Helene Melanie Lebel- To “ill” to be allowed to live.

Helene Lebe;

On this day in 1939 Adolf Hitler signed an order to begin the systematic euthanasia of mentally ill and disabled people, the so called T4 program.

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The T4 program, which was was basically the gassing of people who were deemed mentally ill, was the first wave of mass extermination by the Nazi regime.

Helena Melanie Lebel was one of the many thousands of victims.

BORN: SEPTEMBER 15, 1911
VIENNA, AUSTRIA

The elder of two daughters born to a Jewish father and a Catholic mother, Helene was raised as a Catholic in Vienna. Her father died in action during World War I when Helene was just 5 years old, and her mother remarried when Helene was 15. Known affectionately as Helly, Helene loved to swim and go to the opera. After finishing her secondary education she entered law school.

1933-39: At 19 Helene first showed signs of mental illness. Her condition worsened during 1934, and by 1935 she had to give up her law studies and her job as a legal secretary. After losing her trusted fox terrier, Lydi, she suffered a major breakdown. She was diagnosed as schizophrenic, and was placed in Vienna’s Steinhof Psychiatric Hospital. Two years later, in March 1938, the Germans annexed Austria to Germany.

Anschluss Österreich, Wien

1940: Helene was confined in Steinhof and was not allowed home even though her condition had improved. Her parents were led to believe that she would soon be released. Instead, Helene’s mother was informed in August that Helene had been transferred to a hospital in Niedernhart, just across the border in Bavaria. In fact, Helene was transferred to a converted prison in Brandenburg, Germany, where she was undressed, subjected to a physical examination, and then led into a shower room.

Helene was one of 9,772 persons gassed that year in the Brandenburg “Euthanasia” center. She was officially listed as dying in her room of “acute schizophrenic excitement.”

Brandenburg, Hauptgebäude des Zuchthauses

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Hartheim Euthanasia Centre

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The first mass murder by means of gassing by the Nazi regime did not happen in the concentration camps The first gassings in Germany took place in January 1940 at the Brandenburg Euthanasia Centre.

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However it was the Hartheim Euthanasia centre which was the main centre to carry out the ‘T4 Program’ the mass murder of the physically and mentally disabled. It didn’t take much to be branded ‘Disabled’ 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.

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Hartheim castle, situated in the village of Alkoven near Linz in Austria, and close to the Mauthausen concentration camp, originally dated from the ninth century

In the spring of 1940, remodelling works to adapt the castle to become a euthanasia centre were finished within a matter of weeks; the residents were subsequently distributed amongst other care facilities in the district of Oberdonau. They were to become the first victims of the Hartheim Euthanasia Centre.

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The first transport reached Hartheim on 20 May 1940. Between 1940 and 1944, round 30,000 people with physical and mental disabilities as well as with mental illnesses were murdered. Some of them were patients from mental institutions and residents of homes for the disabled and care facilities, whereas others were prisoners from the concentration camps in Mauthausen, Gusen and Dachau, as well as forced labourers.

Hartheim Euthanasia Centre was under the medical direction of Dr Rudolf Lonauer, a psychiatrist from Linz. Pictured below with his family.

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He was responsible for the deaths of victims, determining the causes of death, keeping patient records and representing the Landesanstalt Hartheim (Hartheim State Institution) to third parties. Rudolf Lonauer was also the medical director of the District Sanatorium and Nursing Home Niedernhart in Linz, which served as a holding station for victims on their way to Hartheim. Rudolf Lonauer committed suicide in May 1945.

The deputy medical director was Dr Georg Renno, who managed to disappear after 1945, but was re-captured in 1961.

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Charges were filed in 1967, but the trial was discontinued in 1970 due to reports of the defendant being in poor health. Georg Renno died a free man in 1997.

The administrative technical director of Hartheim Euthanasia Centre was Christian Wirth, a policeman from Württemberg, who had already worked at the Nazi euthanasia centres in Grafeneck and Hadamar. In his function as the ‘office manager’, he was the head of the Special Register Office, which had been established in Hartheim.

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Moreover, he was responsible for keeping records of and sending urns, making local police reports and corresponding with the ‘transferring institutions’.

A total of approximately 60 to 70 people were employed at Hartheim Euthanasia Centre. In addition to the nurses, who had the most contact with the victims and normally accompanied them on the busses, employees who were responsible for issuing and sending condolence letters and death certificates and sending urns as part of their administrative duties, represented the majority of the staff. Most of them also lived at the castle. Schoberstein Manor in Weißenbach on Lake Atter was available as an excursion destination for the staff at Hartheim. In addition, evening parties and group outings were organised as compensation for the staff of the castle – often together with their colleagues from the concentration camp in Mauthausen.

