Views & Reviews Review of the week

Ministering to the Fatherland

BMJ 2007; 335 doi: (Published 02 August 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;335:261
  1. John Quin, consultant physician, Royal Sussex County Hospital, Brighton
  1. John.Quin{at}

    Why did a trauma surgeon with an interest in humanism become Hitler's personal physician? John Quin reviews a fascinating new biography of Karl Brandt

    Another day, another appointment panel. You make the decisions and then the lay chair passes some references for your attention: “An enthusiastic and intelligent student,” “Fulfilled all his duties with skill and speed and has shown a good understanding of the duties and responsibilities of the medical profession in every respect,” and “Worked with great zeal and conscientiousness.”

    Déjà vu—when was the last time you read references like these? When was the last time you wrote references like these? Last month, last week, yesterday? Those hackneyed phrases that promise everything and nothing. Read them again and tremble for these are the words spoken in support of Karl Brandt, Hitler's Reich Commissioner for Health and Sanitation, the man behind the notorious T4 euthanasia programme. Ulf Schmidt from the Wellcome Unit for the History of Medicine in Oxford has given us a timely reminder and explication of “how …

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