Even before the rise of Adolf Hitler's Third Reich, the way for the gruesome Nazi Holocaust of human extermination and cruel butchery was being prepared in the 1930 German Weimar Republic through the medical establishment and philosophical elite's adoption of the "quality of life" concept in place of the "sanctity of life."
The Nuremberg trials, exposing the horrible Nazi war crimes, revealed that Germany's trend toward atrocity began with their progressive embrace of the Hegelian doctrine of "rational utility," where an individual's worth is in relation to their contribution to the state, rather than determined in light of traditional moral, ethical and religious values.
This gradual transformation of national public opinion, promulgated through media and education, was described in an article written by the British commentator Malcolm Muggeridge entitled "The Humane Holocaust" and in an article written by former United States Surgeon General, C. Everett Koop, M.D., entitled "The Slide to Auschwitz," both published in The Human Life Review, 1977 and 1980 respectively.
Muggeridge stated: "Near at hand, we have been accorded, for those that have eyes to see, an object lesson in what the quest for 'quality of life' without reference to 'sanctity of life' can involve ... [namely] the great Nazi Holocaust, whose TV presentation has lately been harrowing viewers throughout the Western world. In this televised version, an essential consideration has been left out -- namely, that the origins of the Holocaust lay, not in Nazi terrorism and anti-Semitism, but in pre-Nazi Weimar Germany's acceptance of euthanasia and mercy-killing as humane and estimable. ...
"It took no more than three decades to transform a war crime into an act of compassion, thereby enabling the victors in the war against Nazism to adopt the very practices for which the Nazis had been solemnly condemned at Nuremberg."
The transformation followed thus: The concept that the elderly and terminally ill should have the right to die was promoted in books, newspapers, literature and even entertainment films, the most popular of which were entitled "Ich klage an (I accuse)" and "Mentally Ill."
One euthanasia movie, based on a novel by a National Socialist doctor, actually won a prize at the world-famous Venice Film Festival! Extreme hardship cases were cited, which increasingly convinced the public to morally approve of euthanasia. The medical profession gradually grew accustomed to administering death to patients who, for whatever reasons, felt their low "quality of life" rendered their lives not worth living, or as it was put, lebensunwerten Lebens, (life unworthy of life).
In an Associated Press release published in the New York Times Oct. 10, 1933, entitled "Nazi Plan to Kill Incurables to End Pain; German Religious Groups Oppose Move," it was stated: "The Ministry of Justice, in a detailed memorandum explaining the Nazi aims regarding the German penal code, today announced its intentions to authorize physicians to end the sufferings of the incurable patient. The memorandum ... proposed that it shall be possible for physicians to end the tortures of incurable patients, upon request, in the interest of true humanity.
"This proposed legal recognition of euthanasia -- the act of providing a painless and peaceful death -- raised a number of fundamental problems of a religious, scientific and legal nature. The Catholic newspaper Germania hastened to observe: 'The Catholic faith binds the conscience of its followers not to accept this method.' ... In Lutheran circles, too, life is regarded as something that God alone can take. ... Euthanasia ... has become a widely discussed word in the Reich. ... No life still valuable to the State will be wantonly destroyed."
Nationalized health care and government involvement in medical care promised to improve the public's "quality of life." Unfortunately, the cost of maintaining government medical care was a contributing factor to the growth of the national debt, which reached astronomical proportions. Double and triple digit inflation crippled the economy, resulting in the public demanding that government cut expenses.
This precipitated the 1939 order to cut federal expenses. The national socialist government decided to remove "useless" expenses from the budget, which included the support and medical costs required to maintain the lives of the retarded, insane, senile, epileptic, psychiatric patients, handicapped, deaf, blind, the non-rehabilitatable ill and those who had been diseased or chronically ill for five years or more. It was labeled an "act of mercy" to "liberate them through death," as they were viewed as having an extremely low "quality of life," as well as being a tax burden on the public.
The public psyche was conditioned for this, as even school math problems compared distorted medical costs incurred by the taxpayer of caring for and rehabilitating the chronically sick with the cost of loans to newly married couples for new housing units.
The next whose lives were terminated by the state were the institutionalized elderly who had no relatives and no financial resources. These lonely, forsaken individuals were needed by no one and would be missed by no one. Their "quality of life" was considered low by everyone's standards, and they were a tremendous tax burden on the economically distressed state.
The next to be eliminated were the parasites on the state: the street people, bums, beggars, hopelessly poor, gypsies, prisoners, inmates and convicts. These were socially disturbing individuals incapable of providing for themselves whose "quality of life" was considered by the public as irreversibly below standard, in addition to the fact that they were a nuisance to society and a seed-bed for crime.
