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October 21, 2010

“life unworthy of life” (in German: “Lebensunwertes Leben”)

Filed under: Germany, Health — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 10:26 am

The title of this post, “life unworthy of life” (in German: “Lebensunwertes Leben”) was used in Nazi Germany in reference to the people who were killed because they were mentally or physically disabled. The Nazi concept of “unwertes Leben” or “unworthy lives” is believed to have eventually led to the Holocaust.

In the news recently, there is the sad story of a seven-year-old girl who was the victim of cyber-bullying by an adult neighbor who posted horrible photos, alluding to the fact that the child will eventually die of Huntington’s Disease.  The little girl’s mother recently died from Huntington’s Disease, which is a genetic condition.

The recent news stories, which mention Huntington’s Disease, reminded me that, in Nazi Germany, this disease was on the list of conditions that Germany attempted to wipe out by sterilizing people — against their will, if necessary.

On July 14, 1933, Hitler signed the “Law for the Prevention of Genetically Diseased Offspring,” one of the first laws Hitler implemented after he was appointed the Chancellor of Germany. In German, it was called Gesetz zur Verhütung erbkranken Nachwuchses and it was the law of compulsory sterilizations. The ideology of the Nazi Party included the concept of  “racial hygiene” which was the plan to produce a race of strong, healthy people.

Article I of the “Law for the Prevention of Genetically Diseased Offspring” defined who was to be examined and then sterilized:

(1) Anyone who suffers from an inheritable disease may be surgically sterilized if, in the judgment of medical science, it could be expected that his descendants will suffer from serious inherited mental or physical defects.

(2.) Anyone who suffers from one of the following is to be regarded as inheritably diseased within the meaning of this law:

1. congenital feeble-mindedness
2. schizophrenia
3. manic-depression
4. congenital epilepsy
5. inheritable St. Vitus dance (Huntington’s Chorea)
6. hereditary blindness
7. hereditary deafness
8. serious inheritable malformations

Hartheim Castle in Austria was the place where disabled people were killed during the Nazi regime.  The castle has now been turned into a memorial site which is used to promote the idea that disabled people are “worthy to live” and that disabled children should be “main-streamed” in elementary schools, not sent to special schools for the handicapped.  You can read all about the memorial site at Hartheim here.  You can read about the disabled people who were gassed to death at Hartheim here.

I don’t know if Huntington’s Disease has been wiped out in Germany, but I do know that hereditary deafness has not been eliminated.  On one of my many trips to Germany, I observed a mother and father who looked enough alike to be brother and sister; their son looked exactly like his parents.  All three were using sign language.

This family was eating in a restaurant. When another person came in and communicated with them in sign language, it was clear that none of them could hear. The visitor was able to speak to others in the restaurant. If any of the three people in this family had been able to hear, the visitor would have spoken to them, instead of using sign language.

The young boy in this family will probably carry on the tradition by marrying a girl who is deaf, producing more children with hereditary deafness.  Meanwhile, the children of former Nazis are having themselves sterilized to prevent future generations of evil German monsters.

If I had Huntington’s Disease, I would adopt a child, rather than passing on this disease to future generations.


  1. I have serious doubts about German National-Socialists killing mentally incapacitated people.
    Two years ago I attended the exhibition of US Holocaust Memorial Museum called “The Deadly Medicine”.
    That was a work related event, and at first, I strongly oppose that the group even go there since I have researched it a little. I even said that I am not going there myself, but later decided to go and explain to my younger co-workers what they have actually seeing. Of course it was a mix of all “Nazi crimes” and was really off the topic of exhibition. However, I found there a “document” which debunked the whole exhibit.
    It was a form used by all mental institution of Germany and supposedly for killing those who were “Lebensunwertes”. The document from Berlin-Pankow mental hospital was dated sometime in 1942 and it was regarding a 65 years old patient. Her name was typed and place of birth, contact info was provided. She was diagnosed with schizophrenia. The medicines, such as Insulin and Salvarsan (Arsphenamine, also treats syphilis) were not given to patient. There was a several paragraphs long of HAND WRITTEN summary which was not legible at all. When I say it was not legible, I mean, I wasn’t able to identify the SINGLE LETTERS, not to mention to read the words. Now, drum roll, please! On the top right corner of the form it was: “Ist mit Schreibmaschine auszufüllen!”, or “To be filled out with a Typewriter!” The exclamation sign on this form indicates a direct order to fill out the form with typewriter. So, why the order was violated and why we can’t read what was written in the summary? The virtual guide of the tour stated that the form was reviewed by the Department of Interior (the head of the department was Wilhelm Frick, executed in Nuremberg), but not by the Department of Health which was under command of SS Gruppenführer Leonardo Conti. (Isn’t a strange name for a “nahtzee”)
    The allied forces were able to capture German offices’ stationary and original seals. After the war, they were able to create all kinds of post-facto documents. But someone forgot to look at the top right corner and do it right.

