Say what you like about the Nazis, but…

Here’s something that occurred to me in the small hours about the argumentum ad hitlerum as it gets applied to the euthanasia dispute.

Proponents of the argument point to what happened in the Third Reich as a warning about euthanasia, the claim being that the Nazi so-called euthanasia programme led to the involuntary deaths of many people deemed to be “useless mouths”, and could all-too-easily do so again.  The obvious rebuttal to this argument is that the Nazi programme wasn’t actually euthanasia – the word was used, when it was used at all, as a euphemism to cover up what was straightforwardly murder; it therefore tells us nothing about echt euthanasia.

But here’s the odd thing about the argumentum: it relies on accepting the word “euthanasia” as being at least a tolerably accurate description of what went on in the death camps.  And that means that proponents are saying, in effect, that we can say what we like about the Nazis, but we have to accept as reliable their accounts of what they were up to; that they can’t possibly have been trying to cover up the programme.

And that’s just weird.  I mean: granted what we know they got up to, doesn’t a little duplicity seem well within their capacities?

  • Scu

    Oddly enough, this sort of debate arises often on the issue of animal welfare/vegetarianism with the Nazis. I regularly point out that many animal rights organizations were persecuted by the Nazis, many of the laws were never enforced, and people like Hitler were never practicing vegetarians. Is it really that strange that they released propaganda to say they were kind to animals?

    Basically, I never understand this tendency to buy into Nazi propaganda as if it revealed their real stances on issues.