Lunchtime Lecture – “The Most Humane Way”: Nazi Doctors and the legalisation of mass murder
Wednesday 22nd November
Lee-Anne Whitten and Dr Simon Holloway
People with disabilities occupied a unique position in the history of the Holocaust. Throughout the 1930s, they were the only group that the Nazis spoke openly of wishing to kill. After 1945, they were the only group whose murders – in German hospitals – continued to occur. A general absence of survivor testimony may have rendered the experiences of the intellectually and physically disabled all but inaccessible to a whole generation of historians, but the means by which the perpetrators legalised their murders, and the techniques developed to expedite this genocide, are critical for an understanding of the Final Solution to both the “Gypsy” and Jewish questions. In this lecture, Simon Holloway will present an overview of the Third Reich’s treatment of those deemed “unworthy of life” and will consider its importance to an understanding of the Holocaust as a whole. Lee-Anne Whitten will also consider the place of these issues in contemporary Australian society, and discuss our obligations as guides in the Sydney Jewish Museum.
Lee-Anne Whitten is a social policy consultant specialising in disability. She has worked in the sector for 15 years. Lee-Anne works with people with disability, their families, carers, government and service providers to enhance human rights outcomes for people living with a disability. She currently consults with WestWood Spice, a highly-regarded think tank, where she has a special interest in person-centred practice, policy, investigative work into abuse, neglect and systemic safeguarding practices within the disability sector.
Dr Simon Holloway is an Education Officer at the Sydney Jewish Museum and a sessional lecturer at the University of Sydney, where he teaches Classical Hebrew and Jewish History. Simon holds a PhD from the University of Sydney, for which he investigated the function of metaphors in the Hebrew Bible. His current research concerns the textual transmission of the early rabbinic literature and the use of humour in halakhic texts.