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[Pages 231-387]


Perpetrators and Accomplices

What does a perfect group of followers do? It doesn't think, and it doesn't feel any more – it follows. – Victor Klemperer[1200]

All “Führers” were incurable phantoms. They robbed us of our freedom, first inwardly, then outwardly. But their existence was possible because so many people no longer wanted to be free, to be responsible for themselves. Karl Jaspers[1201]

But the actual murderers and those who sent them out had accomplices. German scholarship provided the ideas and techniques which led to and justified this unparalleled slaughter. – Max Weinrich[1202]

Hannah Arendt sub-titled her study of the trial of Adolf Eichmann “A Report on the Banality of Evil.” There was no doubting the banal nature of Eichmann's appearance in the Jerusalem courtroom. Balding, suited, in horn-rimmed spectacles, he resembled little more than a stereotype of the travelling salesman for the Vacuum Oil Company he had been prior to seeking an alternative career in the Nazi Party.[1203] On the surface, polite, respectful, and obsequious, his appearance and attitude, however, were parts of a carefully contrived defence strategy. The public had expected a monster; instead they saw everyman.[1204]

“The banality of evil,” and what this phrase has come to imply, is intrinsic to any study of Nazi eugenics and its consequences, indeed of Nazism in its entirety. The phrase is often used to inadequately describe evil behaviour that is in all other respects incomprehensible, but it is pertinent to question the meaning Arendt actually ascribed to it. As a figure, Eichmann may well have appeared banal. But his acts were not. In truth, Eichmann was an efficient, rather dull bureaucrat, who, bereft of his SS uniform and consequent limitless powers over life and death, would not even rate a footnote in Holocaust history. Circumstances, rather than talent or ability made him, although there is no doubting his dedication to murder on a gigantic scale when fate placed him in a position to play God. It is at least open to question as to whether he could have ever have been anything other than an enthusiastic administrator, a classic example of the Schreibtischtäter – the desk murderer, corrupted by limitless power. Accused of killing a boy in the garden of his villa in Budapest in 1944, Eichmann vehemently denied having ever personally killed anybody - indeed, this became a cornerstone of his defence.[1205] Such an accusation was an offence to his “honour”. Although it was apparent that this in no way lessened his monstrous crimes, a fact surely evident even to Eichmann himself, it does raise the issue of the designation Arendt chose. What has generated a seemingly endless debate in the more than half-century since she coined the phrase is not her description of Eichmann's acts, but the subtitle of her book, which is not so much “A Report on the Banality of Evil”, but rather “A Report on the Banality of the Evildoer.” Such banality becomes increasingly apparent as the history of the perpetrators of Nazi crimes is studied. In fact, this was quite evident to Arendt herself, for she concluded “that it would have been very comforting indeed to believe that Eichmann was a monster…[but]...the trouble…was precisely that so many were like him, and that the many were neither perverted nor sadistic, that they were, and still are, terribly and terrifyingly normal.”[1206]. Of course, much depends on what is understood by “normal” in this context, but what was true of Eichmann was also true of the great majority of those responsible for both the theory of National Socialist racial hygiene and its practice.

If most of these perpetrators of the crimes under consideration in this text were not sadistic monsters, neither were the majority of them true Schreibtischtäter like Eichmann, long-distance executioners who were content to issue orders for the killing of millions to other operatives in the field without soiling their own hands. Their guilt lay somewhere in between; they were often directly and personally involved in killing the helpless, and if deriving little or no personal gratification from it, or acting out of what German law describes as “base motives”, still finding ample justification for their actions.[1207]In an almost classic display of hubris, Paul Nitsche, psychiatric head of mass murder, and a leading light in the production of the “euthanasia” films already detailed, once commented: “Isn't it wonderful to get rid of all the ballast collecting in the asylums? Now we can perform some real therapy.”[1208] What this meant in reality was spelt out at the very commencement of T4 in 1939. The number of psychiatric beds was targeted to be reduced by fifty percent; the average length of a patient's hospitalisation was to be severely reduced, treatment was to become more radical, and long term patients were to be exterminated.[1209] This was to be literally a case of kill or cure.

What follows does not pretend to be a comprehensive lexicon of those accused of perpetrating the crimes previously described. Such a task is beyond the scope of this, or it may be presumed, any other work. Rather it should be viewed as an attempt to provide brief biographical details of a representative cross-section of those accused of participating or impacting upon, directly or indirectly, a gigantic criminal enterprise, and, where known, their eventual fate. Their number includes those who designed and implemented the programme and those who executed it in killing centres and extermination camps. Here there professors and doctors, administrators and policemen, technicians and nurses, and others who were employed in the most mundane of occupations prior to their involvement with T4. Some were simply murderers, a few of whom were undoubtedly motivated by the pleasure they derived from killing, but the majority participated for reasons it is still difficult, if not impossible, to truly comprehend. Examining the education, political and otherwise, careers, ambitions, influences, and ultimate destiny of these individuals provides not only a portrait of who they were, what they did, and how they were, or were not, brought to account for their actions, but also presents a vignette of their interlocking relationships and mutual devotion to eugenic goals. Hopefully, it also imparts some indication of the size and scope of this iniquitous undertaking. Complete information about every individual included is by no means easily available or accessible. In some cases very little is known. But what is known paints a frightening picture.

The categories that follow, of (a) theorists, (b) technocrats, (c) members of the medical profession, and (d) operatives, are not intended to be definitive, but rather illustrative. It is difficult in some cases to precisely allocate an individual to one group rather than another, since there was frequently an overlapping of duties and responsibilities. However, these designations attempt to generally distinguish between (a) the pioneers of German racial hygiene and eugenics; (b) the higher ranking and administrative staff of T4; (c) the doctors and nurses who manned senior positions in T4, in most cases for at least some of the time at one or more killing centres; and (d) the rank-and-file operatives, those at the “sharp end” of “euthanasia” and Aktion Reinhard, who were responsible for administering the instructions that filtered down to them from above.

* * *


Eugen Fischer (1874-1967)[1210] was born in Karlsruhe. Together with Fritz Lenz (q.v.) and Wilhelm Schallmayer (q.v.), he studied under the influential zoologist August Weismann in Freiburg.[1211] In 1900 he attained the status of Privatdozent, the approximate equivalent of an associate professorship, and in 1912 was appointed ao professor, before in 1918 taking up the chair in anatomy at Freiburg University. His subsequent academic career has been described above.

Fischer was a conservative nationalist, and although he did not join the Nazi party until 1940, he was a spiritual National Socialist long before then, endorsing Nazism for realizing (in his opinion) that it was the qualities of race that were responsible for a nation's culture.[1212] He served as a judge in the Berlin Higher Hereditary Health Court, and was considered an expert witness concerning the issue of paternity in civil lawsuits.[1213]He was also one of those involved in assessing the racial characteristics of the so-called Rheinlandbastarde.[1214] He made his views clear in a speech of 20 June 1939:

When a people wants, somehow or other, to preserve its own nature, it must reject alien racial elements, and when these have already insinuated themselves, it must suppress them and eliminate them. The Jew is such an alien and, therefore, when he wants to insinuate himself, he must be warded off. This is self-defence. In saying this, I do not characterize every Jew as inferior, as Negroes are, and I do not underestimate the greatest enemy with whom we have to fight. But I reject Jewry with every means in my power, and without reserve, in order to preserve the hereditary endowment of my people.[1215]

Fischer retired from the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute in 1942; two years later that establishment's name was changed to the “Eugen Fischer Institute” in his honour.[1216] In the same year Fischer was awarded the Adlerschild des Deutschen Reiches[1217] in recognition of his eminence as “the founder of human genetics”.[1218]Otmar Freiherr von Verschuer (q.v.) recognized Fischer's contribution as “groundbreaking for the scientific basis of the hereditary and racial cultivation of the National Socialist state.”[1219] Fischer's beliefs can be summarised in his statement: “All human traits – normal or pathological, physical or mental – are shaped by hereditary factors.”[1220] After the war Fischer continued to lecture on anthropology and other subjects, and to contribute to academic publications.[1221] Despite his Nazi associations, in 1952 Fischer was made an honorary member of the German Anthropological Society.[1222]

Hans Friedrich Karl Günther (1891-1968) was born in Freiburg, the son of a musician. He studied comparative linguistics at Freiburg University, obtaining his doctorate in 1914. At the outbreak of the First World War he enlisted in the army, but due to sickness was quickly hospitalized and then discharged. Thereafter he served with the Red Cross.

After the war, Günther went to Dresden, where he became a teacher, and in 1919 produced his first book, a work entitled “Ritter, Tod und Teufel” (“The Knight, Death and the Devil: The Heroic Idea”), a title taken from an engraving by Albrecht Dürer.[1223] In 1920 the Nazi publisher Julius Friedrich Lehmann[1224] asked Günther to write a book about the German people from a racial-biological point of view. The result, Rassenkunde des deutschen Volkes (“Racial Biology of the German People”), appeared in 1922. By 1935 it had reached its 16th edition, and 91.000 copies had been printed.

In an article entitled “Hatred” published in 1921, Günther dismissed the idea of an all-embracing love of mankind. Rather one should extend love to those who were members of the racial community, but hatred towards all those who were not.[1225] This was a message that Nazism readily embraced. Günther claimed that the Nordic was the pre-eminent race, establishing valuable cultures everywhere. The antithesis of the Nordic was the Jew, “a thing of ferment and disturbance, a wedge driven by Asia into the European structure.” Günther proposed that the Nordic peoples should unite to secure global dominance, another theory that was hardly likely to find disfavour with Hitler and his followers.

In 1923 Günther moved to Scandinavia, where he was recognized as being among the most prominent theorists in matters of racial biology. By 1930, however, he had returned to Germany to take up the chair in Social Anthropology at Jena University, a position that had been specifically created for him. Hitler, Göring, Frick, and other prominent Nazis attended his inaugural lecture; that same evening Nazi students held a torchlight procession in his honour.[1226] Gunther joined the Nazi party in 1932 and went on to receive a number of honours from the regime, including the Goethe Medal for Art and Science. In 1935 he was appointed Director of the Institute for Racial Studies, People Biology, and Rural Sociology in Berlin Dahlem (Anstalt für Rassenkunde, Völkerbiologie und ländliche Soziologie).

By now nicknamed Rassen-Günther (Racial-Gunther), he remained in Jena until taking up a professorship at Freiburg University in 1939, where he continued to teach until 1944. At the end of the war Günther was removed from his professorship and was imprisoned by the French occupying authorities for three years. On his release he continued to write and issued new editions of his books. He never relinquished his National Socialist worldview, and continued to promote sterilisation as a solution to mankind's ills. His last work, an autobiography entitled “My Impression of Adolf Hitler” (“Mein Eindruck von Adolf Hitler”), described as “a good example of repression and selective perception”, was published posthumously in 1969.[1227]

Ernst Heinrich Philipp August Haeckel (1834-1919) was born in Potsdam. He studied medicine in Würzburg, Berlin, and Vienna, obtaining his doctorate in 1857 and his licence to practice shortly thereafter. After abandoning a career as a physician, he obtained a degree in zoology and eventually became professor of comparative anatomy and director of the Zoological Institute at the University of Jena, a position he occupied from1862 to 1909. In 1865 he was appointed to the university's zoology chair. This was a position which had been specially established for him, in the same way that Günther's professorship in Social Anthropology was to be at the same university 65 years later.[1228]

Haeckel was a prolific researcher, illustrator and author, producing no less than 42 books and innumerable other publications by the time of his sixtieth birthday. His contribution towards nineteenth-century perceptions of Darwinism have already been considered above. Although today regarded as highly dubious, Haeckel's conclusions regarding eugenic matters were enormously influential in their day, particularly with men who were themselves to become important contributors to National Socialist racial hygienic theory. Ironically, his own views were considered sufficiently unacceptable to the Nazis for them to have his books banned on the grounds that they incorporated an unacceptable element of “democratic-liberalistic spirit.”[1229]

Fritz Lenz (1887-1976)[1230] enjoyed a long and successful career, as already described. His fundamental philosophy can be summarized in a quotation from his doctoral thesis of 1912: “The only way to eliminate genetic illness is through the negative selection of the afflicted families.”[1231] It is not difficult to understand why such pronouncements made him the leading light of what came to be called “scientific racism”, and the Nazis' favourite eugenic theoretician, even though he only became a member of the NSDAP in 1937, and the Nazi Physicians' League in 1940. To the end of his life he continued to believe that the eugenic hypothesis of racial differences had been scientifically proven, and that the Holocaust was merely another example of social Darwinism in practice. Hailed on the occasion of his eighty-fifth birthday by the neo-Nazi journal Neue Anthropologie as the grandfather of German racial hygiene,[1232] in 1951 he had written: “

I also have sympathy for the chimpanzees and gorillas, and it distresses me that they are expected to become extinct like so many other animal species and native peoples. To me the fate of millions of Jews is also very painful; but all this does not permit us to regard questions of biology differently or to look at them other than purely objectively.[1233]

Alfred Ploetz (1860-1940)[1234] was born in Swinemünde, Pomerania (now Swinoujscie, Poland), but grew up and attended school in Breslau (now Wroclaw, Poland) before enrolling at the University of Zurich. Initially a student of political economics, after a six month sojourn in the United States he returned to Zurich and medicine, qualifying as a doctor in 1890. He then went back to America for a short period, opening a medical practice in Springfield, Massachusetts, but found life there a disappointment and quickly returned to Europe.[1235] His subsequent career has been outlined above. He joined the Nazi party in 1937, and on his death three years later was eulogized by Otmar Freiherr von Verschuer (q.v.), who praised his “inner sympathy and enthusiasm [for] the National Socialist Movement”.

Rudolf Ramm (1887-1945)[1236] was born in Dortmund. He studied medicine and pharmacy in Strasbourg, Munich, and Cologne, in due course obtaining his licence to practice as a physician and pharmacist. In 1921 he began working as a general practitioner and in 1929 was appointed Gau Chairman of the National Socialist Doctor's League of the Rheinpfalz. In the same year he became a member of the town council of Pirmasens, going on to officiate as mayor of the town between 1934 and 1937. In 1930 he joined the NSDAP as well as the SS, and in 1932 was elected to the Reichstag as the party's representative. Between 1932 and 1936 he was Nazi Kreisleiter in Pirmasens, and from 1933 became a member of both Leonard Conti's (q.v.) staff and the medical faculty of the University of Berlin.

Ramm became an influential member of the Nazi medical elite, holding a number of important positions before eventually taking on responsibility for maintaining the standards of German medical education.[1237] His idea of medical ethics can be gathered from some of his published comments; enforced sterilisation of the “valueless” was beneficial, “euthanasia” merciful for the incurably sick and insane, and moreover “an obligation to the Volk.”[1238] A true physician “must not only be a Party member on the outside, but rather must be convinced in his heart of hearts of the biological laws that form the centre of his life.” In addition to accepting the inviolability of these laws, Ramm wrote, the doctor's duty was to continually preach them to unbelievers.[1239] Jews had spread “spiritually poisonous ideas” and had destroyed the “genetic life” of the German nation.[1240] In 1942 he informed his students that: “The faster and more thoroughly [the Jewish question] is solved, the more rapid (and better) will be the reformation of the European continent upon a racial basis, and the happier will be its future.”[1241]

Ramm died on 9 August 1945, thereby escaping probable arrest and trial for a career largely devoted to endorsing Nazi eugenic and racial policies.

Ernst Rüdin (1874-1952)[1242] psychiatrist, geneticist, eugenicist, and brother of Alfred Ploetz's (q.v.) first wife, was born in St Gallen, Switzerland. Rüdin began his career in psychiatry at Emil Kraepelin's clinic in Munich.[1243] In1931 he was appointed managing director of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Psychiatric Research, which Kraepelin had founded in that city as “The German Research Institute of Psychiatry in Munich” in 1917.[1244] At the time of the foundation of the Institute, Rüdin had been made head of the department dealing with psychiatric research on heredity.

After 1933 the National Socialist government and party endorsed Rüdin's work by supplying financial and manpower support. Considered the spiritual father of the “Law for the Prevention of Genetically Diseased Offspring,”[1245] in 1934 he wrote the official commentary on that legislation, as well as subsequently serving in the Hereditary Health Courts.[1246] Rüdin was unstinting in his praise of Nazi policies. In January 1943 he not only commended the sterilisation law and the Nuremberg racial laws, but acclaimed the Nazi's “combat against parasitic foreign-blooded races, like the Jews and Gypsies.”[1247] He was another to be awarded the Adlerschild des Deutschen Reiches, in his case in 1944 for his efforts as a “path breaker in the field of human hereditary care.”[1248] He dabbled in providing special research facilities at his institute for the Ahnenerbe department of the SS, was a supporter of aviation medical experiments, and was not averse to utilizing “euthanasia” victims for the purpose of brain research.[1249]

Following a denunciation by the psychiatrist Theo Lang, who had defected to Switzerland in around 1941, Rüdin was arrested in Munich by the Americans in December 1945, but released eleven months later. He was considered a candidate for prosecution at the Nuremberg Medical Trial, but in the event his contribution to Nazi racial hygiene policies and practice was not considered worthy of legal proceedings. Apart from his age and alleged health problems, the issue of the sterilisation of German citizens, in which Rüdin had played such a prominent role, was considered too sensitive to form part of the main thrust of the trial.[1250]

Even today, Rüdin's research on the genetics of schizophrenia, which established a theoretical basis for his eugenics work, continues to be cited in matters of psychiatric genetics without reference to his involvement in eugenics.

Falk Ruttke (1894-1955) was a lawyer born in Halle. A former Freikorps recruit, he joined the Nazi party in 1932 and the SS in 1933.[1251] As a member of the Committee for Population and Race Policies at the Ministry of the Interior he co-authored a commentary on the Sterilisation Law together with Arthur Gütt (q.v) and Ernst Rüdin (q.v.), a matter which brought him into conflict with Gerhard Wagner (q.v.). Wagner was dissatisfied with the commentary on the grounds that, in essence, it did not adequately reflect Nazi racism, a dispute that resulted in some amendments to the Sterilisation Law in 1938, but ultimately was resolved by the introduction of “euthanasia”.[1252]

Throughout the 1930s Ruttke was a prominent advocate of National Socialist ideology, appearing at a variety of international conferences and seminars to espouse the virtues not only of the Sterilisation Law, but other legislation as disparate as The Law to Reduce Unemployment, The Decree for the Granting of Marriage Loans, the Law for the New Formation of the German Farmerstock, and their ilk. Germany's progress, indeed its continued existence, Ruttke proclaimed, was based upon such new legislation continuing to promote a wholly racist vision of social hygiene. At a 1936 international gathering of eugenicists, he declared:

Hereditary traits are not only given to us, but carry a moral obligation to pursue the highest biological development possible. This not only calls for work on behalf of the Volk, into which the individual is born and with which he is connected through blood ties, but also on behalf of all humankind. This is thus extremely important work toward the maintenance of peace.[1253]

Ruttke continued his involvement in matters of racial law throughout the Nazi era.

Wilhelm Schallmayer (1857-1919) was born in Mindelheim, a small town in Bavaria. After a year's voluntary army service, he attended the universities of Würzburg, Munich, and Leipzig, finally settling on a career in medicine after having flirted with a variety of other subjects. In 1883, Schallmayer became a licensed medical practitioner, eventually commencing to work in that capacity at Kaufbeuren in 1887. By then he was a prototypical eugenicist, for whom the all important question was “whether the physical development of the human race, upon which the continuation of all cultural progress depends, is presently advancing or declining.” The answer was obvious to him:

Even if medical technology grew to such an extent that malfunctioning human organs could be safely replaced by healthy human, animal, or laboratory-produced ones, the following generations would not be more efficient, rather just the opposite: the more advanced therapeutic medicine becomes, the more succeeding generations will have need of it. Therapeutic medicine affects the improvement of national health in about the same way as poor-relief contributes to the improvement of national welfare. Both encourage an increase in the dependent [population].... Medicine, insofar as it aims at treatment rather than prevention, contributes nothing to the gradual advance of human productivity and human happiness. It aids the individual but at the expense of the human race.

Since he considered his work as general practitioner useless, if not actually detrimental to the improvement of the Volk, he decided to leave Kaufbeuren and specialize in urology and gynaecology instead. After year's training in Vienna, Leipzig, and Dresden, he began a lucrative practice in Düsseldorf, where apart from a two year break during which he worked as a ship's doctor, he remained until 1897. In that year he settled in Munich, an independent scholar intent upon preaching the virtues of eugenics to his fellow citizens. But it was winning the Krupp Prize competition in 1903 which brought him to national prominence. Much of the rest of Schallmayer's life was devoted to defending his thesis, for as has been demonstrated, there was little unanimity of opinion among eugenicists. Of Schallmayer's importance as the intellectual patriarch of German racial hygiene, and thus his influence on the course of twentieth century history, however, there can be no doubt.[1254]

Reinhold Ralph Ernst Otmar Freiherr von Verschuer (1896-1969)[1255] was born in Richelsdorfer Hütte, a small town near Fulda in central Germany. In August 1914 he volunteered for the army, and served with distinction in the Great War, being thrice wounded and winning the Iron Cross first and second class, among other medals. In 1919 he began to study medicine in Marburg, and in 1920 became involved in the Kapp Putsch, a failed right-wing attempt to overthrow the Weimar government of Friedrich Ebert. Taken together with his membership of the Thule Society, a forerunner of the NSDAP, he thus evinced his political inclinations at an early age. He continued his medical studies in Hamburg, Munich, and Freiburg and in 1923 was awarded his doctorate. From 1923 to 1927 he worked as an assistant physician at the medical clinic of the University of Tübingen, where he began his research into the hereditary and environmental characteristics of twins.[1256] This was a subject which was to obsess him for the rest of his days. In Verschuer's opinion, twin research was the “sovereign method for genetic research in humans.”[1257]

In October 1927 Verschuer became a lecturer at the University of Berlin and was also appointed a department head at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute of Anthropology, Human Heredity, and Eugenics (Kaiser-Wilhelm-Institut für Anthropologie, menschliche Erblehre, und Eugenik), becoming director of the Institute in 1942. In July 1932 he was involved in discussions with the Prussian authorities concerning the introduction of a sterilisation law, a matter soon superseded by the advent of Hitler's government. Verschuer remained a staunch supporter of racial hygiene, and approved of the Nuremberg Laws, although he did not join the NSDAP until 1940, and only became a member of the Nazi Medical Association in 1942. In 1934 he became the first editor of `Der Erbarzt' (`The Genetic Doctor'), a journal devoted to the discussion of sterilisation and related issues. “Every doctor must be a genetic doctor”, Verschuer declared.[1258] In 1935 he was appointed director of the Institute for Genetic Biology and Racial Hygiene (Institut für Erbbiologie und Rassenhygiene) in Frankfurt, and held a number of other positions in organisations and institutions dedicated to the pursuit of Nazi eugenics.

Verschuer's most infamous pupil was Josef Mengele, who was awarded his PhD under Verschuer's tutelage. Mengele shared his mentor's enthusiasm for research into twins, as was evident from Verschuer's report on his protégé: “My assistant, Dr [Josef] Mengele (M.D., PhD) has joined me in this branch of research. He is presently employed as Hauptsturmführer and camp physician in the concentration camp at Auschwitz.” Mengele supplied “material” from murdered Auschwitz inmates to Verschuer at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute.[1259]

Although described by Allied investigators as “a man who remained in the background, but in spite of all, [was] one of those principally responsible for the theory of racial hygiene and executions by gas,” in 1946 a denazification tribunal deemed Verschuer a “Mitläufer” (“collaborator or “fellow traveller”) rather than a criminal, and fined him 600 Reichsmarks. Apart from a brief spell of house arrest, this represented the complete extent of his encounter with the judicial system insofar as his eugenic activities were concerned.[1260] He subsequently tried to have his branch of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute re-established in Frankfurt, without success. Instead some recognised him for what he was, the head of the commission responsible for such matters writing:

Verschuer should not be considered a collaborator, but one of the most dangerous activists of the Third Reich. An objective judgment of the investigative committee must recognize this, and thereby take action to guarantee that this man does not come into contact with German youth as a university teacher, or with the broader population as a scientist in the fields of genetics and anthropology.

Notwithstanding these observations, in 1951 Verschuer was appointed professor of human genetics at the University of Münster, and went on to hold several other important academic positions, his past apparently both forgiven and forgotten. After a serious car accident in September 1968, Verschuer fell into a coma. He died a year later without regaining consciousness. His obituaries made no mention of his extensive and influential participation in Nazi eugenic affairs.[1261]

* * *


August Dietrich (“Dieter”) Allers (1910-1975)[1262] was born in Kiel and studied law at the universities of Jena and Berlin. As a student he joined the Nazi party in 1932 and the SA in 1934,[1263] subsequently becoming a civil servant in the Prussian government in 1937. He was conscripted on the outbreak of war, and as a non-commissioned officer, was sent to Poland to train recruits. As previously described, following a chance encounter between his mother and Werner Blankenburg (q.v.), Allers was recruited to T4.

He rapidly became the organization's chief legal expert, heading its financial bureau the Zentralverrechnungsstelle Heil- und Pflegeanstalten (Central Clearing Office for Mental institutions) and succeeding T4's first legal advisor, Dr Gerhard Bohne (q.v.), who had resigned his position in June 1940 in a dispute over the corruptibility of his colleagues. In spring 1941, Allers was promoted to the position of general manager of T4, effectively becoming principal assistant to Viktor Brack (q.v.), his deputy, Werner Blankenburg (q.v.), and T4's chief medical advisor, Paul Nitsche (q.v.). Aller's office coordinated efforts to disguise the killings, which involved deliberately misinforming both the relatives of the victims as well as the agencies involved in committing patients and paying for their care.[1264] Allers also succeeded Bohne as head of the Gemeinnützige Stiftung für Anstaltspflege (Charitable Foundation for Institutional Care), usually referred as the Stiftung (Foundation), which was the T4 front organization responsible for all personnel affairs and financial matters. Although Allers supervised activities, acting in effect as managing director of T4, he was not directly responsible for the day to day administration, leaving this to Friedrich Tillmann (q.v.).[1265] As part of his duties, Allers visited all six of the main “euthanasia” killing centres on numerous occasions, ensuring the smooth running of the operation. Following the reorganisation of the killing in August 1941, he was a member of the T4 Organisation Todt Russian expedition the following winter.

That Allers was immersed in the business of murder is evident from a letter he wrote in 1943 to Rudolf Lonauer (q.v.), the physician-in-charge at Hartheim, in which he stated that Herbert Linden (q.v.) wanted to transfer a “mentally ill” Russian named Boris Mirkolo to Hartheim and that Lonauer “should have no difficulty understanding the purpose.” It seems unlikely that Mirkolo, who spoke German, actually suffered from any mental illness. At Hartheim he was shot and then, since he was not yet dead, dragged into the gas chamber and gassed.[1266] Linden's reason for wanting Mirkolo murdered is unknown.

It is certain that Allers visited the Aktion Reinhard extermination camps, although the extent of his involvement in that operation has not been clarified. What is known is that he dispatched Adolf Kaufmann (q.v.) to Belzec to collect sealed crates, probably containing gold, jewellery or banknotes, and take them directly to Berlin.[1267] He remained manager of the “euthanasia” project until May 1944, when together with other T4 members he was posted to Trieste [replacing the shot Christian Wirth[1268] (q.v.)], allegedly to conduct anti-partisan activities. In fact, it has been established that his unit was concerned with the rounding up of Italian Jews for extermination.[1269]

Thirty years after these events, Allers remained an unrepentant Nazi. On “euthanasia”:

Well, as far as I myself was concerned, the idea of euthanasia was not new to me; I had read quite a bit about it. Good heavens, it's been discussed, and on the cards, for centuries. What was intended at the time has been completely distorted since[1270] …People have completely misunderstood: now it is constantly being misinterpreted. Just look at the world now: don't you think something very much like this will have to happen?[1271]

On murdering Jews: “Originally what they wanted to do was put into practice an old Polish plan…one third to be killed; one third resettled somewhere; and one-third to be allowed to assimilate.”[1272] On that reasonable basis “only” one million Polish Jews would have been murdered, rather than the three million eventual victims.

Allers was arrested by the British military in August 1945, and remained in various camps until his release in February 1947, at which time he became the manager of a mining company. He was re-arrested by the Americans in April 1948, and handed over to the German authorities. It would appear his new captors either had no knowledge of Aller's activities, or alternatively possessed no desire to delve into them too deeply, for he was released again in September 1949. The investigation into his participation in the “euthanasia” programme was discontinued in May 1950. Allers now entered into the law practice of his friend Johannes Plöger (former legal counsellor to Victor Brack), and in November 1951 became legal advisor to the German Shipyard in Hamburg. He continued to be involved in right-wing politics and maintained contact with his T4 Alte Kameraden, as well as running “Die Stille Hilfe” (“Silent Help”), the secret organization set up to aid ex-SS members.[1273] In 1954 he wrote to Reinhold Vorberg (q.v.) in confident mood:

Take a look around and think back to the time around 1947. At that time, all of us envisioned a miserable personal future for ourselves. Today most of us have again become something, and it is my opinion we should not demand too much. Certainly quite a few people who held totally different positions (before) have landed well on their feet.[1274]

The confidence was misplaced. In August 1962 Allers was arrested once again on suspicion of his involvement in the “euthanasia” programme, but was released on bail in May 1963 to await trial. He lost his job with the German shipyard, but continued with his Hamburg law practice. In October 1963 it was decided to link his case with that of Vorberg, but it was to be April 1967 before the trial of the two opened in Frankfurt am Main, where it was to last twenty months.

The court had no doubt that both men had participated in the killing of tens of thousands of mentally ill patients (Allers' Aktion Reinhard activities were unfortunately not investigated in any depth), but were less convinced about their involvement in Sonderbehandlung 14f13. In December 1968, Allers was sentenced to eight years' imprisonment, confirmed in October 1972 by the Federal High Court. However, since the term of his pre-trial confinement was deducted from the sentence, Allers was released after the verdict had been read out in court.[1275]

Allers may be regarded as representative of the majority of those who became embroiled first in “euthanasia”, and then in Aktion Reinhard. Wartime life was undoubtedly more comfortable (and lucrative) in a Berlin office than in a barrack in Poland, and career prospects infinitely rosier in the KdF than in the army. Allers was no idealist committed to the practical application of eugenic theory, nor was he a virulent anti-Semite. Instead, he was a petit bourgeois opportunist, who saw the main chance, and seized it. As he himself put it regarding his colleagues, “it wasn't a matter of careful or scientific selection of these people.”[1276] In only slightly different circumstances he would have remained a nonentity, just another small-town lawyer. But once he had crossed the genocidal bridge and was able to accept murder as simply a further task to be efficiently accomplished, there were no limits to his ambition, or to his capacity for evil.

Georg Andreae (1888-?)[1277] was born in Göttingen. He held a doctorate in law rather than medicine, but nonetheless controlled the asylums at Wunsdorf, Hildesheim, Göttingen, Lüneburg, and Osnabrück from his office in Hannover.[1278] A dedicated Christian, Andreae had been a senior civil servant since 1926. He joined the NSDAP in 1933, and in July of that year became a sponsoring member of the SS. He had done so, he later claimed, inspired, “by the hope that the National Socialist movement would finally evolve from its stormy early phase into a more peaceful, less violent development.” When he discovered that such aspirations were a pipe dream, he desisted from further participation in party affairs.[1279] However, by that time and the ending of the first phase of “euthanasia”, an estimated 1,500 of the 7,000 patients under his jurisdiction had been deported from the Hannover institutions to Hadamar, and death.[1280] Andreae was well aware of their fate.

Andreae appeared in court alongside Ludwig Gessner (q.v.) in Hannover in July 1950, accused of aiding and abetting murder and crimes against humanity[1281].[1281] With little documentary evidence concerning “euthanasia” in the province having survived the war, much reliance was placed upon oral testimony. Andreae declared that he had always been opposed to “euthanasia”, which he described as a “monstrous crime”. Witnesses described him as an “exemplary civil servant, whose heart beats warmly for his patients whom, as a leading administrative official, he had cared for over several decades.”[1282] He had even confronted Werner Heyde (q.v.) in an (unsuccessful) attempt to prevent the implementation of “euthanasia” in Hannoverian institutions.[1283] How could such a decent man be convicted? He wasn't. All charges against him were dismissed.

Hans-Joachim Becker (1909-?)[1284] [nicknamed `Millionen' (`Millions')], was born in Kassel, and entered his father's dairy equipment business on leaving school. As economic conditions worsened he had to leave his job and take up employment as an unpaid factory worker. In 1930 he found work in the civil service in Kassel, and became a member of the Nazi party in 1937. He studied higher public and financial administration, passing his examinations in 1940. In June of that year he was called up, but was discharged as medically unfit after just a few days. Shortly thereafter he was transferred to a local government office in Danzig where he was not happy. He applied for relocation to the Ministry of the Interior in Posen or Strasbourg, but instead found himself transferred to the Stiftung in Berlin.[1285] He had no idea what that organization was, but in January 1941 found himself employed by T4 as assistant to Allers, whose financial expert he was to become.

It was Becker who was primarily responsible for organizing T4's finances into the extremely profitable enterprise they grew to become, earning him the nick-name of `Millionen – Becker'. He was appointed director of the Central Clearing Office for Mental institutions, which, as Becker himself described it, was essentially “the financial intermediary between the cost carriers and the so-called intermediate institutions and euthanasia facilities, the names and existence of which were to be kept secret.”[1286]

Apart from standardizing various regional rates with cost carriers such as local authorities, insurance companies, welfare agencies and pension funds, then paying those costs to the T4 institutions involved,[1287] he also enriched T4 operations to a significant extent by creating a sophisticated system of fraud, whereby the nursing-fees of murdered patients continued to be collected long after they were dead. He performed many other chores in order to generate funds for T4, not the least of which was the plundering of gold dentures from the mouths of victims. These were regularly sent from the killing centres to Becker in Berlin for smelting. It was due in large part to Becker's input that T4 not only became self-financing, but was also able to donate funds to other sympathizing agencies.[1288] He claimed to have collected 6-8 million Reichsmarks per annum on average, in one year actually raking in 10 million Reichsmarks.[1289]

Becker worked as a personal assistant to Paul Nitsche (q.v.) , and in 1943 was given the responsibility of supervising Hartheim, where in the following year he was in charge of the gassing of 3,228 inmates from Mauthausen and Gusen. Among his final tasks at Hartheim was the dismantling of the gassing apparatus and the reconversion of the institution to a “normal” mental hospital.

At the war's end, Becker avoided arrest, and even found employment with the Americans as a translator in Thuringia. When the American turned that region over to the Soviets in June 1945 and left, Becker left with them, returning to Kassel. In January 1947, the police in Thuringia issued a warrant for his arrest, but the Kassel police chief found “no grounds whatsoever for a police arrest.” Nonetheless, shortly thereafter an investigation into Becker's activities was commenced by the Chief Prosecutor's Office in Kassel, but abandoned in May 1950 because of an inability to find ” a causal relationship between his activities and the resultant killings.”

And there matters rested for the next sixteen years while Becker continued to work for the Americans in Bad Kreuznach. In June 1966 his arrest in connection with his involvement in “euthanasia” was ordered by the Frankfurt court. He was released on bail, but the Americans had decided to dispense with his services, and he remained unemployed for most of the time until his trial commenced on 20 August 1969. Although Becker admitted to much of his T4 career, he sought to minimize his participation in the collection of gold dentures and the killings at Hartheim. However, the court had little difficulty in dismissing his defence, which included a claim that Werner Heyde (q.v.) had shown him the Führer authorization, an act that Becker contended had legitimized his actions. Instead, the court ruled that “no human being with normal feelings can consider mass killings as right and as a just cause.”

In the opinion of the court, rather than being a fanatical National Socialist, Becker was merely a “weak character”. It was considered that without Nazism he would not have become a criminal; on the other hand, without people like him, Nazism could never have realized its horrific crimes. Consequently, he was sentenced to the minimum term of imprisonment the court could impose – 10 years for being an accessory to the murder of 24,540 mentally ill patients and 3,228 concentration camp inmates.[1290] He served three years in prison before entering hospital suffering from “psychological strain.” In September 1974, four years after sentencing, Becker's remaining prison term was suspended.[1291]

Otto Friedrich (Fritz) Bernotat (1890-1951)[1292] Born in Mittel-Jodupp, East Prussia (now Czarnowo Srednie, Poland), Landesrat Fritz Bernotat was the representative for mental institutions in the state of Hesse. Together with his superior, Landeshauptmann Wilhelm Traupel (1891-1946) he had indicated his determination to eliminate “ballast existences” as early as 1936/1937. Having begun his local government career in 1922 he joined the NSDAP in 1928, a career move that saw him rapidly promoted to the post of head of the Hessian department of political affairs, welfare services agency, and the central administration of institutions, among other positions.[1293] In 1931 he became a member of the SS.

Responsible for all Hessian asylums, Bernotat was one of the most brutal and fanatical of Nazi functionaries, even going so far as to arrange for his Jewish mistress to be murdered in Eichberg by a lethal injection.[1294] He would repeatedly tell medical staff: “Why don't you beat patients to death, then you are rid of all of them?” He and Traupel supervised a devastating lowering of the standard of care in Hessian hospitals through the reduction of nursing fees and the appointment of young Nazi doctors who, so one hospital director was told, “were better with the needle.”[1295] On their engagement, all recruits to T4 were asked if they belonged to a church. If they did, Bernotat demanded of those he interviewed that they give up their membership, for “they could not serve two masters.”[1296] He terrorized his workforce, once stating at an Eichberg staff meeting that if he heard even a hint that a nurse had spoken about conditions at the institution, or said anything at all in public, he would make that person accountable and “stop at nothing.”[1297]

In December 1940, Bernotat employed his brother-in-law, Fritz Scherwing, a master mechanic, to assist in the installation of the pipe-work and ventilation system in the gas chamber at Hadamar. Scherwing, clearly an innocent abroad in a cruel and heartless world, denied at his post-war trial of having any knowledge about the true purpose of the work he had undertaken, despite receiving repeated warnings from Bernotat concerning the strict secrecy surrounding his labours, and the presence of a crematorium adjoining the “disinfection room.” The court chose to believe Scherwing, and acquitted him for lack of evidence.[1298]

A month prior to the commencement of Schwering's employment (that is while Hadamar was still operating as a “normal” mental hospital) Bernotat had gathered the entire staff together for the purpose of swearing them to absolute secrecy about forthcoming events at the institution. He threatened that any transgressions would be severely punished by detention in a concentration camp, or even execution.[1299] There is some doubt concerning whether he broached the subject of “euthanasia” at that time, but the evacuation of patients, Schwering's activities, and the arrival of T4 staff must have provided a reasonably clear indication of the State's intentions.[1300]

When the war ended Bernotat assumed a false name and lived at Neuhof, near Fulda, where he died a natural death in 1951. He was never brought before a court to account for his participation in the murder of thousands of individuals.[1301]

Werner Blankenburg (1905 -1957)[1302] [T4 pseudonym “Brenner”, post T4 pseudonym “Bieleke”][1303] was born in Caputh, Brandenburg. A Nazi party and SA member since 1929, he worked as a sales representative before joining the KdF.[1304] Despite becoming a member of the NSDAP at a relatively early date, he had held no previous party post, although he had achieved the rank of SA Oberführer. Together with Reinhold Vorberg (q.v.), Blankenburg had been recruited from private business in order to become a senior member of the T4 staff,[1305] in Blankenburg's case to be head of Amt IIa of the KdF, one of the sub-divisions responsible for the implementation of the “euthanasia” operation. His immediate superior, and overall head of Amt II was Viktor Brack (q.v.).[1306] Blankenburg was Brack's permanent deputy and in the latter's absence conducted the affairs of Amt II. He was thus completely immersed in the criminal activities of the KdF in general, and of T4 in particular.

After Brack left the KdF for the front as a Sturmbannführer in the SS-Division Prinz Eugen in 1942, Blankenburg succeeded him as day-today manager of T4.[1307] Brack had been corresponding with Himmler concerning the possibility of the use of X-rays for the mass sterilisation of Jews (see chapter 10). When Himmler evinced interest in the proposal, directing that the method be tried in at least one concentration camp, Blankenburg replied to him in August 1942: “As permanent deputy of Oberführer Brack, I shall immediately take the necessary measures and get in touch with the Chiefs of the Main Offices for the Concentration Camps.” Some 20 months later, Blankenburg again wrote to Himmler explaining that the method had not been successful, and that “operative castration requires not more than 6-7 minutes, and can therefore be performed more reliably and quicker than the castration by X-rays.” Blankenburg concluded by assuring Himmler that he (Blankenburg) would soon be able to submit a report on the continuation of this work.[1308]

Blankenburg was as deeply implicated in the murders and theft of Aktion Reinhard as all of the other senior T4 personnel. When he visited the Reinhard offices in Lublin to temporarily deposit some “important items for the front,” the duty supervisor contacted Odilo Globocnik (in charge of the Aktion) to obtain the necessary permission. Globocnik abruptly told the supervisor “to mind his own business”. A few days later, Blankenburg returned, removed the items and, in loading them onto a motor vehicle, one of the crates was damaged, dropping gold items onto the ground. The supervisor concluded that these items were the subject of “Jewish measures”.[1309] It is not difficult to surmise where Blankenburg had obtained the contents of the crates. Franz Suchomel (q.v.), in charge of the “gold Jews” at Treblinka, stated that a messenger arrived at the camp one day bearing an order from Blankenburg to hand over one million Reichsmarks. “We filled his suitcase with a million marks, and he returned with it to Berlin,” Suchomel testified.[1310] Blankenburg's citation for a medal in 1942 stated: “Without his decisive contribution, it would not have been possible to complete this special assignment, so important to the war effort, on such a broad basis and with the necessary speed”.[1311] The “special assignment” in question was self-evident.

In April 1945, Blankenburg was evacuated from Berlin to Bavaria together with other members of the KdF, including Viktor Brack. When the war ended he adopted the identity of “Werner Bieleke” (his wife's maiden name), and lived in the Wangen district of Stuttgart. He worked as a bank clerk in Ludwigsburg, and later as representative for a textile company in Freudenstadt. Despite being on the “most wanted” list of war criminals from 1945 until the time his death, he managed to escape arrest, even keeping in contact with his parents in an old people's home in Ulm, as well as with former T4 colleagues.

At the request of his wife, Blankenburg had been officially declared dead by a magistrates' court in Berlin-Tempelhof in 1956. The date of his death was given as 31 December 1945. In 1950, the Stuttgart Kriminalpolizei began to take an interest in the wartime activities of “Herr Bieleke” and he quickly disappeared into the Swabian Alps, south of the city. There he sought refuge with a former comrade from T4 in the market town of Münsingen. He returned to Stuttgart about a year later to resume his previous occupation. Blankenburg died in Stuttgart-Wangen on 28 November 1957[1312] and is buried there under the name of Werner Bieleke. At the funeral service numerous former members of Aktion T4 were present, among them Dietrich Allers (q.v.) and Erwin Lambert (q.v.).

Gerhard Bohne (1902-1981) [post T4 pseudonym “Kurt Adolf Rüdinger”[1313] was born in Braunschweig and studied law at the University of Cologne, qualifying as a lawyer in 1924 and obtaining his doctorate in 1928. After working in the civil service for several years, he commenced practicing law in Berlin in 1930. He returned to the civil service in 1935, serving as an administrative judge in a government economic agency. Bohne joined the NSDAP and SA in 1930, leaving the latter in 1935 to become a member of the SS.[1314]

In September 1939 Bohne was recruited by T4; together with Herbert Linden (q.v.) he represented Department IV of the Ministry of the Interior. T4's first legal expert, and thus responsible for creating the concern's administrative organization, he resigned in June 1940 in a dispute over the corruption prevalent amongst his colleagues,[1315] and was replaced in 1941 by the rather brighter and apparently more corruptible Dieter Allers (q.v.).[1316] Bohne's accusations were deemed to be somewhat exaggerated and led to his dismissal from the SS in December 1943.

In January 1943 Bohne was conscripted into the Wehrmacht, finishing the war in American captivity in Italy, from where he was released in late 1946. He immigrated to Argentina in 1949, then returned to Germany in 1955, settling first in Cologne and then in Düsseldorf, where in 1956 he began to practice law. Arrested in 1959 and charged with the murder of at least 15,000 people, Bohne was released from pre-trial confinement on medical grounds on 15 March 1963. Bohne's symptoms of “illness” were in fact caused by a fellow doctor overdosing him with quinine and caffeine. Despite Bohne having surrendered his passport, four months later his lawyer informed the court that Bohne was now seeking to recuperate in Buenos Aires,[1317] where he proceeded to live under the name of Kurt Adolf Rüdinger.[1318]

Arrested by the Argentinean police in February 1964 and eventually extradited to Germany in November 1966, Bohne stood trial together with Allers, Vorberg (q.v.), and Adolf Kaufmann (q.v.). However, before the case ended he was deemed “unfit to stand trial” on medical grounds. In October 1968 the proceedings against him were temporarily suspended, and nine months later the suspension became final.[1319] Miraculously, Bohne managed to survive until 1981.

Philip Bouhler (1899-1945)[1320] was born in Munich, the son of a retired colonel. He served in the German army during the Great War, eventually achieving the rank of Leutnant before being wounded and invalided out of the army in 1917. For a short time he became a philosophy student, but by 1921 he had joined the Nazi party, member number 12, and was a contributor to the Völkischer Beobachter. In 1922 he was appointed second secretary of the NSDAP.

Bouhler participated in the failed 1923 Beerhall Putsch and was consequently awarded the Blutordensträger (Blood Order). During the subsequent period, during which the party was banned, he acted as business manager of a Nazi cover organisation in south Germany, “The Greater German Racial Community”. Following the relaunching of the party in 1925, he became Reich Business Manager, working with Max Amann, the publisher of Mein Kampf.[1321] After the Machtergreifung, Bouhler was made a Reichsleiter, the highest position attainable in any Nazi Organisation, second only to the office of Führer.[1322] He was also appointed a Member of the Reichstag for Westphalia and became Commissioner for the Protection of National Socialist Literature,[1323] an office Goebbels, Rosenberg, and others undoubtedly considered their own. Despite the splendid titles he was clearly a man in search of an assignment of greater importance. After serving a brief term as Police Chairman of Munich, one such was found for him with the creation of the KdF, whose head he became in October 1934. Two years later he was appointed an SS-Obergruppenführer.

Pale and bespectacled, Bouhler remained a shadowy figure, always polite, always self-effacing,[1324] the archetypal obsequious civil servant - at least to the casual observer. Initially he shared an office at Schellingstrasse 50[1325] with Rudolf Hess, his ostensible immediate superior, before directing the KdF from the Brown House. He wrote several books on Nazism, and another bearing the title Napoleon – Kometenpfad eines Genies (“Napoleon – the Comet-Path of a Genius”), which was apparently a favourite of Hitler's.[1326] Despite his undoubted Nazi convictions, Bouhler lacked aggression. He was essentially an executor of orders, allegedly sharing “the view held by Hess and many other sincere idealists within the party that its `great goals' justified every suppression of your own ideas, even of your own conscience.” [1327] In that he unquestionably succeeded. If Brack (q.v.) is to be believed, in March 1941 when the so-called “Madagascar Plan” was supposedly still considered as a possible “Final Solution to the Jewish Problem”, it was Bouhler whose name was suggested to Hitler as governor of the island.[1328] Given Bouhler's activities at the KdF before and after that date, it requires little imagination to envision the fate of the Jews intended to be deported to that tropical wilderness under his stewardship .

Even after “euthanasia” had officially been stopped in August 1941, Bouhler retained the hope of regaining the services of the T4 functionaries who had been loaned to Globocnik for the purpose of Aktion Reinhard.[1329] It was intended that the programme recommence at the successful conclusion of the war, but Bouhler was irate that Globocnik had used his well-trained men in connection with an assignment which would make them unfit, in Bouhler's opinion, to return to their former service.[1330]

As the war drew to a close Bouhler sought Göring's protection, following the Reichsmarschall to Austria. The sometime nominated successor to the Führer and the former joint head of the “euthanasia” programme both only succeeded in postponing the inevitable. Together with his wife, Bouhler committed suicide on 19 May 1945 whilst in American custody in transit to the Dachau concentration camp. Göring followed suit on 15 October 1946 following his conviction by the IMT at Nuremberg.

