Helen Weir
Making Nazis weep
By Helen Weir
September 16, 2009

With Obamacare or its repackaged equivalent still looming ominously on the American sociopolitical horizon, there are few voices, at this late stage in the game, that haven't yet been raised. The Left, as always, has its handy megaphone (the mainstream media) blaring forth its tedious and untenable talking points 24/7, while the right wing marched in force on Washington, D. C., last weekend, making its presence known even within the "see-no-conservatism, hear-no-conservatism, speak-no-conservatism" confines of the Beltway itself. Still, there remains one major bloc constantly invoked in this debate which also needs to be heard from. I am talking, of course, about the Nazis themselves.

It was Nancy Pelosi who started the swastika-slinging, affixing the noxious symbol of eugenic genocide to those expressing what Hillary Clinton characterized as the "highest form of patriotism." Tea Partiers have carried on the theme on their side's behalf, depicting the One with a little Führeresque mustache of his own. So, who's correct? Will the true heirs of the Nazi ideology please stand up?

Because hubris led to their destruction several decades ago, it is a bit difficult reaching anyone at thousand-years-Reich headquarters for comment. Still, countless interviews with, and accounts of, actual Nazis are extant and readily available. It is possible — indeed, vitally necessary — to take note of how their mentality overlaps with the issues of our own day. In the spirit of the civility, fairness, and transparency urged upon us by the current administration, then, let's take a moment to consult the historical record about German National Socialism on certain critical points.

"When mental patients were transferred from their regular institution to the one where they would be killed," writes Dr. Fredric Wertham, author of A Sign for Cain, [1] recounting the experiment in socialized medicine that was undertaken in Germany in the early part of the twentieth century (p. 167):

    they were usually told that is was only a regular normal transfer from one hospital to another or that it was a change to a better place. Sometimes a glimpse of the truth would become known to patients, and scenes worthy of a Callot or Goya would follow. Here is such a (true) scene. . . . As the patients leave the institution to enter the buses, they are afraid, they refuse and remonstrate. Force is used by personnel, and each patient is shoved violently into a bus. A large group of bystanders has assembled. They are so moved that they break into tears. . . . Among those spectators who cried openly at this pitiful spectacle were — as the official Nazi report states — "even members of the Nazi party."

"But wait a minute," it might be objected. "Here it clearly states that people were being 'forced.' That's not what Obamacare is all about! This is the United States of America. No matter what type of legislation is passed in the end, participation will be wholly voluntary." Actually, you'll note that the patients targeted for extermination were told they were being offered a "change" for the better — but I digress.

The Holocaust didn't spring out of nowhere. Before the Jews were herded into gas chambers, the killing had begun gradually, and under another guise. In fact, at the very outset, Jewish individuals were specifically excluded from the euthanasia program on the grounds that they didn't deserve this particular "benefit." And the horrors behind the swastika didn't start with people being shoved into buses, either. Let's dig a little deeper into the genesis of the German euthanasia movement and see if it all starts sounding a little more — indeed, a little too — familiar.

"A book, 'Mission and Conscience,' (1936), written by Berlin ophthalmologist Dr. Helmut Unger, paved the way for further acceptance of euthanasia," notes Holocaust scholar Dr. William Brennan of St. Louis University, in his book Medical Holocausts (p. 80): [2]

    Its subject was mercy killing; a doctor puts an end to his wife's suffering at her request. The principled justification given was salvation from incurable suffering. This message received wide circulation in 1941, when a movie based on the book was produced. In the film version 'I Accuse,' the doctor kills his wife 'to the accompaniment of soft piano music rendered by a sympathetic colleague in an adjoining room.'

Compare this to the warning penned by James Cardinal Hickey in his 1988 book, Mary at the Foot of the Cross (p. 110-1): [3]

    The gas chambers at the end of the century will not look as terrifying as the Nazi gas chambers. . . . it will all look very clean; death in the name of tenderness will be done very efficiently, with the most modern technology; there will be a minimum of anxiety and pain; likely it will be accompanied by soothing music played in the background on compact disks!

