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Customer reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars

on 28 October 2017
An account of Aktion T4, the Nazi's programme to murder the mentally ill, the disabled and anyone else vulnerable who offended their supremacist sensibilities.

Shocking in how there were people enough to participate - including doctors and nurses.

Illustrated by short biographies of victims and murderers.

Grim but necessary reading.

Well written, backed by what must have been painstaking research.
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on 15 May 2010
This book is a detailed history of euthanasia in Germany in the first half of the 20th century. It lays out the thinking of the professionals who abhorred the waste of money on those 'unworthy of life', allowing the growth of an ethos that found killing the mentally & physically ill acceptable. Burleigh details the lives of some of the tens of thousands who perished in the aktions of T4 - it made me weep. He also looks at the perpetrators - professionals & otherwise. A disturbing but necessary book.
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on 19 January 2016
A must read for anyone considering the consequences of euthanasia.
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on 5 March 2015
good book
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on 16 April 2008
An informative yet chilling view of how the murder of the most vulnerable section of a modern , cultured society can be undertaken and how it can be concealed.
T4 was the thin end of the wedge which we now call the Holocaust.
Any who would dispute the Holocaust would do well to read this book and see what went before.
In understanding the nature of the Hitler goverment and how the most radical and dangerous ideas could become a murderous reality this book deserves your attention.
Well written , excellent source and foot notes , this is murder which cannot be denied nor explained away.
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on 21 August 2011
There are two distinct aspects of this book that may be considered disturbing to the general reader - the first is of course the intended subject of the book - that is the attempted eradication of Germany's psychologically and physically disabled people under Adolf Hitler's National Socialist (Nazi) regime (1933-1945), and the author's natural political rightwing bias in his general commentaries. That is not to say that Burleigh supports or agrees with the Nazi extermination policies - he most definitely does not - but, nevertheless, persists in perpetuating what must be described as a sustained 'anti-leftist' rhetoric throughout his many historically based published works. As well as being an established British academic - even lecturing at Oxford for a time - Michael Burleigh is a regular comtributer to the rightwing Standpoint magazine, which in its first edition blamed 'Multiculturalism' for the demise of standards in Western civilisation.

The paperback (2002) edition contains 387 numbered pages, and apart from the cover photograph - which shows disabled people standing by a wire fence - contains no illustrations. This book contains an Introduction a four parts:

Part One: Saving Money, Spending Lives.
Part Two: Gods in White Coats.
Part Three: 'Euthanasia' and Racial Warfare.
Part Four: Aftermaths.

This book does not begin with the Nazi take-over of Germany in 1933, but rather begins its assessment of the treatment psychologically and physically disabled from 1900 and traces the development of the rightwing notion of 'euthanasia' from Adolf Jost - an Austrian psychologist who believed that disabled people, both as groups and as individuals, carried a negative impact upon society and that their removal (i.e.'killing') relieved society of that burden. This distorted thinking that led to the death of hundreds of thousands of Europe's disabled was based upon the notion of 'vita mon jam vitalis' or 'life unworthy of life'. Burleigh makes clear that even during WWI (1914-1918), far more than would be considered 'statistically' normal perished in German psychiatric hospitals, assylums and sanitariums, etc. He further points out that 'euthanasia' as an idea was fairly popular amongst certain kinds of Darwinian thinkers throughout Europe, and that very few, if any, came forward to protect the weakest and most vulnerable members of society against the notion of physical eradication. For instance, during WWII (1939-1945) the Vichy government of France set about the extermination of its disabled citizenry without hindrance from any quarter.

The movement toward extermination began with rounding the disabled up into hospitals or camps. This first stage removed these people from contact with the general population. The second stage involved enforced sterilisation so that the risk of disabled off-spring was prevented at it source. However, the cost of keeping disabled people in concentration camps, and the cost of the operations became an issue of concern for the Nazi regime (hospitalising and sterilising pre-existed the Nazi regime coming to power), and as a consequence, Adolf Hitler authorised the mass extermination of disabled people as an enemy to the state. In hositals, the deaths were brought about by neglect, starvation, beatings and lethal injections - death certificates from the time invariably refer to 'heart failure' as the cause of death. The German parents were simply prevented from visiting the hospitals and were informed by letter of the death of their child. On occassion, and without the family's permission, crude autopsies were performed on the bodies of the deceased, many of whom were children. In the non-German areas 'liberated' by the Nazi military, the disabled were driven to isolated spots where mass graves had already be dug, and shot in the back of the head. Sometimes gas was used in mobile gas chambers.

Ironically, this book shows clearly what the political rightwing can achieve if left unchecked by correct-minded people. The book is well written and carries the reader through a chilling procedure of the eradication of the a group of people because they were considered racially unfit to live, and cost too much to sustain in concentration camps. The title 'Death and Deliverance' is a little peculiar and seems at odds with a book that contains lucid descriptions of the Nazi procedures of committing mass murder - but nowhere is there any notion of 'deliverance', as this holocaust of the disabled was total and unrelenting. Despite the obvious political bias of the author, this is a book that everyone should read, as its subject is a matter of historical fact and reveals moral degradation on an unimaginable scale.
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on 22 January 1999
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book as it is so well researched and deals with such a dificult subject matter in a thoroughly professinal manner.
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