One of the elements of the racial theory of the Third Reich was the requirement for "racial hygiene" of the German nation, to cleanse it of "inferior" elements. In the long term, Nazi leaders dreamed of creating a breed of ideal people, a "race of demigods." According to the Nazis, there were not many "pure" Aryans left even in the German nation; it was necessary to do a lot of work, in fact to create anew the "Nordic race".
Great importance was attached to this matter. It was not for nothing that Adolf Hitler, in his address to the party congress in September 1937, said that Germany made the greatest revolution when it first took up national and racial hygiene. "The consequences of this German racial policy for the future of our people will be more important than the actions of other laws, because they create a new man." They were referring to the "Nuremberg racial laws" of 1935, which were supposed to protect the German nation from racial confusion. According to the Fuehrer, the German people had yet to become a "new race".
It should be noted that the ideas of racial hygiene and eugenics (from the Greek ευγενες - "good kind", "thoroughbred") were born not in Germany, but in Great Britain in the second half of the 19th century. At the same time, the main ideas of social Darwinism were formed. Briton Francis Galton (1822 - 1911) is considered to be the founder of eugenics. As early as 1865, an English scientist published his work "Inherited Talent and Character", and in 1869 a more detailed book "Inheritance of Talent". In Germany, eugenics was just taking its first steps, when in a number of countries it was already being actively implemented. In 1921, the 2nd International Congress of Eugenicists was magnificently held in New York (the 1st was held in London in 1912). Thus, the Anglo-Saxon world was an innovator in this area.
In 1921, a textbook on genetics was published in Germany, written by Erwin Bauer, Eugen Fischer and Fritz Lenz. A significant section of this book has been devoted to eugenics. According to the supporters of this science, the most important role in the formation of a person's personality is played by his heredity. Obviously, upbringing and education also have a huge impact on human development, but "nature" plays a more important role. This leads people to be divided into the "worst", with a low level of intellectual development, some of these people have an increased level of propensity to crime. In addition, the "worst" reproduce much faster than the "best" ("highest") representatives of humanity.
Supporters of eugenics believed that European and American civilizations would simply disappear from the face of the Earth if they could not stop the process of rapid reproduction of representatives of the Negroid (black) race and the lower representatives ("worst") of the white race. As an effective measure, the laws of the United States were cited, where racial segregation existed and marriages between white and black races were limited. Sterilization was another tool for keeping the race pure. For example, in the United States, it was customary to supplement the prison sentence for repeat offenders with sterilization, especially for women. Alcoholics, prostitutes and a number of other categories of the population could also fall into this category.
The textbook gained great popularity and was widely disseminated. In 1923 the second edition of the book was published. The publisher was Julius Lehmann - Hitler's comrade (with him the future leader of Germany was hiding after the "beer coup"). Having thundered into prison, Hitler received books from Lehmann, including a textbook on eugenics. As a result, a section dedicated to "human genetics" appeared in "My Struggle". Fischer, Bauer and Lenz and a number of other scientists in the 1920s sought government support for the implementation of eugenic programs in Germany. However, during this period, most parties opposed sterilization. In fact, only the National Socialists were supportive of this idea. Even more Nazis were attracted by Fischer's idea of two races: white - "superior" and black - "inferior".
When the National Socialist Party won a significant percentage of the vote in the 1930 elections, Lenz wrote a review of Hitler's Mein Kampf. It was published in one of the German scientific journals (Archives of Racial and Social Biology). This article noted that Adolf Hitler is the only politician in Germany who understands the importance of genetics and eugenics. In 1932, the leadership of the National Socialists approached Fischer, Lenz and their colleagues with a proposal for cooperation in the field of "race hygiene." This proposal was received favorably by scientists. In 1933, cooperation became even broader. The books published by Lehmann became school and university textbooks and manuals. Ernst Rudin, he became president of the World Federation of Eugenics in 1932 at the Natural History Museum in New York, was appointed head of the Society for Racial Hygiene and will co-author the Forced Sterilization Act and other similar bills. Ernst Rudin in 1943 called the merits of Adolf Hitler and his associates "historical", since "they dared to take a step towards not only purely scientific knowledge, but also to the brilliant cause of racial hygiene of the German people."
