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HealthEugenics leader Ernst Rüdin convicted for Incitement to Crimes against Humanity

Eugenics leader Ernst Rüdin convicted for Incitement to Crimes against Humanity

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The decision of an International Mock Trial on Human Rights on Ernst Rüdin was rendered by judges of the highest standing and experience. The trial however was not a real court case, but an action part of an educational program for young leaders organized by the Social Excellence Forum at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. It was part of the 2023 Holocaust Remembrance under the UN Outreach Programme on the Holocaust.

In an imagined courtroom, 32 students between 15 and 22 years old, from ten countries representing a diversity of nationalities, religions, ethnicities and beliefs from around the world, interrogated the so-called father of Nazi Racial Hygiene, ardent Nazi Ernst Rüdin (his person was presented by an actor). A psychiatrist, geneticist, and eugenicist Ernst Rüdin was responsible for untold suffering and death during the 1930s and 40s.

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Young litigator. Photo Credit: THIX Photo

The young litigators introduced the Mock Trial with the statement: “The man on trial today never faced a court of law. He was never made to answer for the murderous acts he condoned and facilitated, nor did he have to face the consequences of the role he played in supporting the genocidal policies of the Nazis – in part due to lack of evidence at the time – which we now have – and in part due to a prosecution strategy.”

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Young Prosecutor confronting the defendant Ernst Rüdin with the 1933 Nazi Sterilization law for which he co-authored the official commentary as evidence presented to the Court. Photo Credit: THIX Photo

It was further noted, that while this trial did not happen at the time, and the man who was portraying Ernst Rüdin is an actor, the man Ernst Rüdin was very real. And while “he never found a single shred of actual scientific evidence to back up his “Racial Hygiene” ideology, he did not hesitate to promote it with the full force, reputation and authority of medical science,” in service of his personal bias.

Rüdin helped formulate and especially worked on the implementation of the 1933 Nazi “Law for the Prevention of Offspring with Hereditary Diseases” that legalized the forced sterilization of some 400,000 Germans between 1934 and 1939. Rüdin helped to implement the so-called “T4 programme,” — the first mass murder committed under National Socialism (Nazi). Rüdin was directly involved in the killing of children in order to conduct post-mortem research. Because of a loophole in the law, Rüdin was never prosecuted for his crimes.

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Young litigator. Photo Credit: THIX Photo

When asked why holding a mock trial today some 70 years after the fact? The answer given was, that through exposing the injustices Ernst Rüdin brought about, some form of justice is restored – it is the justice of acknowledging the irrefutable facts of what took place in Nazi Germany, who the perpetrators and collaborators were, and never forgetting the victims.

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Young litigator. Photo Credit: THIX Photo

They added that “We wish to convey an unequivocal and clear message to everyone in the world, that humanity has a multi-generational memory, and those who violated human rights of others will be remembered and brought to justice even after many decades have passed.”

After the Second World War, Ernst Rüdin, who was considered one of the major figures in German psychiatry, genetics and eugenics in the first half of the 20th century, claimed that he was a scientist and not a politician, and thus innocent. He was believed, denazified and classified a nominal party member. The psychiatrist who helped develop the Nazi mass sterilization law, and played a key part in the murder of over 300,000 people deemed to be unworthy of life, died in retirement in 1952, a free man.

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Young litigator. Photo Credit: THIX Photo

The panel of three judges of the International Mock Trial consisted of distinguished and proven judges with experience at the highest level. The presiding Judge, the Honorable Judge Angelika Nussberger is a former Vice President of the European Court of Human Rights, the Honourable Judge Silvia Fernández de Gurmendi has been the President of the International Criminal Court (Ret.), and the Honourable Judge Elyakim Rubinstein is a former Vice President of the Israeli Supreme Court.

Following the hours long proceedings by the young prosecution and defense litigators, the judges deliberated and found Ernst Rüdin guilty of:

1. Incitement to Crimes against Humanity of murder, extermination, torture and persecution

2. Incitement as well as directly causing the crime against humanity of sterilization

3. Membership in Criminal Organizations [the Association of German Neurologists and Psychiatrists] as per Articles 9 and 10 to the Nuremberg Principles.

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Young litigator. Photo Credit: THIX Photo

The young litigators noted, “today, we believe that justice was served because Rüdin’s lie that he was innocent, has been proven beyond doubt, false.”

They further noted, “We, young leaders from around the world, are not here only to restore historical justice; We are here to make a change. To inspire. To create an effect. To warn of the danger of racism in all its forms and the terrible consequences of classifying and discriminating against people on the basis of a disability, religious affiliation, genetic or ethnic belonging or any other arbitrary reason.

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Young litigator. Photo Credit: THIX Photo

We are here today because it is important for us to make the world recognize and respect the diversity and uniqueness of each and every one of us, and to encourage everyone to strengthen international solidarity for the protection of human rights.

After all, we are all one living human family.”

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Young litigators. Photo Credit: THIX Photo
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