All for the mental health of the nation. “Death out of pity” in the Third Reich

Nazis are building a new world

The Europeans and the Americans, who showed the Germans how to sterilize the marginalized, already in 1938 at the International Genetic Congress in Edinburgh made a timid attempt to curb the hysteria that was playing out in Germany. The final statement, in particular, criticized the views of the National Socialists regarding the heritability of antisocial and criminal behavior. After all, such a relationship is not only not studied, but even not fixed. However, such manifestos did not prevent the British, Americans and Scandinavians from promoting the ideas of racial hygiene and translating them into medical practice.

One of the memorials to the victims of the T4 program

It is clear that the bonza of the Third Reich did not pay special attention to scientists, among whom there were many Jews, and already in July 1939 a meeting with prominent psychiatrists and directors of psychiatric hospitals was convened in Berlin. It was at this meeting that the methods and methods of killing the “genetic load” were developed both on their own territory and on the future occupied ones. As already mentioned in the first part of the material, probably the main goal of clearing the country from the disabled, hopelessly sick and mentally disabled citizens was the release of hospitals and doctors to receive the wounded from the front. Actually, this practice has spread to countries that have fallen under the German hammer. So, already on September 27, 1939, patients of a hospital in Polish Gdynia were shot – later a German hospital appeared there. After the surrender of Poland, gas vans were used for the destruction of the sick, in which at least 3,000 inhabitants of the hospital were killed. However, with the rampant violence against the civilian population, especially “merciful” murderers appeared in the ranks of the SS, on whom the actions had a depressing impression. As a result, they with mental disorders were sent to the rear, where, after examination, they were killed. Of course, it is impossible to talk about such a widespread practice, but several cases were described in Ernst Kle’s book “Euthanasia in the Third Reich. Destruction of a defective life. ” In addition, action # 14f13 took place in Germany, during which disabled people were taken away in all concentration camps and later destroyed in gas chambers.

Hitler’s order to launch the T4 program

The most inhuman grin of the German racial hygiene program was the mass extermination of handicapped children in 30 specialized clinics. Since August 1939, all doctors and obstetricians of the Third Reich, without exception, received a special order on the mandatory registration of all cases of birth of children with disabilities. Hitler and his doctors decided to revive the principles of natural selection in a developed society by destroying at least ten thousand young and newborn children.

The Germans, twenty years ago, calculated their own losses from the T4 program and were horrified – in Germany alone, from 250 to 300 thousand people were killed.

“Munster Lion” does not mind

Blessed Clemens Augustus Count von Galen, who with his sermons drew public attention to the cannibalistic practice of exterminating defective Germans, was not at all opposed to transferring the T4 program to the eastern territories. At least, ordinary burghers about pity for the unfortunate in Poland and the USSR did not hear any sermons from him. The first victims in the Soviet Union were 464 patients of the Belarusian hospital in Khoroshch. In August 1941, Heinrich Himmler personally, when visiting the psychiatric colony “Novinka”, ordered to “get rid of suffering” all mentally ill people. But the problem was in the SS, who were already morally so exhausted from the constant executions (in one of them Himmler himself fainted) that it was decided to kill the unfortunates with an explosion. The head of the operative Einsatzgroup in the criminal police, Arthur Nebe, ordered that 24 patients be taken to a forest bunker and blown up there. This turned out to be not the most effective method of mass murder – it was necessary to plant the explosives again and in a larger volume. Only the second time was Himmler’s question finally resolved.

Memorial in Berlin

Many historians also believe that Nebe carried out this action solely for research purposes, choosing the most humane way for the SS to destroy people. In Mogilev, the sadist Nebe, on patients in a psychiatric hospital, tested a method of killing in an airtight room, where the exhaust gases of a car were diverted. The entire course of the experimental action was filmed on video, which was preserved and became material evidence at the Nuremberg trial. It turned out that the exhaust gases of one passenger car are not enough and another truck is required. In total, Arthur Nebe with Albert Widman (an active member of the T4 program, responsible for euthanasia in the Brandenburg camp) in Mogilev killed more than 1000 patients with gases. Nebe himself almost suffocated in the garage when he fell asleep drunk in a working car. In 1945, his own people hanged him like a dog because of his involvement in the assassination attempt on Hitler. This, by the way, is very indicative of some of the participants in that failed coup. Widman, in general, died peacefully in 1985, having served a total of no more than 6 years.

All for the mental health of the nation.

Arthur Nebe

For a change, the Germans got rid of patients in psychiatric clinics in the USSR in the most sure, but also the most cruel way – they starved. So, in Vinnitsa, after the establishment of the daily nutritional value of 100 grams of bread, most of the 1800 patients died of exhaustion, the rest were shot. The attitude of the “new government” to the mentally ill representatives of the Slavs and Jews was very accurately described by the senior garrison doctor Kern:

“… according to German law, the mentally ill are an extra” ballast “for society and are subject to destruction, and since the Germans in their own Germany kill such patients, the more this should be done in the occupied territories.”


The main defendants in the murder doctors’ case were the former Reich Commissioner of Health Karl Brandt and the head of the T4 program, Victor Brak. Both of them were hanged at the end of the Nuremberg trials of Nazi doctors in 1948. In total, only 90 doctors were convicted, most of whom were amnestied in the mid-1950s. They returned to medical practice and became respected doctors.

Karl Brandt before being hanged

Niels Pörksen of the German-Polish Association for Mental Health claims in the pages of the Bulletin of the Association of Psychiatrists of Ukraine that German doctors continued the practice of forced sterilization of the mentally ill until the early 1970s. At the same time, former employees of the T4 program were involved in the work, as the most experienced in this matter. Only when the well-known student unrest began and Germany began to assess the involvement in the crimes of the Second World War, sterilization was gradually curtailed. But all the same, the overwhelming majority of the professors of the post-war German Association for Psychiatry, Psychotherapy of Neurology took one or another part in the process of absentee selection of patients within the T4 program. And only when the last of the “old guard” died or retired, the Association officially admitted guilt and publicly apologized. It happened in 2001 … And nine years later, the following words were spoken:

“On behalf of the German Society of Psychiatry, Psychotherapy and Neuropathology, I ask you, the victims and their relatives, forgiveness for the suffering caused to you and the arbitrariness to which during the years of National Socialism you were subjected on behalf of German psychiatry by German psychiatrists, and for this too long silence, underestimation and displacement of what happened from the consciousness and memory of German psychiatry in the years that followed ”.

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