Tuesday, February 10, 2009



The Universal Declaration of Human Rights Clearly States:

Article 3 - Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.

Article 25 - Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.


There are nine posts in this series on Nazi Germany. Each post touches briefly on the subject given that there are already numerous research papers, articles and books, covering each topic in depth. Many links are included in each post. For the reasoning behind writing these posts, read the Introduction HERE.

0 INTRODUCTION - Why this Series of Posts?
2 EUGENICS, RACIAL PURITY AND PERSECUTION - The US Influenced Nazi Germany's Eugenics Program. A Snapshot of the Diverse Groups Persecuted and Imprisoned in Concentration Camps. The Nuremberg Trial, Which Dealt With Racial Purity - RuSHA (USA vs. Ulrich Greifelt et al).
3 FORCED AND SLAVE LABOUR - Without Forced and Slave Labour the Nazi War Machine would have Collapsed and Brought the War to an Abrupt End. A Brief History of Forced and Slave Labour Before, During and After World War II. Details of The Nuremberg Trials for German Industrialists - Flick, Krupp and IG Farben.
4 FORCED PROSTITUTION, SEXUAL VIOLENCE AND RAPE - Sexual Crimes Were Not Tried at Nuremberg even though There Were Established Laws Condemning These Crimes. Information About Nazi Military Brothels and Concentration Camp Brothels. Evidence and Testimonies from Witnesses. Both Axis and Allied Forces were Guilty of Sexual Violence and Rape.
5 NAZI DOCTORS EXPERIMENTS AND TRIALS - The Nazi Doctors' Nuremberg Trial and Details of Their Experiments. Names of Nazi Doctors who Escaped Prosecution. Information about Post War Unethical Experiments Without Informed Consent, in the USA, Russia, South Africa and Israel.
6 STERILIZATION AND EUTHANASIA PROGRAMS - Life “Unworthy of Life” A Brief History of the Sterilization and the Euthanasia Programs and German Public Opposition. Using Cost Benefits Analysis in Nazi Medicine to Educate Children.
7 WORLD WAR II BY DESIGN – THE ECONOMY AND FOREIGN INVESTORS - An Important Component of Nazi Germany's War Infrastructure. Brief History of the German Economy and Hermann Goering's Four Year Plan. Role of Jewish Public Protests and their Boycott of German Goods in 1933 and Germany's Retaliatory Actions. The Real Role of Neutral Countries During the War. Post War Looting of German Patents, Cover Up of German Research on Tobacco and Cancer and the Removal/Kidnap of Nazi Experts to Allied Countries. The Role of Foreign Subsidiaries/Investors before and during World War II in Germany.
8 UNWCC (UNITED NATIONS WAR CRIMES COMMISSION) LAW REPORTS - The UNWCC prepared and published a 15 volume set of law reports covering 89 War Crimes Trials From World War II. This post contains links to all of these law reports and a list of the cases in each volume. Some information on CROWCASS (Central Registry of War Criminals and Security Suspects).



Hitler was in favour of killing those whom he judged to be Life "Unworthy Of Life." Those deemed mentally and physically unfit to work for the state and provide financial support for the family were targeted with the Sterilization and Euthanasia Programs.

Before the Nazis came to power, the German Eugenics movement had an extreme wing, led by Alfred Hoche and Karl Binding, who as early as 1920 had advocated killing those with lives judged to be "unworthy living". They wrote an influential text with the title, Permitting the Destruction of Unworthy Life. Their views gained ground after 1930, when the Depression caused sharp cuts in funding to state mental hospitals, creating squalor and overcrowding.

Most German eugenicists were already strongly nationalist and anti-Semitic, and embraced the Nazi regime with enthusiasm. Physicians were among the first to support National Socialism in Germany. The National Socialist Physicians League was formed in 1929. By early 1933, almost 3,000 physicians (6% of the entire medical profession) had joined the League. By late 1933, 11,000 physicians were members. Undoubtedly, some joined not out of conviction but out of occupational necessity.

