From 'Mercy Death' to Genocide

Julian Reed-Purvis examines the origins and consequences of Nazi Euthanasia.

In January 1939 Hitler made his famous Reichstag speech in which he blamed the Jews and the Bolsheviks for the coming war, a war that would mean their total destruction. Germany had begun her slow march down the twisted road to the death camps. Yet the first victims of the Nazi vision of creating a master race were not Jews but German citizens murdered as part of a euthanasia programme intended to destroy those unfit to become volksgenossen (racial comrades). It is the way in which the Nazi policy towards the mentally and physically handicapped dovetailed with their ever more radical racial policies that will be examined in this essay.

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