The liquidation grew to include those who had been unable to work, the socially unproductive and those living on welfare or government pensions. They drew financial support from the state, but contributed nothing financially back. They were looked upon as "useless eaters," leeches, stealing from those who worked hard to pay the taxes to support them. Their unproductive lives were a burden on the "quality of life" of those who had to pay the taxes.
The next to be eradicated were the ideologically unwanted, the political enemies of the state, religious extremists and those "disloyal" individuals considered to be holding the government back from producing a society which functions well and provides everyone a better "quality of life." The moving biography of the imprisoned Dietrich Bonhoffer chronicled the injustices. These individuals also were a source of "human experimental material," allowing military medical research to be carried on with human tissue, thus providing valuable information that promised to improve the nation's health.
Finally, justifying their actions on the purported theory of evolution, the Nazis considered the German, or "Aryan," race as "ubermenschen," supermen, being more advanced in the supposed progress of human evolution. This resulted in the twisted conclusion that all other races, and in particular the Jewish race, were less evolved and needed to be eliminated from the so-called "human gene pool," ensuring that future generations of humans would have a higher "quality of life."
Dr. Koop stated: "The first step is followed by the second step. You can say that if the first step is moral then whatever follows must be moral. The important thing, however, is this: Whether you diagnose the first step as being one worth taking or being one that is precarious rests entirely on what the second step is likely to be. ... I am concerned about this because when the first 273,000 German aged, infirm and retarded were killed in gas chambers there was no outcry from that medical profession either, and it was not far from there to Auschwitz."
Can this holocaust happen in America? Indeed, it has already begun. The idea of killing a person and calling it "death with dignity" is an oxymoron. The "mercy-killing" movement puts us on the same path as pre-Nazi Germany. The "quality of life" concept, which eventually results in the Hegelian utilitarian attitude of a person's worth being based on their contribution toward perpetuating big government, is in stark contrast to America's founding principles.
This philosophy which lowers the value of human life, shocked attendees at the Governor's Commission on Disability, in Concord, N.H., Oct. 5, 2001, as they heard the absurd comments of Princeton University professor Peter Singer.
The Associated Press reported Singer's comments: "I do think that it is sometimes appropriate to kill a human infant," he said, adding that he does not believe a newborn has a right to life until it reaches some minimum level of consciousness. "For me, the relevant question is, what makes it so seriously wrong to take a life?" Singer asked. "Those of you who are not vegetarians are responsible for taking a life every time you eat. Species is no more relevant than race in making these judgments."
Singer's views, if left unchecked, could easily lead to a repeat of the atrocities of Nazi Germany, if not something worse. Add to that unbridled advances in the technology of cloning, DNA tests that reveal physical defects, human embryos killed for the purpose of gathering stem cells to treat diseases ... and a haunting future unfolds before us. President Theodore Roosevelt's warning in 1909 seems appropriate:
"Progress has brought us both unbounded opportunities and unbridled difficulties. Thus, the measure of our civilization will not be that we have done much, but what we have done with that much. I believe that the next half century will determine if we will advance the cause of Christian civilization or revert to the horrors of brutal paganism. The thought of modern industry in the hands of Christian charity is a dream worth dreaming. The thought of industry in the hands of paganism is a nightmare beyond imagining. The choice between the two is upon us."
In his State of the Union address in 1905, Roosevelt stated:
"There are those who believe that a new modernity demands a new morality. What they fail to consider is the harsh reality that there is no such thing as a new morality. There is only one morality. All else is immorality. There is only true Christian ethics over against which stands the whole of paganism. If we are to fulfill our great destiny as a people, then we must return to the old morality, the sole morality. ... All these blatant sham reformers, in the name of a new morality, preach the old vice of self-indulgence which rotted out first the moral fiber and then even the external greatness of Greece and Rome."
In biblical comparison, Jesus showed mercy by healing the sick and giving sanity back to the deranged, but never did he kill them. This attitude is exemplified today by Mother Teresa of Calcutta, whose version of "death with dignity" was to gather the dying from off the street and show compassion to these rejected and abandoned members of the human race, all the while knowing that they may only survive for another half hour. Her "mercy-living" movement went to great trouble to house, wash and feed even the most hopeless and derelict, because of inherent respect for the "sanctity of life" of each individual.
This attitude is summed up in her statement: "I see Jesus in every human being. I say to myself, this is hungry Jesus, I must feed him. This is sick Jesus. This one has leprosy or gangrene; I must wash him and tend to him. I serve because I love Jesus."
Will America chose the "sanctity of life" concept as demonstrated by Mother Teresa, or will America chose the "quality of life" concept championed by self-proclaimed doctors of death -- such as in the case of the court-ordered starvation of Terri Schiavo -- and continue its slide toward Auschwitz? What kind of subtle anesthetic has been allowed to deaden our national conscience? What horrors await us? The question is not whether the suffering and dying person's life should be terminated; the question is what kind of nation will we become if they are. Their physical death is preceded only by our moral death.