The “killing nurses” or “murderous nurses” of the Third Reich were a group of German nurses who actively participated in the Nazi euthanasia program, also known as “Aktion T4.” The program was designed to exterminate individuals who were deemed “unfit” or “life unworthy of life,” including the elderly, disabled, mentally ill, and others who were deemed a burden on society.
Many of the nurses involved in this program were trained in the traditional nursing profession and were seen as caretakers of society. However, the Nazi regime’s propaganda and indoctrination convinced them that they were doing a noble duty by killing those who were seen as a drain on resources and a burden on society.
The nurses’ role in the euthanasia program varied. Some were directly involved in the administration of lethal injections, while others played supportive roles, such as assisting with the transportation of patients or managing the paperwork associated with the program. Some of these nurses were even promoted to higher positions within the healthcare system for their participation in the euthanasia program.
The exact number of nurses involved in the program is unknown, but it is estimated that thousands were involved. Some of the most notorious killing nurses include Herta Oberheuser, who conducted medical experiments on female prisoners at the Ravensbrück concentration camp, and Irma Grese, known as the “Hyena of Auschwitz,” who was responsible for the murder of numerous prisoners at the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp.
After the war, many of these nurses were tried and convicted for their crimes against humanity. Some received the death penalty, while others received lengthy prison sentences. The legacy of the killing nurses of the Third Reich serves as a stark reminder of how easily individuals can be convinced to participate in heinous acts under the guise of “duty” or “obedience.”