Conti, Leonardo Ambrogio Giorgio Giovanni.

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Conti, Leonardo Ambrogio Giorgio Giovanni.
germanygovernmentSS ObergruppenführerWaffen SS

Conti, Leonardo Ambrogio Giorgio Giovanni, born 24-08-1900 in Lugano to a Swiss Italian father, Silvio Conti, and a German mother, Nanna Pauli . His mother later became the Reich Midwifery Leader in Nazi Germany. When the Nazis seized power in 1933, midwives officially became part of the national health system, and Conti was appointed head of the new, consolidated midwives association. She became known as the Reichshebammenführerin, standardizing midwifery education and establishing milk depots for mothers to donate extra breast milk. She also edited the association’s journal and advocated Nazi ideals. Midwives, in turn, were expected to join the professional organization and adhere to party ideology. She died on 30-12-1951 in Bielefeld among her son’s family  Conti later studied medicine in Berlin, Friedrich Humboldt Universität, F.H.U  and Erlangen (Friedrich Alexander Universität, F.A.U). He became active in the völkisch movement, and co-founded an antisemic paper called Kampfbund (“Struggle league”)   He took part in the Kapp Putsch  in 1920. From 1923 he was a member of the Sturmabteilung (SA) , under Ernst Röhm, becoming their first physician; one of his patients was SA man Horst Wessel, who eventually became a martyr of the Nazi Party . In 1925, he promoted Über Weichteilplastik im Gesicht”, a book about facial plastic surgery . In 1927 he left his usual activities and started organizing the National Socialist German Doctors’ League (NSDÄB),  Nationalsozialistischer Deutscher Ärztebund) in Berlin.

Conti joined the Schutzstaffel (SS)  and, as an “old fighter” of the party , he was appointed by Hermann Göring to the Prussian State Council. Conti held the posts and titles of Head of the Reich Physicians’ Chamber, Reichsärztekammer, Leader of the NSDÄB, and Leader of the Main Office for the People’s Health. In 1937 he was elected to the presidency of the FIMS. the International Federation of Sports Medicine. The FIMS today considers this to have been “a black page’ in their history. In 1939, Conti was appointed Reichsgesundheitsführer and State Secretary in the Interior Ministry. On the first of July 1941, as the Chief of Health in the Reich, he obtained the classification of Pervitin among the products defined by Reich law on opiates. It condemns the private use of Pervitin but does not call into question its use for military purposes. In 1944, he was promoted to SS-Obergruppenführer.

Action T4, was a postwar name for mass murder through involuntary euthanasia in Nazi Germany. The name T4 is an abbreviation of Tiergartenstraße 4, a street address of the Chancellery department set up in the spring of 1940, in the Berlin borough of Tiergarten, which recruited and paid personnel associated with T4. Certain German physicians were authorised to select patients “deemed incurably sick, after most critical medical examination” and then administer to them a “mercy death” (Gnadentod). In October 1939, Adolf Hitler signed a “euthanasia note”, backdated to 1 September 1939, which authorised his physician Karl Brandt and Reichsleiter Philipp Bouhler to implement the programme.

Gas chamber for disabled patients in Hadamar Euthanasia Centre.

   Leonardo Conti was a staunch promoter of a public medical administration strongly controlled by the Nazi state.  Under his leadership, local health offices were further expanded to allow for a genetic control and selection of the population in order to remove “weak” elements for the improvement of the German race, a doctrine known as eugenics. The various programmes were the basis for “racial hygiene” a lethal part of the nazi philosophy.

Accordingly, he was co-responsible, with SS Obergruppenführer Phillpp Bouhler and SS Gruppenführer Karl Brandt   , for the forced sterilization program  the racially motivated forced pregnancy interruptions, and ultimately the Action T4 program. It is also undisputed Conti’s participation in human experiments. SS Gruppenführer Karl Brandt was sentenced to death by hanging, and all were executed at Landsberg Prison on June 02-06-1948, age 44. Brandt remarked: “It is no shame to stand upon the scaffold. This is nothing but political revenge. I have served my Fatherland as others before me …” His speech was cut short when a black hood was placed over his head.

The Nazi involuntary euthansia program involved the planned murder of mentally and physically impaired patients and started on September 1939 when the policy was personally approved by Hitler in a personal decree. He approved the euthanasia of a young disabled boy, Gerhard “Gad” Kretschmear , at the request of his father, but approval was quickly extended to other disabled children, and then disabled adults as well. The approval of three doctors was needed for killing of any individual to proceed. The killings were conducted in many hospitals and asylums such as Hadamar Euthanasia Centre by a variety of methods, including enforced starvation, injection of lethal drugs, and gassing using carbon monoxide. Patients were carefully deceived to believe that they were simply taking a shower so as to entice them into the gas chamber, then locked in and asphyxiated through carbon monoxide poisoning. Although public protests led by Bishop Clemens August Graf von Galen     and others forced the policy to be suspended in 1941, it continued unofficially until the end of the war. Bishop van Galen died 22-03-1946, age 68, in Münster.

The program constituted the basis for the later programme of mass murder known as the Holocaust of Jews, Poles, Gypsies as well as other Slavs, and Russian POWs in camps such as Treblinka, Sobibor, Belzec, Auschwitz-Birkenau and Maidanek. Gassing with Zykoln B Afbeeldingsresultaat voor Zyklon B was used mainly at Auschwitz and Majdanek with over 1 million victims, and Carbon monoxide at Treblinka, Sobibor, Belzec and Chelmno,  the main extermination camps. Such mass murder followed the earlier murders by gunfire used by the Einsatzgruppen. Many of the SS staff involved in the later murders developed their lethal methods during the Aktion T4 programme, overseen by Conti. Victims were deceived in the same way as in aktion T4, using very elaborate means to convince them that no harm was intended.

Conti was also involved in the forensic investigation into the Katyn massacre A mass grave, with multiple corpses visible, and received a detailed report, known as the Katyn Commission on the discovery from an international team of experts.  Conti being presented with a report on the Katyn massacre discovered by the Germans in 1943.

Death and burial ground of Conti,  Leonardo Ambrogio Giorgio Giovanni.


On 19-05-1945, after Germany’s surrender, Conti was imprisoned and would have been brought to the Doctor’s Trial for his involvement in Action T4. However, on 06-10-1945, over a year before the trial began, he, age 45, hanged himself in his Nuremberg cell. Another war criminal who committed suicide in Nuremberg was the head of he German Labour Front from 1933 to 1945, Robert Ley. 

Ley, Robert. Ley was apparently indignant at being regarded as a war criminal, telling the American psychiatrist Douglas McGlashan Kelly and psychologist Gustav Mark Gilbert  who had seen and tested him in prison: “Stand us against a wall and shoot us, well and good, you are victors. But why should I be brought before a Tribunal like a c-c-c- … I can’t even get the word out!  Obsessed with the idea of becoming a martyr, Ley committed suicide in his cell.

  at Nuremberg shortly before the trial began.

Both the men are buried on Südfriedhof in Nuremberg, Nürnberger Stadtkreis, -Bavaria (Bayern), Germany in an anonymous grave.

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