‘The Killing Nurses of the Third Reich’

The perversion of medical ethics that characterised the Third Reich is painful to comprehend in both its scope and form.  From initially murdering children with disabilities, participating doctors and nurses moved on to the involuntary euthanisation of adults with mental illnesses and learning disabilities.

Although generally selected by physicians, the actual killings were normally carried out by nurses, either by passive (exposing patients to prolonged cold) or active (lethal injection) means. Why did the nurses carry out these killings? The answers are complex, deeply disturbing and instructive.

Cizik School of Nursing has created a 56-minute documentary entitled ‘Caring Corrupted: the Killing Nurses of the Third Reich’. The film explores how nurses participated in the Holocaust, and in-so-doing abrogating their professional ethics at the behest of a corrupt Nazi ideology.

Perhaps the most chilling aspect of this historical reality is how easily those ethics were sidelined and debased. It provides a powerful reminder of what can occur when an entire society is gripped by an evil ideology which becomes normalised over time. As such, it is a warning to us all in general, and to those in the caring professions in particular.

You can watch this excellent film here:


One thought on “‘The Killing Nurses of the Third Reich’

  1. It would be so easy to blame Them’uns. Sadly, we are all capable of such cruelty. Indeed we choose to ignore a lot of pain and wrongs in the world today. We excuse it by saying “I don’t want to get involved. I’m not political. I will pray for them. One side is as bad as the other. Well, Them’uns started it” or the suchlike. The really difficult issue is what could make ME do the things that those nurses of death did. They were ordinary people. Basically good people. God’s people. They became acclimatized to it. I personally became acclimatized to what the so-called forces of law and order did here in Ireland plus the forces and paramilitaries on all sides in the so-called Troubles. The collusion and dirty tricks just made more of a mess. It is only those who feel the same at every death have clean hands. And I don’t believe that is more than 2 or 3% of the population, maybe much, much less.
    There is always an excuse or understanding for “my side”. None or little for the other, whatever the conflict. The treatment of Palestinians in Israel and Palestine is another example. There is no equality of suffering, of pain, of loss of dignity but we keep quiet because of the consequences of speaking out and getting labelled. Sometimes to acknowledge the truth is unacceptable. As it was in Fascist Germany, Fascist Italy, Fascist Ireland, Communist Russia, etc.
    So the Poetry of Pain & Perspective is that each of us must look inwards and that really does cause pain. Only after that can we look outwards. I’m afraid I am not qualified to condemn those Nazi nurses. I do of course condemn their actions. Merton does cause me to question. Not to answer, but to question.


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