The death certificates were issued at Hartheim’s Special Register Office, which was located at the castle. False records were purposefully kept regarding the reason, date and place of death in order to mislead relatives and hamper investigations.

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Pulmonary tuberculosis was a popular reason of death, since it was a communicable disease that made it necessary to burn the corpse immediately. The system of exchanging files amongst the euthanasia centres contributed to the success of this cover-up action.

Not everyone who knew of the killings of those considered ‘unworthy of life’ remained silent. One such example is Franz Sitter, who was transferred from Ybbs an der Donau to work as a nurse in Hartheim in October 1940. He demanded to be immediately relieved of his professional duties, which was also the case. Afterwards, Sitter was sent back to Ybbs. On 6 February 1941, Franz Sitter was called to the front. He survived the war and returned to his profession as a nurse.

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In Alkoven itself, a resistance group centred round brothers Karl and Ignaz Schuhmann and Leopold Hilgarth came together and gave a rallying cry for resistance against the Nazi regime by means of graffiti and flyers. The group was betrayed, and Leopold Hilgarth and Ignaz Schuhmann were executed in Vienna on 9 January 1945.

Picture below is of Leopold Hilgarth(sitting down)

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Nazi Laws which were still enforced or re-introduced after WWII.

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Although some many sacrifices were made to fight Fascism and the Nazi regime it is unfathomable that some of it’s laws were still maintained after the war or appear to be making a come back nowadays, albeit under a different name and context but the fundamentals are basically the same.

When the Nazi concentration camps were liberated by the Allies, it was a time of great jubilation for the tens of thousands of people incarcerated in them. But an often forgotten fact of this time is that some prisoners who happened to be wearing the pink triangle

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(the Nazis’ way of marking and identifying homosexuals) were forced to serve out the rest of their sentence.This was due to a part of German law simply known as “Paragraph 175” which criminalized homosexuality. The law wasn’t repealed until 1969

 

 

 

 

Although Article 175 was established on 15 May 1871 , In 1935 the Nazis strengthened Paragraph 175 by redefining the crime as a felony and thus increasing the maximum penalty from six months’ to five years’ imprisonment. Further, by removing the adjective widernatürlich (“against nature”) they removed the longtime tradition that the law applied only to penetrative intercourse. A criminal offense would now exist if “objectively the general sense of shame was offended” and subjectively “the debauched intention was present to excite sexual desire in one of the two men, or a third.” [The quotations are from German case law, RGSt 73, 78, 80 f.] Mutual physical contact was no longer necessary.

Beyond that – much as had already been planned in 1925 – a new Paragraph 175a was created, punishing “qualified cases” as schwere Unzucht (“severe lewdness”) with no less than one year and no more than ten years in the penitentiary. These included:

  • sexual relations with a subordinate or employee in a work situation,
  • homosexual acts with men under the age of 21,
  • male prostitution.

“Unnatural fornication with a beast” was moved to Paragraph 175b.

According to the official rationale, Paragraph 175 was amended in the interest of the moral health of the Volk – the German people – because “according to experience” homosexuality “inclines toward plague-like propagation” and exerts “a ruinous influence” on the “circles concerned

This aggravation of the severity of Paragraph 175 in 1935 increased the number of convictions tenfold, to 8,000 annually. Only about half of the prosecutions resulted from police work; about 40 percent resulted from private accusations (Strafanzeige) by non-participating observers, and about 10 percent were denouncements by employers and institutions.

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In contradistinction to normal police, the Gestapo were authorized to take gay men into preventive detention (Schutzhaft) of arbitrary duration without an accusation (or even after an acquittal). This was often the fate of so-called “repeat offenders”: at the end of their sentences, they were not freed but sent for additional “reeducation” (Umerziehung) in a concentration camp. Only about 40 percent of these pink triangle prisoners – whose numbers amounted to an estimated 10,000 – survived the camps. Some of them, after their release by the Allied Forces, were placed back in prison, because they had not yet finished court-mandated terms of imprisonment for homosexual acts.

