Hitler's stop order did not end the killings; they soon continued in German hospitals by other means. At the same time, however, the killings expanded to include inmates of the concentration camps. The involvement of the SS should come as no surprise. Although the KdF had directed the killings in Germany, and the role of the SS had been minimal, Himmler's men did not restrain themselves on the borders of the Reich and in the newly occupied Polish territories, killing the handicapped even before the euthanasia murders had started inside Germany.
The first handicapped victims were executed. They were handicapped patients from various state hospitals and nursing homes in Pomerania, the Prussian province bordering on Poland in the north.1 As the war started, Reich Leader SS Heinrich Himmler and Franz Schwede-Coburg, who served in Pomerania as both Gauleiter and Oberpräsident (provincial governor), reached an agreement, which provided for the transfer to the SS of a number of Pomeranian state hospitals. The patients of these hospitals were evacuated. While some were transferred to other institutions, those judged incurable and those without concerned relatives were simply killed.
These early euthanasia killings took place without the cover of medical evaluation, the subterfuge of condolence letters, or the use of sophisticated technology. Instead, they employed the primitive method of mass execution. These killings of the handicapped happened at the same time that the RMdI mailed the first questionnaires to hospitals in Württemberg and before the first experimental gassing occurred at Brandenburg. They showed that once the decision was made to kill the handicapped, only pragmatic concerns would limit the means. In the Reich, public opinion imposed restraints that required subterfuge, but in wartime such limitations did not apply in the East.
The job of killing the Pomeranian patients was given to the SS in neighboring Danzig-West Prussia, a newly created German province encompassing the former Free City of Danzig and the area of West Prussia seized from Poland. Specifically, the task was assigned to SS Major (Sturmbannführer) Kurt Eimann, commander of an auxiliary police unit formed in the summer of 1939 from about 2,000 members of the Danzig City SS Regiment and known as the Eimann Battalion (Sturmbann).
The handicapped patients from Pomerania arrived by train at the town of Neustadt in West Prussia and were killed in a forest nearby. Polish political prisoners from the SS prison camp Stutthof near Danzig dug large pits to