Birthday: January 8, 1904
Died At Age: 44
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Also Known As: Dr. Karl Brandt
Born in: Mulhouse
Notorious As: Personal Physician of Adolf Hitler
Spouse/Ex-: Anni Rehborn
children: Karl Adolf Brandt
Died on: June 2, 1948
place of death: Landsberg Prison
Who was Karl Brandt?
Karl Brandt was a German physician who served as Adolf Hitler’s personal physician, and was the highest medical authority in the Nazi regime. He held a powerful position in Nazi Germany and was the administrator of the Aktion T4 euthanasia program during which a recorded 70,273 people were killed at various hospitals in Germany and Austria. Born as the son of a Prussian Army officer, Brandt grew up to be a brilliant young man who became a medical doctor and surgeon. He was once summoned to treat Hitler’s adjutant who was hurt in an automobile accident. The young doctor impressed the Nazi leader so much that Hitler asked him to become his personal physician. The ambitious doctor was so successful in winning Hitler’s trust that over the years he rose in prominence in Nazi Germany. When Hitler planned to implement an involuntary euthanasia scheme to dispose of the citizens he deemed useless, he chose Brandt to head the program. Over a period of two years, he masterminded the extermination of thousands of people and also performed cruel medical experiments on the civilians and prisoners-of-war. His downfall came soon after the World War II ended. He was arrested and sentenced to death by a U.S. military tribunal for his involvement in war crimes.
Childhood & Early Life
Karl Brandt was born on January 8, 1904, in Mulhouse, Alsace-Lorraine. His father was a Prussian Army officer.
An intelligent and hardworking boy, he grew up to become a medical doctor and surgeon in 1928 with specialization in head and spinal injuries.
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An ambitious young man, he joined the upcoming Nazi Party in January 1932. A few months later he was summoned by Adolf Hitler to treat one of his adjutants, Wilhelm Bruckner, who was injured in an automobile accident.
Brandt was a skilled doctor and he efficiently administered to Bruckner’s wounds. Hitler was greatly impressed by the physician and asked him to join his group of personal physicians.
In 1933, he joined the Sturmabteilung (SA), the original paramilitary wing of the Nazi Party, and the next year he became a member of the Schutzstaffel (SS), a major paramilitary organization under Adolf Hitler and the National Socialist German Workers' Party. He was soon successful in winning Hitler’s favor and was appointed to the officer rank Untersturmführer.
In 1933, the Nazi law Gesetz zur Verhütung erbkranken Nachwuchses (Law for the Prevention of Hereditarily Diseased Offspring) was implemented. Brandt became one of the major medical figures who in the context of the law performed forced abortions on a large number of women deemed genetically disordered, mentally or physically handicapped or racially deficient.
Brandt’s works earned him the appreciation of the Nazi leader and he was made Hitler's "Escort Physician" in 1934. He was also made responsible for the implementation of the Law for the Protection of Hereditary Health that was used to introduce compulsory sterilization.
In 1939, Hitler appointed Brandt as the co-head of the T4 euthanasia program, with Philipp Bouhler. The forced euthanasia program involved the systematic killing of the deformed, physically handicapped, mentally ill, or incurably ill people by gas or lethal injections in hospitals and nursing homes. The first person killed under the program was a baby boy with physical deformities.
Under the scheme, the German physicians were directed to sign off patients "incurably sick, by critical medical examination" and then administer to them a "mercy death". The program officially commenced in September 1939 and continued till August 1941 during which several thousands of people—officially estimated at 70,273—were killed at hospitals and asylums in Germany and Austria.
In 1942, Brandt was accorded even more power and was appointed Commissioner of Sanitation and Health (Bevollmächtiger für das Sanitäts und Gesundheitswesen) by Hitler. This promotion made Brandt the most powerful medical figure in Nazi Germany.
More promotions followed and by April 1944, Brandt was a SS-Gruppenführer in the Allgemeine-SS and a SS-Brigadeführer in the Waffen-SS.
However, he greatly displeased Hitler when he moved his family out of Berlin. Hitler believed he planned to surrender to the Allied forces and ordered the Gestapo to arrest Brandt. He was about to be executed when the timely intervention of Admiral Doenitz saved his life.
After the end of the war, he was arrested by the Allied forces and brought to trial on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
He was a major figure in the forced abortion program under which abortions were brutally induced upon thousands of pregnant women who were deemed “genetically defective” by the Nazi regime. He was also a driving force behind a program of forced sterilization.
He was the administrator of the Aktion T4 euthanasia program under which Hitler authorized Karl Brandt to carry out involuntary euthanasia of civilians deemed incurable. Over a period of two years, several thousands of men, women, and children were mercilessly killed and several others were subjected to cruel medical experiments.
Personal Life & Legacy
Karl Brandt married Anni Rehborn a champion swimmer, in 1934. A son, Karl Adolf Brandt, was born to them the next year.
Following his arrest, he was tried along with 22 others in the trial that was officially titled ‘United States of America v. Karl Brandt et al.’, but is more commonly referred to as the "Doctors' Trial".
He was tried for several counts including crimes against humanity, war crimes, and membership in a criminal organization, among others. Pronounced guilty, he was sentenced to death by hanging. He was executed at Landsberg Prison on June 2, 1948.