Nazi eugenics

Nazi propaganda poster from 1936, supporting Nazi Germany’s 1933 Law for the Prevention of Hereditarily Diseased Offspring (their compulsory sterilization)

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Law for the Prevention of Genetically Diseased Offspring (Ger. Gesetz zur Verhütung erbkranken Nachwuchses) or “Sterilisation Law” was a statute in Nazi Germany enacted on July 14, 1933, (and made active in January 1934)which allowed the compulsory sterilisation of any citizen who in the opinion of a “Genetic Health Court” suffered from a list of alleged genetic disorders – many of which were not, in fact, genetic. The elaborate interpretive commentary on the law was written by three dominant figures in the racial hygiene movement: Ernst Rüdin,Arthur Gütt and the lawyer Falk Ruttke. The law itself was based on a ‘model’ American law developed by Harry H. Laughlin.

The basic provisions of the 1933 law stated that:

(1) Any person suffering from a hereditary disease may be rendered incapable of procreation by means of a surgical operation (sterilization), if the experience of medical science shows that it is highly probable that his descendants would suffer from some serious physical or mental hereditary defect.
(2) For the purposes of this law, any person will be considered as hereditarily diseased who is suffering from any one of the following diseases: –
(1) Congenital Mental Deficiency,
(2) Schizophrenia,
(3) Manic-Depressive Insanity,
(4) Hereditary Epilepsy,
(5) Hereditary Chorea (Huntington’s),
(6) Hereditary Blindness,
(7) Hereditary Deafness,
(8) Any severe hereditary deformity.
(3) Any person suffering from severe alcoholism may be also rendered incapable of procreatio.
The law applied to anyone in the general population, making its scope significantly larger than the compulsory sterilisation laws in the United States, which generally were only applicable on people in psychiatric hospitals or prisons.

The 1933 law created a large number of “Genetic Health Courts”, consisting of a judge, a medical officer, and medical practitioner, which “shall decide at its own discretion after considering the results of the whole proceedings and the evidence tendered”. If the court decided that the person in question was to be sterilised, the decision could be appealed to “Higher Genetic Health Court”. If the appeal failed, the sterilization was to be carried out, with the law specifying that “the use of force is permissible”. The law also required that people seeking voluntary sterilizations also go through the courts.

There were three amendments by 1935, most making minor adjustments to how the statute operated or clarifying bureaucratic aspects (such as who paid for the operations). The most significant changes allowed the Higher Court to renounce a patient’s right to appeal, and to fine physicians who did not report patients who they knew would qualify for sterilisation under the law. The law also enforced sterilization on the so-called “Rhineland bastards.”(was a derogatory term used in Nazi Germany to describe multiracial children with Caucasian,German mothers who had been fathered by Africans serving with French colonial troops during the Occupation of the Rhineland after World War I. According to Nazi racial theory, these children were considered inferior to Aryan children and consigned to compulsory sterilization.)

At the time of its enaction, the German government pointed to the success of sterilisation laws elsewhere, especially the work in California documented by the American eugenicists E. S. Gosneyand Paul Popenoe, as evidence of the humaneness and efficacy of such laws. Eugenicists abroad admired the German law for its legal and ideological clarity. Popenoe himself wrote that “the German law is well drawn and, in form, may be considered better than the sterilization laws of most American states”, and trusted in the German government’s “conservative, sympathetic, and intelligent administration” of the law, praising the “scientific leadership” of the Nazis.The German mathematician Otfrid Mittmann defended the law against “unfavorable judgements”.

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In the first year of the law’s operation, 1934, 84,600 cases were brought to Genetic Health Courts, with 62,400 forced sterilisations. Nearly 4,000 people appealed against the decisions of sterilisation authorities; 3,559 of the appeals failed.[In 1935, it was 88,100 trials and 71,700 sterilizations.By the end of the Nazi regime, over 200 “Genetic Health Courts” were created, and under their rulings over 400,000 people were sterilized against their will.

Along with the law, Adolf Hitler personally decriminalised abortion in case of fetuses having racial or hereditary defects for doctors, while the abortion of healthy “pure” German, “Aryan” unborn remained strictly forbidden.

The phrase “life unworthy of life” (in German: “Lebensunwertes Leben”) was a Nazi designation for the segments of the populace which, according to the Nazi regime of the time, had no right to live. Those individuals were targeted to be euthanized. The term included people with serious medical problems and those considered grossly inferior according to the racial policy of Nazi Germany. This concept formed an important component of the ideology of Nazism and eventually helped lead to the Holocaust.

The euthanasia programme was officially adopted in 1939 and came through the personal decision of Adolf Hitler. It grew in extent and scope fromAction T4 ending officially in 1941 when public protests stopped the programme, through the Action 14f13 against concentration camp inmates.

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The euthanasia of people with disabilities continued more less discreetly until the end of World War II. The methods used initially at German hospitals such as lethal injections and bottled gas poisoning.

