Euthanasia AS Eugenics: The Nazi Action T4 project

Euthanasia is often thought of as a separate issue from eugenics, but eugenicists have often seen euthanasia as one obvious method for removing the ‘unfit.’  Due to what Nazi Germany did, those types of discussions faded away–at least, in explicit terms.  But what did Nazi Germany actually do?  Most people are only aware of the Holocaust, where 6 million Jews plus many hundreds of thousands of others were killed.  But before the Germans attempted the Holocaust, they first carried out Action T4, a project by which disabled and otherwise ‘unworthy’ individuals were secretly exterminated.  It is important to remember that these were almost all Germans that were determined ‘unworthy of life.’  Thus, it should be understood that the Nazis viewed their efforts to purify the race much more broadly than commonly appreciated.  In the selections below, it will be shown that the Nazis saw euthanasia as a eugenics program, very much in line with what eugenicists around the world had already been suggesting and proposing for decades.

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