One of the most disturbing aspects of the Holocaust I find is the fact that so many who were instrumental in so many evil deeds, were allowed to continue after the war.
In February or March 1939 a farmer called Richard Kretschmar requested Catel’s permission to euthanize one of his children, the child we now know to have been Gerhard Kretschmar, often referred to as Child K, who had been born blind and deformed.
Werner Catel deferred the matter and advised the father to write directly to Hitler for permission. Hitler subsequently sent Dr. Karl Brandt to confer with Catel and decide on a course of action. On July 25, 1939 the child was killed. It would be the first child to be killed under Aktion T4 or the T-4 program, technically the poor boy would become the pilot case.
A year later, Werner Catel set up »children’s wards in Leipzig-Dösen and in the University Children’s Hospital in Leipzig. He was an expert on the Reich Committee for the Scientific Registering of Serious Hereditary and Congenital Illnesses, even killing children with mental or physical disabilities himself.
The T4 program was influenced by a popular book, ” die freigabe der vernichtung lebensunwerten lebens(Allowing the destruction of life unworthy of living)”, written in 1922 by Alfred Hoche and Karl Binding.
Catel argued for the reintroduction of euthanasia. As had Binding and Hoche, Catel identified three possible types of euthanasia.
“Real” euthanasia was seen as the killing of a person who was suffering from so much pain, that an ever-increasing amount of pain reducing drugs had to be administered. This consequently lead to the person’s death.
Euthanasie im engeren Sinne:
The killing of a patient whose illness “according to medical experience” is so bad “that there is no hope of recovery”, but whose death is also not to be expected in the near future. (See terminal sedation)
Euthanasie im weiteren Sinne:
The “extermination of the life of an “idiot child” or an adult in a similar condition. Catel defined “idiot children” as being “such monsters … which are nothing but a massa carnis”.
Basically Werner Catel was one of the people who felt they had the right to decide who would live or die.
After the war Catel fled from Soviet controlled Leipzig in 1946. To West Germany.The West German authorities ‘de-Nazified’ him in 1949 and classed him as »Persons Exonerated. Afterwards, he was shortlisted for several professorships. In 1954, he was appointed Professor of Paediatrics in Kiel, despite the facts his function on the Reich Committee was known. Due to public pressure and the debate about his role in National Socialism, Catel took early retirement in 1960. Catel continued to propagate in public the idea of the euthanasia of children with mental and physical disabilities.
He died April 30, 1981, aged 88. Where many of his victims did not even reach the age 88 months.
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