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Useless Eaters - Disability as Genocidal Marker in Nazi Germany

Author: Joni Eareckson Tada
Date: 02.06.2012
Category: Disability Concerns

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“We don’t always learn lessons from history – many of the same mistakes are repeated from some of our world’s worst horrors. This slide presentation and interview is deeply moving, adding a ‘face’ to the dangers of euthanasia.  There are even laws in Oregon, Washington, and in the Netherlands that legalize physician-assisted suicide.”

- Joni Eareckson Tada

The methods used for mass extermination in the Nazi death camps originated and were perfected in earlier use against people with physical, emotional, and intellectual disabilities. Developed from the article by Dr. Mark Mostert, this website describes the historical context of attitudes toward people with disabilities in Germany and how this context produced mass murder of people with disabilities prior to and during the early years of World War II.

Go to Useless Eaters.

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Interactive Informational Website from Regent University © 2004

Links and Resources 

Joni and Friends is an advocate for the sanctity of human life. To that end, Joni and Friends has established a key department, The Christian Institute on Disability (CID).

To find out more about disability ministry or to get involved, visit the Joni and Friends website.

The Christian Institute on Disability at Joni and Friends aggressively promotes life, human dignity and the value of all individuals – despite their disabling condition–from a biblical perspective through the Beyond Suffering course.

Regent University is one of the nation’s leading academic centers for Christian thought and action, with a multitude of graduate and undergraduate programs available worldwide. Our academic standards are high and our programs rigorous, but what sets Regent apart is our mission to prepare capable men and women to excel both in mind and spirit. Our students, faculty and administrators share a calling, founded on Biblical principles, to make a significant difference in our world.

Keywords: Lausanne, disability ministry, Joni Eareckson Tada, Useless Eaters, death camps, WWII

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Reply Flag 0 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down marolyn (1)
United States

ablount66 I find this subject beyond my ability to even cope with the thoughs of what man is capable of doing to another in the name of "something"? I just finished a paper on Burma and how in its millions the controlling power has once again decided to annihilate the Muslims which are few in number and call them "dogs" and "unfit". What can we as Christians do? How can we even begin to help the oppressed? And equally evil, some escape, and are made slaves by those who disguised themselves as helpers, and are now cripples and used for obtaining monies from the mainland. We know where and when and how all this evil began, but when and how will it end and what can we do to help? What can we do? 


24.04.2014
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Reply Flag 0 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down marolyn (1)
United States

Ablount66 (0) 
United States

This particluar article did an excellent job in putting forth the story of how those with special needs have been treated in the past, present and even gave some indicatation of what might take place in the future. I think it is very important for us to give thought to the information presented for we never know how it might affect us in the years to comes....

One key question that stands out to me is who has the right say if a life is of value or not. Man when making theses types of decisions is moving into dangerous territory for when he does he begins to play God. he looks at what he sees with his natural eyes and then tries to project what will be in the future and how this life will play out.

Even today we must be very careful not to just follow the crowd. It may not be happening in as overt ways as it has in the past but it is happening. When states begin to say that it is ok for assited suicides to take place wat will be the next step. Once you begin to move in a direction it becomes easier and easier to continue down that path. If assisted suicide is ok today then will it be ok for a parent or caregiver to determine that caring for a life that is different is not worth the time and move to have that life ended. Allowing for little steps to be made in the direction of determining ones usefulness or uselessness is a dangerous thing in my eyes. Just as with Hitler sometimes leadership is the driving force. What happens if a leader gets into power and they have a very different stand of what is a useful life tan you will it be to late. Will we have already moved so far that it will be easy for those that we feel of of little vallue to be killed and notohing be said.


23.04.2014
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Reply Flag 0 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down marolyn (1)
United States

ablount66 I appreciate your comments and especially warning people to be aware of how absolute human control can lead to annihilation of life as we know it. I may be repeating myself, but some years back I watched a news commentary regarding an interview with Adolf Eichmann. At the closing of the interview was the statement, "given absolute power with no earthly consequences, there is a little Eichmann in all of us". I have never forgotten the statement. How absolutely humbling to recognize we are all perhaps capable of human destruction without the Holy Spirit in our lives. I just finished reading where power and greed are fed by an insatiable appetite. 


