Karl Brandt

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Karl Brandt
Karl Brandt.jpg
SS-Obersturmbannführer Dr. med. Karl Brandt
Birth date 8 January 1904
Place of birth Mülhausen, Alsace-Lorraine, German Empire
Death date 2 June 1948
Place of death Landsberg Prison, Landsberg am Lech, Allied-occupied Germany
Allegiance  National Socialist Germany
Service/branch Parteiadler der Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (1933–1945) (vector version).png NSDAP (No. 1,009,617)
SA-Logo.png Sturmabteilung
Flag Schutzstaffel.png Waffen SS
Balkenkreuz.jpg Wehrmacht
Years of service
  • 1932–1945
  • 1933–1934
  • 1934–1945
  • 1935–1945
Battles/wars World War II
Relations ∞ 1934 Anni Rehborn; 1 son
Other work Personal physician of Adolf Hitler; General Commissioner, later Reich Commissioner for Health and Sanitation (Generalkommissar / Reichskommissar des Führers für das Sanitäts- und Gesundheitswesen)

Karl Franz Friedrich Brandt (8 January 1904 – 2 June 1948) was a German physician, SS officer, Sanitätsoffizier and an organizer of Action T4. Prof. Dr. med. Brandt was the highest-ranking among the accused physicians in the so-called Nuremberg Doctors' Trial. He was sentenced to death in 1947 and executed by hanging in 1948.


Karl Brandt during his student days, 1925
SS-Brigadeführer Dr. Karl Brandt
Prof. Dr. Brandt with his beloved son Karl Adolf

Brandt was selected the personal physician of Adolf Hitler in August 1944 and headed the administration of the euthanasia program from 1939. As Major General Reich Commissioner for Health and Sanitation he was alleged to have been involved in human experimentation, along with his deputy Werner Heyde and others.

Brandt was born in Mülhausen in the then German Alsace-Lorraine territory (now Mulhouse, France). He became a medical doctor in 1928. He joined the NSDAP in January 1932, and became a member of the SA in 1933. He became a member of the SS in July 1934 and was appointed Untersturmführer. From the summer of 1934 he was Hitler's "Escort Physician". On September 1, 1939, he was appointed by Hitler co-head of the T-4 Euthanasia Program, with Philipp Bouhler. He became professor on 5 May 1940 (Professor für Chirurgie, Universität Berlin).

Karl Brandt and his wife Anni were members of Hitler's inner circle at Berchtesgaden where Hitler maintained his private residence known as the Berghof. This very exclusive group functioned as Hitler's de facto family circle. It included Eva Braun, Albert Speer, his wife Margarete, Theodor Morell, Martin Bormann, Hitler's photographer Heinrich Hoffmann, Hitler's adjutants and his secretaries.

He received regular promotions in the SS; by January 1943 he was a major general and 1944 lieutenant general. On 19 September 1944, Adolf hitler drove to the Berliner university hospital for head X-rays to be made. SS-Gruppenführer Dr. Karl Brandt took him to the wards where some of the July 20 bomb victims still lay.

On April 16, 1945 he was arrested by the Gestapo for moving his family out of Berlin. He was condemned to death by a court at Berlin. He was released from arrest by order of Karl Dönitz on May 2, 1945. He was placed under arrest by the British on May 23, 1945.


  • Medical-Studies at the Universities in Jena, Freiburg/Breisgau, Munich and Berlin (1924-1928)
  • Surgical Specialist Training and Oberarzt at the Surgical University Clinic Berlin (1928-1934)
  • Entered the NSDAP (1 March 1932)
  • Entered the SA (1933), promoted to SA-Sturmführer
  • Entered the SS (SS Number: 260,353) on 29 July 1934 with effect from 1 March 1934
  • Leader with Special Duties in the Staff of SS-Senior-Section East (1 March 1934 to 1 December 1937)
  • Leader with Special Duties in SS-Hauptamt (1 December 1937 to 1 September 1939)
  • Assigned with the Euthanasia Programme (Vernichtung lebensunwerten Lebends or the Prevention and Annhihilation of Unworthy Life) (01 Sep 1939)
  • Leader with Special Duties of Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler (15 May 1940 to 5 October 1944)
  • Attendant-Medic of the Führer and Supreme Commander of the Wehrmacht (1 March 1944 to 5 October 1944)
  • General-Commissioner of the Führer and Reichs-Commissioner for the Medical and Health Matters (17 August 1942 to 5 October 1944)
  • Director of the Entire Medical Supply and Welfare Matters and Co-Ordinator of Medical Research (5 September 1943 to 5 October 1944)
  • Relieved of all Offices (5 October 1944)
  • Arrested by the Gestapo in the Villa of Joseph Goebbels (16 April 1945)[1]
  • Condemned to Death for treason (17 April 1945)
    • Brandt had secretly moved his family in a position of safety where they could surrender to the US-American forces instead of to the Soviet; he was given Stay of Execution by Heinrich Himmler, after intercession by Albert Speer, which stalled the process by calling for more witnesses. Over Schwerin, Kiel, and Rendsburg he made it to Flensburg.
  • Officially as innocent released by Dönitz (3 May 1945)
  • Arrested together with Karl Dönitz’s cabinet in Flensburg (Regierung Dönitz) by British authorities (23 May 1945)
  • In Allied Detention then Prison (May 1945 to 20 August 1947)
  • Condemned to Death by a US Court for having approved medical experiments by SS doctors at concentration camps (20 August 1947)
  • Hanged in Landsburg Prison (2 June 1948)


Brandt was tried along with twenty-two others at the Palace of Justice in Nuremberg, Germany. The trial was officially titled United States of America v. Karl Brandt et al., but is more commonly referred to as the "Doctors' Trial"; it began on December 9, 1946. He was charged with "special responsibility for, and participation in, Freezing, Malaria, LOST Gas, Sulfanilamide, Bone, Muscle and Nerve Regeneration and Bone Transplantation, Sea-Water, Epidemic Jaundice, Sterilization, and Typhus Experiments... [also] in connection with the planning and carrying out of the Germans T-4 Euthanasia Program of the German Reich... [and] with membership in the SS".


Judgment was pronounced on August 19, 1947. Brandt and six others were sentenced to death by hanging (all carried out at Landsberg Prison on June 2, 1948), nine were given prison terms of fifteen years to life, and seven were found not guilty. After his conviction, Brandt offered his body for use in medical experiments, but this was refused. In the moments before he was hanged, he declared:

“It is no shame to stand on this scaffold. I served my Fatherland as others before me.”

He disregarded the order that condemned prisoners refrain from making speeches on the gallows, continuing to speak proudly even as the hood was drawn over his head.


On 17 March 1934, Dr. Brandt married the record swimmer Anna "Anni" Rehborn (b. 20 November 1907 in Bochum; d. 30 November 1987), whom Hitler had known since 1925. The marriage produced a son, Karl Adolf (b. 4 October 1935); Karl Adolf Brandt studied medicine, became a surgeon and later head of the Duisburg trade association accident clinic, then chief physician of the department for hand surgery, plastic surgery and burn injuries. From 2001 to 2007, Dr. Brandt was an honorary corresponding member for the field of hand surgery of the expert commission for medical treatment errors at the North Rhine Medical Association. He appeared as a candidate in the 2014 Chamber Assembly (Kammerversammlung) election.


Awards and decorations