This poster (from around 1938) reads: “60,000 Reichsmark is what this person suffering from a hereditary defect costs the People’s community during his lifetime. Fellow citizen, that is your money too. Read ‘[A] New People’, the monthly magazine of the Bureau for Race Politics of the NSDAP.

EuthanasiePropaganda

Several ‘developed’ countries do currently have abortion and euthanasia programs not  very dissimilar to the Nazi eugenics laws.

For example in 2014 in Denmark 98 percent of pregnant women who were revealed to be carrying an unborn child with Down Syndrome chose to have an abortion.

You could argue this is done voluntarily by the women but it is all how you relay the information to the mothers that ultimately determines their ‘free will’. If you put the emphasis on the negatives then subliminally you will influence a decision.

Similar programs although withe lower percentages are in place in the Nerherlands, France and other European countries. Belgium even offers euthanasia to young children who have mental problems.

I don’t want to judge but some of the similarities are scary and seem to go under the radar.

 

 

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

Action 14f13- The killing of the sick

Hartheim Castle

It is hard to say which crime committed during the Holocaust was the most gruesome, but along with the Action T4 program, the Action 14f13 is equally horrific. Not because they were worse then all the other atrocities but because elements of both programs are slowly sneaking in by stealth in a number of European countries.

Action 14f13, also called “Sonderbehandlung (“special treatment”) 14f13″, was a campaign of the Third Reich to murder Nazi concentration camp prisoners. Also called “invalid” or “prisoner euthanasia”, the campaign culled the sick, elderly and those deemed no longer fit for work from the rest of the prisoners in a selection process, after which they were killed. The Nazi campaign was in operation from 1941 to 1944 and later covered other groups of concentration camp prisoners, as well.

A coded language was used to record the death of the inmates of concentration camps. “14 f 1” signified natural death, “14 f 2” – suicide or accidental death, “14 f 3” – shot while trying to escape, “14 f I” – execution. By Himmler’s order, in April 1941, “Special Treatment (Sonderbehandlung) 14 f 13”, the “euthanasia” of sick or infirm prisoners was instituted.  From inception, T4 sent medical personnel to the camps to select and list prisoners for liquidation.

Collaboration between the Inspectorate of the Concentration Camps (a department of the SS) and the T4 administrators did not require extensive negotiations. Himmler had provided some support services for T4 killing operations which were organized by Viktor Brack, an active member of the SS who had a close relationship with Himmler. Once Himmler and Bouhler had reached an agreement on the killing of concentration camp prisoners, Brack simply coordinated the joint killing operation. This SS-T4 collaboration included both the process of selecting the victims and the actual killing operation. Prisoners from all camps administered by the Inspectorate, except Natzweiler, which was established too late to be included, were selected for 14 f 13.

Philipp Bouhler (11 September 1899 – 19 May 1945) was a senior Nazi Party official who was both a Reichsleiter  andChief of the Chancellery of the Führer of the NSDAP. He was also an SS-Obergruppenführer in the Allgemeine SS who was responsible for the Nazi Aktion T4 and Action 14f13 euthanasia program that killed more than 70,000 handicapped adults and children in Nazi Germany.

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Today is the 71st anniversary of his suicide.

The selection process involved a two-tier approach. SS camp physicians pre-selected a pool of potential victims, and T4 physicians then picked the actual victims from this pool. Officially, the Inspectorate apparently directed SS camp physicians to select those suffering from incurable physical diseases who were permanently unable to undertake physical labour. In addition to personal data, the reason for arrest, and the date of incarceration, SS camp physicians had to provide details about physical ailments but not about the disabilities that had been used to evaluate the handicapped. Unofficially, the Inspectorate applied other criteria, which were not transmitted in writing. The unofficial instructions covered racial and eugenic criteria for selection.

The operation began in April 1941. A panel of doctors began visiting concentration camps to select sick and incapacitated prisoners for “elimination”. This panel included those already experienced from Aktion T4, such as professors Werner Heyde and Hermann Paul Nitsche, and doctors Friedrich Mennecke, Curt Schmalenbach, Horst Schumann, Otto Hebold, Rudolf Lonauer, Robert Müller, Theodor Steinmeyer, Gerhard Wischer, Viktor Ratka and Hans Bodo Gorgaß.

(There are no pictures of Curt Schmalenbach,  Robert Müller, Theodor Steinmeyer, Gerhard Wischer and  Hans Bodo Gorgaß. available)

To speed up the process, camp commandants made a preliminary selection list, as they had done in the T4 operation.