23.04.2014
PhContributeBy
Reply Flag 0 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down Ablount66 (0)
United States

This particular article did an excellent job in putting forth the story of how those with special needs have been treated in the past, present and even some indication of what might take place in the future. I think it is very important for us to give thought to the information presented for we never know how it might affect us in the years to come. It would be in our best interest to make sure that we pay close attention to the things that are taking place around us. For us to neglect those things that may start off small may be the beginning of more severe things to follow. Just as allowing people to  be killed because of changes in the economy or them being view as useless was the start of killing of many in Germany. Things that may seem to be ok for one situation could easily lead to the hurt and even the death of many others. People can take what was started in one place and move it to a larger level thereby affecting the lives of many. Hitler was able to take something that started out to benefit society by ending the lives of those that seemed to be a burden on society  to something that was used to try and eliminate an entire race.

What we do now in the present that may seem beneficial  may in the long run turn out to be the worst chosice ever made.


22.04.2014
PhContributeBy
Reply Flag 0 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down marolyn (1)
United States

Ms. Tada, watching the films and feeling sick in my stomach trying to reason why any human being thought taking the life of another would be all right. You wrote of over seventy thousand disabled individuals were put to death in the WWII camps just because they were disabled. Except for Adam there have been persons of challenged mental, physical, emotional and intellectual acuities. I am thankful for the Lausanne movement involving Counseling and Care in mission work. Controlling of people may never end, but to exploit the weak, the helpless, the diaspora is so against God and all His teachings for us. (Leviticus 19:14 RSV)"You shall not curse the deaf nor put a stumbling block before the blind, but you shall fear your God, I am the Lord". The world has witnessed several twins pronounced dead upon arrival only to regain life, and other individuals who are born normal but accidents happen and they become disabled for the rest of their lives. Every country has the same people, God’s people and we are taught to love them as we love ourselves. Adjusting to a world outside of one’s own norm has become a recognized urgent field for Counseling for nurturning those in the mission field before, during and after exposure to the unreached people culture.


27.03.2014
PhContributeBy
Reply Flag 0 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down Ablount66 (0)
United States
@ marolyn:

You make a very good point, when you reference those who become disables because of an accident.  It is not because of anthing they did intentionally but now they are different what do you do now. Take for example all of the military personel who are returning home wth head injuries that have changed their lives forever. The question still remains who or what has given us the right to determine if another persons life is of value. 


22.04.2014
PhContributeBy
Reply Flag 0 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down Ablount66 (0)
United States

This particluar article did an excellent job in putting forth the story of how those with special needs have been treated in the past, present and even gave some indicatation of what might take place in the future. I think it is very important for us to give thought to the information presented for we never know how it might affect us in the years to comes.

One key question that stands out to me is who has the right say if a life is of value or not. Man when making theses types of decisions is moving into dangerous territory for when he does he begins to play God. he looks at what he sees with his natural eyes and then tries to project what will be in the future and how this life will play out.

Even today we must be very careful not to just follow the crowd. It may not be happening in as overt ways as it has in the past but it is happening. When states begin to say that it is ok for assited suicides to take place wat will be the next step. Once you begin to move in a direction it becomes easier and easier to continue down that path. If assisted suicide is ok today then will it be ok for a parent or caregiver to determine that caring for a life that is different is not worth the time and move to have that life ended. Allowing for little steps to be made in the direction of determining ones usefulness or uselessness is a dangerous thing in my eyes. Just as with Hitler sometimes leadership is the driving force. What happens if a leader gets into power and they have a very different stand of what is a useful life tan you will it be to late. Will we have already moved so far that it will be easy for those that we feel of of little vallue to be killed and notohing be said.


22.04.2014

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