The Origins of Nazi Genocide: From Euthanasia to the Final Solution

By Henry Friedlander | Go to book overview

Chapter 13 Killing Handicapped Jews

At Nuremberg, Viktor Brack swore under oath that no handicapped Jewish patient died in the euthanasia killing centers.1 He lied. Karl Brandt also lied at Nuremberg, claiming that he knew nothing about the fate of handicapped Jews.2 Physicians involved in the killing of handicapped Jews--Hermann Pfannmüller, for example--also lied when asked about their Jewish patients.3 All these lies were part of an elaborate scheme to falsify the record. And the liars succeeded, at Nuremberg and thereafter, in deceiving prosecutors, judges, and historians.4 Even today, their lies continue to circulate and to obscure our understanding of the fate of handicapped Jews. But the murder of handicapped Jewish patients--which began about a year before the mass murder of Jews commenced in the occupied Soviet Union-- formed an important link between euthanasia and the final solution.5

The treatment of institutionalized handicapped Jews in Germany deteriorated steadily after 1933. The overwhelming majority of such patients were in non-Jewish German or Austrian hospitals. Of course, many were there because they had been hospitalized before 1933; others were there because they lived in the area the hospital served or because it offered particular services.6 In any event, there were very few Jewish hospitals for handicapped patients. Only one Jewish institution served as a psychiatric hospital. The Jacoby Hospital and Nursing Home (Jacoby'sche Heil- und Pflegeanstalt), located in Sayn (today Bendorf-Sayn) near Koblenz on the Rhine, was founded by Meir Jacoby in 1869 and was administered by the Jacoby family until World War II, toward the end by the founder's grandsons, both physicians.7 Late in 1939, the institution was acquired by the Reich Association of Jews in Germany.8 Additional beds were available in the psychiatric ward of the Berlin Jewish hospital and in the Jewish ward of the Lohr hospital in Bavaria, and throughout the country, Jewish communities maintained a number of old-age and nursing homes that also contained patients with disabilities.9

By 1939, the efforts of the German government to exclude German and Austrian Jews had succeeded in isolating and impoverishing the Jewish population. Driven from public life, the professions, and the economy, Jews were stigmatized by the requirement that their special identity cards be stamped with a large "J" as well as the compulsory addition of an extra first name, "Israel" for men and "Sara" for women, all long before they were forced to wear the yellow star of David in September 1941. In response to these exclusionary measures, large numbers of Jews emigrated, shrinking the economic

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The Origins of Nazi Genocide: From Euthanasia to the Final Solution
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Table of Contents vii
  • Tables ix
  • Preface xi
  • Acknowledgments xv
  • Abbreviations xix
  • Note on Language xxi
  • Chapter 1 - The Setting 1
  • Chapter 2 - Excluding the Handicapped 23
  • Chapter 3 - Killing Handicapped Children 39
  • Chapter 4 - Killing Handicapped Adults 63
  • Chapter 5 - The Killing Centers 86
  • Chapter 6 - Toward the Killing Pause 111
  • Chapter 7 - The Expanded Killing Program 136
  • Chapter 8 - The Continued Killing Program 151
  • Chapter 9 - The Handicapped Victims 164
  • Chapter 10 - Managers and Supervisors 187
  • Chapter 11 - Physicians and Other Killers 216
  • Chapter 12 - Excluding Gypsies 246
  • Chapter 13 - Killing Handicapped Jews 263
  • Chapter 14 - The Final Solution 284
  • Notes 303
  • Bibliography 385
  • Index 403
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