Euthanasia - the "mercy killing" of people "not worth living" became a murderous
program in Nazi Germany. This campaign is believed to have resulted in the
killing of approximately 200,000 people. Evidence from the
estimated that even 275,000 people were murdered.
|Order from 18 August 1939
|1 September 1939
According to the decree from 18 August 1939
, the Nazis enacted the obligatory
registration of all births of physically and mentally handicapped
children. These children up to three years had to be reported to the public
health offices. The selected children were sent to several mental homes where
they were killed by lethal drugs or withdrawal of food.
Up to 8,000 children lost their lives in course of this "children euthanasia". On the basis of
's order from October 1939
the program was
extended on adults
. This order was backdated on
1 September 1939
, day of the German attack on Poland. The beginning of WW2
diverted the population from the euthanasia programme. The Nazis could get rid of "useless eaters" to save money
and personnel, and get more free beds in hospitals.
In course of the occupation of Poland mobile gas chambers were used for
the killing of mental homes inmates there
Already in 1924/25 Hitler
wrote "if there is no more power to fight for
the own health, the right to live comes to an end."
. Mein Kampf
, p.282). The benefit of
eliminating approximately 70,000 handicapped persons was mentioned by Hitler
on the NSDAP party conference in 1929
Four cover organizations were established in the German Reich
- "Reichsarbeitsgemeinschaft Heil- und Pflegeanstalten" (RAG)
Sent registration forms to all mental homes which returned the filled in forms
to RAG. RAG forwarded them to medical experts who decided about life or death
of the patients.
- "Gemeinnützige Krankentransport GmbH" (Gekrat)
Transport organisation. Large Gekrat buses (former post buses) carried the
handicapped persons from their mental or nursing homes to the euthanasia
- "Gemeinnützige Stiftung für Anstaltspflege" (Stiftung)
Rented complete buildings or parts of them, converted rooms into extermination
sites, installed equipment, selected suitable personnel and managed economical
- "Zentralverrechnungsstelle Heil- und Pflegeanstalten" (ZVST)
Central Clearing Office for major financial matters like self-financing of T4.
The head office was located in a Berlin
Hence "T4" or "Stiftung
" became the terms used by the inner circle.
's favourite doctor Karl Brandt
and the chief of Hitler
private chancellery, Philipp Bouhler
, headed the top-secret
Doctors and medical assistants applied to assist with this programme.
The volunteers were attracted by a salary which was comparable with
the salary of a mayor governing a town of 20,000 residents!
Six euthanasia killing sites were established, mainly in mental homes:
(January 1940 - September 1940
(January 1940 - December 1940
(January 1940 - December 1944
(April 1940 - August 1943
(September 1940 - April 1943
(January 1941 - August 1941
Each of these killing facilities were served by some intermediate
mental homes, the Zwischenanstalten
. The victims were sent
from their mental homes at first to these Zwischenanstalten
to euthanasia centres finally. Zwischenanstalten
functions: 1. Managing the capacities of the six euthanasia centres
and 2. Disguising the remaining of the victims if relatives inquired.
The T4 victims were murdered in
, disguised as
shower baths, by means of carbon monoxide, emitted from gas cylinders.
The roots of the Nazi gas chambers are to be found in the testimony
of Richard v. Hegener
, employee of the "Chancellery of the Führer":
"Originally one has taken into consideration to kill the single incurable
persons ... by injections or overdosed sleeping pills. But this consideration
... has been called impracticable from the technical point of view ..., by the
majority of the consulted doctors. Therefore it was proposed ... to kill the
persons being eligible simultaneously in a bigger crowd somehow. After many
consultations ... hearing the chemist of the Reichskriminalpolizeiamt too,
one decided to install a room in a number of conveniently located sanatoriums.
The room should be filled with carbon monoxide gas then ...
Archive, file Hea-Hep)
Relatives of the victims were told that they had died as a result of illnesses such
as heart failure etc. Finally the relatives got an urn from an euthanasia centre,
filled with mixed ashes from different victims.
The procedure of deception and gassing became a model for the later killings at the
. In these camps the victims
were killed in gas chambers by carbon monoxide gas, emitted from Russian tank motors.
(Testimonies from the three "gas masters" Bauer
|Propaganda Poster 1936
|T4 Members in Trieste / Italy
officially halted the T4 programme on
24 August 1941
The intended rate of around 70,000 persons to be killed, was
achieved. Nevertheless the killing continued until 1945
second phase. Now inmates of KZs (“Aktion 14f13”),
disabled individuals in the conquered territories in the East, and other remaining inmates of institutions
were also systematically murdered by overdoses of pain- killers and tranquilizers, or by deliberately
caused conditions of exhaustion and malnutrition (e.g. in
). Since "free beds" in
sanatoriums were needed in the cause of finding accommodations for
Germans injured in the war (Aktion Brandt
), the number of
victims increased. Between end of October 1941 and summer
, approximately 100 T4 members were sent to
to install and operate the three extermination camps of
. The T4 operation members
became the first commanders of Belzec, Sobibor
was appointed inspector of the Aktion Reinhard
By the end of 1943
, after they had finished their bloody work in
Poland, most of the T4 men were sent to northern Italy to
implement actions against remaining Jews and partisans. Many of
them turned up again in the concentration camp
. The group disintegrated after the surrender of the German
See a list of 10% of the victims who were killed by the systematic medical mass murder in Germany and Austria:
Today the villa where T4 was located, isn't visible anymore. New buildings took up the location but a
is to be seen.
Many thanks to these persons and institutions for
their kind support:
Dr.Ute Hoffmann, Bernburg Memorial
Gudrun Bauer, Brandenburg Memorial
Thomas Stöckle, Grafeneck Memorial
Dr. Georg Lilienthal, Hadamar Memorial
Dr. Christina Vanja, Hadamar Memorial
Dr. Hartmut Reese, Hartheim Memorial
Dr. Boris Böhm, Pirna-Sonnenstein Memorial
Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Neugebauer, Dokumentationsarchiv des Österreichischen Widerstandes (DOEW)
Dr. Ursula Schwarz, DOEW
Mag. Peter Schwarz, DOEW
Christoph Heinen, Nordrhein-Westfälisches Hauptstaatsarchiv
Hoffmann, Dr. Ute. Todesursache: Angina.
Magdeburg: Ministerium des Innern des
Landes Sachsen-Anhalt, 1996.
Hoffmann, Dr. Ute, and Schulze, Dietmar. Gedenkstätte
Dessau: Regierungspräsidium Dessau,
Müller, Roland, et al. Krankenmord im Nationalsozialismus -
Grafeneck und die "Euthanasie" in
Stuttgart: Archiv der Stadt Stuttgart,
Winter, Bettina. Verlegt nach Hadamar - Exhibition
Kassel: LWV Hessen, 1994
Neuhauser, Johannes, and Pfaffenwimmer, Michaela. Hartheim -
Weitra: Bibliothek der Provinz, 1992.
Schilter, Thomas. Unmenschliches Ermessen.
Leipzig: Kiepenheuer Verlag, 1998.
Böhm, Dr. Boris, et al. Nationalsozialistische
Euthanasie-Verbrechen in Sachsen.
Dresden, Pirna: Sächsische
Landeszentrale für politische Bildung and
Kuratorium Gedenkstätte Sonnenstein
Böhm, Dr. Boris, et al. Sonnenstein - Heft 3 /
Pirna: Kuratorium Gedenkstätte
Sonnenstein e.V., 2001
© ARC 2005