The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: places/germany/euthanasia//grafeneck.01

Newsgroups: alt.revisionism,soc.history
Subject: Holocaust Almanac: Grafeneck: The gassings begin, in Germany
Summary: Gassings within the "Old Reich" documented, contrary
         to persistant assertions by deniers, who often flog
         that discredited old horse, the "Lachout Dokument."
From: Ken McVay 
Followup-To: alt.revisionism
Organization: The Nizkor Project, Canada
Keywords: Grafeneck,Hadamar,Hallervorden,Tiessler,Wirth,Wurm

Archive/File: places/euthanasia/grafeneck.01
Last-modified: 1993/11/09

   "Around Grafeneck signs were posted: `Danger -- Epidemic,' and all
   access was barred.  The exterminations rose to an average of more
   than thirty a day.  Since it was awkward, time-consuming, and too
   expensive to kill so many with drugs, Criminal Police Commissioner
   Wirth devised a method for mass extinction.  The people, upon
   arrival, were undressed, given a one-minute physical examination,
   then herded into a shed whose walls had been mortered and sealed.
   Since many of these patients, removed from their accustomed
   surroundings, were in a state of great agitation, Wirth tried to calm
   them by leading them to believe that they would be given showers.
   The shed, in fact, was equipped with dummy shower heads.  Once all
   were inside the doors were locked, and coal gas or carbon monoxide
   was pumped in.

   To dispose of the bodies, a crematorium was erected.  Dr.
   Hallervorden, however, thought it a shame that so much `scientific'
   material should go up in smoke.  In a despostion for the trial
   [Nuremberg] he related: `I went up to them and told them, `Look here
   now, boys, if you are going to kill all these people, at lease take
   the brains out so that the material could be utilized.' They asked
   me, `How many can you examine?' And so I told them an unlimited
   number -- the more the better!'

   Since Grafeneck was situated on a ridge adjacent to a Wehrmacht
   training area and the town of Munsinger was but three miles away, it
   had not taken long for people to make the connection between the
   transports on which thousands arrived and no one ever departed and
   the nauseous smoke that continually wafted over the countryside from
   the high chimney.  By July 1940, Grafeneck created such a tempest in
   Wu"rttembery that Bishop Wurm, the head of the Lutherin Church in the
   province, addressed a letter to Frick:

      `For some months past, insane, feeble-minded, and epileptic
      patients have been transferred on the orders of the Reich
      Defense Council.  Their relatives are informed a few weeks
      later that the patient concerned has died of an illness,
      and that, owing to the danger of infection, the body has
      had to be cremated.  Several hundred patrients from
      institutions in Wu"rttemberg alone must have met their
      death in this way, among them war-wounded of the Great War.

      `The manner of action, particularly of deceptions that
      occur, is already sharply criticized.  Everybody is
      convinced that the causes of deaths which are officially
      published are selected at random.  When, to crown
      everything, regret is expressed in the obituary notice that
      all endeavors to preserve the patient's life were in vain,
      this is felt to be a mockery.  The air of mystery gives
      rise to the thought that something is happening that is
      contrary to justice and cannot therefore be fefended by the
      government.  It also appears very little care was taken in
      the selection of the patients destined for annihilation.
      The selections were not limited to insane persons, but
      included also persons capable of work, especially

      `What conclusions will the younger generation draw when it
      realizes that human life is no longer sacred to the state?
      Cannot every outrage be excused on the grounds that the
      elimination of another was of advantage to the person
      concerned?  There can be no stopping once one starts down
      this decline.  God does not permit people to mock Him.
      Either the National Socialist state must recognize the
      limits which God has laid down, or it will favor a moral
      decline and carry the state down with it.'

   No response to the letter was forthcoming.  Frequently, if a critic
   did not take on the system publicly and the issue was likely to be
   embarrassing, the Nazis preferred to let the matter disappear in the
   caverns of the bureaucracy.  There, with exquisite, polite casuistry,
   officials communicated with each other in such terms as: `I have the
   honor to inform you that the female patients referred from your
   institution on November 8, 1940, to the institutions of Grafeneck,
   Bernburg, Sonnenstein, and Hartheim all died in November of last

   In truth, the euthanasia exterminations were just getting in full
   gear.  On September 5, 1940, Bishop Wurm wrote Frick again, deploring
   that, since his last letter, `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 the opinion that
   in an efficient nation there is no room for weak and frail people.
   If the leadership of the state is convinced that it is an inevitable
   war measure, why does it not issue a decree with legal force, which
   would at least have the good point that official quarters would not
   have to seek refuge in lies?  Is it necessary that the German nation
   should be the first civilized nation to return to the habits of
   primitive races?'

   Soon all pretense of eliminating only `incurables' ceased.  Small
   institutions were shut down, and larger ones left operating as fronts
   with a minute fraction of their former patients.  A young,
   hardworking farmer by the name of Koch was ordered to report for
   sterilization because he was an epileptic.  He wrote his mother he
   was feeling fine and asked her to send him some tobacco.  The next
   his mother heard was that he had died of an incurable disease.  His
   neighbors had no doubt that he had met a violent death and expressed
   great indignation.

   As 1941 progressed, attention shifted to the small town of Hadamar in
   a famous cheese-making region near the Dutch bornder.  There, with
   the Nazi knack for conspicuousness, an extermination installation was
   set up in a former monastery situated on a hill overlooking the
   community.  Children, with their instinct for cruel truth, taunted
   each other: `You're crazy!  You'll be sent to bake in Hadamar.' The
   bishop of Limburg adressed Justice Minister Gu"rtner: `The population
   cannot grasp that systematic actions are carried out which, in
   accordance with Paragraph 211 of the German criminal code, are
   punishable by death.'

   But it was not until late July of 1941 when Count von Galen, the
   bishop of Mu"nster, spoke up, that anyone dared to bring the matter
   of the killings into the open.  Von Galen's family had been renowned
   in Germany for hundreds of years, and his name was so famous it
   provided him with a certain immunity.  `Citizens of Mu"nster,' the
   bishop addressed his parishoners, `wounded soldiers are being killed
   recklessly since they are of no more productive use to the state.
   Mother, your boy will be killed too if he comes back home from the
   front crippled.' The recent British air attacks on Mu"nster, the
   bishop warned, should be interpreted as God's vengeance on the German

   Walter Tiessler, Goebble's deputy for propaganda and public
   enlightenment, responded by suggesting `that we adopt the only
   measure that can be taken as good propaganda as well as legal
   punishment -- namely: to hang the bishop of Mu"nster.  A general
   public notice of the execution of the death penalty as well as a
   detailed justification of the measure should be made.'

   By this time, the preponderance of `useless eaters' and `lives
   unworthy of living' had been exterminated.  Brandt and Bouhler were
   ordered to deemphasize but not discontinue the euthanasia program.
   `Directors of asylums,' one official reported, `were instructed that
   `useless eaters' who could not work very much should be killed by
   slow starvation.  This method was considered very good, because the
   victims would appear to have died a `natural death.'" (Conot,

                              Works Cited:

Conot, Robert E. JUSTICE AT NUREMBERG. New York: Harper & Row, 1983.

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