Every Home a Hadamar

Nazi propaganda urging the elimination of the unfit:

“60,000 Reichsmarks is what this person suffering from a hereditary defect costs the People’s community during his lifetime. Fellow citizen, that is your money too.”

If you believe it is right and proper for a woman to have prenatal testing to determine if she’s carrying a disabled child, and if the purpose of that testing is to decide whether or not to abort that child, then you are a eugenicist.

It means you believe that there is such a thing as “life unworthy of life” (“Lebensunwertes Leben,” as the Nazis called it) and that such life should be exterminated with extreme prejudice.

After a brief faddishness in the early part of century (including practices and laws in America that encouraged weeding out the “unfit”), eugenics lost mainstream credibility when the Nazi atrocities came to light. Eugenics writ large, the various Nazi projects to eliminate the sick, the disabled, and, ultimately, entire races such as Jews and Poles showed the inevitable endpoint for the ideology of eugenics. Although the idea continued to have some cache in certain intellectual circles, and in the halls of Planned Parenthood, most people lost their taste for Improving Mankind Through Mass Slaughter.

Eugenics was successfully repackaged and given what marketers called a “new brand identity” with the advent of abortion on demand following Rowe v. Wade, with only us nutty religious folk left to defend the dignity and value of each human life, from conception to natural death.

But the mask is off now, as “ethicists” like Peter Singer or Alberto Giubilini and Francesca Minerva make the case for after-birth abortions (eg, infanticide) and argue that a clever monkey has more right to life than a child with Down’s Syndrome. Doctors routinely urge at-risk pregnant women to test for potential fetal defects in order to make “informed decisions”, with the question “decisions about what?” left unstated.

The doctors at the Hadamar Euthanasia Center would be pleased to see how their dream lives again in the euphemisms of amoral couples and the public policy of the United States government and the medical establishment. Hadamar was a Nazi killing center where the mentally unfit were sent to their doom. Here’s how the Holocaust Education and Research Team describes the scene:

Large grey buses arrived daily carrying victims from nearby mental homes at Herborn, Weilmünster, Kiedrich, Idstein, Nassau, Langenfeld, Andernach, Wiesloch, and Weinsberg  (the Zwischenanstalten / intermediate mental homes).  From the garage the victims were conducted through the so called “sluice” (a narrow fenced-in path) to the extermination building. The Hadamar “sluice” became the model for the “sluices” or “tubes”, later used in the extermination camps of Aktion Reinhard.

Signs on the road leading to Hadamar warned that the danger of epidemics prohibited entry, but the chimney’s smoke and the smell could not disguise the nature of the operation from local inhabitants.   From the commencement of gassing operations on 13 January 1941 until August of that year, approximately 100 victims were killed every day. A witness testified about the killing sequence at Hadamar:

“After doors were closed, the air was sucked out of the gas chamber through a ventilator by the same doctor who carried out the earlier `examination.’ Then for about ten minutes, carbon monoxide was let in [by that doctor] and its effect observed through a small window. As soon as he thought that those shut in had died, he had the gas chamber emptied. First fresh air was introduced through the ventilator, and the gas was forced out. From the beginning of the gassing until the reopening of the gas chamber took about one hour. The corpses that were to be dissected were removed to a special room. However, the great majority of corpses were immediately taken to the ovens and burned there.”

A further witness described observing the victims through the peephole during a gassing:

“Through it I saw 40-45 men who were pressed together in the next room and were now slowly dying. Some lay on the ground, others had slumped down, many had their mouths open as if they could not get any more air. The form of death was so painful that one cannot talk of a humane killing, especially since many of the dead men may have had moments of clarity. I watched the process for about 2-3 minutes and then left because I could no longer bear to look and felt sick.”

Read the whole thing, every sickening line of it, and realize that the only thing separating them from us is the method of execution.

Oh, and one other thing makes us unique. The victims are Hadamar were taken by doctors and soldiers while their family and loved ones fought for them and worried about them. Even in the midst of the madness of Nazism, parents didn’t seek to deliver their own children to the executioner.

Modern man has evolved past such rudimentary moral concerns. Now parents are not only slaughtering their children in the womb, they’re erupting into rage whenever the wonders of science fail to properly aid and abet their homicidal inclinations. Here are the most recent apparent sociopaths to hit the news:

A couple who sued a hospital for not telling them their unborn child has Down’s syndrome has been awarded a $2.9million payout.

Ariel and Deborah Levy, who say they would have had an abortion if they had known the child would be disabled, claimed they needed the money to pay for their daughter Kalanit’s lifelong care.

And a jury agreed, deciding on Friday that Oregon’s Legacy Health hospital had been negligent in failing to diagnose the condition in a pre-natal scan.

The couple from Portland, who have two other children, said in a lawsuit they would have aborted their daughter Kalanit – who is now four – if they had known she had Down’s syndrome.

“I love you but I wish you were dead” is not something sane people believe. I’ve known many families who have raised disabled children without seeking millions of dollars, particularly when those millions are earned on the basic premise that you wish your child didn’t exist. If they were told, “I’ll give you millions, all you have to do is stand up in a court of law and say you wish your daughter was dead,” they wouldn’t do it.

It’s not possible to have it both ways: you can’t continue to say you would have killed your child and expect people to believe you love her anyway. Some people may be able to embrace that kind of cognitive dissonance, but I’m not one of them.

We keep expecting technology to make our lives perfect and eliminate all those little flaws and inconveniences and tragedies that are part of being authentically human, and when that technology fails we erupt into rage like spoiled children. Pre-natal testing is wiping out children with Down’s more thoroughly and efficiently than the Nazi killing machine. I remember growing up with, befriending, and even working with children and adults with Down’s. I sympathize with the challenges they and their families face, and the fears parents have for their children’s future. I imagine there are even moments of frustration when they wish they didn’t have this cross to bear. However, I’ve never met one who would go to court to declare under oath that they would have killed their child if they’d had the chance. We’ve come to fear tragedy and suffering rather than see it as a inevitable part of the human condition: one which often provides an opportunity for growth.

It’s disconcerting (to say the least) to learn that the Levys, who are reportedly orthodox Jews, are willing to categorize their daughter as “life unworthy of life.” The position of Judaism on abortion is hardly monolithic, but for the most part orthodox Judaism forbids the abortion of a child simply for being disabled. (Of course, there’s no reason to assume the orthodox faith is any better at getting their members to understand the immorality of abortion any better than the Catholics have been.) When even Jews are forgetting the lessons of the Shoah, we’re in deep trouble.

We’ve fallen so far that we’ve even managed to streamline the Final Solution in our attempt to create a better, purer race of designer humans. The Nazis could never have dreamed of a propaganda so thorough, and of a culture so fundamentally narcissistic and debased, that people would kill their own kin without even the fuss of transporting them to the death camps.

It never occurred to them that it was  possible to train up a people willing to do the job themselves, turning every home into its own little Hadamar.

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Thomas L. McDonald writes about technology, theology, history, games, and shiny things. Details of his rather uneventful life as a professional writer and magazine editor can be found in the About tab.