On 30 January 1933, Adolf Hitler became Chancellor of the Third Reich. On 14 July 1933, the Law for the “Prevention of Genetically Defective Progeny” was passed, mandating the involuntary sterilization by vasectomy or tubal ligation of people with a range of conditions thought to be hereditary: schizophrenia, epilepsy, chronic alcoholism, the insane, the blind, the deaf, the deformed, Huntington's chorea and "imbecility", retardation or better understood as the “weak-minded”. At the same time, to encourage population growth among the Aryan race, the regime restricted access to contraception and outlawed voluntary sterilization as well as abortion, unless it was necessary to save the mother’s life.

In the first year of the Sterilization Act, Germany’s genetic health courts received 84,525 physician initiated applications and reached 64,499 decisions, 56,244 in favour. Doctors competed to fulfill sterilization quotas; sterilization research and engineering rapidly became one of the largest medical industries. Medical supply companies made a substantial amount of money designing sterilization equipment. Medical students wrote at least 183 doctoral theses exploring the criteria, methods, and consequences of sterilization.

Within 2 years, up to 1% of citizens aged 17 to 24 years had been sterilized. Within 4 years, about 300,000 patients had been sterilized, at least one-half for “feeble mindedness,” as evidenced by their failing scientifically designed intelligence tests.

During the 1930s the Nazi Party carried out a campaign of propaganda in favour of "Euthanasia." The National Socialist Racial and Political Office (NSRPA) produced leaflets, posters and short films to be shown in cinemas, pointing out to Germans the cost of maintaining asylums for the incurably ill and insane. These films included The Inheritance (Das Erbe, 1935) and The Victim of the Past (Opfer der Vergangenheit, 1937), which was given a major premiere in Berlin and was shown in all German cinemas.

In 1935, a young protégé of Ernst Rüdin’s, Dr Franz J Kallman, presented a paper at the Berlin International Congress for Population Science, in which he argued for the sterilization of even the apparently healthy relatives of those with schizophrenia, along with the patients themselves, to eliminate defective genes. Kallmann’s genetic studies were used partly to justify the murder of patients, many of them children.

Hitler told the Reich Doctors' Leader, Dr Gerhard Wagner in 1935, that the question of Euthanasia for “life unworthy of life” could not be taken up in peacetime. The outbreak of war in 1939 thus opened up for Hitler the possibility of carrying out a policy he had long favoured.

Preparing for war, Hitler decided that mental illness and physical disability were not sufficient grounds for occupying hospital beds. People with severe disabilities, even when sterilized, still needed institutional care at the expense of the state and occupied places in facilities which would soon be needed for wounded soldiers and people evacuated from bombed cities.

In a 1939 conference with health minister Leonardo Conti and the head of the Reich Chancellery, Hans Lammers, prior to Hitler's Euthanasia decree, Hitler gave examples of "Life Unworthy Of Life" as severely mentally ill people who could only be bedded on sawdust or sand because they "perpetually dirtied themselves," or who "put their own excrement into their mouths, eating it and so on."

In July 1939, Brandt and Bouhler held a meeting with Dr Leonardo Conti, Reich Health Leader and state secretary for health in the Interior Ministry, and Professor Werner Heyde, head of the SS medical department. This meeting made preliminary arrangements for a national register of all institutionalized people with mental illnesses or physical disabilities.

According to a decree from 18 August 1939, the Nazis enacted the obligatory registration of all births of physically and mentally handicapped children. These children up to three years had to be reported to the public health offices.

In October 1939, the program for killing adults with mental or physical disabilities began with a letter issued by Hitler. The letter/decree charged Bouhler and Brack with "enlarging the authority of certain physicians, to be designated by name, in such a manner that persons who, according to human judgment, are incurable, can, upon a most careful diagnosis of their condition of sickness, be accorded a mercy death.". No law authorizing medical killing was ever debated or passed by the Reichstag.

Hitler's decree/letter was backdated to 1 September to provide "legality" to the killings already carried out, and to link the program more definitely to the war, giving it a rationale of wartime necessity and to cover the initial phases of the invasion of Poland. The first adults with disabilities to be killed by the Nazi regime were not Germans but Poles. The SS cleared hospitals and mental asylums of the "Wartheland", a region of western Poland which was earmarked for resettlement by ethnic Germans, following the German conquest of Poland. In the Danzig (now Gdańsk) area, some 7,000 Polish inmates of various institutions were shot, while 10,000 were killed in the Gdynia area.

