A Family’s Role: Kindereuthanasie and Familial Emotions Under National Socialism

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Breault, Meagan Lise




During the National Socialist period, the Third Reich murdered over 200,000 disabled individuals because the Nazis deemed them "life unworthy of life." While historians have conceptualized the violence of official Nazi policy and perpetrators, the role of individual families has largely been overlooked. This thesis utilizes a history of emotions framework to analyze the position of the family in this violence, particularly in how parents of children's euthanasia victims acted during the Second World War and how they portrayed their actions after the fall of the Nazi regime. Postwar testimonies demonstrate that parents did play an active part (sometimes unknowingly) in the program and its postwar legacies through their emotional navigation of consent, acceptance of institutionalization, and opposition. In all three instances, despite the differing approaches to the Nazi "life unworthy of life" idea, parents portrayed their emotions and actions as being influenced by what was best for their children.


European History




Carleton University

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