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The secret Nazi program that killed thousands of disabled people

Silvia Cutrera

Agenzia per la Vita Indipendente

“The Aktion T4 was a secret program devised by Hitler. The aim was to eliminate people with disabilities, people who were considered a burden to society.”

Under the program, hospital directors listed patients who, according to this program, didn?t have a right to live. It included mental patients, the disabled and those who couldn?t defend themselves. ;

The program was headquartered in Berlin. There, the data was analyzed and those who were listed as “unproductive” were forced out of the hospital. To deal with the logistics a transportation company was actually started to transport these patients in camouflaged vans. Patients who were considered incurable were taken to abandoned hospitals or prisons, where they would then undergo medical experiments before dying. ;

Silvia Cutrera

Agenzia per la Vita Indipendente

“People were moved, under the false pretext that they would be seen by a specialist, who could offer better treatment. The family was not told about the transfer. In fact, they would only find out after receiving the death certificate.”

Letters like this one describe the suspicious circumstances under which a patient was moved from a hospital named Lossa Ernst. It argues that the 13 year old patient had a bad attitude which led to problems. The reality though, was very different. ;

Now reports show patients were deceived. They were told they would be undergoing a medical checkup, but instead they were experimented on and then killed in what?s described as the beginning of gas chambers. It wasn?t long before the neighborhood became suspicious. ;

Silvia Cutrera

Agenzia per la Vita Indipendente

“The smoke would come outside and the facilities were very close to the village. So people could smell the smoke and began to ask, What?s going on here?”

That?s when families began writing to the hospitals to ask about their loved ones; sons, nephews and friends. The suspicion was so widespread, that even the Bishop of Munster, Von Galen, addressed the issue in Mass. ;

With pressure from locals, after a year and a half, the program was canceled. But by that point, more than 70,000 people had been killed. The program officially ended in August of 1941, but some health workers continued practicing these methods. In fact, among the victims was a cousin of Benedict XVI, who suffered from Down Syndrome. Now as painful as that chapter was, historians say it?s important to remember that period, so it?s never repeated again. ;