The Nazi Germany Euthanasia Program or Action T4 commenced in October 1939 and continued through August 1941. During this period, physicians killed 70,273 people, identified as suffering patients "judged incurably sick, by critical medical examination". The program was administered by T4 or "Tiergartenstraße 4", the HQ of the General Foundation for Welfare and Institutional Care. This foundation was directed by Philipp Bouhler, the head of Hitler's private chancellery, and Dr Karl Brandt, Hitler's personal physician.

Euthanasia later found its way to the concentration camps under the program code-named 14f13. 14f referred to the code number for the Inspectorate of Concentration Camps, and 13 referred to the “special treatment of sick and frail prisoners.” The program was devised by Himmler to rid the camps of sick prisoners.

In early October 1939 all hospitals, nursing homes, old-age homes, sanatoria were required to report all patients who had been institutionalized for five years or more, were unable to work, 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 conditions 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 therefore tended to overstate the degree of incapacity of their patients, to protect them from labour conscription — with fatal consequences.

Forty-eight doctors were appointed to review nearly 300,000 applications for Euthanasia; of these, about 75,000 patients were selected for death. When some institutions, mainly in Catholic areas 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, all Jewish patients were removed from institutions and were killed during 1940.

The killing of children with mental and physical disabilities was carried out in so-called Specialized Children’s Departments, following the decree from August 1939. The parents of the deceased child were informed via form letter that the infant had died of pneumonia or another made-up cause. Although the children’s program was initially restricted to children under 3 years, this age limit was soon extended. As with the child inmates, adults had their cases 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. 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.

At first adult patients were killed by lethal injection, the method established for killing children, but the slowness and inefficiency of this method for killing adults, who needed larger doses of increasingly scarce and expensive drugs and who were more likely to need restraint, was soon apparent. Hitler himself recommended to Brandt that carbon monoxide gas be used. At the Nuremberg trials, Brandt described this as a "major advance in medical history".

The first gassings took place at Brandenburg an der Havel in January 1940, under the supervision of Widmann and Christian Wirth, a Kripo (criminal police) officer who was later to play a prominent role in the "final solution" extermination of the Jews. Once the efficacy of this method was established, it became standardized and was instituted at a number of centers across Germany. As well as Brandenburg, these included Grafeneck in Baden-Württemberg {10,824 dead}, Schloss Hartheim near Linz in Austria {over 8,000 dead}, Sonnenstein in Saxony {15,000 dead}, Bernburg in Saxony-Anhalt and Hadamar in Hesse {14,494 dead}. As well as killing patients from mental homes, nursing homes and sanatoria, these centers were also used to kill prisoners transferred from concentration camps in Germany and Austria.

For every German killed, a death certificate was prepared, giving a false but plausible cause of death, and sent to the family along with an urn of ashes (random ashes, since the victims were cremated en masse).

During 1940 rumours of what was taking place spread, and many Germans withdrew their relatives from asylums and sanatoria to care for them at home – often with great expense and difficulty. In some places doctors and psychiatrists co-operated with families to have patients discharged, or, if the families could afford it, had them transferred to private clinics where the reach of T4 did not extend.

It was impossible to keep the T4 Euthanasia program secret, given that thousands of doctors, nurses and administrators were involved in it, and given that the majority of those killed had families who were actively concerned about their welfare. In some cases families could tell that the causes of death notified were false, e.g. when a patient was claimed to have died of appendicitis, even though his appendix had been surgically removed some years earlier. In other cases several families in the same town would receive death certificates on the same day. In Hadamar ashes containing human hair rained down on the town........

Originally a prison, The Hadamar Institute near Wiesbaden in Hessen-Nassau became a State mental hospital in 1906, closing by 1939 to serve as a military hospital. By 1940, headed by Dr. Erst Baumgard, it became a Euthanasia center with the T-4 program. To disguise the exterminations, by 1941, it was again converted to hospital beds, only to reopen in 1942 for the purpose of further Euthanasia. At the end of the war, it was converted to a displaced persons institution for the ill, the elderly and others. The head nurse was Irmgard Huber.

In 1940 protest letters began to arrive at the Reich Chancellery and the Ministry of Justice, some of them from Nazi Party members. The first open protest against the removal of people from asylums took place at Absberg in Franconia in February 1941, and others followed.

