Between and alone, approximately The decision which patient should be killed was made at the location. In the hospital Wehnen, located in Oldenburg, starvation played a decisive part as a method of killing since the war had begun. Yet the central office was not able to resume control over the organized murders of the sick. As the air war waged against the German cities gathered strength in , the need of civil hospital beds significantly rose in the affected regions of western and northern Germany and reached its climax in summer The initiative for these transports lay with the municipal and regional health authorities as well as the Gauleiter who wanted to remove as many old, chronically ill and psychiatric patients from their area of responsibility as possible.
The regions and institutions chosen to accommodate the patients in middle, eastern and southern Germany as well as in the occupied territories of Poland solved the problem of overcrowding in their own fashion. If the relocated psychiatric patients did not die anyway of hunger or neglect, the physicians and nursing staff killed them with lethal doses of medication as, for instance, in Kaufbeuren-Irsee in Swabia, in Meseritz-Obrawalde in Pomerania, in Tiegenhof in occupied Poland, in Wiesengrund or Kosmonosy in Czechoslovakia that had been occupied in Considering only the Rhineland, between and approximately 8.
Of the 4. Beginning , these were committed to assigned mental hospitals and nursing homes such as Kaufbeuren or Hadamar when their ability to work could not be restored.
Context and historical background: “Euthanasia” debates in Germany since 1895
There they were killed with systematically administered medication. Their murder was not only economically but also racially motivated. Accordingly, the systematic killing of hospital patients of Jewish origin can be seen as a first step toward the genocide committed against the European Jews. As regards the Netherlands, first explorations investigating the deaths caused by starvation in the Dutch medical hospitals and nursing homes have been taken up.
In this context, it is not agreed upon if the significantly higher death rates can be traced back to an intentional food deprivation 39 or to the generally considerably worse food situation caused by the conditions of war and occupation.
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Isabelle von Bueltzingsloewen shows how food supply became increasingly precarious in spite of some efforts made by institution directors and prefects. Due to the rationing of food, the rising prices, bureaucratic barriers, embezzlement and the inability to supply for themselves on the black market, the asylums failed to provide sufficient food for their patients.
Hermann Paul Nitsche. Likewise the staff participating directly in the execution of the murders had internalized the racial hygienic and economic devaluation of the people concerned.
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Being mental ill or handicapped they would have needed care and support. Yet, as a matter of fact, their institutionalization in the asylums for years or even decades deprived them of their accustomed environment and often alienated them from their families. The victims were women, men and children, from infants to aged people; they came from all layers of society.
Women bore a higher risk to be selected for extermination because of their sex. Subsequently, their frequently good work performance gave them a chance to survive. More and more confused elderly people, partly bomb victims, children in care and mentally or physically ill forced laborers were committed to the asylums and died there because of neglect, malnutrition and overdosed drugs.
He was committed to the asylum Bedburg-Hau after a deep spiritual crisis at the age of 16 where he temporarily recovered and where he could stay in touch with his family. He was killed in the gas chamber of Hadamar on March 13, The picture taken of her before the murder reveals a deep and existential agitation that had already dominated her restricted life in the asylum Steinhof in Vienna.
There she was often visited by her family. She was committed to the asylum Eglfing-Haar because she was considered not criminally responsible. In , she arrived at the Hungerhaus starvation house for women and was deprived of food until she died. On March 2, he was brought to Hadamar because he had developed active tuberculosis and was overdosed a couple of days later. In individual cases, relatives were able to save their family members from the gas chamber at the last minute. The mother of Alfred N. In contrast, a larger part of the relatives accepted the news of the sudden death of their family member and failed to express a publicly visible reaction.
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For instance, the parents of Katharina W. For this reason we are now naturally filled with grief, but we feel that the death of our daughter is, first of all, a final relief for her. The father of the two-year old Heinz F. In , the Protestant parson and director of the Hoffnungsthal Foundation Lobethal, Paul Braune, in consultation with Friedrich von Bodelschwingh, director of the Bethel Institution, wrote a memorandum against the killings of the asylum patients that contained detailed information and had it sent to the Reichskanzlei Reich Chancellery.
As a consequence, he was imprisoned by the Gestapo Secret State Police for three months. At the most, directors of asylums asked to be retired to avoid being involved in the murders of the sick. The German jurisdiction covered the murders of the asylum inmates although these, according to the law in force, complied with the statutory offense of murder. They were partly excused with reference to the high standing ethical problem of euthanasia.
Furthermore, the perpetrators could call on the mistake of law or the collision of duties as reasons to be exempted from guilt which then led to their acquittal. In many cases the charges were dropped or investigations were not even taken up. Accordingly, Prof. The verdict reached in the appeal at the Federal Court of Justice in did not improve matters because very low prison sentences were pronounced.
The Prisoner of Spandau
At the same time, in recent years a growing interest of the generations born after World War II to remember those people erased from family memory, to find out more about their fates and to name the injustice they suffered, can be observed. Sigrid Falkenstein, for example, investigated the life and murder of her aunt Anna Lehnkering who was deported to the killing center Grafeneck in Falkenstein, Sigrid : Annas Spuren.
It complements the commemorative sculpture from A blue glass wall represents the remembrance of the killed people and an accessible open-air-exhibition offers information on the historical background, the execution and the aftermath of the National Socialist killings of the patients. The texts are also available in simple language and as such not only used by people with learning difficulties. Rotzoll, Maike : Karl Ahrendt.
Aufl Berlin: Rotbuch, S. Cranach, Michael; v. Tiedemann, Sibylle Hg. Hartmut Jahrhunderts Bd. Answering the charge that Jews should have left earlier, Kaplan shows that far from seeming inevitable, the Holocaust was impossible to foresee precisely because Nazi repression occurred in irregular and unpredictable steps until the massive violence of Novemer Then the flow of emigration turned into a torrent, only to be stopped by the war.
By that time Jews had been evicted from their homes, robbed of their possessions and their livelihoods, shunned by their former friends, persecuted by their neighbors, and driven into forced labor. For those trapped in Germany, mere survival became a nightmare of increasingly desperate options. Many took their own lives to retain at least some dignity in death; others went underground and endured the fears of nightly bombings and the even greater terror of being discovered by the Nazis. Most were murdered. All were pressed to the limit of human endurance and human loneliness. Focusing on the fate of families and particularly women's experience, Between Dignity and Despair takes us into the neighborhoods, into the kitchens, shops, and schools, to give us the shape and texture, the very feel of what it was like to be a Jew in Nazi Germany.