Viktor Brack (1904-1948)[1331] [T4 pseudonym “Jennerwein”, post T4 pseudonym “Hermann Ober”] was born in Haaren, near Aachen, the son of a physician. He studied agriculture for a time in 1923, before switching to economic science at the Technical High School in Munich, receiving his diploma in the latter subject in 1928.[1332] Thereafter, for a time he administered the estate attached to his father's sanatorium and was also a test driver for BMW. Active from an early age in right-wing politics, he joined the SA in 1923, and the Nazi Party and SS in 1929.[1333] In 1930 and 1931 he was often Himmler's chauffeur (he knew the Himmler family well, since Brack's father had delivered one of Himmler's children),[1334] before Bouhler (q.v.), then Reich Business Manager of the NSDAP, employed Brack on a full time basis at the “Brown House” in Munich in the summer of 1932. During 1933, Brack acted as Bouhler's adjutant; when Bouhler moved to Berlin as head of the KdF in 1934, Brack moved with him.

In 1936 Brack was placed in charge of Amt II of the KdF with the title of Reichsamtsleiter. This department examined complaints arriving from all sections of the population. By now Brack was also officially Bouhler's deputy, acting as liaison between the KdF and the SS, where he received steady promotion, achieving the rank of Oberführer in 1940.[1335] Despite his lack of any medical qualification, Brack was also given the responsibility of liaising directly with the Ministry of Health on behalf of the KdF.[1336] He was thus an integral and vital cog in the machinations of the Chancellery, the individual primarily responsible for the overall organization and day-to-day activities of T4. It was an occupation that placed him at the heart of both the “euthanasia” programme and the “Final Solution”. Amongst countless other tasks, together with Werner Blankenburg (q.v.), he was responsible for interviewing all potential T4 personnel. Moreover, as early as the summer of 1939 he had been discussing with his cohorts the use of carbon monoxide as the killing agent of choice for use in the forthcoming “mercy killings”.[1337]

Having largely been given the responsibility of organizing “euthanasia”, Brack claimed to have read a good deal about the subject, and decided to visit the asylums at Buch and Brandenburg-Görden to judge the condition of his potential victims for himself. Not surprisingly, he found the sight of inmates distressing and fully meriting of the release he was about to offer them. After all, as he explained at his trial:

The life of the insane person has, for himself and his relatives, lost all purpose, and consists only of pain and misery. Just as the soul belongs in the helping hands of the priest, so the body belongs in the helping hands of the physician. Only so can the sick person really be assisted…It is [the doctor's] duty to free the person from his unworthy condition, so – I might even say – from his prison.[1338]

The court was not impressed with Brack the humanitarian, particularly after he freely admitted that he had been a participant in the original discussions concerning implementation of the “euthanasia” programme, as well as being present at the initial and many subsequent meetings of medical experts, administrators, and other operatives. He had frequently acted as Bouhler's representative, taking vital decisions based upon his own personal assessments and individual authority, in effect assuming the role of chief executive officer to Bouhler's chairman. Brack even went so far as to accept that his involvement in “euthanasia” was such that it might be presumed he was the key man at T4 – an accurate, if unwise, display of vanity.[1339]

Another example of Brack's immersion in practical Nazism was his espousal of the economic advantages of sterilisation. On the principle that by such methods, valuable labour could be utilized whilst ensuring the ultimate disappearance of Nazism's arch enemy, Brack had been eager to suggest methods of mass sterilisation for Jews as an alternative to extermination, a subject which is examined in greater detail in chapter 10.

In evidence given in 1962, Josef Oberhauser (q.v.) described a visit by Brack to Lublin in May 1942. The Belzec extermination camp had been inoperative for the previous six weeks, but now Brack met with Globocnik to discuss the resumption of killing. When Globocnik complained of a lack of staff, according to Oberhauser, Brack replied:

The euthanasia programme had now stopped and that the people from T4 would from now on be detailed to him [meaning Globocnik] on a regular basis so that the decisions taken at the Wannsee conference could be implemented. The decision had been taken to set up two further extermination camps, which would be ready by 1 August 1942, namely Treblinka and Sobibor The large-scale extermination programme was due to start on 1 August 1942.[1340]

Presumably because there was little killing left for him to organise, Brack left T4 in 1942, joining the Waffen-SS as a Sturmbannführer, and apparently remained on active duty until the war's end.[1341] When arrested in May 1945, he claimed his name was Hermann Ober (his wife's maiden name), but his true identity was quickly discovered.[1342] He was arraigned before an American military tribunal at Nuremberg in 1946, one of 23 defendants in the Medical Trial. It says much for Brack's qualities that he chose SS-Obergruppenführer und General der Waffen-SS Karl Wolff as a character witness. Wolff, for several years Himmler's Chief of Personal Staff and the Waffen-SS liaison officer at Hitler's military headquarters, had this to say about his former colleague: “I can only call Brack an extremely decent, extremely obliging man, to whom any thought of committing or taking part in an inhumane act would be alien.”[1343]

Evidently the court did not find Wolff's testimony credible. Sentenced to death in 1947 for his manifest crimes, Brack was executed in 1948.[1344]

Ludwig Gessner (1886-1958)[1345] was born in Crumstadt, a village near Darmstadt, and held a doctorate in chemistry. He joined the NSDAP in 1930, and in 1933 was appointed to the position of Landeshauptmann (effectively, Governor) of the province of Hannover. In this capacity he was the immediate superior of Georg Andreae (q.v.).[1346]

Gessner began to hear rumours of a comprehensive planned “euthanasia” programme in early summer 1940, although even before then he was aware that patients were being killed in Pomerania. He visited Hans Hefelmannn (q.v.) and Herbert Linden (q.v.) in Berlin, who confirmed the intention of implementing the policy in Hannover.[1347] Gessner claimed to have been far from convinced about the legality of this, and wrote to the Minister of the Interior, Wilhelm Frick, setting out his objections. Unfortunately no copy of this document survived the war. Together with Andreae, Gessner thereafter continued to make strenuous efforts to prevent, or at least minimize the impact of “euthanasia” on the institutions under their control – or so they both testified.

Despite a career that obviously had relied much on his longstanding enthusiasm for Nazism, at his trial in July 1950 the court considered Gessner to be of exemplary character. He could not have resigned his position since, “Berlin would not only have accepted [his] withdrawal, but would have encouraged it, because it would have vacated his position for a more ideologically suitable replacement.” So, like Andreae, and despite the demise of so many patients in their joint care, Gessner was acquitted of all charges.[1348]

Friedrich Haus (1909-1945). According to the testimony of his sister, Haus joined the NSDAP and SA in 1930 and was a friend and colleague of Viktor Brack (q.v.). Haus was one of the so-called “old fighters” (Alten Kämpfer), and wore the golden party badge (Goldene Ehrenzeichen). This was awarded to the first one hundred thousand members of the party, but was also conferred on other individuals at Hitler's discretion. In about 1934 Haus became a full-time employee of the SS central office in Munich.[1349]

Haus became head of T4's Personnel Department in 1940. This office was responsible for hiring all T4 staff and administering the oath of secrecy to them.[1350] In 1943 Haus joined either the Wehrmacht or the Waffen-SS, and was succeeded at T4 by Arnold Oels (q.v.). Haus died on 8 August 1945 as the result of a traffic accident. In a list of names kept by Friedrich Lorent (q.v.) in a bank vault, Haus' death is noted as “suicide”.[1351]

Hans Hefelmannn (1906-1986)[1352] [T4 joint pseudonym with Richard von Hegener (q.v.), “Dr Klein”][1353] was born in Dresden, the son of a textile manufacturer. A member of the NSDAP since 1931, he received his doctorate in agricultural engineering in 1932. After spending some time working for his father and in private business, he became an employee of the Nazi party's economics department headed by Rudolf Hess, moving in January 1936 to the KdF. There he was appointed head of Amt IIb in 1937, a section responsible for Reich ministerial matters (other than those relating to the Wehrmacht and the police), as well as clemency petitions. Hefelmann's brief was to settle with such matters in as informal a manner as possible.[1354] However, Viktor Brack (q.v.) decided to also allocate the organization of children's “euthanasia” to this office, with the programme to be directed by Hefelmann and his deputy, Richard von Hegener (q.v.).[1355]

In the T4 pecking order, Hefelmann was senior to both Werner Heyde (q.v.) and Paul Nitsche (q.v.);[1356] together with Brack and Herbert Linden (q.v.), he had been involved in the planning of children's “euthanasia” since early 1939.[1357] Later, his participation would extend to adult “euthanasia”.[1358] For his services to the mass-murder industry, in 1942 Hefelmann was awarded a medal – the War Service Cross Second Class. Philip Bouhler's (q.v.) citation stated:

In addition to his especially important contributions relating to matters of public health handled by Hauptamt II, party comrade Dr Hefelmann provided the intellectual basis for the implementation of a special task important to the war effort and assigned by the Führer. He directs a separate department with independent responsibility for this special task.[1359]

This “special task” was, of course, the killing of children. According to Werner Heyde, in September or October 1939, discussions ensued between interested parties concerning the manner in which the simultaneous death of so many victims of “euthanasia” could be disguised. Hefelmann came up with the idea of a series of fictitious fatal rail and road accidents, at which point Heyde claimed to have refused to participate if such a ludicrous suggestion was adopted.

Like other leading lights of T4, as the nature of “euthanasia” changed, and Aktion Reinhard drew to a close, in 1943 Hefelmann was conscripted to serve in the Wehrmacht. He was discharged in March 1944 suffering from malaria and jaundice, to return to T4. In January 1945, together with von Hegener and others, he left Berlin. Hefelmann became director of a refugee camp established at the former asylum in Stadtroda. The medical director of the hospital, Gerhard Kloos (q.v.), having himself been involved in children's “euthanasia”, knew Hefelmann well. But Hefelmann's stay was brief. He moved first to Munich, then to Innsbrück, before in June 1948, with the assistance of the Catholic charitable organization, Caritas International, he immigrated to Argentina. There he worked in a variety of jobs before finally becoming manager of a German-language bookshop. He returned to the Federal Republic in 1955, and a year later was managing director of a textile business in Waging am See in Bavaria.[1360]

After Heyde's arrest in 1959, reasoning with justification that his name was bound to crop up in any forthcoming proceedings (he had made no attempt to disguise his identity), Hefelmann fled again, this time to Spain. But he was unhappy there, and so returned to Germany in August 1960, where he surrendered himself to the public prosecutor's office in Munich.[1361] Accused of participation in the murder of more than 70,000 adults and at least 5,000 children, Hefelmann's trial opened in February 1964. With the aid of a helpful opinion supplied by his good friend Dr Kloos, by then medical director of the Göttingen hospital, six months later Hefelmann was diagnosed as suffering from a progressive “metabolic disorder unknown in detail”, which had mysteriously developed from the moment of his arrest. Medical experts announced that the unknown illness had resulted in a serious deterioration in Hefelmann's mental and physical capacity, and would result in his demise within two years. Moreover, in their opinion, Hefelmann was no longer able to follow the proceedings with the requisite attention, and was therefore incapable of adequately defending himself. Other medical opinion was more sceptical.

It took a further eight years of legal wrangling before Hefelmann was finally declared unfit to stand trial; the case against him was abandoned in October 1972. Hefelmann was once again a free man. Amazingly, despite the pessimistic 1964 medical prognosis, Hefelmann survived until 1986. He did not, however, go unpunished; because of his illness, his driver's licence was cancelled.[1362]

Richard von Hegener (1905-1981)[1363] [T4 joint pseudonym with Hans Hefelmann (q.v.), “Dr Klein”] born in Sensburg, East Prussia, was the son of an army officer. He left school in 1923 to work first for the Dresdner Bank, then for a trucking company, before becoming a statistician for the Association of German Iron and Steel Producers. He joined the NSDAP in 1931, becoming active in local party affairs.[1364] He was unemployed prior to being recruited to the KdF in 1937 through the auspices of Hans Reiter, president of the Reich Health Office, who was his brother-in-law.[1365] Initially working in an office dealing with marriage applications from “Mischlinge” (individuals of mixed Jewish and “Aryan” descent – literally, “mongrels”), in due course he was promoted to the position of Hefelmann's deputy both in Amt IIb and in the children's euthanasia programme.[1366]

Together with Hefelmann, von Hegener was responsible for the establishment of the Kinderfachabteilungen, or “special children's wards”, specifically created for the purpose of killing children within existing mental facilities. The pair were also responsible for sifting the forms received under the aegis of the decree of 18 August 1939 requiring doctors and midwives to report various categories of handicapped children. The fact that neither Hefelmann nor von Hegener had any medical training whatsoever was no impediment to their deciding which cases should be passed to the panel of three experts who finally decided on the fate of the child.[1367] In similar terms, and for identical reasons, in 1942 he and Hefelmann were both recommended by Philip Bouhler (q.v.) for the same decoration – the War Service Cross Second Class.[1368] However, the activities of both men had not been limited to solely murdering children. Both were also participants in adult “euthanasia”, attending meetings and visiting facilities. In practice, there was little administrative distinction between the killing of children and adults.[1369]

After the war von Hegener was first employed as a farm worker and then as a carpenter. Dropping the “von”, he subsequently worked at the Ministry of Trade and Supply in Mecklenburg, where he was quickly promoted. He was arrested in 1951 and charged with crimes against humanity. In 1952, the court in Magdeburg sentenced him to life imprisonment, but he was released in 1956, and with the assistance of his former superior Dieter Allers (q.v.), found employment at the German Shipyard in Hamburg. He testified at the trials of Hefelmann and Allers, but was never subject to further prosecution himself.

Adolf Gustav Kaufmann (1902-1974)[1370] the son of a railway inspector, was born in Przemysl, Poland, then part of the Habsburg Empire. He attended school at Ried im Innkreis in Upper Austria before serving in the Austrian navy during the Great War. At the war's conclusion he trained to become a mechanic. Between 1921 and 1934 he was employed in the commercial department of the Austrian Federal Railways. In 1923 he had joined the SA and the Deutsche Nationalsozialistische Arbeiterpartei (DNSAP), the predecessor of the Nazi party in Austria. He became a member of the NSDAP in Linz in 1926. After being arrested for possession of weapons and explosives, in 1934 he lost his job with Austrian Railways and spent four months in custody before moving to Germany.

From 1935, Kaufmann worked full-time for the SA; in 1937 he was appointed Gauinspektor for Pomerania. Called-up for naval service in 1939, he was granted leave of absence in January 1940 when his personal friend of twenty years, Viktor Brack (q.v.), enlisted him in T4. Kaufman was appointed head of the inspection department,[1371] responsible, among other things, for selecting the institutions that were to become killing centres, refurbishing five out of six of them as necessary for their new task,[1372] and looking after the welfare of those employed at these facilities. He personally supervised the transformation of Brandenburg into a killing centre before turning the new resource over to Irmfried Eberl (q.v.).[1373] Kaufmann visited the killing centres from time to time to ensure all was in order, although despite his regular inspection trips, he claimed never to have seen an actual gassing.[1374] In addition to all of this, he found time to establish a holiday home for T4 personnel at Weissenbach am Attersee in Austria.[1375] He also managed to ensure that his brothers Rudolf and Reinhold were employed by either the KdF or T4.

With the completion of the first phase of “euthanasia”, on 31 January 1942 Kaufmann returned to Pomerania as Gauamtsleiter. From October 1942 he was a deputy district head of the Nazi Party in the General District of Taurien in the office of the Reich Commissioner Ukraine. As the tide of war turned, a year later he returned to Pomerania. In July 1944 he was appointed NSDAP-Oberbereichsleiter in Budweis, then in Czechoslovakia.

Having enjoyed a risk-free wartime career at a variety of jobs within the Nazi party, after the war Kaufmann worked for BMW and as a representative for a manufacturer of laboratory equipment. He was arrested in July 1965, and together with Dieter Allers (q.v.), Reinhold Vorberg (q.v.), and Gerhard Bohne (q.v.), was arraigned before the court in Frankfurt in April 1967. Having been unsuccessful in persuading the court to abandon proceedings against him because of his wife's alleged bedridden medical condition (his plea was not helped when a letter from her was discovered in which she detailed how she had painted the entire house in his absence)[1376] two months later the case against Kaufmann was suspended after he had suffered a heart attack. In September 1969 he was declared permanently unfit to stand trial.

Friedrich Wilhelm Siegmund Robert Lorent (1905-1988)[1377] the son of a coffee merchant, was born in Bremen. Following an accident he left secondary school and became an agricultural apprentice, but in view of the then unfavourable economic prospects for agriculture, he gave up his apprenticeship and instead joined his father's firm. In December 1930 he became a member of the Nazi party and in October 1932 joined the SA, by whom he was subsequently employed. By January 1934 he had risen to the position of leading manager of the Hanover SA under Viktor Lutze. Following the so-called “Night of the Long Knives” and the murder of Ernst Röhm in June 1934, Lutze was appointed head of the SA and moved to Berlin, with Lorent accompanying him to become treasurer of the SA head office. Here he met and befriended Viktor Brack (q.v.), an association which led to a falling-out between Lutze and Lorent, with the latter demoted in 1936 to the post of accountant with the National Socialist Relief Organisation for War Casualties (NSKOV), a position he held until the outbreak of war.

Lorent served in the military from November 1939 until May 1940, at which point he was transferred by NSKOV to Warsaw and Cracow, where he was employed as accountant to a “trust company” (Treuhandverwertungsgesellschaft), one of the organisations set up by the Nazis to handle the theft of Polish and (primarily) Jewish property. In autumn 1941 Lorent was appointed manager of a formerly Polish-owned company in Warsaw dealing in building materials. Shortly afterwards he met Brack in Berlin. When he complained to Brack about working conditions in Poland, Brack offered him the position as manager of the Economic Department of T4; despite a substantial resulting reduction in income, Lorent was happy to accept the job.

He commenced employment with T4 in February 1942, when the first phase of the “euthanasia” programme had already been terminated. Answerable only to Brack and Werner Blankenburg (q.v.), Lorent and the staff he controlled were responsible for the entire financial and accounting functions of T4, including the ordering of the necessary gas and lethal medications, payment of the salaries of personnel in Germany and in the Aktion Reinhard camps, and overseeing the handling of the valuables of the Jewish victims of the death camps, among other tasks. Lorent was in a unique position to obtain virtually complete knowledge of the activities of T4 and its personnel, visiting most of the principle German “euthanasia” centres, as well as the Polish extermination camps.[1378] On at least one occasion he personally delivered the possessions of murdered Jews from Poland to Berlin.

Lorent was a conscientious and efficient administrator, priding himself on his incorruptibility.[1379] Near the end of the war, he was ordered to take the remaining assets of T4, some 1.2 million Reichsmarks, from Berlin to Bavaria. Due to advancing Allied troops he was unable to comply with this order, and in April 1945 was still carrying around a number of cheques and 87,000 Reichsmarks in cash (the fate of the rest of the cash is uncertain), money he used to pay the salaries of the T4 employees remaining in Berlin. In summer 1945 he passed the balance of the cash, by now reduced to little more than 16,000 Reichsmarks to the Landrat (District Administrator) of the Wesermarsch county, “for the care of political prisoners in need.”

Lorent was interrogated by the American Counter Intelligence Corps (CIC), who in September 1946 pronounced him “administrative head of `Stiftung' and for all institutions as well as the camps in Poland and Italy…Well informed about institutions and camps.” Despite his known involvement in such criminal affairs, for reasons unknown Lorent was released, and for the next twenty years remained a free man, living in the town of Nordenham under his own name whilst earning his living as a sales representative.

In September 1965, Lorent was arrested on suspicion of his involvement in “euthanasia”. Together with Hans-Joachim Becker (q.v.), he was arraigned before the court in Frankfurt in 1969, accused (in Lorent's case) of complicity in the murder of 4,300 people. Despite his protestations of innocence the court considered Lorent's guilt proven beyond all reasonable doubt, yet still sentenced him to only 7 years' imprisonment. On the court's own admission this was a minimal sentence, which could “only approximately atone for the injustice committed.” Notwithstanding these sentiments, having served two-thirds of his sentence, Lorent was released[1380]

Arnold Oels (1908[1381] -?) became a member of the SA in 1933 and subsequently of the NSDAP.[1382] At the beginning of the war he volunteered for the Waffen-SS. However, his girlfriend, who worked at Hadamar, suggested he join T4,[1383] which he did in November 1940 as deputy to Friedrich Haus (q.v.) in the Personnel Department.[1384] When Haus left for the armed forces in 1943, Oels succeeded him as head of the department. Oels remained with T4 until March 1945, and after the war was employed as travelling salesman.[1385]

Fritz Schmiedel (?-?) was a graduate engineer. He was yet another of Viktor Brack's (q.v.) friends to be recruited to T4,[1386] where he succeeded Willy Schneider (q.v.) as head of the Finance Office in August 1941, before he was in turn succeeded by Friedrich Lorent (q.v.) in January 1942.[1387] In 1943 he joined the Waffen-SS. After 1945 he lived under a false name in France, before returning to the Federal Republic in 1951.[1388]

Willy Schneider (1900[1389]-?) the nephew of Alfred Ittner (q.v.), was the first head of T4's Finance Department, a position he relinquished in August 1941.

Gerhard Siebert (1905[1390]-?) was a cousin of Viktor Brack (q.v.) and Reinhold Vorberg (q.v.).[1391] He was born in Königsberg and trained as an engineer, joining the NSDAP in 1931. As an employee of T4 he was made Vorberg's deputy at Gekrat, succeeding the latter when Vorberg was dispatched to Russia as part of the Organisation Todt operation in late 1941.[1392]

Siebert visited Treblinka at least once, somewhat improbably claiming to have seen nothing of the extermination of the Jews occurring there. Rather he had merely met a Jewish tailor, who had repaired Siebert's clothes.[1393] Siebert maintained an equal degree of blamelessness concerning his activities at Gekrat, stating: “I am innocent of the killing of patients.”[1394] His cousin Brack, he maintained was “a decent person” (“ein anständiger Mensch”).[1395]

Like many other T4 personnel, Siebert spent some time in Trieste as part of Aktion R.[1396] After 1945 he worked for the Siemens-Schuckert electrical engineering company.

Friedrich Tillmann (1903-1964)[1397] was born in Cologne. On leaving school in 1921 he began a commercial apprenticeship. He had right-wing political sympathies from an early age and in 1923 joined the Nazi party. When the party was banned in November 1923 after the abortive Munich “beer hall putsch”, Tillmann continued to maintain connections with neo-Nazi organizations, and was readmitted as a party member in June 1925. He worked in Nazi youth associations, thereby ensuring that he was on good terms with many people who would be influential in furthering his career, one of whom was Viktor Brack (q.v.).

He met with little success in terms of his livelihood, so much so that in 1928 he was excluded from membership of the NSDAP because he could not afford to pay his subscriptions. He managed to join the party for a third and final time in 1933, and took up employment in the welfare department of the Cologne district. In late 1939, Tillmann met Herbert Linden (q.v.), who recruited him for T4. In February or March 1940, Tillmann succeeded Gerhard Bohne (q.v.) and was effectively responsible for the management of the Administrative Office at T4, although Dieter Allers (q.v.) was nominally head of that department.[1398] Tillmann took on this responsibility in addition to his job in Cologne.

Tillmann attended monthly meetings of the office managers at the individual killing centres, and on at least one occasion attended a gassing. When it was feared that notification of the deaths of too many people on the same day and in the same place might arouse suspicion, he was the person responsible for organizing the complex cover-up of the location and timing of the murder of the victims. For his dedication to the cause of T4, in 1942 Tillmann was awarded two medals.

After the war Tillmann was interned for a short time, and in 1949 unsuccessfully applied for re-employment with the city of Cologne. Instead he was engaged by a number of different children's homes, until in July 1960 he was arrested, accused of participation in the “killing of about 70,000 adult inmates of treatment and care institutions”. He was then released to await trial,[1399] stating: “It is clear to me that my activity contributed to the smooth operation of euthanasia. However, I am not able to see that I thereby made myself punishable.”[1400] He apparently had second thoughts, for on 12 February 1964, six days before proceedings against him were to commence, Tillmann jumped to his death from the eighth floor of a Cologne skyscraper.[1401] It is possible this was not the suicide it appeared; the next day, Werner Heyde (q.v.) was found dead in his cell in Butzbach, having apparently hanged himself.[1402] It is all too easy to detect a conspiracy where perhaps none existed, but there were many who had good cause to feel far from unhappy at the sudden demise of two of the leading members of T4.

Reinhold Vorberg (1904-1983)[1403] [T4 pseudonym “Hintertal”,[1404] post T4 pseudonym “Heinz Vorberg”] was born in Kiel, and like Friedrich Tillmann (q.v.), on leaving school began a commercial apprenticeship, the completion of which three years later[1405] saw him join the so-called “Schwarze Reichswehr”, an illegal paramilitary branch of the German army. Shortly afterwards he left that organization to work for the Ostbank in Königsberg, where he remained for about a year. 1927/28 saw Vorberg working as a sales representative in Spain. On his return to Germany the following year he assisted his mother for a time in managing family affairs in Königsberg, before in early 1930 he immigrated to a German colony in South-West Africa to pursue an unsuccessful career as a farmer. After that failure he returned to Germany a year later to set up another business with some friends in 1932, selling lighters and jewellery in Berlin. That enterprise was no more successful than Vorberg's other ventures into the world of commerce, it being declared bankrupt in 1935.[1406]

Vorberg had joined the Nazi party in 1929, and in about 1936/37 a party comrade offered him an unpaid job in the mailroom at the KdF. A little later he obtained paid employment at the KdF and shortly thereafter his cousin, Viktor Brack (q.v.), appointed him head of Amt IIc of the organisation, the department dealing with matters concerning the armed forces, the police, the SS, and churches.[1407] Vorberg was conscripted into the Wehrmacht on the outbreak of war, and served with an engineers' unit in Poland. However, on the conclusion of the Polish campaign his military service was suspended and he was recalled to Berlin, where Philip Bouhler (q.v.) informed him of the “euthanasia” programme, and offered him the position of head of T4's transport division, the Gemeinnütziger Krankentransport GmbH, or “Gekrat” (the “Charitable Society for the Transportation of the Sick Limited”). Vorberg accepted the offer with alacrity.

As general manager of Gekrat, and thus responsible for organizing all aspects of the transportation of victims, Vorberg was in constant communication with the leading officials of T4. He visited the killing centres, corresponded with other “feeder” institutions, organized the actual transports, and even arranged petrol rations for the bus drivers. He was of sufficient importance within the organisation to be Brack's third deputy, after Werner Blankenburg (q.v.) and Hans Hefelmann (q.v.).

After the suspension of “euthanasia” in August 1941, Vorberg was a member of the T4 “Organisation Todt” mission to Russia, but returned to Berlin a few months later to resume his position at the KdF, where he remained until almost the end of the war. In early 1945, together with other leading members of the Chancellery he was flown to Bavaria, where plans for a new office disintegrated as the war ended. Bearing false identity papers, Vorberg was captured by the Americans, but was released after a few weeks. He settled in the Munich region, and worked on a chicken farm, continuing to correspond with Brack so that when the latter was arrested the Americans found and arrested Vorberg too. The two of them were interned in the prisoner-of-war camp at Moosburg, where Vorburg contrived a false identity – “Heinz Vorberg”, born 1 June 1906 in Juditten, East Prussia. Since this region was under Soviet occupation, it made it all but impossible to verify these bogus credentials.[1408]

Vorberg escaped from the camp and became a forester in Schleswig-Holstein until he was dismissed from this job in 1948. He was briefly detained by the British before settling in the town of Neuss and working in a fertilizer factory. After a while he moved to Freiburg, where together with Reinhold Siebert [brother of Gerhard (q.v.)], he opened an enamel factory. Needless to say this enterprise failed too, and it was not until 1952 that Vorberg found what he must have hoped was some kind of permanent employment at a tile factory in Bonn. But this too was not to last, for in 1961, with the probability of his arrest looming, Vorberg suddenly resigned from his job and fled to Spain. Here, under another Fascist regime he felt secure; however, as could be anticipated, he had misjudged the situation. In November 1962 he was extradited to Germany, and taken into pre-trial confinement.[1409]

When his trial began together with that of Dieter Allers (q.v.) in April 1967, Vorberg stood in the dock accused of participation in the murder of 70,273 persons. There was little doubt concerning the guilt of either defendant, although the court still found sufficient extenuating circumstances in Vorberg's case to restrict his sentence to ten years' imprisonment, rather than the life sentence it could have imposed. In October 1972, allowance having been made for the period of his pre-trial confinement, both in Germany and in Spain,[1410] Vorberg was released from custody.[1411]

There appears to have been little in Vorberg's miserable history as a businessman and would-be entrepreneur to recommend him to T4 for such a responsible position, other than his relatively early membership of the NSDAP and his familial ties to Brack and Siebert. If Vorberg can be seen as a classic example of the Schreibtischtäter, the “desk murderer”, it is worth bearing in mind his presence at the experimental gassing at Brandenburg in winter 1939/40.[1412] He had seen for himself the consequences of the activities he organized so willingly at Gekrat.

Paul Werner (1900-1970)[1413] was born in Appenweier, Baden-Württemberg, the son of a railroad supervisor, and served in the armed forces during the last months of the Great War. At the war's conclusion he studied law at Heidelberg and Freiburg, and after qualification, was appointed an auxiliary public prosecutor in Baden, before going on to serve as a prosecutor in Offenburg and Pforzheim. In 1933 he became District Court Advisor in Lörrach, and joined the Nazi party in May of that year.

In early September 1933, Werner was appointed head of the state criminal police agency of Baden in Karlsruhe. His success in this position led to his 1937 promotion as deputy to Arthur Nebe, head of the newly formed Reich Criminal Office (Reichskriminalpolizeiamtes - RKPA) in Berlin. Werner enthusiastically endorsed the Criminal Police strategy of preventing crime on the basis of hereditary characteristics:

If a criminal or asocial person has ancestors who also led a criminal or asocial life…the results of hereditary research have shown that the person's behaviour is hereditarily conditioned. Such a person must…be treated with differently than a person who…comes from a respectable family…The criminal is no longer regarded as an individual person, and his crimes are no longer regarded as individual crimes.[1414]

“Hereditary criminals” such as Gypsies were, in Werner's view, primarily a racial problem.[1415] In this he was later to find an enthusiastic accomplice in Robert Ritter (q.v).

On 27 September 1939 the RKPA became Department V of the Reich Security Main Office (RSHA). In 1963 Hans Hefelmann (q.v.) stated that Werner had been the RKPA's contact with Reinhold Vorberg (q.v.), head of Gekrat. Together with Nebe, Werner had met in August 1939 with Viktor Brack (q.v.) at the KdF to discuss the proposed “euthanasia” programme. Nebe thereupon appointed Albert Widmann (q.v.) to advise T4 regarding suitable killing techniques. According to Hefelmann, Werner had been responsible for procuring killing agents such as morphine ampoules and Luminal tablets for T4.[1416] As mentioned earlier, it was Werner who had first interviewed Franz Stangl (q.v.) for T4, explaining to him the virtues of “euthanasia”.

From spring 1942 to early 1943, Werner was employed by the German criminal police offices in Paris, Brussels and the Hague. In March 1943 he returned to the RSHA and remained there until the end of the war, following which his police career came to an end. Instead, following “denazification” (which determined he had been a “sympathizer”), he served in a senior capacity in the Baden-Württemberg Ministry of the Interior. In 1955 he was even proposed as head of the Federal Criminal Investigation Office (Bundeskriminalamts). Fortunately this promotion failed due to the opposition of officials of the Federal Ministry of the Interior.

Although a preliminary investigation into his wartime activities by the public prosecutor's office in Stuttgart was dropped in 1962, unlike many others Werner made no attempt to feign ignorance of the Holocaust. In a statement before the chief public prosecutor's office in Frankfurt in November 1962, Werner stated: “Naturally I knew of the Einsatzkommandos in the east and of Auschwitz.”[1417]

* * *

Physicians, Nurses, and Scientists

Ernst Baumhard (1911-1943) [T4 pseudonym “Dr Jäger” at Grafeneck, “Dr Moos” at Hadamar][1418] was born in Ammendorf, near Halle, the son of a doctor. He joined the SA in 1934 and the Nazi party in 1937.[1419] After leaving school he studied medicine at the University of Halle, in 1938 becoming leader of the medical section of the university's Student Union. A totally committed Nazi, in May 1938 he was received by Adolf Hitler in person as a winner of Reichsberufswettkampf, a competition that was held from 1934 to 1939 for young Nazis who had displayed unswerving dedication to the cause of Nazism in the theory and practice of their vocation or profession.

Baumhard received his medical licence and doctorate on 1 September 1939,[1420] and worked for a short time at the Barbarakrankenhaus in Halle. He was recruited by T4 on 1 November 1939, and was among those present at the Brandenburg gassing demonstration in winter 1939-40.[1421] In early 1940 he was appointed Horst Schumann's (q.v.) assistant at Grafeneck, before succeeding the latter in April 1940. When Grafeneck closed in December 1940, Baumhard took up the position of physician-in-charge at Hadamar.[1422] Under Baumhard's direction, busloads of patients arrived daily at Hadamar for gassing from mid-January 1941.

Baumhard was party to a rather odd incident at Grafeneck involving the death of a nurse, Anne H. in mysterious circumstances. According to the somewhat unclear testimony of an eyewitness:

In the summer of 1940, when I was in bed with a concussion, it was on 4 June 1940, a transport arrived in which there was someone who suffered from leprosy. According to the male nurse the leper's face had already been eaten away. The leper was shot immediately by Dr.Baumhard, to prevent infection. Dr. Baumhard ordered all of us to stay where we were. But head nurse H. from the Rhine country jumped to the other [meaning the dangerous] side and was hit fatally by the bullet. Dr. Baumhard, who told me about this himself, was in deep trouble because of the incident, and wanted to commit suicide.[1423]

After either falling out with Viktor Brack (q.v.) or simply seeking an escape from “euthanasia”, Baumhard resigned from T4 in August 1941 to enlist in the navy as a U-boat doctor, and in this capacity was killed in action in June 1943.

August Becker (1900 -1967)[1424] [nicknamed “Rot” (“Red”)], was born in Staufenberg, Hesse. He was conscripted towards the end of the Great War, following which he studied chemistry and physics at the University of Giessen, obtaining a doctorate in the former subject in 1933. He joined the NSDAP in 1930 and the SS in 1931, and elected for a career within the Nazi movement, briefly working in 1934 for the Gestapo in Giessen before joining the SS regiment “Germania”, with whom he continued to serve until 1938 when he was transferred to Berlin, to join the RSHA on the formation of that organisation to work as a chemist. In October 1939, Becker travelled to Posen, where in Fort VII he constructed a gas chamber. There he tested the relative efficacy of carbon monoxide and an agent similar to Zyklon B on patients from Polish mental hospitals, judging carbon monoxide the superior killing medium.[1425]

In December 1939, in his own words, Becker was loaned to T4 “…as expert for gassing during the destruction of mental patients in hospitals and nursing homes.” As described above, in this capacity he attended the first experimental gassing at Brandenburg, and was responsible for the supply of carbon monoxide cylinders to the killing centres. Subsequently Becker returned to the RSHA, where he applied his expertise to improving the efficiency of the gas vans being used in the East to murder Jewish and Gypsy women and children. He visited all Einsatzgruppen operating in the Soviet Union to inspect and possibly maintain the gas vans in use with them.[1426]

After the war Becker did serve a three year sentence as a former member of the SS.[1427] In the 1960s it was intended that he be tried alongside Albert Widmann (q.v.), his fellow gassing expert, but proceedings against Becker were suspended and never re-commenced.[1428] In the knowledge that he was suffering from a terminal illness, Becker admitted: “Himmler wanted to use the people released from euthanasia who were experts in gassing, such as myself, in the great gassing programme getting underway in the east.”[1429]

Herbert Becker (?-?) A former school and sports physician from Leipzig, and a close associate of Paul Nitsche (q.v.), Becker was head of the planning department of T4, which operated from spring 1941 until the winter of 1943-44. Becker reported directly to Herbert Linden (q.v.) in the latter's capacity as Reich Commissioner.[1430]

Ernst Beese (?-1945) A fanatical Nazi and eugenicist, Beese was appointed director of the Uchtspringe mental hospital on 1 April 1940. Under his control, between July 1940 and July 1941, Uchtspringe served as an intermediate institution for Brandenburg, before in August 1941 a children's killing ward was established at the hospital, supervised by Gerhard Wenzel (q.v.).

Although a physician, Beese was not considered a very good one. He had a bad reputation, both as a doctor and as a practitioner of “euthanasia” – or so Hildegard Wesse (q.v.) stated. He lacked all psychiatric training, and had no commitment to the welfare of his mentally ill patients, “who meant nothing to him at all.” He had reputedly stated: “Euthanasia should be dealt with lock, stock, and barrel, without making too much fuss.” According to Wesse, on his returning from a Berlin conference in late 1944, Beese informed her that adult “euthanasia” was now to commence at Uchtspringe. “In Berlin there was obviously no longer any order, which is why [Beese] said that we would conduct the selection ourselves.” [1431] He would take charge of male patients; Wesse was to kill the women.[1432]

Beese died after suffering a stroke in June 1945, somewhat conveniently for the doctors who had killed at his direction, since he was thus unable to refute any of the charges levelled against him.[1433]

Friedrich Berner (1904-1945)[1434] [T4 pseudonym “Dr Barth“][1435] was born in Zwickau. He qualified as a doctor in 1931, joined the Nazi party in 1933 and the SS in 1934.[1436] In 1935 Berner was employed at the city hospital in Erfurt and a year later moved on to the city hospital in Mainz. In the same year he was recognized as a specialist in radiology, and from October 1938 he served as assistant physician in the radiology department of the University hospital at Frankfurt am Main. Two years later he had a post-doctoral lecturing qualification and lectured at the Medical Faculty in Frankfurt. Berner served in the Luftwaffe before appearing on a T4 list of personnel as one of the “doctors in the institutions,” which in his case was Hadamar. His date of commencement with T4 is shown as 15 May 1941 and his date of cessation as 31 December 1941, during part of which time he was physician-in-chief at Hadamar. After leaving there he returned to Frankfurt and radiology, going on to command an SS-Röntgensturmbann (radiology battalion) in Posen. He was killed near Warthestadt (Wronka) on 2 March 1945.

Hans-Bodo Gorgass (q.v.) claimed that at Hadamar in mid-1941, Berner had told him that he (Berner) had a copy of the “euthanasia” law in his possession, but was unable to show it to Gorgass for reasons of security. Berner then made Gorgass swear an oath of secrecy, sealed with a handshake.[1437]

Hans Bertha (1901-1964)[1438] was born Bruck an der Mur, Austria. After graduating as a physician from the University of Graz in 1926, he was employed at several hospitals in Austria and Germany. He joined the then illegal Austrian Nazi party in 1933 and the SS in 1937. Following the Anschluss, in April 1938 Bertha was appointed provisional director of the psychiatric clinic at the University of Graz. He habilitated in 1939 in Graz, where the courses he held and papers he wrote on racial hygiene made him an obvious candidate for T4. He was appointed a Gutachter with effect from 30 September 1940.[1439] He held a number of important positions within the Austrian psychiatric milieu, and on 1 January 1944 became director of the Am Steinhof sanatorium in Vienna, and thus was directly responsible for the “mercy killings” committed from the time of his appointment until the end of the war.[1440] Between 1941 and 1945 more than 3,500 patients died of malnutrition at Steinhof. Bertha's enthusiasm for murder can be gleaned from the mortality statistic for that institution; in 1941 it was 13.9 percent; by 1945 it had risen to 42.7 percent.[1441] How many others died as a result of Bertha's less direct participation in “euthanasia” is unknown, for together with Rudolf Lonauer (q.v.) he is considered one of the principle organizers of the programme in Austria.

Bertha received no punishment for his participation in Nazi mass murder. Even though incriminating evidence was available, no procedure was initiated against him. He went on to enjoy a distinguished academic career in post-war Austria.

Karl Bonhoeffer (1868-1948)[1442] of a quite a different character from the scoundrels and killers by whom he is surrounded here, was no National Socialist. However, he was, and still is, a controversial figure, whose prominence and support of some aspects of their eugenic policy lent an air of respectability to the Nazi's interpretation of racial hygiene.

Bonhoeffer was born in Neresheim and began his medical studies in 1887 in Tübingen, continuing these in Berlin and Munich. In Tübingen wurde er Mitglied der AV Igel .He became head of the Breslau Mental Hospital in 1904. In 1912 he moved to Berlin, where he was elected chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Neurology at the renowned Charité Hospital, a position he held until 1937 and his official retirement. He became chairman of the German Psychiatric Association,[1443] and was viewed as being among the most pre-eminent German psychiatrists of his generation. He was therefore in a position to use his considerable influence to oppose Nazi pseudo-scientific racial policy, but did not do so. To the contrary Bonhoeffer became a key player in the sterilisation of the “mentally inferior”, delivering lectures on the subject to those responsible for implementing this policy[1444] and, like many others, did so voluntarily. Despite his retirement he continued to act as a consultant and as a judge in the Nazi Higher Hereditary Health Court.

In December 1941 he examined a Jewish Mischling, a “half breed” named Gottfried Hirschberg, who, 14 years before, had been admitted to a psychiatric unit. Even the NS-Erbgesundheitsgericht (the “Law Court for the Protection of German Blood and Honour”) hesitated, since the individual showed no symptoms of disease and was capable of working normally, yet Bonhoeffer nevertheless advised sterilisation.[1445] As court consultant or judge, between 1934 and 1941 Bonhoeffer is known to have been involved in at least 126 sterilisation hearings, of which at least 57 resulted in the compulsory sterilisation of the individual concerned.[1446]

After 1945, Bonhoeffer participated in the reorganization of psychiatry in Berlin,[1447] and in 1957 the Wittenau mental hospital in Berlin was renamed the “Karl Bonhoeffer Clinic of Neurology” in his honour. Today, there are those who condemn Bonhoeffer for neither rejecting sterilisation, nor for working convincingly against its obligatory enforcement, but rather see him as being responsible for spurious “psychiatric scientifically” based diagnoses as a basis for enforced sterilisation. Whether, as has been claimed, “Bonhoeffer can be seen as the 'missing link' to the Holocaust”, is an even more debatable issue.[1448]

Margarete (or Margarethe or Maria) Hermine Borkowski (1885-?) was one of a number of nurses who appeared in court in Frankfurt at the second Hadamar trial held in 1947. She had begun working with youngsters at Hadamar in 1924 or 1927, and continued to do so until 1939, at which time she moved to the institution at Herborn, from where patients were transferred to Hadamar for killing.[1449] There is no evidence that Borkowski was implicated in “euthanasia” at this time, nor that she was ever a member of the Nazi party.

She was then employed successively by the mental hospitals at Kalmenhof and Weilmünster, before in January 1943 she returned to Hadamar. There, children were murdered under the supervision of Borkowski's superior, senior nurse Käthe Hakbarth. When the latter was absent, or in the course of her own night duty, Borkowski administered lethal medication to “about fifty” children. Although finding the task abhorrent, she accepted assurances that each case was carefully chosen, and, after all, Befehl ist Befehl (“an order is an order”). She was sentenced to imprisonment for a term of two years and six months.[1450]

Kurt Borm (1909-2005?)[1451] [T4 pseudonym “Dr Storm”] was born in Berlin. After leaving school he commenced his medical studies in Berlin in 1929, switching after a short time to Rostock, where he took his preliminary examination in medicine in 1932. He then returned to Berlin,[1452] where he eventually qualified as a physician in 1937, and was employed at the St Urban city hospital. He became a Nazi party member in December 1930, and joined the SS in 1933. Borm volunteered for the Waffen–SS in September 1939, resigning from his post at St Urban to serve as a medical examiner in the Sudetenland. Subsequently his duties took him to Prague and Munich, before in November 1940 he was assigned to the SS Medical Inspection Bureau in Berlin. One month later he was detached to the KdF for a “special assignment”.

Werner Blankenburg (q.v.) met Borm at the KdF and told him that in order to relieve their suffering there was a Hitler-Befehl for the “euthanasia” of the incurably mentally ill. So as not to disturb the general population, the order must remain secret, as must Borm's participation in its implementation. With that Borm was dispatched to Sonnenstein, where Horst Schumann (q.v.) informed him of the nature of his duties. Schumann later testified that during his frequent absences from Sonnenstein, Borm acted as his deputy and supervised the entire institution, including gassing operations, a charge Borm vehemently denied, claiming to have “only” inspected the victims in order to come up with a mendacious but plausible cause of death and to have conducted other activities that were not in themselves directly murderous. He had never operated the gas valve, he said, and had no idea who was responsible for doing so, a wholly unbelievable declaration. With the exception of occasional interludes at Bernburg as a substitute for Heinrich Bunke (q.v.), Borm remained at Sonnenstein until late August 1941.[1453] If he was dissatisfied with the demands killing helpless victims made on his professional capabilities, he apparently felt no legal or moral qualms about his involvement in their murder.

In winter 1941/42 Borm was one of the many T4 operatives sent to Russia as part of the `Organisation Todt' operation. He returned to the Berlin head office of T4 in March 1942 to work for Paul Nitsche (q.v.). On Blankenburg's recommendation, Borm was promoted to the rank of Hauptsturmführer (his previous rank had been Obersturmführer) in April 1943.[1454] He was active in so-called “wild euthanasia” and Aktion Brand, particularly in procuring and distributing large quantities of lethal drugs and medications.[1455] Borm remained an employee of T4 until the end of the war, at which time he left for Schleswig-Holstein and the Municipal hospital at Uetersen, where he eventually became a senior physician.

Borm was arrested in June 1962, but was released within a few weeks to return to Uetersen where he became a general practitioner. Initially Borm's case was linked with those of Bunke, Klaus Endruweit (q.v.) and Aquilin Ullrich (q.v.), but in the end was heard separately. The trial began in December 1971 and lasted a little less than six months. Even though it was proven that he had been an accessory to the murder of at least 6,652 psychiatric patients, Borm was acquitted on 6 June 1972 on the grounds that there was no irrefutable evidence that he was aware of the illegality of his actions.[1456] In the opinion of the court, Borm was “an obviously uncomplicated type, who is not inclined to engage in profound considerations regarding the orders or instructions given to him, or to straining his conscience to find out if these could possibly be illegal.”[1457] When Borm's acquittal was confirmed by the Federal Court, it brought forth a storm of protest from artists and authors, including Heinrich Böll and Günter Grass.[1458]

Borm returned to Uetersen and general practice, but thereafter was largely shunned by the town's inhabitants. Not surprisingly, few were willing to become patients of a man so extensively implicated in mass murder.

Karl Brandt[1459] (1904-1948) was born in Mülhausen, Alsace (at that time part of Germany, now Mulhouse, France). His father was a policeman, although there were a number of medical connections on his mother's side of the family. Like George Renno (q.v.), Brandt and his family were expelled from Alsace in 1919. Brandt attended a number of different schools before taking up his medical studies in Jena in 1923 and continuing them in Freiburg (where he was a student of Alfred Hoche), Berlin, Weimar, and Munich, eventually passing his general medical examination in Freiburg in1928, and receiving his doctor's degree in 1929. Brandt had ambitions to be a surgeon, and so in 1928 took up a position at a hospital in Bochum specializing in bone fractures, where he was employed for the next several years.

By 1934 Brandt was working in the Surgical University Clinic in Berlin, and was appointed chief doctor there in 1936. He had joined the Nazi party in 1932, the SA in 1933, and the SS in 1934. In the late 1920's, Brandt met Anna Rehborn, his future wife. She was a swimming champion, and had known Hitler for some time. Hitler liked to be surrounded by attractive women, providing they knew their place and kept their collective mouths shut, and it was through Anna Rehborn that Brandt met the Führer. In summer 1934 Brandt became Hitler's “escort physician”, accompanying him on his frequent travels.[1460] Brandt's dedication to the prevalent eugenic theory was never in doubt. In captivity in 1946, he wrote: “The more decisive eugenics, that is the prophylaxis and prevention of hereditary ill offspring, is being carried out in a comprehensive and consistent fashion, the less the whole problem of euthanasia needs to be debated.”[1461]

As has already been described, Brandt was a major figure in “euthanasia” from the programme's earliest days. Through his relationship with Hitler, he became an important influence on many other aspects of Nazi policy. Like his good friend, Albert Speer, Brandt achieved a position of enormous power, although neither was initially perceived as being a political creature. In Hitler's ad hoc style of government that was not a necessary qualification. It was simply enough to ensure that one had the ear of the Führer and never ventured to disagree with his interminably expressed opinions. Brandt had much in common with Speer; they were both young (Speer was born in 1905), intelligent, talented, ambitious, cultured, industrious, loyal, – and convinced Nazis. It is only through the recent publication of the first complete biography of Brandt that the full extent of his importance in the cabal that surrounded Hitler has been revealed. Brandt became Hitler's envoy, a trouble-shooter sent to resolve difficult issues for which Hitler had neither the time, inclination, nor ability with which to deal.

