Karl Brandt Phyiscian or mad man

Primum non nocere is a Latin phrase that means “first, do no harm.

Non-maleficence, which is derived from the maxim, is one of the principal precepts of bioethics that all healthcare students are taught in school and is a fundamental principle throughout the world. But yet a great number of the Nazi physicians ignored this principle. Karl Brandt being one of the worst of them.

Today is the 68th anniversary of his execution.

Karl Brandt was born on the 8 of January 1904. He became a doctor and in August 1933, was summoned to Upper Bavaria to treat Wilhelm Bruckner, Hitler’s adjutant’s, who had been hurt in an automobile accident. Adolf Hitler was so impressed with his work that he invited Dr. Brandt to become his personal physician.

GERbrandtK3

Brandt joined Hitler’s inner circle and was given the rank of major-general in the Waffen-SS. He was also appointed Reich Commissioner for Health and Sanitation.

In 1935 Heinrich Hoffman recommended that Adolf Hitler should be examined by Dr. Theodor Morell. Morell claimed Hitler was suffering from “complete exhaustion of the intestinal system” and recommended treatment of vitamins, hormones, phosphorus, and dextrose.

Theodor_Morell

Brandt warned Hitler he was in danger of being poisoned by these large dosages of drugs and vitamins. Hitler rejected Brandt’s advice and replied: “No one has ever told me precisely what is wrong with me. Morrell’s method of cure is so logical that I have the greatest confidence in him. I shall follow his prescriptions to the letter.” Later he was to remark: “What luck I had to meet Morell. He has saved my life.”

Brandt was responsible for the Law for the Protection of Hereditary Health that was used to introduce compulsory sterilization. In August, 1939 the Reich Committee for the Scientific Registration of Serious Hereditary and Congenially Based Diseases was established.

In the context of the 1933 Nazi law Gesetz zur Verhütung erbkranken Nachwuchses (Law for the Prevention of Hereditarily Diseased Offspring), he was one of the medical scientists who performed abortions in great numbers on women deemed genetically disordered, mentally or physically handicapped or racially deficient, or whose unborn fetuses were expected to develop such genetic “defects”. These abortions had been legalized, as long as no healthy Aryan fetuses were aborted

On September 1, 1939, Brandt was appointed by Hitler co-head of the T-4 Euthanasia Program, with Philipp Bouhler.

https://dirkdeklein.wordpress.com/2016/04/08/forgotten-history-the-t-4-holocaust-victimsthe-killing-of-the-disabled/

https://dirkdeklein.wordpress.com/2016/05/19/action-14f13-the-killing-of-the-sick/

Additional power was afforded Brandt when on July 28, 1942, he was appointed Commissioner of Sanitation and Health (Bevollmächtiger für das Sanitäts und Gesundheitswesen) by Hitler and was thereafter only bound by the Führer’s instructions alone. He received regular promotions in the SS; by April 1944, Brandt was a SS-Gruppenführer in the Allgemeine-SS and a SS-Brigadeführer in the Waffen-SS. On April 16, 1945, he was arrested by the Gestapo for moving his family out of Berlin so they could surrender to American forces. He was condemned to death by a military court and then sent to Kiel.Brandt was released from arrest by order of Karl Dönitz on May 2, 1945. He was later placed under arrest by the British on May 23, 1945.

Brandt’s medical ethics, particularly regarding euthanasia, were influenced by Alfred Hoche, whose courses he attended.

Alfred_Erich_Hoche

Like many other German doctors of the period, Brandt came to believe that the health of society as a whole should take precedence over that of its individual members. Because society was viewed as an organism that had to be cured, its weakest, most invalid and incurable members were only parts that should be removed. Such hapless creatures should therefore be granted a “merciful death” (Gnadentod).In addition to these considerations, Brandt’s explanation at his trial for his criminal actions – particularly ordering experimentation on human beings – was that “… Any personal code of ethics must give way to the total character of the war”. Historian Horst Freyhofer asserts that, in the absence of at least Brandt’s “tacit” approval, it is highly unlikely that the grotesque and cruel medical experiments for which the Nazi doctors are infamous, could have been performed. Brandt and Hitler discussed multiple killing techniques during the initial planning of the euthanasia program, during which Hitler asked Brandt, “which is the most humane way;” Brandt suggested the use of carbon monoxide gas, whereupon Hitler gave his approval and instructed Brandt to reach out to other physicians and begin to coordinate the mass killings.

The euthanasia programme was known as T-4 and began in autumn 1939. According to Ulf Schmidt, the author of Karl Brandt: The Nazi Doctor, the first person to die as a result of the T-4 programme was Gerhard Kretschmar, a child born on 29th February 1939. Documents show that the parents, who lived in the south-eastern region of Saxony, petitioned Adolf Hitler asking for the child to be “put to sleep”. Brandt claimed “it was a child who was born blind, an idiot – at least it seemed to be an idiot – and it lacked one leg and part of one arm.”

