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?”
“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>.
“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>.