The campaign for the forced sterilization of people was initiated by the Minister of the Interior, Wilhelm Frick. In June 1933, he gave a keynote speech that dealt with racial and demographic policy in the Third Reich. Germany was in "cultural and ethnic decline" due to the influence of "alien races", especially Jews, he said. The nation was threatened with degradation due to almost a million people with hereditary mental and physical diseases, "feeble-minded and inferior people", whose offspring were not desirable for the country, especially given their above average birth rates. According to Frick, in the German state there were up to 20% of the population undesirable in the role of fathers and mothers. The task was to increase the birth rate of "healthy Germans" by 30% (about 300 thousand per year). In order to increase the number of children with healthy heredity, it was planned to reduce the number of children with bad heredity. Frick said that a comprehensive moral revolution is designed to revive social values and must include a full-scale reassessment of "the genetic value of our people's body."
Frick soon made a few more speeches that carried the program settings. He said that earlier, nature forced the weak to die and itself purified the human race, but in recent decades, medicine has created artificial conditions for the survival of the weak and sick, which harms the health of the people. The Reich Minister of the Interior of Germany began to promote eugenic intervention by the state, which was supposed to compensate for the sharp decrease in the role of nature in preserving the health of the population. Frick's ideas were also supported by other prominent figures in Germany. The world famous eugenicist Friedrich Lenz calculated that out of 65 million Germans, 1 million should be sterilized as frankly feeble-minded. The head of the Office of Agrarian Policy and the Minister of Food of the Third Reich, Richard Darre, went further and argued that 10 million people needed sterilization.
On July 14, 1933, the "Law on the Prevention of Hereditary Diseases of the Younger Generation" was issued. It recognized the need for forced sterilization of hereditary patients. Now the decision to sterilize could be made by a doctor or a medical authority, and it could be carried out without the consent of the patient. The law came into force in early 1934 and launched a campaign against "racially inferior" people. Before the start of World War II, about 350 thousand people were sterilized in Germany (other researchers cite the figure at 400 thousand men and women). More than 3 thousand people died, because the operation was at a certain risk.
On June 26, 1935, Adolf Hitler signed the "Law on the necessity of terminating pregnancies due to hereditary diseases". He allowed the Hereditary Health Council to decide on the sterilization of a woman who is pregnant at the time of the operation, if the fetus is not yet capable of independent life (up to 6 months) or if the termination of pregnancy does not lead to a serious danger to the woman's life and health. They give a figure of 30 thousand eugenic abortions during the Nazi regime.
The leaders of the Third Reich were not going to be limited to abortions. There were plans to destroy the children already born, but they were postponed due to more important tasks. According to the personal physician and Charge d'Affaires of the Fuhrer Karl Brandt, Hitler spoke about this after the National Socialist Party Congress in Nuremberg in September 1935. After the war, Brandt testified that Hitler had told the head of the National Socialist Union of Physicians, Gerhard Wagner, that he was authorizing a program of euthanasia (Greek ευ = "good" + θάνατος "death") nationwide during the war. The Fuehrer believed that in the course of a big war, such a program would be easier, and the resistance of society and the Church would not matter as much as in peacetime. This program was launched in the fall of 1939. In August 1939, midwives at maternity hospitals were required to report the birth of crippled children. Parents were required to register them with the Imperial Committee for the Scientific Research of Hereditary and Acquired Diseases. It was located at the address: Berlin, Tiergartenstrasse, house 4, therefore the code name of the program for euthanasia and received the name - "T-4". Initially, parents had to register children - mentally ill or crippled under the age of three years, then the age limit was raised to seventeen years. Until 1945, up to 100 thousand children were registered, of which 5-8 thousand were killed. Heinz Heinze was considered an expert on the "euthanasia" of children - since the fall of 1939, he led 30 "children's departments" where children were killed with the help of poisons and overdose of drugs (for example, sleeping pills). Such clinics were located in Leipzig, Niedermarsberg, Steinhof, Ansbach, Berlin, Eichberg, Hamburg, Luneburg, Schleswig, Schwerin, Stuttgart, Vienna and a number of other cities. In particular, in Vienna, over the years of the implementation of this program, 772 "handicapped" children were killed.