Carbon monoxide gas was selected as the means of death and several asylums were equipped with chambers for this purpose. Between October 1939 and August 1941, T-4 killed over 70,000 people.

 

“Because God cannot want the sick and ailing to reproduce.” is what it says on the propaganda poster below.

t4ff

As theSecond World War progressed the euthanasia program was used to exterminate people said to be biologically inferior, such as Jews, Poles, Russians and Gypsies.

Karl Brandt and his wife Anni were members of Hitler’s inner circle at Berchtesgaden where Hitler maintained his private residence known as the Berghof.

This very exclusive group functioned as Hitler’s de facto family circle. It included Eva Braun, Albert Speer, his wife Margarete, Dr. Theodor Morell, Martin Bormann, Hitler’s photographer Heinrich Hoffmann, Hitler’s adjutants and his secretaries. Brandt and Hitler’s chief architect Albert Speer were good friends as the two shared technocratic dispositions about their work. Brandt looked at killing “useless eaters” and the handicapped as a means to an end, namely since it was in the interest of public health. Similarly, Speer viewed the use of concentration camp labor for his defense and building projects in much the same way.As members of this inner circle, the Brandts had a residence near the Berghof and spent extensive time there when Hitler was present. In his memoirs, Speer described the numbing lifestyle of Hitler’s inner circle, forced to stay up most of the night listening to the insomniac Nazi leader’s repetitive monologues or to an unvarying selection of music. Despite Brandt’s closeness to Hitler, the dictator was furious when he learned On 16th April, 1945 the doctor had sent Anni and their son toward the American lines in hopes of evading capture by the Russians.

son

Only the intervention of Heinrich Himmler, Albert Speer, and the direct order of Admiral Doenitz after Brandt had been captured by the Gestapo and sent to Kiel in the war’s closing days, saved him from execution by the Nazi’s.

Brandt was one of the defendants in the trial of 23 SS physicians and scientists that began at Nuremberg on 9th December, 1946.The Doctor’s trial.

In court he was asked why he followed instructions to carry out medical experiments on patients. Brandt argued: “Would you believe that it was a pleasure to me to receive the order to start euthanasia? For fifteen years I had laboured at the sick-bed and every patient was to me like a brother, every sick child I worried about as if it had been my own. And then that hard fate hit me. Is that guilt? Was it not my first thought to limit the scope of euthanasia?… With the deepest devotion I have tortured myself again and again, but no philosophy and no other wisdom helped here. There was the decree and on it there was my name. I do not say that I could have feigned sickness. I do not live this life of mine in order to evade fate if I meet it. And thus I affirmed Euthanasia. I realise the problem is as old as man, but it is not a crime against man nor against humanity. 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. From that grew in my heart the love of man and it stands before my conscience.” The court was unimpressed and Brandt was sentenced to death.

With six others, he was sentenced to death by hanging, and all were executed at Landsberg Prison on June 2, 1948.

300px-Justizvollzugsanstalt_Landsberg_am_Lech

Nine other defendants received prison terms of between fifteen years and life, while a further seven were found not guilty.

Advertisements

Mengele -Evil personnified

377ed623085b78a12d20dfb37d43927a

I don’t know what I find more disturbing,the evil acts he committed or the fact he got away with it, and who knows how many more experiments he conducted in Germany and South America after the war.

It was on this day 73 years ago this evil man became the medical officer in Auschwitz.

First do no harm or Primum nil nocere is an ethical term Physicians generally sign up to. Although it is officially not a part of the Hippocratic Oath it still indicates how physicians should conduct them selves. The Oath itself had been in use for centuries.

HippocraticOath

Below is the 1964 translation of the oath but it roughly would have been the same in 1938 when Mengele earned his Doctorate in Medicines.

“I swear to fulfill, to the best of my ability and judgment, this covenant:…

I will respect the hard-won scientific gains of those physicians in whose steps I walk, and gladly share such knowledge as is mine with those who are to follow.

I will apply, for the benefit of the sick, all measures which are required, avoiding those twin traps of overtreatment and therapeutic nihilism.

I will remember that there is art to medicine as well as science, and that warmth, sympathy, and understanding may outweigh the surgeon’s knife or the chemist’s drug.

I will not be ashamed to say “I know not,” nor will I fail to call in my colleagues when the skills of another are needed for a patient’s recovery.

I will respect the privacy of my patients, for their problems are not disclosed to me that the world may know. Most especially must I tread with care in matters of life and death. Above all, I must not play at God.

I will remember that I do not treat a fever chart, a cancerous growth, but a sick human being, whose illness may affect the person’s family and economic stability. My responsibility includes these related problems, if I am to care adequately for the sick.

I will prevent disease whenever I can, for prevention is preferable to cure.

I will remember that I remain a member of society, with special obligations to all my fellow human beings, those sound of mind and body as well as the infirm.

