(right) Nurses put babies under a sunlamp. (right top) A Nazi nurse fits a young girl with a gasmask in 1937. (right bottom) A nurse gives children UV light treatments at a Berlin nursery. (Dailymail online)
The Daily Star, January 14, 2013
Like other wartime nurses, those in Nazi Germany selflessly tended to wounded soldiers in some of the toughest conditions imaginable.
But they also had a more sinister side to their job - assisting with Third Reich's “experiments” including euthanising the mentally handicapped and other groups Hitler deemed “undesirable” and assisting in the creation of “Super Race Children”.
A collection of harrowing photographs has captured these women, probably in the nursing profession's darkest hour.
The actions of the Nazi doctors throughout the war are well documented but the actions of the nurses and others who assisted them in their controversial endeavours are often ignored. Whether they were simply following orders, or trying to help out, or fight, for a cause they believed in, these women are part of the diverse history of the nursing profession.
But this collection of photographs captures the occupation in its darkest hours. Probably the most disturbing project the nurses of Nazi Germany assisted in was the Lebensborn Program, where scientists, on orders of Heinrich Himmler, attempted to breed an elite race of pure Aryans to lead the Third Reich.
Under the horrific plan, children who didn't measure up were sent to concentration camps.
In 1939, the Nazi's went even further, travelling to occupied territories such as Poland to steal hundreds of thousands of Aryan-looking children. The youngsters were transferred to Lebensborn clinics where they were “Germanised” and then adopted out to SS families. Children who refused to be indoctrinated were beaten, and often sent to concentration camps where they were killed.
Nurses performed tasks such as treating brown-haired children's hair with UV light in a bid to make it fairer.
Whether they were simply following orders, or trying to help out, or fight for a cause they believed in, these nurses are part of the diverse history of the nursing profession.