Karl Brandt (January 8, 1904 – June 2, 1948) was the personal physician of Adolf Hitler in August 1944 and headed the administration of the Nazi euthanasia program from 1939. As Major General Reich Commissioner for Health and Sanitation he was involved in human experimentation and was tried along with many others in Nuremberg, Germany, the trial more commonly referred to as the "Doctors' Trial." He was charged with Freezing, Malaria, LOST Gas, Sulfanilamide, Bone, Muscle and Nerve Regeneration and Bone Transplantation, Sea-Water, Epidemic Jaundice, Sterilization, and Typhus Experiments and was also in connection with the planning and carrying out of the Nazi's T-4 Euthanasia Program of the German Reich and his overall membership in the SS. Judgment was pronounced on August 19, 1947 and Brandt was sentenced to death by hanging.
- Ethical obligation has to subordinate itself to the totalitarian nature of war.
- 1947. Quoted in article "Ethics of Nazi doctors analyzed in telecast" by Joanna Arnold, 10/17/07
- How can the nation which holds the lead in human experimentation in any conceivable form, how can that nation dare to accuse and punish other nations which only copied their experimental procedures? And even euthanasia! Only look at Germany, and the way her misery has been manipulated and artificially prolonged. It is, of course, not surprising that the nation which in the face of the history of humanity will forever have to bear the guilt for Hiroshima and Nagasaki, that this nation attempts to hide itself behind moral superlatives. She does not bend the law: Justice has never been here! Neither in the whole nor in the particular. What dictates is power. And this power wants victims. We are such victims. I am such a victim.
- Last words (2 June 1948)
- I think that everybody who has any imagination will turn away shudderingly (sic) from the misdevelopment of nature. These people live under cruel imagination and persecution manias, partly without any consciousness, and one can safely say that every one of these people if they for one clear moment would be able to see their real condition would be very grateful to be dead... I do not feel that I am incriminated. I am convinced that I can bear the responsibility for what I did in this connection before my conscience. I was motivated by absolutely humane feelings. I never had any other intention. I never had any other belief than that those poor miserable creatures-that the painful lives of these creatures were to be shortened. The only thing that I regret in this connection is that external circumstances brought it about that pain was inflicted on the relatives. But I am convinced that these relatives have overcome this sorrow today and that they themselves feel that their dead relatives were freed from suffering.
- (1 October 1945)
- In order to raise the significance of this death sentence above the level of mere execution of a judicial principle to the level of a deliberate act in the interest and to the benefit of mankind, I am of my free will willing to submit myself to a medical experiment offering no chance of survival. Being convinced that some of my colleagues sentenced together with me will join in my plea, there will not only be the possibility of a single experiment, but that of a collective one. I appeal to the public of the whole world not only to support my request but to demand compliance with it.
- After receiving the death sentence (21 August 1947)
- Can I, as an individual, remove myself from the community? Can I be outside and without it? Could I, as a part of this community, evade it by saying I want to thrive in this community, but I don't want to sacrifice anything for it, not bodily and not with my soul? I want to keep my conscience clear. Let them try how they can get along...Would you believe that it was a pleasure to me to receive the order to start euthanasia? For fifteen years I had laboured at the sick-bed and every patient was to me like a brother, every sick child I worried about as if it had been my own. And then that hard fate hit me. Is that guilt? Was it not mv first thought to limit the scope of euthanasia? Did I not, the moment I was included, try to find a limit as well as finding a cure for the incurable? Were not the professors of the Universities there? Who could there be who was more qualified? With the deepest devotion I have tortured myself again and again, but no philosophy and no other wisdom helped here. There was the decree and on it there was my name. I do not say that I could have feigned sickness. I do not live this life of mine in order to evade fate if I meet it. And thus I affirmed Euthanasia. I realise the problem is as old as man, but it is not a crime against man nor against humanity. Here I cannot believe like a clergyman or think as a Jurist. I am a doctor and I see the law of nature as being the law of reason. From that grew in my heart the love of man and it stands before my conscience...I am deeply conscious that when I said "Yes" to euthanasia I did so with the deepest conviction, just as it is my conviction today, that it was right. Death can mean relief. Death is life - just as much as birth. It was never meant to be murder. I bear this burden but it is not the burden of crime. I bear this burden of mine, though, with a heavy heart as my responsibility. Before it, I survive and prevail, and before my conscience, as a man and a doctor.
- Statement in court about euthanasia practices (19 July 1947)