If I do not violate this oath, may I enjoy life and art, respected while I live and remembered with affection thereafter. May I always act so as to preserve the finest traditions of my calling and may I long experience the joy of healing those who seek my help”

In Germany during the Third Reich, medical students did not take the Hippocratic Oath, although they knew the ethic of “nil nocere” – do no harm.

I have stopped analysing why Mengele did the things he did. I came to the conclusion that it is a fact some people are just born evil, as I think was the case in Dr. Mengele.

Born on March 16, 1911, in Günzburg, near Ulm, he was the eldest son of Karl Mengele, a prosperous manufacturer of farming implements. In 1935, Mengele earned a Ph.D. in physical anthropology from the University of Munich. In January 1937, at the Institute for Hereditary Biology and Racial Hygiene in Frankfurt, he became the assistant of Dr. Otmar von Verschuer, a leading scientific figure widely known for his research with twins.

In 1937 Mengele joined the Nazi Party. The following year, the same year in which he received his medical degree, he joined the SS. In June 1940, Mengele was drafted into the army, and thereafter volunteered into the medical service of the Waffen-SS (Armed SS). Although documentation is scant and often contradictory regarding Mengele’s activities between this time and early 1943, it is clear that he first functioned as a medical expert for the Race and Settlement Main Office [Rasse- und Siedlungshauptamt, or RuSHA] in summer 1940 at the Central Immigration Office [Einwandererstelle] North-East in Posen (today Poznan) and thereafter served as a medical officer with the SS Division “Wiking” (SS Pioneer Battalion V), with which he saw action on the Eastern Front.

Wounded while on campaign, Mengele returned to Germany in January 1943, and began work at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute (KWI) for Anthropology, Human Genetics, and Eugenics, directed by his former mentor von Verschuer. In April of 1943, he received a promotion to the rank of SS captain; this advancement shortly preceded Mengele’s transfer to Auschwitz, on May 30, 1943.

During his infamous tenure at the concentration camp, Josef Mengele was not the only physician at Auschwitz, nor was he, as common wisdom often maintains, the highest-ranking physician at the camp; this “distinction” belonged to SS captain Dr. Eduard Wirths, whose position as garrison physician made him responsible in all medical matters for the entire camp complex.

3-eduard-wirths (2)

Mengele began his career at Auschwitz in the spring of 1943 as the medical officer responsible for Birkenau’s “Gypsy camp”; several weeks after its liquidation, Mengele undertook a new position as Chief Camp Physician of Auschwitz II (i.e., Birkenau), in November 1943, still under Wirths’ jurisdiction.

Mengele and other SS doctors did not treat inmates, but supervised the activities of inmate doctors forced to work in the camp medical service. Mengele made weekly visits to the hospital barracks and sent to the gas chambers any prisoners who had not recovered after two weeks in bed.He was also a member of the team of doctors responsible for supervising the administration of Zyklon B, the cyanide-based pesticide that was used to kill people in the gas chambers at Birkenau. He served in this capacity at the gas chambers located in crematoria IV and V.

CrematoriumIV

When an outbreak of noma (a gangrenous bacterial disease of the mouth and face) broke out in the Romani camp in 1943, Mengele initiated a study to determine the cause of the disease and develop a treatment. He enlisted the aid of prisoner Dr. Berthold Epstein, a Jewish pediatrician and professor at Prague University. Mengele isolated the patients in a separate barrack and had several afflicted children killed so that their preserved heads and organs could be sent to the SS Medical Academy in Graz and other facilities for study. The research was still ongoing when the Romani camp was liquidated and its remaining occupants killed in 1944.

In response to a typhus epidemic in the women’s camp, Mengele cleared one block of 600 Jewish women and sent them to the gas chamber. The building was then cleaned and disinfected, and the occupants of a neighboring block were bathed, de-loused, and given new clothing before being moved into the clean block. The process was repeated until all the barracks were disinfected. Similar disinfections were used for later epidemics of scarlet fever and other diseases, but with all the sick prisoners being sent to the gas chambers. For his efforts, Mengele was awarded the War Merit Cross (Second Class with Swords) and was promoted in 1944 to First Physician of the Birkenau subcamp.

KVK

Mengele had become interested in utilizing twins for medical research through Verschuer, famous for experimenting with identical and fraternal twins in order to trace the genetic origins of various diseases. During the 1930s, twin research was seen as an ideal tool in weighing the variant factors of human heredity and environment. Mengele, with his mentor, had performed a number of legitimate research protocols using twins as test subjects throughout the 1930s. Now, at Auschwitz, with full license to maim or kill his subjects, Mengele performed a broad range of agonizing and often lethal experiments with Jewish and Roma (“Gypsy”) twins, most of them children.