After reaching the heights of “General Commissioner of the Führer for Health and Sanitation” in August 1942, a position whose jurisdiction was expanded in the ensuing years so as to make him the supreme medical authority of the Nazi state, Brandt's fall from grace followed a familiar course. In September 1944, his attempt to remove the charlatan, Theodor Morell, Hitler's personal physician, only resulted in his own loss of authority. On 2 April 1945, Brandt confronted Hitler with indisputable evidence that Germany's medical supplies either were, or shortly would be, exhausted. Bormann, Morell, and Goebbels, who were present when he made his report and were no friends of Brandt, accused him of defeatism the moment he left the room. Hitler ordered Brandt's arrest. After a “court martial”, Brandt was condemned to death, but in the confusion surrounding the demise of the Third Reich, instead was escorted by a group of Gestapo men to northern Germany, where together with other members of the “Dönitz government” established after Hitler's death, he was arrested in Flensburg on 23 May 1945.

Brandt was the principal defendant at the Nuremberg Medical Trial, which opened on 9 December 1946. The trial concentrated on the medical experiments conducted on concentration camp inmates, in which Brandt had been so extensively implicated; the “euthanasia” programme was simply one in a long list of abominations. He was unrepentant concerning his role in T4, proclaiming to his interrogator:

We German physicians look upon the state as an individual to whom we owe prime allegiance, and we therefore do not hesitate to destroy an aggregate of, for instance, a trillion cells in the form of a number of individual human beings if we believe they are harmful to the total organism – the state- or if we feel that the state will thrive without them.[1462]

His initial version of the “euthanasia” programme was interesting, since almost every word was a self-serving lie intended to minimize his involvement:

(Brandt) stated that euthanasia cropped up in one way or another before the war and that various local Gauleiters were constantly advocating it. A legal formulation of this principle was rejected because of the difficulty of controlling it. In 1940 Hitler prohibited euthanasia. In 1944, however, (Brandt) received a notice from the Gestapo that there was a surprisingly high death rate in an insane asylum in Pomerania. (Brandt) requested information from the Gauleiter there and was told that he was misinformed. He passed this information on to the Gestapo. He has no further information.[1463]

Later, he came rather closer to a more accurate description of events, although his statement was still far removed from the truth:

[The “euthanasia” programme] was [established] in 1939/40, after some kind of preliminary discussions in which I had not participated…The discussions did not come to any conclusion, so that in the autumn – at least as I recall after the Polish campaign – on the basis of newly submitted documents the Führer wanted a decree, and in this decree he gave the order to Mr Bouhler and me to authorize doctors to perform euthanasia for the incurably ill, after the most critical assessment of the illness.[1464]

In the courtroom Brandt attempted to claim the moral high ground with regard to the treatment of the thousands who had fallen victim to the policies he oversaw. “I see no justification because a person is sick or suffering, or because he can no longer work, to kill him, no matter what his nationality is or what his age is,” he lied again.[1465] Brandt's guilt was never seriously in doubt. He was sentenced to death on 20 August 1947 and executed on 2 June 1948. How little he was prepared to acknowledge that guilt can be gleaned from words he uttered immediately before his execution: “It is no shame to stand on this scaffold. I served my fatherland as others before me.”[1466]

Heinrich Bunke (1914-2001) [T4 pseudonym “Dr Rieper” at Brandenburg, “Dr Keller” at Bernburg] was born in Wohlde, near Celle.[1467] Instead of immediately entering university, in 1934 he first volunteered for Labour Service, then enlisted in the Reichswehr, the predecessor of the Wehrmacht. After his discharge from the army he joined the National Socialist Motor Corps (NSKK), and abandoning an earlier interest in theology, entered Kiel University in late 1935 as a medical student. He continued his studies at Freiburg University, joining the Nazi Party in 1937.

On the outbreak of war, Bunke was conscripted and served as an army physician, even though he had not completed his studies, and was therefore not licensed to practice medicine. However, in common with others who became part of the medical personnel of T4, he was granted the status of a “Notapprobation doctor”, in effect an emergency licence to practice.

When asked if he could recommend any young doctors for participation in the programme, Bunke's friend Aquilin Ullrich (q.v.) had recommended Bunke to Werner Heyde (q.v.). In late June or early July 1940, Bunke received a written order from the KdF to contact Werner Blankenburg (q.v.), who summoned him to Berlin for an interview with Hans Hefelmann (q.v.), Paul Nitsche (q.v.), and Heyde. After a lengthy exposition of the virtues of “euthanasia” by this triumvirate, Bunke was asked whether he was prepared to participate in its implementation. Clearly overawed by the presence of such distinguished company, he protested that he was neither fully licensed nor had any knowledge of psychiatry. No matter; Ullrich's endorsement was sufficient, and in any event, others better qualified than he would make the important decisions. Bunke would merely be attached to a suitably experienced doctor. As Bunke procrastinated, Heyde made it perfectly clear that there was no compulsion to join T4. Eventually Bunke concluded that his prospects were rather brighter practising “euthanasia” than in the army, and agreed to join the programme. A few weeks later, his military service was suspended by order of the KdF.[1468]

From August 1940 Bunke worked at Brandenburg as an assistant to Irmfried Eberl (q.v.), before both were transferred to Bernburg in late October of that year. In May 1941 Bunke spent four to six weeks training at Berlin-Buch with Julius Hallervorden (q.v.) prior to commencing work on the removal of the brains of patients gassed at Brandenburg.[1469] In October 1941 he was attached to Organisation Todt as a doctor, then returned to the military in December 1944.

In 1950 Bunke commenced practicing as a gynaecologist in Celle.[1470] Finally arrested in 1962, his pre-trial confinement was suspended and he returned to his practice while awaiting trial.[1471] The proceedings against Ullrich, Bunke, and Klaus Endruweit (q.v.) were conducted in concert. Notwithstanding the fact that that Bunke had participated in the murder of “at least 4,950” individuals, he was acquitted, as were Ullrich and Endruweit. In the judgement of the court, all three defendants had acted “without culpability,” being under the impression that the killing of mental patients was permissible and the victims were “without a natural will to live.”[1472]

The German Supreme Court reversed the acquittal of all three defendants in 1970 and a new hearing was arranged.[1473] This time the trio were declared unfit to stand trial on medical grounds, although such incapacity did not appear to prevent them from retaining their individual medical licence. In 1987, after a protracted trial, Bunke and Ullrich were convicted of having been accessories to the murder of 11,000 and 4,500 people respectively. For this they were sentenced to terms of imprisonment of four years. In December 1988, the Federal court of appeal decided to reduce the number of victims to 9,200 in Bunke's case, and 2,340 in Ullrich's. The sentences were accordingly reduced to three years, thereby suggesting that a reduction in the number of victims somehow also reduced the seriousness of the crime.[1474] In the event, Bunke was released after serving 18 months in jail.[1475]

Werner Julius Eduard Catel (1894-1981)[1476] was a Mannheim born paediatrician. He served in the First World War before studying medicine in Freiburg and Halle, and in 1922 began working at the Leipzig University children's hospital, where he habilitated in 1926. When the head of the children's hospital, Georg Bessau, was appointed to the children's hospital of the Charité at the University of Berlin in 1932, Catel accompanied him. In October 1933 Catel was appointed professor of neurology and psychiatry at Leipzig University and director of the children's hospital there, positions he retained until 1946. Having previously been a member of other Nazi organizations, Catel joined the NSDAP itself in May 1937. As has already been described, Catel was one of the three Obergutachter in children's “euthanasia”, responsible for an unquantifiable number of fatalities.

It seems almost beyond belief that denazification proceedings in 1947 described Catel as a “convinced anti-fascist and representative of humanity during the Third Reich.”[1477] In the same year he became director of a paediatric hospital in Mammolshain. Two years later he was one of 13 defendants in proceedings brought in Hamburg in connection with the killing of children at the Rothenburgsort children's hospital. The trial was abandoned after the accused were deemed to have acted without “awareness of injustice.”[1478] Thus one of the more notable participators in the murder of the young escaped retribution, to return to practising paediatrics. By 1954 he had been appointed professor of paediatric medicine at the University of Kiel. Incredibly, he never abandoned championing the value of the “mercy killing” of disabled children, so much so that public outrage forced his retirement in 1960.[1479]

Leonardo Conti (1900-1945)[1480] was born in Lugano, Switzerland of a Swiss-Italian father and a German mother. He studied medicine in Germany, where in 1918 he was extensively involved in nationalistic and anti-Semitic organisations. He joined the Freikorps and participated in the Kapp putsch before becoming a member of the SA in 1923 and the SS in 1930. After qualifying as a physician in 1927, he became a general practitioner in Berlin, and joined the NSDAP in the same year, thereby strengthening his party connections. Gradually progressing via a variety of appointments of increasing importance, Conti was appointed Reich Health Leader, head of the Reich Physicians' Chamber, and following the death of Gerhard Wagner (q.v.) in 1939, State Secretary for Health in the Ministry of the Interior.[1481]

Conti played a vital role in the conception and initial realization of “euthanasia”, but thereafter his importance to the programme and his overall political influence diminished as that of Karl Brandt (q.v.) grew. Although there is no doubt that Conti was kept aware of developments, and appended his signature to much of the relevant “euthanasia” paperwork, he left the daily chore of organizing cooperation with T4 to Herbert Linden (q.v.).[1482] In the never ending struggle for power in the Third Reich, Conti was to lose out to Brandt. Goebbels summarized the position in a diary entry of 1 September 1944: “Brandt has the ear of the Führer, while Conti has not been able to give a report to the Führer for years.”[1483] By then, Martin Bormann, who regarded Conti as his protégé, was complaining in a letter to his wife:

Today I tried my best to get Conti a hearing with the Führer…To my great distress, the Führer, who believes that every good thing he has been told of and about Brandt and every bad thing he has been told about Conti is the gospel truth, got very annoyed with my lack of understanding…I told the Führer…that it was an injustice to represent Conti as completely unqualified and inefficient or to exaggerate his weaknesses…The Führer thought differently; he spoke with high praise of Brandt… [1484]

After being arrested by the British on 19 May 1945 in Flensburg, Conti committed suicide at Nuremberg on 6 October 1945 by hanging himself with a towel tied to the bars of his cell.[1485] He left a note explaining somewhat bizarrely that he was taking his life because he had lied under oath whilst being interrogated about medical experiments.[1486] He would certainly have been among the most important defendants in the Medical Trial that commenced in Nuremberg on 9 December 1946. As was the case with other prominent Nazis, Conti's suicide whilst in custody inevitably raised suspicions, conspiracies being so much easier to assume than to prove.

Walter Creutz (1898-1964)[1487] and his actions can either be seen as an example of one way in which it was possible to resist Nazi government policy, at least to a limited extent, or alternatively as representing a cynical manipulation of the status quo. His conduct posed an ethical dilemma, the resolution of which remains divisive to this day.

Creutz was born in Osterfeld, a doctor's son. At the age of 18 he left the Gymnasium and was conscripted into the army. On his discharge in 1919 he studied medicine at the universities of Bonn and Münster, graduating in 1923. After gaining experience in different medical posts, he decided on a career as a psychiatrist and was employed at the mental hospitals at Bedburg-Hau and Duisberg-Hochfeld. Promoted to chief physician in 1930, he remained at the latter institution until 1935, when he was transferred to the Rhine provincial government's head office in Düsseldorf where, apart from his military service, he remained until the end of the war. In 1940 he was appointed a professor at the University Medical Academy in Düsseldorf; he had been attached there as a lecturer in psychiatry and neurology since 1934. He had joined the NSDAP and the SA in 1933, but was not active in either, allowing his SA membership to lapse in 1936.

Creutz was drafted into the Wehrmacht to serve as a medical officer at the beginning of the war, but in December 1940 his military duties were suspended and he returned to his previous Rhineland government position. He had already heard rumours concerning the “euthanasia” project, something to which he was strongly opposed, and knowing that such measures would inevitably be introduced in the Rhine region, he attempted to dissuade his superior, Heinrich Haake, from instituting them. Initially he was successful, but under pressure from a high powered committee headed by Werner Heyde (q.v.), Haake changed his position. To Creutz's disappointment, “euthanasia” would be initiated in the province.

Creutz claimed that he was faced with a difficult decision; either refuse to cooperate and attempt a return to the military, or stay and try to sabotage the programme from within. He chose the latter, and on 29 March 1941 called a meeting of the directors of all mental institutions under his jurisdiction to inform them of the forthcoming policy. Refusing to participate would be useless – the regime would simply find others who would be prepared to do so. Instead, they should remain at their posts and use every means at their disposal to save as many of their patients as they could. This strategy was successful – up to a point. According to Creutz's testimony, by September 1941, of 5,046 patients in his region selected for gassing, “only” 946 had been transported to the killing centres. He had also been instrumental in limiting the establishment of special killing wards for children in his province to just one, at Waldniel, but his tactics made it impossible to avoid some degree of collaboration with the murderers. In order to free hospital space, between 1942 and 1945 patients from the Rhineland were dispatched to a number of different killing institutions, mainly under the umbrella of Aktion Brandt. Whether Creutz was aware of their fate is at least debatable.

In November 1948, Creutz was acquitted by a Düsseldorf court of participation in the “euthanasia” Aktion. Although he had intentionally committed a criminal act, he had only done so in order to prevent a worse crime being enacted. The “duty to rescue” prevailed over “the duty to abstain from crime.” However, the Supreme Court of the British Zone took a different view: “The attempt to oppose two groups of patients to one another, must fail…Human lives cannot be measured against each other.”[1488] In January 1950 a retrial was ordered, resulting in Creutz's acquittal for a second time. Nearly 50 years later, to some Creutz did not appear the hero that the Düsseldorf court twice portrayed “Only this judiciary, itself well-schooled in murder, could extol to his patients a nine-hundred-fold murder accomplice as an idol of morality.”[1489]

Maximian Friedrich Alexander de Crinis (1889-1945),[1490] the product of a distinguished Austrian medical family, studied medicine at Graz and Innsbruck. In 1914 he became an assistant at the university of Graz psychiatric clinic, where he researched battlefield psychiatric casualties. Already extensively involved in Nationalist politics, and considered a fanatical anti-Semite, in 1931 he became a member of the then illegal Austrian Nazi party. He was arrested in 1934 in connection with Nazi terrorist activities, and was prohibited from teaching at Austrian universities.

He fled from Austria before the July 1934 putsch against Dollfuss (in which he may have been involved),[1491] spending some time in Yugoslavia treating those wounded in the attempted coup d'état. Later that year he was appointed professor of psychiatry at the University of Cologne, subsequently becoming Führer of the university teaching association. In 1936 he joined the SS, and in 1938 succeeded Karl Bonhoeffer (q.v.) both as professor of psychiatry and neurology at Berlin University, as well as director of the psychiatric clinic at the Charité hospital. In his inaugural lecture at the clinic, de Crinis was contemptuous of what he termed “those un-German, racially alien, so-called expert colleagues who have been purveying their immoralities in Vienna and other German cities until quite recently” (such as Sigmund Freud). De Crinis became a member of the steering committee of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Neurological Research, a leading military psychiatric advisor, and in early 1940[1492] head of the Office of Science at the Ministry of Education.[1493]

Although de Crinis' precise role in the “euthanasia” programme remains shadowy,[1494] there is no doubt that as a personal friend of Reinhard Heydrich he was heavily implicated in its implementation, playing a major role in all important decisions.[1495] Amongst other things, being among the most senior medical staff at T4,[1496] de Crinis may have been responsible for the final draft of the “euthanasia” sanction.[1497] However, he also went to great lengths to keep his involvement in the project a closely guarded secret, to the extent of even appearing to be an opponent of “euthanasia”.[1498]

In November 1939, de Crinis participated in one of the more outré events of the Second World War, the so-called “Venlo Incident”. De Crinis' best friend was Walter Schellenberg, a prominent member of the SD, and head of section IV E (counter-espionage) of Amt IV (the Gestapo) of the RSHA. Schellenberg was a man involved in all kinds of skulduggery. On the pretence that he was a member of a plot by high ranking Wehrmacht officers to get rid of Hitler and form a new German government, Schellenberg lured two British intelligence officers, Captain Sigismund Payne Best and Major Richard Stevens, to a series of meetings, some of which took place at the Café Backhus near Venlo in then neutral Holland. Heydrich suspected that there was in fact such a conspiracy within the Wehrmacht, and contact with British intelligence would perhaps prove this, as well as providing the opportunity of feeding false intelligence to the enemy.

Following the unsuccessful attempt on Hitler's life on 8 November 1939 (which Hitler was convinced had been engineered by the British secret service), Himmler ordered the cancellation of the cloak and dagger operation, and the arrest of Best and Stevens. German agents kidnapped the pair near the meeting place and hauled them back over the German border. It was quite a coup for Schellenberg, since Best had a list of British agents with him, and more were revealed by the subsequent interrogation of the British pair. De Crinis, invited to participate in the charade by Schellenberg, and using the pseudonym “Colonel Martini”, played the role of the principal lieutenant of the leader of the plot. The whole episode had a Ruritanean quality about it, as Schellenberg's description of their clandestine meetings with Best and Stevens indicates:

De Crinis and I agreed upon a system of signs whereby we could communicate with each other during the discussion with the Englishmen. If I removed my monocle with my left hand, that meant that he would immediately stop talking and leave me to pursue the conversation. If with the right hand, that I needed his support. The sign of an immediate breaking off of the conversation would be my having a migraine.[1499]

De Crinis' other wartime activities were undoubtedly less romantic, and immeasurably deadlier. A true believer to the end, together with his wife he committed suicide by swallowing cyanide on 2 May 1945. In 1963, a historian of the Charité hospital commented that no other physician in the institution's history had been guilty of crimes comparable to de Crinis'.[1500]

Fritz Cropp (1887-1984)[1501] was born in Oldenburg. In 1920 he became a physician in Delmenhorst, and was a member of a number of different right-wing nationalist parties before joining the NSDAP and SA in 1931. Two years later Cropp was appointed head of district medicine in Oldenburg. In 1935 he received promotion to the National Health department of the Reich Ministry of the Interior in Berlin, subsequently succeeding Arthur Gütt (q.v.) as head of the department in 1939.[1502] In that capacity he was responsible for arranging the transfer of hospital patients to T4 through his subordinate, Herbert Linden (q.v.). From 1943 until the end of the war Cropp was general adviser on damage caused by Allied bombing.

After a short period of internment, Cropp returned to Delmenhorst in 1946 and worked as a general practitioner. In 1948, a denazification tribunal in Oldenburg barred him from any further political activity. The following year he became an adviser to the Central Committee of the Western Inner Mission in Bethel. When he retired in 1952 he received a pension based upon his former position as a ministerial official, yet another to escape any kind of meaningful retribution for his extensive involvement in “euthanasia”.

Irmfried Eberl (1910-1948) [T4 pseudonym “Dr Schneider”, possibly also “Dr Meyer”[1503] ][1504] was born in Bregenz, Austria. He attended the University of Innsbruck, joining the then illegal Austrian Nazi party in 1931 and receiving his medical licence and doctorate in 1935. After completing his training at a number of different hospitals, he moved to Germany in 1936. By 1937 he had received accreditation as a physician in Germany, and subsequently worked for the emergency medical services in Berlin.

Eberl was an early recruit to T4. His dedication to Nazism and his undisguised enthusiasm for “euthanasia” made him an obvious choice. Ambition, too, certainly played its part. In 1938 he had married Ruth Rehm, an equally fanatical Nazi. She held a senior position in the women's section of the German Labour Front, and it is likely that she was influential in his burgeoning career.[1505] Eberl was present at the Brandenburg experimental gassing, where he was one of those responsible for opening a carbon monoxide cylinder.[1506] He went on to become the physician-in-charge at Brandenburg from the time “euthanasia” operations commenced there until September 1940, shortly after which he switched to occupying the same position at Bernburg.

Eberl was another to join the Organisation Tod' mission to the eastern front in winter 1941/42. During the late spring and early summer of 1942, Eberl supervised the construction of the Treblinka extermination camp, and was appointed the first commandant of the camp, a position he held from 23 July 1942, when the killings began, until the last week of August 1942. During that five week period, about 312,500 Jews were deported to Treblinka and murdered. It was a number far beyond the camp's (and Eberl's) capabilities. August Hingst, who served at the camp, stated: “Dr Eberl's ambition was to reach the highest possible numbers and exceed all other camps. So many transports arrived that the disembarkation and gassing of the people could no longer be handled.” Eberl had completely lost control of the situation. When Odilo Globocnik and Christian Wirth (q.v.), the latter by then inspector of all of the Aktion Reinhard camps, arrived in Treblinka at the end of August, Globocnik was so furious at what he found that Eberl was immediately dismissed. Globocnik commented “that if Dr Eberl were not his fellow countryman” [Globocnik was also Austrian], “he would arrest him and bring him before as SS and police court.” Wirth assumed control of Treblinka for a short time, before handing over to Franz Stangl (q.v.).[1507] There have been alternative theories advanced for Eberl's demotion, but the weight of evidence seems to suggest that incompetence was the prime, if not the sole factor.[1508]

Eberl returned to Bernburg and remained there until at least the time of the dismantling of the institution's crematorium in April 1943, doubtless engaged in gassing concentration camp prisoners as part of Sonderbehandlung 14f13. In January 1944 he was drafted into the Wehrmacht, although he continued to be paid by T4. His activities from that time until the end of the war are unclear. His wife Ruth having been killed in an air raid in 1944, Eberl remarried after the war and lived in Blaubeuren, near Ulm, where he operated a private medical practice until the time of his arrest in August 1947.[1509] In captivity Eberl initially attempted to deny his true identity, but after he was recognized and pointed out to the authorities by an ex-member of T4, he hanged himself in his cell at Ulm on 16 February 1948.[1510]

Sophie Ehrhardt (1902-1990)[1511] was born in Kasan or Kazan, today the capital of the Republic of Tatarstan, Russian Federation. A sociologist and anthropologist, she received a master's degree in zoology before obtaining her doctorate in anthropology in 1930. In 1935 she became an assistant to Hans Friedrich Karl Günther (q.v.), before in 1937 joining Robert Ritter's (q.v.) newly created “Eugenic and Population Biological Research Station of the Reich Health Office” at Tübingen University. This institution was concerned with conducting eugenic research into petty criminals, especially “those of alien race”, notably Gypsies. In 1938 Ritter moved his organization to Berlin, taking Ehrhardt with him. She continued with her studies, which included both the Gypsies of East Prussia (concerning whom she published an article in the journal Volk und Rasse in 1942), and the Jews of the Lodz ghetto.[1512]

In 1950 Ehrhardt became an expert on paternity appraisal for the German Society for Anthropology, and in 1957 she was appointed Professor of Anthropology at Tübingen University. Two investigations in connection with her Nazi era activities were discontinued.

Klaus Endruweit (1913-1994)[1513] [T4 pseudonym “Dr Bader”][1514] was born in Tilsit (now Sovetsk, Russian Federation), the son of the head teacher at a school for deaf and dumb children. Whether this background had any effect on his subsequent choice of career is a matter of conjecture. After leaving the Gymnasium in 1933 he volunteered for labour service, and joined the SA. He never became a member of the Nazi party. In late 1933 he began to study medicine at Munich University, became a member of the Nazi student organization and befriended Aquilin Ullrich (q.v.). Together they served for a year in the Reichswehr, after which Endruweit continued his studies at the universities of Königsberg, Würzburg, and Berlin. He became a medical assistant with the Hitler Youth, and in 1938, together with Ulrich and other Würzburg students, set off on a “scientific” mission to Bessarabia, the purpose of which was to establish the racial characteristics of the Volksdeutsch inhabitants of that region.[1515] In August 1939 Endruweit entered the Wehrmacht, joining an army medical unit. Like Ullrich and Heinrich Bunke (q.v.) he had not yet completed his medical studies, so in 1939 instead was appointed a Notapprobation doctor.

Without obtaining his friend's consent, Ullrich had recommended Endruweit to Werner Heyde (q.v.). Thus in autumn 1940 Endruweit's military service was suspended, and he was ordered to report to T4 in Berlin, where he arrived in December of that year. Without further ado, and without any explanation as to the nature of his duties, either Werner Blankenburg (q.v.) or Hans Hefelmann (q.v.) sent him on to Sonnenstein to report to Horst Schumann (q.v.). Endruweit, who allegedly believed he was being assigned to the sick-bay of an armaments factory, was received not by Schumann, who was absent, but by Kurt Borm (q.v.), who informed him of the purpose Sonnenstein served. Endruweit was to replace Ewald Wortmann (q.v.), who had refused any further participation in “euthanasia”. When Schumann returned he managed to convince a supposedly reluctant Endruweit that not only were the killings of immense humanitarian benefit, they were also perfectly legal. Nonetheless, so Endruweit claimed, he still harboured doubts, since he felt, not unreasonably, that “it [is] the duty of the doctor to help and not to kill.” He claimed to have informed Schumann that he did not intend to stay long.

In fact he remained in Sonnenstein, with some interruptions, until October 1941, during which time thousands of patients were gassed there. In November or December 1941 Endruweit was transferred to Organisation Todt, and was initially posted to Breslau, then to France, before finishing the war on the eastern front.[1516] He spent some time as a prisoner of war before, disguised as a civilian, he escaped captivity, and after a spell working at the State Mental Hospital at Hildesheim, returned to practicing medicine in Bettrum.

In 1966, together with Ullrich and Bunke, he stood in the dock of the Frankfurt court, accused, in Endruweit's case, of complicity in the murder of at least 2,250 individuals. All three men were acquitted on the grounds that an “unavoidable mistake of law” had led them to believe that their actions were legal.[1517] “…The general prohibition on killing had been curtailed by Hitler's directive. According to their interpretation, this directive had partially suspended the general prohibition on killing.” In 1970, the Supreme Court reversed the decision and ordered a new trial; two years later Endruweit was declared medically unfit, although he was apparently healthy enough to continue to practice medicine. In 1986 proceedings against him were finally abandoned.[1518] On Endruweit's death the Lower Saxony General Medical Council published an obituary, which included the comment: We will honour and remember him”.[1519]

Willi Enke (1895-1974)[1520] was born in St.Gallen, Switzerland. After serving in the German army during the Great War he studied medicine in Leipzig, receiving his doctorate in 1923, and was subsequently employed at the psychiatric clinics in Tübingen and Marburg. A member of the NSDAP since April 1933 and thereafter of several other party organizations, in March 1934 he joined the Racial Policy Office of the NSDAP. In 1935 he was appointed a member of a Hereditary Health Court, and in the same year became ao professor in Marburg. On 1 January 1938 he was appointed director of the mental hospital at Bernburg, a position he continued to hold after September 1940, at which time the institution was divided in between the T4 section under Irmfried Eberl (q.v.) and Enke's “normal” section.

Enke was well aware of the “euthanasia” activities carried on at Bernburg (it could hardly be otherwise), and was responsible for completing Meldebogen in respect of his patients. He was arrested by the Americans in 1945, but was quickly released. Denazified in 1948, he returned for a short time to the University of Marburg before becoming head of the Hephata Psychiatric Clinic at Treysa, a position he held until his retirement.[1521]

Gottfried Ewald (1888-1963)[1522] was born in Leipzig, and in 1923 became a member of Freikorps Oberland. He had thus hoisted his political colours at an early date, yet his repeated attempts to join the NSDAP in the 1930s were consistently refused, despite his being considered to hold a “positive political attitude toward the Third Reich.” The reasons for this rejection are obscure. There is a suggestion that it was because Ewald had suffered amputation of a forearm as a result of an injury incurred during First World War military service, thus preventing his being an active member of the SA, although he did join the SA reserve.[1523] Alternatively, it is proposed that refusal to accept him as a member of the Nazi party arose because of his previous Freikorps membership.[1524] Neither explanation seems plausible. By no means all members of the NSDAP were expected to join the SA and a history of participation in a Freikorps did not prevent Werner Heyde (q.v.) and Friedrich Mauz (q.v.), for example, from being accepted as members of the party. The true reasons for Ewald's rejection are likely to remain unknown.

Ewald studied medicine at the University of Heidelberg obtaining his doctorate in 1912 and his approbation in 1913. Between 1913 and 1916 he worked as an assistant at the neurological clinics of the University of Rostock, the Berlin Charité and the University of Erlangen, where he habilitated in 1920.[1525] From 1922 to 1933 he worked at the mental hospital at Erlangen as a senior physician, until in 1933 he was appointed to the chair in Neurology and Psychiatry at the University of Greifswald, moving on in 1934 to occupy the chair in psychiatry at Göttingen, as well as heading Göttingen University Clinic and the local state hospital. He was therefore potentially a prize catch for T4. Yet although he accepted sterilisation and even “euthanasia” if the country faced “extreme conditions”, such as food shortages in time of war, when in 1940 he attended a meeting called by Werner Heyde at which those present were invited to become Gutachter or Obergutachter, Ewald declined. “On principle I would not lend my hand to exterminate in this way patients entrusted to me”, he stated.[1526]

Despite his concern, telling his wife, “Please be sensible about things, but be prepared for the possibility that, at any day from now on, I might be sent to a concentration camp,” Ewald suffered no dire consequences as a result of his refusal to participate in the “euthanasia” programme, proof that it was indeed possible to refuse to become a perpetrator, even if one was sympathetic to the regime and its aims.[1527] However, it should be born in mind that Ewald's refusal to become a direct participant in mass murder did not extend to his preventing the transfer of his own handicapped patients.[1528] Moreover, at the end of the war he burned many of his files because, according to his wife, they “contained material against many people - they would lose their capacity to earn a living and could be sent to prison.” He had also sheltered a substantial number of psychiatrists in his hospital, individuals who had not been as superficially ethical as himself concerning questions of “euthanasia”. Finally, he became a sympathetic witness for the defence in early post-war trials, thus remaining one of the more enigmatic figures in this catalogue of the unsavoury.[1529]

Valentin Faltlhauser (1876-1961)[1530] was born in Wiesenfelden, Bavaria, and was renowned in the 1920s as a caring and innovative psychiatrist.[1531] He was the author of an important textbook for nurses, as well as numerous other publications.[1532] From 1929 he was director of the Kaufbeuren institution. An advocate of the eugenics movement and a keen supporter of “euthanasia”, Faltlhauser joined the NSDAP in 1935, and was involved in the killing programme from an early stage.[1533] His name appears as a T4 Gutachter with effect from 6 September 1940, but he had been concerned with the implementation of the killing programme from at least February of that year.[1534] In 1945 Faltlhauser sought to rationalise and justify his actions in words his fellow criminals would have been all too ready to endorse:

The euthanasia of the mentally ill was carried out on the grounds of a decree by the Führer. This decree was not only a specially binding condition, but was also a duty. The decree was the result of a hearing and was released with the agreement of the Reich Ministry of the Interior and the Reich Ministry of Justice. The decree had legal force. It was supported by a special law, which was unpublished, but was declared to be binding.

I am a civil servant with 43 years service. As a civil servant I was educated to absolutely follow the prevailing orders and laws, therefore also to consider the euthanasia decree as a law. In each instance there was an order to perform euthanasia as a result of a conscientious examination of the special case by a specialist. Here I wish to clearly interject, that I, as nearly all German directors of psychiatric hospitals, had nothing to do with the first realisation of the decree. I always dealt with each case in good faith, following the dictates of humanity, and in the absolute conviction to do my duty in obeying the legal and lawful conditions. [...] My actions were not undertaken with the intention of committing a crime, but in contrast they were made with the consciousness to deal mercifully with the unhappy creatures, with the intention of freeing them from their suffering where there is no known method to save or to relieve, and therefore to act in good faith as a true and conscientious doctor. He who has experienced during a long service for the mentally ill, in hundreds and hundreds of cases, the terrible fate of individuals sinking to the level of an animal, only he really knows how to understand that euthanasia cannot be an offence against humanity, rather the opposite.[1535]

So starving children to death was not “an offence against humanity”? As has been illustrated, few of Faulthauser's comments bore any relationship to the truth. However, there were those who were rather more convinced by Faulthauser's self-righteous defence of his conduct. In July 1949 he was arraigned before the court in Augsburg. Under his stewardship, an estimated 1,200 -1,600 patients had been murdered at Kaufbeuren between September 1941 and April 1945, at least 300 of them in the final year of the war. The court determined that killing on this scale was worthy of a term of imprisonment of three years duration. Far from being a despicable murderer of the young and helpless, Faulthauser had acted out of “compassion” for his patients, “one of the noblest motives of human conduct.”[1536] The court was possibly unaware of his role as a Gutachter – the subject was not raised at the trial.[1537] Whether knowledge of this aspect of Faulthauser's career might have influenced their verdict is open to question.

Thus, far from being a villain, Faulthauser was viewed as being almost heroic. It was a portent of things to come. After his release from jail, Faulthauser's license to practice medicine was rescinded.

Martha Fauser (1889 -?) qualified as a physician in 1925. Her interest in psychiatry led to a career at a succession of mental institutions – Göppingen, Weissenau, and in September 1940, Zwiefalten, where she succeeded Alfons Stegmann (q.v.) as deputy director. A member of the National Socialist Women's League since 1934 and the NSDAP since 1937, she was fully aware of the fate of patients from Zwiefalten who had been transferred to Grafeneck; indeed she had on at least one occasion attended a gassing there at the invitation of her friend, Ernst Baumhardt (q.v.).

Fauser appeared in court at Tübingen in 1949 in connection with her involvement in the “euthanasia” killings, and received a sympathetic hearing. Her defence was the common one of remaining at her post in order to minimise the number of victims, a task at which she was singularly unsuccessful, but then as the court misogynistically observed “in the first place the case concerned a woman.” Moreover, “taking charge of such a large institution as Zwiefalten and then particularly at such a time and under such circumstances without additional medical assistance would have been too much even for an experienced male director.” The fact that she had personally administered fatal injections to three of her own patients failed to convince the court of any malevolent intentions on her behalf. She was sentenced to a jail term of one year and six months for the manslaughter of these three patients, but since her pre-trial confinement had exceeded that term, was immediately released.[1538]

Emil Gelny (1890-1961) was born in Vienna, and received his general medical licence in 1915, but did not receive accreditation as a psychiatrist until August 1943. He joined the illegal Austrian Nazi party and SA in 1932. After working for the similarly illegal Nazi intelligence service in Austria he was arrested in August 1934, but on his release continued to be active in the political manoeuvring leading up to the Anschluss. On 1 October 1943, Gelny was appointed provisional director of the Gugging state hospital in lower Austria. A dedicated Nazi, his appointment was intended to accelerate the so-called “wild euthanasia” – which it did.[1539]

Dissatisfied with the conventional methods of medicalized murder, and with the electric chair as his model, Gelny introduced electrocution as a killing method in a process known as “electro-execution”, which was described in the following terms:

Once a patient became unconscious from the effects of electricity, the attendants then had to attach four electrodes to the patient's hands and feet. Dr. Gelny ran high voltage through [the electrodes] and after ten minutes at the most the death of the patient would set in.[1540]

It should be born in mind that these killings were not initially conducted under the aegis of T4; it was only in February 1944 that his unique contribution to “euthanasia” was recognized. In November of that year his domain was enlarged to include the institution at Mauer-Öhling, where he killed at least 39 people with drugs such as Veronal, Luminal and morphine. Overall, he is estimated to have personally killed almost 600 patients at Gugging and Mauer-Öhling.[1541] In February 1944, Gelny boasted in a letter to the Gau leader that thanks to his efforts “more than 400 incurably ill people who in the present situation are a serious burden on the state [have been] eliminated in the last four months.”

Gelny fled from Vienna at the end of the war, moving first to Syria and then to Baghdad, where he practised as a doctor of some repute; he died peacefully in 1961.[1542]

Hans-Bodo Gorgass (1909-1993) [T4 pseudonym “Dr Kramer”, post-war pseudonym “Dr Gerber”][1543] was the Leipzig born son of a railway official. Gorgass became interested in psychiatry during the course of his medical studies, and on graduation in 1936 was first employed at the Eichberg mental hospital. A protégé of Fritz Bernotat (q.v.), Gorgass moved to the Kalmenhof institution in 1938 where he was appointed physician-in-chief, a position he retained until drafted into the Wehrmacht on the outbreak of war for service as an army doctor. He had joined the SA in 1933 and the NSDAP in 1937.

In April 1941 he was suddenly declared “uk-gestellt” (“indispensable”) and ordered to report to Bernotat, who in turn sent him to meet with Viktor Brack (q.v.) in Berlin. There, Gorgass was informed that he had been chosen to participate in the “euthanasia” programme. He was rapidly shipped off to Hartheim to be trained in the ways of killing by Rudolf Lonauer (q.v.), witnessing several gassings as part of his education. Although not averse to “euthanasia” as such, Gorgass claimed to inwardly reject the methods being used. However, he soon overcame any scruples he may have harboured. He visited Horst Schumann (q.v.) in Sonnenstein and observed another gassing. As described by Gorgass, “The death was a peaceful one. It is simply going to sleep in the true sense of the word. The people grew weary, lost all sense of the outside world, and went to sleep.”[1544] Others were to describe the process in less comforting terms.

Thus suitably prepared, he reported to Friedrich Berner (q.v.) at Hadamar to begin his “euthanasia” career. Gorgass supervised the entire killing process, from the arrival of the unsuspecting patients to the removal of their corpses from the gas chamber. Gorgass admitted that between 18 June and the end of August 1941, about 2,000 victims had been gassed at Hadamar. He had personally been responsible for the majority of these murders.

With the completion of the first phase of “euthanasia”, Gorgass was employed by Sonderbehandlung 14f13. Although he attempted to downplay his participation in that programme, claiming he had merely acted as an observer[1545], Friedrich Mennecke (q.v.) recorded that “Gorgass ... is said to have behaved dreadfully while at Buchenwald .... he supposedly acted more like a butcher than a doctor, thereby damaging the reputation of our whole operation.”[1546] Together with other T4 personnel, in winter 1941/42 Gorgass was sent to the eastern front as part of the Organisation Todt mission.[1547]

Arrested in 1946 under the pseudonym of “Dr Gerber”, in March 1947 Gorgass was put on trial in Frankfurt for his “euthanasia” activities. The court had no difficulty in dismissing Gorgass' rather puny defence, finding that he had acted maliciously in killing his victims, and was therefore guilty of murder. He was sentenced to death, a verdict upheld by the appeal court the following year, but with the abolition of the death penalty in the Federal Republic in 1949, the sentence was commuted to one of life imprisonment.[1548] Supposedly “repentant” and “physically broken”,[1549] Gorgass was pardoned and released from custody in 1958 to take up employment with a pharmaceutical company.[1550]

Ernst-Robert von Grawitz (1899-1945)[1551] was born in Berlin, the son of a medical professor. He served in the German army during the Great War, and for a time became a prisoner-of-war of the British. On his release in 1919 he commenced medical studies at the University of Berlin. Although he obtained his license to practice and became a specialist in internal diseases in Berlin, he never achieved habilitation.[1552] This was largely because of his political activities. In 1920 he was involved in the Kapp Putsch, and subsequently joined a Freikorps. He claimed to have been a follower of Hitler from the earliest days of the NSDAP, although he never actually joined the party until 1932, by which time he had already been a member of the SS for a year.

In 1935 Himmler appointed Grawitz chief SS physician, the supreme authority for all SS medical affairs. Incongruously, Grawitz was appointed President of the German Red Cross in 1937, and two years later was made an honorary professor at the University of Graz.[1553] It was in his capacity as head of SS medical matters that Grawitz took a leading role in suggesting accommodating doctors to T4, thereby becoming heavily implicated in the “euthanasia” programme. In the summer of 1941 it was he who recommended gas chambers to Himmler as the most efficient method of mass killing. Together with Oswald Pohl, Grawitz was also responsible for the authorisation of horrific medical experiments on concentration camp prisoners.

On 24 April 1945 Grawitz saved the Allies the trouble of hanging him by the simple expedient of assembling his wife and two children and then detonating two hand grenades.[1554]

Heinrich Gross (1915-2005)[1555] was born in Vienna and joined the Hitler Youth in 1932, retaining his by then illegal membership of that organization between 1934 and 1938. He became a member of the SA in 1933, and the NSDAP in 1938. Gross qualified as a physician in 1939, and subsequently worked at the Mental Hospital of the City of Vienna during a time when patients were being transferred from that establishment to Hartheim for killing.

In 1940 he began working at the City of Vienna Young People's Welfare Institute – Am Spiegelgrund and its successor institutions. He was head of the children's ward at Am Spiegelgrund from 1941 to 1943, at which point he was drafted into the Wehrmacht, only to voluntarily return to the hospital in 1944 during a period of leave. His name and signature were later found on the death certificates of 238 Am Spiegelgrund child victims of “euthanasia”. Gross was nicknamed “the Scythe”, or “the Grim Reaper” by children who survived their hospitalization, one of whom recalled:

There was a selection every 14 days or three weeks. There was Dr Gross. I remember him distinctly as a diligent, quiet young man. And he came up and pointed at some of us: he said, `You, you, you, and you.' The children were taken from the group. The first children they selected were the bedwetters or harelips or the slow thinkers. That was the Nazi ideology; the doctors' instinct was that of an animal of prey. They selected the weakest out of a large herd. We did not dare ask where they were taken. We never saw them again.[1556]

Other survivors recalled children dying from exposure to cold, or from starvation or lethal medication. After their murder, parts of children's bodies, particularly brains, were retained for future study. It was only in 2002 that this material was buried at the Viennese Central Cemetery.

Gross was a Soviet prisoner of war until 1947. On his release he was charged by an Austrian court with treason (in respect of his illegal Nazi membership between 1934 and 1938) and murder. In 1950 he was acquitted on the treason charge. However, the court did find him guilty, not of murder, but of manslaughter, since at that time the law deemed that the definition of murder did not apply in the case of a mentally handicapped person because such individuals were incapable of reasoning.[1557] On appeal his case was ordered to be retried, but for reasons unknown no new trial occurred, and judicial proceedings against him were declared closed in 1951.

Gross returned to the medical profession, in due course qualifying as a neurologist and psychiatrist. He pursued a highly successful career, and was regarded as a respected physician, in 1975 being awarded the Austrian Cross for Accomplishments in Science and the Arts. By the late 1970s, however, investigations into children's euthanasia at Am Spiegelgrund and Gross's role therein began to emerge. Despite clear evidence of his guilt, no criminal proceedings followed, and Gross remained a forensic expert to the Austrian courts until 1998. It was not until March 2000 that he finally appeared in court to account for his actions at Am Spiegelgrund. The case against him was closed after just one hour when the judge determined that Gross was suffering from dementia. Nevertheless, some punishment was meted out to him. The Austrian government rescinded his award of the Austrian Cross in March 2003.[1558]

Walter Gross (1904-1945)[1559] a militant anti-Semite, was born in Kassel. He studied medicine in Göttingen, Tübingen, and Munich before obtaining his doctorate in 1928. Thereafter he worked for a time as a physician at a Brunswick hospital. He had joined the NSDAP in 1925, and became a member of the National Socialist Physicians' League in 1932. He headed the Rassenpolitisches Amt (RPA), the Race Political Office of the Nazi party from its inception in 1934, and in this capacity he was extensively involved in many of the regime's racial policies, including the Sterilisation Law, the sterilisation of the so-called Rheinlandbastarde, and the Nuremberg Laws.[1560] In 1938, Gross proclaimed that the work of the Race Political Office would not be complete until “the disappearance of the last Jew from our Reich.” Three years later he went even further. Now a final solution would only be reached with the “complete removal of Jews from Europe.”[1561]

Gross contributed a chapter entitled National Socialist Racial Thought to a 1938 English language book, Germany Speaks,[1562] in which he attempted to justify the sterilisation programme by arguing that the birth rate among the “unhealthy” was nine times greater than that of the “fit”. He claimed that the Sterilisation Law was passed “to prevent the transmission of hereditary disease”. He went on to suggest that

Civilization is only possible through the individual becoming part of the whole and just as collective authority in the interests of all limits the egoism of the individual . . . , it similarly has the right to implement such measures for the benefit of the community as are scientifically proved expedient in the way of population policy or eugenics.

Gross continued with a familiar theme – Germany had suffered the loss of its racially purest in the Great War, and was only attempting to copy the discriminatory policies of other European nations and the United States in order to restore the balance – but saved his full rhetoric for his favourite subject. The Jews could not be tolerated, firstly because they were an alien race, secondly because they had too much financial power in Germany, and thirdly by their association with Communism. It was for these reasons that the Nuremberg Laws had been enacted. Jews and Germans were forbidden to intermarry, and illicit intercourse was subject “to punishment . . . designed primarily with a view to preventing the birth of further individuals of mixed blood . . .”

Gross continued to hold a variety of offices and academic positions throughout the years of Nazi rule. As his world collapsed around him, he committed suicide on 25 April 1945.

Käthe Gumbmann (1898-?) was born in Nuremberg, and after trying different jobs became a student nurse in 1919. She began working at Hadamar in 1932, and was enrolled into the “euthanasia” programme by Fritz Bernotat (q.v.) in November 1940, joining the NSDAP the following year. She claimed to have been working in the hospital kitchen and laundry throughout the first phase of “euthanasia” at Hadamar, but admitted to having participated in the killing of patients “once or twice” during the second phase. A defendant at the 1948 Frankfurt trial of nurses, Gumbmann was considered small fry within the greater scheme of things, and received a sentence of three years and one month's imprisonment.[1563]

Arthur Julius Gütt (1891-1949)[1564] was born in Michelau, West Prussia. Commencing his medical studies in 1911, he served in the Great War as an army combat medical assistant before receiving his accreditation as a physician in 1918. He became involved in right-wing nationalist politics in the Weimar years, joining the NSDAP in 1932. On 1 May 1933, Leonardo Conti (q.v.) appointed Gütt head of the office responsible for public health affairs in the Reich Ministry of the Interior.[1565] Always an enthusiastic supporter of sterilisation, on 2 June 1933 Gütt became chairman of the newly formed “Expert Committee on Questions of Population and Racial Policy (Sachverständigen-Beirat für Bevökerungsfragen und Rassenpolitik), formed to pursue population issues initially raised a year earlier by the Prussian health office. Within a few weeks, the first results of the committee's deliberations – the Sterilisation Law – was enacted on 14 July 1933, with the important difference that unlike the Prussian draft law, sterilisation was not to be voluntary, but compulsory.[1566]

Gütt was co-author with Ernst Rüdin (q.v.) and Falk Ruttke (q.v.) of a commentary on the Sterilisation Law, which in 1937 led to a vociferous dispute with Gerhard Wagner (q.v.), the Reichsärzteführer, over questions of interpretation of the legislation, resulting in some modification of the law in 1938.[1567] Gütt had been a member of the SS since November 1933, and in 1936 joined Lebensborn (see Chapter 10). He was appointed to a number of other important Nazi medical and administrative positions, and published numerous articles and books on matters of racial hygiene, including the Nuremberg laws, before in September 1939, following serious injuries incurred in a hunting accident, he resigned from his post at the Ministry of the Interior. Thereafter he was a person of minimal significance during the remaining years of the Third Reich.

Julius Hallervorden (1882-1965)[1568] was born in Allenberg, East Prussia (today Chlebnikowo, Poland), the son of a psychiatrist. He studied medicine at the University of Königsberg, obtaining his doctorate in 1909. An initially distinguished career in neuropathology followed, in the course of which he worked with Professor Hugo Spatz; they jointly achieved fame through the identification of a congenital neurological condition known as “Hallervorden-Spatz Disease”.

