There are few alive today who do not know the incomprehensible horrors of the Holocaust. But while most know the devastating loss of life it incurred, few genuinely understand who was responsible for its design. In Nazi Germany, psychiatrists were the architects of mass murder, applying euthanasia techniques pioneered in their public facilities at scale in concentration camps across Europe. By the end of World War II, over 300,000 mental patients were killed under the orders of Nazi psychiatrists. To this day, it is the largest scientifically justified genocide in human history. Many citizens in Germany today are horrified and confounded that such a thing could have ever happened. But the reality is, it never stopped. The legacy of Nazi psychiatry continues to this day in hospitals across modern-day Germany.
Too many German patients die from psychiatric abuse every year. These preventable deaths come at the hands of barbaric practices like electroconvulsive therapy, unnecessary patient restraint, and severe side effects from medications administered without patient consent. These are perpetuations of the Nazi belief in eliminating “unfit” members of society, and they are still happening because their sinister beginnings have yet to be exposed to the public.
But some are battling to dismantle these inhumane institutions. At the vanguard of this effort is Bernd Trepping and Nicola Cramer, a husband and wife duo who are members of the international psychiatric watchdog group Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) and leaders of its German chapter. They have dedicated their lives to uprooting psychiatric criminality and educating the public on its Nazi origins.
“We know the truth about psychiatric criminality,” says Nicola Cramer in her interview for the documentary series, Voices for Humanity, “[we must] make sure that all human rights and dignity for everybody [is] maintained and safeguarded forever.”
Bernd and Nicola have been fighting for this cause with CCHR for over 25 years. During that time, they have made significant inroads towards their goals of awareness and reform, including the publication of their stunning research exposé, Psychiatrists—The Men Behind Hitler. This unprecedented deep dive into the dark history of German psychiatry sold out its first run almost overnight. Its grassroots success finally pressured a response from the President of the German Psychiatric Association at their annual congress.