experiments

Mengele used Auschwitz as an opportunity to continue his anthropological studies and research on heredity, using inmates for human experimentation. The experiments had no regard for the health or safety of the victims.He was particularly interested in identical twins, people with heterochromia iridum (eyes of two different colours), dwarfs, and people with physical abnormalities.A grant was provided by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, applied for by von Verschuer, who received regular reports and shipments of specimens from Mengele. The grant was used to build a pathology laboratory attached to Crematorium II at Auschwitz II-Birkenau.Dr. Miklós Nyiszli, a Hungarian Jewish pathologist who arrived in Auschwitz on 29 May 1944, performed dissections and prepared specimens for shipment in this laboratory. Mengele’s twin research was in part intended to prove the supremacy of heredity over environment and thus bolster the Nazi premise of the superiority of the Aryan race.[Nyiszli and others report that the twins studies may also have been motivated by a desire to improve the reproduction rate of the German race by improving the chances of racially desirable people having twins.

Mengele’s research subjects were better fed and housed than other prisoners and temporarily safe from the gas chambers. He established a kindergarten for children that were the subjects of experiments, along with all Romani children under the age of six. The facility provided better food and living conditions than other areas of the camp, and even included a playground.When visiting his child subjects, he introduced himself as “Uncle Mengele” and offered them sweets. But he was also personally responsible for the deaths of an unknown number of victims that he killed via lethal injection, shootings, beatings, and through selections and deadly experiments. Lifton describes Mengele as sadistic, lacking empathy, and extremely antisemitic, believing the Jews should be eliminated entirely as an inferior and dangerous race.Mengele’s son Rolf said his father later showed no remorse for his wartime activities.

rolf_mengele_large

Mengele firmly endorsed the doctrine of National Socialist racial theory and engaged in a wide spectrum of experiments which aimed to illustrate the lack of resistance among Jews or Roma to various diseases. He also attempted to demonstrate the “degeneration” of Jewish and “Gypsy” blood through the documentation of physical oddities and the collection and harvesting of tissue samples and body parts. Many of his “test subjects” died as a result of the experimentation or were murdered in order to facilitate post-mortem examination.

Like most “scientists” at work in the concentration camp environment, Mengele enlisted the aid of trained medical professionals among the prisoner population to perform the more grisly, or mundane, tasks and to carry out autopsies upon his dead victims. We owe much of our early knowledge of Mengele’s activities at Auschwitz to Dr. Miklos Nyiszli, a prisoner-physician who assisted Mengele under duress, and then published his experiences, initially in his native Hungarian, in 1946. (His Auschwitz: A Doctor’s Eyewitness Account appeared in English in 1960.)

Josef Mengele had hoped to use the “research” he had garnered in Auschwitz in order to produce his Habilitation, a second, post-doctoral, dissertation required for admission to a university faculty as a professor in German-speaking lands. He never accomplished this objective. Instead, in January 1945, as the Soviet Army advanced through western Poland, Mengele fled Auschwitz. He spent the next few weeks at the Gross-Rosen concentration camp, until its evacuation, and then made his way west, to evade capture by Soviet forces.

gros

In the immediate postwar, Mengele found himself in US custody. Unaware that Mengele’s name already stood on a list of wanted war criminals, however, US officials quickly released him. From the summer of 1945 until spring 1949, the physician, under false papers, worked as a farmhand near Rosenheim, Bavaria. At that time, his prosperous family aided his emigration to South America. Mengele settled in Argentina.

As his crimes had been well documented before the International Military Tribunal (IMT) and other postwar courts, West German authorities issued a warrant for Mengele’s arrest in 1959, and a request for extradition in 1960. Alarmed by the capture of Adolf Eichmann in Buenos Aires in that same year, Mengele moved to Paraguay and then to Brazil, spending the last years of his life near Sao Pãolo. In declining health, Mengele suffered a stroke while swimming at a vacation resort near Bertioga, Brazil, on February 7, 1979, and drowned. He was buried in a suburb of Sao Pãolo under the fictive name “Wolfgang Gerhard.”

In 1985, German police, working on evidence they had recently confiscated from a Mengele family friend in Günzburg, located Mengele’s grave and exhumed his corpse. Brazilian forensic experts thereafter positively identified the remains as Josef Mengele. In 1992, DNA evidence confirmed this conclusion. Mengele had eluded his captors for 34 years.

In Buenos Aires, Argentina, Mengele worked as a carpenter while residing in a boarding house in the suburb of Vicente Lopez.After a few weeks he moved to the house of a Nazi sympathiser in the more affluent neighborhood of Florida, Buenos Aires. He next worked as a salesman for his family’s farm equipment company, and beginning in 1951 he made frequent trips to Paraguay as sales representative for that region.An apartment in the center of Buenos Aires became his residence in 1953, the same year he used family funds to buy a part interest in a carpentry concern. In 1954 he rented a house in the suburb of Olivos.Files released by the Argentine government in 1992 indicate that Mengele may have practiced medicine without a license, including performing abortions, while living in Buenos Aires.

