9/11 1941

The picture above is an arrest card of Meijer Barmhartigheid. He was one of the 389 young Jewish man who were arrested during raid in Amsterdam on February 22 and 23 ,1941.

Of those 389 only 2 survived the Holocaust. 100 of them were murdered in the Hartheim clinic, which was also the clinic used for the T4 program.

Meijer Barmhartigheid was gassed on August 14,1941 at the Hartheim clinic. But the Nazis couldn’t even be honest about that. They had registered his death on September 11,1941 in Mauthausen, 80 years ago today.

Barmhartigheid is the Dutch word for merciful. Meijer did not get a merciful death.

I can only assume that they changed the date and the location of the murder due to the fact that the T4 program officially ended in August 1941, although unofficially the program kept going to nearly the las day of the war.

Hitler’s cousin Aloisia Velt was also one of the T4 victims.

sources

https://www.joodsmonument.nl/nl/page/204397/meijer-barmhartigheid#intro

https://www.amsterdam.nl/stadsarchief/themasites/razzia/meijer-barmhartigheid/

T4

September 1,1939 is well known for the German invasion of Poland, triggering World War 2. However it is less known as the date that the official killing of disabled people was made law, albeit it under the guise of euthanasia.

It was only 5 lines which determined the fate of hundreds of thousands.

“Reichsleiter Bouhler and Dr. med. Brandt are hereby instructed and authorized to broaden the powers of designated physicians to the extent that persons who are suffering from diseases which may be deemed incurable according to standards of human judgment based on a careful examination of their condition shall be guaranteed a mercy death.”

— Adolf Hitler, Memorandum Authorizing Involuntary Euthanasia, Berlin, 1 September 1939.”

It is of course easy to put all the blame on the Nazi regime, however something which is often overlooked is that the 1st victim was on request by the parents of the child. He was actually killed prior to the law being enacted.

Gerhard Kretschmar was born in Pomssen, a village south-east of Leipzig. His parents were Richard Kretschmar, a farm labourer, and his wife Lina Kretschmar. Schmidt describes them as “ardent Nazis.” Gerhard was born blind, with either no legs or one leg, and with one arm. (The original medical records are lost, and second-hand accounts vary.) He was also subject to convulsions. Brandt later testified that the child was also “an idiot”, although how this was determined is not stated.

Richard Kretschmar took the newborn Gerhard to Dr Werner Catel, a pediatrician at the University Children’s Clinic in Leipzig, and asked that his son be “put to sleep.” Catel told him that this would be illegal. Kretschmar then wrote directly to Hitler, asking that he investigate the case and overrule the law that prevented “This Monster” (as he described his child) from being killed. As was usual with such petitions, it was referred to Hitler’s private secretariat (the Kanzlei des Führers), headed by Philipp Bouhler. There it was seen by Hans Hefelman, head of Department IIb, which dealt with petitions. Hefelman and Bouhler showed the petition to Hitler, aware of his frequently expressed support for the “mercy killing” of people with severe disabilities.

Hitler summoned Karl Brandt, one of his personal physicians, and sent him to Leipzig to investigate the Kretschmar case. Hitler told Brandt that if Gerhard Kretschmar’s condition was indeed as described in Richard Kretschmar’s petition, then he, Hitler, authorised Brandt to have Gerhard killed, in consultation with the local doctors, and if any legal action were taken, it would be thrown out of court. In Leipzig, Brandt examined the child and consulted with Catel and another physician, Dr. Helmut Kohl.He also went to Pomssen and saw the Kretschmars. When Brandt informed the Leipzig doctors of Hitler’s instructions, they agreed that Gerhard Kretschmar should be killed, although they knew this was illegal.

The Pomssen church register says that Gerhard Kretschmar died at Pomssen of “heart weakness” on 25 July. He was buried in the Lutheran churchyard three days later. Although no medical records exist, and although the testimony of Brandt and Catel after the war was contradictory and evasive, Schmidt believes that Gerhard was killed in the Leipzig clinic with an injection of a common drug such as luminal, and that the church register was falsified to conceal this fact.

In Dr. Ewald Melzer’s 1923 survey of the parents of the disabled children in his care, they were asked: “Would you agree definitely to a painless shortcut of your child’s life, after it is determined by experts that it is incurably stupid?” The results, which surprised Melzer, were published in 1925: 73 percent responded they were willing to have their children killed if they weren’t told about it.

