Irving v. Lipstadt

Defense Documents

David Irving, Hitler and Holocaust Denial: Electronic Edition, by Richard J. Evans

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(xii) Suppression of relevant information: Karl Brandt

1. Karl Brandt [1904-1948] was personal physician to Hitler and his staff [Begleitartzt]. From 1934 onwards he was a permanent member of Hitler's Obersalzberg social circle. He was given the rank of major general in the Waffen-SS and, despite his limited experience, was appointed Reich Commissioner for Health and Sanitation in July 1942; a position strengthened by decrees dated 5 September 1943 and 25 August 1944. As the Nuremberg court which tried him commented, Brandt's appointment and Hitler's decrees 'disclose his [Hitler's] great reliance upon Karl   Brandt and the high degree of personal and professional confidence which Hitler reposed in him.'234
2. In October 1939 (back-dated to 1 September 1939) Hitler empowered Brandt and the Reich Leader [Reichsleiter] Philipp Bouhler of the Führer Chancellery to take the necessary steps to start the 'euthanasia' action, or in other words, the mass murder by gassing, later by starvation and lethal injection, of up to 200,00 mentally and physically handicapped men, women, and children.
Reich Leader Bouhler and Dr. Brandt are charged with the responsibility for expanding the authority of physicians, to be designated by name, to the end that patients considered incurable according to best available judgement of their state of health, can be granted a mercy death.235
3. The backdating is usually attributed to Hitler's belief that a direct connection with the outbreak of war would render the German population more amenable to the project. Brandt recalled that in 1935 Hitler had told Wagner, the Reich Doctors' leader,
that if war should break out, he would take up the euthanasia question and implement it [...] because the Führer was of the opinion that such a problem would be easier and smoother to carry out in wartime, since the public resistance which one would expect from the churches would not play such a prominent role amidst the events of wartime as it otherwise would.236
4. There was also a deeper psychological relationship between euthanasia and war. As Dr. Pfannmüller put it 'The idea is unbearable to me that the best, the flower of our youth must lose its life at the front in order that feebleminded and irresponsible asocial elements can have a secure existence in the asylum.'237
5. In choosing his own escort physician and close confidant Dr. Brandt to supervise the programme Hitler demonstrated his trust in him and simultaneously his desire to bypass the state apparatus while retaining some measure of legal procedure and fiscal accountability. Brandt's involvement in this programme of mass murder was central. Even after the cessation of the euthanasia action Brandt had ample knowledge of the concentration camps and the murder and cruelty committed in them. There exist a number of documents linking Brandt to the pseudo-medical human experimentation that fed off the death camps.238 These experiments were only facilitated by the certain death that ultimately awaited the camp inmates. For instance Reichsarzt - SS und Polizei Dr. Ernst Robert Grawitz, who was involved in the sterilisation experiments in Auschwitz and Ravensbrück, wrote to Himmler on the 1 June 1943 confirming that '8 prisoners condemned to death, preferably of a young age, be placed at disposal' from Sachsenhausen, for a Dr. Dohmen to undertake experiments as required by Dr. Brandt.239 Besides being found guilty for the euthanasia action after the war, Brandt was declared culpable for various human experiments on concentration camp inmates: sulfanilamide experiments at Ravensbrück concentration camp; epidemic jaundice experiments   at Sachsenhausen concentration camp; mustard gas experiments at Natzweiler concentration camp; and freezing, malaria, bone muscle and nerve regeneration and bone transplantation, sea water, sterilization and typhus experiments Karl Brandt was sentenced to death by the Nuremberg Military Tribunal and executed aftr the war.240 Here was one member of Hitler's close entourage who did not just know about mass murder, but was a perpetrator of it on a considerable scale. Even Irving admits his close involvement in the 'euthanasia' programme, and notes that he was a member of Hitler's entourage until September 1944.241


234. Trials of War Criminals before the Nuremberg Military Tribunals under Control Council Law No. 10, vol. 10, 'The Medical Case' (n.d., Washington), p. 190.
235. Ermächtigungsschreiben dated 1 September 1939, document 209, in Jochen-Christoph Kaiser, Kurt Nowak and Michael Schwartz, Eugenik, Sterilisation, "Euthanasie". Politische Biologie in Deutschland 1895-1945 Eine Dokumentation (Berlin, 1992), p. 253.
236. Quoted in Burleigh, p. 97.
237. Quoted in Robert Jay Lifton, The Nazi Doctors. Medical Killing and the Psychology of Genocide (London., 1986), p. 64.
238. Ernst Klee, Auschwitz, die NS-Medizin und ihre Opfer (Frankfurt am Main, 1997).
239. Der Nürenberger Aärzteprozeß und seine Quellen. Eine Dokumentation von Alexander Mitscherlich und Fred Mielke (Heidelberg, 1947), p. 69.
240. See 'The Medical Case', pp. 193-198. 'Trials of War Criminals before the Nuremberg Military Tribunals under Control Council Law No. 10, Vol. II: The Medical Case (Washington, n. d.), pp. 189-98.'
241. Irving, Hitler's War (1991 ed.) pp. 227-9, 695-6, 788.
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