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Karl Brandt: The Nazi Doctor: Medicine and Power in the Third Reich Paperback – June 15, 2008


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Karl Brandt (1904–1948) was for a time the leading medical authority in the Nazi regime. He was responsible for the euthanasia program, in which tens of thousands of handicapped individuals were killed. But that Brandt (who also served for a time as Hitler's physician) left the details up to subordinates didn't help him after the war, at Nuremberg, where he was convicted and executed for his crimes. As British historian Schmidt (Justice at Nuremberg: Leo Alexander and the Nazi Doctors' Trial) shows, a belief in eugenics, combined with a dash of ambition, motivated Brandt. During the war, he saw it as legitimate to sacrifice individual human lives in the name of science. Outside of the diaries he wrote during the Nuremberg trials, which Schmidt had partial access to, Brandt left few writings, so Schmidt is forced to make informed guesses about the degree of Brandt's involvement in certain projects, such as the gruesome medical experiments conducted on concentration camp inmates, as well as about some of his motivations. Schmidt concludes that whether Brandt backed the genocide of the Jews is almost impossible to know. There's a lot to wade through, but readers who do will learn about a man of culture and science who turned medicine into a tool of murder. B&w illus., maps. (Aug.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"Remarkable new research by a German historian is revealing the ideological evolution of one of Hitler's closest associates. The research- which has taken nine years to carry out-shows how an apparently decent caring man metamorphosed into a mass murderer who was sentenced to death at Nuremberg." -BBC

"As British historian Schmidt shows, a belief in eugenics, combined with a dash of ambition, motivated Brandt...a man of culture and science who turned medicine into a tool of murder."
—Publishers Weekly
(Publishers Weekly)

"An important contribution to the history of the Third Reich. In exploring the extensive web of relationships of the most powerful medical figure during the wartime period, he provides valuable insights into the institutional dynamics behind the criminal medical policies of the regime." - German History


"How such an intelligent and gifted young physician could betray everything that medicine — not to mention Western civilization — stood for, is the main theme of Schmidt's spellbinding book....Although Schmidt's book is historical and cannot be classified as part of the modern-day 'culture wars,' its conclusion carries a powerful lesson for medical ethics in our own time." - First Things

(William Doino Jr. First Things)

"Ulf Schmidt's excellent biography of Karl Brandt, a significant, though hitherto remarkably little-known, member of Hitler's entourage casts significant new light on how a cultured, intelligent and idealistic doctor could so fervently believe in the principles of Nazi inhumanity that down to his execution he saw nothing wrong in eliminating the sick and infirm in the interests of a more healthy Volkskörper".
(Professor Sir Ian Kershaw)

'[An] excellent book' - Medicine, Conflict and Survival


"Remarkable new research by a German historian is revealing the ideological evolution of one of Hitler's closest associates.  The research- which has taken nine years to carry out-shows how an apparently decent caring man metamorphosed into a mass murderer who was sentenced to death at Nuremberg." -BBC    

"How such an intelligent and gifted young physician could betray everything that medicine – not to mention Western civilization – stood for, is the main theme of Schmidt's spellbinding book….Although Schmidt's book is historical and cannot be classified as part of the modern-day 'culture wars,' its conclusion carries a powerful lesson for medical ethics in our own time." - First Things

(Sanford Lakoff First Things)

“Ulf Schmidt’s excellent biography of Karl Brandt, a significant, though hitherto remarkably little-known, member of Hitler’s entourage casts significant new light on how a cultured, intelligent and idealistic doctor could so fervently believe in the principles of Nazi inhumanity that down to his execution he saw nothing wrong in eliminating the sick and infirm in the interests of a more healthy Volkskörper”.
(Sanford Lakoff)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic; 1st Paperback Edition edition (June 15, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1847252060
  • ISBN-13: 978-1847252067
  • Product Dimensions: 4.9 x 1.6 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,533,763 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Kayla Rigney VINE VOICE on December 15, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is the only biography of Karl Brandt available. It's also the penultimate biography of Brandt. I ordered this sight unseen, because I study Aktion T-4 -- but also because I know one can depend upon the author's source material. Schmidt's research is impeccable. Much of the book's information hasn't been readily available to English speakers.

Although Brandt claimed otherwise at his trail, he was neck-deep in T-4 and Nazi human medical experiments. For almost every one of Brandt's denials, there is a letter or document to prove He Lied. Brandt obviously believed in "euthanasia" (read: murder) of the mentally and physically disabled. And as he either tacitly and/or directly approved of human experimentation, he falls into the same category as Mengele and Clauburg. With Brandt, it was all about power. He began as one of Hitler's attending physicians and ended up a perfect monster.

Karl Brandt: The Nazi Doctor: Medicine and Power in the Third Reich should be required reading for all medical ethicists and students of the Holocaust; it should be in every library. I say this not only because the book is superbly written and researched, but also because it illustrates the banality of evil -- and how easy it is for the power-hungry to buy into the idea that one is superior to others.

The photographs of Brandt are disturbing. Brandt was a handsome man with a wife and child. He went on Nazi pleasure trips, which were photographically documented. In every picture, his face is serene. It's eerie.

I'm a disabled person. I'm also a scholar. This is one of four books I'll put in my "run kit" during fire season. It's that important.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Devil's Advocate on July 17, 2009
Format: Paperback
I was initially drawn to Brandt by his constant presence near Hitler in early Berghof photos. In fact the Hoffman photos contribute significantly to the author's tracking of this enigmatic palladin.
Those surrounding Hitler invariably make as fascinating reading as the Fuhrer himself. Brandt is no exception. Who was this tall, refined, handsome-looking man and how did he get to become one of Hitler's "inner circle"?
The book combines a very balanced description of Brandt with an intriguing analysis of the system of Nazi government. The latter was a perpetual Darwinian struggle for Hitler's favour where the fittest and most ruthless survived. Brandt was as ambitious as the next Nazi.
He was an extremely idealistic "true believer" who converted a desire to end needless suffering into a strong belief in euthanasia. That debate still resonates today.
However, the programme which he started with good intentions ran wild very quickly as the war consumed all before it. Brandt eventually paid the ultimate price for this.
First to go in the "T-4" action was the ethics, then the caution, the logic, finally the dignity.
Life became as cheap as the daily incineration of German civilians by Allied bombers.
Brandt's ambition dragged him to the top of Hitler's Olympus only to cast him into Hades within 5 months. It is a salutary tale of a man sentenced to death by the Third reich only to die at the hands of their vanquishers.
Brandt was a truly tragic figure who might even have escaped detection had his second name not been the same as Himmler's Chief of Personal Staff! Fate was never on his side.
In fact, the suicides of several more culpable colleagues thrust him into the dock as Defendant No. 1 which he (rightly) knew had sealed his fate.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Andrew Campbell on December 27, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This is one of the missing stories of those close to Hitler. It is a sad note that many of these facilitators were true believers in the world that the Nazis were trying to create and even in the end they did not recognize that what they did was out of the norm. It is a sad commentary on what can happened to a very well educated, and well intentioned soul. Brandt is a good representation of the likes of Speer, Stuckhart, Lemmers et al. Very well worth reading.
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