Today is the 75th Anniversary of the “liberation” of Auschwitz, the Nazis’ Concentration Camp responsible for the murder of over 1.1 million human beings.
It wasn’t the only so called “industrial scale killing factory”, there were many spread across Europe into Russia, part of the so called “final solution”
As the Second World War progressed, the Allies became aware of the industrial scale murder going on in Nazis held territory
but it was not until after D-Day, they were able to slowly liberate the camps.
Comments by General Eisenhower at Ohrdruf Camp
The genocide was on an industrial scale, the victims of the Holocaust included:
- The Disabled
- The Gypsy’s
- The African Germans
- Members of the Jewish faith
- Jehovah’s Witnesses
- Political opponents of the Nazis, including Communists and Social Democrats
- Dissenting clergy
- Resistance fighters
- Prisoners of war
- Slavic peoples
- Individuals from artistic communities whose opinions & works Hitler condemned
- Many other groups
The Blitz on London and the bombing of other cities including Coventry and Dresden, paled into insignificance compared to the horrors undertaken by the Nazi’s.
The Nazis’ justification for genocide was the ancient claim, passed down through Nordic legends, that Germans were superior to all other groups and constituted a “master race.”
When Germany surrendered in May 1945, the victors’ worst fears were confirmed: the Nazis had committed innumerable and horrific war crimes, including the attempt to annihilate the Jewish people.
So severe were the depredations of Hitler and his henchmen and women that new words were invented to describe their actions: genocide (the obliteration of an entire people) and thanatology (the science of producing death).
Experiments with transplants, bacteria, gases and other chemical agents were carried out on thousands of hapless prisoners.
The grim process actually started a few decades before when well-meaning educated people argued for compassion, dignity, careful selection, and the highest good for all.
Hermann Pfannmüller set up Hungerhauser (starvation houses) Nursing homes for the elderly, where they were neglected and given no food. By the end of 1941, euthanasia was simply “normal hospital routine.”In the meantime, no law had been passed permitting euthanasia.
However, to better hide what they were doing, doctors and nurses simply starved “the cases with the plus marks and then cremated the bodies.
Worst of all was the Aktion T4 programme, which paved the way for the destruction of all “life unworthy of life” between 1939 and 1941.
The first known case of the application of this now-acceptable proposal concerned “Baby Knauer.” The child’s father requested of Adolph Hitler himself that his son be allowed death because he was blind, retarded, and missing an arm and a leg. Surely, in his condition, he would be better off dead. Hitler turned the case over to his personal physician, Karl Brandt, and in 1938 the request was granted.
Over the next few months, a committee set out to establish practical means by which such “mercy deaths” could be granted to other children who had no prospect for meaningful life.
The hospital at Eglfing-Haar, under the direction of Hermann Pfannmuller, M.D., slowly starved many of the disabled children in its care until they died of “natural causes.” Other institutions followed suit, some depriving its small patients of heat rather than food.
Medical personnel who were uncomfortable with what they were asked to do were told this was not killing: they were simply withholding treatment and “letting nature take its course.”
In 1939 the killing of disabled children and adults began.
All children under the age of three who had illnesses or a disability, such as Down’s syndrome, or cerebral palsy were targeted under the Aktion T4 programme.
A panel of medical experts were required to give their approval for the ‘euthanasia’, or supposed ‘mercy-killing’, of each child.
Following the outbreak of war in September 1939 the programme was expanded.
Adults with disabilities, chronic illnesses, mental health problems and criminals who were not of German origin were included in the programme.
Six killing centres were established to speed up the process – the previous methods of killing people by lethal injection or starvation were deemed too slow to cope with large numbers of adults.
The first experimental gassings took place at the killing centre in Brandenburg and thousands of disabled patients were killed in gas chambers disguised as shower rooms.
The model used for killing disabled people was later applied to the industrialised murder within Nazi concentration and extermination camps such as Auschwitz-Birkenau ultimately leading to the deaths of over 6 million members of the Jewish faith.
Recently, a new form of Hungerhauser through new British Medical Association guidance has been issued concerning the withholding from patients of fluids and food
Clinically-assisted nutrition and hydration (CANH)Clinically-assisted nutrition and hydration (CANH)
without necessary legislative protections as happened previously.
Segregation of the disabled and the mentally infirm continues in the form of poorly regulated care homes, where although there are a minority of good homes, the majority do not recognise or act in line with the rights of those in their care.
Increasingly, cases of abuse come to light, in Care Homes and even in Hospitals, Public Enquiry after Public Enquiry fails to address the causes or to raise the issues of an individuals rights, prefering to maintain the status quo.
The media and society itself, increasingly sees the disabled as a burden and attempts to increase taxation to increase funding for primary and social care continue to meet with a negative response.
In the Asian theatre of the war, the scale of human medical experimentation carried out by Japan’s Unit 731 was also staggering and brutal.
Hundreds of thousands of lives are thought to have been lost to experiments that tested germ and chemical weapons.
Since the Second World War, genocide has continued in
- India (after partition)
- North Korea
- East Timor
- Marsh Arabs
- Sri Lanka
- Bosnia and Herzegovina
Since 2008, the United Nations “Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities” through International Law, bestows unremovable rights on people living with Disabilities.
Governments, including here in the UK in 2009, sign up to the Convention but fail to fully implement the convention into National Law, cherry picking the articles they wish to include so that they can say in public they have included rights but behind the scenes through policy and the actions of Departments such as the DWP and other organisations, a different story unfolds.
“I am concerned,” said Kenneth Rendell, the International Museum of World War 2 founder and director. “Every generation keeps forgetting the human stories of the past.”
“People do want to forget war,” he added. “And that’s really a good idea — except by forgetting the war, you forget how wars happen.”
In the case of World War II, Rendell says, the prelude to conflict included a political climate which is eerily similarities to today’s.
“You have a large segment of the population that feels they’re disenfranchised,” Rendell said. “Nationalism is a huge issue — finding a common enemy that everybody can blame everything on … The marketing of propaganda, which is enormous: tell lies often enough, just keep repeating them.”
“The fear is that people won’t learn any of the lessons,” Rendell said. “And the lessons are that if you don’t appreciate them — if you don’t pay any attention — it will all just keep repeating.”
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