Who can help but call to mind the smiling, sinister face of George Felos, Michael Schiavo's accomplice and attorney, gazing placidly into the cameras in Florida a few years back, and telling the world that Terri was passing away peacefully, in no pain, with her loving husband and a Teddy bear at her side? When Stage 1 of the crimes-against-humanity cancer is so easily identifiable, can Stage 2 be very far off? "Choice," so defined, is but the transitional phase between justice and tyranny; and "choice," so defined, has been with us since January 22, 1973, if not before. As Father Burtchaell [4]summarizes the work of Binding and Hoche, co-authors of the 1920 pamphlet "The Destruction of Life Devoid of Value" which has been identified as fueling the mentality behind the Holocaust, "both (authors) begin with the principle of sovereign self-determination and conclude with the destruction of innocent human beings by others" (p. 294).

More basic, however, is the issue of whether or not Obamacare actually contains what Sarah Palin courageously dubbed "death panels" in the first place. Even conservatives like Charles Krauthammer have taken her to task for this phraseology, chiding:

    Let's see if we can have a reasoned discussion about end-of-life counseling. We might start by asking Sarah Palin to leave the room. I've got nothing against her. . . .She's a remarkable political talent. But there are no 'death panels' in the Democratic health care bill, and to say that there are is to debase the debate. [5]

Krauthammer is a formidable talent in his own right, but this offhand dismissal leaves us to wonder not whether there are "death panels" in the Obamacare scheme as drafted or redacted, but whether Charles Krauthammer and others like him have any clue what a death panel was actually like in the first place. You'd think that he would be careful to find out, since he is handicapped himself and therefore among those most likely to be asked to "leave the room" on a permanent basis, so to speak. How exactly did the euthanasia movement do its unspeakable work, in the days when the blood-red flag with the broken cross on it was still flapping in the breeze?

"It has been stated that the psychiatrists were merely following a law or were being forced to obey an order," elaborates Dr. Wertham (p. 164):

    Again and again we read — as if it were a historical fact — of Hitler's secret order to exterminate those suffering from severe mental defect or disease. . . . The reality was very different. There was no law and no such order. . . . All we have is one note, not on official stationery, but on Hitler's own private paper, written in October, 1939, and predated September 1, 1939. . . . The note reads as follows:

      Reichleader Bouler and Dr. Med. Brandt

      are responsibly commissioned to extend the authority of physicians, to be designated by name, so that a mercy death may be granted to patients who according to human judgment are incurably ill according to the most critical evaluation of the state of their disease.

      (Signed) Adolf Hitler

    The note does not give the order to kill, but the power to kill (emphasis in the original). That is something very different. The physicians made use of this power extensively, ruthlessly, cruelly. The note is not a command but an assignment of authority and responsibility to a particular group of persons, namely physicians, psychiatrists, and pediatricians . . . They were responsible for their own judgments, their own decisions, their own acts. It helps us to understand the wide social ramifications of violence if we realize that from the highest echelons down, the psychiatrists acted spontaneously, without being forced.

When the proponents of Obamacare declare, then, that there will be no law commanding the deaths of the elderly, infirm, unborn, or otherwise unwanted, they are not contrasting their agenda with Hitler's. They are highlighting — unwittingly, perhaps, but incontrovertibly — a crucial comparison. When we hear that we need not concern ourselves with the nitty-gritty of Obamacare because highly-specialized experts will be designated to "iron out the details later," we ought to be alarmed, not comforted.

Another point to consider in the then-and-now analysis touches on what have come to be called "conscience rights." Those responsible for the German euthanasia program, as alluded to above, were not made to participate, or threatened with loss of livelihood or reputation as the price of refusal. "The evidence is very clear on this," Dr. Wertham insists (p. 167):

    The psychiatrists did not have to work in these hospitals; they did so voluntarily, were able to resign if they wished, and could refuse to do special tasks. . . . In this connection the statement of Dr. Hans Hefelmann, an agronomist who was a highly-placed bureaucrat in the 'euthanasia' program, is significant. He made it in the abortive 'euthanasia' trial at Limburg in 1964: 'No doctor was ever ordered to participate in the euthanasia program; they came of their own volition.' Other evidence confirms this.

