Lancet report: Healthcare sector supported the Nazi euthanasia program

By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition.

I have always been told that any reference to the Nazi euthanasia program is a sign of extremism, but this article is not comparing the modern euthanasia program to the euthanasia program in Nazi Germany but rather it is an investigation into the origins of the Nazi euthanasia program. The Lancet Commission on medicine, Nazism and the Holocaust released their report on November 8, 2023.

A commentary on the findings of the Lancet Commission in relation to the Nazi euthanasia program was published on November 15 by It stated that:

Medical atrocities during the Nazi era were not solely carried out by “a few extremist doctors” or perpetrators that acted “under coercion”, according to a report published by the Lancet journal.

The Healthworld commentary continued:

Vienna: Medical professionals played a “central role” in the crimes committed by the Nazis, according to a new study published Thursday (November 8), which aims to debunk “long-held misconceptions” about the scale of their involvement.

By 1945, between 50 to 65 percent of non-Jewish German doctors had joined the Nazi party, which represents a “much higher proportion than in any other academic profession,” said the 73-page report.

The abhorrent eugenics and euphemistically termed “euthanasia” murder programmes of the Nazis during World War II resulted in “at least 230,000” deaths, including 7,000 to 10,000 children

The article explains that the Nazi eugenics programme became a pseudo-science and the research conducted during that era continues to effect science today.

The article points out that the research by the famed Austrian Anatomist Eduard Pernkopf was derived from Nazi victims. Pernkopf’s anatomy atlas was widely used into the 1990’s. The past of the founder of German juvenile psychiatry, Elisabeth Hecker, remained unknown until 1995 when it was uncovered that she had ordered the transfer of children to the local killing units.

It is a known fact that the method of gassing people in the Nazi extermination camps was developed between 1939 and 1941 in an effort to kill tens of thousands of institutionalized mental health patients. In other words, the technique of gassing people in the extermination camps was developed by the Nazi euthanasia program.

Healthcare World reported that the Lancet study recommended that

…the study of medicine under Nazism and the Holocaust should be incorporated in health care curricula, as the lack of knowledge “apart from a vague notion of Josef Mengele’s experiments in Auschwitz” today is “often surprising”.

Healthcare World stated that:

The report was carried out as part of a Lancet Commission that brought together a group of 20 international experts for the first time to examine the history of medicine.

Editor’s note. This appeared on Mr. Schadenberg’s blog and is reposted with permission.