After obtaining a copy of his birth certificate through the West German embassy in 1956, Mengele was issued an Argentine foreign residence permit under his real name. He used this document to obtain a West German passport, also under his real name, and embarked for a visit to Europe.He met up in Switzerland for a ski holiday with his son Rolf (who was told Mengele was his “Uncle Fritz”and his widowed sister-in-law Martha, and spent a week in his home town of Günzburg. Upon his return to Argentina in September, Mengele began living under his real name. Martha and her son Karl Heinz followed about a month later, and the three took up residence together. The couple married while on holiday in Uruguay in 1958 and bought a house in Buenos Aires.Business interests now included part ownership of Fadro Farm, a pharmaceutical company.Along with several other doctors, Mengele was questioned and released in 1958 under suspicion of practicing medicine without a license after a teenage girl died following an abortion. Worried that the publicity would lead to his Nazi background and wartime activities being discovered, he took an extended business trip to Paraguay and was granted citizenship under the name José Mengele in 1959.He returned to Buenos Aires several times to wrap up his business affairs and visit his family. Martha and Karl Heinz lived in a boarding house in the city until December 1960, when they returned to Germany.

Mengele’s name was mentioned several times during the Nuremberg trials, but Allied forces were convinced that he was dead.Irene and the family in Günzburg also said that he was dead. Working in West Germany, Nazi hunters Simon Wiesenthal and Hermann Langbein collected information from witnesses as to Mengele’s wartime activities.

In a search of the public records, Langbein found Mengele’s divorce papers listing an address in Buenos Aires. He and Wiesenthal pressured West German authorities into drawing up an arrest warrant on 5 June 1959, and starting extradition proceedings.Initially Argentina turned down the request, because the fugitive was no longer living at the address given on the documents. By the time extradition was approved on 30 June 1960, Mengele had already fled to Paraguay, where he was living on a farm near the Argentine border.

I am not someone who tends to entertain conspiracy theories but in this case it strikes me as very odd that Mengele could not be found, giving the fact he hid in plain sight, using his own name.

Then there is Candido Godoi in Brazil. a small town with an unusual high number of twins being born there. a lot of them being blonde and blue eyed.. The people of the town claim that Mengele visited to town a lot in the 1960’s and they didn’t really know what he did there. It appears he must have continued with his experiments in Brazil, and who knows where else.

There is testimony that he attended women, followed their pregnancies, treated them with new types of drugs and preparations, that he talked of artificial insemination in human beings, and that he continued working with animals, proclaiming that he was capable of getting cows to produce male twins.

Gemeos3.jpg

The consequences of his experiments are still being felt to date.

It is not often that someone deserved the nick name given to day, but in the case of Dr Mengele the name ‘Angel of Death’ is an appropriate one.

Mengele

 

Forgotten History- The T-4 Holocaust victims:the killing of the disabled

Aktion_brand

The T4 program was a program devised to commit the most vile of crimes ever committed in history. Initially it was ‘sold’ under the motto of mercy killings for the ‘incurably ill’ , several rationales for the program had been offered, including eugenics, compassion, reducing suffering, racial hygiene, cost effectiveness and pressure on the welfare budget. But it quickly turned into the killing of the disabled.

2456381721_6155481dd4_b

Just a note before I continue and I don’t mean this to be a political blog but the fact hasn’t escaped me that some of these rationales are currently used in several euthanasia and abortion legislation across the western world.

Adolf Hitler initiated this program in 1939, and, while it was officially discontinued in 1941, killings continued covertly until the military defeat of Nazi Germany in 1945.

In October 1939, Adolf Hitler empowered his personal physician and the chief of the Chancellery of the Führer to kill people considered unsuited to live. He backdated his order to September 1, 1939, the day World War II began, to give it the appearance of a wartime measure. In this directive, Dr. Karl Brandt and Chancellery chief Philipp Bouhler were “charged with responsibility for expanding the authority of physicians…so that patients considered incurable, according to the best available human judgment of their state of health, can be granted a mercy killing.”

Within a few months, the T4 Program—named for the Chancellery offices that directed it from the Berlin address Tiergartenstrasse 4—involved virtually the entire German psychiatric community.

t4

A new bureaucracy, headed by physicians, was established with a mandate to kill anyone deemed to have a “life unworthy of living.” Some physicians active in the study of eugenics, who saw Nazism as “applied biology,” enthusiastically endorsed this program. However, the criteria for inclusion in this program were not exclusively genetic, nor were they necessarily based on infirmity. An important criterion was economic. Nazi officials assigned people to this program largely based on their economic productivity. The Nazis referred to the program’s victims as “burdensome lives” and “useless eaters”

The program’s directors ordered a survey of all psychiatric institutions, hospitals, and homes for chronically ill patients. At Tiergartenstrasse 4, medical experts reviewed forms sent by institutions throughout Germany but did not examine patients or read their medical records. Nevertheless, they had the power to decide life or death.

