The Euthanasia Decree

Aug 21, 2019

“Reich Leader Bouhler and Dr. Brandt are charged with the responsibility for expanding the authority of physicians, to be designated by name, to the end that patients considered incurable according to the best available human judgment of their state of health, can be granted a mercy death.” (Aktion Tiergartenstrasse 4)

Mercy death.

It is one of the legs of the Nazi Party’s programme to protect the blood and honor of Germans – the Euthanasia Decree, the “Aktion Tiergartenstrasse 4 (T4)” – the decree to eliminate all “life unworthy of life”. . . for children. Amid the 1939 war, the order of mercy killing was passed on to authorities, specifically the physicians under the Reich Health Ministry, where they were first tasked to make a decision on whether to keep a child alive in lieu of any incurable disease which includes any disability. This program then expanded. The Euthanasia Decree is then applicable to every non-essential worker, non-German, and basically for everybody else whose familial connection is inferior to that of the Germans.

The red plus sign and the blue hyphen are the determinants of each patient’s chance of living – a red (+) means death, while a blue (-) means life. Questionnaires were answered by authorized physicians, and should they unanimously decide to mark a document with the red ink, the person represented in that piece of paper shall be subject to mercy killing by lethal injection or gradual starvation. The scope of the programme was then adjusted for everyone who are considered as living a “useless life”. The ration of food and other supplies increasingly became scarce and a lot of people die from starvation. The nationalists siding the beliefs of the chancellor heavily considered the euthanasia decree as if the toddlers and the disabled are simply dead weight that needs removing for the plane to take flight.

This is not a sudden move. It has been Hitler’s dream for at least a decade, and the embodiment of this decree was anchored on economic deprivations from the First World War. The chancellor is well aware that this will stir a clamor, hence, the operation was first implemented in secrecy spearheaded by one of Hitler’s personal physician and his Chancellery Chief, Dr. Karl Brandt and Philip Bouhler, respectively. The identifier “incurable illness” includes patients who have congenital defects, mental illness such as schizophrenia among others, “imbecility”, epilepsy, chorea, and even those who have a tendency to be socially deviated (e.g. homosexuality, etc.). These patients came from a wide range of establishments including asylums, home cares, nursing homes, prisons, and even from special schools for children with disabilities. It was only slowed down because by 1937, a major drop in the workforce affected the military operations, and with the conditions brought about by the war, the Nazis reconsidered the Aktion T4. When the war started again, Hitler had more than enough reasons to empty the rooms and beds from the said establishments to accommodate injured soldiers. More than 5,000 children were killed by 1941. By the time the Nazi surrenders, more than six million Jews were exterminated like termites being exterminated from homes.

Mercy death?

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