Of course the T4 program allowed the Nazis to get rid of anyone they deemed unfit for life. In reality that could be anyone, Political opponents, Jews, Roma even people with the slightest disability. I would probably have been a victim, being half blind and having Rheumatoid Arthritis.

The scary part though is that we have not learned from the mistakes of the past. In several countries eugenic laws, not unlike-although not as extreme- are currently quite common.

sources

https://www.jstor.org/stable/41345169

https://eugenicsarchive.ca/discover/tree/517305eaeed5c60000000029

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gerhard_Kretschmar

https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2020/12/the-last-children-of-down-syndrome/616928/

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/down-syndrome-iceland/

https://apnews.com/article/e1731db26be41810f79e7e148d087a04

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The survival of Robert Wagemann

A little known fact is that the Jehovah Witnesses were also persecuted by the Nazi regime.

It is estimated that 1,000 German Jehovah’s Witnesses died or were murdered in concentration camps and prisons between 1933 and 1945, as did 400 Witnesses from other countries, of which were about 90 Austrians and 120 Dutch Jehovah Witnesses . In addition, at least 273 Jehovah’s Witnesses were sentenced to death by military courts for refusing military service and were executed.

The imprisoned Jehovah’s Witnesses were given the document below. By putting a signature on that declaration they would be renouncing their faith and would be released. Of all the Jehovah Witnesses imprisoned, only fa handful of approximately two-thousand signed the declaration and were released.(The translation of the document is below too)

Lotte Wagemann was a practicing Jehovah Witness . In 1937 she was pregnant with Robert Wagemann. Despite being pregnant she was arrested and briefly imprisoned for her activities as a Jehovah’s Witness. She gave birth shortly after her release. Due to the stress of imprisonment and insufficient medical care, Robert’s hip was injured during delivery, resulting in a permanent disability.(His right leg is six inches shorter then the left)

Under the T4 Program, he was classified as “handicapped” , and two times he had been selected for ‘euthanasia’ but really it was for extermination. The first time they escaped to Berlin, and lived with relatives.

In 1943 amidst the growing chaos in Mannheim caused bu allied bombing Robert’s mother was ordered to go with Robert to Schlierbach near Heidelberg to a hospital where he would be examined. The Nazi Doctors confirmed the status of his disability . During the examination, Lotte overheard a conversation where one of the Doctors said that Robert was to be given a lethal injection after lunch..

Lotte waited for the doctors to break for lunch, took Robert and picked up his his clothes, and escaped while the nurses weren’t looking . Because of the increased bombings of the allies I presume the escape by Lotte and Robert didn’t get the same priority as it would have done earlier durig the war or even before the war. Their house was bombed in Mannheim So they spent the remainder of the war hiding with Robert’s grandparents in Iggelheim.

Despite having escaped the clutches of the T4 physicians ,Robert did not stay out of trouble. On his 1st school day he refused to to do the Nazi salute nor did he sing the national anthem.

This drew the attention of the authorities and Robert and his family were forced to move once again. This time to to a town called Haardt by Neustadt and lived with Robert’s maternal grandparents (. There in a little cabin in the woods they spent the remainder of the war.

The family survived the war, Robert emigrated to the United States in 1963 where he married . Robert and his wife have three sons and five grandchildren.

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sources

http://webapps.raritanval.edu/memorial/page1.htm

http://webapps.raritanval.edu/memorial/page2.htm

https://www.alst.org/pages-us/education/classroom-questions/Robert-Wagemann-classroom-questions.html

https://encyclopedia.ushmm.org/content/en/article/nazi-persecution-of-jehovahs-witnesses

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Gerda Metzger- T4 Victim

gerda

Gerda suffered from a form skeletal muscular  paralysis and was taken from her mother then transferred to a so-called “children’s specialist department of the Municipal
children’s Hospital in Stuttgart.

A specialist had come to the family home to examine Gerda. The ‘Doctor’ took the child into a separate room. Gerda’s mother was not allowed to be present during the examination.

She could hear her daughter scream in pain. When the ‘Specialist’ had finished the examination,Gerda’s mother asked”What exactly did you examine?” The woman was told to shut up and say goodbye to her daughter.Because Gerda was going to be taken to a Special clinic.

On 12 July 1943 , Gerda died in the clinic , she was not yet 4 years old.She was euthanized. Even though the T4 had officially stopped at that stage  ,it unofficially continue to the end of the war.