While the program’s personnel killed people at first by starvation and lethal injection, they later chose asphyxiation by poison gas as the preferred killing technique. Physicians oversaw gassings in chambers disguised as showers, using lethal gas provided by chemists. Program administrators established gas chambers at six killing centres in Germany and Austria: Hartheim, Sonnenstein, Grafeneck, Bernburg, Hadamar, and Brandenburg. The SS  staff in charge of the transports donned white coats to keep up the charade of a medical procedure. Program staff informed victims’ families of the transfer to the killing centres. Visits, however, were not possible. The relatives then received condolence letters, falsified death certificates signed by physicians, and urns containing ashes.

In mid-1939 Hitler authorized the creation of the Reich Committee for the Scientific Registering of Serious Hereditary and Congenital Illnesses (Reichsausschuss zur wissenschaftlichen Erfassung erb- und anlagebedingter schwerer Leiden), headed by Dr. Karl Brandt, his personal physician, and administered by Herbert Linden of the Interior Ministry as well as SS-Oberführer Viktor Brack.

200px-Viktor_Brack_Nürnberg_2

Brandt and Bouhler were authorized to approve applications to kill children in relevant circumstances, though Bouhler left the details to subordinates such as Brack and SA-Oberführer Werner Blankenburg.

Extermination centres were established at six existing psychiatric hospitals: Bernburg, Brandenburg, Grafeneck, Hadamar, Hartheim, and Sonnenstein. They played a crucial role in developments leading to the Holocaust.As a related aspect of the “medical” and scientific basis of this programme, the Nazi doctors took thousands of brains from ‘euthanasia’ victims for research.

From August 1939 the Interior Ministry began registering children with disabilities, requiring doctors and midwives to report all cases of newborns with severe disabilities; the ‘guardian’ consent element soon disappeared. Those to be killed were identified as “all children under three years of age in whom any of the following ‘serious hereditary diseases’ were ‘suspected’: idiocy and Down syndrome (especially when associated with blindness and deafness); microcephaly; hydrocephaly; malformations of all kinds, especially of limbs, head, and spinal column; and paralysis, including spastic conditions”.The reports were assessed by a panel of medical experts, of whom three were required to give their approval before a child could be killed.

The Ministry used various deceptions when dealing with parents or guardians particularly in Catholic areas, where parents were generally uncooperative. Parents were told that their children were being sent to “Special Sections” for children, where they would receive improved treatment. The children sent to these centres were kept for “assessment” for a few weeks and then killed by injection of toxic chemicals, typically phenol; their deaths were recorded as “pneumonia”. Autopsies were usually performed, and brain samples were taken to be used for “medical research”. This apparently helped to ease the consciences of many of those involved, since it gave them the feeling that the children had not died in vain, and that the whole programme had a genuine medical purpose.

Once war broke out in September 1939, the programme adopted less rigorous standards of assessment and a quicker approval process. It expanded to include older children and adolescents. The conditions covered also expanded and came to include

“various borderline or limited impairments in children of different ages, culminating in the killing of those designated as juvenile delinquents. Jewish children could be placed in the net primarily because they were Jewish; and at one of the institutions, a special department was set up for ‘minor Jewish-Aryan half-breeds'”.

At the same time, increased pressure was placed on parents to agree to their children being sent away. Many parents suspected what was really happening, especially when it became apparent that institutions for children with disabilities were being systematically cleared of their charges, and refused consent. The parents were warned that they could lose custody of all their children, and if that did not suffice, the parents could be threatened with call-up for ‘labour duty’. By 1941 more than 5,000 children had been killed.The last child to be killed under Action T4 was Richard Jenne on 29 May 1945 in the children’s ward of the Kaufbeuren-Irsee state hospital in Bavaria, Germany, more than three weeks after troops from the U.S. had occupied the town.

ROSER 2

The first adults with disabilities to be killed on a mass scale by the Nazi regime were not Germans, but Poles. They were shot by the SS men of Einsatzkommando 16, Selbstschutz and EK-Einmann under direct command of SS-Sturmbannführer Rudolf Tröger, with overall command by Reinhard Heydrich during the genocidal Operation Tannenberg in which 36,000–42,000 people including Polish children died before the end of 1939 in Pomerania.

All hospitals and mental asylums of the Wartheland were emptied. The region was incorporated into Germany and earmarked for resettlement by Volksdeutsche following the German conquest of Poland. Notably, the technology for mass gassing of hospital patients had not been invented yet. In the Danzig (now Gdańsk) area, some 7,000 Polish patients of various institutions were shot, while 10,000 were killed in the Gdynia area. Similar measures were taken in other areas of Poland destined for incorporation into Germany.The first experiments with the gassing of patients were conducted in October 1939 at Fort VII in Posen (occupied Poznań), where hundreds of prisoners were killed by means of carbon monoxide poisoning in an improvised gas chamber developed by Dr Albert Widmann, chief chemist of the German Criminal Police (Kripo).

