It was big hit in its day.
The plot centers on the wife of a doctor who develops Multiple Sclerosis. She wants to die. At first, her husband refuses, but eventually he gives her a lethal injection and he is arrested and prosecuted for his crime. He uses his prosecution to turn around and accuse opponents of euthanasia of being without compassion.
Although the plot centers on voluntary euthanasia, the subliminal message, understood by audiences, was the state must "take care" of those who could not give their consent-- like children, the mentally handicapped, the mentally ill and so forth.
And we all know it went on from there.
That movie was instrumental in gaining the acceptance of euthanasia among the people. Although the populace has some misgivings about abuses, in general, they accepted the principal that people could be killed in order to end their suffering.
It was considered compassionate.
After all, Karl Brandt,the physician in charge of of the Germany's euthanasia program said:
“Do you think it was a pleasure for me to receive the order to permit “euthanasia”? For fifteen years I had toiled at the sickbed and every patient was to me like a brother. I worried about every sick child as if it had been my own...I fully realize the problem; it is as old as mankind, but it is not a crime against man nor humanity. It is pity for the incurable, literally. Here I cannot believe like a clergyman or think as a jurist. I am a doctor, and I see the law of nature as being the law of reason. In my heart there is a love of mankind, and so it is in my conscience. That is why I am a doctor!...Death can mean deliverance. Death is life - just as much as birth. It was never meant to be murder.”
All the familiar catch phrases have come back.
I really, really care about people. I just didn't want them to suffer. Death is deliverance. Killing people is not murder.
The Nazis seemed compassionate to their public, too. They started off by showing euthanasia to be voluntary and compassionate in order to be able to peddle involuntary and eugenicist euthanasia. Right now, children are being killed in the Netherlands in order to end their suffering because their lives are not worth living.
Don't think the slippery slope could never happen here. Human nature does not change. You give evil an inch, it takes a yard.