Through his friendship with Spatz, who had been appointed head of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Brain Research, in 1937 Hallervorden was appointed head of the Department of Brain Histopathology in Berlin-Buch, whilst continuing anatomical activities at Brandenburg-Görden (a part of the aforementioned Kaiser Wilhelm Institute).[1569] Hallervorden joined the NSDAP in 1939, somewhat later than most of his medical contemporaries; in the same year Brandenburg-Görden became the “Reich Training Asylum” for children's “euthanasia”, a place where, under the directorship of Hans Heinze (q.v.), many children were killed.[1570] Although it is highly likely that Heinze had informed him of T4 and its activities at a much earlier date, Hallervorden was only officially told of the existence of the organisation on 29 April 1940. Little more than two weeks later he received the first batch of children's brains from the Brandenburg killing centre, where the children had been gassed.[1571]

On 8 December 1942, Hallervorden had reported to the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG -German Research Association) that, “during the course of the summer I was able to dissect 500 brains of imbeciles myself”.[1572] In 1944, Hallervorden wrote to Paul Nitsche (q.v.), reporting that he had received a total of 697 brains, some of which he had personally removed at Brandenburg.[1573] The unanswered question remains of whether some or all these victims were killed at Hallervorden's request.[1574]

During his 1945 interrogation, while displaying his collection of murdered children's brains Hallervorden stated:

I heard they were going to do that [“euthanasia”], and so I went up to them and told them “Look here now boys, if you are going to kill all these people, at least take the brains out so that the material could be utilized.” They asked me: “How many can you examine?” and so I told them an unlimited number – “the more the better”…There was wonderful material among those brains, beautiful mental defectives, malformations, and early infantile disease. I accepted these brains, of course. Where they came from and how they came to me was really none of my business[1575]….[The patients] were selected from the various wards of the institutions according to an excessively simple and quick method. Most institutions did not have enough physicians, and what physicians there were either too busy or did not care, and they delegated the selection to the nurses and attendants. Whoever looked sick or was otherwise a problem was put on a list and was transported to the killing centre. The worst thing about this business was that it produced a certain brutalization of the nursing personnel. They got to simply picking out those whom they did not like, and the doctors had so many patients that they did not even know them, and put their names on the list.[1576]

After 1945, Hallervorden continued to work at what had now become the Max Planck Institute for Brain Research. Although the French viewed Hallervorden as a likely defendant in criminal proceedings, the Americans had no desire to pursue the matter, and in the event he escaped prosecution.[1577] Instead, in 1956 Hallervorden was awarded the Grosses Verdienstkreuz - The Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany, awarded for outstanding achievements in political, economic, cultural, intellectual or voluntary work.

Benedikt Härtle (1901-?) was born in Peissenberg, a small town in Bavaria. He had originally intended to enter a monastery, but instead in 1927 decided on a career in nursing. He was employed at Hadamar from 1933 until the end of the war, becoming a member of the NSDAP in 1937. In November 1940 Ernst Baumhardt (q.v.) enrolled him as a participating member of the “euthanasia” operation. During the first phase of the programme, Härtle's duties consisted of accompanying transports from “feeder” institutions such as Eichberg and Galkhausen, as well as escorting victims to the gas chamber.[1578]

Härtle was another of the nurses tried at the second Hadamar trial at Frankfurt in 1947. He was found guilty of involvement in an unknown number of murders and received a jail sentence of three years and six months.[1579] Although he had also been charged with participation in “second phase” killings, the court determined that there was insufficient evidence to convict in this respect.

Walter Heess (1901-1951?)[1580] was born in Ludwigsburg to an upper-middle-class family. He studied chemistry at the Technical College in Stuttgart, obtaining his doctorate in 1925 and his habilitation in 1937. Initially specialising in food chemistry, he turned instead to the criminal-technical division, where he was considered particularly industrious. Having joined the NSDAP and SA in 1933, in 1938 his professional and political diligence and enthusiasm received official recognition. In appointing Heess director of the Criminal Technology Institute (Kriminaltechnisches Institut – KTI) of the Security Police (Reichskriminalpolizeiamt – RKPA), Arthur Nebe, the head of Kripo noted that Heess was

…a purposeful personality full of character. As a result of his particular talents and his dogged hard work, he has achieved excellence in all areas of modern criminal technology. Under his direction the Criminal Technology Institute of the Security Police has come to be recognized as a leading institution.[1581]

Sometime immediately prior to Barbarossa, Heess had an informal discussion in Berlin with his assistant, Albert Widmann (q.v.), concerning the construction of a new kind of gas van. They concluded that rather than the bottled carbon monoxide which had been used up to that time to murder the disabled in some regions of Germany and Poland, a proposed modification would divert the van's exhaust fumes into an airtight compartment in the rear of the vehicle. This would achieve the desired result of killing the transportees, whilst at the same time overcoming the difficulties otherwise involved in conveying bottled gas to the Russian front. Heess was due to report on this subject the following day, probably to Heydrich.[1582] The head of the RSHA doubtless approved of the idea, for in due course a suitably modified vehicle was delivered to Sachsenhausen where, in the presence of Heess and others, a test gassing of about thirty Soviet prisoners was successfully completed in autumn 1941.[1583] Thereafter, gas vans of this type entered service in the East with the Einsatzgruppen, something not altogether to Widmann's liking, for whilst he was perfectly happy to use gas vans to kill the insane, he was less sanguine about employing them to exterminate “normal” individuals. Hees responded: “But you see, it is done anyway. Do you want to quit by any chance?” Widmann's conscience was quickly salved by a combination of Hees' nonchalant reply and the promotion that followed soon after.[1584]

The deputy director of the KTI, Walter Schade, testified that in his presence Heess and Widmann had openly discussed the technique of killing people through the use of gas vans; further, Heess claimed to have witnessed the gassing of patients at Pirna-Sonnenstein. Schade alleged Heess had commented that, given a state of total war, it was no longer possible “to continue feeding people with incurable mental illnesses.” Moreover, Heess concluded, there was an acute requirement for the nursing staff involved in caring for such patients to be transferred to military hospitals.[1585]

Having first poisoned their children, Hees' wife committed suicide at the end of April 1945. Like many other Nazi criminals Heess then disappeared from view, the question of his death or survival left unanswered. Any remaining doubts were not altogether extinguished when in 1951 his sister had him officially declared dead.[1586]

Hans Heinze (1895-1983)[1587] was born in Elsterberg, Saxony. In a somewhat odd misreference, he is referred to as “Carl Hans Heinze Sennhenn” on a number of websites. The apparent source of this error is a Federal Bureau of Investigation list of files handed over to the National Archives and Records Administration in 2002, many of which relate to possible German and Japanese war criminals. Included on the list are the names of a “Karl Heinz” and a “Dr Carl Hans Heinz Sennhenn.”[1588] Dr Karl Heinz Sennhenn was an SS-Obersturmführer with no evident connection to T4 or “euthanasia.”[1589] Who Karl Heinz may have been is unknown. The career of Hans-Heinz Schütt, who was extensively involved in both T4 and Aktion Reinhard, is set out below. Hans Heinze, a T4 Gutachter from 17 November 1939, was a much more senior cog in the killing programme.[1590] This kind of confusion regarding identities in the aftermath of war may go some way toward explaining how easy it was for so many to escape pursuit and prosecution. A classic example of such a misunderstanding was the frequent inability of the allies to distinguish between the activities of Karl Brandt (q.v.) and Rudolf Brandt, Himmler's personal adjutant, a fact that did neither man any favours.[1591]

Unlike most of his generation, Heinze did not serve in the military during the Great War, instead becoming a member of the Red Cross. This probably encouraged him to study medicine, which he did in Leipzig. A specialist in psychiatry and neurology, Heinze was made director of the mental hospital at Potsdam in 1934 before taking up the position of director of the Brandenburg-Görden asylum in 1939.[1592] He had joined the Nazi party in 1933 and had been recommended to the group concerned with the planning of children's “euthanasia” by Herbert Linden (q.v.).[1593] It was under Heinze's supervision that the first children's killing ward had been opened at Brandenburg-Görden in October 1939. Heinze's contribution to the activities of T4 have already been described.

In March 1946, Heinze was sentenced to seven year's imprisonment by a Soviet military tribunal. Released in 1952, he made his way to West Germany to resume his medical career, and became director of the Wunstorf clinic for juvenile psychiatry in 1954.[1594] Investigations into his Nazi past were commenced in 1962. Not surprisingly he “clearly displayed a hyper-sensitivity towards questions dealing with `euthanasia'”. Proceedings against him were abandoned in 1966[1595] after the court ruled he was “a psychological wreck” unable to withstand the tribulations of another trial. The “psychological wreck” survived for a further seventeen years. On his death, his colleagues published an obituary declaring: “We will honour his memory.”[1596]

Günther Hennecke (1912-1943) [T4 pseudonym “Dr Fleck”][1597] was born in Halle, and joined both the NSDAP and SA in 1933. Having obtained his medical licence in 1939, from 25 April 1940 he was the deputy doctor in charge of gassing at Grafeneck, moving to Hadamar in January 1941 to carry out similar duties there until June of that year. A “comfort” letter written by Hennecke from Hadamar in March 1941 has survived.[1598]

In similar fashion to Ernst Baumhard (q.v.), Hennecke apparently fell out with Viktor Brack (q.v.) in the summer of 1941 (probably for the same reasons, or out of a comparable desire to escape T4) and, again like Baumhard, enlisted in the navy to serve as a U-boat medical officer. He was killed when U 538 was sunk on 21 November 1943.[1599]

Werner Heyde (1902-1964) [post-T4 pseudonym “Dr Fritz Sawade“][1600] was born in Forst, Brandenburg. He studied medicine in Berlin, Freiburg, Marburg, Rostock, and Würzberg, finally receiving his medical licence in 1926, and his accreditation as a specialist in psychiatry and neurology in 1929. He was appointed a physician at the psychiatric clinic of the University of Würzberg, where in 1933 he met Theodor Eicke, who was to go on to become commandant of Dachau and creator of the brutal concentration camp regime applied there and at all other camps. Eicke, who had justifiably been committed to the psychiatric clinic for observation, was eventually to become inspector of the entire concentration camp universe. Heyde and Eicke developed a friendship (both were apparently homosexual), and through Heyde's favourable diagnosis and intervention with Himmler, Eicke was discharged from the clinic to pursue his SS career. Although Heyde had been a Freikorps member during the Weimar era, fighting first in Estonia and then in Cottbus, it was only after he had met Eicke that he became a member of the Nazi party in May 1933.[1601]

One good turn deserved another. In 1934 Heyde was promoted to senior physician at Würzberg. He became a lecturer in so-called “hereditary diseases”, served as an expert witness in court cases, was a member of the local sterilisation court, and was appointed head of the Würzberg Nazi Party race office. Not least, through Eicke's influence he became adviser on mental health matters to the Gestapo, and assumed responsibility for the investigation of psychiatric cases and supposed hereditary diseases among concentration camp prisoners (with a personal history of issuing recommendations for compulsory sterilisation in many instances).[1602] In June 1936 he had joined the SS, and in 1938, was made chief of staff of the medical department in the SS-Hauptamt (headquarters). Inevitably this meteoric rise led to Heyde being appointed to the chair of psychiatry in Würzberg in 1939, and made him a natural choice for the medical leadership of the “euthanasia” programme from July of that year.[1603]

The importance of Heyde's contribution to so many facets of Nazi eugenic policy cannot be overstated. His name recurs time and again in connection with sterilisation, “euthanasia”, 14f13, as head of the T4 medical office and the recruitment of physicians, as Obergutachter - his endorsement of and dedication to the Third Reich's racial hygiene programme is indisputable. In the words of Franz Suchomel (q.v.):

[Heyde] was the head of the whole thing, he developed it…[He] had a flat at Tiergartenstrasse 4, next to my office. He was the top expert in the mercy-killing business. He only stayed at his flat when he had official business in Berlin. He was, I was told, an authority in his field…I know that there was a research institute into mental illness in Strasbourg; he may have run that. That's where the brains of selected mental patients were sent for research purposes.[1604]

In December 1941 Heyde was replaced as chief of T4's medical office by his deputy, Paul Nitsche (q.v.) allegedly on the grounds of Heyde's homosexual proclivities.[1605] Thereafter Heyde continued his professorship at Würzberg and became head of the SS hospital for psychiatric and neurological injuries affiliated to the Würzberg clinic. Because of allied bombing, in 1945 the SS hospital was relocated to Denmark, and it was here that Heyde was arrested by the British. He was returned to Germany to give evidence at both the Hadamar and Nuremberg medical trials. Sentenced to death in absentia by a German court,[1606] whilst under arrest in July 1947 Heyde escaped from American custody by the simple expedient of jumping off the back of a lorry in Würzberg en route to Frankfurt. He made his way to Schleswig-Holstein, on the way making some minor changes to his appearance, and acquiring false identity papers in the name of “Fritz Sawade”.

After working for a time as a gardener, Heyde/Sawade successfully applied for a job as a sports physician in Flensburg. He was soon acting as a medical referee for public insurance offices and in the local courts. His true identity was common knowledge. It could hardly be otherwise with a wife who, taking umbrage at being treated with a certain disdain by the wives of professors because her husband was only a sports doctor, would blurt out: “Don't you know who I am? I am not just a mere Frau Doctor, but, just so you know, Frau Professor Heyde!” Erika Hyde had been claiming a widow's pension since 1951, an offence for which she received a sentence of one year's imprisonment in 1962.

Given such circumstances, it was only a matter of time before Heyde's conspicuous behaviour ended in his arrest, which it did in November 1959. He was imprisoned in Limburg, awaiting trial for complicity in the murder of “about 100,000” people. However, it was not the end of a life which, despite its involvement in the horrors of mass murder, had degenerated into farce. Having (unusually for the time) failed in an attempt to avoid legal proceedings on health grounds, in a plot twist that would be considered improbable in a work of fiction, Heyde hatched an escape plan involving duplicate keys, a two-way radio, and a beautiful blonde, but was moved to another prison in Butzbach before the plan could be enacted. On 12 February 1964, Friedrich Tillmann (q.v.) fell from the eighth floor of a Cologne building. The next day Heyde was found dead in his cell, having apparently committed suicide by hanging himself with his own belt. The two deaths were fortuitous for many in the German medical and legal professions, to say the least.

Heyde's obituary contained the following: “After an active life and after a long, troubling denial of liberty, Herr Prof. Dr med. Werner Heyde has been summoned at the age of 62 before his heavenly judge.”[1607] What that judgement may have been will forever remain a mystery; the judgement of history is somewhat clearer.

Irmgard Huber (1901-1983) initially worked as a domestic servant before training as a psychiatric nurse.[1608] She commenced employment at Hadamar in 1932, and remained there until July 1945. Although a member of the German Labour Front (DAF) and National Socialist People's Welfare (NSV), she was not a Nazi party member.[1609] Charges were later only brought against Huber for participation in the “second phase” of “euthanasia”, but given her presence throughout the entire period Hadamar served as a killing centre, it seems probable that she was at the very least aware of events from 1940 onwards.[1610] The finding of the American military court at the first Hadamar trial held at Wiesbaden in October 1945 read in part:

lrmgard Huber was the chief female nurse at the institution, carrying out the orders of Dr. Wahlmann (q.v.) and overseeing the duties of the seven other female nurses. She knew beforehand of the arrival of the first transport and made preparations for housing the victims. There was some evidence that the female nurses actually gave injections. It was at least well established that the accused Huber took part in daily morning conferences at which Wahlmann signed death certificates. She obtained narcotics from the pharmacy in Dr. Wahlmann's office…and she was actually present on at least one occasion when fatal injections or dosages were given to patients, and when false death certificates were made out.

A sentence of twenty-five years' imprisonment was imposed on Huber.[1611] Two years later, Huber was in the dock again, this time in Frankfurt for the second Hadamar trial. The court determined that Huber was guilty of participation in “at least” 120 cases of murder, and sentenced her to a further eight years' imprisonment.[1612] However, she was another to benefit from a dramatic change in the political climate. Despite her twice proven guilt, Huber was released in 1952.[1613]

Murad Jussuf Bey Ibrahim (1877-1953)[1614] was born in Cairo, the son of an Egyptian doctor father and a German mother. After commencing his medical studies in Cairo, he left for Munich, where he graduated as a doctor. From 1902 to 1906 he was assistant physician at the Heidelberg paediatric clinic, qualifying in 1905 as a paediatric specialist in Berlin. In 1907 he returned to Munich as director of the Gisela Kinderspital (children's hospital), and in 1916 was appointed ao.Professor in Würzburg. In 1917 he became o. professor[1615] at the Friedrich Schiller University in Jena, where he was head of the children's clinic until his death in 1953, following which the clinic was named the Kinderklinik Jussuf Ibrahim.[1616]

On the occasion of his 70th birthday, in 1947 Ibrahim had been made an honorary citizen of Jena for his distinguished work in connection with the care of the young, but in 1985 evidence began to emerge of his involvement in children's “euthanasia”. In 2000 after intensive examination of all available documentation, “The Commission on the `Jussuf Ibrahim' Children's Hospital” - consisting of 6 independent scientists of the Friedrich Schiller University – came to the conclusion that there was no doubt that Ibrahim had been actively involved in children's “euthanasia” between 1941 and 1945. “Incurable” children had been sent by Ibrahim to Gerhard Kloos (q.v.) at the Stadtrota clinic for killing.[1617] The commission reported that Ibrahim not only endorsed the killing of handicapped children, but directly contributed towards their death. In the light of these findings, the clinic was immediately re-named Die Universitätsklinik für Kinder- und Jugendmedizin Jena (“The Jena University Hospital for Children and Adolescent Medicine”).

Ernst Illing (1904-1946)[1618] was born in Leipzig. He received his licence to practice medicine in 1930, became an accredited specialist in psychiatry and neurology in 1937, and completed his habilitation in 1942.[1619] He joined the Nazi party in 1933, and served his apprenticeship as a murderer in the children's killing ward at Brandenburg-Görden, where he held the position of assistant to Hans Heinze (q.v.).

Situated within the Am Steinhof institution in Vienna, the Am Spiegelrund children's sanatorium opened in July 1940. It was to serve as the principal killing centre for children's “euthanasia” in Austria. In July 1942, Illing succeeded Erwin Jekelius (q.v.) as director of Am Spiegelrund. His responsibilities were quite clear – to continue killing as he had done at Görden.[1620]

At the conclusion of the war, Illing was tried by the People's Court in Vienna and found guilty of an estimated 200 cases of murder. He was hanged on 20 November 1946.

Erwin Jekelius (1905-1952)[1621] was born in Hermannstadt (today Sibiu, Romania). He joined the then illegal Austrian NSDAP in 1933. After becoming an accredited specialist in neurology in 1938, he was appointed leader of the psychiatric care department of the Vienna public health office in 1939.[1622] He became the first medical director of the Am Spiegelrund institution in July 1940, a position he relinquished to Ernst Illing (q.v.) in 1942 when Jekelius was called up for army service.[1623] By then, Jekelius had played a leading role in the implementation of the “euthanasia” programme in Vienna.[1624] It was Jekelius (a Gutachter since 14 October 1940) who first experimented with electrocution as a killing technique before passing the method into the hands of Emil Gelny (q.v.)[1625]

Jekelius died from cancer of the bladder in a Soviet jail in 1952 whilst serving a 25 year sentence for his part in the killing of an estimated 4,000 victims of “euthanasia.” In recently released transcriptions of interrogations conducted by his captors, Jekelius justified his actions by saying he totally agreed with Hitler's policy of exterminating mentally ill people. He also said that his personal and professional view was that such people were a burden to their families and to society.

He went on to describe how six to 10 children a month were killed at Am Spiegelrund, and how his doctors created credible, if wholly fictitious, causes of death to explain the often sudden demise of a child to his or her grieving parents. It has been suggested that the reason Jekelius fell into Soviet hands was because he had become engaged to Hitler's sister Paula, and that on hearing the news the irate Führer ordered Paula's lover be shipped off to the eastern front.[1626] The source of this suggestion (other than the alleged memoirs of Paula Hitler), would appear to be a note made by Himmler of a telephone conversation with Heydrich that took place on 30 November 1941, and which includes the brief phrase: “Arrest Dr Jekelius.” These three enigmatic words have given rise to an abundance of interpretations, but in truth could mean almost anything.

Eva Justin (1909-1966)[1627] was born in Dresden, and having trained as a nurse was employed by Robert Ritter (q.v.) in his eugenic research department at Tübingen University, where she was described as Ritter's “right hand.” She moved to Berlin with Ritter in 1938, acting as his research assistant with regard to Gypsy matters. Despite her lack of a university degree, she received a doctorate in anthropology in 1943; her sponsors and/or referees were Eugen Fischer (q.v.), Hans Reiter (q.v.), Herbert Linden (q.v.), Paul Werner (q.v.), and Richard Thurnwald, the latter a founder member of Alfred Ploetz's (q.v.) Society for Racial Hygiene.[1628] Justin's dissertation was the result of her study of Gypsy children in the Mulfingen home; these children were subsequently deported to Auschwitz, where most were murdered.[1629]

In 1948 Justin was employed as an expert psychologist on Gypsy matters by the city of Frankfurt am Main, where her superior was none other than Robert Ritter.[1630] Ten years later her case was investigated by the authorities in Frankfurt, who concluded that although Justin was involved in the eugenic assessment of Gipsy children during the Nazi epoch, there was no evidence that she had been aware of the children's subsequent extermination. Other issues relating to her participation in sterilisation matters were by that date statute barred. Proceedings against her were therefore terminated in December 1960.

Helmut Kallmeyer (1910-2006)[1631] was born in Hamburg. Unusually, although a member of the SA he never joined the NSDAP, something that may subsequently have served him well in post-war investigations into his activities during the Nazi era. He studied chemistry at a number of universities before receiving his certification from the Berlin Technical Institute in 1939 and his doctorate in 1940. Between September 1939 and September 1941 he served in the German navy, at which point Viktor Brack (q.v.) secured his release from military service. Thereafter Kallmeyer was employed, first by the KdF and then by the KTI (the Criminal Technology Institute of the Security Police) for the rest of the war.

Although by the time of Kallmeyer's recruitment the “stop order” had been issued, Brack needed another expert chemist for the larger ventures in which T4 was about to become engaged. August Becker (q.v.) was busy helping the Einsatzgruppen kill Jews in gas vans, and Albert Widmann (q.v.) was with Arthur Nebe in Byelorussia, experimenting with other methods of mass murder. Having apparently done little or nothing for several months, in early 1942 Kallmeyer was dispatched to Lublin. Precisely what he did there is unknown. The Belzec extermination camp was in the course of construction, and it seems inconceivable that he was not involved in some aspect of its intended function. Kallmeyer was less than helpful in this regard. In his post-war testimony he could recall neither the name of the agency to which he reported in Lublin, nor the name of the man he met there. After a week in Lublin he claimed to have returned to Berlin, where he was admitted to hospital suffering from typhus, supposedly on 28 February 1942. On his recovery he was transferred from the KdF to the KDI, where he was one of those responsible for delivering lethal substances to T4.

There was further documentary evidence of Kallmeyer's apparent expertise in gassing technique, even if in this case it was not utilised. A letter from Alfred Wetzel of the Reich Ministry of the Occupied Eastern Territories to Heinrich Lohse, the Reich Commissar for the Ostland, dated 25 October 1941 included the following:

Oberdienstleiter Brack of the Führer Chancellery has agreed to collaborate in the production of the required shelters and gassing devices. At this time, the envisaged devices are not available in sufficient quantity; they will first have to be manufactured. Since in Brack's opinion, the manufacture of the devices in the Reich will cause much greater difficulties than doing it on the spot, Brack considers it most expedient to send his people to Riga, especially his chemist Dr. Kallmeyer, who will effect all further steps there…In these circumstances, I request that you address yourself to Oberdienstleiter Brack in the Führer Chancellery through your Higher SS and Police Leader and request the dispatch of the chemist Kallmeyer and other assistants… As things now are, there are no objections if the Jews who are not capable of work, are eliminated with the Brackian remedy.[1632]

Kallmeyer naturally denied all knowledge of this letter, and there is no evidence that he ever actually visited Riga. However, there was one other undeniable connection between himself and T4. In December 1940, Kallmeyer married Gertrud Fröse, who had been Brack's secretary at the KdF. During 1940 she had been posted to Grafeneck, allegedly prior to the time that killing began there. She later revised her testimony; she could have left her job with Brack later than originally claimed, she might have been at Grafeneck after the killing started, and perhaps she had met Horst Schumann (q.v.) there, all matters that she had previously denied.

Even when added to the fact that he and his wife had met with Schumann in Ghana after the war, there was considered insufficient evidence to directly implicate Kallmeyer in any criminal activity, and he was never indicted.[1633] Post-war, he was employed by the national statistical office of Schleswig-Holstein, before working for the United Nations in Cuba and Ghana in the 1960s.

Anna Katschenka (1905-?) was born in Vienna, and graduated from nursing school in 1927. From that time until 1941 she was employed by three separate Viennese hospitals, and was considered an asset in each of them. She was never a member of the Nazi party or any of its related organizations; in fact, her political inclinations were, if anything, left wing. Katschenka married a Jewish medical student in 1929, but was divorced the following year. In a state of depression after the Anschluss, her hospital sent her to Erwin Jekelius (q.v.) for treatment. He helped her to overcome her problem and, not unusually, she formed an attachment to him. In 1941 she heard that the children's hospital at Am Spiegelrund, of which Jekelius was head, needed nurses, and she volunteered to join him.

Jekelius informed Katschenka of the children's “euthanasia” programme, and asked her if she was prepared to administer the necessary lethal medication. She agreed to do so, stating after the war that she had never believed children's “euthanasia” to be unlawful, since Jekelius had assured her that it was only hopeless cases with no prospect of recovery that were to be treated, and in any event it was her understanding that a binding law existed which permitted “euthanasia”.[1634] The similarities to the case of Heléne Schürg (q.v.) are evident. When Jekelius departed for the Wehrmacht, Katschenka continued killing under his successor, Ernst Illing (q.v.).[1635]

Katschenka was tried in Vienna in 1948 and sentenced to eight years' imprisonment. She was released in 1951, to continue working as a children's nurse.[1636]

Berthold Kihn (1895-1964)[1637] born in Schöllkrippen in Bavaria, was another paediatrician. He joined the SA in 1933 and was appointed an ao. Professor at Erlangen University in 1934. From 1938 he was a judge at the Hereditary Health Court in Jena, and in the same year was appointed Professor of psychiatry and leader of the psychiatric, mental health, and outpatient's clinic at the University of Jena. In 1939 he became an o.Professor. He is known to have co-operated with Jussuf Ibrahim (q.v.) and Gerhard Kloos (q.v.) in children's “euthanasia” at the Stadtroda clinic.[1638] He appears on a list of T4 personnel as a Gutachter, effective 5 June 1940, but had been involved in the planning of adult “euthanasia” from a much earlier date.[1639]

In 1944 he was appointed Dean of Erlangen University, but was dismissed from this position in September 1945. By 1952 he was again an honorary professor at the university. He also operated his own private sanatorium. In 1963 preliminary proceedings against him in connection with his activities during the Nazi era were abandoned.

Gerhard Kloos (1906-1988)[1640] was a psychiatrist born in Sächsisch-Regen (today Reghin in Romania). At the time of Kloos' birth the city was within the Habsburg Empire, but during the first half of the twentieth century it became successively Romanian (in 1920), then Hungarian (in 1941), before being restored once more to Romania (in 1945). There had been an ethnic German population in Sächsisch-Regen for centuries; in 1910, 41 percent of the city's population were of German descent, but by 2002 less than 1 percent of the inhabitants claimed such ancestry.

In 1933 Kloos joined both the NSDAP and the SA, and in July 1939 was appointed head of the Thuringian State Hospital at Stadtroda and its children's ward. Kloos was an enthusiastic proponent of “euthanasia”, as a consequence of which it has been estimated that there were approximately 900 “euthanasia” victims at Stadtroda, among them many children. In a 1939 Nazi medical journal, Stadtroda was commended for being “a symbol of the definitive break with a weak, humanitarian past – not only in Germany, but rather in the entire cultural world.”[1641]

As the war drew a close, Kloos fled before the advancing Red Army to pursue a successful career in West Germany, where amongst other positions he was made director of the state hospital in Göttingen. An investigation into his Nazi era activities was abandoned in the early 1960s due to lack of evidence. In 1985, Professor Dr Dr Kloos (he held not only a medical doctorate but was also a PhD) unsuccessfully attempted to bring an action against a young physician, Helmut Becker, at that time Vice-President of the Berlin Medical Council, after being described by Becker as making a significant contribution towards the “euthanasia” of children during the Nazi regime. Kloos was forced to reluctantly admit his acceptance of the notion that in certain circumstances the killing of children was not only permissible, but desirable. However, he himself had of course never practised such a thing. “I am a meat eater but that does not make me a slaughterer,” was how he chose to describe his position on the subject.[1642]

Pauline Kneissler (1900-?) is of particular interest, not only for her very extensive “euthanasia” activities, but because of the light she shed on the frequently mentioned Organisation Todt expedition to the eastern front in 1941/1942.

Kneissler, the daughter of a bourgeois Volksdeutsche farmer, was born in the Ukraine. In the wake of the Russian revolution she and her family lost their property and in 1918 fled to Germany, settling in Westphalia, where her father once again took up farming. In 1920 Kneissler began her training as a nurse, and in 1925 was employed at the Berlin-Buch mental institution, where she remained until in 1940 she was enrolled into T4, probably by Dr Wilhelm Bender, the director of the institution, and one of those involved in the planning of “euthanasia”.[1643] She joined the Nazi party in 1937, and was also a member of the National Socialist's Women's League.

In early 1940 she was ordered to report to T4 headquarters, where she and a number of other nurses were informed by Werner Blankenburg (q.v.) that they had been chosen for the top secret “euthanasia” programme. They were given the option of whether or not to participate. None declined to do so, and therefore all were sent to Grafeneck. There Kneissler accompanied patients during their transfer to the killing centre, helped them to disrobe, assisted in their medical “examination”, then led the victims to the gas chamber. As she testified:

The patients we evacuated were not necessarily serious cases; they were indeed mentally ill but very often in good physical condition. Each transport consisted of about 70 people and we carried out such transports almost every day…In most cases the patients were killed in Grafeneck within 24 hours of their arrival. I have spent almost a year at Grafeneck and I know of only a few cases in which patients were not gassed.[1644]

When Grafeneck closed she was transferred to Hadamar, where she performed a similar function until the “stop order” of August 1941. Shortly afterwards she was sent to the East, where she spent several months.

Kneissler's post-war evidence that some T4 medical orderlies gave lethal injections severely wounded soldiers – the true purpose for the dispatch of so many T4 operatives to the Soviet Union – is believed to be accurate. Those participating in the Organisation Todt mission included numerous male and female T4 nurses, as well as SS-men who had previously been employed as Brenner in the T4 killing centres. Kneissler stated that she and her unit administered such injections to blinded, brain-damaged, and mutilated troops, as well as to amputees; that is to say those who were so damaged there was no possibility of their being recycled back to the Wehrmacht. What possible reason could she have for fabricating such testimony?

Following her arrival back in Germany, Kneissler worked for a short time at the Weilmünster hospital before returning to Hadamar in September 1942, where she quickly became directly involved in the murder of patients through the administration of lethal medication. In May 1943 she became unwell and was excused from killing activities, until in April 1944 the by now very experienced murderess found new employment at Kaufbeuren-Irsee, where she continued to dispatch victims until the end of the war. As Kneissler declared: “Since the year 1940, I have killed thousands of mentally ill Germans and foreigners…in the mental institutions of Grafeneck, Hadamar and Kaufbeuren. I am unable to give an exact figure of the number killed since it concerned too many persons.”

Together with five other nurses (two of whom were acquitted for lack of evidence), Kneissler was tried by the Frankfurt court in 1948. For her involvement in the murder of an unknown number of victims she was sentenced to imprisonment for three years and one month. She was paroled one year later.[1645] By 1950 Kneissler was working as a nurse again; she retired in 1963.[1646]

Edith Korsch (1914-?) was born in West Prussia, a region ceded to Poland at the end of the Second World War. Her first job was as a household maid; she then worked for her mother for a time before entering the Neuruppin mental hospital as a student nurse in 1938. She had joined the National Socialist Women's League in 1936, but never became a member of the Nazi party.

Like Pauline Kneissler (q.v.) (whose career her own closely mirrored) and others, Korsch was ordered to report to T4 headquarters in Berlin in January 1940, where she was enrolled in the “euthanasia” programme and dispatched to Grafeneck. When that killing centre closed in December 1940, she was first transferred to Hadamar, then briefly to Eichberg, before joining the Organisation Todt expedition to the eastern front. On her return she was again sent to Neuruppin (where she married in 1942), prior to being assigned briefly to Bernburg, and finally to Hadamar once more.[1647] Although questioning the legality of killing patients, like many others she was prepared to accept that the orders to do so were binding on her. She was thus involved in both phases of the “euthanasia” operation, only leaving T4 in May 1944 after becoming pregnant.

Together with other nurses, Korsch was tried in Frankfurt in January 1948. She was found guilty of being an accessory to murder “in an unknown number of cases” during the first phase of “euthanasia” as well as participating “in at least 20 cases” during the second phase, and was sentenced to a jail term of three years and four months.[1648]

Fritz Kühnke (1911-?)[1649] was born in Stettin, today Szczecin, Poland. On leaving school in 1932 he initially intended to study music, but instead was persuaded by Ernst Wentzler (q.v.), both a distant relation and a mentor, to become a physician. He attended the universities of Tübingen, Königsberg, Munich and Kiel, graduating from the latter in December 1937. In January 1933 he had joined the Stahlhelm, a paramilitary nationalist organization subsequently integrated with the SA. He became a member of the Nazi party in 1937.

Kühnke qualified as a doctor in January 1939 and was employed by a Berlin children's clinic, until in June 1940 he was conscripted into the Wehrmacht. Unhappy with his lot, in September of that year he met with Wentzler, who, as a T4 Gutachter, suggested that Kühnke apply to have his military service suspended and instead join the “euthanasia” programme. Kühnke hesitated, unsure of the legality of the T4's activities. Wentzler assured him that everything was above board, and that a legally binding Führer decree existed, but had to remain secret.

Kühnke procrastinated for four weeks before agreeing to Wentzler's proposal. Although he still retained lingering doubts, he felt that a doctor “had, under all circumstances, the duty to help pitiable and joyless pointlessly vegetating living creatures”. Released from the military through Wentzler's intervention, in November 1940 Kühnke arrived at Eglfing-Haar, where he was to remain until December 1941. During that 13 month period he also occasionally acted as Richard von Hegener's (q.v.) locum at the KdF. At his post-war trial it was determined that in cooperation with the head of Eglfing-Haar, Hermann Pfannmüller (q.v.), Kühnke had been guilty of killing 19 children. Furthermore, he had personally killed another 8 children at the Wiesloch mental institution when on temporary assignment there.

By February 1942 Kühnke had rejoined the army, serving as a doctor in Norway, Poland, Russia, and France. He was temporarily a British prisoner of war, but was released from custody in December 1945. Shortly thereafter he received recognition as a paediatrician, and in April 1947 began to practice as such in Hamburg.

In May 1968 proceeding against Kühnke for his participation in “euthanasia” began in Munich. The court went to extraordinary lengths to excuse what were plainly cases of murder, accepting without reservation the defendant's claim that he had acted solely out of a sense of compassion for his victims and never on racial or eugenic grounds. Consequently the court acquitted Kühnke of the charge of murder, instead finding him guilty of 27 cases of manslaughter. However, since the statute of limitations had become operable with regard to such crimes, Kühnke walked from the courtroom a free man, to resume his paediatric practice.[1650]

Alfred Leu (1900 - ?)[1651] was born in Schwerin, and originally trained as a locksmith before deciding upon a career in medicine. He was a student at the universities of Vienna, Rostock, and Hamburg, graduating from the latter in 1925. Four years later he commenced part-time employment at the Sachsenberg mental hospital; the rest of his time was devoted to his private psychiatric practice. He joined the NSDAP in 1933, and like his Sachsenberg colleagues became an expert advisor to one of the Hereditary Health Courts sitting in judgement in cases of compulsory sterilisation. In September 1941, Hans Hefelmannn (q.v.) and Richard von Hegener (q.v.) interviewed Leu at the KdF and invited him to take charge of a children's killing ward at Sachsenberg, which, despite his claimed moral repugnance at participating in such reprehensible acts, he did.[1652]

Leu, who remained at Sachsenberg until 1945, freely admitted that he had completed patient's Meldebogen in full knowledge of their purpose, but had only done so as the lesser of two evils; this was to become the familiar ex post facto defence of sacrificing some in order to rescue others. He had ordered the killing of about 100 children and adults by lethal injection, but only so as to enable him to save an equivalent number of potential victims. In October 1951, a Cologne court found Leu's defence convincing, and acquitted him. On appeal, the Supreme Court reversed the decision and ordered a retrial.

Leu's defence was not supported by the evidence of others. Witnesses claimed that he was a dedicated Nazi, and a wholehearted supporter of “euthanasia”, a man who had killed 200-300 adults with overdoses of medication. So efficient was Leu at murder, that in 1942 an additional children's ward was added at Sachsenberg. Although it was apparent that such a ward had existed solely for the purpose of killing, the court found that if children had died there, it was not because of Leu, but due to “natural causes”. Needless to say, Leu claimed that his party membership and apparent enthusiasm for “euthanasia” was all a sham; he had to pretend to support the regime and its murderous policies in order to act like a medical Scarlet Pimpernel. Unlike almost everybody else, the court was totally convinced of Leu's innocence, concluding:

Contrary to his inner disapproving attitude towards euthanasia, the defendant…considered it imperative to camouflage his sabotaging measures by pretending to the outside world to be in agreement with the Aktion ordered by the state authority. To his colleagues as well as towards the nursing personnel he therefore repeatedly expressed himself in a way showing that he agreed with the euthanasia Aktion and considered it justified. Towards…relatives of mentally ill patients he made remarks of a similar content.[1653]

Despite the fact that Leu had not only knowingly arranged for the transport of his patients to their death, but had personally killed others, in 1953 he was acquitted “for lack of evidence.” [1654] One wonders what kind of evidence would have been necessary to convince that particular court to convict anybody of the crimes under consideration.

Herbert Linden (1899-1945)[1655] was born in either Konstanz, Baden[1656] or Berlin,[1657] (sources differ) and qualified as a doctor in 1925. He joined the Nazi party in the same year. Apparently he was never a general practitioner, nor did he ever specialize in a specific medical field. Instead he worked as an assistant physician in Heidelberg until in 1931 he moved to the Reich Ministry of Health, remaining with that agency when it became a division of the Reich Ministry of the Interior in November 1933. Clearly having decided that practicing medicine was not for him, Linden instead elected for the life of a Schreibtischtäter, and was prominent in virtually every aspect of eugenic affairs throughout the history of the Third Reich. He was instrumental in the initiation of the sterilisation and marriage laws, and in 1936 was a co-author with Arthur Gütt (q.v.) and Franz Massfeller of a commentary on the “Blood Protection and Marriage Health Laws”.[1658] Working under Fritz Cropp (q.v.), he also became one of the principle architects of the “euthanasia” programme. As Viktor Brack (q.v.) commented: “He [Linden] was always there for the entire affair.”[1659]

Linden's job was to ensure efficient co-operation between state health officials and T4 functionaries. On 23 October 1941, Linden was appointed Reich Commissioner for Mental Hospitals and Nursing Homes, promoting him to a position above Werner Heyde (q.v.) and Paul Nitsche (q.v.) in the T4 pecking order, and thereby making the entire “euthanasia” organization a division of Department IV of the Ministry of the Interior.[1660] When the “euthanasia” programme entered its second phase in late 1942, it was Linden who provided the vital connection between the Ministry and T4.[1661]

The so-called “Gerstein Report” mentions the presence of Linden at Belzec in August 1942, although there is no other evidence of a direct connection between Linden and Aktion Reinhard. Such a connection is within the realm of possibility. From July 1942 to 1944 or 1945 Linden was an honorary judge at the Volksgerichtshof (the People's Court). What qualified him to hold such a post other than a long term devotion to Nazism is difficult to surmise.

Linden committed suicide by shooting himself on 27 April 1945.

Lothar Loeffler [or Löffler] (1901-1983)[1662] a prominent racial biologist, was born in Erfurt. From 1927 he worked at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Anthropology, and went on to hold a number of other academic positions at the universities of Kiel, Königsberg, and Vienna, where in 1942 he became the director of the Office of Hereditary and Racial Biology. He had joined the NSDAP and SA in 1932, and as an associate of Walter Gross (q.v.) of the Office of Racial Policy, was extensively involved in many aspects of that department's activities.[1663] His connection to children's and adult “euthanasia” is deserving of further research.

Loeffler's academic and professional career continued uninterrupted after the war, as he was appointed to a variety of successively important posts.

Rudolf Lonauer (1907-1945)[1664] was born in Linz, the son of an Austrian civil servant who had been an early member of the Nazi party. Lonauer followed his father into the then illegal NSDAP in 1931, and also joined the SS in 1933. He qualified as a neurologist at the University of Graz, and after the Anschluss in 1938, was promoted to the position of director of the Niedernhart sanatorium. He went on to head the department of neurological diseases at Linz general public hospital, as well as having a private practice in Linz itself.

From spring 1940 Lonauer became physician-in-charge at Hartheim whilst retaining his position at Niedernhart. This unusual relationship between the two institutions meant that Niedernhart served as a kind of waiting room for Hartheim. Patients selected for immediate killing went straight to Hartheim; those where a delay was considered appropriate before gassing occurred were first sent to Niedernhart.[1665] There is circumstantial evidence that Lonauer was also involved in killings in at least one other Austrian institution. A doctor at the Gugging state hospital testified that Lonauer and two colleagues were resident there for a short time in 1943. The visitors claimed that there was a “typhus epidemic” raging in the infectious diseases ward, entry to which was then forbidden to the witness for two or three weeks. He continued:

During this period, the mortality rate in the infectious diseases ward rose sharply and many patients from other departments were also transferred to the ward. In the period between 28 March and 8 April 1943…a total of 112 patients died. Dr. Lonauer was at the hospital the entire time and also lived there. [1666]

Lonauer is yet another whose name appears on the surviving list as a Gutachter with effect from 1 April 1940.[1667]

In early 1941, Lonauer became one of the doctors assigned to Sonderbehandlung 14f13, visiting Mauthausen, Gusen, Dachau, and Buchenwald to select prisoners for the Hartheim gas chamber. He thus not only chose the victims as a 14f13 physician, but also supervised the murder of some of them as head of Hartheim.[1668] Lonauer joined the Prinz Eugen division of the Waffen-SS in September 1943. Quite what his duties there involved is unknown, but in November 1944 he returned to once again to become head of Niedernhart and Hartheim, taking over from his assistant Georg Renno, who had been in charge in Lonauer's absence.

Married to a woman who was reputedly an even more enthusiastic Nazi than Lonauer himself, on 5 May 1945, having first killed their two daughters, the husband and wife jointly committed suicide by taking poison. The number of deaths that can be laid at Lonauer's door in his capacity as a leading practitioner of “euthanasia” is unquantifiable.

Wilhelm Lückoff (1909-?) was born in Wissenbach. He joined the NSDAP in 1928 and the SA in 1930. An unskilled worker, he suffered lengthy periods of unemployment before in 1937 he joined the Herborn mental institution as a student nurse. He was transferred to Hadamar in 1940 and rapidly enrolled into T4. Although he claimed not to have been involved in the first phase of “euthanasia”, working instead at a variety of odd jobs, he was yet another sent on the Organisation Todt mission to the East in winter 1941/1942. He spent a brief period at Weilmünster on his return before transferring to Hadamar once more to work as a night-watchman. It was in this capacity that he administered lethal medication to patients.[1669]

A defendant at the second Hadamar trial in 1947, Lückoff was found guilty of complicity in at least 8 cases of murder, and was sentenced to three years and one month in jail.[1670]

Heinrich Arthur Matthes (1902-?) was born in Wermsdorf, a small town in Saxony. He began his working life as a tailor, but in 1924 changed careers and became a student nurse at Sonnenstein. After passing his nursing examinations there, he worked at the hospitals in Arnsdorf and Bräunsdorf, before he was conscripted by the Wehrmacht in 1939. He served in the army in Poland and France until September 1941, when he was summoned to the KdF, his military service terminated. He had joined the SA in 1934, and applied for membership in the NSDAP in 1937, but it is unclear whether his application was ever accepted. At T4 headquarters he worked in the photographic laboratory for a time, until in winter1941/42 he was sent eastwards with the Organisation Todt mission, serving as a male nurse in the Minsk and Smolensk area. In February/March 1942 he returned from the Soviet Union to take up his previous post at T4.[1671]

In late August 1942, Matthes was assigned to Odilo Globocnik's organisation in Lublin, where he was given the usual SS-Scharführer rank and sent to Treblinka. There he was put in charge of Camp II where the gas chambers were located. In addition to supervising the resident Jewish workforce, he actively participated in the entire extermination process, from herding prisoners into the gas chambers to the transport of victims' corpses. He did all this with great brutality, seemingly deriving enormous pleasure from the cruelty his unlimited power gave him over those unfortunate enough to pass through his domain.[1672] Mathes appears to have had an obsession with cleanliness; he once shot two prisoners because at the end of the working day he was not satisfied with the state of the stretcher which they had used to carry bodies. A survivor recalled of Mathes:

He used to beat the prisoners with a completely expressionless, apathetic look on his face, as if the beatings were part of his daily routine. He saw to it that the roll-call area would always be extremely clean. One of the prisoners had to rake the sand in the square all day long, and he had to do it with Prussian exactness.[1673]

Matthes was in Treblinka at the time of the uprising in that camp on 2 August 1943.[1674] The following month he was transferred to Sobibor; since he remained there until early December of that year, he was certainly a staff member at the time of the uprising in Sobibor on 14 October 1943, as well as being present during the subsequent liquidation of the camp. After a short spell in Berlin, Mathes joined his former Aktion Reinhard comrades in Italy for anti-partisan activities and the continued extermination of Jews.[1675] He was briefly an American prisoner of war in 1945, but it was not long before he was once again working as a nurse in a succession of mental hospitals.

On 12 October 1964, the trial of 10 men accused of mass murder at Treblinka opened in Düsseldorf.[1676] One of the defendants was Matthes, who was found guilty of the murder of “at least 100,000 people”, plus eight specific charges of homicide, which given his length of service in the camp seems a remarkably modest total. The court imposed 5 life sentences on him.[1677]

Otto Mauthe (1892-1974)[1678] was born in Derdingen. He studied medicine in Tübingen and Kiel before serving as a doctor during the Great War. After qualifying as a physician in 1920 he worked in a women's clinic in Tübingen, before in 1927 he commenced practising as a doctor in Herrenberg. He joined the SA in 1933 and the NSDAP the following year. In 1936 he was appointed deputy to the chief medical officer of the health department of the Württemberg Ministry of the Interior, Eugen Stähle (q.v.), with responsibility for the 48 mental hospitals within the state. In this capacity Mauthe ensured the smooth operation of the “euthanasia” programme in Württemberg, including the passing on of directives and transport lists to the institutions under his control, regulating the discharge of patients, withholding information concerning patient's whereabouts from their relatives, completing registration forms, and the like.