 

In December 1939 Reichsführer of the SS, Heinrich Himmler, witnessed one of these gassings, ensuring that this invention would later be put to much wider uses

The idea of killing adult mental patients soon spread from occupied Poland to adjoining areas of Germany, probably because Nazi Party and SS officers in these areas were most familiar with what was happening in Poland. These were also the areas where Germans wounded from the Polish campaign were expected to be accommodated, which created a demand for hospital space. The Gauleiter of Pomerania, Franz Schwede-Coburg, sent 1,400 patients from five Pomeranian hospitals to undisclosed locations in occupied Poland where they were shot. Likewise, the Gauleiter of East Prussia, Erich Koch, had 1,600 patients murdered out of sight. In all, more than 8,000 Germans were killed in this initial wave of killings carried out under the command of local officials, although Himmler certainly knew and approved of them.

 

The sole legal basis for the programme was a 1939 letter from Hitler, not a formal ‘Führer’s decree’ which would carry the force of law. Hitler deliberately bypassed Health Minister Conti and his department, who might have raised questions about the legality of the programme.
Leonardo Conti
He entrusted it to his personal agents Bouhler and Brandt. The programme was administered by Viktor Brack.
200px-Viktor_Brack_Nürnberg_2

 

and his staff from Tiergartenstraße 4 disguised as the “Charitable Foundation for Cure and Institutional Care” offices which served as the front. It was supervised by Bouhler and Brandt.

The officials in charge included Dr Herbert Linden, who had been heavily involved in the children’s programme; Dr Ernst-Robert Grawitz, chief physician of the SS

220px-ErnstRobertGrawitz

and August Becker, an SS chemist.

They personally selected doctors who were to carry out the operational part of the programme; based on political reliability as long-term Nazis, professional reputation, and known sympathy for radical eugenics. The list included physicians who had proved their worth in the child-killing programme, such as Unger, Heinze, and Hermann Pfannmüller. The new recruits were mostly psychiatrists, notably Professor Carl Schneider of Heidelberg, Professor Max de Crinis of Berlin and Professor Paul Nitsche from the Sonnenstein state institution. Heyde became the operational leader of the programme, succeeded later by Nitsche

In early October all hospitals, nursing homes, old-age homes and sanatoria were required to report all patients who had been institutionalised for five years or more, who had been committed as “criminally insane”, who were of “non-Aryan race”, or who had been diagnosed with any of a list of specified conditions. These included schizophrenia, epilepsy, Huntington’s chorea, advanced syphilis, senile dementia, paralysis, encephalitis and “terminal neurological conditions generally”. Many doctors and administrators assumed that the purpose of the reports was to identify inmates who were capable of being drafted for “labour service”. They tended to overstate the degree of incapacity of their patients, to protect them from labour conscription – with fatal consequences.When some institutions refused to co-operate, teams of T4 doctors (or in some cases Nazi medical students) visited them and compiled their own lists, sometimes in a very haphazard and ideologically motivated way.At the same time, during 1940 all Jewish patients were removed from institutions and killed.

As with the child inmates, the adult cases were assessed by a panel of experts, working at the Tiergartenstraße offices. The experts were required to make their judgments solely on the basis of the reports, rather than on detailed medical histories, let alone examinations. Sometimes they dealt with hundreds of reports at a time. On each they marked a + (meaning death), a (meaning life), or occasionally a ? meaning that they were unable to decide. Three “death” verdicts condemned the person concerned. As with reviews of children, over time these processes became less rigorous, the range of conditions considered “unsustainable” grew broader, and zealous Nazis further down the chain of command increasingly made decisions on their own initiative.Picture below is of Hartheim Euthanasia Centre where more then 18,000 patients were killed.

1024px-Alkoven_Schloss_Hartheim_2005-08-18_3589

The first gassings in Germany proper took place in January 1940 at the Brandenburg Euthanasia Centre.

250px-Bundesarchiv_Bild_102-11695,_Brandenburg,_Hauptgebäude_des_Zuchthauses

The operation was headed by Viktor Brack, who said: “the needle belongs in the hand of the doctor.”Bottled pure carbon monoxide gas was used.At trials, Brandt described the process as a “major advance in medical history” Once the efficacy of the method was confirmed, it became standardised, and instituted at a number of centres across Germany under the supervision of Widmann, Becker, and Christian Wirth – a Kripo officer who later played a prominent role in the extermination of the Jews as commandant of newly built death camps in occupied Poland. In addition to Brandenburg, the killing centres included Grafeneck Castle in Baden-Württemberg (10,824 dead), Schloss Hartheim near Linz in Austria (over 18,000 dead), Sonnenstein Euthanasia Centre in Saxony (15,000 dead), Bernburg Euthanasia Centre in Saxony-Anhalt and Hadamar Euthanasia Centre in Hesse (14,494 dead). The same facilities were also used to kill mentally sound prisoners transferred from concentration camps in Germany, Austria and occupied parts of Poland.

