I posted earlier this month about a new television show exploiting criminals by giving them the best day ever right before arresting them. The TV executive responsible for the show rationalized the exploitation: “If it were a regular person you’d feel bad for them, but they are all wanted by the law.” This sort of rationale is used frequently to justify persecuting sociopaths or other unpopular sub-populations. Take for instance the justifications for the horrible medical experiments practiced by the Nazis on their Jewish captives:
Does the term subhuman sound familiar?
What underpinned this behaviour was a widespread belief that some people were less than human, relegated to a lower plane of existence by their inherited degeneracy - or their race. For German doctors, a camp inmate was either a racially inferior subhuman, a vicious criminal, a traitor to the German cause, or more than one of the above. Such beings had no right to life or wellbeing - indeed, it was logical that they should be sacrificed in the interests of the survival and triumph of the German race, just as that race had to be strengthened by the elimination of the inferior, degenerate elements within it. After all, German medical science had uncovered the causes of several major diseases and contributed massively to improving the health of the population over the previous decades. Surely, therefore, it was justified in eliminating negative influences as well?
These days, it is obvious that racial hygiene is pseudoscience, but in the 1920s and 1930s it was considered a perfectly reputable science, and indeed many universities had academic departments devoted to it, not just in Germany. Against this backdrop, with their nation engaged in total war and steeped in propaganda and ideology that proclaimed the Jews to be a "cancer" or an "infection" threatening the health of the volk, physicians and scientists really did come to believe that the enemies of the Nazi state were subhuman.