Fowler, Ashleigh- Analysis 3

While reading the assigned readings for the week, there was numerous times where I had the urge to cry or to throw my book violently down on the floor. The text got to me.  I had an a range of emotions, varying from happiness to disgust and anger and then to sadness.  In chapter 3, my emotions ran rampant. In the beginning of the chapter, we meet Asperger and his colleagues at Heilpadagogik Station. We are introduced to Erwin Lazar who “instead of viewing the children as“patients,” he saw them as future bakers, barbers, farmers, professors, and engineers”(85). We end the chapter, with Silberman writing about eugenics and how the idea of eugenics led to child euthanasia and Aktion T-4.  For research, I decided to look further into child euthanasia and Aktion T-4. I went to my favorite website regarding research for the Holocaust, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, and a lot of the information seemed to be verbatim from Silberman’s text. However, there are some new facts to be presented ( Side Note: It gets depressing from here on). According to the United States Holocaust Museum, prior to the Final Solution, the euthanasia program was established and it was the Third Reich’s first program of genocide. It is safe to say that, the euthanasia program was the trial run of the Final Solution. Anyone who was seen as a burden to society due to their disabilities could have been victim to the program. It is estimated that 5,000 German children, aged birth to 17, were murdered. After the “success” of this program, the Third Reich expanded its euthanasia program.  This expansion would now include adults. In 1939, not only did Hitler sign a document that protected healthcare workers who participated in the euthanasia program from prosecution, a further document stated that the euthanasia program had to do with wartime efforts. Eventually this would lead to the creation of T-4 and of 6 gassing chambers. In the same year, T-4 planners sent questionnaires to all medical institutions.  These questionnaires were investigating a patient’s capacity to work and putting patients into four categories. The four categories include; people suffering from serious psychiatric/neurological disorders, people who were not of German or related descent, people who were criminally insane/those committed on criminal grounds, and people who have been instituted for more than five years.  These questionnaires would be sorted out and people would be destined to be sent to the gas chambers or not. The people who would be euthanized, would be murdered hours after arriving at the gas chambers. Between January of 1940 and August of 1941, an estimated 70,273 adults (this number just consists of German citizens, more people outside of Germany’s borders were killed) were murdered due to the euthanasia program. Gas chambers weren’t the only ways the Third Reich murdered their victims.Overdosing, lethal injection, and starvation were all common forms of murder. Outside of Germany and in Eastern Europe, SS troops and others murdered mentally and physically disabled patients in mass shooting or by gas vans. The euthanasia program and T-4 continued throughout WWII and it didn’t target those who were mentally or physically handicapped. The program also targeted the elderly, bombing victims, and foreign forced laborers. The “euthanasia” program continued until the last days of World War II, expanding to include an ever wider range of victims, including geriatric patients, bombing victims, and foreign forced laborers(“Euthanasia Program”).

The differing degrees on the value of human life is shocking in Silberman’s text.  We have the employees of Heilpadagogik Station(besides Erwin Jekelius) who look at their patients with compassion,  to people who view people with mental illnesses as “useless lives”.  Regarding “The Liberation and Deconstruction of Life Unworthy of Life” by Alfred Hoche and Karl Binding, Silberman writes, “they described disabled people as Lebensunwertes Leben (“life unworthy of life”), calling them “useless eaters” and “ human ballast” who consume precious resources with repaying their debt to society”(116). The belief in the second viewpoint and eugenics in general, led to the death of millions of people. It is estimated that 250,000 physically and mentally disabled people died during the Holocaust(United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, “ Euthanasia Program”). In total, it is estimated that 11 million people(“The Holocaust’s Forgotten Victims: The 5 Million Non-Jewish People Killed By The Nazis”) died during this genocide and all I can say is, “where is the humanity?”

Citations

“Euthanasia Program.” Euthanasia Program. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, n.d. Web. 8 Oct. 2016. <https://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10005200&gt;.

“The Holocaust’s Forgotten Victims: The 5 Million Non-Jewish People Killed By The Nazis.” Huffington Post. Ed. Louise Ridley. Huffington Post, 27 Jan. 2015. Web. 8 Oct. 2016.<http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/01/27/holocaust-non-jewish-victims_n_6555604.html&gt;.

