"Killing Nurses of the Third Reich": A Stunning Documentary about Disgusting Things
On economic pressures and ideological seduction.
This story is about gruesome seduction and gradual transitions to the previously unthinkable.
The other day, I stumbled upon a very depressing documentary called, “Caring Corrupted: the Killing Nurses of the Third Reich.” It stunned me with its simplicity.
It talked, among other things, about how a combination of economic pressures and wall-to-wall Nazi propaganda led to a situation in which many German doctors and nurses began sincerely believing in the “goodness” of “mercy killings” (of the disabled German children—whose state-directed murder came before the concentration camps—and of the mentally handicapped Germans). In fact, doctors joined the Nazi party in larger numbers than Germans of other professions.
As I was watching it, the simplicity of seduction dawned on me.
It really is easy to seduce a wobbly mind with ideas. Very easy.
The only thing that was needed for the nurses to make the transition to the horror zone was to decide that the poor suffering imbeciles had no agency. As soon as in their minds, the nurses stripped the disabled children and the mentally ill adults of their human agency and turned them into creatures akin to suffering pets, killing them became virtuous. The nurses held the disabled babies lovingly, and then killed them.
Let it sink in. They held them gently—and then killed them.
Whom do we mercy-kill in today’s society? We kill beloved pets, to end their suffering.
Somehow, I never thought about it up until I started watching this documentary—but when I did, it struck me. Emotionally, how big of a jump is it from mercy-killing a pet to mercy-killing a person whom we don’t perceive as a person with agency?
Let’s focus on pets for a second, for the sake of an unpleasant but intellectually fearless thought experiment.
Imagine the life of a cherished pet in a well-off family. The pet is well-fed and perhaps medicated. Lots of toys, lots of food, no balls, no freedom, no sex life. Love through the roof. No balls but sincere love through the roof. (What is love?)
And then, one day, if the pet is in too much pain, the owner takes the pet to the vet and orders a killing. He cries, he holds the pet lovingly, chocking with tears of loss—and then orders a killing.
Why is that okay? It’s okay because the owner is authorized by the culture to make that decision. The pet is not human. Meanwhile, the pet trusts the owner and probably has no expectation of murder.
Again, what is love?
Now the most striking part: See how fast we arrived at a place where murder is merciful? See how easy that was?
And here we are.
Now let’s ponder a different topic.
Last year, hundreds of thousands of elders were locked up like prisoners inside the nursing homes—and God only knows what was happening there since the children weren’t allowed inside.
I suppose, a perfectly normal development, especially when combined with forcing elders with COVID into the very facilities where other elders were locked up to “protect them from COVID,” and using sedatives generously.
There were no protests. At most, an occasional video of a funny old desperate lady begging for rescue, and an occasional video of a less funny old lady crying and grabbing the plastic curtain, and her daughter begging to not roll the old mother away… and they roll her away none the less…
All perfectly normal developments.
But then we all went though a lot. We forgot…
We are now a society in which it’s acceptable to do it to elders.
See how easy it was?
In addition to stripping the elders of their human agency, we are also masking the toddlers, “to protect them” as well.
We are now a society in which it is acceptable to mandate oxygen deprivation for toddlers—never mind their developing brains and their parents’ opinions.
State officials are saying it’s virtuous—so it’s must be, and we must accept it.
See how easy it was to normalize total mindless obedience, and even fanaticism?
I would like to end with a tangential reference to Ezekiel Emmanuel, a member of Biden’s COVID-19 Advisory Board. In 2014, he wrote a bizarre article in the Atlantic, in which he talked about the advantages of stopping to live at the age of 75. (See also this Newsweek critique).
I know, I know, he then clarified that he meant it all nicely, so it’s not creepy at all. We can trust him.
In all honesty through, this is creepy. And yes, there is an antidote. I believe that the antidote is being completely in touch with our senses and realizing that the history is still going on. Life is precious, and our humanity is very much worth fighting for.
We have agency.
We have always had agency.
We have it right now, and we can use it, for life.
My little brother Peter was born in 1954 in Toronto. He was immediately taken away and for two days the nurses and doctors wouldn't let my mother see him, nor would they say why. Eventually my mother insisted they bring her baby to her. Peter had Downs Syndrome and other complications. They had withheld care from him in the hopes that he would die. He lived 52 years. He had a beautiful heart and he helped our whole family see the world in a more caring way.
Hey Tessa, I just shared this in my new Substack post. https://charleseisenstein.substack.com/p/some-stuff-im-reading