Freedom From Fear Journey — Segment #2
by Gayle Bluebird
The following information is a reporting of information that was received at three "killing sites" in Brandenburg, Bernberg, and Grafneck on our travels, July 28, and 29th. I am writing in Heidelberg on the 30th of July where we will take a short break for fun and relaxation, but also use this time for the purpose of putting up signs at the University and in the community, regarding the Prinzhorn Art Collection and our demand that the collection be turned over to the ex-inmates. (We will show an illustration of the poster with an explanation )
Our first stop July 28th, --Brandenburg, Germany-- one of the first "killing centers"
The Memorial at this site consists of standing placques with enclosed documents on the site where there was a building to murder the victims. The building was next to a prison,which is no longer there today, completely destroyed except for the foundation. The Memorial was erected in 1997 when a ceremony was sponsored by the State.
Information that we read includes:
Forced Sterilization began in 1934 shortly after the Nazis took over.
In September, 1939, there is a letter sent from Hitler authorizing the killing. The text was as follows: Reichsleiter Bouhler and Dr. Brandt have been gien the responsibility of widening the authority of specially appointed doctors that incurably sick people can be granted mercy killing after a most critical assessment of state of health.
The inititiative is called Race Hygeine which has as its purpose to cleanse the country of undesirables and persons who were not able to take care of themselves or give to society. It is important to note that the letter gives permission to kill people but does not make it an order. In fact the initiative is considered an act of "mercy killing."
Only one judge out of 1400, Dr. Krezssig, resisted this order and did not comply. It is of interest that he was not killed but instead made an appearance before the court and was forced to take an early pension.
"You see us standing in front of the memorial plates. On it you can see an original of the old prison...a picture of a group of children that were killed there... and the time schedule for the killing."
Brandenburg was considered a "test" site for the T4 action or genocide. A Dr. Eberl was the first to experiment starting here in 1940. Our guide, Dr. Khonke, who incidentally held off taking a vacation in order to take us on this tour and give explanations, explained that there was a small room with side benches and 1" piping over head with shower holes in which CO gas was released.
Over 9,000 persons were brought to this site by bus and put to death. In the picture you can see only the foundation of the gas chamber.
Curiously, town members must have known that this was taking place as the site is in the center of town, but no townsperson complained. Today school children come here on tours, but there is not much taught about it and it remains largely a silent issue. One individual brought here and put to death was a child named Lisa Hempel at age five.
|We are shown a drawing made according to the description that was given by Elvira Manthey, the sister of Lisa, now in her late 60s, who is the only known survivor of any of the murders at any site. She was brought to this place but spared at the last moment. The picture shows children in a room waiting to be taken, their shoes and clothes sitting in a corner of the room, while a nurse drags one of the chilren away. Also, note that the day before in Berlin we were shown the sister Lisa's, file. It is when you hear specifics and put faces to these stories that a certain horror enters the mind which causes chills. Nothing helps to explain this. The family circumstances as it is led to believe, is that there was a large poor family with an alcoholic father. Children may have been removed and placed in foster care or other type of institutional care. Frequently the children who were murdered in this way were simply poor, and without parental support. The sister Elvira will speak at the Counter conference in Hamburg on the 9th of August.
One other item of interest is the picutre of Dr. Alfred Hoche, a psychiatrist who conceived and wrote about the concept in a book that was widely discussed in 1920.
continue with the tour ...