Technorati href="http://www.technorProfile Thinking Nurse: Gassing Of Aloisia V: Hitler's Mentally Ill Relative

Thinking Nurse

This blog will reflect my interests in learning disabilities, nursing, nursing theory, philosophy and politics and my general interests in the arts and literature. (Nursing is an art as well as a science!) Philosophy and nursing have been intrinsically linked since the days of Socrates, his mother was a midwife, and taught him everything he knew!

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Gassing Of Aloisia V: Hitler's Mentally Ill Relative

This news report (linked in the title of this piece) about the gassing of a close relative of Adolf Hitler, because she was mentally ill, reminded me of one of the great untold stories about the holocaust, the fact that among the first victims of the holocaust were tens of thousands of people with mental disabilities.

We would like to think that such slaughter was carried out by fanatical jackbooted Nazi soldiers. The reality however is much more chilling, and should never be forgotten by nurses who work with mentally ill or learning disabled people today. The programme to wipe out mental illness and people with learning disabilities was largely implemented by the Psychiatrists, Doctors and Nurses who staffed the mental institutions of the time. It was people like us, sensitive caring health professionals, who selected the patients, herded them onto buses, and watched them die.

This is a hard thing for nurses to believe - but it is true. It is a stark warning about what can happen when we start listening to eugenicist arguments, that some human beings are more valuable than others. But such attitudes still exist today. The World Bank promotes 'Disability Adjusted Life Years' as a method for third world countries to select which patients should receive treatment - the elderly, the disabled and thus those least likely to work and create profit are the ones who miss out on treatments as a result of such policies.

In our own country, people with learning disabilities are far more likely to suffer from, and have their lives considerably shortened by easily preventable illnesses. The Disability Rights Commission is currently investigating why these people seem to be so grieviously short-changed by healthcare services.

Eugenics is still here, in our NHS, in our own values and attitudes, just under the surface, it is a reflection of the 'Devil take the hindmost' ethic incipient in any society based on competition rather than cooperation.

T4, short for the address Tiergarten 4, was a Nazi work group of psychiatrists and physicians. During World War II, they were in charge of the killing of more than 100,000 people with disabilities.

Life with a disability often has been perceived as not worth living. As recently as 1983, fifteen US states had laws that required the sterilization of people with disabilities.

(Image from : disabilities2.html)


At 12:14 PM, Blogger Comrade_Smirnoff said...

I heard a statistic that 55% of German Doctors voluntarily joined the league of Nazi physicians.

Have you read 'Madness and Civilization : A History of Insanity in the Age of Reason' by Foucalt? It sounds like the kind of thing you've been writing about.


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