Selling Murder: The Killing Films of the Third Reich

Noted British historian Michael Burleigh won the British Film Institute Award for Archival Achievement for scripting this Channel 4/Domino Films documentary Selling Murder: The Killing Films of the Third Reich, the single most important film about the Nazi’s Aktion T-4 euthanasia program. It shows exactly how the Nazis marginalized people with disabilities and mental illnesses by making them less and less until it became acceptable to exterminate them.

Between 1939 and 1945 the Nazis systematically murdered as many as 200,000 mentally ill or physically disabled people whom they stigmatised as ‘life unworthy of life’.

The eugenics movement was well established in the United States, it was spread to Germany. Eugenicists began producing literature promoting eugenics and sterilization and sending it overseas to German scientists and medical professionals. By 1933, California had subjected more people to forceful sterilization than all other U.S. states combined. The forced sterilization program engineered by the Nazis was partly inspired by California’s example.

In 1927, the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Anthropology (KWIA), an organization which concentrated on physical and social anthropology as well as human genetics, was founded in Berlin with significant financial support from the American philanthropic group, the Rockefeller Foundation. German professor of medicine, anthropology and eugenics Eugen Fischer was the director of this organization, a man whose work helped provide the scientific basis for the Nazis’ eugenics policies. The Rockefeller Foundation even funded some of the research conducted by Dr. Josef Mengele (the Angel of Death) before he went to Auschwitz.

Michael Burleigh, Death and Deliverance: ‘Euthanasia’ in Germany, c.1900 to 1945

Michael Burleigh, The Racial State 

James Q. Whitman, Hitler’s American Model: The United States and the Making of Nazi Race Law

Stefan Kühl, The Nazi Connection: Eugenics, American Racism, and German National Socialism


2:27 am on August 14, 2019

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