 

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4 thoughts on “Fowler, Ashleigh- Analysis 3

  1. Uyen Nguyen

    Like you, after I was done reading Silberman’s text, I wanted to do some research on the euthanasia program. One of the posts that came up was from the History website that had the title: “Hitler Suspends Euthanasia Program” and I got interested into reading. In 1939, the head of the Euthanasia Program, Dr. Viktor Brack organized the creation of the T.4 program. They decided to test out this program by starting out with a systematic killing of children that seemed “mentally defective.” When I saw that I wanted to literally throw my laptop because I was just absolutely pissed. Children were picked up and were transferred to a Special Psychiatric Youth Department and then killed. Non-Jewish children had certain criteria while being held in these facilities. They had to be “certified” mentally ill, schizophrenic, or incapable of working for one reason or another. Now, Jewish children that were already in mental hospitals were automatically put into the program regardless of their reasons. Later, the program was expanded to adults. After this, there were plenty of protests especially by doctors and clergies. In 1941, Bishop Count Clemens von Galen denounced the euthanasia program and later Hitler ordered the program to be suspended (in only Germany).

    After reading this, I wanted to read more on one of the euthanasia centers and possibly get a nurse’s perspective on the program. I decided to look into the Hadamar Euthanasia Center which is located in Germany. There were a couple comments about how some witnesses felt about the gassing of the people. One witness said:

    “Did I ever watch a gassing? Dear God, unfortunately, yes. And it was all due to my curiosity…. Downstairs on the left was a short pathway, and there I looked through the window…. In the chamber there were patients, naked people, some semi-collapsed, others with their mouths terribly wide open, their chests heaving. I saw that, I have never seen anything more gruesome. I turned away, went up the steps, upstairs was a toilet. I vomited everything I had eaten. This pursued me days on end…. Looking into the chamber, I could not imagine that this was completely without pain. Of course, I am a layman and this is just my opinion. A few were lying on the ground. The spines of all the naked people protruded. Some sat on the bench with their mouth wide open, their eyes wide open, and breathing with difficulty.”

    There was a party held in Hadamar to celebrate the gassing and cremation of the ten thousandth patient. After the program was suspended in 1941, it started up again in Hadamar in 1942 and was considered as the second part of the program called “wild euthanasia.” This means that instead of the gas chambers and went up to the victims being murdered from lethal doses of barbiturates or morphine-scopolamine injections. Later on, the killings became automatic. It wasn’t until March 26, 1945 that the U.S forces captured the town and discovered the massive killings. Colonel Leon Jaworski described the killings as:

    “Oh, what a vicious falsehood, what a terrible thing, what an evil and wicked thing to do to a person who is already suffering and already carrying burdens, to build up the false hope that sunshine was to enter their hearts. They told them they would be given medication that would help them. Oh, yes, they were given medications, medications of poison that gripped their heart and closed their eyelids still; that is the sort of medication they were given.”

    Evil and wicked indeed.

    Hitler suspends euthanasia program. (2009). Retrieved October 09, 2016, from http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/hitler-suspends-euthanasia-program
    Hadamar Euthanasia Center. (n.d.). Retrieved October 09, 2016, from http://www.holocaustresearchproject.org/euthan/hadamar.html

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  2. Haley

    Agreed. Where IS the humanity? It kills me that the basis of human interaction seems to always come back to how being “different” in any way shape or form in comparison to a privileged wealthy ruling group devalues your life so much that history is compiled of stories of these people being discriminated, exiled, and murdered. The research you did about the Holocaust kills me, and mostly because I had no idea. It was bad enough, that Jewish people were placed in concentration camps, but bonus, an entire class of people gets ignored in history books. How come I never knew about this in high school? It says a lot about the views of the time, but it also says a lot about today and how the identities, stories, and histories of neurodivergent individuals is completely ignored and then glorified, projected, and stereotyped in media.

    I think Erwin Lazar did the opposite and recognized that not all different things are broken and therefore these humans don’t need to be “fixed”. He believed in “therapeutic education” and tailoring learning to each child on an individual basis and saw potential rather than a failure to assimilate. I think it points out a common problem in today where neurodivergence is thought of as something that needs a “cure” rather than something that just needs to be taken into consideration and accommodated. But then again, our society barely makes accommodations for individuals with a physical disability let alone for someone that needs accommodations for how their brain functions.

    Asperger took a similar approach and learned about children by interacting instead of just observing and making crude judgments. And he internalized that and analyzed himself. It’s the compassion and attempt to understand that makes so much more sense, at least to me, that making false, hasty judgement based on non-interactive measures.

    But going back to my point, and the one you made before me; it is incredible that someone can have so much authority to decide who has a life worth living and who is an unworthy human waste of flesh. People see humans with differences as entertainment or spectacles or an embarrassment. People’s differences should be celebrated, and no one should be expected to assimilate or otherwise be treated poorly.

    And the number of people that died, 250,000 people, is disturbing and sickening. That’s 250,000 people I never knew existed that were yes, different, but just as valuable as the lives of the Jews that were lost. There is no hierarchy of life. There is no “difference” that warrants historical erasure or lack of understanding simply because no one has the patience to teach it. I think this week’s reading is an eye opener for just how much we don’t know.