The logical continuation of the murders of children was the murder of adults, terminally ill, old, decrepit and "useless eaters." Often these murders took place in the same clinics as the murders of children, but in different departments. In October 1939, Adolf Hitler gave instructions to put to death the incurable patients. Such killings were carried out not only in hospitals and orphanages, but also in concentration camps. A special committee was organized, led by lawyer G. Bon, which developed a method of suffocating victims in premises supposedly intended for washing and disinfection. A special transport service was organized to transport and concentrate victims in the "sanitary facilities" of Harheim, Grafeneck, Brandenburg, Berenburg, Zonenstein and Hadamer. On December 10, 1941, an order was given to the administration of 8 concentration camps to conduct checks and select prisoners for their destruction with the help of gas. Thus, the gas chambers and the adjoining crematoria were initially tested in Germany.
The program to kill "inferior" people started in the fall of 1939 and quickly gained momentum. On January 31, 1941, Goebbels noted in his diary about a meeting with Buhler about 80 thousand mentally ill people who were liquidated and 60 thousand who were to be killed. In general, the number of those sentenced was significantly higher. In December 1941, a report by the medical service reported about 200 thousand weak-minded, abnormal, terminally ill and 75 thousand elderly people who were to be destroyed.
Soon people began to guess about these murders. Information leaked from the medical staff, the horror of the situation began to reach the patients of hospitals, people who lived near clinics, murder centers. The public and, first of all, the Church began to protest, a noise began. On July 28, 1941, Bishop Clemens von Galen filed a case in the prosecutor's office at the Münster Regional Court for the murder of the mentally ill. At the end of August 1941, Hitler was forced to suspend the T-4 program. The exact number of victims of this program is unknown. Goebbels reported 80,000 killed. According to one of the Nazi documents on the counting of victims, which was compiled at the end of 1941 and was found in the castle of Hartheim near the Austrian city of Linz (it served in 1940-1941 as one of the main centers for killing people), it is reported about 70, 2 thousand. killed. Some researchers speak about at least 100 thousand killed in 1939-1941.
After the official cancellation of the euthanasia program, doctors found a new way to eliminate "inferior" people. Already in September 1941, the director of the psychiatric hospital in Kaufbeuren-Irsee, Dr. Valentin Falthauser, began to practice the "cruel" diet, de facto killing patients with hunger. This method was also convenient as it caused increased mortality. "Diet-E" seriously increased mortality in hospitals and existed until the end of the war. In 1943-1945. 1808 patients died at Kaufbeuren. In November 1942, a "fat-free diet" was recommended for use in all mental hospitals. "Eastern workers", Russians, Poles, Balts were also sent to hospitals.
The total death toll during the implementation of the euthanasia program by the time of the fall of the Third Reich, according to various sources, reaches 200-250 thousand people.
First Steps - Creation of the "Race of Demigods"
In addition to the elimination and sterilization of the "inferior" in the Third Reich began to implement programs for the selection of "full-fledged" for their reproduction. With the help of these programs, it was planned to create a "master race". The German people, according to the Nazis, were not yet a "race of demigods", they only had to be created from the Germans. The seed of the dominant race was the Order of the SS.
Hitler and Himmler were not racially satisfied with the German people that existed at that time. In their opinion, it was necessary to carry out a lot of work to create a race of "demigods". Himmler believed that Germany could give Europe a ruling elite in 20-30 years.
The racologists of the Third Reich drew up a map where it is clearly seen that not all of Germany's population was considered fully "full". The "Nordic" and "False" subraces were considered worthy. "Dinaric" in Bavaria and "East Baltic" in East Prussia were not "full". Work was needed, including "refreshing the blood" with the help of the SS troops, to transform the entire population of Germany into a "racially full-fledged" one.
Among the programs aimed at forming the “new man” was the Lebensborn program (Lebensborn, “The Source of Life.” This organization was created in 1935 under the auspices of the Reichsfuehrer SS Heinrich Himmler racial selection, that is, not containing "foreign impurities, in particular, Jewish and generally non-Aryan blood from their ancestors. In addition, with the help of this organization," Germanization "of children taken away from the occupied regions, which matched on racial grounds, took place.