Nazi Party career
After the Law for the Prevention of Hereditarily Diseased Offspring, a law justifying the sterilisation of those deemed defective or racially impure, was passed by the Reich Ministry of the Interior under Wilhelm Frick in 1933, Brandt was responsible for performing abortions on women whose offspring were believed to be at risk of developing the above defects. On 1 September 1939, Hitler appointed Brandt deputy head of the newly established Action T4 program, serving under Philipp Bouhler. Under the T4 program, handicapped children were systematically Murdered at extermination centres disguised as clinics under the direction of Bouhler, Brandt and Viktor Brack.
In 1945, as Nazi Germany was invaded by the Allies, Brandt attempted to move his family out of Germany. As a result, he was arrested by the Gestapo for disobeying Hitler's order that none of his officials were permitted to retreat. Brandt was condemned to death, but his sentence was suspended by the intervention of Heinrich Himmler and Albert Speer, and Karl Donitz later ordered his release during his brief tenure as Fuhrer. Brandt was arrested by British troops soon after.
After his arrest, Brandt was a defendant in the Doctor's Trial, the trial at Nuremberg of those involved in Action T4 and the Nazi Medical Experimentation program. He and the other defendants were charged on four counts:
- Conspiracy to commit War crimes and Crimes against humanity.
- War crimes: performing medical experiments, without the subjects' consent, on prisoners of war and civilians of occupied countries, in the course of which experiments the defendants committed murders, brutalities, cruelties, tortures, atrocities, and other inhuman acts. Also planning and performing the mass murder of prisoners of war and civilians of occupied countries, stigmatized as aged, insane, incurably ill, deformed, and so on, by gas, lethal injections, and diverse other means in nursing homes, hospitals, and asylums during the Euthanasia Program and participating in the mass murder of Concentration camp inmates.
- Crimes against humanity: committing crimes described under count 2 also on German nationals.
- Membership of a criminal organisation.
On 19 August 1947, Brandt was convicted of counts 2-4, but was acquitted on the first count, as the court felt it fell outside their jurisdiction. He and seven others were executed by hanging at Landsberg Prison on 2 June 1948.