Karl Brandt (physician)

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Karl Brandt (January 8, 1904 – June 2, 1948) was a German Nazi war criminal. Among other positions, Brandt headed the administration of the Nazi euthanasia program from 1939 onwards and was selected as Adolf Hitler's personal physician in August 1934. As Major General Reich Commissioner for Health and Sanitation he was involved in criminal human experimentation, along with his deputy Werner Heyde and others. After World War II, Brandt was convicted of crimes against humanity and executed.

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Early life

Brandt was born in Mulhouse in the then German Alsace-Lorraine territory (now in Haut-Rhin, France), but his parents were not Alsatians[citation needed]. He became a medical doctor in 1928. He joined the Nazi Party in January 1932, and became a member of the SA in 1933. He became a member of the SS in July 1934 and was appointed Untersturmführer. From the Summer of 1934 he was Hitler's "Escort Physician". Karl Brandt married Anni Rehborn (born 1904), a champion swimmer, on 17 March 1934. They had one son, Karl Adolf Brandt (born 4 October 1935).

Career in the Third Reich

In the context of the 1933 Nazi law Gesetz zur Verhütung erbkranken Nachwuchses (Law for the Prevention of Hereditarily Diseased Offspring), he was one of the medical scientists who performed abortions in great numbers on women deemed genetically disordered, mentally or physically handicapped or racially deficient, or whose unborn fetuses were expected to develop such genetic "defects". These abortions had been legalized, as long as no healthy Aryan fetuses were aborted.[1]

On September 1, 1939, Brandt was appointed by Hitler co-head of the T-4 Euthanasia Program, with Philipp Bouhler.[2] He received regular promotions in the SS; by January 1943 he was a major general. On April 16, 1945, he was arrested by the Gestapo for moving his family out of Berlin so they could surrender to American forces. He was condemned to death by a court at Berlin. He was released from arrest by order of Karl Dönitz on May 2, 1945. He was placed under arrest by the British on May 23, 1945.

Life in the Inner Circle

Karl Brandt and his wife Anni were members of Hitler's inner circle at Berchtesgaden where Hitler maintained his private residence known as the Berghof. This most exclusive of groups in Nazi Germany functioned as Hitler's de facto family circle, and included Eva Braun, Albert Speer and his wife Margarete Speer, Dr. Theodor Morell, Martin Bormann, Hitler's photographer Heinrich Hoffmann, and Hitler's adjutants (and their wives) and secretaries. As members of this inner circle, the Brandts had a residence near the Berghof and spent extensive time there whenever Hitler was present. In his memoirs, Speer described the familial but numbing lifestyle of Hitler's intimate companions who were forced to stay up most of the night—night after night—listening to the Nazi leader's repetitive monologues or to an unvarying selection of music. Despite Brandt's personal closeness to Hitler, the dictator was furious when he learned shortly before the end of the war that the doctor had sent Anni and their children toward the American lines in hopes of evading capture by the Russians. Only the intervention of Heinrich Himmler and others in the inner circle saved Brandt from execution in the war's closing days. However, his involvement in euthanasia and human medical experimentation led to his conviction and execution by the Allies in 1948.

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