Dangers of ambivalence: lessons learned from the Nazi era
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Dangers of ambivalence: lessons learned from the Nazi era

Helen Atherton Lecturer in nursing, School of Healthcare, University of Leeds

Helen Atherton explains why the Nazi-led children’s euthanasia programme should make us question the legality and morality of interventions that affect the most vulnerable people in society

This article seeks to raise awareness among learning disability practitioners of actions carried out by healthcare professionals at the Am Spiegelgrund clinic in Vienna between 1940 and 1945, which led to the deaths of hundreds of children with mental and physical disabilities. The author suggests that understanding and remembrance of such historical events are essential for safeguarding patients now and in the future. Without a historical ‘yardstick’, professionals may be unable to recognise individual or collective actions that threaten the human and civil rights of society’s most vulnerable members.

Learning Disability Practice. 16, 1,16-20. doi: 10.7748/ldp2013.



Peer review

This article has been subject to double blind peer review

Conflict of interest

None declared

Received: 31 July 2012

Accepted: 23 October 2012