Nazi Letters on Euthanasia

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Geistig behinderte Kinder (Jungen mit Downs-Syndrom) Youngsters with Down's syndrome
Geistig behinderte Kinder (Jungen mit Downs-Syndrom) Youngsters with Down’s syndrome – Heilanstalt Schönbrunn bei Dachau. – SS-Foto, 16.02.1934

Nazi Letters on Euthanasia

Letter from chief of institution for feeble-minded in Stetten to Reich Minister of justice Dr. Frank, September 6 1940
[ToWC, Vol. I, p. 854]

Dear Reich Minister,

The measure being taken at present with mental patients of all kinds have caused a complete lack of confidence in justice among large groups of people. Without the consent of relatives and guardians, such patients are being transferred to different institutions.

After a short time they are notified that the person concerned has died of some disease…If the state really wants to carry out the extermination of these or at least of some mental patients, shouldn’t a law be promulgated, which can be justified before the people – a law that would give everyone the assurance of careful examination as to whether he is due to die or entitled to live and which would also give the relatives a chance to be heard, in a similar way, as provided by the law for the prevention of Hereditarily affected Progeny?

Letter from Dr. Wurm, of the Wuerttemberg Evangelical Provincial Church, to Reich Minister of interior Dr. Frick, September 5 1940
[NCaA, Supp. A, p. 1223]

Dear Reich Minister,

On July 19th I sent you a letter about the systematic extermination of lunatics, feeble-minded and epileptic persons. Since then this practice has reached tremendous proportions: recently the inmates of old-age homes have also been included.

The basis for this practice seems to be that in an efficient nation there should be no room for weak and frail people. It is evident from the many reports which we are receiving that the people’s feelings are being badly hurt by the measures ordered and that the feeling of legal insecurity is spreading which is regrettable from the point of view of national and state interest.

Letter to Reich Minister of Justice From Roman Catholic Bishop of Limburg, 13 August 1941
[ToWC, Vol. I, p. 845]

Buses arrive in Hadamar several times a week with a large number of these victims. School children in the neighborhood know these vehicles and say: “Here comes the murder wagon.” After the arrival of such vehicles the citizens of Hadamar then see the smoke coming from the chimney and are upset by constant thoughts about the poor victims especially when, depending on the direction of the wind, they have to put up with the revolting smell. The consequence of the principles being practiced here is that children, when quarreling with one another make remarks like:

“You are thick, you’ll be put in the oven in Hadamar.”

People who do not want to get married or who do not get the opportunity say: “Get married? No fear. Put children into the world who then end up going through the stack.”

Old people are saying “on no account will I go into a state hospital!” After the feeble-minded, the old will be next in line as useless mouths to feed.

Letter from Reichsfuehrer-SS Himmler to SS-Oberfuehrer Brack,19 December 1940
[ToWC, Vol. I, p. 856] Dear Brack,

I hear there is great excitement on the Alb because of the Grafeneck Institution.The population recognizes the gray automobiles of the SS and think they know what is going on at the constantly smoking crematory. What happens there is a secret and yet is no longer one.

Thus the worst feeling has arisen there, and in my opinion there remains only one thing, to discontinue the use of the institution in this place and in any event disseminate information in a clever and sensible manner by showing motion pictures on the subject of inherited and mental diseases in just that locality. May I ask for a report as to how the difficult problem is solved?

Extract from the Diary of General Halder,
September-November 1941
[ToWC, Vol. X, p. 1195]

26 September 1941:….h.
Mental institutions in Army Group North. Russians regards the feebleminded as sacred beings. Killing them is necessary, nonetheless.


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