In late November 1939, Mauthe began the process by which patients marked for murder were transferred to Grafeneck, then after the closure of that killing site, to Hadamar. Mauthe personally involved himself in every aspect of the programme, even visiting Grafeneck to witness a gassing of patients.[1679] Apart from the murders at Grafeneck and Hadamar, he also authorised the transfer of at least 93 children to killing wards outside Württemberg. In short, if not a murderer in the sense of directly killing anybody with his own hands (so far as is known), Mauthe was the classic example of the Schreibtischtäter, on one occasion offering as a defence for his actions: “One lived in an authoritarian state and had to comply with the orders given without asking what was right.”[1680]

In July 1949, proceedings against Mauthe began in Tübingen. Despite an overwhelming amount of documentary evidence proving Mauthe's guilt, rejecting the defence that he had acted as he did on the “surrender few, save many” principle which was to become such a familiar feature of post-war German trials, and accepting that he had willingly colluded with the “euthanasia” programme to an extent far beyond that which might be considered the norm, the court sentenced Mauthe to a derisory 5 years' imprisonment for participation in the murder of an estimated 4,000 people. Shortly afterwards the sentence was suspended and Mauthe was released.[1681]

Robert Friedrich Mauz (1900-1979)[1682] was born in Esslingen, near Stuttgart. In 1922 he joined the Freikorps Epp, a right-wing, paramilitary formation. He became a lecturer at the University of Marburg in 1928, and was appointed ao. Professor there in 1934. He joined the SA in the same year and the NSDAP, together with several other Nazi organisations including the National Socialist Physicians' League, in 1937. Between 1939 and 1945 he was the director of the psychiatric clinic at the University of Königsberg. Mauz was involved in the development of “euthanasia” from inception, being one of forty-eight physicians asked to evaluate potential victims of the programme in October 1939.[1683] His name appears as a Gutachter on a list of T4 personnel, apparently appointed on 2 September 1940.[1684]

Mauz enjoyed a highly successful post-war career, in 1945 becoming director of the mental hospital at Ochsenzoll, Hamburg, and in 1953 was appointed director of the psychiatric clinic at the University of Münster. Few seemed concerned about his Nazi past. In 1948, he had been an official delegate to the Third International Congress of Mental Hygiene in London. Ten years later he was president of the German Society of Psychiatrists and Neurologists. The “Münsterische Zeitung” of 17 May 1980 reported:

The medical faculty of the University of Münster commemorates today their member of long-standing and director of the University Clinic, Prof. Dr. Robert Friedrich Mauz...He has helped, as hardly any other psychiatrist of his generation has, to shape the thoughts and actions of German medicine...(Let us) then pay tribute to the special accomplishments of Friedrich Mauz.[1685]

Friedrich Wilhelm Heinrich Mennecke (1904-1947)[1686] was born in Gross-Freden, near Hanover, the son of a stonecutter and mason. His father served in the Great War, returning a shell-shocked invalid to die in 1923. His father's disability may well have contributed to Mennecke's desire to enter the medical profession. But for someone with his background and in the prevailing economic conditions, this was far from easy. After graduating from the Gymnasium in 1923, Mennecke became a commercial apprentice at a company in Freden, eventually obtaining the position of export salesman. In 1927 he left that employment to commence his medical studies in Göttingen, qualifying as a doctor in 1934. He had joined both the Nazi party and the SS in 1932.

On 1 July 1935, he elected for a specialization study in the Department of Surgical Gynaecology at the Bad Homburg District Hospital. Unhappy there, two months later he transferred to the Eichberg State Mental Hospital, thereby electing instead for a career in psychiatry.[1687] Within two years Mennecke had risen to the post of chief physician, and on 30 January 1939 he was appointed director of the hospital. In the interim, he had married Eva Wehlan, a medical technician.[1688] Ambitious and in tune with National Socialist ideology, he rapidly gained promotion within the SS, attaining the rank of Hauptsturmführer by October 1940.

Although appointed troop physician at the beginning of the Second World War, Mennecke's military career was terminated in January 1940 by special order of the KdF. After attending a meeting at T4 headquarters one month later where, he claimed, the presence of so many distinguished medical professionals was proof of the validity of the “euthanasia” programme, he agreed to participate in it.[1689] His duties initially consisted of visiting various psychiatric institutions with a view to selecting inmates for extermination. Later he was extensively involved in assessing concentration camp inmates within the framework of Sonderbehandlung 14f13, being responsible for condemning at least 2,500 such prisoners. He also served as a Gutachter, reviewing nearly 7,000 forms on behalf of T4. Mennecke was resolute in his work; when a pregnant woman was sent from Eichberg to a killing centre for gassing but was returned the same evening, he ordered that she be sent back with another transport the following day. The woman did not return a second time.[1690] Because of his broader involvement in “euthanasia”, Mennecke was unable to personally fully implement his plans for a children's killing section at Eichberg, leaving that to his deputy, Walter Schmidt (q.v.). However, he was able to ensure that Carl Schneider (q.v.) at the University of Heidelberg received a steady supply of brains removed from the children murdered at Eichberg.[1691]

Having incurred the enmity of Fritz Bernotat (q.v.), in 1943 Mennecke was once more appointed troop physician, at first on the French Channel coast and then on the eastern front. In August 1943, suffering from goitre, he was transferred back to the Reich, but was not permitted to return to Eichberg. Instead, still in the capacity of a military doctor, he was sent to a hospital in Bühl, although he maintained close connections with T4, participating in conferences with other experts in matters of mass murder. In 1944 he was considered as a possible director of the “euthanasia” institutions at either Meseritz-Obrawalde, Bernburg-Saale, Graz or Plagwitz, at the last of which a large number of children had been assembled for killing. Instead, during a routine x-ray examination, tuberculosis was discovered in Mennecke's lungs. He ended the war as a patient, moving with his wife, Eva, to Northeim in autumn 1945. Eva was briefly arrested on suspicion of involvement in “euthanasia” matters, but was quickly released. It was only when Mennecke attempted to begin working at a refugee camp that he was arrested in April 1946, subsequently appearing as a witness in the Medical Trial at Nuremberg in January 1947.[1692]

By then proceedings against him had already begun in Frankfurt am Main (the so-called “Eichberg Trial”). Among the most damning evidence produced were the hundreds of letters he had written to his wife whilst he was absent on his “selection tours” (some 2,500 of an estimated 8,000 pages of Mennecke's correspondence with his wife, relatives, and colleagues have survived). Seemingly compiled on an almost hourly basis, they set out in extraordinary detail the trivia of Mennecke's everyday existence alongside comprehensive details and statistics regarding the selection of his victims. The letters proved beyond any doubt that Mennecke was an enthusiastic and dedicated proponent of “euthanasia.” His wife was apparently no less committed to the cause, sometimes helping her husband with the registration of patients. The verdict of the court on Mennecke was withering:

Mennecke…was not a man of great convictions. [He] was driven by unrestrained ambition and boundless assertiveness. He aspired to positions which did not match his capabilities and, once achieved, he wanted to retain them under all circumstances. It flattered his vanity to belong to a circle of renowned men, about whose recognition he was delighted in a childlike fashion…The court considers it proven that the defendant accommodated his past professional career solely in accordance with his personal advantage and that, in order to achieve this goal, he unhesitatingly threw everything overboard which is considered as right - moral and professional ethics, honour and decency - and that this eventually led him to take part unscrupulously in mass murder.

Mennecke was found guilty of the murder of at least 2,500 individuals, and was sentenced to death. However, he cheated the hangman. The death sentence would have almost certainly been commuted to a lengthy prison sentence on appeal, as occurred in similar cases, but on 28 January 1947 Mennecke died in prison, allegedly from acute tuberculosis, although there is reason to suspect that a visit from Eva two days before his death was not entirely unconnected with his demise.[1693]

Erich Karl Friedrich Moos (1904-?) had been unemployed for years prior to enrolling as a student nurse at the Weilmünster mental hospital in 1936. A member of the NSDAP since February 1933, he was transferred to Hadamar in July 1941, allegedly against his will, and recruited for the “euthanasia” programme. His responsibilities consisted of accompanying transports of patients from other institutions to Hadamar, then conducting them to the gas chamber. When the first phase of the killings stopped he returned for a time to Weilmünster, but was soon back at Hadamar, where he worked as a gardener. However, he also sometimes performed nursing duties, which at Hadamar inevitably came to include the administration of lethal medication to patients.[1694]

Moos was another of the nurses tried at the second Hadamar trial in Frankfurt. He was found guilty of complicity in an unknown number of murders and was sentenced to 4 years' imprisonment.[1695]

Theophil Mootz (1872-?)[1696] was a psychiatrist born in Fischau (today Fiszewo, Poland). A member of the Nazi party and the SA since 1937, he was brought out of retirement and appointed medical director of Meseritz-Obrawalde in March 1942. During his time in charge, an estimated 18,000 individuals were murdered at Obrawalde. He died in captivity at Waldheim, East Germany on an unknown date.

There was little doubting Mootz's enthusiasm for “euthanasia”. A number of ex-nurses from Obrawalde testified to this effect; he had told one of them that the programme had been ordered “from above”, and there was nothing to do but comply with those orders. The killings were legal, and he would take full responsibility for them. Another nurse who questioned the legality of proceedings was simply told to do her duty. A third nurse initially refusing to participate was told by Mootz that it was her “legal duty” as a civil servant to do so. Cowered, the nurse went on to become involved in the murder of at least 120 patients.[1697]

Maria Müller (?-?) was a nurse at the Kalmenhof mental institution, where she served under Mathilde Weber (q.v.) and was responsible for the murder of an unknown number of children through the addition of Luminal to their food. In return for such services, Müller received 50 percent of a monthly stipend of 30 Reichsmarks provided by T4, plus 50 percent of the 5 Reichsmarks “per death” paid by the institute's director, Wilhelm Grossman (q.v.), Müller's co-beneficiary in both cases being Anna Wrona (q.v.).

Arrested by the Americans at the end of the war, Müller escaped from custody in October 1945 and was never traced. This naturally made it easier for others deeply implicated in the killings to pass all of the blame for these crimes on to her.[1698]

Robert Müller (1886-1945)[1699] was a psychiatrist born in Schwientochlowitz, Silesia (today Swietochlwice, Poland) employed at the Königslutter state hospital and sanatorium. Müller was an enthusiastic eugenicist, and apart from the known transfers of patients from his institution to other killing centres, the hospital's abnormally high death rate for both children and adults attests to the fact that so-called “wild euthanasia” was carried out at Königslutter itself.[1700]

As a holder of the Golden Party Badge, Müller had been recognized by the regime as a long-standing and loyal member of the NSDAP. A list of Gutachter indicates that he was one of the doctors employed at T4 central office in Berlin from 8 November 1940. In 1941 Müller was assigned to Sonderbehandlung 14f13, assessing concentration camp inmates for gassing. His name appears several times in letters written to his (Mennecke's) wife by Friedrich Mennecke (q.v.) from various camps the two men were visiting together for this purpose.

Müller was another to commit suicide at the end of the war, in his case in Königslutter on 2 June 1945.

Hermann Paul Nitsche (1876-1948)[1701] was born in Colditz, the son of a physician. He studied medicine at the universities of Leipzig and Göttingen, from where he received his doctorate in 1902. Between 1904 and 1907 he was an assistant to the eminent psychiatrist Emil Kraepelin.[1702] Nitsche worked at the Frankfurt asylum, as well as at the university hospitals of Heidelberg and Munich. In 1911, together with Alfred Ploetz (q.v.) with whom he was acquainted, he participated in an exhibition in Dresden dedicated to the subject of racial hygiene, before in 1913 he became the senior physician at the Dresden mental hospital. From 1914 until early 1918 he was the acting head at the Pirna-Sonnenstein institution.

In April 1918 Nitsche became director of the Leipzig-Dösen asylum. He achieved the title of professor in 1925, and in 1927 was made a consultant psychiatrist to the government of Saxony. On 1 August 1928 he returned to Pirna-Sonnenstein, this time as director, a position he was to occupy until May 1939. Between January and April 1940 he went back to Leipzig-Dösen to conduct killing experiments on patients using barbiturates.[1703] Nitsche was thus involved in “euthanasia” from a very early stage. Although he only joined the Nazi party in 1933, somewhat later than many, he had been a supporter of eugenics in all of its manifestations for many years before acting first as a Hereditary Health Court judge, then as a T4 Gutachter (officially from 28 February 1940) and Obergutachter. He succeeded Werner Heyde (q.v.) as head of the T4 Medical Office in December 1941, functioned as an expert assessor for Sonderbehandlung 14f13, and enthusiastically endorsed “wild euthanasia” as well as a proposed official post-war re-commencement of the killing programme.[1704] Nitsche's overall contribution to T4 was immense, as has been indicated. As he stated at his trial, he considered his participation in “euthanasia” as “a service to humanity”.[1705]

In his pre- National Socialist days, Nitsche had been a highly regarded psychiatrist, writing somewhat ironically in 1929:

The nursing staff must be warned expressly against the dangers of incorrect attitudes; they must be made aware that a lack of skill and kindliness can brutalize psychiatric nursing. The patient should always feel that the intention is kind and benevolent. [1706]

Nitsche was arrested in spring 1945 by the Soviets, tried in 1947 in Dresden by an East German court, sentenced to death, and guillotined in 1948, one of the few senior T4 medical staff to receive a sentence commensurate with his crimes.

Friedrich Walter Creutz Panse (1899-1973)[1707] was born in Essen. Like his friend Kurt Pohlisch (q.v.), he had served in the military during the First World War, then studied medicine at the University of Berlin. After graduating in 1924, he worked as an assistant psychiatrist at the Wittenau mental hospital in Berlin, where he first met Werner Heyde (q.v.). Because of his friendship with Pohlisch, who was a rising star in the Nazi psychiatric firmament, in 1936 Panse was appointed chief physician at the Provincial Institute for Psychiatric and Neurological Genetic Research in Bonn. The following year he joined the NSDAP.

Panse was well respected by his colleagues, who testified that he had been opposed to “euthanasia”, instead being dedicated to purely scientific research. Unfortunately this endorsement of Panse's virtues ignored the fact that, like his friend Pohlisch, during the 1930s he had been actively involved in a project promoted by the Central Office for the Hereditary Biological Inventory, which involved compiling a nation-wide data bank of genetic and racial information. Many of those contributing to this undertaking were later to reappear as leading members of T4. Furthermore, Pohlisch and Panse's joint project on epilepsy was sponsored by Herbert Linden (q.v.), a man immersed in Nazi eugenics. Admittedly this was all guilt by association, but it is also true that a man is (or should be) judged by the company he keeps.

In April 1940, Panse was summoned to T4 headquarters in Berlin together with 50-60 other psychiatric experts, including Pohlisch. Those present were invited by Viktor Brack (q.v.) to become involved in the “euthanasia” programme. Although it was subsequently asserted that there was general resistance to any such co-operation, in fact all present agreed to participate in the preparation of a modified “euthanasia” registration form. At the conclusion of the meeting Linden asked Panse and Pohlisch to become Gutachter. Panse testified that he refused, even though his name appears on the surviving list of Gutachter, effective 14 May 1940 until 16 December 1940.[1708] In any event, between May and September 1940, Panse received hundreds of completed forms on which to pass his expert opinion. He claimed to have done so in only 15 cases. Thereafter there is no further evidence of any activity on his behalf as a Gutachter.[1709]

Panse continued to work as a psychiatrist throughout the war, in 1942 being appointed Professor of Psychiatry, Neurology, and Racial Hygiene at Bonn University. In addition he acted as physician-in-chief at the university's mental clinic, as well as director of the provincial mental hospital. In 1948, he appeared in the dock in Düsseldorf alongside Pohlisch, accused of participation in the “euthanasia” programme. The two men presented a similar, and familiar, defence. They had objected to “euthanasia”, and had done everything in their power to preserve the lives of their patients. “Professor Pohlisch and myself were the leaders of the opposition,” Panse declared.[1710] Those patients they had selected were terminally ill; none had died solely as a result of their actions. The court unhesitatingly accepted their evidence, and acquitted them on the grounds of “proven innocence”. The verdict was annulled by the Supreme Court of the British Zone and a retrial ordered, which took place in January 1950, again resulting in acquittal. Not only were they innocent, but as in the case of Walter Creutz (q.v.) the court deemed their behaviour as verging on the heroic.[1711]

Panse went on to enjoy a distinguished post-war academic career.

Eduard Pernkopf (1888-1955)[1712] was born in Rappottenstein, Austria. He graduated from the University of Vienna in 1912, and in 1920 became an assistant to Ferdinand Hochstetten at the university's Anatomical Institute. Appointed a professor the following year, in 1933 he succeeded Hochstetten as head of the institute. Pernkopf joined the Nazi party the same year and the SA in 1934. Between 1938 and 1943 he was the Dean of the university, and from 1943 to 1945 its Rector.

Following the Anschluss, at his first lecture as Dean on 6 April 1938 Pernkopf left no-one in any doubt as to where his loyalties lay. Racial hygiene was to be the dominant factor in medicine. Hitler was “the greatest son of our home country” and enjoyed the joyful devotion and loyalty” of all, Students would be “trained as National Socialist doctors, who are to put the medical profession at the service of National Socialism.” In July of that year he affirmed the importance and necessity of an Institute of Genetics and Racial Biology in Vienna, and such a department was created at the university in October 1938, with the intention of it becoming operational on 1 November 1939. In fact it was to take four years before Lothar Loeffler (q.v.) assumed control of a fully functioning Institute.[1713]

If Pernkopf is remembered at all today it is for his Topographical Anatomy of Man, a text which has been a widely used as the standard work of anatomy for over sixty years. The book continues to be published under the imprint of the original publisher. However, the appearance of one of the subjects raised questions as to whether the real-life model may have been a prisoner of the Nazis. In March 1995, Yad Vashem formally requested that the University of Vienna undertake an independent inquiry into the backgrounds of the subjects in Pernkopf's Anatomy. In February 1997, the then Rector of the university announced a commission of investigation and a report was issued on 1 October 1998, which revealed that the Institute of Anatomy had received almost 1,400 cadavers from the Gestapo execution chamber at the Vienna Regional Court. While the Anatomical Institute and its collection were destroyed by bombing near the end of the war, the investigation did identify approximately 200 Institute specimens from the Nazi era that were still in the collections of other universities. The possible use of these bodies as models cannot be excluded for up to half of the approximately 800 plates in Pernkopf's book.[1714]

Pernkopf was dismissed from his academic post at the end of the war, and spent three years in an internment camp. On his release he continued to work on his anatomical atlas until his death.

Hermann Pfannmüller (1886-1961)[1715] was born in Munich. He qualified as a doctor in 1913, and as a specialist in psychiatry in 1918.[1716] During the First World War he worked at the Homburg mental hospital, where the sight of so many patients dying of malnutrition is likely to have had a profound influence on him. He certainly became an enthusiastic, not to say fanatical exponent of “euthanasia”, a belief which was undoubtedly bolstered by his joining the NSDAP in 1922. He left the party in 1925 after a dispute with Julius Streicher, but rejoined after the Machtergreifung. In 1934 Pfannmüller had briefly been at the Kaufbeuren asylum, before in 1936 he was appointed chief physician at the Augsberg Consultation Office for Genetic and Racial Care. He became director of the Eglfing–Haar mental institution in 1937.[1717] In November 1939, and already a Gutachter,[1718] he set out his philosophy in a report to the Ministry of Justice:

As a confessionally unattached and convinced National Socialist director of an institution, I consider it my duty to present a genuine economization that is suited to influence favourably the financial position of the institutions. In this respect I consider it appropriate openly and in all clarity to point to the necessity that, with regard to the medical treatment of life-unworthy life, we as doctors draw the final conclusion in the sense of extermination…Those patients who are in themselves to be pitied [but] who have become totally useless for social integration into human society…[and] who have become a burden and a pain to themselves, their relatives, and their environment, should be subjected to intensified extermination…[1719]

Pfannmüller, practiced what he preached. Almost 1,000 of his patients were transported to other killing centres for gassing, whilst under his supervision a minimum of 120 children were murdered at Eglfing–Haar. Pfannmüller's dedication to “euthanasia” has been illustrated elsewhere in this work, and although there were those, like Gerhard Schmidt, Pfannmüller's successor as director of Eglfing–Haar near the end of the war, who were charitable enough to believe that Pfannmüller was “a simple man [who] was strongly convinced that [the “euthanasia” programme] was urgently necessary”, and who ordinarily “could not hurt a fly,” the record suggests otherwise.[1720] Viktor Brack (q.v.), for example, considered him one of the leading lights of “euthanasia.”

Having appeared as a witness at the Nuremberg Medical Trial, in 1949 Pfannmüller was arraigned before a Munich court in connection with his own “euthanasia” activities. His defence – essentially that the legality or otherwise of his actions could be reduced to a matter of opinion – was, not surprisingly, rejected by the court. That he was well aware of the illegal nature of the programme was illustrated shortly before his arrest by American troops, when he destroyed all records of his activities at Eglfing–Haar. Nonetheless, the court determined that it was “not proven beyond doubt” that Pfannmüller was fully aware of all aspects of T4's murderous programme, and in March 1951 it sentenced him to five years' imprisonment for complicity in manslaughter,[1721] a verdict now considered “a travesty of justice”.[1722] After deduction of time spent in pre-trial confinement, Pfannmüller was released after two years in jail.[1723]

Kurt Pohlisch (1893-1955)[1724] was born in Remscheid. His life and career largely replicated that of Friedrich Panse (q.v.), as has been described. Although he did not join the Nazi party until 1937, he indicated his allegiance to the cause in other ways. He was a prominent official in the Hitler Youth, a member of National Socialist Public Welfare, the National Socialist Lecturers' League, and the Reich Air Defence League, as well as a sponsoring member of the SS. All of this undoubtedly helped to influence his appointment in 1934 as Professor of Psychiatry and Neurology at the University of Bonn, where he also became physician-in-chief at the university mental clinic, and director of the regional mental institution.

Pohlisch appears on the list of T4 Gutachter with effect from 30 April 1940 to 6 January 1941. Like Panse, he claimed to have declined Herbert Linden's (q.v.) invitation to participate in the “euthanasia” programme, yet he still completed a few of the Meldebogen sent to him (in his case 10 “at the most”). Pohlisch's protestations of innocence seem somewhat compromised by Werner Heyde's (q.v.) assertion in 1961 that

…the testimony of Professor Pohlisch is false in all essential points. This is already shown by the fact that during the entire time of my own involvement in the euthanasia measures, he was uninterruptedly active as a Gutachter…On no occasion did Pohlisch express a principled disapproving attitude towards the euthanasia measures, either in words or in behaviour; the opposite is true.

Heyde may have had his own reasons for implicating Pohlisch so thoroughly in T4 activities, but it is nonetheless undeniable that in February 1941 (that is after he apparently had ceased to be a Gutachter), Pohlisch was involved in the selection of patients at the Bethel mental home. Moreover, this dedicated opponent of “mercy killing”, who according to his own testimony had, through his intervention, rescued “a great many thousands of people”, and had even “intentionally sabotaged the Aktion, even risking my life”, was also a participant in the drafting of a proposed “euthanasia” law in 1940.[1725]

In fairness, at his trials in 1948 and 1950 the court was probably unaware of this evidence. As with Panse, Pohlisch was duly acquitted, and successfully continued with his psychiatric career in the Federal Republic.[1726]

Amanda Ratajczak (?-1945) was head nurse at Meseritz-Obrawalde. She escaped from the institution before the arrival of the Red Army on 29 January 1945, but was captured that March, and tried before a Soviet tribunal. She admitted to murdering more than 1,500 patients, the last on the day before the liberation of Obrawalde. Sentenced to death, she was shot on 10 May 1945.[1727]

Hans Conrad Julius Reiter (1881-1969)[1728] was born in Reudnitz, now incorporated as part of Leipzig. He studied medicine in Leipzig, Breslau, and Tübingen, where he received his doctorate. Subsequently he continued his studies in Berlin, Paris, and London. He was a military physician during the Great War, and in 1919 was appointed ao. Professor of Social Hygiene at the University of Rostock. A committed Nazi, Reiter joined the party in 1931 and the SA ten years later.

In 1933 Reiter was appointed head of the Reich Health Office.[1729] At his post-war interrogation he was rather economical with the truth, insisting that his Office had no connection with “euthanasia”, or other eugenic matters.[1730] In fact, Robert Ritter's (q.v.) Eugenic and Population Biological and Research Station operated as a department of the Reich Health Office.[1731] Reiter had been an enthusiastic supporter of both the sterilisation and “euthanasia” policies, and was involved in a study that inoculated concentration camp internees at Buchenwald with an experimental typhus vaccine, thereby causing the death of many of them.

Although he was interned by the Americans between 1945 and 1947, by 1949 Reiter was working again as a doctor in Kassel.

Georg Renno[1732] (1907-1997) [T4 Hartheim pseudonym, “Dr Steinert”,[1733] post-war pseudonym, “Dr Georg Reinig”][1734] was born in Strasbourg, Alsace, a region that has repeatedly switched hands between France and Germany. At the time of Renno's birth, Alsace was part of Germany, but the region was returned to France at the end of the Great War. Of German descent, and therefore considered of questionable loyalty to France, in what today would be termed an act of “ethnic cleansing”, the Renno family was expelled from Strasbourg in 1919 to settle in Ludwigshafen, where Renno received his basic education. After his matriculation in 1926, he commenced studying medicine at hospitals in Heidelberg and Frankenthal. He graduated as a physician in 1933, and took up his first medical position at the children's hospital for tuberculosis in Scheidegg.[1735] By that time he was already a member of the Nazi party, having joined in August 1930 after becoming a member of the NS-Studentenbund, the Nazi Students' League, one year earlier.[1736] An enthusiastic flautist, he became a member of the SS in 1931, ostensibly to play military music, but also to act as physician to his unit.[1737]

In November 1935, Renno began specializing in neurology at the psychiatric institution at Leipzig-Dösen,[1738] becoming a consulting physician one year later. He spent another year at, first, the Kaiser-Wilhelm Institute for Anthropology in Berlin, then at the German Research Institute for Psychiatry in Munich, before becoming medical advisor to the State of Saxony. He was considered to be an expert in genetics and “racial science”.[1739] Of his convinced Nazism and unquestioning obedience and loyalty to his Führer there was no doubt.

In 1939 he temporarily left public service for private practice, but the outbreak of war put an end to that. In March 1940 he was recruited for T4 by Paul Nitsche (q.v.), head of the institution at Leipzig-Dösen, whom he had already assisted in the killing of patients at that hospital.[1740] According to Renno, Nitsche simply sat him down and casually began their meeting with the words: ”Let's see, what do you think of euthanasia?” Ambitious young Dr Renno was not about to curb his enthusiasm for the concept.[1741] After all, Himmler had pronounced that the SS physician was a soldier first and a doctor second, and Renno was nothing if not an obedient SS-man.[1742]

In May 1940 Renno was appointed a Gutachter, and was posted to Niedernhart and Hartheim as assistant to Rudolf Lonauer (q.v.), the physician-in-charge at those establishments.[1743] Between the summers of 1940 and 1941, Renno visited around fifty institutions within the surrounding region, meticulously selecting those mental patients he considered suitable for transfer to Hartheim and gassing.[1744] At the suggestion of Werner Heyde (q.v.), in spring 1941 Renno also participated in the making of a “euthanasia” propaganda film, Dasein ohne Leben (“Existence Without Life”). The film was shot at Sonnenstein, where the camera accompanied the elegant Dr Renno as he made his rounds and consulted with his patients.[1745] Of course, the film did not show the consequences of Renno's diagnoses.

Renno considered murder of an impersonal nature to be somewhat beneath him, informing Heyde, “I did not study medicine to operate a gas valve,”[1746] although doing so “was nothing special.”[1747] He clearly preferred a more “hands-on” approach, an opportunity for which arose when in May 1941 a new children's killing ward was proposed for the institution at Waldniel, near Andernach. Renno was appointed as its head in October 1941,[1748] but two months later he developed tuberculosis, and was forced to resign his position.[1749] He left Waldniel in February 1942 for several months' treatment in Leipzig, Sankt Blasien, and Davos, before in 1943 he returned to Hartheim to again take up his chosen career of mass murderer.[1750]

In September 1943, Lonauer was called-up for service in the Waffen-SS; Renno replaced him as physician-in-chief, and was solely responsible for the continued gassing of concentration camp inmates at Hartheim under the aegis of 14f13. Lonauer returned from the military in November 1944, by which time Hartheim was about to cease operations. In mid-December Renno and his family left for the rest home that had been established by T4 at Lake Attersee. There was a recurrence of Renno's tuberculosis requiring a further sojourn at Davos, but in April 1945 he returned to Attersee, where he remained until the end of the war. Bearing false identity papers, Renno settled first in Aschaffenburg, then Bockenheim, where he was to live for the remainder of his life. In 1948 he commenced employment as a researcher with the pharmaceutical company Schering AG.[1751]

The next thirteen years passed peacefully enough, until October 1961, when Renno, by that time again having resumed his true identity, was arrested in connection with his T4 activities. Three months later he was released from custody; it required more than another seven years before his trial could commence in August 1969. In March 1970, Renno entered hospital for the removal of his appendix. Although suffering from no recognizable symptoms, Renno's condition deteriorated to the point where he was declared unfit to stand trial. The case against him was abandoned in December 1975.[1752] Renno then staged a remarkable recovery, extending his lifespan by almost a further twenty two years.

For his involvement in an unknown number of murders of both adults and children, Renno thus received no judicial punishment whatsoever, and was able to arrogantly boast to the end of his life, “I am not guilty.”[1753] By that time he had probably come to believe this kind of lie, as well as those he told to his great niece when stating: “It was the Americans who circulated rumours about the gas chambers to discredit the Nazi regime. Believe me, such things never existed.”[1754]

Paul Reuter (1907-?) was born in Wolfenhausen, and began his working life as a gardener, but in common with many others was unemployed for long periods. When he did find employment it was as a farm labourer, or on relief projects, until in 1936 he became a student nurse at the Weilmünster mental hospital. He had joined the NSDAP in 1930, left after a few months membership, but re-joined the party in December 1933.

In July 1941 he was transferred to Hadamar and inducted into the “euthanasia” programme. He performed the usual duties of accompanying transports from other institutions to Hadamar, assisting new arrivals to disrobe, and guiding them to the gas chamber. He also witnessed gassing operations. He claimed to have agreed to participate in the programme only when he was assured that the patients to be killed were “life unworthy of life”.[1755] However, at his trial he also accepted that among the victims were patients who appeared healthy, could undress themselves, and were quite capable of communicating with him. Reuter was yet another sent eastwards with the Organisation Todt mission in winter 1941/1942, returning to Germany in March 1942. He was briefly at Eichberg before returning to Hadamar to continue his nursing duties, which included administering lethal injections to 10-20 patients.[1756]

One of the defendants at the second Hadamar trial held at Frankfurt in February 1947, Reuter was found guilty of involvement in the murder of an unknown number of victims, and sentenced to four years and six months' imprisonment.[1757]

Robert Ritter (1901-1951)[1758] was born in Aachen. Too young to serve in the Great War, he became a Freikorps member in Oberschlesien at the age of 17 before becoming active in a youth group opposing French occupation forces in the Rhineland.[1759] After studying at a variety of universities, he received his doctorate in educational psychology from the University of Munich in 1927, and went on to obtain his medical doctorate from the University of Heidelberg in 1930. He was granted his medical license in the same year, and gained accreditation as a child psychiatrist in 1934. Ritter worked at hospitals in Paris, Zurich, Berlin and Tübingen, receiving his habilitation from the latter university in 1936. His principal area of research was juvenile antisocial behaviour.

Ritter appears to have been a National Socialist in spirit, if not in fact, for despite his obvious political inclinations, there is no evidence that he joined the Nazi party or any of its associated organizations, although he was evidently a child psychiatrist for the Hitler Youth.[1760] As already described, in 1936 he was appointed head of the newly created Eugenic and Population Biological Research Station of the Reich Health Office, under Hans Reiter (q.v.). Together with his assistants, Ritter investigated the family histories of certain petty criminals, particularly “those of alien race”, most significantly Gypsies, who were categorized as being either “troublemaker, loafer, sponger, talentless, violent criminal, knave, crook, [or] hereditarily insane”.[1761] Ritter hoped to prove a direct link between heredity and criminality in the Gypsy population, a subject completely without any scientific validity. His attitude towards the key objects of his studies can be summarised in a report he wrote in 1940:

…We have been able to establish that more than 90% of so-called native Gypsies are of mixed blood…Further results of our investigations have allowed us to characterise the Gypsies as being a people of entirely primitive ethnological origins, whose mental backwardness makes them incapable of real social adaptation….The Gypsy question can only be solved when the main body of a social and good-for-nothing Gypsy individuals of mixed blood is collected together in large camps and kept working there, and when the further breeding of this population of mixed blood is stopped once and for all.[1762]

As the persecution of the Gypsies intensified, in 1941 Ritter was appointed head of another new department – the Criminal Biological Institute of the Security Police, a division of the RSHA - where his identification of Sinti and Roma, thereby enabling their arrest and deportation, contributed in no small measure to the annihilation of the Gypsies of the Reich. In winter 1941-1942, Ritter attended a conference at which it was proposed that Germany's 30,000 Gypsies be eliminated by loading them onto ships, which would then be sunk by gunfire in the Mediterranean.[1763] Whether Ritter approved of such a measure is unknown, but he was certainly well aware of the fate that awaited any Gypsies marked for deportation.

After the war, Ritter was employed by the Frankfurt Health Office as a children's physician. Investigation into his and his associates' involvement in the extermination of German and other Gypsies was abandoned with his death.[1764]

Curd Runckel (1913-?)[1765] was born in Berlin, and was one of the doctors who operated out of T4 headquarters, functioning as a Gutachter from 1 September 1941.[1766] In the summer of 1944, Runckel, acting as Paul Nitsche's (q.v.) roving reporter, commented in unflattering terms on the mind-set of German psychiatrists vis-à-vis “euthanasia”:

I always find the attitude of numerous asylum directors particularly sad as far as the therapy and the problems tackled by the Reich committee are concerned…I also saw time and time again in a number of asylums that chronically severe mentally ill patients are kept alive through all kinds of substances. It is an attitude for which it is especially difficult to have empathy during a war! I always ask the senior physicians in the asylums about therapy and also about the euthanasia problem, and have so far found no enthusiasm for this, except in those institutions with which we collaborate.

Runckel frequently found that doctors refused to discuss the killing of patients through the use of medication, yet were prepared to allow their charges to starve to death.[1767] Whether these doctors were preparing a post-war defence for themselves – for example that starvation of patients was inevitable in wartime conditions, as had been proven in 1914-1918 – whilst in fact cooperating with the killing programme, is a matter for debate. Certainly by this late stage of the war, there was much thought being given to “plausible deniability”. That was, after all, the basis upon which the Third Reich was ruled.

Following a meeting with Karl Brandt (q.v.), on 24 July 1944 Runckel informed Nitsche that Brandt had queried whether it would be possible to “inconspicuously prepare the activation of our specific therapy.”[1768] The meaning of this coded message was clear. In the convoluted language of the Nazi regime, consent was being given at the highest levels of government for the formal expansion of “wild euthanasia”, for it could be assumed that anything emanating from Brandt had been approved by Hitler.[1769]

After the war, Runckel pursued a successful medical career in Switzerland. Although a warrant for his arrest in connection with the murder of “at least 10,000 people” was issued in August 1961, proceedings against him were delayed, before eventually being abandoned eight years later.[1770]

Josef Schicker (1879-1949)[1771] a psychiatrist born in Summerau, Austria, joined the illegal Austrian Nazi party in 1932. With the reputation of a “yes man”, he was appointed director of the Gugging mental institution located in the outskirts of Vienna. Although subsequently cleared of any complicity in “euthanasia”, he was involved in the compulsory sterilisation of at least 102 men and women. At his post-war trial, Schicker stated that in 1940 he had been informed by his medical superior that “measures to empty the wards” were to be taken. In the same year, by order of Erwin Jekelius (q.v.) nine medical students appeared at Gugging to study patient's case histories and complete Meldebogen where appropriate. Thereafter, 675 inmates were transferred to Hartheim for gassing in the first phase of “euthanasia”. With the advent of “decentralised euthanasia”, the sinister Emil Gelny (q.v.) became responsible for the killing of patients at Gugging.[1772]

Curt Schmalenbach (1910-1944)[1773] [T4 pseudonym “Dr Palm”][1774] was born in Wuppertal. He joined the SS in 1931/32 and also briefly became a member of the NSDAP for the first time in 1932, subsequently being excluded from membership of the party when he was unable to pay his subscription. He rejoined the party in late 1940. After qualifying as a physician, he worked as Paul Nitsche's (q.v.) assistant at Sonnenstein, it probably being Nitsche who recommended Schmalenbach to T4.[1775]

Schmalenbach appears on a T4 personnel listing as “serving at headquarters” with effect from 26 June 1940.[1776] He began his “euthanasia” duties at Sonnenstein as Horst Schumann's (q.v.) assistant in autumn 1940, remaining at that institution until December of that year; amongst other duties, in Schumann's absence Schmalenbach was in charge of the gassing of patients. He then became the point of contact between T4 in Berlin and the killing centres, acting for a number of hospitals as the Gutachter responsible for the selection of patients to be murdered.

Schmalenbach was one of the doctors involved in Sonderbehandlung 14f13. Unfavourable reference was made to him in a letter Friedrich Mennecke (q.v.) wrote to his wife from Fürstenberg on 21 November 1941, in which Mennecke complained that “…Mr Schmalenbach wreaked havoc with the order I had created yesterday for the work we were doing.” The “work” was being conducted at Ravensbrück. Four days later, the medical party was in Buchenwald, where Mennecke “had to `re-examine' the files that Schmalenbach and I myself had prepared.”[1777]

In late 1941 Schmalenbach was appointed head of Hadamar; shortly thereafter he joined the mysterious T4 mission to the eastern front. After his return, the decision was taken to cease gassing operations at Hadamar. Under Schmalenbach's supervision the gas chamber was dismantled. Thereafter he ostensibly became a hospital surgeon, but as Viktor Brack's (q.v.) adjutant he visited Paris, Warsaw, Prague and other cities, carrying with him an authorization from Philip Bouhler (q.v.) allowing him to refuse to disclose to any curious interrogator information about his activities and the purpose of his trip.

Schmalenbach died in an airplane crash over Lake Como on 15 June 1944. Whether he was in Italy as part of the transfer of Aktion Reinhard staff to that region is speculation, but seems possible.

Walter Eugen Schmidt (1910-1970)[1778] was born in Wiesbaden, and studied medicine at the University of Frankfurt, from where he graduated in November 1937. He was a devoted Nazi, joining the Hitler Youth at 16, the NSDAP in 1930, and the SS two years later. In May 1939 he was appointed assistant to Friedrich Mennecke (q.v.) at Eichberg. On the outbreak of war, Schmidt was conscripted into the Wehmacht, but when in early 1941 it was decided to establish a children's killing ward at Eichberg under Mennecke, the latter recommended Schmidt as his lieutenant. Hans Hefelmannn (q.v.) and Richard von Hegener (q.v.) agreed, and arranged for the suspension of Schmidt's military service.

In the summer of 1941, Schmidt accompanied Mennecke to a conference at the KdF together with 30-40 other physicians. All were invited to participate in the “euthanasia” programme. None declined. On his return to Eichberg Schmidt was promoted to physician-in-chief, Mennecke being otherwise engaged in killing activities. However, Schmidt's name appears on the list of T4 Gutachter, effective 2 September 1940, which suggests a much earlier involvement in “euthanasia”.[1779] His attendance at the Berlin conference of medical dignitaries in February 1940 that so impressed Mennecke would appear to confirm this.[1780] Certainly he had no qualms about participating in the programme, commenting as he later did: “For me there was only the possibility of `treating' the children concerned at the right moment, they were to be killed in any case.”[1781]

At his December 1946 trial in Frankfurt, where he, Friedrich Mennecke (q.v.), Heléne Schürg (q.v), and Andreas Senft (q.v.) were co-defendants, Schmidt admitted to killing a minimum of seventy children, plus an unspecified number of adults. In at least thirty documented cases of child murder he had personally administered lethal doses of medication.[1782] A nurse employed at Eichberg remarked: “It was generally known among the nurses and throughout the Eichberg [institution] that Schmidt killed patients. We just called him the `mass murderer'”.[1783] Although there was substantial body of evidence to the effect that Schmidt had ruled his kingdom like a petty despot, [1784] the court credited him with his dedication to healing those patients he had not killed (!), noting in particular that in order to acquire better diagnostic data “he dissected the brains of the children killed or deceased and sent them for scientific research to the psychiatric university at Heidelberg.” It would be charitable to assume that the court was unaware of the activities of Carl Schneider (q.v.) at Heidelberg and his involvement in so many aspects of T4. In fact, Eichberg was one of the most important sources of material for Schneider's “research”.[1785]

Whilst adjudging Schmidt guilty of murder, the court managed to find reasons not to impose the death penalty, and instead sentenced Schmidt to life imprisonment. The Regional Appeal Court overruled that verdict, and in 1947 did sentence Schmidt to death, but the sentence was never carried out. Instead, in 1953, in a rather different political climate, Schmidt was released from custody.[1786]

Carl Schneider (1891-1946)[1787] was born in Gembitz in the province of Posen (now Gebice, Poland).[1788] Of modest origins, he won a scholarship to an elite school and went on to study medicine at Würzburg, before becoming a medical orderly during the Great War. He graduated as a physician in 1919, and for a short period worked as assistant to the eminent psychiatrist Oswald Bumke at Leipzig University. In 1922 he was appointed physician at the Arnsdorf mental hospital, where he remained for the next eight years. In 1930, the same year he worked with Paul Nitsche (q.v.) in creating the International Hygiene Exhibition in Dresden, he became the first medical director of the Bodelschwingh asylum in Bethel. He joined the NSDAP in 1932, and the following year left Bethel to take up the chair of psychiatry and neurology at Heidelberg.[1789] Although it has been suggested that this was not a political appointment, Schneider's predecessor had been removed because of an apparent lack of enthusiasm for the regime, and it seems likely that almost every academic appointment would have been political by October 1933.[1790] Schneider's membership of the party was certainly no impediment to his burgeoning career, for he also became head of the Racial Political Office in Baden.

Having advanced to the position of head of the University Clinic at Heidelberg, a post he held until the end of the war, Schneider became one of the major organizers of “euthanasia”; a Gutachter from April 1940 and a member of the Reich Committee, he was also considered T4's leading researcher. His overnight conversion from caring, principled doctor to ruthless, dedicated murderer has been ascribed to overweening ambition; certainly that must have made an important contribution to both his attitude and his actions, although his enthusiasm for killing may also be seen, at least in part, as yet another example of the ability of power to corrupt.[1791] In 1941 Schneider documented the way forward:

All current measures to relieve economic pressure on our people resulting from expenditures for useless institutional inmates [meaning “euthanasia”], and all eugenic measures in the broadest sense [meaning “euthanasia”], are long term measures. It will take centuries [to eliminate mental disease]… But it is still possible to relieve our people of a great number of congenital, hereditary, or acquired chronic mental infirmities in other ways [meaning “euthanasia”].

At least 211 former patients of the Heidelberg Psychiatric Hospital were murdered during the various phases of “euthanasia”. Another 21 children were killed at Eichberg for the purposes of Schneider's Heidelberg research. After many years, a memorial commemorating the death of these children was dedicated at the front of the Heidelberg Hospital. Under Schneider, Heidelberg's clinic became the destination for the brains of an unknown number of “euthanasia” victims. As he journeyed around various institutions, Schneider was constantly looking out for suitable subjects. The fate of those he discovered can be imagined.[1792]

Schneider had ambitious (and expensive) plans to make psychiatry the cornerstone of German medical research. To this end he set up a new department employing a number of specialist physicians in spring 1942, initially sited at the Heidelberg University Psychiatric Clinic, but subsequently moving to the Wiesloch asylum.[1793] But all of Schneider's grandiose visions vanished with the collapse of the Third Reich. He was briefly an American prisoner before being released to become a patient in a psychiatric hospital. Rearrested as a potential witness in the Eichberg trial, and faced with the inevitable consequences of his activities, on 11 December 1946, whilst in American captivity, he was another to hang himself in his cell.[1794]

Agnes Schrankel (1907-?), born in Bochum, was a nurse at Hadamar, where she had worked since 1937. She never joined the Nazi party, but in 1940 was recruited by T4, even though she claimed she had not participated in the mass gassings that occurred at Hadamar in the first phase of “euthanasia”. Instead, she testified, she had been working in the kitchen. It was impossible to prove otherwise, but it was established that she had assisted her superior Minna Zachow (q.v.) in the killing of some 20-25 patients during the programme's second phase.[1795]

Another to be tried at the second Hadamar trial in Frankfurt, Schrankel received a jail sentence of three years and six months for participation in at least 20 cases of murder.[1796]

Josef Artur Schreck (1878-1963)[1797] was born in Baden-Baden, a man who on taking up psychiatry in 1913 as the branch of medicine in which he intended to specialise, did so “because there, the doctor could mean more to his patients.” Indeed, Schreck enjoyed a high reputation as a “fatherly benign doctor who sacrificed himself on behalf of his patients.” But there was a worm in the bud. Schreck had been hugely influenced by his dreadful experiences at the Illenau asylum during the First World War, and then by the writings of Binding and Hoche. He believed that “euthanasia” was acceptable, if not essential, in the case of “full idiots” or those who had become “feebleminded” due to accident or illness. A merciful death was something he himself would desire if he were ever unfortunate enough to fall into such a condition.[1798] Schreck clung to these convictions to the end, although as he admitted at his trial, he was fully aware that Nazi “euthanasia” was a perversion of Binding and Hoche's vision of legalized “mercy killing”. Nonetheless, given the exigencies of wartime, in his view killing on such a scale was justified on purely economic grounds.

Given such opinions, and his 1933 membership of the Nazi party, T4 had no difficulty in recruiting Schreck for the “euthanasia” programme. He served at three Baden mental institutions – Illenau, Rastatt, where he was appointed director in 1934, and Wiesloch, where he assumed a similar position on the dissolution of Rastatt in 1940. In the same year his name appears on a surviving list as a Gutachter.[1799] He personally witnessed a gassing at Grafeneck, and had no hesitation in knowingly sending his patients to their death there.

1n 1948 Schreck appeared in court at Freiburg to account for his crimes. He was unapologetic. Unlike many of his accomplices he did not seek to avoid responsibility for his actions, clearly considering himself nothing less than a martyr to the cause of euthanasia, with little or no comprehension of the criminality of his activities. He was sentenced to life imprisonment, plus a further ten years. In 1950, the overall sentence was reduced to one of 12 years. Twelve months later he was a free man, permitted to again practice as a physician.[1800]

Horst Schumann (1906-1983) [T4 pseudonym “Dr Klein” or “Dr Blume”].[1801] Even among this company of what might be termed “anti-physicians”, Schumann can be considered exceptional. Few, if any, could match the extent of his participation in so many different aspects of T4, nor his sickening record of cruelty and murder.

He was born in Halle, the son of a doctor who had distinctly right-wing and nationalistic political views. This was undoubtedly a profound influence on Schumann, who as early as 1923/1924 became a member of a group of National Socialist sympathisers. He joined the party itself in 1930, and the SA in 1932. By this time he was a medical student, graduating in 1933 to work in the public health office in Halle. There he remained until shortly before the outbreak of war, when he was conscripted to serve as a medical officer in the Luftwaffe. His military service was brief, for in early October 1939, Schumann was summoned to the KdF, informed of the “euthanasia” programme, and invited by Viktor Brack (q.v.) to become physician-in-charge at Grafeneck. Schumann, who had no knowledge of psychiatry, but presumably had other credentials that appealed to Brack, such as a complete lack of scruples so far as murder was concerned, willingly accepted.[1802] He had not been Brack's first choice for the position, but the man who was – an SS doctor named Werner Kirchert – refused Brack's offer, and instead recommended his friend and fellow former citizen of Halle, Schumann.

Schumann arrived in Grafeneck in January 1940, remaining at that institution until late April or early May of that year, when he was transferred to Sonnenstein to supervise the construction of the new killing centre there.[1803] Whilst still officially employed at Sonnenstein, he became a member of the Sonderbehandlung 14f13 doctors' commission that visited concentration camps to select prisoners for killing. This led to Schumann's first visit to Auschwitz, where on 28 July 1941 he selected 575 prisoners for subsequent transfer to Sonnenstein and gassing. Like Rudolf Lonauer (q.v.), Schumann thus not only selected those who were to die, but oversaw the actual murder of certain of them.[1804]

In November 1942, Schumann returned to Auschwitz, this time to conduct sterilisation experiments on male and female inmates. His brutal and callous methods have been described above. Schumann left Auschwitz in spring 1944. His subsequent actions are uncertain, but it is known that he conducted sterilisation experiments at Ravenbrück similar to those he had initiated at Auschwitz, and it is likely that he continued to select victims for gassing. According to Schumann he served as a doctor in the Wehrmacht from January 1945, but the war over, he surfaced in October of that year in Gladbeck, where he found employment as a sports doctor. He made no attempt to hide his identity, and in 1949 began working as a general practitioner. He might have continued to lead an untroubled existence if he had not applied for a hunting licence. He had been on the “wanted” list since the time of the Nuremberg Medical Trial, but it was only now that his whereabouts were discovered. When on 26 February 1951 police officers arrived to arrest him he was gone, probably warned by somebody in authority.

