Skokie, Ill. — In the 1930s and 1940s, hundreds of German medical professionals took part in a euthanasia program that targeted children younger than 3 years old with severe birth defects. Doctors and midwives were required to report such cases, and parents were told that advanced care could be given to children at 30 special pediatric wards around Germany.
Instead, the children were murdered, usually with sedatives. Physicians drew up falsified death certificates, and parents were told their children died of natural causes such as pneumonia. An estimated 5,000 children fell victim to physicians and other medical professionals who went from healers to killers.
These actions were far from the exception in Nazi Germany, said experts at a recent lecture on this ghastly chapter in medical history.
The misguided scientific ideas of physicians and scientists were integral to Nazis’ crimes against humanity and should serve as a reminder to doctors to put patients before political ideology, they said.