Opposition to the T4 policy sharpened after the German attack on the Soviet Union in June 1941, because the war in the east produced for the first time large-scale German casualties, and the hospitals and asylums began to fill up with maimed and disabled young German soldiers. Rumours began to circulate that these men would also be subject to "Euthanasia", although in fact no such plans existed.

In July 1941 the Catholic Church broke its silence when a pastoral letter from the bishops was read out in all churches, declaring that it was wrong to kill (except in self-defence or in a morally justified war). A few weeks after the pastoral letter was read out, the Catholic Bishop of Münster in Westphalia, Clemens August Graf von Galen, publicly denounced the T4 program in a sermon, and telegrammed his text to Hitler, calling on "the Führer to defend the people against the Gestapo.”

In August 1941 Galen was even more outspoken, broadening his attack to include the Nazi persecution of religious orders and the closing of Catholic institutions. Galen's sermons were of course not reported in the German press, but they were widely circulated in the form of illegally printed leaflets. Local Nazis asked for Galen to be arrested, but Goebbels told Hitler that if this happened there would be an open revolt in Westphalia. By August 1941 the protests had spread to Bavaria.

On 24 August 1941 Hitler ordered the cancellation of the T4 program, and also issued strict instructions to the Gauleiters that there were to be no further provocations of the churches for the duration of the war.

Operations at Brandenburg and Grafeneck were wound up at the end of 1940, partly because the areas they served had been "cleared" and partly because of public opposition, however in 1941, the centres at Bernberg 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 program was shut down.

The winding up of the T4 program did not bring the killing of people with disabilities to a complete end. The killing of both adults and children continued to the end of the war, on the local initiative of institute directors and party leaders. The methods reverted to those employed before the gas chambers were employed: lethal injection, or simple starvation.

Cost–benefit analysis were a prominent feature of Nazi medicine. Schoolchildren were sent home with mathematics problems that required balancing the cost of housing units for young couples against the costs of looking after “the crippled, the criminal and the insane.”

The killing of 70,000 patients in the T4 program was calculated

to save 245,955.50 Reichsmarks daily, which freed up “4,781,339.72 kg of bread, 19,754,325.27 kg of potatoes,” a total of “33,733,003.40 kg” of 17 categories of food, plus “2,124,568 eggs.”

Projected over 10 years, these savings were predicted to amount to “400,244,520 kg” of 20 categories of food worth “141,775,573.80 Reichsmarks.”

Removal of these patients from the wards saved estimated hospital expenses of “245,955.50 Reichsmarks per day,” or “88,543,980.00 Reichsmarks per year.”

Further, the “State of Prussia invested annually 125 Reichsmarks for a normal pupil, 573 Reichsmarks for a slow learner, 950 Reichsmarks for an educable but mentally ill child, and 1500 Reichsmarks for a child born blind and deaf”.


In December 1946, at the American Military Tribunal, The Doctors Trial, "Medical Case" (United States Vs Karl Brandt, et al.) 23 doctors and administrators were tried for their roles in war crimes and crimes against humanity. These crimes included the systematic killing of those deemed life "unworthy of life," including the mentally disabled, the institutionalized mentally ill, and the physically impaired.

The Nuremberg Trials found evidence that patients continued to be exterminated after October 1941 and 275,000 people were killed.

In 1990 previously unknown documents from the Nazi era, preserved in the central archives of the Ministry for State Security, were found in Berlin. Nearly 30,000 of the more than 70,000 psychiatric patient files surfaced. A sampling of 185 files indicated that most of the victims had been hospitalized over long periods and classified either as schizophrenic or feeble-minded. Five percent of the victims were not unproductive — They Were Employed!


Eugenics and the Nazis -- The California Connection By Edwin Black
Mentally and Physically Handicapped: Victims of the Nazi Era (US Holocaust Memorial Museum)
The Sterilization Program - Nazi Germany
Euthanasia – Aktion T4 Background
Euthanasia Program (USHMM)
Nurses' Participation in the Nazi Euthanasia Program

Go To This Post For Numerous UDHR Translations:
UDHR (Universal Declaration Of Human Rights) in Arabic, Czech, Chinese (Mandarin), English, French, German, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian & Spanish - Also Includes links to 359 translations of the UDHR.

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