Daily Archives: May 4, 2009

Speaker explains Nazi euthanasia, beginnings of eugenics

The Vista | Apr 30, 2009

By Caleb Williams, Staff Writer

The Nazi euthanasia programs, which used starvation, gas chambers and Phenobarbital overdoses to kill its victims, grew out of the pseudoscience of eugenics that did not come from Germany, but largely the United States.

Dr. Susan Benedict, from the University of Botswana, spoke Tuesday about the “steps to the final solution” in the Third Reich, and specifically about the sterilization and euthanasia programs that led to the death or concentration camps usually associated with the Holocaust.

“The handicapped were not only devalued but stigmatized greatly,” Benedict said. “So, more than 350,000 people were sterilized in Germany.”

In addition to sterilization models that were actually narrower in Germany than in the United States, Benedict described Commander of the Nazi Party Adolph Hitler’s plans to begin euthanasia in the event of war.

“He planned for it to coincide with war because people would be distracted by the war effort,” Benedict said, “and people would see the need to divert money away from institutionalized patients to soldiers in the war effort.”

Benedict said in his book “Mein Kampf,” Hitler wrote of eugenics: “People who are physically and mentally unhealthy or unworthy must not perpetuate the suffering on their children.”

After a few technical difficulties with her projector, Benedict showed some examples of the propaganda used by the Nazis to “socialize the people into expecting not only sterilization, but eventually euthanasia.”

One example Benedict showed was a math problem from a high school textbook that asked students to calculate how many houses could be built for the same amount of money that was used to build an institution, while another showed a strong Aryan German man holding up two deformed people.

“The right to live must be earned,” Benedict quoted from a written by a lawyer and a physician during this time.

“Destroying lives not worth living would be humane, and the elimination of these lives was not a crime, but was permissible and even beneficial,” Benedict said of the book’s themes.

After the German invasion of Poland in 1939, Hitler began three phases of killing as part of his eugenics campaign.

The first, a children’s euthanasia program, began with a written request from the father of a deformed child to the Chancellor.

“From 1939 to 1945, between five and seven thousand children were killed,” Benedict said, adding that midwives who reported children with afflictions received an 80-cent bonus.

Parents were tricked into relinquishing their children, Benedict said, by nurses who promised excellent care for their children and a chance to “be able to go back to work.”

“After the children were admitted, they basically were starved to death,” Benedict said. “They would cut down their food until the children went into a coma. They would then notify the parents by mail that ‘your child died yesterday, but we had to go ahead and cremate your child because there was a hazard of contagious disease’” Benedict said. “The parents had no way of investigating.”

After the children’s euthanasia program, Germany instituted the T4 program – a similar program for adults.

Patients at the six killing centers were euthanized, as well as patients who were brought from over centers on buses with their windows painted over.

“The patients were never admitted to the hospital. They came in, they were given a very cursory examination by a doctor, and then they were taken outside to walk into the basement to the gas chamber,” Benedict said.

Benedict emphasized that doctors and nurses did not have to euthanize people, but were allowed to at their discretion.

Benedict said of one of the facilities that “there was no way people could not know something awful was going on there.”

“The children of the town and other towns would taunt each other with: ‘Be good, or you’ll get on the gray bus and you’ll go up the chimney’ because soon after the gray bus would arrive, black smoke would come up the chimney,” she said.

Following the death of 70,273 people, the T4 program ended and was succeeded by “wild euthanasia,” which did the same thing with a different method, Benedict said.

“Patients were killed individually,” she said. “[They] were taken one-by-one to the so-called ‘special rooms’ and they were overdosed and buried on the grounds.”

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Hysteria over swine flu is the real danger, some say

CNN | May 3, 2009

By Faith Karimi

(CNN) — As the number of swine flu cases rises around the world, so is a gradual backlash — with some saying the threat the virus poses is overblown.

By Sunday, 898 cases of the virus, known as influenza A (H1N1), had been confirmed in 18 countries, the World Health Organization said. The number of fatalities was at 20, including one in the United States.