This left just a few questions to be answered, such as personal information, date of admission to the camp, diagnosis of incurable disease, war injuries, criminal referral based on the criminal code of the Third Reich and any previous offenses. Under the operation’s guidelines, names of ballastexistenzen (“dead weight” prisoners) were to be compiled and presented to the medical doctors for “withdrawal from service”. This included any prisoner who had been unable to work for a long time or was substantially incapacitated and would not be able to return to work.

The prisoners were transported in so called ‘charitable ambulances’

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The T4 physicians thus only needed to check the completed information, enter the diagnosis, and make the final decision. Thereafter, the questionnaires were delivered to T4 headquarters in Berlin. Mennecke admitted: “This did not involve medical evaluations, because in the concentration camps I only had the assignment to fill out questionnaires.”.

Two pages of the death registry at Hadamar listing false causes of death

For Jews, the physicians did not even bother to enact the pretence of a physical examination. In one of his letters to his wife, Mennecke described the procedure: “As a second allotment there then followed altogether 1,200 Jews, who did not first have to be ‘examined,’ but where it is sufficient to extract from the files the reasons for their arrest (often very extensive!) and to record them on the questionnaires.” Unlike T4, the deaths were recorded by the registry office responsible for each concentration camp. The camp was noted as the place of death and a fictitious cause of death created, although from early 1942 death notices were no longer sent to the next-of-kin of the deceased.

Personally responsible for selecting 2,000-3,000 “euthanasia” victims, Mennecke’s motives for participating in the killing operation could be considered typical of the T4 physicians: a mixture of ideology, careerism, and greed. He accepted and affirmed the principles of Nazi ideology, especially as it corresponded to the theories espoused by his senior professional colleagues. He also wanted to advance his career. He obtained specialty certification for his “work”, and like many other perpetrators, he enjoyed the privileges and the money T4 distributed.

Only three Nazi killing centers (NS-Tötungsanstalt) were used for the gassing of the “invalided” prisoners: Bernburg Euthanasia Centre (headed by Irmfried Eberl), Sonnenstein Euthanasia Centre (headed by Horst Schumann) and Hartheim Euthanasia Centre (headed by Rudolf Lonauer and Georg Renno).

As the shortage of manpower became critical, 14 f 13 policy changed.  On 28 March 1942, the office of the Inspectorate of the Concentration Camps wrote to all camp commandants:

“A camp commandant’s report has made it known that of 51 prisoners selected for special treatment 14 f 13, 42 had `again become fit for work’ after a certain time, so that it was no longer necessary to apply special treatment to them. This case clearly shows that the regulations were not observed at the time of the prisoner’s selection. Only those categories of prisoner referred to in the regulations should be brought before the medical commission, particularly those who are no longer fit for work.”

By April 1943, an order from Himmler further reduced the application of 14 f 13: “…Only mentally ill prisoners should be selected by the competent medical commissions for operation 14 f 13. All other prisoners who are unfit for work…are definitely to be excluded from this operation. Bedridden patients should be given suitable work that can be performed in bed.” This order did not prevent camp physicians continuing to kill prisoners unfit for work on their own initiative. Prisoners were now either killed at the camp itself or sent to a camp equipped with gas chambers.

As a result of this further change of policy, all of the T4 killing centres were closed down, other than Hartheim. But on 11 April 1944, a new order was issued: “euthanasia” for prisoners was reinstituted. Now the selections were not made by T4 personnel, but by the camp physicians. At Mauthausen and its sub-camp, Gusen, for example, normally the day before a transfer the camp physician informed the block leader (Blockältester)  that there would be a transport to a “convalescent camp” the following day, and specified the number of prisoners to be conveyed. During this last phase of 14 f 13, 3,228 prisoners from Mauthausen and Gusen were killed at Hartheim.

The total number of victims of 14 f 13 is uncertain, but is thought to exceed 20,000. The 14 f 13 program was relatively small in scope in comparison to the killings in the death camps, but it provided an important link between the “euthanasia” of mental patients in the T4 program and the subsequent mass murder of Aktion Reinhard, Auschwitz, and elsewhere. 14 f 13 transferred the practices of the “euthanasia” program to the concentration camps, thereby helping to create the dual purpose labour and extermination camps. Moreover, to some extent, 14 f 13 provided the model for future methods, particularly insofar as the “selection” of victims was concerned.

Post war photo of the cemetery at Hadamar where victims of the euthanasia killings were buried.

cEMETERY

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the Nazi regime’s medicine programs. I will do a follow up on both T4 and 14f13 projects in the future.

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