A brief documentary examining the roots of Nazi racial hatred in worldwide eugenics theory, and the complicity of the German medical profession in the Holocaust. Spanning everything from the medical pioneers of the Weimar regime and contemporaneous American race relations to the post-war
trials of Nazi doctors, the film races somewhat cursorily over a lot of ground in a scant 54 minutes.
Seeing itself as a living body requiring healing, Germany in the early 1930s mobilized its doctors to begin curing society of its undesirables. Emulating eugenics theory (and practice) from the United States, where the KKK was at the height of its power and xenophobia spawned immigration quotas,
Hitler instigated a racial hygiene policy whereby the physically and mentally handicapped or asocial were sterilized, thereby controlling evolution. Soon the policy spread to include supposedly inferior races, characteristics, lifestyles: gypsies, Jews, Africans, alcoholics, homosexuals. The next
step was euthanasia, the elimination of "lives unworth living," leading directly to the death camps, where humans became guinea pigs in brutal experimentation. All of which was implemented and overseen with the participation of compliant doctors, 23 of whom went on trial in 1946 Nuremberg for
crimes against humanity. Sixteen were found guilty, death sentences were handed out, but by 1967 all were free.
A somewhat routine look at a compelling topic, the documentary utilizes clips from the American-made euthanasia primer "Tomorrow's Children" and the pre-war German propaganda film ERB KRANK (shown in US schools) to contextualize the roots of the Holocaust. With enforced sterilization going on in
Lynchburg, Virginia, a precedent was set for the "mercy killings" of the suffering and undesirable at Hadamar in Germany. And with death by starvation for the mentally retarded too slow and inefficient, doctors got to work planning more streamlined, larger scale methods of elimination.
Close to 50 percent of German doctors were members of the Nazi party, the documentary informs. Doctors suggested Zyklon-B as a practical method of mass murder; a doctor was required to oversee each gassing, and check the victims to make sure they were effectively murdered. With graphic, unsettling
footage of the victims, the documentary serves as an indictment of an oft-overlooked component of the Nazi nightmare: those supposed physicians who put the will of the state above the rights of individuals, becoming torturers and exterminators instead of healers. (Nudity, adult situations.)
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- Released: 1997
- Rating: NR
- Review: A brief documentary examining the roots of Nazi racial hatred in worldwide eugenics theory, and the complicity of the German medical profession in the Holocaust. Spanning everything from the medical pioneers of the Weimar regime and contemporaneous America… (more)