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December 27, 1995

The Origins of Nazi Genocide: From Euthanasia to the Final Solution

Author Affiliations

University of Cologne Institute of Genetics Cologne, Germany

JAMA. 1995;274(24):1969. doi:10.1001/jama.1995.03530240079050

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Is it possible to present novel views and materials on the origins of the German mass murder of the Jews? Henry Friedlander, a historian at the Brooklyn College of the City University of New York and a survivor of Auschwitz whose mother was murdered there, succeeds in doing so in his recent book.

His view in brief is that the violent antisemitism of the Nazis in Germany fused with eugenic ideas held by the international and German medical and genetical professions. The Jews were the most important of three well-defined larger groups that were excluded from German society. Friedlander concentrates on the handicapped (the feebleminded and long-term psychiatric patients such as schizophrenics and manic-depressives) and the Gypsies. First, all rights were taken from the members of each group. Then they were imprisoned, sterilized, and murdered.

In 1933 the exclusion of the handicapped and the Gypsies had already proceeded a long

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