Was Hitler castrated Why or why not

Forced sterilization in the Third Reich

Marie Stephan, born in Silesia in 1906, came to Dresden in the mid-1920s, where she met her husband Alfred Lange. The couple had two daughters. In 1934, Marie showed the first signs of schizophrenia. With this clinical picture, she was admitted to the Pirna-Sonnenstein sanatorium a year later. Only a few months later, the institution's management applied for her patient to be sterilized.

Bad grades as an indication of "innate nonsense"

Marie Lange, née Stephan, was one of around 350,000 to 400,000 people who were considered "hereditary diseases" and who were forcibly sterilized during the Nazi era. Hereditary illnesses included those who had mental disabilities. Depression, schizophrenia, and intellectual disabilities were on the list. Even those who got bad grades in school were quickly suspected of being an "idiot" or suffering from "innate nonsense". Anyone who deviated from the "norm" as defined by National Socialist racial hygiene ran the risk of becoming a victim of forced sterilization from 1934 onwards. No matter whether man or woman.

Target group: people outside the sanatorium

"The main goal of forced sterilization - and this is often underestimated - was people outside the sanatorium who had access to the opposite sex," explains Boris Böhm, director of the Pirna-Sonnenstein Memorial. “Those who were already living in the institutions often no longer needed to be sterilized. Here men and women were separated. But how did doctors get access to people in public life?

Anyone with a hereditary disease can be made sterile (sterilized) by surgical intervention if, according to the experience of medical science, it is to be expected with a high degree of probability that offspring will suffer from severe physical or mental hereditary defects.

Law for the Prevention of Hereditary Offspring of July 14, 1934

The National Socialists made use of an already existing care system for the mentally ill. "There were exemplary social care agencies in Saxony and in large cities like Berlin that were initiated by the SPD during the Weimar Republic," says Böhm. Actually, they were founded to help sick people. In the Third Reich they are, so to speak, misused. "The National Socialists took advantage of this and picked up the data from the authorities," said Böhm. An expert opinion was drawn up on the basis of the medical records. Often this happened without a personal introduction from the patient. Doctors, psychiatrists and lawyers decided in the hereditary health courts set up specifically for this purpose whether the "prerequisites for sterility" were met or not.

1. congenital imbecility
2. manic-depressive insanity
3. Schizophrenia
4. Epilepsy
5. Huntington's disease
6. Hereditary blindness
7. Hereditary deafness
8. severe hereditary physical deformity.

Those who refuse will be picked up by the police

Marie Lange agreed to the sterilization voluntarily, because she hoped not to come back to the sanatorium afterwards. "Those who refused, however, were picked up by the police and forcibly sterilized," said Boris Böhm. The sterilization was carried out surgically, later also with the help of X-rays. And not in the institutions, but in ordinary hospitals. Marie had the operation on April 8, 1936 in the Pirna City Hospital. After staying for almost two weeks, she was released home.

Propaganda work: films, posters, letters to schools

The sterilization campaign was accompanied by a large-scale propaganda campaign. In order to get to victims faster, letters were sent to schools, authorities and other institutions that work a lot with people. In it the management and the staff were obliged to "report" hereditary illnesses.

The basic idea comes from the Weimar Republic

The sterilization of people who did not conform to social norms was discussed as early as the Weimar Republic. In 1920 a brochure was published with the title "The release of the destruction of life unworthy of life". The 62-page document was published by the pastor's son and psychiatrist Alfred E. Hoche and the Leipzig law professor Karl Binding. The two scientists write of "empty human shells", "ballast existences" and "spiritual dead". The National Socialists later adopted these terms.

Protest in the population grew from 1936

Between 1934 and 1936, nearly 17,000 people were rendered medically sterile. An amendment to the law in 1935 also made it possible to carry out abortions up to the sixth month if there was a "eugenic indication". But despite massive propaganda, the population grumbled. The topic was therefore banned from the public after 1936. People should be reassured. "Basically every family in the German Reich was affected by such a measure in some way," said Böhm.

Particular harshness and brutality in Saxony

But the forced sterilization continued - and even expanded. Saxony, in particular, showed a harshness and intensity with regard to the procedure that was not to be found anywhere else in the German Empire. "From sterilization to euthanasia, measures were implemented with particular brutality and, above all, earlier than in other federal states," said the director of the memorial site Böhm. "It was very stringent and very hard-hearted."

Medical staff as vicarious agents

In addition to protests in the population, there were also medical staff who refused the forced sterilization. Böhm reports that there was opposition and refusal, especially in the Catholic territories of the empire - the Rhineland or Bavaria. "But it was an imperial law that called for the participation of doctors and other staff," said the historian. "They were vicarious agents. And that it was an injustice law was only recognized by the German Bundestag in 2007."

Euthanasia murders from 1939

The forced sterilization was a preliminary stage of the later euthanasia murders, says Böhm. "The continuous state-official defamation and degradation of people with disabilities created spaces of opportunity that resulted in open murder from 1939 onwards."

That was also the case with Marie Lange. After she was released from the Pirna District Hospital, it was less than six weeks before she was re-admitted. Around four years later, on November 27, 1940, she was murdered in the gas chamber in Pirna-Sonnenstein.


TV | 03/23/2018 | 7:00 p.m.