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The State of HealthIllness in Nazi Germany$
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Geoffrey Campbell Cocks

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199695676

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199695676.001.0001

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The Body of Death

The Body of Death

(p.219) 9 The Body of Death
The State of Health

Geoffrey Campbell Cocks

Oxford University Press

Nazi war was a means to Nazi racial extermination. Most Germans were indifferent or hostile to Jews due to traditional attitudes reinforced by Nazi propaganda. Germans also had modern concerns about their own health and illness that were now aggravated by the demands and dangers of a nation at war. This preoccupation with the self and its body was also intensified by the monolithic Nazi fantasy of ‘the Jew’ as an internal morbid enemy of the people's ‘body’ rather than just an external mortal one. Nazi ‘euthanasia’ of mental patients was undertaken under the cover of war, but the German public was well aware of it. This too further reminded the populace of escalating wartime threats to individual well-being and thus pre-empted active concern for the fate of those officially designated as ‘others’. Jews in the ghettos and camps suffered catastrophic incidence of sickness in advance of extermination. Even some Nazi murderers experienced physical and mental stress and breakdown from their ‘work’. And German fear of disease—especially typhus—was occasionally exploited by Europeans, even Jews, subject to Nazi persecution.

Keywords:   Jews as ‘disease’, Germans as ‘victims’, ‘euthanasia’, extermination, illness and murder, illness and death, illness and agency

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