Book summaries by Lynda White:
In 1995 Henry Friedlander wrote a powerful book entitled
THE ORIGINS OF NAZI GENOCIDE: From Euthanasia to The Final Solution.
In this book he explains the history of the eugenics movement which was instrumental in allowing for Nazi genocide. He says that the German elite (members of the professional classes) had since the turn of the century accepted and perpetuated the idea of human inequality. The biological sciences of the 19th century and Darwin's theory on evolution were instrumental in recording traditional prejudices as factual. This allowed for the belief of human heredity which along with racism resulted in the mass killing of adults and children with disabilities under the guise of mercy killing.
Friedlander also has researched how Hitler's stop order of August 1941 did not end the murder of those considered "unworthy of life." He says that actually there were more victims of euthanasia after the stop order was issued than before (utilizing tablets, injections, and starvation). The killing of people who had disabilities came to be viewed as an act that would benefit the nation as a whole in order to prevent a new generation of disabled persons as well as to save Germany a great deal of money. Killing actually evolved into psychiatry's primary function.
Very few people with disabilities, most of whom had been involuntarily sterilized, were witnesses at war crime trials. Due to fear and societal stigmatization, few were courageous enough to discuss their horrific personal experiences.
Both VOICES FROM THE HOLOCAUST and WITNESS TO THE HOLOCAUST have short stories of 2-4 pages each of holocaust survivors primarily. They are fascinating first person accounts.
In VOICES the stories are from Jews in Hungary, Rumania, Poland, Holland, Czechoslovakia, Germany, etc. who described what was going on in their lives prior to their incarceration in the killing centers. Some afterwards returned to their countries of origin or immigrated to the USA.
In WITNESS TO THE HOLOCAUST more historical background information is also given. There is discussion of the Catholic church's noninvolvement and why that happened. There's discussion about Dr. Mengele's criminal laboratory experiments. Stories of how some non-Jews helped to save Jews were most interesting. I found it interesting also to hear how the Nazis who were convicted to hang for their crimes continued to espouse their hatred as they went to the gallows and how firmly they believed in what they had done in spite of trying to cover it up when caught. I think this was the book that guessed there were about 1 million Germans involved either directly or indirectly in the murders of Jews and others. Truly horrific that so many Germans did these immoral things. It is hard for me to imagine how anyone can do such heinous crimes and justify it--but not unlike the racists who join the Ku Klux Klan and appear to be regular citizens during the day.
DEATH AND DELIVERANCE reports 140,234 people died by starvation in World War I. It gives the background about euthanasia that led to why it was later adopted so easily by the Nazis. Some of the propaganda used was also interesting. I learned a lot from this book including how this policy was justified and put into effect with very little opposition from the German people. I highly recommend this one for even more in-depth understand than was presented in Friedlander's excellent book.
CLEANSING THE FATHERLAND gives a close look at the history of doctors hiding what they were doing including printing 10,000 copies of documentation of the Nuremberg doctors' trial in 1949 that were never distributed to the German population. It also talks more in depth about what happened in post-war Germany related to the medical profession and university professors trying to cover things up. It talks about the written documentation and 5,200 reports of children sent for killing in 20-25 children's hospitals.
The tour begins here