Leonardo Conti was Reich Health Leader in Nazi Germany. Conti was a fervent German nationalist despite being born in Switzerland. As one of the most senior medical practitioners in Nazi Germany, Conti was involved in the infamous Action T4 euthanasia progamme.
Conti was born on August 24th 1900. He studied medicine at university and graduated as a physician and practiced in Berlin. However, the treatment of Germany after World War One greatly angered him. Conti was a right-wing nationalist who co-founded an anti-Semite newspaper called ‘Kampfbund’. He was very much taken in by the völkisch movement that became popular in Weimar Germany.
Conti took part in the Kapp Putsch (1920) and he joined the SA in 1923. Conti tried to save the life of Horst Wessel, the first Nazi ‘martyr’. In 1925, he wrote a book about facial plastic surgery and in 1927, he became the main driving force behind the National Socialist German Doctors League.
In 1932 in recognition of his membership the ‘Alte Kampfer’ (Old Guard) Hermann Goering appointed Conti to the Prussian Landtag. He was already in the SS and during the era of Nazi Germany Conti held the titles Head of the Reich Physicians Chamber, Leader of the National Socialist German Doctors League and Leader of the Main Office for the People’s Health. In 1939 Conti was appointed Reich Health Leader, elected to the Reichstag in 1941 and in 1944 Conti was promoted to Lieutenant General in the SS.
After the collapse of the Nazi regime, Conti was arrested. He was primarily investigated for his involvement in the euthanasia programme that had been started in Nazi Germany and then pushed out to the whole of Occupied Europe.
Leonardo Conti hanged himself in his cell on October 6th 1945. In May 1959, his estate was fined 3,000 Marks after a de-nazification trial tribunal.