How euthanasia started in Germany during the Hitler period

With the threatened government takeover of health care, many parents worry for their children, especially for children with a disability or special need, like this dad from Michigan (first minute of the video):

It reminded me of a totally different set of circumstances, in which another dad stood up for his well loved son who was in danger of pernicious neglect: euthanasia.

This other dad wrote a letter to a government official about his beloved son’s care at a mental hospital. Due to the situation in that country, he felt it necessary to withhold his name from the government official.

The letter from this other dad standing up for his precious son is immortalized in the records of the Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal, specifically, the "Medical Case" against bureaucrats, military, SS and medical personnel who performed terminal experiments on human subjects at Dachau concentration camp and other locations. They also developed the gas chamber, not for the annihilation of Jews — which came a bit later — but for emptying the mental hospitals and clinics of Germany, viz.

On 1 September 1939, the very day of the German attack on Poland, and after a great deal of discussion between Dr. Karl Brandt, Dr. Leonardo Conti, Philipp Bouhler, the Chief of the Chancellery of the Fuehrer, and others, Hitler issued the following authority to the defendant Karl Brandt:

“Reichsleiter Bouhler and Dr. Brandt, M.D., are charged with the responsibility of 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.
[Signed] ADOLF HITLER”

After the receipt of this order, an organization was set up to execute this program. Karl Brandt headed the medical section and Phillip Bouhler the administrative section. The defendant Hoven, as Chief Surgeon of the Buchenwald Concentration Camp, took part in the program and personally ordered the transfer of at least 300 to 400 Jewish inmates of different nationalities, mostly non-German, to their death in the euthanasia station at Bernberg. The defendants Brack and Blome participated in their capacities as assistants to Bouhler and Conti.

Questionnaires were forwarded to the Ministry of the Interior from the various institutes and were then submitted to Karl Brandt and his staff for an expert opinion in order to determine the status of each patient. Then each of these experts indicated his opinion as to the eventual disposition of the patient; that is, whether or not the patient should be transferred to a killing station. The questionnaires were supposedly returned to the Ministry of the Interior, which, in turn, sent lists of the doomed patients to the different insane asylums, ordering the directors of the asylums to hand over the patients to a thing called the General Patient Transport Corporation for transfer to the particular stations where the killings took place. This Transport Corporation was not a real organization, but one of the code names used to disguise the true nature of the activities. The patients were then transferred to the station where they were immediately killed. This entire procedure took place without the consent of the relatives, but the relatives did receive a death certificate on which the cause of the death was falsified…

This other dad from 60 years ago wrote:

I have a schizophrenic son in Wurttembergian mental institution… If my son is murdered, woe!

(Click: full letter, translated to English.)

So when I see that dad from Michigan standing up for the son, precious in his eyes, I think back to the other dad from the Hitlerzeit, the period when Hitler ruled Germany. We do not know that German dad’s name. He cried out like a prophet to the government officials, but the government officials hardened their hearts.

That this kind of thing has happened in the past, wrought by an elected government and its officials under color of law, is one reason that people here in the USA might justifiably worry about their own sons and daughters today.

It behooves us to make this unknown dad known as widely as we can.

N.b., You can also read

  1. the transcription at the Harvard Law School library, or
  2. digitized photos of the same, with slightly different page numbering.
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