|LIFE UNWORTHY OF LIFE: THE
|least indirect professional and psychiatric support for
other psychiatrists efforts at resistance, however partial.5*
A psychiatrist for whom
Bonhoeffers influence was said to be crucial was Professor Hans Gerhard
Creutzfeldt of Kiel. One of just two members of the medical faculty who did not
join the Nazi Party, Creutzfeldt was somewhat protected by his academic dean,
who discreetly let him know how far he could go in his anti-Nazi stance.
Creutzfeldt went farther than most, and is said to have managed to protect most
or all of the patients in his institution from the project. One psychiatrist
told me that Creutzfeldt was known to have attacked euthanasia
during his lectures, declaring, They are murderers! and was able to
get away with it because the Nazis thought him very eccentric or even a
little mad. Close relatives I interviewed doubted that he would
have been able to say such things directly. In any case, he was perceived as
being capable of uttering that truth.
Certain Medical Objections :
Just one psychiatrist Professor Gottfried
Ewald of Göttingen, openly opposed the medical-killing project. (But see
the footnote on page 87 and pages 88-89.) Ewald had sufficient standing with
the regime to be invited to become a leader in the medical killing project,
sufficient personal and professional humanitarianism to refuse for reasons of
principle, and sufficient courage to distribute his extensive critique of the
program to high medical authorities.
At a planning meeting called by
Werner Heyde, on 15 August 1940, to enlist prominent psychiatrists, Ewald
refused to participate in the project and was asked to leave. He remembered
Heyde presiding at a long table, explaining that the
euthanizing must continue because, even though hospital beds
were no longer urgently needed by the military, the institutions still had to
be freed of patients, since one does not know what is going
to happen. It would be the task of the assembled psychiatric leaders to
become experts or senior experts, which meant rendering
judgments on whether patients were to be euthanized (euthanisiert).
Heyde reported that there were plans to expand the program to senile and
tubercular patients, and that Hitler was about to sign a law (whose text could
be seen in the next room) that would provide "judicial security."7
* It must be said that
Bonhoeffer originally favored sterilization and, moreover, did not take a
strong stand against the Nazification of German universities, as he later had
the candor to admit (Unfortunately, neither I nor any of the other
professors had the courage to get up and walk out in protest against the
insulting attitude adopted by the Minister [for education and cultural affairs,
Bernhard Rust] towards the academic profession).6 He did, however, struggle to maintain an
atmosphere of decency and balanced professional work in his department.
Creutzfeldt later played a central role in exposing Werner Heyde
and bringing him to trial (see page 119).
This text if
there actually was one could have been the draft for such a law which,
as we know, was never implemented.