Bishop Jan Maria Michał Kowalski killed at Hartheim Euthanasia Centre.

Condemned patients were ‘transferred’ from their institutions to newly built centres in the T4 Charitable Ambulance buses, called the Community Patients Transports Service. They were run by teams of SS men wearing white coats, to give it an air of medical care. To prevent the families and doctors of the patients from tracing them, the patients were often first sent to transit centres in major hospitals, where they were supposedly assessed. They were moved again to “special treatment” (Sonderbehandlung) centres. Families were sent letters explaining that owing to wartime regulations, it was not possible for them to visit relatives in these centres. Most of these patients were killed within 24 hours of arriving at the centres, and their bodies cremated.For every person killed, a death certificate was prepared, giving a false but plausible cause of death. This was sent to the family along with an urn of ashes (random ashes, since the victims were cremated en masse). The preparation of thousands of falsified death certificates took up most of the working day of the doctors who operated the centres.

During 1940 the centres at Brandenburg, Grafeneck and Hartheim killed nearly 10,000 people each, while another 6,000 were killed at Sonnenstein. In all, about 35,000 people were killed in T4 operations that year. Operations at Brandenburg and Grafeneck were wound up at the end of the year, partly because the areas they served had been cleared and partly because of public opposition. In 1941, however, the centres at Bernburg and Sonnenstein increased their operations, while Hartheim (where Wirth and Franz Stangl were successively commandants) continued as before. As a result, another 35,000 people were killed before August 1941, when the T4 programme was officially shut down by Hitler. Even after that date, however, the centres continued to be used to kill concentration camp inmates: eventually some 20,000 people in this category were killed.

In 1971 the Austrian-born journalist Gitta Sereny conducted a series of interviews with Franz Stangl,

Stangl,_Franz

who was in prison in Düsseldorf after having been convicted of co-responsibility for killing 900,000 people as commandant of the Sobibor and Treblinka extermination camps in Poland. Stangl gave Sereny a detailed account of the operations of the T4 programme based on his time as commandant of the killing facility at the Hartheim institute. He described how the inmates of various asylums were removed and transported by bus to Hartheim. Some were in no mental state to know what was happening to them, but many were perfectly sane, and for them various forms of deception were used. They were told they were at a special clinic where they would receive improved treatment, and were given a brief medical examination on arrival. They were induced to enter what appeared to be a shower block, where they were gassed with carbon monoxide (this ruse was later used on a much larger scale at the extermination camps)

After the official end of the euthanasia programme in 1941, most of the personnel and high-ranking officials, as well as gassing technology and the techniques used to deceive victims, were transferred under the jurisdiction of the national medical division of the Reich Interior Ministry.Further gassing experiments with the use of mobile gas-chambers (Einsatzwagen) were conducted at Soldau concentration camp by Herbert Lange following Operation Barbarossa. Lange was appointed commander of the Chełmno extermination camp in December 1941. He was given three gas vans by the RSHA, converted by the Gaubschat GmbH in Berlin,and already before February 1942 killed a total of 3,830 Polish Jews and around 4,000 Gypsies under the guise of “resettlement”.After the Wannsee conference, the knowledge acquired in the process was then put to use by Reinhard Heydrich in the deadliest phase of the Holocaust. Beginning in spring 1942 three industrial killing centres were built secretly in east-central Poland. The SS officers responsible for the Aktion T4, including Christian Wirth, Franz Stangl, and Irmfried Eberl, were all given key roles in the implementation of the “Final Solution” for the next two years. The first killing centre equipped with stationary gas chambers modelled on Action T4 was established at Bełżec in the General Government territory of occupied Poland. Notably, the decision preceded the Wannsee Conference of January 1942 by three months

Like the Judenrat (“Jewish Council”) leaders during the Holocaust, psychiatrists were able to save some patients during the T4 Program, at least temporarily, but only if they cooperated in sending others to their death. The handicapped killing centres developed gas chambers like those later used at extermination camps. As the extermination camps did later, the handicapped killing centres installed ovens to dispose of dead bodies. The death camps that followed took the technology to a new level. The extermination camps could kill thousands at one time and burn their bodies within hours.

On August 24, 1941, almost two years after the T4 Program was initiated, it appeared to cease. In fact, it had gone underground and continued covertly during the war years. While the program claimed over 70,000 victims during its two years of open operation, the killing centres murdered even more victims between the official conclusion of the program and the fall of the Nazi regime in 1945. The total number killed under the T4 Program, including this covert phase, may have reached 200,000 or more. The official conclusion of the T4 Program in 1941 also coincided with the escalation of the Holocaust, the culmination of Nazi programs to eliminate those deemed an embarrassment to the “master race”

t4 victims

“Because God cannot want the sick and ailing to reproduce.” is what it says on the propaganda poster below.

t4ff