Thereafter he led a strange existence. He claimed to have been a ship's doctor for the next three years; since he had no German passport, he had applied for and obtained one in his own name in Japan in 1954. One year later he turned up in Egypt, then he and his wife settled in the town of Li Jubu in the Sudan, where he became the director of a hospital for lepers. Unfortunately for Schumann, a German journalist published an article about this latter-day Albert Schweitzer, which immediately aroused the interest of the German authorities. In summer 1959 a request for Schumann's extradition was filed with the Sudanese government, but he had already fled the country, this time for Ghana, where he lived under the protection of Kwame Nkrumah, that country's leader. There Schumann could meet with friends like Helmut Kallmeyer (q.v.) and relive the good old days. But when Nkrumah was ousted from power in 1966, Schumann was again vulnerable. This time an extradition application was successful, and in November of that year he was back in Germany.[1805]

It was to take almost another four years before proceedings against him finally began in September 1970. They did not last long. His cellmate Hans-Joachim Becker (q.v.) testified that Schumann simulated a haemorrhage by swallowing his own blood then violently regurgitating it. The trial of the ex-doctor (he had been struck off in 1961) was suspended in April 1971 because of his “ill health”, and was terminated in July 1972. Schumann was released from custody.[1806] Despite his “weak heart”, he managed to survive for a further eleven years.

Heléne Schürg (1904-?) was born in Karlsruhe and became a student nurse in 1924. She was employed at the Weilmünster mental hospital from 1933 to October 1937, when she was transferred to Eichberg to take up the post of head nurse, a position she retained until her dismissal in July 1945. She joined the NSDAP in 1940, and was a sponsoring member of the SS.

In early 1941 a children's killing ward was established at Eichberg, supervised by Walter Schmidt (q.v.). Schürg, enamoured of her superior, assisted Schmidt in the killing of an estimated fifty children, for which service she received bonus payments from time to time from T4. She was a defendant at the Eichberg trial held in Frankfurt in December 1946, and made no attempt to deny her guilt. Rather, she had committed these crimes because of her infatuation with Schmidt, a defence the court was prepared to accept, stating: “She had so divested herself of her own will that she placed all her fortitude at Schmidt's disposal, seeking to translate his will into reality and doing precisely that.” [1807] Playing Trilby to Schmidt's Svengali stood Schürg in good stead, for the court determined that she had not been a murderess, but had behaved as she did from “a wrongly understood duty of obedience,” and imposed a sentence of eight years' imprisonment. Time spent in pre-trial confinement was deducted from the sentence.

Andreas Senft (1883-?) was another Eichberg nurse. He had trained as a cartwright, but had been a nurse at the institution since 1906. He joined the Nazi party in 1940, and never attempted to deny his involvement in the murder of an estimated twenty patients by means of lethal injections. Another under the baleful influence of Walter Schmidt (q.v.), when asked if he had any reservations about these killings, he replied:

I was close to 40 years in the institution and I have always just obeyed the Herr Director and the doctors…Well, I thought, this Dr Schmidt, he surely could not do this without any foundation, there must definitely be an instruction…Certainly I questioned my conscience on this from time to time. I have simply only obeyed, nothing more. If, for instance, Dr Schmidt had ordered me to steal something, that is of course something different, I would not have done that.

So murder was acceptable, but stealing was taboo. The Frankfurt court considered that Senft had acted as he did “out of a certain naivety”, which seems something of an understatement, and sentenced him to four years' imprisonment.[1808]

Ludwig Sprauer (1884-1962)[1809] was born in Heidelberg, and studied medicine at Freiburg, Strasbourg, and Berlin, before qualifying as a doctor in 1907. Having spent some time gaining experience in various institutions, he became a general practitioner in 1910, and after serving in the army as a physician for the duration of the Great War, then spending a year as a prison doctor in Mannheim, returned to general practice in 1920 in the small town of Staufen im Breisgau. Despite no apparent previous right-wing political sympathies, he joined the NSDAP in February 1933. It was a good career move, for shortly thereafter he was appointed head of the Health Department in the Baden Ministry of the Interior.[1810] In this capacity he was responsible for twelve mental hospitals in the Baden district.

In October 1939 Sprauer received a summons from Herbert Linden (q.v.) at the Reich Ministry of the Interior. Linden first swore Sprauer to secrecy, then informed him of the impending “euthanasia” programme. In the region for which he was responsible, it was to be Sprauer's responsibility to arrange the registration and transportation of patients deemed incurable.[1811] Although he claimed to have been “devastated” by the sight of patients being gassed at Grafeneck, and indeed to have felt distinctly generally uneasy about carrying out his instructions, he managed to overcome his misgivings.[1812] In fact, Sprauer was a good deal more enthusiastic about killing the patients in his care than most of the physicians at the Baden institutions, on occasion even going so far as to threaten with arrest those in positions of authority who refused to cooperate.[1813] In addition he had been instrumental in establishing a children's killing ward at the Wiesloch asylum.[1814] If no fanatical eugenicist, Sprauer was a faithful follower of orders and thus, from T4's point of view, the ideal man to have in an important position.

In 1948, Sprauer was tried alongside Artur Schreck (q.v.) in Freiburg. The court found a catalogue of extenuating circumstances for Sprauer's behaviour; he possessed “a false bureaucratic ambition and submissiveness to authority”, “did not want to lose his job in the ministry”, and was merely a “typical accomplice” of the true culprits, the Nazi leadership, most of whom were dead.[1815] Nonetheless, the court could not ignore Sprauer's complicity in the death of at least 3,000 patients. He was sentenced to life imprisonment, subsequently reduced to a term of eleven years. A few months later he was not only released, but awarded a pension by the government of Baden-Württemberg for services rendered.

Eugen Stähle (1890-1948)[1816] was born in Stuttgart. Having completed his medical degree in Tübingen, he served as a military doctor during the Great War, suffering a severe gassing. He quickly showed his fascist sympathies by becoming a member of the Freikorps Epp in 1919, one of those responsible for suppressing the newly declared Bavarian Soviet Republic in Munich. He was an early member of the Nazi party, joining first in 1923, and then after the party was banned for a time following the Munich Putsch, rejoining in 1927. In 1930 he was appointed the Nazi Physician's League deputy for Württemberg.[1817] Stähl served as an NSDAP member of the Reichstag for a few months in 1933, and in the same year became the chief medical officer in the health department of the Württemberg Ministry of the Interior. In this capacity he was deeply involved in the “euthanasia” of both adults and children. It was he who in 1939 offered Herbert Linden (q.v.) Grafeneck as a killing centre.[1818] Subsequently, Stähl instructed the directors of the institutions under his control as to the part they were to play in the programme, as well as personally being present at a number of gassings.[1819]

In the mid 1930s, long before “euthanasia” was even officially contemplated, Stähl was asking the directors of his institutions their hypothetical reaction “if during the war, the state considered the extermination of certain categories of patients under the circumstances that, due to the drying up of imports, food supplies no longer sufficed to feed the population.”[1820] When in 1940 he was reproached by a member of the clergy about the killing of persons allegedly “unfit to live”, Stähl responded: “The fifth commandment, 'thou shalt not kill' is not a commandment from God, but merely a Jewish invention.”[1821]

A holder of the Nazi's Golden Party badge, on 13 November 1948 whilst a prisoner on remand, Stähl died in the district hospital at Münsingen.[1822]

Alfons Stegmann (1908-?) joined the Nazi party in 1930, and between 1935 and 1939 was a medical student. Following the grant of his degree he worked for a short period as an assistant physician at the Winnental asylum. Although conscripted at the beginning of the war, his military service was equally brief, for in November 1939 he was appointed deputy director of the Zwiefalten mental hospital. It was in this capacity that he attended a meeting of the directors of Württemberg institutions called by Eugen Stähl (q.v.) in February 1940 at which those present were informed of the “euthanasia” programme, and the part they were to play in it. Stegmann apparently had no problem with the concept or its implementation, for he knowingly sent hundreds of his patients to their death at Grafeneck, whose director, Ernst Baumhardt (q.v.) was a friend.

In late 1940, Stegmann was suspended from his position, supposedly for disciplinary reasons. In July 1943 he was convicted of having performed illegal abortions (the seriousness of which in Nazi Germany, so far as “Aryan” women were concerned, has been demonstrated above). He was sentenced to two years' imprisonment together with the suspension of his medical licence, although the sentence was subsequently held over.

In July 1949, Stegmann appeared in the court at Tübingen alongside several defendants, including Otto Mauthe (q.v.), protesting his abhorrence of “euthanasia” like so many others. The court found his defence unconvincing, since he had not only visited Grafeneck on several occasions, but in some cases had personally selected patients for transportation there. However, once again the court managed to find grounds for excusing his actions; he had not personally designed the killing programme (!), he was a young man easily influenced by his elders, and his involvement was “relatively small”.[1823] Thus a sentence of two years' imprisonment was considered an “appropriate but also adequate atonement”.

Stegmann did not need to have any cause for concern. He was immediately pardoned by the prime minister of Baden- Württemberg and returned to general practice.[1824]

Theodor Steinmeyer (1897-1945)[1825] was born in Öttingen, Bavaria. After serving in the military during the First World War, he became a medical student in Erlangen, and having obtained his degree, by 1925 was practising medicine in Nuremberg. He joined the NSDAP and SA in 1929, the same year he began training as a psychiatrist. In due course was appointed deputy director of the Wehnen mental hospital, and in 1934 was promoted to full directorship of the Ellen institution near Bremen.[1826] From 1939 he became physician-in-chief and paediatric psychiatrist at the Marsberg and Niedermarsberg institutions, where the killing of children was to occur.

Steinmeyer was involved with T4 from an early stage, acting on occasions as deputy to Irmfried Eberl (q.v.) and Heinrich Bunke (q.v.) at Bernburg. He had been a T4 Gutachter since 28 February 1940, and was a member of the Doctors' Committee.[1827] From 1941 to 1943 he worked out of T4 headquarters in Berlin, and was a participant in Sonderbehandlung 14f13 together with other doctors, including Friedrich Mennecke (q.v.), who mentions Steinmeyer in one of his many letters to his wife. For a time in 1942, while victims of 14f13 were being murdered there, Steinmeyer again acted as deputy head at Bernburg, before he moved on to become director of the Warstein psychiatric hospital.

In 1943 he became head of the institution at Pfaffenrode near Mühlhausen, where murder was perpetrated on a level that later enabled him to write enthusiastically to his friend Mennecke: “The mortality is fantastic.” In another letter to Mennecke, Steinmeyer referred to the forthcoming installation of a crematorium at Pfaffenrode: “…I am supposed to be getting the same building as Faltlhauser” (q.v.) [director of Kaufbeuren, where a crematorium had recently become operational]. “You know what I mean.”[1828]

Steinmeyer committed suicide on 26 May 1945 while a prisoner in Mühlhausen.

Adolf Thiel (1905-?) was tried together with Karl Todt (q.v.) in Koblenz in 1948. Physician-in-charge at the Scheuern mental hospital where Todt was director, Thiel had joined and left the NSDAP twice before the Machtergreifung, renewing his membership for a third time in 1933, although the court considered him no fanatic. Like Todt, he was apparently a devout Christian, respected and admired by all, who had taken up his position at Scheuern in 1938.

In the summer of 1940, Todt and Thiel had been party to the completion of some 500-600 “euthanasia” registration forms, supposedly without being aware of their purpose. The first patients designated for killing left Scheuern in March 1941 for unknown destinations. When notification of the death of those transferred arrived shortly afterwards, Todt and Thiel realized just what they had become involved in. It was also in March 1941 that Scheuern was designated as a transit centre for Hadamar. Despite their alleged distress at their participation in the programme, between that time and September 1944, Todt and Thiel were responsible for the transfer of approximately 1,640 patients from Scheuern, of whom about 1,000 were murdered.

Todt and Thiel advanced the defence that they had remained in their posts despite certain knowledge of the fate of those they transported in order to save lives; if they had not sacrificed some patients, other more zealous militants would have replaced them and ensured that the programme devoured countless further victims. It was for this reason they had not resigned, despite their abhorrence of “euthanasia.”[1829] The court found this argument convincing, and acquitted both men.[1830]

Lydia Thomas (1910-?) was born in Aumetz, Lothringen (Lorraine), and had entered nursing at the Herborn mental hospital in 1928. She was briefly employed at Weilmünster, before in July 1941 she was transferred to Hadamar, allegedly against her will. A member of the Nazi party since 1933, as well as the National Socialist Women's League and the German Labour Front, on arrival at Hadamar she was enrolled into T4 by Fritz Bernotat (q.v.).

A defendant at the second Hadamar trial, Thomas admitted to having participated in both phases of the “euthanasia” programme. During the first phase she had attended victims up to the point at which they entered the gas chamber; in the second phase, under the supervision of Irmgard Huber (q.v.) she had assisted in the murder of about 25 patients.[1831] Found guilty of participation in an unknown number of cases of murder, Thomas received a sentence of five years' imprisonment.[1832]

Karl Todt (1886-?), whose doctorate was in education, not medicine, succeeded his father as director of the Scheuern mental hospital in 1921. He joined the Nazi party in 1937 at the insistence of the notorious National Socialist, Fritz Bernotat (q.v.). It was the misfortune of Todt and his chief physician, Adolf Thiel (q.v.), that their institution fell under the bailiwick of Bernotat, a fervent advocate of “euthanasia”. On the outbreak of war Todt served for a time in the Wehrmacht, but in September 1940 was discharged because of his age and returned to Scheuern (Thiel had been deemed medically unfit for military service). As has been described, the two men were jointly responsible for the enactment of the “euthanasia” programme at Scheuern over a period of years.

At the trial and acquittal of Todt and Thiel in 1948, the court determined that in condemning 1,000 patients, the duo had saved the lives of 250 others. This was regarded as a significant success; it may be considered doubtful that the dead and their families concurred with this judgement. In support of their verdict, the court quoted with approval the criminal law expert Professor von Weber:

One should acknowledge that remaining in position and cooperating while simultaneously hampering the implementation of orders, often calls for the greater moral courage and that, because of this proven behaviour of men conscious of their responsibilities, much harm was prevented during the time of the National Socialist regime.

This may well have been true; alternatively it provided a perfect excuse for inertia – or worse. In any event, both von Weber and the court were prepared to leave the final judgement to a higher authority. “The solution to such conflicts can only be found in the absolute values of the conscience; it is up to the individual with his God,” stated von Weber. The court agreed: “Whether the defendants can feel themselves free of all guilt is a matter for their personal conscience.” Thus the defendants were acquitted, not because of their innocence, but rather on the grounds that their acts could be considered “excused, even if not justified.”[1833]

Aquilin Ullrich (1914-2001) [T4 pseudonym “Dr Schmitt”][1834] was born in Dillingen an der Donau, Bavaria. He came from a devoutly Roman Catholic family, and initially enrolled as a theology student at Munich University before transferring to the study of medicine. He joined both the National Socialist Students' Association and the SA in 1934, and like his friend Klaus Endruweit (q.v.), devoted a year to voluntary service with the Reichswehr before taking up his studies again at the universities of Würzburg and Freiburg. It was at the latter that he first met Heinrich Bunke (q.v.), an association that was to have disastrous consequences for humanity. In May 1937 Ullrich joined the Nazi party.

Whilst still at Freiburg, Ullrich attended several lectures delivered by the man who was destined to become the medical head of T4, Werner Heyde (q.v.), at that time the chief physician of the Würzburg psychiatric clinic. As already described, Endruweit and Ullrich were among a party of students who undertook a pseudo-scientific, racially orientated expedition to Bessarabia in summer 1938. As a consequence of the report this “research” generated, in July 1939 Ullrich met not only Joseph Goebbels, but Hitler himself. The extent to which all of these events influenced Ullrich's attitudes is difficult to evaluate, but it is reasonable to assume that they had some bearing on his subsequent conduct.

The coming of war not only saw Ullrich conscripted, but prevented from completing his degree. Instead, in November 1939 he was another to be granted Notapprobation status as a physician. Unhappy with life as an army doctor, he was advised by a friend to contact Heyde, who was supposedly looking for young doctors for a special assignment. Ullrich spoke to Heyde, who, without going into specifics, informed him in general terms of the secret “euthanasia” programme. Ullrich could join it if he so wished – the decision was entirely his. It did not take Ullrich long to make up his mind. Blinded by the eminence of those involved, and gratified to be a member of such exalted company, Ullrich quickly agreed to become a participant. Two weeks later he reported to the KdF, where Hans Hefelmann (q.v.) again outlined the nature of the programme, and informed him that he was to report to Brandenburg as assistant to Irmfried Eberl (q.v.).

At Ullrich's request, Werner Blankenburg (q.v.) escorted him to Brandenburg to inspect his new place of employment. Although no gassings were taking place at the time, it was immediately apparent to Ullrich that this was a killing centre. In fact, it was confirmed during the course of his visit that individuals were being gassed at Brandenburg with carbon monoxide. If he harboured any reservations about his new job, Ullrich was certainly not about to go back to the army. He served at Brandenburg from early April until the beginning of August 1940, supervising the entire extermination process, from the arrival of patients to the issuing of false death certificates and letters of condolence to the victims' relatives. He then managed to get himself transferred to Bessarabia for a few months, and on his return in November 1940, informed Heyde that he was no longer prepared to work in a killing centre. Instead, he was employed in the planning department at T4 headquarters in Berlin, before in January 1942 he joined the Organisation Todt mission to the Soviet Union. Returning to Germany three months later, he secured his release from T4, and thereafter worked at the Pathological Institute of Munich University before rejoining the Wehrmacht.[1835]

After the war Ullrich successfully pursued a career as a gynaecologist in Stuttgart, until in 1966 he appeared in the dock in Frankfurt alongside Bunke and Endruweit, accused, in Ullrich's case, of participation in the murder of “at least 1,815” individuals. All three men were acquitted on the grounds that they had believed their actions to be legal. They were “without culpability.”[1836] Although the German Supreme Court reversed the decision in 1970 and ordered a retrial, the new proceedings were suspended because of the men's alleged ill health.[1837] It was not until 1986 that the three men appeared once more in the Frankfurt courtroom. Endruweit was quickly released because of his continuing health problems, but Ullrich was found guilty of involvement in the murder of “at least 4,500 patients” and sentenced to four years' imprisonment. Bunke received a similar sentence for his participation in the killing of a rather greater number of people. In December 1988 the Federal High Court reduced the number of Ullrich's victims to 2,340, and lowered his term of imprisonment to three years. Why the severity of a sentence should be determined on the basis of the number of victims murdered is difficult to understand.

Ullrich was released after having served twenty months in prison.[1838]

Hellmuth Unger (1891-1953).[1839] was an ophthalmologist born in Nordhausen. Having studied medicine in Würzburg, Rostock, Halle, and Leipzig, in 1928 he became press officer to the Hartmannbund, the German Doctors' Association, and five years later was appointed press officer to Gerhard Wagner (q.v.) himself. Unger was a prolific author, producing fifty plays, non-fiction works, and novels. Among these was Sendung und Gewissen (“Mission and Conscience”) published in 1936, which was to be adapted for the screen as Ich klage an (“I Accuse”) in 1941.[1840] He had also been co-author of the screenplay of the “euthanasia” propaganda film Erbkrank (“Hereditarily Ill”) in 1936. Astonishingly, although Unger had applied to join the NSDAP, he was never accepted for membership, nor was he ever a member of the National Socialist Physician's League. This was probably because of his association with freemasonry, where he was a lodge master. It was doubtless for the same reason that a proposal to appoint him a professor was rejected in 1944.

Since Unger had never disguised his enthusiasm for its introduction, it was only natural that he became a member of the committee responsible for children's “euthanasia”. He had been suggested to Hans Hefelmann (q.v.) by Richard von Hegener's (q.v.) sister as a potential recruit.[1841] Unger went on to become involved in the planning of the extension of the killing programme to the adult population.[1842] After the war, Unger worked again as an ophthalmologist in Bad Harzburg, until ceasing to practice medicine and moving to Freiburg, where he died in 1953.

Werner Villinger (1887-1961)[1843] a psychiatrist and neurologist dedicated to the principles of eugenics, was born in Besigheim. Having been appointed head of the Youth Authority in Hamburg in 1926, in 1934 he became physician-in-chief at the Evangelical Inner Mission's mental hospital at Bethel. By political inclination a conservative nationalist, he joined the Nazi party in 1937, as well as the National Socialist People's Welfare, the National Socialist Physician's League, and the paramilitary National Socialist Flying Corps.

Although during the lifetime of the Weimar Republic he had opposed enforced sterilisation, Villinger was quick to take advantage of the Nazi Sterilisation Law, registering some 1,700 of his 3,000 patients for such treatment. He reported to his colleagues that one way of persuading patients to undergo the operation was by convincing them that to do so was “a patriotic sacrifice.” So successful was this strategy, that in July 1934 he further reported: “At the moment, our hospital is unable to cope with the sterilisations. We have sterilisation-day only once weekly, and then only a limited number can be carried out. It is absolute chaos then.”[1844] He also informed the Inner Mission that he was prepared to sterilize foreigners, with one exception; an Austrian boy in his charge came from Braunau, the birthplace of Adolf Hitler.

In 1937 Villinger became a judge in the Higher Hereditary Health Court at Hamm, and in 1940 professor of psychiatry and neurology at the University of Breslau, where he also became director of the clinic for nervous diseases. Villinger appears as a T4 Gutachter with effect from 28 March 1941.[1845] His attitude towards “euthanasia” seems ambivalent, Paul Nitsche (q.v.) and others considering him too lenient in his assessments.[1846] However, Villinger was prepared to become involved in medical experiments on mental patients in his care. Kurt Gutzeit, professor of internal medicine at Breslau, asked him to agree to infect a number of them with hepatitis without first obtaining their consent, which Villinger did. Gutzeit was researching the causes of and a possible cure for the infection.[1847]

1946 found Villinger a professor at the University of Marburg. He enjoyed a distinguished post-war academic career, amongst other things being elected president of the German Association for Child and Youth Psychiatry in 1952, and in 1954 becoming head of the medical department at Marburg, before being appointed Rector of the university in 1955. He was even decorated with the Federal Cross of Merit. When investigations into his past began in 1960, he declared: “I never worked as a Gutachter…I was known as an opponent of the racial policies of the Nazi party.”

As the evidence concerning his Nazi associations began to emerge, Villinger decided to put an end to any further speculation. On 8 August 1961, he committed suicide by throwing himself off of a mountain near Innsbruck.[1848]

Gustav Adolf Waetzoldt (?-?) was head of the Wittenau mental hospital in Berlin (today the Karl Bonhoeffer Clinic of Neurology). A transit institution during the first phase of “euthanasia”, Wittenau later became a killing centre in its own right. The brains of 106 children murdered there were sent to Berthold Ostertag, a colleague of Julius Hallervorden (q.v.), for “research purposes”.[1849] Waetzoldt's sympathies can be gleaned from the title of his work “Hereditary Improvement through Eradication”. It is probable that it was Waetzoldt who was approached by the bacteriologist Arnold Dohmen in spring 1943, when the latter wished to conduct medical experiments on asylum inmates in the search for the cause and treatment of viral hepatitis. In the event, although Waetzoldt appears to have had no objection to this blatant violation of both law and medical ethics, Karl Brandt (q.v.) prohibited the use of mental patients for this purpose. Instead, a group of young Jewish boys from Auschwitz was chosen, equally illegally, and equally in contravention of every medical principle.[1850] The consent of those experimented upon by the Nazis was never sought, nor obtained.

Gerhard Wagner (1888-1939).[1851] was born in Neu-Heiduk, Upper Silesia (now part of Chorzow, Poland), the son of a professor of surgery. He was a medical student in Munich, and served as a frontline doctor during the Great War, being awarded the Iron Cross first class, among other decorations. At the war's end Wagner became a general practitioner in Munich, and in the years 1921-23 was a member of Freikorps Epp and Oberland (two right-wing paramilitary organizations). He joined the Nazi party in 1929, and in the same year was one of the founders of the National Socialist Physicians' League (NS-Ärztebund), an organization intended to “purify” German medicine of the taint of “Jewish Bolshevism”.[1852] In late 1932 he replaced Ludwig Liebl as head of the Hartmannbund, the German Doctors' Association.[1853]

With the Machtergreifung, Wagner's career rapidly advanced. By 1933 he was leader of the Main Office for National Health; one year later he was Reich Doctors' Leader and “The Führer's Commissioner for National Health”. In December 1935, Wagner became leader of the Reich Physicians' Chamber, and in 1936 he was appointed head of the German Panel Fund Physicians Union. Eventually he was to head virtually every significant German medical organization. Since all doctors working in public health had to belong to the German Panel Fund Physicians Union, and every practising doctor to the Reich Physicians' Chamber, Wagner was now chief physician of the Reich, the Reichsärzteführer, lord of all matters pertaining to issues of health.

As a venomously anti-Semitic proponent of racial hygiene, and personal physician to Rudolf Hess, from a Nazi perspective Wagner was the right man in the right job at the right time. His influence on all medical matters was comprehensive, and his role in the establishment of Nazi racial policy indisputable. He was considered by many to have been the `godfather of “euthanasia”',[1854] declaring as he did in 1933:

Knowledge of racial hygiene and genetics has become, by a purely scientific path, the knowledge of an extraordinary number of German doctors. It has influenced to a substantial degree the basic world view of the State, and indeed may even be said to embody the very foundations of the present state.[1855]

In Wagner's view, the Sterilisation Law was not sufficiently racial;[1856] something more radical was required. Quoting spurious statistics to the 1935 Nuremberg Party Congress, Wagner concluded that Jews were “a diseased race”, and Judaism was “disease incarnate.”[1857] To add to the mix, criminality was higher among Jews than among gentiles; Jews were thus both sick and criminal – what other reason was needed for their elimination?[1858]

It was in 1936 that Wagner conducted an exchange of views with like-minded friends, that is to say high-ranking officials and doctors, about the killing of “idiot children” and mentally ill adults. When Hermann Boehm, head of teaching at the Nazi Physicians' School expressed concern about the implications of such a programme, Wagner put Boehm's mind at ease. Eliminating the mentally and physically incapacitated was always easier in time of war because then life was cheap, and Hitler had made clear his intention to join “euthanasia” to the outbreak of war. In the meantime, a massive propaganda campaign was about to begin with the aim of educating the public about the many benefits the proposed programme promised.[1859] In order to show the misery of patients' lives, it was intended to produce documentary films shot in asylums and other institutions, as indeed occurred.[1860]

The following year Wagner became an SA-Obergruppenführer. Two years after that he was dead from an undisclosed ailment, and was succeeded by Leonardo Conti (q.v.), although it was Karl Brandt (q.v.) who was to go on to become the dominant figure in Nazi medical matters. Even though Wagner died in March 1939, well before the official commencement of “euthanasia”, his malign influence on this, as on so many other aspects of Nazi medical practice, cannot be overstated.[1861]

Adolf Wahlmann (1876-1956)[1862] was born in Koblenz. Following the pattern common at the time, he studied medicine at several different universities before obtaining his degree in 1903. Two years later he received accreditation as a specialist in psychiatry. Thereafter, apart from a period served in the military during the Great War, he worked at a number of different mental institutions, being appointed physician-in-chief at both Hadamar (twice) and Eichberg, until his retirement in 1937. He joined the NSDAP in 1933, although he was never active in party affairs, since he devoted most of his spare time to directing and conducting his church choir, much to the displeasure of party officials. He considered himself as much a musician as a physician.[1863]

On the outbreak of war, Wahlmann was called out of retirement, and in June 1940 appointed chief doctor at the Weilmünster mental hospital, before in August 1942, Fritz Bernotat (q.v.) made him physician-in-chief at Hadamar once again.[1864] By that time the gas chamber at Hadamar had been dismantled; killing was now to be accomplished through the use of drugs. Wahlmann claimed that at the time of this appointment he was not aware that Hadamar had been a killing centre, and was programmed to continue to be one in the future. If that was the case, he was quickly disabused; subsequently he certainly appeared to have no compunction about murdering his patients. Thus, when in 1944, Polish and Russian workers already diagnosed as “tubercular” arrived at Hadamar, they were killed without further ado. The only medical examination performed on these workers occurred after they had received their lethal injections or tablets, and was solely for the purpose of confirming that they were in fact dead.[1865]

On 8 October 1945, Wahlmann was one of seven defendants in the first post-war “euthanasia” trial, conducted by the United States occupation authorities in Wiesbaden. The charges related, not to German citizens, but to the Polish and Russian forced labourers who had been killed in the final months of the war at Hadamar. Wahlmann, found guilty of the murder of an unspecified number of victims, was sentenced to life imprisonment.[1866] Less than eighteen months later he was in the dock again, this time before a German court for his part in the murder of German citizens. The second trial took place in Frankfurt in March 1947. Wahlmann did not attempt to disguise his involvement in the killings, freely admitting to having personally ordered the death of almost one thousand victims. Moreover, he was fully aware that these homicides had nothing to do with the commonly accepted definition of a “mercy death”. Not that this had troubled him, for he continued to organize killing at Hadamar to the end of the war.

The verdict of the court was never in doubt. Wahlmann was sentenced to death, but with the abolition of the death penalty in West Germany in 1949, the sentence was commuted to one of life imprisonment. Wahlmann was released in 1953.[1867]

Mathilde Weber (1909-?)[1868] was born in Dinslaken and studied medicine at Bonn University. In June 1939 she became assistant to Hans-Bodo Gorgass (q.v.) at the Kalmenhof psychiatric hospital. Although she never joined the NSDAP, she was a member of the National Socialist Women's Organisation. Her involvement in adult euthanasia appears to have been peripheral; she did register approximately 1,000 patients with T4 in 1940, of whom 232 were gassed at Hadamar in early 1941, but during the initial phase of “euthanasia” Kalmenhof served as a transit institution rather than a killing centre, and Weber was adjudged to have had no knowledge of the fate of patients transported from there to Hadamar.

Whether or not that was the case, there was no doubt about her involvement in children's “euthanasia”. In 1942, transports of children from the western Reich arrived in Kalmenhof for extermination. The children, who had been pre-selected for killing, were neither examined nor treated, except to the extent of the administering of lethal doses of Luminal by the nurse Maria Müller (q.v.), a process supervised by Weber. It was impossible to arrive at a definitive number of child victims at Kalmenhof, but it was estimated to be a minimum of many hundreds. When Weber and Müller were on sick-leave between late September and early November 1943, not a single child died at Kalmenhof.[1869] When they were both present, “there were many days when 3-6 children died.” In May 1944, Weber was replaced as physician-in-chief by Hermann Wesse (q.v.). According to Weber: “I went because Landesrat Bernotat [q.v.] threw me out as he found that the children did not disappear fast enough…”[1870]

The trial of Weber was held in Frankfurt in January 1949. Despite her ludicrous assertion that (a) the deaths of children on her ward were attributable to natural causes, and (b) if they weren't, she knew nothing about it, since she had not resided in the hospital, nor was she present when the overdoses were administered, the court had no difficulty in establishing her guilt. In summer 1942, along with Friedrich Mennecke (q.v.), she had attended a training course organized by Carl Schneider (q.v.), one of the leading T4 medical experts. It was not difficult to surmise what the subject of the course had been. Moreover, she had received bonuses from the Reich committee for unspecified services rendered, the nature of which it was also easy to imagine. She was sentenced to death.[1871]

Twelve months later the sentence was annulled on appeal, and a retrial ordered. In February 1949, a rather more lenient sentence was returned. Weber had not been a perpetrator after all, merely an “accomplice”. She had “a weak and unstable personality”, as a result of which she had “closed her eyes to what went on around her”. Therefore, rather than death, a sentence of three years and six months in jail was considered appropriate. However, because of Weber's “poor health”, the sentence was suspended, and she was released. Having had her request for the reimbursement of her legal costs denied, Weber was finally considered fit enough to complete her sentence on 11 October 1954. On 16 November, having been in jail for little more than a month, she was paroled.[1872] It has been alleged that by 1960 she had resumed her career as a practicing physician, albeit in an unlicenced capacity.[1873]

Ernst Wentzler (1891-1973)[1874] born in Hannoversch Münden, was a paediatrician and director of a private clinic in Berlin.[1875] He joined the NSDAP in 1936, as well as the SA and other Nazi associations, and was physician to the children of a number of prominent Nazis, including Göring, Darré, and perhaps most significantly, Werner Blankenburg (q.v.), Viktor Brack (q.v.), and Hans Hefelmann (q.v.), although it appears he was recommended to the KdF by Leonardo Conti (q.v.).[1876]

Wentzler claimed that he had been visited by Brack in 1939 and asked to become one of the three expert referees for children's “euthanasia”. Wentzler, who was an enthusiastic supporter of Binding and Hoche's eugenic proposals, agreed to participate. Thereafter he regularly received forms for assessment until almost the end of the war. “I had the feeling that my activity was something positive, and that I had made a small contribution to human progress,” he later commented.[1877] In fact, Wentzler went even further, opening a children's killing ward in his own clinic, and recommending other physicians for “euthanasia” duties, including Wilhelm Bayer and Fritz Kühnke (q.v.), as well as becoming involved in the planning of adult “euthanasia”[1878]

In August 1945 Wentzler returned to his paediatric practice. In 1949, together with Werner Catel (q.v.), he was one of those accused of participation in the killing of children at the Rothenburgsort children's hospital in Hamburg, but the proceedings were abandoned on the grounds that the defendants had acted “without awareness of injustice”.[1879] Wentzler was questioned by the courts on numerous occasions regarding his role in the children's “euthanasia” programme but was never formally prosecuted.[1880]

Gerhard Wenzel (1905-?)[1881] [post-war pseudonym, “Martin Rhodus”] was born in Rossbach. Initially a student of economics he switched to medicine, obtaining his degree from the University of Leipzig in 1934. By that time he was already a member of the NSDAP (1932) and SA (1933). In 1935 he was appointed assistant physician at the Uchtspringe mental institution. Like many others recruited by T4 he was conscripted on the outbreak of war, but in May 1941 he was interviewed at the KdF by Hans Hefelmann (q.v.), Richard von Hegener (q.v.), and the director of Uchtspringe, Ernst Beese (q.v.). When asked for his views on “euthanasia” for children considered incurable, Wenzel stated that, based upon his experience, he considered it a “morally defensible solution”, provided it was conducted legally. That was good enough for his audience. One month later his service with the Luftwaffe was suspended, and he returned to Uchtspringe. There he claimed to have used every means at his disposal to minimize the number of children murdered, despite Beese's insistence on a more hard line approach.

In mid-1942 Wenzel briefly returned to the Wehrmacht, supposedly at Beese's instigation. However, within a few weeks Wenzel was back at Uchtspringe, where he remained until September 1943, at which time he requested and obtained a discharge from Uchtspringe and served out the rest of the war at a military hospital in Göttingen. During the time he had been at Uchtspringe, Wenzel had completed 1,000-1,200 children's medical reports, registering about 80 of those he had examined as “completely incurable”. These children, together with 40-50 others who were transported to Uchtspringe after already having been condemned elsewhere, were murdered on Wenzel's killing ward.

In December 1945, Wenzel was arrested on suspicion of his participation in the “euthanasia” programme, but in October 1946 escaped from prison and went into hiding under the name of “Martin Rhodus”. He was re-arrested in November 1951, but after a few months detention, was released to await his trial, which began in 1953. Wenzel's defence was simply that at the time the alleged offences had been committed, be believed they were both ethically permissible and perfectly legal. The court believed him.[1882] He was acquitted of all charges, the court quoting with approval the sentiments of a father who had written in response to Ewald Meltzer's 1920's questionnaire on children's euthanasia: “Certainly there are many who deplore the barbarity and heartlessness [of euthanasia], but that is of course the outpourings of a false humanity; the outsider cannot in such cases pass judgement.”[1883]

Hilde Wernicke (1899-1947)[1884] was born In Schleswig. She graduated from medical school in Marburg and worked for a time as a general practitioner before taking up employment at Meseritz-Obrawalde in October 1927, where she was soon promoted to the position of Assistant Medical Director. She joined the Nazi party in 1933 and the National Socialist Women's Organisation in 1937. She testified: ”In the spring of 1943 Meseritz-Obrawalde was designated to become one of the places for the killing of incurable mental patients. At that time I was to become one of the partakers in this programme. It was a special duty.”[1885]

Wernicke participated in the killing of patients at Obrawalde from the time “euthanasia” commenced there until January 1945. She claimed to have become “disgusted with this sort of situation and attempted to leave Obrawald” before any killings actually began there. This was the point at which transports full of sick patients were arriving at the hospital and then leaving for “the East”. However:

When I asked to leave, I was told that during wartime changes of places were not allowed. I suffered a lot under these circumstances. So did my colleagues, especially as rumours increased more and more that these [transported] patients were being killed. At times, relatives informed us about the death of a patient who had been transported “East”. There was no way to voice objections. Even old and trusted colleagues were done away with when they spoke up against the action. At times it was rumoured that a colleague had ended up in a concentration camp because he had refused to let go of his patients.

When killing at Obrawalde itself began, Wernicke claimed to have verbally objected - but took no further action. Moreover, she repeatedly protested at her trial that she had never personally killed anybody. Walter Grabowski (q.v.), the director of Obrawalde, had instructed her, and she in turn had instructed the nurses who committed the actual murders. She seemed to think that this chain of command, in which she was only a link, somehow exonerated her from any guilt. It was not an argument likely to impress the court. “My patients were very attached to me”, she stated, “and would never be threatened by me.”

Wernicke fled from Obrawalde as the Russians arrived to shelter at her father's house. In April 1945 she began to work again as a physician until her arrest in August of that year. Together with a nurse, Helene Wieczorek (q.v.), she was tried in Berlin, where the court found that both defendants had acted from “base motives” and condemned them to death. Found guilty of the murder of more than 600 persons, Wernicke was hanged on 14 January 1947.[1886]

As the only “euthanasia” doctor to be condemned and executed by a (West) German court, it has been suggested that Wernicke had the misfortune to be the subject of the earliest such proceedings to be heard. Certainly it is safe to assume that, based upon subsequent experience, it is unlikely she would have received such harsh punishment if her case had been subject to adjudication a few years later, and it is arguable that she might even have escaped retribution entirely, as so many of her fellow murderers did.[1887]

Hermann Karl Wilhelm Wesse (1912-1989)[1888] was born in Düsseldorf, and studied medicine at the Universities of Cologne and Düsseldorf, finally graduating in 1939. He then worked as an unpaid trainee at the mental hospitals of Bedburg-Hau and Andernach, where he met his future wife, Hildegard (q.v.), who he married in late 1941. He joined the NSDAP in April 1933, and for a short time was also a member of the SA.

At the beginning of 1942 Wesse was employed for two months at the Brandenburg-Görden Kinderfachabteilung under Hans Heinze (q.v.), before being sent to a juvenile clinic in Bonn to learn the approved method of exterminating the young. He also spent a very short period as a member of the Wehrmacht until his military service was suspended early in 1942. In October of that year he was appointed assistant physician at the Waldniel children's killing centre, where he remained until the facility was closed in May 1943. Thereafter, together with his wife, Wesse spent three months receiving further instruction in the technique of murder from Werner Catel (q.v.) at the children's clinic at the University of Leipzig, where Wesse also obtained his medical doctorate.

The Wesse's were then jointly posted to Uchtspringe, where Hermann was placed in charge of the children's ward. Wesse was recalled to the Wehrmacht in December 1943, leaving the children's ward at Uchtspringe in the care of his wife, but his military duties were again suspended in April 1944 when he was ordered to Kalmenhof-Idstein to succeed Mathilde Weber (q.v.). Wesse was a dedicated practitioner of “euthanasia”, as is evidenced by a letter he wrote to Richard von Hegener (q.v.) on his arrival at Kalmenhof:

I would like to inform you that, as agreed I have taken over the “Reich Committee” ward at Idstein. As there are no “Reich Committee” children present at this time, I would be grateful if you could arrange for a speedy transfer of “Reich Committee” children to this institution.

Wesse was soon not only murdering children, but adults too as the “euthanasia” programme at Kalmenhof was expanded and he began to kill on his own initiative.[1889]

Wesse remained at Kalmenhof until the end of the war, at which time he was arrested by the Americans, but quickly released, to be re-arrested in September 1946.[1890] In February 1947, Wesse was tried in Frankfurt alongside Weber for their joint activities at Kalmenhof. He was found guilty of murdering “at least twenty-five patients”, and sentenced to death, despite his claim that von Hegener had threatened him with “dire consequences” if he did not co-operate.[1891] Shortly afterwards Wesse was back in court, this time in Düsseldorf in connection with his time at Waldniel. He was found guilty of participating in the murder of “at least thirty” children. The court somehow contrived to find sufficient grounds not to impose a second death sentence, instead committing Wesse to life imprisonment. However, he was another to be saved from the executioner by the abolition of the death penalty in West Germany. He was released from prison in September 1966 because of ill-health.[1892] No account appears to have been taken at either of his trials regarding Wesse's victims during the short period he was responsible for the children's ward at Uchtspringe.

Hildegard Maria Elisabeth Wesse (1911-1997)[1893] was born in the town of Strotzbüsch. After obtaining her medical degree, like her future husband she gained experience by working as an unpaid trainee at a number of mental institutions. In July 1941 she was sent to Waldniel, where she was put in charge of the men's ward. As described above, the following October her husband joined her at Waldniel, and after the three months spent together at Leipzig university the couple were ordered to report to Uchtspringe in August 1943, where Hildegard was placed in charge of the women's section.

When, in December 1943, Herman Wesse (q.v.) rejoined the Wehrmacht, the director of the institution, Ernst Beese (q.v.), nominated Hildegard to succeed her husband in the children's killing ward. Initially she refused, not because of any objection to “euthanasia”, but because, she claimed, “after all she was a woman, and Dr Beese did not even know whether she was emotionally able to face up to what was required of her.” Beese was insistent, finally stating that if she did not take on the assignment, he would do so himself. It was in order to prevent this, Wesse claimed, that she agreed to accept the position in January 1944. She subsequently prepared 400-500 reports, resulting in the murder of about sixty children. At the end of 1944, Beese informed Wesse that adult “euthanasia” was now to commence at Uchtspringe. Again claiming that her conscience would not allow her to leave the killing to the ruthless Beese, with purported reluctance she agreed to take responsibility for the murder of some thirty women patients; she personally administered lethal injections to these victims.

Hildegard Wesse was arrested in September 1946, but it was not until 1953 that her trial began in Göttingen. The delay had served her well, for there was now a totally different political climate to that prevailing at the time of her husband's trials. Her defence was essentially the familiar one; she had believed her deeds to be legal at the time and were ethically permissible. So far as her child victims were concerned, the court swallowed her story whole. She had acted in “good faith” and was therefore to be acquitted “on subjective grounds.” However, the murder of the women was not to be so easily dismissed. “If she had (exerted her conscience), then, with her exceptional intelligence, she would have seen that something was not in order,” the court ruled. “Entrusting a young assistant doctor with deciding alone about the euthanasia of mental patients is simply indefensible.” Any such procedure “must have exceeded the limits of what is legally permissible.”[1894] Even so, the court determined that if Wesse was guilty, it was of manslaughter rather than murder, and sentenced her to two years imprisonment. The verdict was never confirmed, since the case against Wesse was dismissed on 27 December 1954.[1895]

Albert Gottlob Widmann (1912 - 1986)[1896] studied chemistry at the Stuttgart Technical Institute, and after receiving his certificate in chemical engineering in 1936, worked as a research assistant there before obtaining his doctorate in 1938. As a student he had been a member of the Nationalsozialistischen Kraftfahrkorps (NSKK – National Socialist Motor Corps), and in 1937 had joined the Nazi Party. He became a member of the SS in 1939. At the Technical Institute Widmann had met Walter Heess (q.v.), and in September 1938 Heess recruited Widmann for the Department of Chemistry in the KTI. [(Kriminaltechnisches Institut der Sicherheitspolizei - Technical Institute for the Detection of Crime, part of the RKPA (Reichskriminalpolizeiamt Criminal Police)]. A year later the RKPA, headed by Arthur Nebe, became Department V of the RSHA (Reichssicherheitshauptamt - Reich Security Main Office), with Widmann in charge of Section VD 2 (chemistry and biology) of the KTI.

When it was still in the planning stage, Nebe informed Widmann that a decision regarding the “euthanasia” programme had been reached, and that the KTI had an important role to play. Widmann claimed that he had been assured by Viktor Brack (q.v.) that the proposed operation was entirely legal, and that he (Widmann) would be absolved from all responsibility. At a subsequent meeting called by Brack, at which Nebe, Hans Hefelmann (q.v.) and Richard von Hegener (q.v.) were probably present, Widmann's advice concerning the most suitable killing agent was sought. After consideration was given to, inter alia, morphine, scopolamine, and hydrocyanic acid, Widmann advised the use of carbon monoxide gas, invisible and odourless, with the somewhat impractical suggestion that this be pumped into hospital wards at night.[1897] The first gassing experiment subsequently took place at Brandenburg in Widmann's presence, as already described. Widmann was then ordered by Nebe to arrange the regular supply of carbon monoxide to the killing centres, since this would not raise any suspicion coming from the KTI, but would do so if emanating from the KdF. Widmann was also involved in supplying the lethal medications used in the children's and “wild euthanasia” actions.[1898]

“Euthanasia” was just the start of Widmann's career as a professional murderer. Shortly before the invasion of the Soviet Union he had discussed the construction of gassing vans with Heess, as detailed above. In the late summer of 1941, Nebe, by then commandant of Einsatzgruppe B, was instructed by Himmler to kill the patients at the Novinki asylum, near Minsk, but to use a “more humane” method than shooting. On 18 September 1941, 200 patients from Novinki were brought to a small bath house and murdered using vehicle exhaust gas. A further unsuccessful experiment was conducted with high explosives; 25 patients were locked into two bunkers and the explosives detonated. The latter experiment was not considered a success. As Widmann later testified: “Under these circumstances, killing with gas is preferable because automobiles are available everywhere and because any random room can be used.”[1899]

Another experimental killing involving more than 500 mental patients also occurred during the visit of Nebe and Widmann to Byelorussia, this time in Mogilev. A room in the local mental asylum was hermetically sealed and two pipes were driven into the wall. A car was parked outside and one of the pipes connected to the car's exhaust. The car's engine was turned on and the exhaust fumes directed into the sealed room. When after eight minutes the people in the room were still alive, a second car was connected to the other pipe in the wall and both vehicles were operated simultaneously. A few minutes later all of those in the room were dead. Widmann, who monitored the operation, described the events:

During the afternoon Nebe had the window bricked in, leaving two openings for the gas hose… When we arrived, one of the hoses that I had brought was connected. It was fixed onto the exhaust of a touring car… Pieces of piping stuck out of holes made in the wall, onto which the hose could easily be fitted… After five minutes Nebe came out and said that nothing appeared to have happened. After eight minutes he had been unable to detect any result and asked what should be done next. Nebe and I came to the conclusion that the car was not powerful enough. So Nebe had the second hose fitted onto a transport vehicle which belonged to the regular police. It then took only another few minutes before the people were unconscious. Both vehicles were left running for about another ten minutes.[1900]

The KTI had a section at Sachsenhausen, where in 1944 Widmann was involved in an experiment in which poisoned bullets were used to execute prisoners. At the Nuremberg Medical Trial a report written by one of the defendants, Dr Joachim Mrugowsky, was produced which detailed how, in Widmann's presence, each of five condemned men had been shot in the thigh with a bullet filled with aconitine nitrate. Three of the prisoners died in agony. The two survivors were presumably disposed of in more conventional fashion.[1901]

After the war Widmann was briefly held by the Americans before being released to lead an undisturbed existence as a chemist in a paint factory until his arrest in 1959. In October 1962, the Düsseldorf court sentenced Widmann to three years and six months imprisonment for his participation in the Sachsenhausen killings. Five years later he was on trial again, this time in Stuttgart, where he was sentenced to six years and six months in jail for his involvement in “euthanasia” and the experiments at Novinki and Mogilev. By crediting time already served whilst on remand, and on receipt of a donation of 4,000 Deutschmark to a charity for the handicapped, the sentence was suspended.

