Adolf Hitler had aspirations for creating a perfect human race. He accepted a quality of human life philosophy. He wanted to rid the human gene pool of defects. How he went about doing that, however, resulted in one of the most horrible accounts of evil in the history of humankind.
Life Not Worthy of Living
Leo Alexander, American Medical Science Consultant to the Nuremberg War Crimes Trails, explains the early origins of the Nazi euthanasia movement, saying, “It started with the acceptance of the attitude … that there is such a thing as life not worthy to be lived.”1 In Hitler’s quality of human life philosophy, there was no room for human beings with defects. For him, there were actually human beings whose lives are not worthy to be lived. They should be killed to relieve others, especially the State, of the financial burdens of keeping them alive. As a result, Hitler made euthanasia into a “scientific” and systematic form of killing millions of human beings.
Elimination of the Weak and Sickly
With a quality of life philosophy, a human being’s “usefulness is usually defined in terms of functioning for the benefit of society,” says Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl.2 Under Hitler’s rule, anyone who could not contribute to society or was not in some way useful to the Nazis was a candidate for death. So, at his order, the mentally ill, those with various developmental disabilities, the elderly in state homes and those with physical or facial deformities were exterminated.
Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel recalled the process of “selection” in the concentration camps. It was based on a quality of life philosophy. In other words, the prisoners were lined up naked before a Nazi physician. If they looked well, they would remain alive; however, if they looked weak and sickly, they were sent to die in the crematoria or gas chambers.3 Wiesel remembered the specific words of selection from the SS officer or doctor: “[Y]ou are too skinny … you are too weak … you are good for the ovens….”4
Strengthening the Weak
The Nazi ethic is defective, because, actually, to be strong is to support, defend and strengthen the weak. In other words, the strong of body become stronger in character by helping the weak and sickly in mind and body. Conversely, the strong become weak in character by killing the weak of body and mind, because murder is evil and, as such, not worthy of a person, that is, beneath his or her human dignity. Therefore, for the strong to crush the weak and sickly is, at the same, to “crush” and distort the human spirit, turning physically strong persons into moral weaklings.
1. Leo Alexander, “Medical Science Under Dictatorship,” The New England Journal of Medicine, vol. 241, no. 2, July 14, 1949, p. 44.
2. Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning, 3rd ed. (New York, N.Y.: Simon and Schuster, 1984), p. 152.
3. Elie Wiesel, Night, trans. Marion Wiesel (New York, N.Y.: Hill and Wang, 1958, 2006), pp. 70-72. 96.
4. Ibid., p. 72.