Ich klage an

Ich klage an (English: I Accuse) is a 1941 German pro-euthanasia propaganda film directed by Wolfgang Liebeneiner.[1]

It was banned by Allied powers after the war.[2]

Plot

A beautiful young wife suffering from multiple sclerosis pleads with doctors to kill her.[3] Her husband, a successful doctor himself, gives her a fatal overdose and is put on trial, where arguments are put forth that prolonging life is sometimes contrary to nature, and that death is a right as well as a duty.[4] It culminates in the husband's declaration that he is accusing them of cruelty for trying to prevent such deaths.[5]

Propaganda elements

This film was commissioned by Goebbels at the suggestion of Karl Brandt to make the public more supportive of the Reich's T4 euthanasia program, and presented simultaneously with the practice of euthanasia in Nazi Germany.[6] The actual victims of the Nazi euthanasia program Action T4 were in fact killed without their consent, or that of their families.[7] Indeed, one cinema goer is alleged to have compared the film to the program and naively asked how abuses could be prevented from creeping into it.[8]

The SS reported that the churches were uniformly negative about the movie, with Catholics expressing it more strongly but Protestants being equally negative.[9] Opinions in medical circles were positive, though there were doubts, especially though not exclusively in cases where patients thought to be incurable had recovered.[10] Legal professions were anxious that it be placed on a legal footing, and in the few polls that were commissioned, the general population were said to be supportive.[11]

References

  1. "New York Times: Ich Klage An (1941)". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 2016-03-09. Retrieved 2010-10-30.
  2. Romani, Cinzia (1992). Tainted Goddesses: Female Film Stars of the Third Reich. Perseus Books Group. p. 108. ISBN 978-0-9627613-1-7.
  3. Leiser, Erwin (1975). Nazi Cinema. Macmillan. p. 70. ISBN 978-0-02-570230-1.
  4. Leiser, Erwin (1975). Nazi Cinema. Macmillan. pp. 70–71. ISBN 978-0-02-570230-1.
  5. Hertzstein, Robert Edwin. The War That Hitler Won. p. 308. ISBN 978-0-399-11845-6.
  6. Aycoberry, Pierre (1981). The Nazi Question. New York: Pantheon Books. p. 11. ISBN 978-0-394-74841-2.
  7. Leiser, Erwin (1975). Nazi Cinema. Macmillan. p. 69. ISBN 978-0-02-570230-1.
  8. Grunberger, Richard (1971). The 12-year Reich: a social history of Nazi Germany, 1933–1945. Holt, Rinehart and Winston. p. 385. ISBN 978-0-03-076435-6.
  9. Leiser, Erwin (1975). Nazi Cinema. Macmillan. pp. 146–147. ISBN 978-0-02-570230-1.
  10. Leiser, Erwin (1975). Nazi Cinema. Macmillan. p. 147. ISBN 978-0-02-570230-1.
  11. Leiser, Erwin (1975). Nazi Cinema. Macmillan. p. 148. ISBN 978-0-02-570230-1.
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