The Clinic’s director was Dr. Karl Lempp. He was never tried for any of his involvement. All he had to do was to follow the denazification program and git a monetary fine. He continued working as a Doctor until 1950 when he received his pension.

Research  between 2008 and 2009 conducted by  Dr. Marquart who analysed 506 extant death certificates of children who died in the children’s hospital between January 1943 and the end of April 1945, he found 52 suspicious deaths of children diagnosed with severe innate disorders – but for which no causal relation to their death can be established. One third of the children died of pneumonia, a typical result of poisoning with Luminal. The death certificate was sometimes signed with a fake name.

In 2013 a memorial stumble block was placed for Gerda Metzger in Stuttgart.

 

 

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Sources

https://www.stolpersteine-stuttgart.de/index.php?docid=820

http://www.uvm.edu/~lkaelber/children/stuttgart/stuttgartolder.html

https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/193060569/gerda-metzger

 

Emmi G.

Emmi G

This is a picture of Emmi G,a victim of the T4  euthanasia program. Killed because she was ‘different’.

What makes her story even sadder is the fact that we don’t even know her full name. All we know is that she was 16 when she was killed with an overdose of tranquilizers on December 7, 1942 in Meseritz-Obrawalde euthanasia center.

Even the date is heartbreaking  it was 1 day after the celebrations of der Heilige Nikolaus, or Saint Nicholas. The traditional German Christmas celebration.Although the war was raging the St Nicolas feast was still celebrated throughout the war.

Emmi G had been diagnosed as schizophrenic,she worked as a housemaid. If she actually was  schizophrenic is doubtful. She was a teenager dealing with teenage anxiety during the most horrible time in history. I have no evidence of this but my presumption is that she had just become an ‘inconvenience’ and was therefore killed.

None of the cases in the T4 program were voluntary.

Even if she had been  schizophrenic that does not warrant a death penalty. What it does require is psychiatric help, but that is something the Nazis did not subscribe to. That is why the designed the T4 program. The irony is the real mental cases were the Nazi leaders themselves.

The story of Emmi G does come with a warning though. We may think that this could not possibly happen here however some European countries do allow Euthanasia on teenagers and even younger children. even children with mental problems

 

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Source USHMM

 

Memorandum authorizing involuntary euthanasia

t4

Five short lines determined the lives or rather the end of lives of up to 300,000 innocent people.

“Reichsleiter  Bouhler and Dr. med.  Brandt are hereby instructed and authorized to broaden the powers of designated physicians to the extent that persons who are suffering from diseases which may be deemed incurable according to standards of human judgment based on a careful examination of their condition shall be guaranteed a mercy death.
— Adolf Hitler, Memorandum Authorizing Involuntary Euthanasia, Berlin, 1 September 1939.”

The memorandum refers to these deaths as mercy deaths but in fact they were brutal murders. The document was the authorisation for the so called “Aktion T4” The involuntary euthanasia of approximately 300,000 people with mental and physical disabilities as determined by the Nazi Nuremberg Laws. Basically no life was sacred for the Nazis If it did not fit their idea of a perfect Aryan your life was not certain.

There  is of course an abbreviation for involuntary euthanasia which is murder.

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Tiergartenstraße 4

T4

Tiergartenstraße 4, may look like an ordinary German address. But is an address which is synonymous to unspeakable evil.

It was the address of a villa in  the Tiergarten or Zoo district in central Berlin.

T4 Villa

But more then that it was the headquarters of the Nazi “euthanasia” program ,the mass murder of disabled people and others, code named Aktion T4.

An estimated 300,000 people with disabilities were killed as a result of the T4 Aktion program. The definition of disability was very loosely used by the Nazis. Even a political dissident could be marked as disabled.

What often is overlooked is that the authorizing of  the euthanasia program was signed by Adolf Hitler and dated Sept. 1, 1939. The very same day as the Nazi regime invaded Poland.

Officially the program  ended in  August 1941 amid a welter of protests from many quarters of German society. But in reality the killing continued to the end of the war.

 

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Sources

Britannica

gedenkort-t4.eu

All that is interesting.

Werner Catel- deciding who lives.

Werner Catel

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.

T-4

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.

Book

Catel argued for the reintroduction of euthanasia. As had Binding and Hoche, Catel identified three possible types of euthanasia.

