|A lunatic Chaplin imitator|
and his greatest fans
|First as tragedy|
|Then as farce|
Aktion T4 was a program in Nazi Germany from 1939-1945 to kill people deemed unsuited to live, such as those with physical and mental disabilities, severe illnesses, and those rendered incapable through old age. The program was presented as euthanasia, but as the killing was mandatory, with more concern to economy than to dignity and relief of pain, the description as euthanasia is misleading. Nazi officials assigned people to be killed based on their economic use to the state; in other words, they killed those who they called "burdensome lives" and "useless eaters". Murders were initially committed via lethal injections and deliberate starvation, but the Nazis eventually settled on poison gas as their method of choice.
The program was disguised as a medical treatment plan, and the SS overseers wore white coats to keep up appearances. The families would be notified that their relatives were being transported to treatment centers; they would later receive condolence letters, falsified death certificates, and an urn with their loved one's ashes.
Aktion T4 used the word Sonderbehandlung ("special treatment") as a euphemism for killing. The same word was used during the Holocaust. This complicates Holocaust deniers' claims that Sonderbehandlung meant something else.
Opposition by church figures
The Catholic church in particular likes to point out that it was opposed to the killings at the time (which however calls into question the "nobody knew anything" line of defense as to why nobody did anything about the Nazi crimes) and there were indeed some bishops, parish priests and others that spoke out against the killings. This opposition did in fact even result in the Nazis dialing down the killing for a time, which just goes to prove that not only was resistance possible, it would not have been futile.
The fact that the Catholic Church spoke out on behalf of disabled people but remained almost universally silent when it came to Jews should tell you all you need to know about contemporary Catholic antisemitism.
- See the Wikipedia article on Aktion T4.
- T4 - Memorial and Information Centre for the Victims of the Nazi Euthanasia Programme
- T4 Program on Encyclopedia Britannica
- The Euthanasia Program on the Holocaust Encyclopedia
- T4 Program Britannica