Law for the Prevention of Hereditarily Diseased Offspring

The plan of the Nazis was to eradicate anyone who they deemed not worthy. This didn’t mean only killing but also ensuring that not one person, who the Nazis considered subhuman, would be born.

On July 14,1933 the Nazi regime fulfilled the long-held dreams of eugenics proponents by enacting the Law for the Prevention of Genetically Diseased Offspring. Individuals who were subject to the law were those men and women who “suffered” from any of nine conditions listed in the law: hereditary feeblemindedness, schizophrenia, manic-depressive disorder, hereditary epilepsy, Huntington’s chorea (a rare and fatal degenerative disease), hereditary blindness, hereditary deafness, severe physical deformity, and chronic alcoholism.

The basic provisions of the 1933 law stated that:

§ 1.(1) Any person suffering from a hereditary disease may be rendered incapable of procreation by means of a surgical operation (sterilization), if the experience of medical science shows that it is highly probable that his descendants would suffer from some serious physical or mental hereditary defect.

(2) For the purposes of this law, any person will be considered as hereditarily diseased who is suffering from any one of the following diseases:

(1) Congenital Mental Deficiency,
(2) Schizophrenia,
(3) Manic-Depressive Insanity,
(4) Hereditary Epilepsy,
(5) Hereditary Chorea (Huntington’s),
(6) Hereditary Blindness,
(7) Hereditary Deafness,
(8) Any severe hereditary deformity.

(3) Any person suffering from severe alcoholism may be also rendered incapable of procreation.

§ 2.Applications for sterilization can be made by the individual to be sterilized. If this person is legally incompetent, has been certified on account of mental deficiency, or is not yet 18, a legal representative has the right to make an application on this person’s behalf but needs the consent of the court of guardians to do so. In other cases of limited competency, the application needs to be approved by the legal representative. [ . . . ]

§ 3.Sterilization can also be requested by the following: 1. the state physician. 2. In the case of inmates of hospitals, nursing homes, and penal institutions, by the head thereof.

§ 4. The application is to be made to the office of the Eugenics Court; it can either be made in writing or dictated to the court. The facts upon which the application is based should be supported by a medical certificate or confirmed in some other way. The office must inform the state physician of the application.

§ 5.Responsibility for the decision rests with the Eugenics Court that has jurisdiction over the district in which the person to be sterilized officially resides.

§ 6. The Eugenics Court is to be attached to a district court [Amtsgericht]. It consists of a district court judge acting as chairman, a state physician, and another physician certified by the German Reich and particularly well trained in eugenics. [ . . . ]

§12.Once the Court has decided on sterilization, the operation must be carried out even against the will of the person to be sterilized, unless that person applied for it himself. The state physician has to attend to the necessary measures with the police authorities. Where other measures are insufficient, direct force may be used.

This law comes into effect on January 1, 1934.
Berlin, July 14, 1933.

The Reich Chancellor
Adolf Hitler

The Reich Minister of the Interior
Frick

The Reich Minister of Justice
Dr. Gürtner

This law meant that a woman like Gerda D., a shop worker, one of the estimated 400,000 Germans who were forcibly sterilized. She was sterilized after a disputed diagnosis of schizophrenia. Later, Nazi authorities forbade Gerda to marry because of the sterilization. So not only was she sterilized she was also not allowed to marry. All because of a questionable diagnosis of schizophrenia.

19-year-old Gerda D. was hospitalized in the psychiatric emergency ward of a hospital in Berlin. Although the diagnosis of Gerda as schizophrenic was uncertain, she was released only after being sterilized under the Law for the Prevention of Progeny with Hereditary Diseases.

The law itself was based on the American Model Eugenical Sterilization Law developed by Harry H. Laughlin.

sources

http://www.holocaustchronicle.org/staticpages/76.html

https://ghdi.ghi-dc.org/sub_document.cfm?document_id=1521

https://www.ushmm.org/learn/timeline-of-events/1933-1938/law-for-the-prevention-of-offspring-with-hereditary-diseases

https://encyclopedia.ushmm.org/content/en/article/the-biological-state-nazi-racial-hygiene-1933-1939

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