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Weeding the garden: Euthanasia, National Socialism, and Germany, 1939-1945

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Title: Weeding the garden: Euthanasia, National Socialism, and Germany, 1939-1945
Author(s): Thornton, Larry Patrick
Doctoral Committee Chair(s): Schroeder, Paul W.
Department / Program: History
Discipline: History
Degree Granting Institution: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Degree: Ph.D.
Genre: Dissertation
Subject(s): History, European
Abstract: "Weeding the Garden" draws from contemporary German and non-German observations, Nazi party and German state documents, and additional secondary sources to survey the development, execution, and conclusion of the "euthanasia" program which used bullets, carbon monoxide, injections, and starvation to kill thousands of insane, mentally retarded, and physically handicapped Germans during World War II. This dissertation focuses on two major interpretive questions surrounding one of the first Nazi programs of genocide; first, what were its origins and, second, what reactions did it provoke. The euthanasia program originated from a set of beliefs rooted in elements of the eugenics movement, Nazi notions of genetic vitality and social order, and the unique opportunities and demands presented by the war. The idea that some people were inferior was not original but the Nazis carried the idea to a logical conclusion of seeking to eradicate those they deemed inferior; the idea was a necessary ingredient for recognizing and planning for the opportunity to execute such a program. Once the program was underway, even though it was supposed to operate behind a veil of secrecy, many Germans reacted negatively. Frequently moral objections voiced by German clergymen have been credited with forcing the program's modification or suspension but the argument presented here suggests that the unexpected furor raised by supporters of the Nazi movement was the primary force which caused changes in the program which lasted in one form or another until the war's last weeks.
Issue Date: 1991
Type: Text
Language: English
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2142/21232
Rights Information: Copyright 1991 Thornton, Larry Patrick
Date Available in IDEALS: 2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog: AAI9124499
OCLC Identifier: (UMI)AAI9124499
 

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