Suzanne Chami
History 513 0
April 24, 2017
The Nazi Party was devoted to creating the perfect German race by exterminating any people they deeme d unworthy or insufficient from the German population . In Hitler's quest to create the perfect German race he not only focused on eliminating inferior races but also on perfecting the German people genetically. Therefore, it is no surprise the science of ‘eugenics' sparked intrigue amongst Hitler and the Nazi party . Eugenics is the science of improving the human population by breeding desirable heritable characteristics and removing undesirable characteristics from society. Scientists and Physicians advocated for the extermination of those deemed "unworthy" during the 1930s and their theories of eugenics and sterilization were absorbed into the Nazi party. The Nazis implemented eugenics in Germany during the Third Reich ; laws were passed to prohibit people with hereditary disabilities from marrying and programs of mass sterilization of people with ‘undesirable' hereditary characteristics were implemented . Several nations had laws of sterilization and eugenics before Nazi Germany, however Hitler and the Nazi Party took eugenics to an extreme level and used it to justify persecuting hundreds of thousands of people who desperately need ed medical or psychiatric help . Nazi leaders and physicians who conducted experiments on patients without consent are usually blamed for the entire euthanasia program and for good reason, but they were not the only people involved. Nurses played a significant role in killing helpless patients but are often overlooked when recounting the horrors of the Nazi euthan asia program . Nurses advocated for eugenics before the Nazis even came to power and s everal personal accounts of nurses during the euthanasia program show their voluntary participat ion, and yet these nurses actions are commonly disregarded. This is most likely a result of society believing women and nurses are caring and nurturing and could never do such horrific things, so blame is taken away from the women and placed on the doctors and Nazi officials; but nurses did not just carry out orders, they also advocated for eugenics programs and justified the ir actions . Nurses' voluntary involvement in the killing of helpless disabled patients under Hitler's euthanasia program have been overlooked for hundreds of years because the thought of women committing such vial acts on their own accord is inconsistent with society's stereotype of women being nurturing caregivers.
The nurses who partook in enforcing euthanasia programs are often overlooked, however many supported and actively participated in these programs. Usually nurses who took p art in killing patients are excused because they are thought to have just been following orders from the doctors who were following orders from the Nazi regime however t estimonies from actual nurses tell a different story. Not only did they willingly participate in the ki lling of ill patients, they were generally able to retain their moral agency during the process as well. Dr. Valentin Faltlhauser was the director of the Kaufbeuren psychiatric institution in Bavaria. Faltlhauser was the main doctor in charge at Kaufbeuren; years before the euthanasia program started he " had emphasized the active nature of the role nurses should play, commenting in a psychiatric journal that if a nurse was uncomfortable with an order given by a doctor, then it was the: ‘legitimate right of the express his doubts in the proper form or to ask for an explanation.' " This statement implies he gave the nurses at least some control over their actions. The m ost interesting cases of nurses experiences at Kaufbeuren came from Catholic nuns who participated in euthanasia programs like Sister Worle who was the head nurse at Kaufbeuren. In her testimony she claimed she was just following the doctors' orders:
" I had to follow the doctors' order. I felt obliged to abide by my oath of duty. When I am now told that my oath of duty only obliged me to keep silence, but not to actually kill, then I answer that someone had to do it and the doctor said I was the one who had been chosen. The