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  3. racheltrisch

    Like you stated at the beginning of your post, I also had a very hard time reading the text this week. There were many shocking and depressing parts of these chapters, however, one section particularly stood out to be because of how happy and hopeful it was compared to the many darker moments, and was the section in chapter 3 that described the Heilpadagogik, or the hospital/school that was established by Lazar and Asperger. This school used therapeutic treatment instead of institutionalization, which was quite a radical difference at the time, and the results were overwhelmingly positive. It made me so happy to know that, despite the climate and ignorance that often shrouded issues surrounding neurodivergence at this time, that there were people that recognized the true potential of neurodivergent individuals and created a space such as this that allowed them to live up to their potential.
    Because I was so moved by this space created by these people, I decided to do some more research about the Heilpadagogik. However, while I was doing this, I came across an article that discussed two men in connection with Asperger that had an impact on this community that was radically different.
    These men were Franz Hamburger, Asperger’s former thesis supervisor, and Erwin Jekelius, a colleague of Asperger’s. These men became members of the Nazi party, and played a part in the big shift that happened at the prestigious University of Vienna Medical School in the 1930’s, which included, “all faculty members had to produce birth certificates to confirm their Aryan descent and sign a loyalty oath to Hitler. Eighty per cent of the medical faculty was dismissed, since of the 5,000 physicians practising medicine in Vienna at that time, 3,200 were Jews. Many were dragged out into the streets by gangs, brutally humiliated and deported to concentration camps.” (Aspiescentral.com, 1)
    In addition to these horrors, these practices were put into place in the classroom. Students were now being taught about the practices you mentioned in your original post, the euthanasia program and T-4. Because of the brainwashing of the students, they would graduate and set up practices with these horrible beliefs etched into their minds, which led to the establishment of even more horrors.
    The article states that these doctors would set up special clinics, designed specifically for the killing of children who had, “what today we would call autism, but in those days was described as a being feeble-minded, or having epilepsy or schizophrenia. The hundreds of children’s brains harvested during the programme were stored in the cellar of the Children’s Clinic and used for medical research well after the war. Altogether, more than 200,000 disabled children and adults were murdered during the T-4 and child euthanasia programmes. Crematoria were built next to the clinics, hospitals and schools, with conveyor belts to transport the bodies to ovens.” (Aspiescentral.com, 1)
    It is horrible to think that two people who worked so closely to Asperger, a man who was able to do so much good for the neurodivergent community, could be capable of going in the opposite direction and becoming part of a movement that caused so much damage. However, it still gives me hope that despite the many challenges that neurodivergent individuals face today, that there will be more Aspergers that will help us continue to progress and allow these people to reach their full potential.

    Citation:
    Did Hans Asperger save children from the Nazi’s-or sell them out? (2015, September 11). In ASPIES Central: Asperger’s and Autism Community. Retrieved from https://www.aspiescentral.com/threads/did-hans-asperger-save-children-from-the-nazis-or-sell-them-out.13381/

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  4. Amanda R

    While reading this post, as well as the assigned readings, I wasn’t shocked or surprised. A few semesters ago GVSU had a traveling Nazi museum display available to students. It showcased how the Nazi’s labeled people and what came of then. At this point, nothing they did surprises me anymore. What I do find shocking is how many people continue to believe in Hitler’s ways. There are still neo-nazis and white supremacists today who want what Hitler wanted. That had me wondering if there are still people today who believe in killing the mentally ill – and what I found was not what I expected at all. I expected a blog by some moronic white supremacist demanding that we kill off the mentally ill. Instead I found an article about doctors in the Netherlands who are actually euthanizing autistic patients today. Today, as in, in the present time!

    In the Netherlands, doctors may perform euthanasia for both terminal physical illness but also upon the “voluntary and well-considered” request of those suffering “unbearably” from incurable mental conditions. That means that if an autistic patient requests death, the doctors can and will kill the patient. Between 2011 and 2014 110 mentally ill patients were euthanized. One of the 110 was a patient known as 2014-77, a man in his 30s with autism. This man had trouble forming relationships, so he requested death. His doctor declined, saying that autism is treatable. He also had moral issues with killing an autistic patient. However, despite his own issues with it, he did send the request to his colleagues, as it’s required. These doctors treated the autistic man for one more year when it was decided that his case was hopeless. He was administered a lethal injection. This also happened to Belgian woman. Two months after being diagnoses as autistic, she was given a lethal injection.

    As to be expected, doctors all over the world do NOT agree with this. Not only are treatable patients being killed, but it fills other patients with the same ailments with a sense of hopelessness. On the flip side, people argue that it’s acceptable because the patients themselves are requesting the death.

    http://nypost.com/2016/02/27/europes-cure-for-autism-is-euthanasia/

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