Helene Wieczorek (1905-1947) entered Meseritz-Obrawalde as a student nurse in 1925, and remained there for the rest of her working life. Although never a member of the NSDAP, she did join the National Socialist Women's League. Together with Hilde Wernicke (q.v.) she was recruited for the second phase of “euthanasia” in May or June 1943 by Walter Grabowski (q.v.), who obtained Wieczorek's consent to co-operate with the programme, and had her sign a statement to that effect.[1902]

In 1946 Wieczorek, accused of killing “several hundred” patients at Meseritz-Obrawalde, was the first nurse to stand trial before a West German court. Wieczorek testified:

Director Grabowski told us we had to help the senior nurses - it was too much for them. We would also have to give the injections. At first I refused and he said that there was no point in my doing so because, being a civil servant of many years standing, I had to perform my duty, especially in times of war. He added that there would be a law stating that the incurable mentally ill persons were to be released from their suffering… I only did my duty and I did everything on the orders of my superiors. Director Grabowski always warned us of the Gestapo. He said he would inform the Gestapo if we didn't do what he ordered.[1903]

Notwithstanding her defence, the court determined that either together with head nurse Amanda Ratajczak (q.v.) or alone, Wieczorek had administered lethal injections to at least 100 patients. Both she and Wernicke were sentenced to death and executed.[1904] By the time of the duo's appearance in court Ratajczak had already been tried, found guilty, and shot by the Russians.

Gerhard Wischer (1903-1950)[1905] was a psychiatrist born in Berlin. He joined the Nazi party in 1937, and the following year was appointed director of the Waldheim mental hospital. He name appears as a T4 Gutachter with effect from 2 August 1941, although he was certainly involved in “euthanasia” planning from an earlier date, since he had been chairman of the Erbbiologische Bestandsaufnahme (“Authority for Genetic Registration”) since 1938.[1906] He was one of the medical participants in Sonderbehandlung 14f13, and was extensively involved in the second phase of “euthanasia”.[1907]

Following a meeting in Berlin on 17 August 1943 arranged by Paul Nitsche (q.v.) of a group of carefully chosen psychiatrists considered sympathetic to a resumption of “euthanasia”, Wischer, now back at Waldheim, wrote to Nitsche: “…I expect a monthly average of 20-30 patients; there have been no difficulties until now, either with personnel or relatives…New patients are admitted nearly every day, so that we must step lively to keep up.” A few weeks later Wischer wrote again: “I…have plenty to do, as almost all new patients from the area between Leipzig, Chemnitz, and Meissen come to me. Of course, I could never accommodate these patients if I were not taking the necessary measures to make room, which are going very smoothly. However, I very much lack the necessary medications.” Wischer's problem was apparently soon resolved, for on 29 December he informed Nitsche that “there are many departures that are taken care of smoothly”.[1908]

Wischer was arrested in October 1945, tried and sentenced to death in Waldheim in 1950, and executed on 4 November of that year.

Ewald Wortmann [or Worthmann], aka “Hannes Wortmann” (1911-1985) [T4 pseudonym “Dr Friede”][1909] was born in Marne, Schleswig-Holstein. He studied medicine at the universities of Hamburg, Würzberg, Munich, and Berlin. In 1934 he passed his preliminary medical examination in Würzberg, and having completed his degree in 1937, finally received his medical licence in January 1939.[1910] Although he never joined the NSDAP, he became a member of the SA in 1933.

During his time at Würzberg Wortmann had attended Werner Heyde's (q.v.) lectures, as had Aquilin Ullrich (q.v.), and like the latter and Klaus Endruweit (q.v.), Wortmann had been a member of the racially inspired 1938 Bessarabian expedition referred to earlier. Between September 1939 and February 1940 Wortmann worked as a doctor at the Hamburg-Langenhorn prison and for a short time was conscripted into the Wehrmacht. In May 1940 he was recruited by T4. When asked by Paul Nitsche (q.v.) about his attitude towards “euthanasia”, Wortmann replied that he was not opposed to it in principle.

Initially acting as assistant to Dr Theodor Steinmeyer (q.v.) in selecting patients for “euthanasia” at institutions in southern Germany, in late September or early October 1940, Wortmann was transferred to Sonnenstein, where Horst Schumann (q.v.) briefed him on his duties. The sight of the gassing of patients so shocked him, Wortmann claimed, he immediately asked Schumann for a discharge. Schumann referred him to Heyde, who after attempting to persuade Wortmann to remain with T4, finally agreed to release him from the programme.[1911]

After leaving T4, Wortmann worked at a military hospital in Lodz until rejoining the Wehrmacht in the field at the beginning of Barbarossa. He became a Russian prisoner of war, returning to Germany in 1950 to reside in Friedrichskoog and work as a general practitioner. Although no criminal proceedings were ever commenced against him, he did act as a witness in the trials of Heinrich Bunke (q.v.), Endruweit, and Ullrich. Although doubts remain about the extent of his “euthanasia” activities (he admitted to writing “comfort letters” to the relatives of murdered victims), Wortmann was the only T4 doctor to at least acknowledge “a certain moral guilt, because I have done nothing to prevent these things.”

Anna Wrona (1907-?). Although only a tiny cog in the T4 killing machine, Wrona may be regarded as typical of those ordinary people who committed extraordinarily murderous acts – and received little if any punishment for their crimes.

Born in Bochum and raised as a Catholic, Wrona entered the mental hospital at Johannisthal, near Süchteln, as a student children's nurse in 1927. Having completed her training, she remained at Johannisthal until late 1941. She joined the Nazi Party in 1938 or 1939, but claimed to have ceased her membership after a few months.[1912] In November 1941 she was selected for transfer to the Waldniel institution, where Richard von Hegener (q.v.) informed her of the “euthanasia” project, and asked if she was prepared to participate – which she agreed to do without hesitation, unlike the four colleagues who had preceded her to Waldniel. They had refused to participate in the programme and been returned to Johannisthal.[1913]

In December 1941 Wrona was appointed head nurse at Waldniel. From October 1942 she co-operated with Dr Hermann Wesse (q.v.) in the killing of 25 children. When the Waldniel killing ward was closed in the summer of 1943, Wrona was sent to the mental hospital at Dösen, near Leipzig, where she probably received additional training from Werner Catel (q.v.). She was soon transferred again, this time to the Gross-Schweidnitz institution Unhappy there, in June 1944 she moved yet again, this time to Kalmenhof, where working once more with Wesse, she participated in the murder of an unknown number of children. She remained at Kalmenhof until the end of the war.

Wrona's first trial was held in Frankfurt, where the court concentrated on her activities at Kalmenhof. Whilst employed there she had received a monthly bonus of 30 Reichsmark from T4, plus an addition 5 Reichsmark “per death” (pro Sterbefall). Soon the corpse-related bonus had to be shared 50:50 with nurse Maria Müller (q.v.), another Kalmenhof killer.[1914] Notwithstanding this evidence, the court was unable to conclusively prove that Wrona has actually administered lethal injections, and so found her to be an accomplice to murder rather than a perpetrator of it, and sentenced her to 8 years' imprisonment. The Appeal Court disagreed with the verdict and referred the case back for re-trial; since no additional evidence of her involvement in the Kalmenhof killings could be provided, in February 1949 Wrona was acquitted “for lack of evidence.”

Even before that decision had been reached, Wrona had been indicted again, this time in Düsseldorf in October 1948 in connection with her activities at Waldniel. There was no denying the killings she had perpetrated; she herself admitted to murdering the 25 children mentioned earlier with overdoses of Luminal. Her punishment for these crimes was a jail sentence of 4 years. However, the Supreme Court of the British Zone was unable to determine whether Wrona had been truly aware of the nature of her crimes. If she had not, she was to be acquitted. The all-important decision was left to the Düsseldorf court which, not surprisingly, decided in February 1953 in Wrona's favour. She had been indoctrinated to regard her superiors as people “who enjoy unconditional authority and whose official directives are to be obeyed,” so the court ruled. She had therefore been led to believe that killing defenceless children was “in accordance with regulations and morally irreproachable.”[1915] And so Wrona was once more acquitted “for lack of evidence”.[1916]

Adolf Würth (1905-?) was born in Baden-Württemberg. Initially a student of medicine, he switched to anthropology, obtaining his doctorate in Berlin in 1936. Robert Ritter (q.v.) recruited him for his Eugenic and Population Biological Research Station in Tübingen, where Würth joined the team investigating the racial characteristics of Gypsies. Würth never joined the NSDAP, although there was little doubt where his sympathies lay. He was the first to refer to “the final solution of the Gypsy question” in September 1937, and in 1938 noted that “the Gypsy question that we face today is above all a racial question.”[1917] In 1940 he was conscripted by the Wehrmacht.[1918]

After the war, Würth worked in the Baden-Württemberg Bureau of Statistics until 1970. Although proceedings against Würth and Sophie Ehrhardt (q.v.) commenced in the mid1980s, they were soon abandoned on the grounds that “the defendants' participation in Ritter's research was a legitimate scientific activity”

Minna Zachow (1893-?) was born in Klein Daberkow, a village in Mecklenburg-Strelitz. She worked first as a housekeeper and later as a saleswoman, before entering the nursing profession in 1924. After service at a sanatorium and mental hospital in Berlin, she was enlisted by T4 in June 1940, and sent initially to Grafeneck, then to Hadamar, and finally to Bernburg, where she remained until April 1942, when she returned to Hadamar. Although never a member of the Nazi party or any related organizations, she had participated in all aspects of “euthanasia”.

Zachow was one of four nurses appearing before the court in Frankfurt in January 1948, charged with complicity in the “euthanasia” programme. Although admitting to a guilty conscience for what she had done (and, she claimed, had suffered from at the time), Zachow carried on killing. The court was unable to determine a figure for the murders in which she may have been involved during the first phase of “euthanasia”, but conservatively estimated their number at 25 in the second phase. For this, the court deemed a jail sentence of three years and six months appropriate.

Christel Zielke (1913-?) had been a member of the NSDAP since 1932, and had considerable experience of “euthanasia“, having worked at Grafeneck, Brandenburg, and the children's killing ward at Niedermarsberg before arriving at Hadamar in time to participate in the second phase of the programme there.[1919] A defendant in the second Hadamar trial, she was found guilty of complicity in at least 25 cases of murder, for which she received a prison sentence of three years and nine months.[1920]

* * *


Heinrich Barbl (1900-?) was born in Sarleinsbach, Austria. A metalworker who joined the NSDAP and SS after the Anschluss, he was posted to Hartheim at the time of its conversion from a children's home to a killing centre. His workplace adjoined the crematorium; there he prepared urns containing ashes of the victims for forwarding to their relatives. No attempt was made to correctly identify the remains, even though Barbl stamped a nameplate for each urn. He performed similar duties for a time at Grafeneck.

In spring 1942 Barbl was posted to Belzec, where he was nicknamed “the idiot”, and was in a state of perpetual drunkenness. Calling himself “the plumber”, he was responsible for installing the piping in the gas chambers.[1921] Since Belzec was already operational, this must have been during the second phase of killings with the enlarged gas chambers, which were constructed in June-July 1942.[1922] He was also frequently the victim of whippings administered by Christian Wirth (q.v.), who needed little excuse to vent his rage on those he considered inferior.[1923] Whether Barbl was in fact as stupid as he appeared to be is a matter of conjecture; he may well have been using his apparent dim-wittedness to avoid unpleasant duties. Gottlieb Hering (q.v.), who succeeded Wirth as commandant of Belzec in August 1942, refused to allow Barbl to execute prisoners because “he is so daft that he would shoot us, not the Jews.”[1924] At the time of the construction of the gas chambers in Sobibor, it was Barbl who carried out the pipe work.[1925] He was present at the testing of the Sobibor gas chamber when 30-40 Jewish women were murdered, concerning which he stated: “Red Cross nurses accompanied the selected women, who were transported by bus. They assisted with undressing.”[1926]

Barbl was only in Sobibor between April-June 1942 (which coincides with the time of construction of the first gas chambers there), and was one of many ex-T4 personnel subsequently sent to Trieste on the termination of Aktion Reinhard. Despite being repeatedly interrogated by the Austrian police, no proceedings were ever brought against him.[1927]

Erich Hermann Bauer (1900-1980)[1928] was born in Berlin, where after an elementary education he trained to become a driver. He served in the German army during the Great War, and was released from French captivity in 1920. From 1923 he was employed as a driver until becoming a Berlin tram-conductor in 1933. He joined the SA in the same year, and the Nazi party shortly afterwards.

Bauer continued with his employment as a tram-conductor until he was recruited in 1940 by T4,[1929] where he worked as a lorry driver and part-time chauffeur, driving doctors around the Reich.[1930] So far as is known he had no other direct involvement in “euthanasia” operations. Notwithstanding this apparent lack of any prior participation in mass murder, in early 1942 he was transferred to Aktion Reinhard headquarters in Lublin, made an SS Oberscharführer and sent to Sobibor, where he remained until the liquidation of the camp in December 1943. Thereafter, together with other Reinhard personnel he moved to Italy[1931] as part of Aktion R, the continuation of Globocnik's Polish activities under another rather obvious code name.[1932]

At his trial in 1950, Bauer claimed that, although being fully aware of the nature of Sobibor's murderous activities, he himself had never participated in them, acting solely as a lorry driver, collecting and delivering supplies for the camp. There was, however, overwhelming evidence to the contrary. He was identified by Jewish witnesses who had escaped from Sobibor as the camp's “Gasmeister”, responsible not only for operating the gassing equipment, but countless other acts of cruelty and murder. In fact, he was considered one of the most notorious killers in the camp.

In 1945 Bauer had once more become a prisoner-of-war, this time of the Americans, who released him in 1946 to return to Berlin and take up new employment as a labourer. In 1949 he was recognized by two former Sobibor prisoners, who reported the sighting to the police.[1933] Bauer was arrested and arraigned before a Berlin court in spring 1950. On 8 May of that year he was condemned to death for crimes committed in Sobibor, but since capital punishment had been abolished in the Federal Republic, the sentence was commuted to one of life imprisonment. Over the coming years he appeared on occasion as a witness at the trials of former colleagues. On 22 December 1971 Bauer was pardoned and released from custody.[1934][1935]

Heinz Kurt Bolender aka “Heinz Brenner” and “Wilhelm Kurt Vahl” (1912-1966)[1936] was born in Duisberg. He joined the SS Totenkopfstandarte (“Death's Head”) unit and served at Brandenburg, Sonnenstein, Hadamar, and Hartheim as a Brenner. Whilst at Hartheim he began to steal sets of false teeth containing gold fillings and bridges from the corpses of the victims, a practice he was to continue as head of Camp lll in Sobibor, the extermination area containing the camp's gas chambers. He arrived at Sobibor in April 1942, together with Franz Stangl (q.v.), Karl Frenzel (q.v.) and Hubert Gomerski (q.v.).[1937] By then, like many others, he had spent some time in the Soviet Union in winter 1941/42 with the Organisation Todt operation. A survivor of the camp, Moshe Bahir, recorded his impression of Bolender:

It is hard to forget Oberscharführer Kurt Bolender, with his athletic body and long hair, who used to go walking half-naked, clad only in training breeches, carrying a long whip with which he brutally lashed the camp prisoners he came upon on his way.[1938]

Bolender's fellow criminal, Erich Bauer (q.v.), testified: “Bolender was in charge of Camp lll.”[1939] Bolender himself eventually admitted:

I spent all my time at Sobibor in Lager lll, supervising the Jewish commandos. It is correct that Jews were gassed in Lager lll. I sorted the Arbeitshäftlinge [working prisoners] into groups; one group had to clear out the gas chambers after the gassing had taken place, another had to take the bodies to the graves.

In December 1942, having been found guilty of causing a witness to commit perjury in divorce proceedings, Bolender was sentenced by an SS court to nine months in a SS Straftlager (punishment camp). He returned to Sobibor in time to participate in the dismantling of the camp, and served for a time at the Dorohucza and DAW-Lublin labour camps before, like so many of his colleagues, departing for Italy and Aktion R. At the war's end Bolender adopted new identities; first “Heinz Brenner”, the name by which he had been known in Hartheim, and then “Wilhelm Kurt Vahl”. However, unlike many ex-T4 and Aktion Reinhard personnel, he did not attempt to contact his family, who after a time, declared him deceased. In the meantime Bolender had found employment as a nightclub doorman, one of several positions he occupied until his arrest in 1961.[1940] In Bolender's home, police found a whip bearing the inlaid monogram “KB” on the handle. It had been made by Szlomo Szmajzner, a survivor of Sobibor who had been forced to work by and for the SS as a goldsmith.

Initially Bolender denied any knowledge of mass murder, claiming to have been “fighting against the partisans in and around Lublin.” It was not a sustainable defence, which Bolender apparently recognized, for on 10 October 1966 he committed suicide, hanging himself in his cell at Hagen.[1941]

Werner Karl Dubois (1913-1971)[1942] was born in Wuppertal, and began his working life as an apprentice to a paintbrush manufacturer. However, before his training had been completed he became unemployed, and instead found a position as an agricultural labourer. He joined the SA in 1933, and in 1936 trained as an assistant driving instructor with the National Socialist Motorist Corps. His application to join the elite SS-Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler unit was rejected; instead, in January 1937 he became a truck driver with the SS-Totenkopfstandarte Brandenburg. Shortly thereafter he became a member of both the NSDAP and the SS. He was posted to Sachsenhausen concentration camp in March 1938, where he remained until the outbreak of war.[1943]

In autumn 1939, Dubois was assigned to T4, where he worked as a driver of a Gekrat vehicle delivering victims from various institutions to Grafeneck, Brandenburg, Hadamar, and Bernburg. He also worked as a Brenner and handled the disposal of corpses. Despite having had problems with Horst Schumann (q.v.) at Grafeneck and Bernburg, Dubois remained with the “euthanasia” programme at Hadamar until January 1942, when he joined the Organisation Todt mission to Russia. On his return, he reported to T4 in Berlin, where he remained until March or April 1942, when he was ordered to Belzec. There he stayed until May or June 1943, at which time he was transferred to Sobibor.[1944]

Dubois performed a variety of duties at both extermination camps, ranging from supervising the Jewish commando at the gas chambers in Belzec, to being in charge of the wood-gathering detail (Waldkommando) at Sobibor. He shed some interesting light on the irrational behaviour of Christian Wirth (q.v.), who in a typical display of uncontrollable rage, once drew a pistol on Dubois for failing to start a lorry's engine, accusing Dubois of sabotage. According to Dubois, when he drew his own pistol in response, Wirth calmed down, walked away, and never raised the incident again.[1945] Dubois seems to have been a relatively honest witness, judged that is by the standard of his colleagues, and there is no reason to doubt the truth of his story. Wirth, it would seem, was a typical bully – when faced with the right kind of determined opposition, he simply caved in. Of course, everything depended upon who was doing the opposing. It is unlikely that Wirth would have been so accommodating to any Jewish resistance.

Dubois was present at the time of the uprising in Sobibor, when he was severely wounded. On his recovery he joined Aktion R in Italy. Despite finishing the war as an 80 percent invalid, Dubois made no claim for a disability benefit because, he claimed in court: “(I) did not want to reveal the events in Sobibor which had led to (my) injury, or in any other way make false statements in a benefit procedure.”[1946]

Dubois was arrested in May 1945 by US authorities, but released in December 1947. He worked as a locksmith, until his appearance in court at Munich in 1963 to account for the crimes he had committed at Belzec. Despite admitting to the murder of six individuals (he had been accused of complicity in the murder of 360,000), he was acquitted on 30 January 1964.[1947] He was immediately re-arrested, this time in connection with his activities at Sobibor. In September 1965 the trial of Dubois and eleven others opened in Hagen. Dubois did not attempt to hide his guilt, admitting:

Of course I am aware that killings were carried out in the extermination camps. What I did amounts to aiding and abetting. If I am convicted, it is only right. Murder is always murder. In establishing who is guilty, it is my opinion that not only the functionaries should be looked at. Whatever we did, we are all equally guilty. The camp functioned like a chain of separate functions. The whole thing would have collapsed if only one link had broken away. The real “work” during the extermination process was carried out by the Arbeitsjuden [work Jews]. They were forced to do it, always in fear of death. All members of the German staff supervised the process and carried the responsibility for the extermination of the Jews. What should be taken into account is that we did not act on our own initiative, but in the context of the Reich's Final Solution to the Jewish problem. We did not have the courage to resist orders; I was faced with the following choice: either be a supervisor in a Jewish camp, or a prisoner in a concentration camp.[1948]

Found guilty of complicity in the murder of at least 15,000 people, Dubois was sentenced to three years' imprisonment.[1949]

Herbert Floss (1912-1943) was born in Reinholdsheim. After leaving school he trained as a textile dyer, but finding suitable employment difficult to obtain, worked at a variety of different jobs. He joined the NSDAP in 1930, the SA in 1931, and the SS in 1935, where he was a member of Totenkopfsturmbann Elbe. After serving in Buchenwald he was transferred to Bernburg, where he was employed as a Brenner. [1950]

Floss served at all three Aktion Reinhard camps, but little is known of his activities at Belzec. In Sobibor he was in charge of the day-to-day routine for a short time, until succeeded by Gustav Wagner (q.v.). Thereafter he assumed the position previously held by Alfred Ittner (q.v.) as collector of the money and valuables of Jews passing before him on their way to the gas chamber. It would appear that Floss was considered something of an expert in the cremation of corpses, which had begun at Sobibor in September or October 1942[1951], and in Belzec in November of that year.[1952] Floss may have had experience of the exhumation and burning of corpses at both of these camps, for Heinrich Matthes, in charge of the extermination area at Treblinka, where the cremation of corpses began in March 1943, stated: “…Floss, who, as I assume was previously in another extermination camp, arrived. He was in charge of the arrangements for cremating the corpses.”[1953]

Following the uprising at Sobibor, Floss was assigned to escort a party of 30 Ukrainian guards by train from that camp to Trawniki on 22 October 1943. Near Chelm some kind of dispute presumably arose, in the course of which one of the Ukrainians grabbed Floss' sub-machine gun and fatally wounded him.[1954]

Kurt Hubert Franz (1914-1998)[1955] was born in Düsseldorf, and on leaving school became an apprentice cook. He never finished his training, for influenced by his militaristic and nationalistic step-father, in 1932 joined a violently anti-Semitic youth movement, the Kyffhaüser-Jugend. Soon after he volunteered for labour service and spent the next two years working in a variety of state-sponsored camps. A year working as an unpaid butcher's apprentice followed, before in October 1935 he enlisted in the army. Even before he had completed his army service he applied to join the SS. As a member of SS-Totenkopfstandarte Thuringia he served at Buchenwald, where he worked as a cook, trained recruits, and acted as a guard.[1956] In autumn1939, together with two of his Buchenwald colleagues he was transferred to T4 and initiated into the “euthanasia” programme by Werner Blankenburg (q.v.). Franz was initially sent to Grafeneck, subsequently working at Hartheim, Sonnenstein, and Brandenburg. Franz claimed that he worked exclusively as a cook in these killing centres, which given his subsequent record seems inherently unlikely. Either way, in late 1941 or early 1942 he was transferred to the kitchen of the KdF, where he certainly was not directly involved in murder.[1957] Strangely, he never became a member of the Nazi party.

In April 1942, Franz was sent to Belzec, where he was put in charge of the Ukrainian guards. When Franz allegedly refused to take command of the camp's extermination area, Christian Wirth (q.v.) slapped his face for insubordination, but took no further action.[1958] Franz himself described how Wirth duped the arriving Jews with a speech in which he assured them that after their “disinfection”, their valuables would be returned to them prior to their being deported onward – at which news the Jews burst into applause.[1959] Since there were so few surviving Jewish witnesses from Belzec, there is no reliable evidence concerning the nature of Franz's behaviour there, but Treblinka provides an all too accurate picture. Having presumably distinguished himself with his brutality in Belzec, Franz was transferred to Treblinka in late August or early September 1942. Initially placed in charge of the Ukrainian guards as at Belzec, Franz was rapidly promoted by Wirth to the position of deputy commandant.

Nicknamed “Lalka” (“doll” in Polish) because of his immaculate appearance, even judged by the standards of an extermination camp Franz was considered terrifyingly sadistic. To all intents and purposes it was Franz who ruled day-to-day life in the camp, reviewing roll calls, deciding on punishments, and killing at will. He would remove bearded men from transports and ask them if they believed in God. If, as was to be expected, they replied in the affirmative, he would tell each man to hold up a bottle as a target, saying: “If your God indeed exists then I will hit the bottle, and if he does not exist then I will hit you.” Joe Siedlicki, a survivor of Treblinka, described Franz's whippings: “He'd give them fifty strokes. They'd be dead at the end. He'd be half dead himself, but he'd beat and beat.” [1960] Another inmate, Oscar Strawczinski, wrote of Franz:

To practice boxing, he would use the head of [a] Jew…He would grab his victim's lapel and strike with the other hand. The victim would have to hold his head straight so that Franz could aim well. And indeed he did it expertly. The sight of the Jew's head after a “training session” of this sort is not difficult to imagine.[1961]

Survivor testimonies are replete with descriptions of Franz's cruelty, which undoubtedly had its foundation in his perverted libido.

Franz was not in Treblinka on the day of the uprising, 2 August 1943 (“In fact he was with his tart in Ostrow”, according to Franz Suchomel [q.v.]).[1962] Following the uprising, the then commandant, Franz Stangl (q.v.), was relieved and departed for Italy with Odilo Globocnik, Wirth, and others. Franz became the last commandant of Treblinka, and was responsible for the liquidation of the camp, a task completed in November 1943.[1963] He then joined his comrades in northern Italy, hunting partisans and killing Jews.[1964] After the war he worked for a time as a labourer, then from 1949 as a cook until his arrest in 1959. He had made no attempt to disguise his identity. On searching his apartment at the time of his arrest, the police found a photograph album containing many pictures of his time at Treblinka. The album was captioned “Schöne Zeiten” (“Good Times”).[1965]

Indicted at the first Treblinka trial[1966] (Düsseldorf, October 1964-August 1965), Franz mounted a ludicrous defence, claiming that he had known of the uprising, had arranged for two-thirds of the German guards to be absent at the time, and had deliberately left his submachine-gun in his quarters (hardly surprising if Suchomel's evidence quoted above was accurate).[1967] The court had no difficulty in dismissing Franz's statement, instead determining: “(Franz) ill-treated, punched, beat, and killed when it gave him pleasure and when he felt like it. It did not bother him in the least when his dog Barry leapt at helpless Jews at his bidding…and wounded and tore them to pieces in his presence…A large part of the streams of blood and tears that flowed in Treblinka can be attributed to him alone.”[1968] He had displayed “almost satanic brutality”.

Franz was found guilty of the murder of “at least 300,000 persons”, and was given 36 life sentences plus eight years' imprisonment.[1969] He was released from prison in 1993 because of poor health and died in Wuppertal in 1998.

Karl August Wilhelm Frenzel (1911-1996)[1970] was born in Zehdenick, a small town near Berlin. After leaving school in 1926 he first became an apprentice carpenter, but in the difficult economic climate of the time he was forced to find work as an agricultural labourer. Although he claimed to have been a member of the socialist carpenters' union, after a spell in jail following his participation in a demonstration of the unemployed, in August 1930 he joined both the NSDAP and the SA. He was an enthusiastic convert, and through his new Nazi associations found a job with a meat wholesaler, before working in a munitions factory and then as a caretaker.[1971]

In August 1939 Frenzel was conscripted into a Baubattaillon, an army building detachment, and on the outbreak of war was sent to the Polish border to dismantle enemy fortifications. At Christmas 1939 Frenzel, who by that time had fathered five children, was discharged from the army as a “kinderreicher Familienvater”, as already described. Shortly thereafter, thwarted of the pleasures of an army career, at the suggestion of fellow SA members he reported to the KdF in Berlin, who, he was told, were looking for reliable party comrades for a “special assignment”. In January 1940, the usual oath of secrecy was administered to Frenzel and 15 other recruits at the KdF by Werner Blankenburg (q.v.) and Viktor Brack (q.v.),[1972] following which Frenzel was dispatched first to Grafeneck to serve as a guard, then briefly to Bernburg, before arriving in Hadamar at the end of 1940. There he helped construct the gas chamber, and was subsequently employed as a Brenner. In late 1941 he returned to Bernburg to help dismantle the gassing installation.

Together with other “euthanasia” Aktion personnel, Frenzel was recalled to Berlin in mid-April 1942 and instructed to report to Odilo Globocnik in Lublin. Having done so, and having been given the rank of SS-Oberscharführer, he was posted to Sobibor, where he arrived on 28 April 1942. Christian Wirth (q.v.) remembered Frenzel from Hadamar, and entrusted him with supervising the completion of the camp's building works.[1973] Thereafter, Frenzel's duties were varied, ranging from participation in the entire extermination process to the maintenance of order and discipline among the prisoners. He was zealous in carrying out these responsibilities, to say the least. Together with Gustav Wagner (q.v.) and Hubert Gomerski (q.v.), he was among the most feared members of the German staff. When Wagner was absent, it was Frenzel who conducted the “selections” from among arriving prisoners. His was the classic example of the “nobody”, who through chance suddenly finds himself a “somebody”. The Sobibor survivor, Kurt Ticho, described him as a man who “made decisions to show his superiority. He enforced them through brutality. Mistreating defenceless prisoners made him feel powerful and important.”[1974] At Frenzel's post-war trial, Ticho, who was placed in charge of the care of sick inmates despite his complete lack of medical knowledge, testified that on at least three separate occasions Frenzel had ordered the shooting of groups of 12-15 sick prisoners.[1975]

Limitless in his greed and ruthless in the wielding of his powers, survivor's testimonies contain many examples of Frenzel's avarice and cruelty. Like Kurt Franz (q.v.) in Treblinka, he enjoyed administering fearful whippings, which would often result in the recipient's death at the Lazarett. When on one occasion he caught an 11 year-old boy stealing a tin of sardines, Frenzel made the boy hold up the tin, and shouted out: “Jews are not allowed to eat foreign sardines.” Frenzel then shot the boy.[1976] A survivor stated:

I knew SS officer Frenzel, who led our building commando. To call him barbaric would be an understatement. He was an outright sadist. Frenzel always held his leather whip at the ready and would strike the prisoners over the head, across the face or any other part of the body, for no reason at all. Many prisoners were permanently crippled or even died as a result.[1977]

Another inmate testified: “(Frenzel) was a sadist and a killer without conscience. His involvement at Sobibor went much beyond the mass exterminations; he committed numerous other crimes as well.”

After the uprising in Sobibor on 14 October 1943, when Frenzel was in the camp but managed to evade his planned execution, he was among those dispatched to Italy as part of Aktion R. As the war drew to a close he was captured by the Americans, but was quickly released. In 1946 he found employment with a film studio in Göttingen, where he remained until his arrest in 1962. The trial of Frenzel and eleven others who had served at Sobibor commenced at Hagen in September 1965. An unsuccessful attempt to suggest that the murder of tens of thousands of innocent individuals held a spurious legality, as well as proposing some kind of moral equivalence between the actions of the allies and those of the Nazis, indicated the feebleness of Frenzel's defence:

As I already pointed out, under the prevailing war conditions, which are now difficult to comprehend, I unfortunately believed that what was going on at Sobibor was lawful. To my regret, I was then convinced of its necessity. I was shocked that just during the war, when I wanted to serve my homeland, I had to be in such a terrible extermination camp. But then I thought very often about the enemy bomber pilots, who surely were not asked whether they wanted to carry out their murderous flights against German people in their homes in such a manner.[1978]

On 20 December 1966, Frenzel was found guilty of complicity in the murder of “at least 150,000” individuals, plus nine specific cases of murder, and was sentenced to life imprisonment. Ten years later the Hagen court ordered Frenzel's case to be reopened, and suspended his sentence. A new trial was ordered, commenced on 5 November 1982, and took almost three years to reach a conclusion. In April 1983, in the midst of the trial, an extraordinary confrontation took place at Frenzel's request between himself and Thomas Toivi Blatt, who as a fifteen-year-old had been a prisoner in Sobibor, and was one of the few survivors of that camp. Winston Churchill once famously remarked: “The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet,” and nothing exemplified that more than Frenzel's performance. “I wanted to apologise to you for all that happened then,” he said. “If you would accept my apologies in the name of the victims, it would in some small measure be a comfort to me…” Not surprisingly Blatt ignored the request.[1979]

On 4 October 1985, the original verdict of guilt in connection with mass extermination was upheld; however, most of the charges relating to the individual murders were dismissed on the grounds of conflicting evidence. By that time the memory of survivors was faltering. Frenzel was not detained for long. On 10 January 1990 the court determined that “the defendant is now 78 years of age and… in such a desolate state that, in the court's judgement, enforcing the prison sentence would no longer serve the intentions of the law.” And so Frenzel lived out the remainder of his life in the comfort of a retirement home, where he died on 2 September 1996.[1980]

Erich Fritz Erhard Fuchs (1902-1980)[1981] was a lorry driver and motor mechanic born in Berlin. A member of the German Socialist party since 1928, at the time of the Machtergreifung he was working for the Jewish publisher Ullstein. On being branded a “Judendiener” (“Jew servant”) he quickly joined the Nazi party and the SA, and worked for a number of different organisations, including the National Socialist Welfare Organisation and the Reich Air Ministry, until in 1940 he was ordered to report to Brandenburg under labour conscription regulations.[1982] There he was responsible to Irmfried Eberl (q.v.) for the supply and maintenance of vehicles. When Eberl was transferred to Bernburg, Fuchs accompanied him.[1983] There is no evidence that Fuchs was any more than “an interested spectator”, as he expressed it, at the killing centres where he worked, although in the light of his subsequent activities, there is reason to question whether he may have been more than just an innocent bystander.

In February 1942, Christian Wirth (q.v.) arranged for Fuchs to be transferred to Belzec. It was Fuchs who installed the initial gassing equipment at the first extermination camp. He also installed the false shower heads in the gas chambers, admitting: “The showers were not connected to a water supply, because they were only there as camouflage. You see, the Jews who were to be gassed were told, contrary to the truth, that they were to be bathed and disinfected.”[1984] Six weeks later, Fuchs was ordered to Sobibor, then under construction, where he was responsible for the installation of the gassing engine:

Some time in the spring of 1942 I drove a truck to Lemberg on Wirth's orders and picked up a gassing engine, which I took to Sobibor…We installed the engine on a concrete base and connected the exhaust to the pipeline…A trial gassing was carried out. If my memory serves me right, I think 30 to 40 women were gassed…After about ten minutes the women were dead.[1985]

One month later Fuchs was transferred yet again, this time to Treblinka, where he met up with his old boss, Eberl. As Fuchs testified:

Subsequently I went to Treblinka. In this extermination camp I installed a generator which supplied electric light for the barracks. The work in Treblinka took me about three to four busy months. During my stay there transports of Jews who were gassed were coming in daily.[1986]

Given his experience with the technique of extermination, it is probable that Fuchs was involved in installing more than lighting.

Fuchs returned briefly to Belzec in late 1942, then, having contributed to all three of the principle Aktion Reinhard extermination camps, he again spent a short time at Bernburg, where Eberl was once more in charge after his disastrous spell as commandant of Treblinka. Between December 1942 and February 1943 Fuchs worked at the Wiesloch mental hospital before finally securing his release from T4 to find employment as a lorry driver for a German oil company in Riga.[1987] In February 1945 he joined the Waffen-SS, where he served in a tank transport unit. He was made a prisoner of war for a short time, firstly by the Russians, and then by the Americans, before the British briefly utilised his services as a driver/mechanic at the liberated Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, by that time housing displaced persons. Thereafter he found employment as a driver/mechanic in Koblenz until his arrest in 1963.

Fuchs was first indicted in the so-called “Belzec trial”, held in Munich in August 1963, accused of participation in the murder of 90,000 persons at that camp. On 30 January 1964, the court decided to drop proceedings against 7 of the 8 accused; one of those discharged was Fuchs.[1988] Even before a final decision had been reached by the Munich Court, the Dortmund prosecutor had filed charges against five of the defendants in the Belzec trial, including Fuchs, in connection with their activities at Sobibor. The so-called “Sobibor trial” commenced in Hagen in September 1965.[1989]

Not surprisingly, Fuchs was an unreliable witness, constantly changing his evidence, and attempting to persuade others (including two of his former wives) to amend their testimony. So far as his conduct in the service of mass murder was concerned, he expressed a predictable mea culpa, which nevertheless perhaps contained more than a grain of truth:

This was the supreme cultural disgrace. They were criminals. One should have found another way of disposing of the Jews. On many nights I was unable to sleep. Even today I still see the pictures before me: naked people, naked bodies. People who had committed no crime. It was sly murder. I have often contemplated reporting myself [to the investigating authorities]. I lacked the courage, however. Today I might say that I should have tried to get away from it there [that is from T4 and Aktion Reinhard] earlier. The voice of my conscience tells me today that I should have done many things differently. But at the time I did not know how. After all, at the time, you had to do everything they told you. And finally one got so blunted that one did not feel anything anymore.

Although he had only been in Sobibor for one month, the court determined that Fuchs was guilty of complicity in the murder of “at least 79,000 Jews” there, and sentenced him to a jail term of 4 years. He was never called to account for his actions at Treblinka, nor (like many other Aktion Reinhard personnel) for his participation in events at the “euthanasia” killing centres.[1990]

Hubert Gomerski (1911-1999)[1991] was born in Schweinheim, near Aschaffenburg. On leaving school he became an apprentice lathe operator, working as such from 1927 until the outbreak of war, when he was conscripted by the military. He had joined the Nazi party in 1931 and the SS in 1934. In November 1939 he was enrolled into the Waffen-SS, serving in Poland. He was transferred to the police reserve in Berlin in January 1941, and from there was instructed to report to T4, with no knowledge of that organization's function - or so he claimed. He was rapidly briefed, sworn to secrecy, and dispatched to Hartheim, where after initially performing administrative tasks, Gomerski became a Brenner. He detested the work, and asked to be transferred back to his unit. Instead he was ordered back to Berlin where, according to Gomerski, Gerhard Bohne (q.v.) threatened him with incarceration in a concentration camp, or even death if he refused to carry out orders. Shortly afterwards Gomerski was sent to Hadamar, where he carried out a variety of duties, again including, on occasion, those of a Brenner. [1992]

In late April 1942, Gomerski arrived in Sobibor, where he was initially put in charge of a group of Ukrainian guards; subsequently he worked in Camp lll, (where the killing occurred), as well as at the ramp. Here, dressed in a white coat so that those arriving might think he was a doctor, he greeted the sick and incapacitated, assuring them that they would be well looked after. Instead they were transferred to Camp III and shot, with Gomerski an active participant in their murder.[1993] He became among the most dreaded SS-men in the entire camp, notorious for his sadistic brutality. At the time of the uprising in Sobibor (14 October 1943), Gomerski had the good fortune to be on leave; had he been present, he would certainly have been among the prisoners' prime targets.[1994]

Gomerski was something of a rarity, possibly being the only individual arraigned in four separate trials for “euthanasia” and Aktion Reinhard activities. His first trial opened in Frankfurt in February 1947, and was concerned with his Hadamar history. Deciding that as he had only “occasionally” acted as a Brenner, and therefore “from the nature of his activities [could] have gained no indications regarding the true dimension of the killing action”, the court acquitted him.[1995] Three years later he was in the dock again, this time in connection with his Sobibor career. After his arrest, Gomerski had testified: “I can only declare that a place by the name of Sobibor is unknown to me.”[1996] His subsequent evidence proved the mendacity of that statement.

This time Gomerski was not to be so fortunate. Found guilty of complicity in the murder of an unknown number of people, he was sentenced to life imprisonment. In 1972 the Frankfurt court ordered a retrial, which began a year later and lasted until 1977. At the trial's conclusion Gomerski received a sentence of 15 years' imprisonment for his participation in the murder of at least 150,000 individuals. Unbelievably, the sentence was annulled by the Federal High Court on technical grounds, and a new trial ordered, which began in October 1981. To nobody's great surprise, one month later the proceedings were suspended because of the defendant's “ill health”, and were finally abandoned in 1983.[1997]

Despite his claimed poor medical condition, Gomerski managed to survive until 28 December 1999.[1998] In 1978, he had been interviewed by a Dutch psychiatrist and former Auschwitz prisoner, Dr Elie Aron Cohen. Gomerski confessed that he could not deny he had been at Sobibor and had killed prisoners there. But what else could he have done? He did not sleep well, and had disturbing dreams – not of the Jews of Sobibor, but of the injustice the courts had visited upon him.[1999]

Walter Grabowski (1896-1945)[2000] was born in Rosenberg, West Prussia (now Susz, Poland). A sales representative in Stettin, he was an early member of the NSDAP and the SA, joining both in 1926. In 1936 he became a Nazi district leader, and in November 1939, despite his complete lack of medical knowledge or experience, was appointed director of the mental hospital at Schneidemühl with the sole purpose of instituting “euthanasia” there. In 1940/41 he performed the same function at the asylum in Kosten (Koscian). His subsequent record at Meseritz-Obrawalde has already been described.

It is believed that Grabowski committed suicide in 1945.

Siegfried Graetschus (1916-1943) was born in Tilsit. Initially earning his livelihood in agricultural work, he joined the SS in 1935 and the NSDAP in 1936, before being enrolled into T4 in 1939/40. He was ordered to Bernburg, where he allegedly performed clerical duties. Graetschus was among the earliest operatives to be recruited for Belzec, which would perhaps indicate his previously undertaking more than administrative tasks at the “euthanasia” centre.[2001] After then spending a short spell in Treblinka, he arrived at Sobibor in August 1942, where he succeeded Erich Lachmann as head of the Ukrainian guards.[2002]

Graetschus was one of twelve SS-men killed in the Sobibor uprising on 14 October 1943. Exactly who killed him is open to question – several survivors claimed credit for the deed, but it seems that Arkadij Wajspapir and Yehuda Lerner were the likeliest assassins.[2003]

Wilhelm Grossmann (1891-1951)[2004] was born in Frankfurt am Main. Originally a bookkeeper, like many others he fell on hard times in the early 1930s. He joined the NSDAP in 1930 and the SA in 1932. After becoming unemployed in 1931, it was not until January 1933 that he found a position as financial administrator of the Kalmenhof-Idstein mental home. By 1935 he had been promoted to head of administration, and when in 1941 the institution's director was drafted into the army, Grossman informally took on his responsibilities. Grossman was an enthusiastic, if totally unqualified, proponent of children's “euthanasia”. He did not limit himself to administrative duties, identifying with the programme to the extent that he threatened children “that he would make angels out of them.”

In January 1947, a Frankfurt court adjudged Grossmann to be a “perpetrator”, which under the prevailing legislation meant a death sentence. But in the following year the appeal court dismissed the conviction, ruling instead that Grossmann had merely been an “accomplice”. In essence the appeal court determined that he had only been obeying orders. A retrial occurred in 1949, in the course of which Grossman, despite evidence that he had beaten mentally handicapped children with an ox hide whip,[2005] was portrayed as the most caring and compassionate of men, someone who “would never have been prepared on his own initiative to lend his support to the murders.” For his role in an unknown number of killings at Kalmenhof, the court deemed a sentence of four years and six months imprisonment appropriate. However, due to claimed ill health, Grossmann never served a single day of the sentence.[2006]

Willy Grossmann (1901-?) was born in Lichtenberg. A member of the NSDAP, he trained to become a nurse in the late 1920s, and was employed in that capacity at the Hubertusburg mental hospital until in either late 1939 or early 1940 he joined the Dresden police and was assigned to T4. After serving first at Sonnenstein (allegedly as the doorman), then at Hadamar, in winter 1941, together with many other T4 personnel, he joined the Organisation Todt task force to the Soviet Union. He returned to Sonnenstein for a short period before being dispatched to Trawniki, where he received the training necessary for service at a death camp. Thereafter he served at Treblinka until the liquidation of the camp, when he returned to Berlin. Like other members of Aktion Reinhard, in December 1943 he was ordered to Italy, supposedly to participate in anti-partisan activities. Post-war proceedings against him were abandoned because of his ill-health.[2007]

Laurenzius (Lorenz) Hackenholt (1914-?)[2008] was born in Gelsenkirchen. On leaving school at the age of 14 he became an apprentice bricklayer and worked in construction, until in 1933 he joined the NSDAP and the SS. After two year's military service he became a member of the SS Second Totenkopf Brandenburg Division stationed at Oranienburg, and in 1938 served as a driver/mechanic and guard at the nearby Sachsenhausen concentration camp, from where in November 1939, together with a group of other SS-men, he was summoned to the KdF. There the party was interviewed by Viktor Brack (q.v.) and Werner Blankenburg (q.v.), sworn to secrecy, enrolled in the “euthanasia” programme, and dispatched to Grafeneck.

Hackenholt served in all six killing centres from early 1940 until August 1941. He drove the buses that transported the victims as well as working as a Brenner, removing the corpses from the gas chamber and cremating them. For a while he was August Becker's (q.v.) chauffeur, and performed the same duty for Brack.[2009] In autumn 1941, Hackenholt was transferred to Odilo Globocnik's staff in Lublin, from where he was sent to Christian Wirth (q.v.) at Belzec. There he showed an obvious mechanical and technical aptitude. After initially acting as a driver and procurer of vehicles and equipment, Wirth put Hackenholt in charge of the gas chambers and the motor that supplied them with carbon monoxide fumes. Together with Siegfried Graetschus (q.v.), Hackenholt had converted a Post Office delivery van into a mobile gas chamber by connecting the engine exhaust pipe to the sealed rear compartment. The van was then used to kill the mentally and physically handicapped of the immediate region. Hackenholt was very proud of this killing device, which certainly impressed Wirth enough for him to promote Hackenholt to a position where he could kill on a much more ambitious scale.

The extent of his involvement in mass murder was described by the SS guard Karl Alfred Schluch: “After the Jews entered the gas chambers, the doors were closed by Hackenholt himself or by the Ukrainians subordinate to him. Hackenholt switched on the engine which supplied the gas.”[2010] Subsequently Hackenholt went on to design and help construct larger gas chambers at Belzec, Sobibor, and Treblinka. In an example of SS humour, the new gas chamber building at Belzec bore a sign – Stiftung Hackenholt (Hackenholt Foundation).

When the decision was taken in late November 1942 to obliterate all traces of Aktion Reinhard, Hackenholt was involved in the exhumation and cremation of corpses at both Belzec and Treblinka. He then moved on to the Alte Flugplatz camp in Lublin, where he gassed prisoners unfit for further labour, before his final posting to Italy with many of the other T4/Aktion Reinhard personnel. In 1944 he was awarded the Iron Cross, Second Class. Schluch described Hackenholt as “an inconsiderate, hard and brutal man, without any sense of honour. I would go so far as to say characterless and indifferent. He drank a lot and was often locked up for it … He was characterless enough to carry out all orders without question.” According to his companions in crime, Hackenholt was killed in spring 1945, but there is a considerable amount of evidence to suggest otherwise.

In 1953 Hackenholt's wife requested that he be officially declared dead so that she could apply for a war widow's pension. She claimed that she had heard nothing from her husband since November or December 1944, at which time he was serving in the SS on the eastern front. Frau Hackenholt later admitted to perjuring herself regarding this statement. She subsequently asserted that she had heard from her husband after the war via an intermediary, but had not seen him. However, as a consequence of his wife's application, Hackenholt was declared dead, with the date of demise being given as 31 December 1945. But according to Erich Bauer's (q.v.) testimony, he had met Hackenholt in 1946 when the latter was living under an assumed name and working as a driver. Others, including Hackenholt's brother, also claimed to have seen him after the war. By the time of the preparatory investigations in connection with the Belzec Trial, there was sufficient evidence for the Munich magistrate to rule Hackenholt “undead” – he was still alive somewhere. An exhaustive investigation began to locate him, but without success; after nearly four years it was abandoned in 1963. Hackenholt was never found.[2011]

Gottlieb Hering (1887-1945)[2012] whose career closely paralleled that of Christian Wirth (q.v.), was born in Warmbronn, near Stuttgart. After leaving school at the age of 14, he trained for a career in agriculture; however, after his two-year period of conscripted service in the Kaiser's army was concluded, Hering re-enlisted for a further three year stint in 1909. On his discharge from the army, he joined the Württemberg police force where he remained until his call-up in 1915, following which he served with distinction on the Western Front during the First World War.