The New York nurse who was recently forced to assist in an abortion procedure and had her hours curtailed for speaking up against this — to cite just one of many possible examples — was not treated with such fairness and respect. It would be totally inappropriate, then, to compare Obama to Hitler on this count. Hitler didn't constrain healthcare providers to violate their own consciences in the commission of crimes against humanity as the Obama/Pelosi coalition, and the anti-life movement generally, are aggressively attempting to do. On this score, drawing a little mustache on the President's face is absolutely slanderous — to the Führer, that is.

"That'd be a pretty subjective decision to be making," said Barack Obama, in part of his now-infamous "pacemaker" remarks. A woman had asked if, under his plan, her mother would be given the life-extending device that several doctors had declined to implant . Finally, the woman found her mother a healthcare provider who felt the patient was full of life and should be given a chance. This last doctor put in the pacemaker, and the mother is currently living happily ever after.

The de facto President, in either a lapse of judgment or a surge of brashness, actually told the truth on this occasion, informing the woman that a pain pill would have served her mother better, and that rules and standards must govern our collective decision-making. This, from the Chief Executive who put Sonia "Empathy" Sotomayor on the highest court in the land!

Where was Senator Obama when George Felos was spewing his nonsense about Terri 's interior self being "already dead," leaving her husk of a body in need of having its pointless feeding tube removed? If people who favor the implantation of pacemakers are to shun subjective evaluations of the "spirit" of a patient, shouldn't the pullers of feeding tubes be prohibited from basing their arguments on the same grounds? That they are not demonstrates an important reality. Objectivity is, for the culture of death, a mere plaything; invoked as necessary for propaganda purposes, fairness and factuality can also be cast aside at will.

In Hitler's pre-emptive rhetorical first strike, Dreams from My Father — make that, Mein Kampf [6] — the future Führer makes a curious remark. "It belongs to the genius of a great leader," he asserts (p. 118):

    to make even adversaries far removed from one another seem to belong to a single category, because in weak and uncertain characters the knowledge of having different enemies can only too readily lead to the beginning of doubt in their own right. Once the wavering mass sees itself in a struggle against too many enemies, objectivity will put in an appearance, throwing open the question whether all others are really wrong and only their own people or their own movement are in the right. And this brings about the first paralysis of their own power.

Perhaps this is why President Obama — who has already, on many counts, exhibited a contempt for objectivity that rivals Hitler's own — lumps all groups opposed to his agenda under a predetermined set of incontrovertible slurs. According to his administration, even black people and other minorities can be "racists," if only they dare to disagree with the One on any given point. His White House holds that radical Islamists, who show not the least regard for the claims of innocent human life, and Americans who in principle believe that all such life should be understood as sacred and legally protected, are both the same thing — "terrorists." Is this to keep the wavering liberal and moderate masses from committing the thought crime of — as the hippies once put it — questioning authority, now that the radical questioners have assumed the guise of authority themselves?

What we have learned from the "genius" of the "great leader" Adolf Hitler, however, is that the rejection of authentic objectivity leads — through relativism — inevitably to the imposition of a "new truth" that is murderously enforced. The members of the White Rose student resistance group, who had committed no other crime than proclaiming with perfect candor if less than perfect decorum that "every word that comes from Hitler's mouth is a lie," were apprehended on February 18, 1943, and beheaded precisely four days later. [7] So what exactly does totalitarian "truth" look like, after real objectivity has been trashed, overwritten by "empathy," and recast as something that commands assent at the edge of a guillotine?

