Nurses writing about psychiatric nurses' involvement in killings during the Nazi era: a preliminary discourse analysis

Colin A. Holmes, Margaret McAllister, Andrew Crowther

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
6 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Nurses actively killed people in Nazi Europe between 1939 and 1945. The so-called ‘science of eugenics’ underpinned Nazi ideology, used to further the Nazi racist agenda. Edicts sanctioned selection and medically supervised killing of people, and nurses, principally in mental hospitals, participated in the killing of between 100–300 thousand patients. Erroneously termed ‘euthanasia', there were three phases: the initial programme involving children, the T4 adult programme, and ‘wild euthanasia'. Unofficial killings also took place before 1939. This paper uses discourse analysis to map and analyse published texts which explore the role of nurses in Nazi Germany. The aim is to identify its characteristics as a body of literature, to note strengths and weaknesses, emphases and silences, and to note aspects that need further exploration. It acknowledges that how these events are to be understood and represented in contemporary discourse constitutes a significant problem for historians of nursing.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)63-84
Number of pages23
JournalHealth and History
Volume18
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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