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Omega (Westport). 1999-2000;40(1):255-65.

Of euphemisms and euthanasia: the language games of the Nazi doctors and some implications for the modern euthanasia movement.

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Trinity International University, 2065 Half Day Road, Deerfield, IL 60015, USA.


Euphemisms are place-holders for important concepts. They may disguise a practice which one might abhor if it were given another name. In Nazi Germany during World War II, euphemisms were used to desensitize physicians and society to the horrors of a program of euthanasia. This article examines some of the euphemisms used by the Nazi physicians to redefine medicalized killing, compares the Nazi language games with those of contemporary proponents of medicalized killing, and concludes that the consistent application of euphemisms for medicalized killing significantly weakens arguments against assisted killing.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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