Students of Death: Euthanasia Doctors Seek Existential Answers at Auschwitz – part 1

Published on Spiegel Online International, by Katrin Kuntz, Nov 21, 2014 (Photo Gallery – Translated from the German by Paul Cohen).

A group of Belgium’s leading practitioners of euthanasia recently visited the Auschwitz concentration camp memorial to learn more about death and humanity. The trip proved to be just as controversial for the doctors as it did insightful … //

… Some 70 people gradually gather around Distelmans. The group consists of doctors, psychologists and nurses from Belgium, most of whom work in the area of euthanasia. One of them is Eric Vandevelde, who during the course of his career has killed 20 people at their own request even as he helps women give birth every day. He’s accompanied by his wife Colette, who was instrumental in introducing Belgium’s euthanasia law 12 years ago. Manu Keirse, a psychologist, is also on hand.
He’s the author of 35 books, nearly all of which are on the topic of mourning. There’s also Bea Verbeeck, a psychiatrist who is currently examining a request by a manic depressive man who gambles away tousands during his manic phases. Distelmans, who is the chairman of the Belgian government’s Euthanasia Commission, has invited all of them on a trip to Poland.

Death with Dignity:

In Auschwitz he intends to reflect with them on the meaning of “death with dignity”. That’s also the title of the tour, which is printed on the program booklet. It has to do with existential questions: self-determination, fear and freedom — and what these things mean to us today. And it concerns how far we go, should go, and should be allowed to go.

But the group is not limited to euthanasia specialists. A Belgian journalist is also standing at the gate. “I’m traveling as far as Birkenau, and when I have enough material, I’ll go back home,” he says. A tour operator accompanying the group says, “I normally do football trips.” There’s also a homeopath who says: “A well-balanced individual has no need for euthanasia.” Some of the medical professionals have taken along their wives, who are looking forward to seeing the picturesque medieval city of Krakow. A Jewish photographer named Guy Kleinblatt is also there. Members of his family died in Auschwitz and he is visiting the site for the first time. What all of these people have in common is that they support euthanasia and a liberal society.

They are following Distelmans to Auschwitz, they say, to learn more respect for their fellow human beings. In Auschwitz they intend to find out why the right of the individual to decide over his own life is inalienable — and why people must be absolutely free to make their own decisions in this respect. Auschwitz, they say, is the antithesis of everything that they hope to achieve, and they are seeking to reflect there upon what it means to kill out of humility and love.

Protesting ‘Dr. Death’: … //

… Euthanasia in Belgium: … //

… In Belgium a person who wants to die with someone else’s assistance must be of a sound state of mind. He has to write down his wish and express it on a number of occasions. Then an attending physician has to establish whether the patient is terminally ill, and explain what treatments are still possible. The law prescribes that the doctor and the patient have to come to the conclusion that there is no other viable solution. If the patient were going to die in the immediate future anyway, only two physicians are required to decide on his wish. If no prognosis can be made about his life expectancy, three physicians need to be consulted.

(full text).

Part 2: Too Quick To Say Yes to Suicide?
Part 3: A Place without Hope.

Related Links:


Euthanasia and physician assisted suicide:

Frank Schultz, Nachruf:

  • er sagt “Nichts ist demütigender, als von anderen vorgeschrieben zu bekommen, wie man zu sterben hat”
  • / il dit «Rien n’est plus humiliant qu’on vous dicte comment vous avez à mourir»
  • / he says «Nothing is more humiliating than to get prescribed by others as one has to die»

vieillir et autonomie;

Euthanasia – on en.Wikipedia … refers to the practice of intentionally ending a life in order to relieve pain and suffering[1] …; /See also; /External Links;

Other Links:

Occupy prevented from setting up Parliament Square camp, on, Nov 22, 2014;

US, Canada & Ukraine vote against Russia’s anti-Nazism resolution at UN, on Russia Today RT, Nov 22, 2014;

Washington man spent 19 yrs in jail on fake child molestation charges, on Russia Today RT, Nov 22, 2014;

Epic snow storm: Western NY digs out after record flurry, on Russia Today RT, Nov 21, 2014;

… and this:

April 15, 2010.

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