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Gazzetta Medica Italiana Archivio per le Scienze Mediche 2013 May;172(5):423-31

Copyright © 2013 EDIZIONI MINERVA MEDICA

language: English, Italian

When scientific theories and economics influence the law: the horrifying story of the Holocaust of the disabled

Fioranelli M. 1, Roccia M. G. 1, Piccoli M. 2

1 Università Guglielmo Marconi, Rome, Italy; 2 Unit of Cardiology L. di Liegro Gereneral Hospital, Rome, Italy


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Towards the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the 20th, a growing number of scholars were denouncing the decline in births in Germany and perceived a biological deterioration of the population. Many doctors and academics, who were advocates of racial hygiene and eugenics, justified and aided the Nazi regime in eliminating people who were considered to be biological risks and an unsustainable economic weight for the nation from German society. These scientific theories justified one of the most horrifying events in 20th century history: the extermination of the mentally ill and the disabled in general, perpetrated with the bureaucratic savagery of the Nazis. However, the Nazis were only the executors of a genocide to which various members of civil society had contributed: intellectuals, scientists, Nobel Prize winners, the medical and legal professions, and ordinary citizens. Discriminating against human beings on the basis of the concept of health and productivity is a historical defeat fraught with risks for everyone, even for those who today boast of being “healthy”.

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