“There is too much hysteria in the country and so far, there hasn’t been that great a danger,” said Congressman Ron Paul, a Republican from Texas. “It’s overblown, grossly so.”

Paul, who was a freshman congressman during a swine flu outbreak in 1976, said Congress voted to inoculate the whole country at the time.

Twenty-five people died from the inoculation while one person was killed by the flu, Paul said, adding that he voted against inoculation. Video Watch Ron Paul talk about 1976 swine flu »

The United States’ only death this year from the virus was a 22-month-old boy in Texas who was visiting from Mexico. The other 19 deaths happened in Mexico.

“I wish people would back off a little bit,” Paul said.

Others shared Paul’s sentiment, saying the fear of the flu has gotten out of hand.

“We have people without symptoms going into the emergency rooms asking to be screened for swine flu at the expense of people with real illness,” said Cathy Gichema, a nurse in Pikesville, Maryland.

“Schools are being shut for probable causes — sending these kids congregating to the malls. How is that helping?” Gichema said.

Dr. Mark Bell, principal of Emergent Medical Associates, which operates 18 emergency departments in Southern California, said the level of fear is unprecedented.

“I haven’t seen such a panic among communities perhaps ever,” Bell said. “Right now, people think if they have a cough or a cold, they’re going to die. That’s a scary, frightening place to be in. I wish that this hysteria had not occurred and that we had tempered a little bit of our opinions and thoughts and fears in the media.”

Governments and health officials, however, say the concern is not unfounded.

The virus, a hybrid of swine, avian and human flu, can jump from person to person with relative ease. And while most of the cases were reported in Mexico and the United States, some have been confirmed in countries outside North America.

On Saturday, the virus strain was found in a herd of swine in Alberta, Canada, and the animals may have caught the flu from a farmer who recently returned from a trip to Mexico.

It could be the first identified case of pigs infected in the recent outbreak.

“We have determined that the virus H1N1, found in these pigs, is the virus which is being tracked in the human population,” said Brian Evans of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

But Evans and other officials said it is not uncommon for flu viruses to jump from humans to animals, and that it does not pose a risk for consuming pork. The number of pigs infected was not disclosed.

In his weekly radio address Saturday, President Obama said the concerns over the new virus are justified because lack of immunity makes it potentially risky.

“Unlike the various strains of animal flu that were in the past, it’s a flu that is spreading from human to human. This creates the potential for a pandemic, which is why we are acting quickly and aggressively,” Obama said.

The president, who said the virus is a “cause for concern but not alarm,” added the government has anti-viral treatment to treat the current strain of H1N1.

In addition, WHO started distributing 2.4 million doses of a common anti-viral drug to 72 nations. iReport.com: How should H1N1 be handled?

“I think the world is infinitely better prepared than it was 90 years ago,” said WHO spokesman Gregory Hartl, referring to the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic that killed as many as 20 million people.

In Mexico, the epicenter of the outbreak, masks have become a common fixture. Nearly half the cases in Mexico involve patients 19 and younger, the health ministry said.

“I can hold for maybe another week or two and that’s it,” said Guillermo Jimenez, a waiter who hasn’t worked in a week since the government ordered about 35,000 public venues to shut down. “We don’t have any money. We have mouths to feed. I don’t know what I’m going to do now.”

Still, some say the hype over H1N1 has led to undue hysteria.

“I’m sure the deaths in Mexico have something do with the infrastructure,” said Anthony Markovich, a graduate student in Marina del Ray, California. “I know our health care system has its flaws, but it is more advanced.”

The world should focus on diseases that have more fatalities, according to Markovich.

“This is a joke compared to other things going on,” he said. “Malaria is killing thousands of people daily, the economy is not getting any better, it is time to move on.”
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Pakistan resident Faisal Kapadia agreed.

“When you put it in context, 700 cases in the world is nothing,” said Kapadia, a commodities trader in Karachi. “I understand it is a horrible new disease and governments should find a cure for it, but the media has created too much paranoia.”