Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Honors Thesis


Modern Languages

First Advisor

Dr. Melissa Etzler


It is no secret that many of our current scientific and medical advancements stem from a long history of research, trials, and experimentation, but not enough is known about the origins of our routine practices. The Holocaust enabled Nazi doctors to explore countless victims in search of the ultimate answer to the Jewish question. The answer: to alleviate the burden that those deemed “unworthy of life” placed on the greater society. The mass extermination practices which highlight the atrocities of the Holocaust are the end result of constant scientific developments disguised as medicine. Tiergarten 4 (T4) serves as the beginning of the euthanasia project, a secret initiative which strived to perfect the science behind extermination. This project quickly grew from a science experiment into a plague that invaded psychiatric asylums, pediatric wards, and eventually evolved into the main method of extermination in Nazi concentration camps. In the years following the conclusion of the war, the world turned its face from the horrors associated with the Holocaust. Tactics, regimens, and beliefs established throughout the Nazi regime were abandoned and disregarded as inhumane – except for those discovered through the robust scientific experiments disguised in the name of medicine. How did we progress from utilizing Zyklon B pellets into gas chambers to giving patients doses of anesthesia to be sedated for procedures? This paper analyzes the slow progression from madness to medicine, uncovering how Nazi medical experimentation slowly morphed into routine practices acknowledged in the medical field today.