Chapter

The Body of Death

Geoffrey Campbell Cocks

in The State of Health

Published in print January 2012 | ISBN: 9780199695676
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191738616 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199695676.003.0009
The Body of Death

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  • Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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Nazi war was a means to Nazi racial extermination. Most Germans were indifferent or hostile to Jews due to traditional attitudes reinforced by Nazi propaganda. Germans also had modern concerns about their own health and illness that were now aggravated by the demands and dangers of a nation at war. This preoccupation with the self and its body was also intensified by the monolithic Nazi fantasy of ‘the Jew’ as an internal morbid enemy of the people's ‘body’ rather than just an external mortal one. Nazi ‘euthanasia’ of mental patients was undertaken under the cover of war, but the German public was well aware of it. This too further reminded the populace of escalating wartime threats to individual well-being and thus pre-empted active concern for the fate of those officially designated as ‘others’. Jews in the ghettos and camps suffered catastrophic incidence of sickness in advance of extermination. Even some Nazi murderers experienced physical and mental stress and breakdown from their ‘work’. And German fear of disease—especially typhus—was occasionally exploited by Europeans, even Jews, subject to Nazi persecution.

Keywords: Jews as ‘disease’; Germans as ‘victims’; ‘euthanasia’; extermination; illness and murder; illness and death; illness and agency

Chapter.  9511 words. 

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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