1 On 14 July 1933, an act was passed concerning 'the preventive measures for giving birth to individuals with hereditary defects', which left the possibility of practising euthanasia open for Nazi doctors, and introduced a precedent for using law against practically any form of human life.
2 ...other methods were used to influence public opinion, among which was an emphasis on what a drain the 'mentally ill' constituted to society. Here are some statistics from a set prepared by Adolf Boner and published in 1935:
In one province of the Reich there are 4,000 mentally ill people...in state institutions, 4,500 in social care institutions, 1,600 in local institutions, 2,000 in homes for epileptics and 1,500 in charity homes. The state pays at least 10 million DM yearly for those institutions. How much is the yearly maintenance of one patient? The construction of a mental asylum costs 6 million DM. How many new apartments could be built for this amount if one costs 15,000 DM?
3 The propaganda campaign lasted continuously until the end of 1938, when an event took place that confirmed Hitler's will concerning euthanasia. Hitler was approached with a written request by a certain Knaur, a father of a new-born mentally retarded child, for permission to end the child's life. Having consulted a group of physicians, the Fϋhrer agreed, and recommended that in future his office consider favourably each application of this kind. The problem of euthanasia resurfaced in summer 1939 when, during the preparations for the war with Poland, Hitler... (decreed) that a certain number of the mentally ill must be eliminated to clear hospital rooms.
4 Towards the end of October 1939...Hitler issued another order...whose contents read as follows:
I command Reichslater Bouhler and doctor of medicine Brandt, and I make them responsible for extending personal authorization to appointed doctors to make decisions about using euthanasia with patients who are judged incurably ill to the best physicians' knowledge and expertise.
5 Three legal bodies were appointed to carry out the project, namely the State Co-operative of Health and Care, the Foundation for Public Utility of Enterprise Health Care, and the Society of Public Utility for Transport of the Sick. The first of these dealt with seeking out the ill by distributing and then analysing questionnaires, the second organization financed the whole operation and prepared adequate death centres, the third one went about transporting the ill to the centres.
6 About 15 physicians were let in on the plans and their task was to make diagnoses. One of those doctors...described the first meeting of the group of physicians with the supervisors of the operation:
At the meeting, there were about ten to twelve other doctors apart from myself, whom I did not know. Doctors Hevelmann, Bohne, and Brack announced that the national-socialist authorities of the country had issued acts, pursuant to which 'life unworthy of keeping' (literally 'life unworthy of living') may be put to an end. We, the gathered, were asked if we wanted to be medical experts. It was emphasised that the matter was strictly confidential; of top-secret national character. During the conference, Mr Brack read a letter whose contents I cannot recall exactly. However, I remember that the physicians engaged in the operation were to be treated with full impunity. Then the activities that were required of us doctors were discussed; that is, making diagnoses about the condition of patients from mental asylums. The other physicians apart from myself were middle-aged and as I learned later, there were some celebrities among those present. Because all of them gave their consent without any objections, I also agreed to be one of the experts.
7 The Central Security Office was approached to suggest an appropriate method of killing the ill....Professor Albert Widmann...proposed using carbon monoxide (CO) and promised to see that it was supplied to particular euthanasia centres.
8 The first gassing took place in Brandenburg in December 1939, in a bathroom-like gas chamber constructed by Christian Wirth and Victor Brack. After four victims had entered the chamber, the door was hermetically sealed and a special pump turned on to pump carbon monoxide inside. After ten minutes all four were dead on the floor.
9 ...the killing of mentally ill and retarded children was continued until the end of the war.
10 On 31 June 1941...Reinhard Heydrich received an order from Herman Göring:
To complement the task imposed on you with the order dated 24 January 1939, namely the solution to the Jewish problem by way of emigration or evacuation, I hereby command you to make all necessary administrative, material and content preparations for the general solution to the Jewish problem in the area of Europe under German domination....
11 ...Wirth's group was given a job to do; namely the construction of the first experimental extermination centre in Chelm on the Ner.
12 Experience gathered during the inter-war programme of euthanasia for the mentally ill, was applied in the new centre. Efforts were made to try and increase the number of victims. The subjects in those experiments were Jews from the Lodz ghetto, Gypsies, typhus victims and Russian political officers.
These 12 statements are extracted by Peter Limbrick from Extermination Camp Treblinka by Witold Chrostowski (published by Vallentine Mitchell in 2004), between pages 1 and 7. This article was first published in the 'Campaigns' section of TAC Interconnections News Service in May 2013.