Life is precious. Life is fragile. It’s the one thing we, as humans, hold tighter to than fame or fortune. It’s the one thing we all have in common. But what if one group of people had the power to decide who could live and who would die? What if one group decided which lives were worthy and which ones were unworthy of life?
History gives an answer; in 1920 Alfred Hoche and Karl Binding, two German professors, published a book called Die Freigabe der Vernichtung Lebensunwertem Lebens… or Allowing the Destruction of Life Unworthy of Life. The book crystallized and furthered prevailing thought about what to do about the ‘unfit.’ The world knows all about the tragedy that unfolded. The world does not know that similar arguments are being made today.
In this fictional account, author Derek Elkins gives us a glimpse into the unfolding of that tragedy.
Viktor Gottslieb was a doctor, fresh from medical college and assigned to one of Hitler’s pet projects: the T4 Program. Before there was the Holocaust, there was the Action T4 program. This program quietly shipped disabled and mentally ill people of all ages to locations in Germany in attempt to ‘sanitize’ the German race. Such medical procedures need doctors; enter Dr. Viktor Gottlieb, an idealistic young doctor who finds himself practicing medicine in a way he had never anticipated. Through the Program Viktor initially finds a release, a prescription to alleviate the problem of patient’s suffering and lives that are less than full. He is firmly rooted in the ideal that life that is not as full as his own, or at the least, life that he does not judge as fully as his own, is not worthy to be lived.
Through a relationship with one of the patients and conversations with his brother and a nurse, Viktor finds his concepts of right and wrong in regards to the quality and legitimacy of life challenged and tossed on their collective head. His journey will take him to the boundaries of what he foundationally believes and make him question the presuppositions that constitute his very being.