    Comment by Gasan — October 21, 2010 @ 9:40 pm

  2. It should be mentioned that the similar laws were existing in 39 out of 48 States of USA in 1930s.
    A judge in Georgia declared someone “an imbecile” based on the personal records and family history and ordered sterilization to prevent the birth of future “imbeciles”. Of course, there is a chance that one of them accidentally might turn into another Beethoven and the World will miss a genious, but the odds are extremely high.
    I am a little sceptical about the “Rhineland bastards” story; seems like it is another war time propaganda. Of course, the mixed marriages were discouraged in Germany at that time. Were they allowed in the US? Just imagine a African-Caucasian marriage somewhere in Great State of Alabama in 1935.

    Comment by Gasan — October 21, 2010 @ 8:43 pm

  3. FG – Very few people in National Socialist Germany were sterilized against their will. Most Germans who had these conditions were willing to be sterilized, just as you said if you had Huntington’s Disease you would not have a child of your own.

    It was felt at the time that love of country meant not wanting to do things that would harm it … not putting your selfish desires first. It’s known that some of these unfortunate folk were happy that the government was paying for it and doing it in a hygenic, medically safe manner.

    Those who were opposed to being sterilized were able to appeal to a higher court. These courts were known to be lenient and, in the case of the feeble-minded, usually ruled in favor of the applicant if they could show they were successfully functioning on their own sufficient to raise a child [like holding down a job and getting a good report from their employer] and their desire to have a child was very strong. It happened again and again. Read about it in “Into the Darkness” by Lothrop Stoddard, a U.S. journalist who reported from inside Germany from Oct. 1939 until early 1940.

    Today, we have little national loyalty because of our multi-kulti reality, and people think only of pleasing themselves. So our welfare rolls are ever on the rise, we have huge numbers of people receiving permanent disability payments, we are becoming dumber, sicker and fatter as a “nation.” All nations are deteriorating.

    So who is right? I’d say the Nazis were.

    Comment by Skeptic — October 21, 2010 @ 1:43 pm

    • What about the children that were fathered by African soldiers who were in the German Rhineland when it was occupied by the French? Hitler referred to them as the “Rhineland basterds.” These children, who had been born in 1919 or later, had the choice of being sterilized or leaving Germany. After World War II, there were many African-German babies born to German mothers and African-American fathers. They remained in Germany and mixed with Germans, so there are lots of African-Germans now. Germar Rudolf estimated that ethnic Germans would be wiped out by the year 2050.

      Comment by furtherglory — October 21, 2010 @ 6:27 pm

    • Being multi-racial and getting sicker etc. are not really related to genetic diseases and eugenics.

      I’m not sure if “very few” is an accurate description either. I was also reading about the “Rhineland bastards”.

      I think it’s fine if you want to exercise your free will, but certainly it’s not hard to see how quickly such laws can get out of hand. In psychology, a lot has been learned from these “defects”.

      Comment by Kageki — October 21, 2010 @ 6:33 pm

      • It’s related to national loyalty – that’s what it was referring to. You are jumbling everything together in a way that was not stated.

        You’re “not sure.” What does that mean? It was reported that way by a fair-minded person. The vast majority who were so ordered did not appeal that order and obediantly went to the proper clinic or whatever and allowed it to be done. The reason being that they realized they could then have all the sex they wanted without the fear of pregnancy. And they would be seen as good citizens who did their duty. Those who did appeal were given every consideration.

        I read about some of the cases. The three judge panel allowed some of the feeble-minded persons to be excused from the sterilization that I would not have excused, considering what the testimony was. So these Nat. Soc. judges were more easy-going that I, and probably more than many of the people who think they hate that system!

        “These laws can get out of control” is the old argument that is always brought out. Liberal laws get out of control too. That’s what we’re suffering from now — out of control liberalism. That was going on in the Weimar Republic of Germany too, prior to 1933. However, it is painted as “freedom” by the out-of-control liberal establishment of today.

        Comment by Skeptic — October 22, 2010 @ 10:23 pm

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