- The road that led the Nazis to the Euthanasia Program and then to the death camps began with the passage of the Law to Prevent Hereditarily Sick Offspring (the “Sterilization Law”) in 1933. The law allowed for medical practitioners to sterilize an entire group of people with hereditary diseases. Carriers of the following hereditary “defects” were subject to sterilization: hereditary feeble-mindedness, schizophrenia, manic depression, epilepsy, Huntington’s chorea, deafness, physical malformations, and chronic alcoholism. The law also contained a provision that allowed physicians to castrate homosexuals. The Nazis established a bureaucracy that included racial hygiene courts that decided one’s hereditary status. The 1933 law also created institutes and clinics for hereditary and racial care. Provisions in the law allowed for the maintenance of files on criminals and the study of hereditary diseases among the nonAryan races. Between 1933 and 1945, approximately 1 percent of the German population was sterilized. The support and participation of the medical profession in the implementation of the 1933 law was based on their belief that sterilization was a necessary moral action in order to preserve the nation’s racial purity.
Historical dictionary of the Holocaust. Jack R. Fischel. 2014.