This is what it looks like (Wertham, pp. 168-9):

    In July, 1939, several months before Hitler's note was written, a conference took place in Berlin in which the program to kill mental patients in the whole of Berlin was outlined in concrete, final form. Present and ready to participate were the regular professors . . . of the leading universities and medical schools . . . The classification of mental disorders . . . was reduced to a simple formula: those 'not worthy to live' and patients 'worthy to be helped'. . . . Questions of ethics or the juridical aspects were not even mentioned. The only questions raised by the participants at the conference were how the project could be carried through most 'practically and cheaply.' For example, the transfer of patients from their original institution to one where they were to be killed was called 'impractical' because it meant 'wasting of gasoline.' Mass graves, to be leveled later, were recommended as an economical procedure.

    The whole project is a model of the most bureaucratic mass murder in history. It functioned as follows . . . In October, 1939, the first questionnaires went out to state hospitals and other public and private institutions where mental patients, epileptics, the mentally retarded, and other handicapped persons were taken care of. Copies of each filled-out questionnaire were sent to four psychiatric experts, who indicated with a + or a — their opinion about whether the patient was to live or die. (No expert gave an opinion on questionnaires filled out for patients in his own institution, but only on those of other institutions. Therefore he had no personal knowledge of patients.) . . . (The) experts worked very hard. The same expert formed his opinion on 2,190 questionnaires in two weeks and on 258 in two days. The questionnaires with expert opinions indicated by the + or — were then sent to a chief expert, who passed the final judgment.

And so, what Adolf Hitler himself expected to be, and ordered to be, the "most critical evaluation of the state of their disease" in practice devolved into this. When Thomas Sowell, among other commentators, wonders about the quality of care that will be delivered when Obama-picked experts who have never even seen a patient are put in charge of making decisions about the patient's life or death, he needn't. We already know what it will be like, because it has all happened before.

But where, oh where, in all of Obamacare does it say that patients will be killed, or will be denied the treatment or sustenance they require to continue living? It doesn't; but then again, it doesn't say so in Hitler's note, either. Today's assignation of the "power to kill" is to be found not only in the hidden abortion agenda, but even more sweepingly in the cost-cutting measures which are advanced as the foundational reason for the legislation in the first place. Cost-cutting, in the sense of making the best possible use of limited medical resources within the life-giving moral parameters of the Judeo-Christian ethic, is a good thing. Situated in the context of an unspoken but inferable disregard for the inviolability of innocent human life, it is nothing less than a prescription for medical massacre itself.

"One painfully realizes," write Binding and Hoche, masterminds of the theory behind the Nazi Holocaust, (p. 17): [8]

    how wastefully we treat life that is precious and full of vigor and power, and how much wasted manpower, patience, and capital investment is invested at the same time to keep life not worth living alive.

When questions of "practicality and cheapness" begin to take precedence over the demands of ethics and law, when people and their leaders start to consider "wasting gasoline" as a worse offense than doing away with innocent and defenseless people, when saving money is pitted against saving lives, then a Holocaust is at hand. Sarah Palin's death panels are not directly described, but are instead completely built into Obamacare in its very raison d'etre, and no amount of cosmetic rhetorical revision can change that fact. If you put lipstick on death-dealing liberalism, it's still death-dealing liberalism. As Auschwitz survivor Anna Pawelczynska said of the concentration camp she experienced first-hand, "Of all kinds of death, the Muselman's was one of the worst." (A Muselman was an extremely starved and overworked individual who wasn't gassed, shot, or in any direct way done away with; he or she oftentimes simply sank to the ground and died in their own footsteps.) Pawelczynska continues (p. 76): [9]

From the point of view of the camp's structure and objectives, this sort of death was normal.

From the Obamacare point of view, and according to its own "structures and objectives," the premature passing of the mother who needed a pacemaker would be considered "normal" as well. But it is not normal — not unless the Godly norms according to which this nation was founded are successfully "changed" into something else.

