Nursing during national socialism: complicity in terror and Heroism

O'Donnell, Alison, Benedict, Susan, Kuhla, Jochen, and Shields, Linda (2009) Nursing during national socialism: complicity in terror and Heroism. In: Clucas, B., Johnstone, G., and Ward, T., (eds.) Torture: moral absolutes and ambiguities. Studies on Political Sociology, 2 . Nomos, Germany, pp. 147-162.

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Abstract

[Extract] In 1993, Adolf Hitler came to power in Germany bringing with him the beliefs, policie and doctrines of National Socialism. All Germans, and many others in the occupied countries of Europe, had their lives controlled by the Nazis until mid-1945. Nurses, like their colleagues in medicine, were important in the implementation of the genocidal goals of the Nazis.

This paper describes the way nursing was organized, regulated, controlled, and practiced during the era of the Third Reich. Using primary sources of legislation, interviews and trial transcripts, and supported by secondary sources of legislation, interviews and trial transcripts, and supported by secondary sources which explain the development of the laws surrounding nursing, we present a description and explanation of nursing practice during this unique era.

Nursing in Germany had had a long history, but was changed dramatically by the prevailing philosophies of eugenics and National Socialism. In some institutions, egregious crimes such as the murder of psychiatric patients was carried out by nurses who subscribed to these philosophies or who believed they would be punished if they did not. However, some nurses, at great personal risk, were able to resist, often saving the lives of their vulnerable patients. The organizational structure of the various organizations made nursing a decentralized profession without a unified and powerful voice contributing to the lack of any but individual resistance.

Item ID: 24075
Item Type: Book Chapter (Research - B1)
ISBN: 978-3-8329-4077-5
Date Deposited: 06 Jun 2013 23:37
FoR Codes: 11 MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES > 1110 Nursing > 111099 Nursing not elsewhere classified @ 100%
SEO Codes: 92 HEALTH > 9299 Other Health > 929999 Health not elsewhere classified @ 100%
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