Reine Euthanasie:
“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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Sources

T4-Denkmal

Der Spiegel

915 Euthanasias a month.

Sonnenstein

I do mention  Euthanasias in the title but in reality they were murders. Euthanasia. Sonnenstein Euthanasia Clinic was in of the euthanasia centres of the T4 program.

It operated between June 1940 and September 1941. Most of the victims  were suffering from psychological disorders and intellectual disability, but their number also included inmates from the concentration camps.

It didn’t take much to be branded as somebody with a psychological disorder, even political delinquents were seem as people with mental disabilities.

Between June 1940 and September the centre euthanized on average 915 victims a month, or about 30 victims a day.

One of the victims was Elfriede Lohse-Wächtler.

elfriede

She was was a German painter of the avant-garde movement  whose works were considered “degenerate art” and therefor banned and sometimes destroyed.

In 1929, she suffered a nervous breakdown due to financial  problems and relationship issues ,she was committed to a psychiatric institution in Hamburg-Friedrichsberg. During the two months she stayed there  stay, she painted the Friedrichsberg heads. A portfolio  of work consisting of about 60 drawings and pastels of mainly portraits of fellow patients. After her recovery  she had a very creative phase. She painted numerous paintings of Hamburg’s harbor, scenes from the life of workers and prostitutes, and pitiless self-portraits. But despite some exhibitions, sales, and smaller grants, she lived in  poverty.

Due to  these financial problems and increasing social isolation, she returned to her parents’ home in Dresden in 1931. When her mental state worsened her father admitted her to the state mental home at Arnsdorf in 1932. Where  she was diagnosed with schizophrenia. From 1932 to 1935 she was still creatively active, drawing portraits and creating arts and crafts. After her husband  divorced her in May 1935 she was incapacitated due to “incurable insanity”.

After refusing to consent to a sterilisation, she was no longer allowed  to leave the hospital . In late 1935, she was subjected to a surgical sterilisation in the Dresden-Friedrichstadt women’s hospital as per the Nazi eugenicist policies. After this trauma  she never painted again. In 1940 she was deported to Sonnenstein where she was killed on July 31,1940.

Centre Sonnenstein

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Reporting of children who showed signs of severe mental or physical disability.

child

They say a picture paints a thousand words.But ever since I have been doing blogs about the holocaust I have seen many pictures that have left me speechless, and none more so then the suffering of children.

On August 18 1939, Wilhelm Frick ordered all physicians, nurses and midwives to report children under the age of three who showed signs of severe mental or physical disability. This was the first phase in the Nazi Germany’s child euthanasia program. The so called T4 program.

The key document was a circular from the Reich Minister of the Interior of 18 August 1939, Ref: IVb 3088/39 – 1079 Mi, which was marked “Strictly Confidential” and specified the groups to be included and how they were to be assembled. After that, doctors and midwives together with maternity hospitals, obstetric departments and children’s hospitals, except where a senior doctor was not present or did not get the instruction, were required to report in writing to the appropriate health authorities:

if the newborn child is suspected of being afflicted with the following congenital disorders:

1) Idiocy and mongolism (especially cases combined with blindness and deafness),
2) Microcephaly
3) Hydrocephalus, to a severe or advanced degree
4) Malformations of all kinds, particularly the absence of limbs, severe midline defects of the head and spine, etc.
5) Paralysis, including cerebral palsy

A template of a reporting form was enclosed with the circular, which had to be sent by public health authorities as required to their higher administrative authority.  Uniquely, a reward of 2 RM for each report was given to the midwives and nurses affected “for professional services rendered”.

Nurses Midwives

At the start only children under the age of 3 were to be reported. The prescribed registration form gave the illusion that registration was only being sought with the aim of providing special medical care, in fact they were designed to determine if a child would be killed or not, the technical term was if they were eligible for euthanasia, as if that was a good thing.

Three experts were appointed from the National Committee who had been heavily involved in the preparatory committee, Werner Catel, Hans Heinze and Ernst Wentzler. Hefelmann  who remarked  later,that Professor Heinze and Dr. Wentzler  supported euthanasia with great enthusiasm and Professor Catel with conviction, and so they agreed without any pressure to so act as expert assessors.

But it wasn’t only Physicians who killed children,some nurses killed children, saying that they were under orders.

Below is a picture of  Richard Jenne-  the last known child murdered in the T4 program.

Richard

 

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