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Excavation in Austria Uncovers Mass Grave Thought to Hold Nazi Victims

Excavation in Austria Uncovers Mass Grave Thought to Hold Nazi Victims

United Press International recently reported that construction workers in Hall, Austria have exhumed what may be turn out to be grim remains of the Third Reich’s Action T4 program that sought to exterminate mentally and physically disabled men women and children.

During recent excavations near a psychiatric hospital, workers uncovered a mass grave of 220 decomposed bodies that had been buried between 1942 and 1945. Those who were buried there may have been victims of the Nazi’s infamous “euthanasia” program. Bodies in the mass grave at Hall are to be exhumed and efforts will be made to identify each victim and the cause of death. This process may take up to 2 years.

Under the direction of Philip Bouhler and Dr. Karl Brandt, Hitler’s personal physician, the secret Action T4 program was launched in 1939 to kill disabled children. Later that year, the program was expanded to include disabled adults. Between 70,000 and 200,000 physically or mentally ill men, women, and children judged to be “undeserving of life” are believed to have been murdered. A public outcry led the program to be halted in 1941; nevertheless, evidence presented at the Nuremberg Trials showed that German and Austrian physicians continued to exterminate patients after 1941. At the psychiatric hospital at Hall, for example, there was a marked increase in the number of deaths during the last years of the war.

Between 1940 and 1944, an estimated 30,000 disabled people were killed in Hartheim castle—-the most notorious euthanasia facility in Austria during the war. The physically and mentally disabled who died there succumbed to gassing or lethal injection. Dr Brandt, then professor of psychiatry at Wurzburg University, made regular visits to the castle.

Action T4 had its roots in Nazi “racial hygienist” policies, which the party began to implement as early as 1933. During that year, the "Law for the Prevention of Hereditarily Diseased Offspring" mandated compulsory sterilization for people with a range of conditions believed to be hereditary; these included schizophrenia, “manic depressive insanity” “congenital mental deficiency,” epilepsy, Huntington’s chorea, blindness, deafness, and severe deformity.”
 

The poster shown above (from around 1938) reads: "60,000 Reichsmarks is what this person suffering from a hereditary disease costs the People's community during his lifetime. Comrade, that is your money too. Read '[A] New People', the monthly magazine of the Bureau for Race Politics of the NSDAP." Courtesy of Wikipedia.

 

References

For more information:
Scally D. Mass grave in Austria believed to contain Nazi euthanasia victims. http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/world/2011/0105/1224286779725.html
Lifton RJ. The Nazi Doctors: Medical Killing and the Psychology of Genocide. Basic Books. 2000. http://books.google.com/books?id=bv8IAqVh8EAC&printsec=frontcover&dq=Robert+Lifton+The+Nazi+Doctors&source=bl&ots=-CuPpnv1mq&sig=XSuXkK8Fd456Vb_MWmoUiHNtwvw&hl=en&ei=aB5xTfHpD8rqgQeQr-xD&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=5&ved=0CDoQ6AEwBA#v=onepage&q&f=false
Action T4. Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Action_T4
Law for the prevention of hereditarily diseased offspring. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Law_for_the_Prevention_of_Hereditarily_Diseased_Offspring
 
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