of great concern that the disabled community watch opponents of the Americans with Disabilities Act try to get this civil rights act revoked as being expensive, especially since it serves those who many (including Clint Eastwood apparently) feel are not productive members of society. The slippery slope begins at this point, and with these mindsets.
It is imperative that students of medicine and students of science be made to read this book. It is only through education and remembering the children and families whose lives were destroyed that we can avoid allowing this Medical Holocaust from ever happening again. Karen Sadler, Science Education, University of Pittsburgh
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A well detailed view of the beginning of a nightmare 16 Aug 2006
By Michael N. Ryan - Published on
A most insightful and highly detailed work concerning man's worst scientificly guided attrocities. And most releavent to those living in this very day.

This book covers the origins of Hitler's Nightmare. It did not begin with the Jews or the Gypsies, it began with the mentally ill and the disabled. Thie book begins here and gives us not just the crimes but insights into the minds of the criminals who perpetrated it. Men who were collage educated and socially quite liberal rather than the mercenary uneducated thugs who operated the death camps.

A must read for those interested in this subject.
6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Very interesting, but somewhat poorly written 29 Jun 2005
By J. Gittins - Published on
I did enjoy reading Friedlander's book, and I found it very informative. It was very interesting to track the origins and path of the Nazi genocide program, from the view of the handicapped, Gypsies, and Jews. As a scientist, I feel it is very important to understand what happened so that it can be prevented again. Even chemists like myself were involved in the operation.

The problem I have with the book is the way in which it is written. First of all, Friedlander gives far too much information, which ends up detracting from the overall theme of the book. For one person, he will often provide four or five different dates, where they were born, the three or four different jobs they performed before the war even started, and it all is very tedious. Second, much related information is scattered throughout the book. He may have three different chapters discussing essentially the same topic, and he is often very redundant. He will restate minor details over and over again, thereby reducing the impact of the more important information concerning Nazi genocide. Finally, I believe the book would have had much more impact if more true stories and examples were provided. While he does present a fair amount of examples in some chapters, in others there are none. I believe the book would be more profound and emotional if these "stories" were provided. Even so, I would still recommend this book.
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