According to Adolf Hitler, war is the best time for the destruction of terminally ill patients. Many Germans did not want to see people who did not meet their criteria of a “higher race.” Physically and mentally disabled people were considered useless for society, threatening the genetic purity of the Aryan race and therefore unworthy of life. At the beginning of the Second World War, mentally and physically disabled people, as well as mentally ill people, were doomed to be exterminated according to the so-called “T-4” program, or “Euthanasia.” The program “Euthanasia” required the participation of many German doctors who, according to the patient’s medical records, determined which of the inferior or mentally disabled people were to be destroyed.
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What Happened to the Disabled and the Roma (Gypsies) During the Holocaust and Why?
The Holocaust was one of the darkest eras in the history of the human race. It was ill-famed for the persecution and manslaughter of over six million Jews by the Nazi regime. Not one Jew was spared from torment or death; men, women, children, young, old and even the handicapped had their fair share of agony. In this paper, we will dig deeper into what happened to the disabled and the Roma during the time of the Holocaust.
Wartime, Adolf Hitler suggested, “was the best time for the elimination of the incurably ill.”
For the Nazis, the handicapped were rather “useless,” a big disgrace and ultimately, undeserving of the lives they possess. All those considered to be disabled: the physically handicapped, mentally retarded and mentally ill, were seen this way and were subjected for murder. Their means for this massacre was a program called “T-4,” or “euthanasia.” Other patients, especially infants and children, are killed through drug injections or by starvation; their bodies are then burned in crematorias (“The Murder of the Handicapped”).
Another racial ground that the Nazis targeted for murder were the Roma (Gypsies). The Roma were subjected to forced labor and were mass murdered in concentration camps. Some of the Roma were kept alive only to be deported into different places and were detained in forced labor camps. Most of them eventually died due to the inadequate living conditions and lack of basic necessities. Historians estimate that 25 percent of all European Roma were killed (“Genocide of the European Roma”).
To this day, even after many decades, the horrors of the Holocaust remain fresh in the memories of the survivors and continue to be perplexing to the youth. It is a miserable reminder of the extremities that humans can and will go for power, fame, riches and selfish reasons. But, it is also a reminder of how humanity can defeat evil eventually and learn to live harmoniously.
- “Introduction to the Holocaust.” Holocaust Encyclopedia. www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10005143. Accessed 19 May 2018.
- “The Murder of the Handicapped”. The Holocaust: A Learning Site for Students www.ushmm.org/outreach/en/article.php?ModuleId=10007683. Accessed 19 May 2018.
- “Genocide of the European Roma (Gypsies) 1939–1945.” Holocaust Encyclopedia. www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10005143. Accessed 19 May 2018.
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