The State of Health

Geoffrey Campbell Cocks

in The State of Health

Published in print January 2012 | ISBN: 9780199695676
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191738616 | DOI:
The State of Health

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  • Modern History (1700 to 1945)


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The Third Reich inherited a highly organized German health system. The Nazis also inherited a populace suffering from a wide variety of illnesses and diseases due to longstanding social and economic inequalities and a series of national catastrophes after 1914. Health improved after the Great Depression, but the Third Reich worsened public health for the sake of rearmament. While Jews suffered immediately and perpetually from official persecution, ‘Aryan’ Germans responded to Nazism with a self-centred mixture of enthusiasm, reserve, and anxiety that precluded empathy with the regime's victims. The Nazis preached collective racial identity, forced sterilization upon ‘inferior’ individuals, and indulged individual pleasure and achievement. Health discourse consisted of official tales of healing and health, propaganda against Jewish physicians, and popular preoccupation with their own health and that of their leaders.

Keywords: experience of illness; public health; Jews; self and society; private life; sterilization; illness discourse

Chapter.  25873 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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