What would've happened if a person in Nazi Germany sued doctors or the state for murder of their disabled relatives? Also, were people allowed to view public records in Nazi Germany? Were records reliable (was there fraud)?

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    Relevant: Lothar Kreyssig a judge in Nazi Germany objected to eugenics and was dismissed from his job for his failure "to consider will of the fuhrer as source of the law". – NSNoob Feb 1 '16 at 10:18
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    Suddenly at 4:00 am your door is broken down and you and your family find yourself to be member of another undesirable class and on a train to a forced labour camp. In effect, there was no Rule of Law once the Reichstag Fire Decree was passed on Feb. 28, 1933: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reichstag_Fire_Decree – Pieter Geerkens Feb 1 '16 at 10:19
  • Very good question. The answer will allow a look into the situation an average citizen found him/herself in during this harrowing time and place. Look up related 'en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nacht_und_Nebel' if at all interested. – Bookeater Feb 1 '16 at 11:05
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    I think the question contains an invalid assumption about the relationship of the citizen and the state in National Socialism/Fascism. The citizen didn't have rights independent of the state - the role of the citizen was to support the state. Fascism is a reaction to the perceived excesses of liberal democracy - which at the time included concept such as "citizenship" and "rights" that were not present in Fascism. – Mark C. Wallace Feb 1 '16 at 13:26

There are a couple of different questions here ...

Could people view public records?

A very qualified yes. Some people could view some public records. Public life had to go on. People bought and sold houses, not just during Arianization. There were ordinary civil and criminal trials, not just political trials.

Could people sue the state?

A qualified yes. There was still a public administration, and people who thought that mistakes were made in their tax assessment or whatever. They could sue.

Could people sue the state over Nazi policies?

Not healthy. The Nazis set up special courts to sentence their enemies, and from 1936 the actions of the secret police were beyond judicial review. On the other hand, the Nazis were terrified of a crumbling of public morale as in WWI. Some people could defy the Nazi administration and get away with it, at least for a time.

Was there fraud in public records to cloak Nazi policies?

A clear yes. This applies to death certificates, notably cause and place of death.

  • What would happen in case of expropriations of property? – user14706 Feb 2 '16 at 7:37
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    @user14706, if it was done in accordance with Nazi law and/or administrative procedures, there was little chance to complain. Even if the administrative procedure was against the law. If the victim was a Jew or from another persecuted minority, again there was little chance to complain, even if the perpetrators broke their own rules. If the perpetrator was an important Nazi, again there was little chance to complain, unless another important Nazi wanted to settle a score. – o.m. Feb 2 '16 at 17:04
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    This answer should be the highest voted answer. – a20 Feb 3 '16 at 9:22
  • Targets for eugenics were not the enemies of the state with the highest priority. They were convicted by ordinary courts most of the time, if not just transferred and murdered in a "routine procedure". Eugenics proponents were not just "the Nazis", but ordinary doctors, family members and judges, independent of party membership. / "Could they sue? – Yes." But they did not! (As a majority. From unaware, tricked and duped to willingly supporting or even actively pursuing the core of this policy and ideology we see all kinds of configurations throughout the populace.) – LаngLаngС May 7 '18 at 10:49
  • … Legal objections to these decisions were far less risky than suing for release of a communist from a camp or against "the big scheme" of the party and state. – LаngLаngС May 7 '18 at 10:49

The predominant source I read, Aly, mentions no one suing the state or individual doctors. The Aktion T-4, as the program to implement the euthansia murders is called now, was set up at first by verbal order by Hitler. The leading physicicians demanded a sort of written order to ensure some lawfulness. This was written in october '39, backdated to the first of september '39 and never published. We can see from this that the physicians organizing the murders were concerned about the legality and wanted some legal protection, and that Hitler insisted on secrecy.

The Nazis set up transfer centers where patients where sent, before beeing sent onward to the killing centers. The euthansia murders where an open secret, so at least sometimes relatives would try to rescue their kin. This often worked by petitioning the transfer centers and taking in persons destined to be murdered. Of course this was only possible if the relatives learned in time and had the ressources to actually care for their kin. Aly notes that during the course of the war, these interventions became less frequent.

This would allow the Euthansia murder program to achieve one of it's goals, emptying hospitals, while also muffling too public resistance against the euthanaisa murders.

The public records where fraudulent: The Nazis would fake death certificates that would list natural causes. Occasionally the date of death would be faked so that relatives could be billed for a longer stay in the states hospital system, that included the killing centers.

Source: Götz Aly: "Die Belasteten. 'Euthanasie' 1939-1945 – Eine Gesellschaftsgeschichte", S. Fischer: Frankfurt am Main, 2013.

  • right now this is just memory from the book, I'll see if I find online sources for more of the claims. – mart May 7 '18 at 7:51
  • Excellent source. Please note: euthansia≠eugenics, though. Further: patients & convicts (guilty of being infected, a drag etc.). "80% of the relatives did not object", some even begging doctors to proceed with murder… On the other hand: staunch resistance (Galen & church, spouses and parents…) in public protest. / Convicts=legal process, but I also do not remember Aly mentioning a single lawsuit against this. Just action directe? – LаngLаngС May 7 '18 at 10:36

I have one reference about "sue the Government" in the Nazi Germany, though it is not about eugenics. When Jewish professors were dismissed, David Hilbert (the most famous German mathematician of the time), who was 71 in 1933 asked his colleagues: why don't you sue the government? Everyone looked at him as if he lost his mind. Reference: Constance Reid, Hilbert, Springer 1996.

Also: some of the German judges were prosecuted by tribunals after the war, exactly for implementing the eugenics/racial laws (by judicial decisions). There is a famous movie about one of these trials: Judgment at Nuremberg by S. Kramer. (Sorry for citing a movie as a reference but this one is based on real facts).

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    I'm not sure that Nuremberg is relevant to the question. OP asks about a suit brought against the Nazi state by someone living in the Nazi state. The Nazi state would have not recognized the authority of the Nuremberg trials. – Mark C. Wallace Feb 1 '16 at 14:32
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    The answer mentions the trial of Nazi judges as a source of information how the Nazis perverted the course of justice. Regardless of how the Nazis regarded the Nuremberg courts, the Nuremberg courts found many Nazi judges guilty. – o.m. Feb 1 '16 at 19:51
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    @Mark C. Wallace: You are right. But these Nuremberg processes show what kind of justice was available in Nazi Germany. And I suppose that most Germans understood this very well in 1933 and later. That's all I wanted to say in my answer. – Alex Feb 1 '16 at 21:56

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