Did the killing or sterilisation of people considered as living a "life unworthy of life" in Nazi Germany have any measurable effect on the "average health" of Germany? Is there any statistical evidence that the rate of (a specific) mental or physical illness is lower in Germany compared to other countries that were not affected by the Nazis (I guess you would need to have data on the rate of that illness from before the eugenics program as well)?

P.S. Please note, I'm neither interested in discussing the ethics of eugenics, nor in condoning what has happened in its name under the Nazis. I just want to know what the result on average health (if there is such a thing) was.


closed as primarily opinion-based by Chris, The Last Word, Amory, Luke, WYSIWYG Jul 24 '14 at 10:05

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    $\begingroup$ I think there is no possibility to study this, because there were several other factors having a big impact on the population, for example a war. $\endgroup$ – skymningen Apr 11 '14 at 11:21
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    $\begingroup$ As already said in the other comments, the war (and many other factors) is a very important confounding effect and therefore measuring a change in health before and after the sterilization program would not mean that it is caused by the sterilization program. Beside this statistical issue: How do you think that this sterilization would affect health today? $\endgroup$ – Remi.b Apr 11 '14 at 14:24
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    $\begingroup$ Do you think of reduction in the number of reproducing individuals, yielding to a decrease in mean heterozygosity and therefore causing deleterious recessive alleles to be more often expressed? We could make some calculations to know what is the expected reduction in average heterozygosity. Or did you think about something else? Mental health? Partial recovery of sterility that, for some reason, causes poor gamete quality? $\endgroup$ – Remi.b Apr 11 '14 at 14:25
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    $\begingroup$ I really doubt that any effect would be visible in a single generation. We'd need data to back that up but I would be surprised if any difference is observable. $\endgroup$ – terdon Apr 11 '14 at 15:34
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    $\begingroup$ I don't see how this answers anything. $\endgroup$ – Chris Jul 23 '14 at 8:24

As most of the comment have pointed it out, It's nearly impossible to find out. This is my try:

Dr. L Alexander wrote in his paper, Medical Science under Dictatorship:

Hitler issued the first direct order for euthanasia in Germany on September 1, 1939, as his Panzers moved on the Blitzkrieg of Poland. Organizations with humanitarian-sounding names were immediately set up to execute "health" programs, again, under deceptively, euphemistic terms. For example, questionnaires collected by a "Realm's Work Committee of Institutions for Cure and Care" gathered and reported information on patients who had been ill five years or more and who were unable to work. "On the basis of name, race, marital status, nationality, next of kin, whether regularly visited and by whom, who bore financial responsibility, and so forth," decisions were made at key universities about which patients should be killed by psychiatrists who had themselves never seen the patients.Likewise, the "Realm's Committee for Scientific Approach to Severe Illness Due to Heredity and Constitution" was exclusively devoted to the killing of children with congenital anomalies or chronic illnesses. In all, 275,000 people were put to death in these killing centers before the Nazi Holocaust.

enter image description here

Law for the Prevention of Offspring with Hereditary Diseases (July 14, 1933)

Anyone suffering from a hereditary disease can be sterilized by a surgical operation if, according to the experience of medical science, there is a high probability that his offspring will suffer from serious physical or mental defects of a hereditary nature. Anyone suffering from any of the following diseases is considered hereditarily diseased under this law:

1. Congenital mental deficiency,

2. Schizophrenia,

3. Manic-depression,

4. Hereditary epilepsy,

5. Hereditary St. Vitus’ Dance (Huntington’s Chorea),

6. Hereditary blindness,

7. Hereditary deafness,

8. Serious hereditary physical deformity.

Furthermore, anyone suffering from chronic alcoholism can be sterilized.

If anyone is trying to get the statistical evidence that Eugenics have even remotely successful, have look at this table:

enter image description here

Current Top 50 death causes of Germany. (Rate = $\frac{death}{1000}$)

They have started various ways to brainwash people, one of them was movies.

$\text{Ich klage an}$

(source: filmportal.de)

Plot: A woman suffering from multiple sclerosis pleads with doctors to kill her

Current Scenario: Germany Rank $18^{th}$ in the world in death due to Multiple sclerosis


  1. Alexander L. Medical science under dictatorship. N Engl J Med 1949;July 14.
  2. http://www.life.org.nz/euthanasia/abouteuthanasia/history-euthanasia6
  3. Table: WHO, World Bank, UNESCO, CIA and individual country databases for global health and causes of death.
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    $\begingroup$ Good answer - I think its worth emphasizing that eugenics is not genetics and the traits that were used were often ridiculous. For instance race as a primary selector in a genetics experiment is useless - we know that variations within race are relatively large. Also these traits are terribly complex - eliminating heart attacks or schitzophrenia by eliminating people when they show signs will not do anything if they already have offspring. $\endgroup$ – shigeta Jul 23 '14 at 13:46
  • $\begingroup$ @shigeta: I agree. But, What they did was nothing to do with biology, it was politics. $\endgroup$ – Devashish Das Jul 23 '14 at 14:01
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    $\begingroup$ -1? Any reason? $\endgroup$ – Devashish Das Jul 23 '14 at 15:42
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    $\begingroup$ not from me... the site reviewers do tend to be a little technocratic. the answer could get back to the genetics of what they tried imho, but you can't do everything. connecting to culture doesn't fly with some community members. not my opinion, but i've been downvoted for cultural references myself. $\endgroup$ – shigeta Jul 23 '14 at 17:09

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