"It is the supreme duty of a national state to grant life and livelihood only to the healthy and hereditarily sound," wrote public health director Arthur Guest, in his 1935 book The Structure of Public Health in the Third Reich. [10] Our own leaders are now telling us — once again — that our scarce medical resources are best spent on those least in need of them. This is not a new idea, nor one that any civilized society has any business toying with. The "good Germans" of the World War II era can cite, at least, the exculpatory reality that many of the ideas and programs being forced upon them had not yet been put to the test. This is not an excuse that any twenty-first-century literate American will ever be able to claim.

We must not be distracted, then, by the smooth-talking POTUS who has tried to tell us that "nobody" intends to cram an expanded version of abortion and euthanasia, already practiced in this country to an unimaginable and horrific extent, down our collective throat. Whenever you want to ascertain exactly what the Obama administration is up to, cut straight to what he and his mouthpieces are cordially insisting that "nobody" is trying to do. As Our Holy Father Benedict XVI recently pointed out: [11]

    The Nazi concentration camps, like all extermination camps, can be considered extreme examples of evil, of hell that opens on earth when man forgets God and supplants Him, usurping His right to decide what is good and evil, to give life and death. However, this sad phenomenon is unfortunately not limited to concentration camps. Rather, it is the culmination of an extensive and widespread reality, often with nebulous boundaries.

That "widespread reality" is about to spread right here, if the Tea Partiers, bloggers, radio talkers, and (Heaven help us) Republicans are not able to put a stop to it.

In the final analysis, then, we cannot entirely agree with the Irish Bishops, who wrote in their pastoral letter Human Life is Sacred in 1975 (no. 53): [12]

    But surely, with all this, we are in the world of Nazi Germany, not that of Western liberal democracy. Liberal reformers are outraged at the comparison. But it is difficult to see how it can be avoided.

What the Obama/Pelosi coalition is attempting to foist on the American people does not place us "in" the world of Nazi Germany because, in point of fact, Obamacare will numerically and ideologically outstrip the episode that took place, to civilization's everlasting shame, under the aegis of the swastika. Let us honor, then, the spirit of civility, fairness, and factuality urged upon us by the current administration. In the midst of the acrimonious debate into which the German National Socialists have been drawn in absentia, we must do our best to try to clear — on certain critical points, at least — the Nazis' relatively good name.


[1]  Wertham, Fredric, M. D. A Sign for Cain: An Exploration of Human Violence (NY: Macmillan, 1966)

[2]  Brennan, William, Ph.D. Medical Holocausts Vol. 1: Exterminative Medicine in Nazi Germany and Contemporary America (Boston: Nordlund, 1980)

[3]  Hickey, James, D.D. (San Francisco: Ignatius, 1988)

[4]  Burtchaell, James T. Rachel Weeping: The Case Against Abortion. (NY: Harper and Row, 1982)

[5]  Krauthammer, Charles. "Let's Be Honest About Death Counseling." August 21, 2009, Townhall.com

[6]  Hitler, Adolf. Mein Kampf. (Copyright renewed in 1971 by Houghton Mifflon, Boston, MA)

[7]  In Scholl, Inge. The White Rose: 1942-1943. (Middletown: Wesleyan University Press, 1970)

[8]  Binding, Karl and Alfred Hoche. The Release of the Destruction of Life Devoid of Value: Its Measure and Its Form. (Copyright renewed in 1975 by Robert L. Sassone, Santa Ana, CA)

[9]  Pawelczynska, Anna. Values and Violence in Auschwitz: A Sociological Analysis. (Berkeley: University of CA Press, 1979)

[10]  Cited in Brennan, p. 80

[11]  "Love Triumphs Over Death." Address of His Holiness Benedict XVI before praying the midday Angelus at Castel Gandolfo, August 9, 2009

[12]  "Human Life is Sacred." Pastoral Letter of the Archbishops and Bishops of Ireland to the clergy, religious, and faithful. (Dublin: Veritas Publications, 1975; St. Paul Editions 1977)

© Helen Weir


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