Hering rejoined the police force in Stuttgart where, unlike Wirth, he was no closet Nazi, being instead of a decidedly left-wing disposition. But like Wirth he rose to the rank of Kriminalkommissar in the Kripo. Following the Machtergreifung Hering underwent a Damascene conversion, largely to avoid problems with the very individuals he had been prosecuting with such enthusiasm, and became the most fervent of Nazis. He joined the NSDAP in May 1933, continuing with his police duties until in 1939 he too was recruited by T4.[2013] He served as administrative chief at Bernburg and Sonnenstein, before in August 1942 he succeeded Wirth as commandant of the Belzec extermination camp when the latter was made Inspector of all Aktion Reinhard camps.[2014] Rudolf Reder described Hering at Belzec:

[Hering] seldom appeared in the camp; he showed up only in connection with some event. He was a tall thug, strongly built, over forty years of age, with a vulgar look to his face…He was a thorough swine…Once the killing machine broke down. Notified of this, he rode over on horseback, ordered the machine repaired, and didn't let the people out of the airless chambers – let them smother and agonize a few hours more. He squatted down in a rage, shouting and shaking all over. Though he seldom showed up, he was the terror of the SS-men…[2015]

With the liquidation of Belzec in 1943, Hering was appointed commandant of the Poniatowa labour camp, where on 4 November 1943 he supervised the shooting of 14,000 Jews as part of Aktion Erntefest. When Wirth was killed in Italy in 1944, Hering succeeded him once more, this time as chief executive of Aktion R.

Hering died in mysterious circumstances while awaiting admission to the hospital at Stetten im Remstal on 9 October 1945.[2016] He is rumoured to have been under investigation as a suspected war criminal, suggesting that his death may have been suicide.

Fritz Hirche (1893-1945)[2017] was born in Penzig (now Piensk, Poland). A captain in the Schutzpolizei (uniformed police), he joined the NSDAP in 1933, and was a supervisor at Brandenburg and Bernburg, performing the same kind of administrative functions in these killing centres as Christian Wirth (q.v.) did at Grafeneck and elsewhere.[2018] Hirche also served for a time at Hartheim in early 1943,[2019] prior to which he had been in charge of the liquidation office of T4 at the Columbus House in Berlin, responsible for clearing up the paper aftermath of the “euthanasia” programme. A division of this office was responsible for Aktion Cholm, referred to earlier.[2020] He served on occasion as a temporary commandant at Belzec, although there is very little information concerning his activities there, other than that he spent most of his time immersed in administrative matters.[2021]

In November 1943 he became head of the Kripo in Stralsund, where he committed suicide on 1 May 1945.

Josef (“Sepp”) Hirtreiter (1909-1978) was born in Bruchsal. Despite training to become a locksmith, he failed to pass his final examination. Thereafter he worked at a variety of semi-skilled jobs, and joined both the NSDAP and the SA in August 1932. [2022] On the outbreak of war Hirtreiter was working as a mechanic with a transport company. Although of an age to be conscripted, he was declared “indispensable” and thus initially avoided military service. Instead, in October 1940 he was ordered to report to Hadamar, where he claimed to have been employed in the kitchen and on administrative duties.[2023] In summer 1942 he was drafted by the Wehrmacht, but after four weeks was back at Hadamar, allegedly to carry on with his paperwork.[2024]

In late summer 1942 Hirtreiter was summoned to Berlin by Christian Wirth (q.v.), who sent him onward to Lublin, thence to Treblinka, for “special duty”. Quite why Wirth required the services of a catering assistant/clerk to act as a guard in a death camp is an unanswered question, as is any explanation of Hirtreiter's subsequent behaviour viewed in the light of his alleged previous experience. It is true that he was first placed in charge of the camp kitchen, but he was soon supervising the undressing of deportees en route to their death. He then moved to Camp II, where he was noted for terrorising victims as he drove them into the gas chambers with the aid of his specially designed whip. He led the aged, infirm, and small children to the Lazarett for execution, and generally behaved with horrific brutality.[2025] At the Treblinka trial held at Düsseldorf in 1964/65, a witness in the Kommando responsible for sorting clothing described Hirtreiter in action:

In the women's barracks Hirtreiter lashed out wildly at the women on the left and the right with his whip in order to make them undress even faster. When all the naked women had left the barracks, three babies remained behind…Hirtreiter then grabbed a baby by its feet and repeatedly smashed its head against the barracks wall until it was dead…[2026]

In October 1943 Hirtreiter left Treblinka for Italy and Aktion R. In 1945 he was misidentified by the Polish Treblinka enquiry as “Hirtreider”, a specialist in killing children without wasting ammunition.[2027] Arrested in July 1946 in Frankfurt on suspicion of involvement in the killing of mental patients at Hadamar, during his interrogation Hirtreiter made mention of his service at a camp called “Malkinia”, where Jews were gassed. Nobody made the connection at that time between Malkinia, the junction for trains destined for Treblinka, a few kilometres away, “Hirtreider”, and Hirtreiter. In February 1947 the Hadamar charges against him were abandoned for lack of evidence, and Hirtreiter was transferred to an internment camp. The following year he was judged to be a main culprit by a denazification court, found guilty of participation in the gassing of at least 4,000-5,000 Jews at the “concentration camp Malkinia in the vicinity of Warsaw”, and sentenced to ten years' hard labour. The newspaper report of this verdict alerted the Frankfurt prosecutor to re-examine the “concentration camp Malkinia” and Hirtreiter's role there. It soon became evident that the camp in question was in fact Treblinka, and that Hirtreiter had been one of a number of particularly vicious guards serving in the camp. Importantly, in his earlier evidence he had named several ex-Hadamar personnel who had also participated in Aktion Reinhard. This was to form the basis of subsequent investigations concerning these individuals.[2028]

In March 1951, Hirtreiter was in court again, accused of complicity in the murder of an unknown number of Jews at Treblinka. There was little question of his guilt; he was sentenced to life imprisonment. However, due to ill-health he was released from prison in 1977.[2029]

Hermann Holzschuh (1907-?) was born in Stuttgart. In 1926 he joined the police in Württemberg, and by 1937 had reached the rank of senior assistant detective in the Stuttgart Kripo. He joined the NSDAP and SA in 1933, changing from the latter to the SS in 1939. On the recommendation of Jacob Wöger (q.v.), in February 1940 Holzschuh was recruited by T4 to serve as Wöger's deputy and eventual successor at Grafeneck. One year later Holzschuh transferred to Bernburg as chief registrar to Fritz Hirche (q.v.), remaining there until April 1941.[2030] Shortly afterwards he left T4 for Sipo and SD service in Kiev.[2031]

Otto Horn (1903-?) was born in the Leipzig district. After leaving school he first worked in a factory, then as an agricultural labourer, before in 1926 he entered the nursing profession. He passed his nursing examination at Sonnenstein, then worked in the institutions at Leipzig-Dösen and Arnsdorf, joining the NSDAP in 1937. In 1939 he was drafted by the Wehrmacht as a medical orderly, and saw service in the Polish and French campaigns. In September 1940 his unit was transferred from Paris to the Warthegau. He was briefly a participant in the campaign against the Soviet Union, but was quickly discharged and ordered to return to Arnsdorf. There he was recruited by T4 and sent once more to Sonnenstein, where he may have arrived after the issue of the “stop” order. After only a short stay at Sonnenstein he was transferred to T4 headquarters in Berlin to perform various administrative tasks.[2032]

In early 1942, Horn was heading eastwards again, this time as a member of the curious Organisation Todt mission. In September 1942 he was sent to the Trawniki camp for training, and from there was dispatched to Treblinka the following month. His job at Treblinka was to supervise the Jewish work force responsible for burying (and later cremating) victim's corpses. Horn was described by survivors as a relatively decent man who never mistreated any of the prisoners under his command, and might even have been characterized as being quite friendly toward them. He repeatedly sought a transfer away from Treblinka but without success. He asserted at his post-war trial that after the uprising at the camp in August 1943, he had first gone on leave and then feigned illness, reporting back to T4 in Berlin only around Christmas 1943. He was ordered to Trieste and Aktion R, but was soon back at Arnsdorf for a short stay before being called up for military service again. The end of the war found him in the Czech Republic, where he became a Soviet prisoner of war.

Horn was one of those appearing at the Treblinka trial conducted at Düsseldorf in 1964/65. The court determined that he considered “the killing of the Jews and Gypsies as an injustice against humanity, ethics, religion, and criminal law.” Moreover, he had not been slow to express his opinion to his comrades, who treated him with derision and shunned his company. Nonetheless, he had been a participant in the murder of hundreds of thousands of Jews, and technically was as guilty as any of the other defendants. Despite this obvious truth the court was prepared to accept Horn's defence that he had participated in the Aktion against his will and out of genuine fear for his life. Horn was therefore acquitted on all charges.[2033]

Jakob Alfred Ittner (1907-1976) was born in Kulmbach.[2034] A clerk, he was an early member of the Nazi party, joining in 1926, although he allowed his membership to lapse the following year when he had difficulty in paying his subscriptions. Unemployed, he joined the SA in 1931, and following the Nazis attainment of power, renewed his party membership in the hope it would help him to gain work – which it did. In 1934 his nephew Willy Schneider (q.v.) found him a position with the Foreign Bureau of the NSDAP.[2035] When Schneider was made head of T4's Finance Department, he installed his uncle as a bookkeeper, where Ittner remained from November 1939 to spring 1942.[2036]

At that point Ittner was ordered to report to Sobibor, where he arrived on 28 April 1942. Before he left Berlin it was made clear to him that he was going to work “in a camp in which Jews were [to be] systematically killed.” Ittner was not intended to participate in the killing. His duties were to be bookkeeping and financial administration. However, as he admitted:

The camp was a large and self-contained organization which had as its mission to kill as many Jews as quickly as possible. It all operated very smoothly, because in each location there were German camp staff preventing any trouble from occurring. Each and every one, in his own position, collaborated to ensure the smooth running of the organization. In a broad sense, all of the camp staff took part in the killings. The mass murder of the Jews was not carried out by one single individual, but by a multitude of SS people. Each one was a small cog in the wheel driving an extermination machine that could work only as long as all of them did. That is why, in my opinion, all the camp guards at Sobibor, regardless of their actual job, carried out the killing of the Jews. I would like to emphasize particularly that on arrival of a transport all other work was abandoned, and the camp staff all took part in the actual extermination process. [2037]

It was Ittner's principal responsibility to collect valuables from the victims as they passed before his counter en route to their death. He thus directly witnessed many of the horrors that occurred as thousands were herded into the gas chambers, often with great brutality.

After a few weeks, Ittner came into conflict with the camp commandant, Franz Stangl (q.v.), when Stangl asked him to buy additional rations for the camp staff out of the funds stolen from the murdered Jews. In a perverted display of honesty (any kind of which was unusual in those serving at Sobibor), Ittner claimed to have refused to use state property for this purpose. Stealing the possessions of the Jews was permissible, killing them acceptable, but Ittner drew the line at not accounting for every penny. As a penance Stangl transferred him to Camp III to supervise the prisoners digging mass graves, extracting gold teeth from corpses, and burying bodies, a gruesome task, and one not at all to Ittner's liking. As he testified: “ I saw for myself how the crippled and ailing Jews were shot by the edge of the graves in Lager 3. I used to turn and look away when these executions took place, which is why I have no idea who did the actual shooting. It was worse than barbaric there.”[2038] He applied to Stangl for a transfer away from Sobibor, which was refused. Ittner, however, persisted. On his next leave he contacted Friedrich Lorent (q.v.), pointing out that burying Jews was not in accordance with the promises made to him when he was assigned to the camp. Amazingly, those in authority agreed, and shortly afterwards Ittner was back at his desk at T4's Berlin headquarters.

Ittner was one of those arraigned at Hagen in 1965. He had only been present in Sobibor for about three months, and was not identified by any of the survivors, nor was he incriminated by any of his co-defendants. For these reasons, the court considered a prison sentence of four years adequate punishment for involvement in the murder of an “unknown number of Jews, although at least 68,000”.[2039]

Robert Emil Franz Xaver Jührs (1911-?)[2040] was born in Frankfurt, and on leaving school became an apprentice cooper. An accident resulting in the loss of the use of one eye forced him to abandon this trade, and thereafter he was employed in a variety of menial jobs.[2041] In 1929 he became a member of an SA drum band (he left the SA in 1935), and in 1930 he joined the NSDAP.[2042] 1940 found Jührs working at the Hessen Labour Exchange as an administrative assistant. In June 1941 he was assigned to Hadamar, where he stayed for about a year, apparently performing similar clerical tasks. There is no direct evidence that he participated in more sinister activities there, although as with others, his subsequent record suggests otherwise.[2043]

In June 1942 Jührs was posted to Belzec, where he was made an SS-Unterscharführer and served as guard, both at the ramp and at the Lazarett, where he executed sick and disabled deportees. He admitted to carrying out such killings on at least one occasion:

…There were Jews that by no means could cover the way to the undressing barrack. Hering [q.v.] gave me an order to shoot these Jews…As I remember, there were seven Jews, men and women who were taken inside the pit…I shot these Jews with a machine gun, as they stood on the edge of the pit…[2044]

Jührs was one of those who supervised the exhumation and burning of hundreds of thousands of bodies at Belzec. By March 1943 much of this task had been completed, and Jührs was transferred to the Dorohucza labour camp, where he remained until November of that year, when the camp was liquidated and all prisoners shot at the Trawniki camp as part of Aktion Erntefest. Immediately after this he was in Sobibor, helping to supervise the demolition of the camp and witnessing the execution of the remaining prisoners, although he naturally claimed not to have participated in their shooting.[2045] After a short stay in Berlin, at around Christmas 1943 Jührs joined his comrades in Italy as part of Globocnik's Aktion R.

There were at least six locations where investigation into possible criminal activity on Jührs' behalf might have proved fruitful; Hadamar, Belzec, Dorohucza, Trawniki, Sobibor, and La Risiera San Sabba.[2046] In the event, Jührs was considered for inclusion among the accused in the 1947 Hadamar trial held in Frankfurt, but proceedings against him were dropped.[2047] He was a defendant in the 1963 Belzec trial in Munich , accused of complicity in 360,000 cases of murder. Together with 6 of the other 8 defendants, proceedings against Jührs were abandoned in 1964.[2048] The following year he was in the dock again, this time in Hagen as a defendant in the Sobibor trial. Jührs was acquitted on all counts.[2049] No proceedings were ever commenced against him (nor, one suspects, even considered) in respect of his time in Dorohucza, Trawniki, or San Sabba.

It seems almost inconceivable that a self-confessed murderer, who served in six centres where killing occurred virtually every day, could completely evade any form of retribution, other than the short periods he may have spent in custody awaiting trial.

Herbert Kalisch (?-?) was an electrician working for the General Electric Company who was recruited by T4 to install the cabling to the gas chamber and crematorium at both Bernburg and Sonnenstein.[2050] As described above, he was a witness to the gassing of a group of Jews at Brandenburg. He later testified: “The transport that was gassed in the gas chamber of the former prison in Brandenburg on the Havel in about June 1940 contained only Jews, who I would estimate were men and women between the ages of eighteen and fifty-five.[2051]

Kalisch's testimony is important, as it provides evidence that Jews were being gassed on German soil as early as 1940. Whether they were gassed because they were mental patients or simply for being Jews is a moot point.

Alfons Klein (1909-1946) joined the Nazi party and the SA in 1930, and had been employed at Hadamar in an administrative capacity since 1934. In 1939 Fritz Bernotat (q.v.) appointed him director of the institution. Klein was therefore present throughout the entire period Hadamar served as a killing centre. During the first phase of “euthanasia” Friedrich Berner (q.v.) was the dominant personality at Hadamar; Klein's role was to assist in converting the institution into a killing centre and deal with financial matters. However, when Berner left, Bernotat promoted Klein to effectively become overall controller at Hadamar during the second phase of “euthanasia”.[2052] Following a meeting in July or August 1944 with Bernotat and Jakob Sprenger, Gauleiter of Hesse-Nassau, Klein was informed that forced labourers suffering from incurable tuberculosis were to be transferred to Hadamar. Later he was instructed that these patients were to be killed under the same law that had applied to German insane patients.

Klein was never called to account for his participation in the earlier Hadamar killings, since he had already paid the ultimate price for his subsequent murderous activities. He was a defendant at the first Hadamar trial, held under American jurisdiction at Wiesbaden in October 1945, a judicial process concerned solely with the murder of Soviet and Polish forced labourers during the second phase of “euthanasia”. Some idea of Klein's attitude towards these killings can be gleaned from the testimony of a nurse who objected to the murder of helpless patients, and informed Klein that she wanted to stop. He replied: “You lazy cow, if you do, you'll be next.”[2053] Klein of course denied such allegations, claiming instead that staff were entirely free to leave Hadamar whenever they so desired. He later withdrew this statement, attesting instead that he was as unable to quit as any of the other personnel.

The court were not impressed. Klein was found guilty of aiding, abetting, and participating in the murder of an unknown number of persons, “but aggregating in excess of 400”, and was sentenced to death. He was executed on 14 March 1946.[2054]

Johann Klier (1901-1955)[2055] was born in Stadtsteinach, Bavaria. He became a master baker in 1931, and in 1933 joined the NSDAP and SA. Following a long period of unemployment, he worked at a brass foundry from 1934-1940.[2056] An active member of the party, in October 1940 he was ordered to Hadamar by the regional leadership, and worked there on various construction and engineering tasks. Between the time of his arrival and his departure in June 1942, he claimed never to have been involved in any killings at Hadamar.[2057]

Like others before him, Klier was summoned to T4 headquarters in Berlin in June 1942, sworn to secrecy, and dispatched to Sobibor, where he arrived in August of that year. To begin with he was put in charge of the camp's bakery, but later headed the Schuhkommando, the working party responsible for collecting, sorting, and stock-piling the shoes of victims. Klier was another who was on leave when the uprising in Sobibor took place. On the camp's liquidation he was sent to Globocnik's unit in Italy.

After spending nearly four years in an internment camp at Darmstadt, Klier was released in February 1949. By that time his name had cropped up in other investigations into the Sobibor staff. In August 1950 he appeared in the dock in Frankfurt alongside Hubert Gomerski (q.v.), accused of supervising the undressing of prisoners prior to their gassing, and of whipping the prisoners under his command. Klier denied both charges. He had only been responsible for collecting shoes, he claimed, and if he had beaten prisoners it was because he had been “compelled” to do so. Moreover, he had gone out of his way not to inflict any physical harm to his charges in the course of such beatings. He was helped in his defence by the testimony of survivors, who confirmed that he was one of the few SS-men who retained a vestige of humanity. One survivor described Klier as a “benign, portly man,” and felt “[he] did not approve of the activities at Sobibor.” [2058] Klier had provided Jews with additional rations and, as evidence in later trials disclosed, had even warned some of the impending liquidation of the camp and advised them to escape.[2059] The court found Klier's defence convincing, and acquitted him on both charges.[2060]

Erwin Hermann Lambert (1909-1976)[2061] the “flying master- builder” (“der fliegender Baumeister”) of T4 and Aktion Reinhard, was born in Schildow, near Berlin. After serving apprenticeships as a locksmith and bricklayer, in 1935 he graduated as a master mason.[2062] He joined the NSDAP in March 1933 and had worked for a number of Berlin construction companies, before in late 1939 he was recommended toT4 by the German Labour Front. He was offered the job of independent building foreman for T4, which he turned down on the grounds that he was happy with his then current employment and did not want to be away from his sick mother. His initial refusal notwithstanding, he was enrolled into T4 in January 1940 and immediately put to work on the renovation of Tiergartenstrasse 4, the organisation's head office and provider of its acronym. Subsequently he was responsible for the construction of the gas chambers and crematoria at Hartheim, Sonnenstein, Bernburg, and Hadamar, continuing to ply his trade in these institutions until early 1942, when he was ordered to Treblinka.[2063] There he assisted with the construction of the camp's barracks and fencing, as he testified: “The Treblinka camp was still in the process of construction. I was attached to a building team there.”[2064]

In August of that year he returned to Treblinka to supervise the building of the camp's new gas chamber building: “At Treblinka I built the foundations for the large gas chambers.”[2065] In the following September or October he was in Sobibor to perform the same task, declaring:

At that time I was assigned by Wirth [q.v.] to enlarge the gassing structure according to the model of Treblinka…The camp was already in operation, and there was a gassing installation. Probably the old installation was not big enough, and reconstruction was necessary.[2066]

Lambert went on to erect two Aktion Reinhard labour camps at Dorohucza and Poniatowa, before returning to Bernburg. In spring 1943 he was in Treblinka for a third time to carry our repairs and new building works. He continued to work for T4 on various building projects, including the recreation centre at Attersee in Austria, until like many other T4 personnel, he was sent to Italy and San Sabba in late 1943, where his expertise in the construction of gas chambers and crematoria was put to good use. After the war he lived quietly in Stuttgart until his arrest in 1962. He was a defendant in the first Treblinka trial in Düsseldorf, where in 1965 he was sentenced to 4 years' imprisonment for his involvement in murder on a grand scale at that camp.[2067]

Three days after the Treblinka trial finished, Lambert was in the dock again, this time at Hagen in connection with his activities at Sobibor. He was adjudged to have been complicit in the murder of at least 79,000 people there, and for that received a jail sentence of 3 years.[2068]

Willi Mentz (1904-1978) was born in Schönhagen in the province of Posen, a region which at that time was within Germany, became Polish in 1919, reverted to Germany as part of the Warthegau in 1939, before finally returning to Poland in 1945. Mentz first worked as a labourer, then a miner, before becoming a master-milker.[2069] He joined the Nazi party in 1932, and applied to join the police in early 1940, without success. Instead, his application was passed to the Agricultural Chamber in Münster where, so Mentz claimed, he was offered the position of master-milker at Grafeneck, which he accepted. On arrival there he was informed that “mentally ill patients were killed here in gas chambers and then burned”. Thereafter, so he asserted, he stayed at Grafeneck for about eighteen months, during which time he “tended the pigs and the cows.” He was then transferred to Hadamar, where he worked as a gardener and handyman until early summer 1942, when, like August Miete (q.v.), he was assigned to Treblinka.[2070] Quite how his supposed previous activities qualified him for service in an extermination camp is yet another unanswered question.

At Treblinka his duties ranged from supervising the Leichenkommando, the corpse burying squad, to overseeing the “agricultural unit”. However, his principal area of activity was at the so-called Lazarett or “hospital”, where he was responsible for shooting aged and infirm arrivals, as well as any of the other inmates considered redundant.[2071] Miete's description of the horrors of the Lazarett also serve to illustrate Mentz's function there:

There were always sick and crippled people in the transports…There were also those who had been shot and wounded en route by the SS, policemen, or Latvians who guarded the transports. These ill, crippled, and wounded passengers were brought to the Lazarett by a special group of workers. Inside the Lazarett they placed or lay these people at the edge of the pit. When all the sick and wounded had been brought, it was my job to shoot them. I fired at the nape of the neck with a 9 mm pistol. Those shot would fall…into the pit…The number of people shot in this way from each transport varied. Sometimes two or three, and sometimes twenty or even more. They included men and women, young and old, and also children…[2072]

Richard Glazar, a survivor of Treblinka, recalled Mentz in action:

Somehow always unkempt and dishevelled, Willi Mentz, with a black moustache under his nose, is subordinate to Miete in civilian as well as in military life, although he too is a sergeant. In real life he is a dairy farmer, and here he is marksman second class. He is responsible for the routine shootings that take place in the “Infirmary” as the transports arrive. He shoots and shoots, and keeps shooting, sometimes moving on to the next target even when the previous shot had not found its mark and a sentient victim simply slipped into the fires. Messy work.[2073]

After Treblinka, Mentz 's life largely replicated the pattern of many other T4/Aktion Reinhard members. He spent a short time in Sobibor before being dispatched to Italy for Aktion R, and at the end of the war was incarcerated for some time in a prisoner-of-war camp before being released in summer 1945 to resume his old trade. He retired in 1952 suffering from tuberculosis and lived on his disability pension until his arrest in June 1960.[2074] Found guilty at the first Treblinka trial of complicity in the murder of at least 300,000 individuals, as well as an additional 25 people. Mentz was sentenced to life imprisonment, plus an additional six years.[2075]

August Wilhelm Miete (1908-?) was born in Westerkappeln and worked at his parent's farm and mill until 1940, at which time he applied to the Agricultural Chamber in Münster to become a settler in the East. It was only then that he joined the Nazi party, probably in order to further his application.[2076] Miete's subsequent career mirrored that of Willi Mentz (q.v.).There were no vacancies for settlers; instead Miete was offered employment at Grafeneck, where he arrived in May 1940 to work on that institution's farm. He remained at Grafeneck until October 1941, when he was sent to Hadamar, initially to work as a manual labourer. From early 1942 he became a Brenner at Hadamar, until in June 1942 he was ordered to Berlin, from where he was sent first to Lublin and thence to Treblinka as a newly appointed SS- Unterscharführer.[2077] All of the T4 staff serving at the extermination camps were given the nominal rank of Scharführer (Sergeant) of varying degrees and wore grey Waffen-SS uniforms. Josef Oberhauser (q.v.) described them as “civilians in uniform”.[2078]

Like Mentz, at Treblinka Miete was assigned to killing duty in the Lazarett, among other tasks. He was notable for the enthusiasm and brutality with which he handled himself. As the court adjudged at his post-war trial:

Without showing any outward emotion, the defendant gestured the victim to him with his finger, explained to him…that he looked too ill, or too well, that he thought too much or that he was too lazy, and took him along to the Lazarett, where the unfortunate received a shot in the back of the neck…

The court estimated that Miete had been personally responsible for killing hundreds, if not thousands in the Lazarett. Richard Glazar described him thus:

Silently, like a ghost, Sergeant August Willi Miete shows up everywhere where someone is giving out, where someone has been marked and branded, where someone can no longer pretend that he is healthy and working at full strength.

Miete had many nicknames in Treblinka, but the most appropriate was the Yiddish, “Melech Ha-Moves” – “The Angel of Death”.[2079] Another Treblinka survivor, Samuel Willenberg, described Miete in the act of killing a newly arrived young girl from Warsaw:

Creeping like a cat, a smile of satisfaction on his dull, fair, moustached face, he stealthily approached the new prey. Reaching her, he pushed her almost gently, almost imperceptibly, as if not wanting to dirty his murderer's hands. He pushed her as a child might push a large ball, prodded her with a stick so she might start rolling by herself. Thus the Angel of Death led her to the rear gate between the two huts abutting the platform. He propelled her toward the sorting yard and the innocent fence at its edge, with its pine branches. Behind it was the Lazarett…She vanished behind the fence. A few minutes later we heard a gunshot. Silence, utter silence everywhere. Then Miete strode through the gate in the Lazarett fence with its green branches, slipped his pistol into its black holster, and slapped invisible dust from his palms.[2080]

As with many other T4 personnel, Miete was sent to northern Italy in late1943 to continue killing there. He was arrested in 1960, and in 1964/1965 was one of the defendants in the first Treblinka trial. Found guilty of participating in the murder of 300,000 persons, plus the proven killing of eight additional victims, Miete was sentenced to nine life sentences. He died in prison.[2081]

Gustav Münzberger (1903-1977) was born in Weisskirchlitz in the Sudeten, then a region of Czechoslovakia, today part of the Czech Republic. His father was a master carpenter, and having completed his apprenticeship, Münzberger worked in his father's shop. Between 1923-1925 he served in the Czechoslovakian army, before taking over his father's business in 1931. He was again mobilized by the Czech army for a short period at the time of the Sudeten crisis in autumn 1938. Following the absorption of the Sudeten into the Reich, he joined the SS in late 1938; two years later he became a member of the Nazi party.[2082]

During the summer of 1940, Münzberger was ordered to report to Sonnenstein. According to Dieter Allers' (q.v.) statement, duty at a killing centre was a matter of completely random selection so far as SS-men were concerned:

None of them, except those they later called the burners, could have got in without their own doing… Münzberger: for heaven's sake, he was a carpenter; why on earth should anyone recruit just him for this work – unless, as he no doubt did, he put in a request for what sounded like a cushy job, just like all of them did. Except the burners – that was perhaps different; they were strictly the troops. They were ordered there, by numbers. Some sergeant picked them out “you and you and you”. And you can take my word for it that the sergeant didn't know what he was picking them out for…[2083]

Münzberger claimed that he spent the next two years at Sonnenstein working as a labourer and cook, which given his later record seems improbable.[2084] In 1942 he was ordered to Poland, and arrived at Treblinka in late September of that year. His duties there included standing at the entrance to the building which housed the gas chambers and driving the victims into the chambers with the aid of his pistol and whip.[2085] Towards the end of 1943 he joined his comrades at San Sabba, remaining in Italy until the end of the war.

Münzberger was arrested in July 1963, and was one of those arraigned in the first Treblinka trial. In August 1965 he was found guilty of involvement in the killing of at least 300,000 people, and was sentenced to 12 years' imprisonment. He was released from custody in July 1971. And what motivated him to participate in the murder of those countless men, women and children? In his own words, “gratitude towards the Führer for bringing home his Sudeten German Heimat into the Reich.“[2086]

Johann Niemann (1913-1943) was born in Völlen. He became a member of the Nazi party in 1931, and after serving an apprenticeship as a house painter, joined the SS in 1934. After service at the Esterwegen and Sachsenhausen concentration camps, he became a Brenner at Bernburg. One of the participants in the Organisation Todt mission to the Soviet Union, he was among the earliest arrivals at Belzec, where Christian Wirth (q.v.) appointed him head of Camp II, the extermination section.[2087] Niemann was only at Belzec for a short time before being transferred to Sobibor, where he occasionally performed the duties of deputy commandant before permanently occupying this position in early 1943.

At the time of the revolt in Sobibor Franz Reichleitner (q.v.) was on furlough, leaving Niemann as acting commandant of the camp. Lured into the tailor's barracks on the pretext of trying on a new leather coat, Niemann was killed with an axe by Alexander Sjoebajew.[2088] He was the first of the SS to be executed that day.[2089]

Vinzenz Nohel (1902-1947) was born in Moravia, at that time a part of the Habsburg Empire, today a region in the Czech Republic. He trained as a mechanic but suffered long periods of unemployment. It is unclear whether Nohel was ever a member of the NSDAP, but his brother certainly was, and in addition was a Brigadeführer in the SA. In late 1939 or early 1940, the aforementioned brother introduced Nohel to Adolf Kaufmann (q.v.), who offered Nohel a job as a Brenner at Hartheim. Nohel accepted the position and the improved salary that it included with alacrity, and remained at Hartheim for as long as it remained a killing centre.[2090]

When interrogated after the war, Nohel described the “Gaskammer” or “Gasraum” at Hartheim, the chamber disguised as a bathroom where people were killed.[2091] He estimated that 20,000 mental patients and 8,000 prisoners from the Mauthausen concentration camp complex had been gassed at Hartheim.[2092] By the time the killing stopped, Nohel had become an expert in the destruction of human remains. One of the defendants at the Mauthausen trial held under United Stated military jurisdiction at the former Dachau concentration camp in March 1946, Nohel was sentenced to death; he was executed on 27 May 1947.[2093]

Walter Nowak (1921-?) seems the cause of endless confusion. According to Jules Schelvis, an authoritative source, Nowak was employed at Sonnenstein before being transferred to Sobibor, where he was stationed in Camp III, site of the gas chambers. During the post-war interrogation of Nowak's wife she admitted that her husband had been a member of “an SS-Sonderkommando at Sobibor”. A search of her house revealed a treasure trove of valuable items “from a Polish camp where Jews from many lands had been burned”. Paul Rost (q.v.) confirmed that Nowak had served in Camp lll at Sobibor. Rost stated that he had met Nowak in an American internment camp. On his release in 1947, Nowak “was pursued by the authorities but without success”.[2094]

Other sources simply obfuscate the issue. One suggests that in May 1945 a Sobibor guard named Nowak (that is, Walter) was recognized in East Germany by a former camp inmate, Meir Ziss. Nowak was then arrested by Soviet authorities.[2095] If this is the Nowak referred to in a second source, nothing further is known of his fate.[2096] A third source apparently confuses Walter Nowak with another, different Nowak (Anton Julius, 1907-1943), who also served in Sobibor, but was killed in the camp uprising on 14 October 1943.[2097] Yet another source indicates that Walter and Anton Nowak were one and the same.[2098]

It is apparent from all of this that it appears that there may have been two Nowaks at Sobibor – Walter, as described above, fate unknown, and Anton Julius, killed in the uprising. If that was the case, it is known that Anton Julius Nowak was in charge of the haircutting barrack, close to the gas chambers, where from winter 1942 women were forced to undress and have their hair shorn.[2099] Walter Nowak's duties at Sobibor remain unclear.

Josef Oberhauser (1915-1979)[2100] was born in Munich. After leaving primary school he worked on his uncle's farm until in 1934 he volunteered for the army. On his discharge eighteen months later, he became a member of both the NSDAP and the SS-Totenkopfstandarte Brandenburg and was stationed at Oranienburg, where he probably served at the Sachsenhausen concentration camp. With the outbreak of war he fought in the Polish campaign as a member of the SS-Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler.[2101] When hostilities were concluded he was ordered to Berlin, and from there was sent successively to Grafeneck, Brandenburg, and Bernburg, where in each case he worked as a Brenner. He apparently enjoyed his work, boasting as he did during a drinking session at Grafeneck of having burned 20,000 corpses.

In November 1941, Oberhauser was posted to Odilo Globocnik's staff in Lublin. Shortly afterwards he arrived at Belzec, where he became Christian Wirth's (q.v.) right-hand man. Referred to as Wirth's “shadow” by his colleagues, they also alleged that he had been involved in every aspect of the camp's operation. For example, Karl Schluch testified:

If Oberhauser maintained that he did not participate in the extermination of the Jews in Belzec, or that he did not see the whole operation from beginning to end - from the unloading to the removal of the bodies -, then I say, “try another one!” Oberhauser not only knew the entire running of the extermination operation well but he also took part in it. In my opinion, there is no doubt that Oberhauser was an authoritative person in the killing of the Jews in Belzec camp. The Belzec camp operated for only one reason, and for what Oberhauser did, he was well promoted.[2102]

Oberhauser remained in Belzec until August 1942, when Wirth, now based in Lublin, was promoted to Inspector of all Aktion Reinhard camps and took Oberhauser with him as his aide-de-camp. In September 1943 Oberhauser loyally followed his master once again, this time to Trieste and Aktion R.

The end of the war found Oberhauser in a British prisoner-of-war camp in Austria. He escaped from there and fled to the Soviet occupied zone, where he was arrested and tried in Magdeburg in 1948. He was sentenced to 15 years' imprisonment for his involvement in “euthanasia” and his membership of the SS, but was released under a general amnesty in 1956 to return to Munich and find employment as a waiter in a beer hall. There he was famously filmed by Claude Lanzmann for the film Shoah.[2103] Unsurprisingly, Oberhauser was as uncommunicative with Lanzmann as he had been with Gitta Sereny.[2104]

In August 1963, eight men, among them Oberhauser, were indicted by the Munich prosecutor for crimes committed in Belzec. On 30 January 1964 the case against seven of the men was dropped on the grounds that they had been “acting out of fear for life.”[2105] The case against Oberhauser was merely adjourned, however, and a new trial with him as the sole defendant commenced on 18 January 1965, at the conclusion of which he was sentenced to four years and six months' imprisonment for his participation in the murder of hundreds of thousands of Jews at Belzec.

Oberhauser was released after having served half of his sentence to return to the Munich beer hall. In March 1976, a Trieste court sentenced him in absentia to life imprisonment for crimes committed in Italy. Oberhauser thus remains not just the only German to be convicted of mass murder at Belzec, but also the only ex-T4 employee to be the subject of court proceedings arising out of three separate but connected Aktionen – “euthanasia”, Aktion Reinhard, and Aktion R. [2106]

Franz Reichleitner (1906-1944)[2107] was born in Ried im Traunkreis, Austria. A policeman by profession, he joined the Nazi party in 1935, and became a member of the Linz Gestapo in 1937. In 1940 he was assigned to Hartheim as Christian Wirth's (q.v.) subordinate. Franz Stangl (q.v.) and Reichleitner had known each other from CID school. After Reichleitner allegedly succeeded in recommending that Stangl be sent to join him at Hartheim later that year, the two of them shared a room.[2108] Following Wirth's departure from Hartheim, Reichleitner succeeded him there as chief of administration, with Stangl as his deputy.[2109]

When in late August or early September 1942 Stangl was transferred from Sobibor to Treblinka to succeed Irmfried Eberl (q.v.), Reichleitner took over from Stangl as commandant of Sobibor. On one occasion Stangl's wife indirectly suggested to Reichleitner that her husband might have been involved in “the awful things which are being done at Sobibor”. Reichleitner hastened to reassure her that it was Wirth who was responsible for the killing of Jews. Stangl's activities in the camp were purely administrative, Reichleitner lied.[2110] Frau Stangl did not apparently quiz Reichleitner about his own duties in the camp.

Moshe Bahir, a survivor of Sobibor, described Reichleitner as

…a man in his late forties [sic] with an Austrian accent [who] was always dressed with great elegance and wore gloves. He did not have direct contact with the Jews and the transports. He knew that he could rely on his subordinates, who were very frightened of him. He ran the camp with German precision.[2111]

After the liquidation of Sobibor in November 1943, Reichleitner was transferred to the Trieste region together with other Aktion Reinhard personnel. On 3 January 1944 he was killed during a skirmish with the resistance in Fiume, Italy.

Karl Paul Rost (1904-1984) was born in Deutschenbora, near Meissen. On leaving school he trained to be a butcher, before joining the Dresden police force in 1925. He became a member of the NSDAP in 1937 and the SS in December 1940. In May of that year he had been ordered to report to Sonnenstein, where he headed the police squad and transportation command. He also served for a time in Hartheim, before in early 1942 he was dispatched first to Lublin, and then to Sobibor. For a short period he was acting commandant of the overall camp before being put in charge of Camp ll, responsible for sorting Jewish property.[2112]

In May 1943 Rost was transferred to Treblinka. Following the liquidation of that camp in autumn 1943, like many others he was sent to northern Italy. After the war he spent a short time in a U.S. prisoner-of-war camp before being released and returning to his family in Dresden. A brief period of Soviet imprisonment ensued before he was released again, to work unmolested in Dresden until his death.

Franz Rum (1890-1970) was born in Berlin, and after training to become a waiter worked in this capacity in England, France and Berlin. He served in the military during the Great War before resuming his former profession.[2113] He joined the NSDAP in March 1933, and following the outbreak of war in 1939 and a consequent downturn in business, discussed employment prospects with his customer, Richard von Hegener (q.v.), who offered him a job in the photographic department at T4 headquarters. Shortly afterwards Rum reported to Werner Blankenburg (q.v.), and having been sworn to secrecy, was informed of the “euthanasia” programme. Rum's duties included photocopying patient's records, as a consequence of which he developed an allergic reaction to the fumes from the chemicals being used. Rum therefore applied for a different job, “if possible one in the open air.”[2114] So he was posted by T4 to serve as a guard at Treblinka, where he arrived in December 1942.

Rum performed a number of tasks at the extermination camp, including supervising the Jewish commando responsible for the disposal of corpses. He appears to have been a relatively anonymous figure, neither particularly bad nor particularly good, judged by Treblinka standards, although he admitted to regularly using his whip on prisoners. Transferred to Italy with many other Aktion Reinhard personnel in November 1943, he was a defendant at the Treblinka trial held in Düsseldorf in 1964/65. Judged to be an accessory to murder in “at least” 100,000 cases, Rum was sentenced to three years' imprisonment, but died before the sentence became final.[2115]

Hans-Heinz Schütt (1908 - ?) was born in Dummersdorf, Schleswig-Holstein.[2116] His school teacher father had been killed in the Great War, and although Schütt attended the Gymnasium, his mother's difficult financial circumstances forced him to leave school early and take up a commercial apprenticeship. After working for a number of companies, in 1931 or 1932 he was employed by the Deutsche-Nationalen-Handlungsgehilfenverband (DHV), a right-wing German nationalist commercial clerks' union with Nazi associations that was absorbed into the German Labour Front (DAF) in 1934. Schütt had joined the SS a year earlier; now he became responsible for the book-keeping at many of the Labour Front's branches. After a dispute with Robert Ley, head of the DAF, in 1936 Schütt worked for a time at the Technical University in Berlin, and then at the Reichs Office for Grain. The following year, together with the all others in his SS unit, he was registered as a member of the NSDAP. In 1938 he began working for the SS in an administrative capacity, until he was summoned to T4 in the late autumn of 1939.[2117]

Schütt was dispatched to Grafeneck, allegedly without any knowledge of the “euthanasia” project, and was quickly enlightened by Horst Schumann (q.v.), who appointed him deputy chief of the institution's administrative arm. As such, he was responsible for the welfare of approximately 60 T4 functionaries. After Grafeneck closed, Schütt was transferred to Hadamar in early 1941, where he performed similar duties. Following the issue of the “stop order” in August 1941, he worked in the Berlin head office of T4, again as an administrator,[2118] until in April 1942 he was posted to Sobibor, where he remained until mid-August 1942.

In Sobibor Schütt initially continued to act as a book-keeper, paying salaries and dealing with other clerical matters, before succeeding Herbert Floss (q.v.) [who had himself succeeded Alfred Ittner (q.v.)] at the task of collecting valuables from the victims as they passed a cubicle situated at the entrance to the “tube”, the enclosed path that led to the gas chambers.[2119] Schütt carried no whip, and apparently took no part in the extermination process, nor was it alleged that he mistreated, still less killed any prisoner. In essence Schütt claimed he was a mere spectator to genocide, and moreover, an unwilling one. At his trial he stated:

In answer to the question why I was on the ramp when the transports arrived, I declare I was there out of curiosity. I wanted to convince myself of the inhumanity of the Endlösung [the “Final Solution”], and to relay my impressions back to Berlin so that I might be released. Under no circumstances did I ever get actively involved at Sobibor.[2120]

Others painted a somewhat less glowing picture of Schütt in Sobibor, alleging his involvement in orgies with Jewish women, but the court found insufficient evidence of this to prove the claim.[2121] What is not in doubt is that he was discharged from Sobibor after a stay of only four months, to return to the Waffen-SS. After the war Schütt was briefly arrested in Tübingen in connection with his time at Grafeneck, but it was not until September 1965 that Schütt stood in the dock at Hagen, accused with eleven others of alleged crimes committed at Sobibor. After due process he was acquitted.

As with other Aktion Reinhard personnel, Schütt's involvement in “euthanasia” did not form part of the charges brought against him. That they might have is evident from a lengthy letter he wrote to his stepbrother in March 1940, when Schütt was already working at Grafeneck, and which included the following passage: “At the moment I myself am in a special unit [Sonderkommando] of which, in greater Germany, perhaps 100 people are aware. You can probably imagine that I am very happy and proud…One day, I may be able to speak to you about all this.”[2122]

Otto Stadie (1897 - 1977) was born in Berlin. After completing his schooling he first worked as a messenger. Thereafter he was employed at a Dr Bernstein's Jewish owned Berlin clinic for skin and venereal diseases. After training as a medical orderly he served in the Great War before moving to Breslau, where he was unemployed for several years. He eventually found employment as a nurse at the Wuhlheide hospital in Berlin in 1927, remaining there until the outbreak of the Second World War, when he was once again conscripted as a medical orderly to serve in France and Poland. He had joined the NSDAP and SA in 1933.[2123]

Stadie was recruited by T4 in 1940 and was sent to Bernburg as a bus driver, accompanying the transports of victims from other mental institutions to the killing centre. After joining the OT mission to Russia in winter 1941/42, he was assigned to Treblinka, where he served as Franz Stangl's (q.v.) orderly until July 1943, subsequently relocating to Trieste with his T4 colleagues.

Formerly company commander of the Ukrainian guard unit in Treblinka, Stadie became the camp's chief administrator, responsible for all paperwork as well as personally participating in the unloading of arriving trains, selecting “work Jews”, and making mendacious “assurance speeches” to the victims. Although considered relatively decent for a Treblinka SS-man, Stadie was not averse to using his whip and pistol, and had personally ordered the shooting of at least one prisoner. The Treblinka survivor, Richard Glazar, described Stadie thus:

At a special roll call, the little barrel-shaped staff sergeant Stadie demonstrated what he could do when called upon to fill in for the vacationing Küttner and Franz. Full of rage, he snorted. His cheeks swelled, making his small eyes look all the more evil: “Anyone found with as little as a penny will be severely punished!”[2124]

Stadie was arrested in July 1963, and was a defendant at the first Treblinka trial held in 1964/65 in Düsseldorf, where after due process he received a sentence of seven years' imprisonment for his complicity in the murder of an estimated 300,000 individuals.[2125] He was released in 1969 due to ill health.

Franz Stangl (1908-1971)[2126] was born in Altmünster, Austria. He left school at the age of fifteen, and after serving an apprenticeship, at eighteen and a half years of age became, so he claimed, the then youngest master-weaver in Austria. But prospects in the depressed economic conditions of the time were unfavourable, and in 1931 Stangl decided to join the Austrian police. After two years training he commenced performing the duties of a regular policeman with the Linz constabulary, as well as assisting in the political department of the Kripo by investigating the activities of banned political movements (which then included the Communist, National Socialist, and Social Democratic parties). In the turmoil of 1930's Austria, Stangl's abilities were quickly recognized. He was decorated twice and soon reached the rank of Kriminalbeamter (CID officer).

In autumn 1935 Stangl was transferred to the political division of the CID in Wels, a small town near Linz. Following the Anschluss in March 1938, the Wels political division was absorbed into the Linz Gestapo, to where Stangl was re-transferred. By May 1938 Stangl was an official member of both the NSDAP and the SS. There are grounds for believing that he had been a member of the illegal pre-Anschluss Austrian Nazi party and SS, but this has never been definitively proven. When recommending Stangl for promotion in 1943, Odilo Globocnik noted that “While still in the Austrian police, he [Stangl] served as an undercover SS-man.”[2127]

Stangl claimed to have had a very bad relationship with his Gestapo superior, Georg Prohaska, as a result of which, so Stangl alleged, he began to seek ways in which he could get away from Linz.[2128] After lending some assistance to the Judenreferat (Jewish department) of the Linz police and their policy of enforced Jewish emigration, an opportunity to escape from his supposed difficulties soon arrived.[2129] According to Stangl, his recruitment to T4 came about as the result of a meeting with his friend, Franz Reichleitner (q.v.), who was already working for that concern. In the course of their discussion Stangl's unhappy personal circumstances came up. Without going into details, Reichleitner told Stangl that he was employed by an organization involved in a project which was “Geheime Reichssache” (“Secret Reich Business”), and offered to use his influence to get Stangl transferred to what Reichleitner described as “a pleasant job”. It is at least conceivable that ambition and desire for material benefit also played their part[2130] and that Stangl personally sought the position rather than relying solely upon Reichleitner's endorsement. It seems unlikely that his relationship with Prohaska could have deteriorated to the extent he claimed, since it is inconceivable Stangl could have been transferred to T4 without Prohaska's support, and probably his recommendation.[2131] Perpetrator testimony is often ambiguous when it is not duplicitous.

As described above, in early 1940 Stangl was summoned to Berlin for a meeting with Paul Werner (q.v.), and after a briefing from Viktor Brack (q.v.), in November 1940 was appointed police lieutenant at Hartheim, where he became responsible for the security of the institution and the preparation of certificates containing falsified causes of death. As already mentioned, after Christian Wirth (q.v.) left Hartheim, Reichleitner succeeded him as head of administration, with Stangl as his deputy. Following the departure of Gottlieb Hering (q.v.) from Bernburg, Stangl also briefly became head of administration there, but returned to Hartheim after a few months.[2132]

Again, there is only Stangl's testimony extant regarding the circumstances surrounding his induction into Aktion Reinhard. With the official suspension of “euthanasia”, he claimed to have been offered a choice in February 1942 – either join other T4 personnel in Poland, or be transferred back to Linz, and Prohaska. It was, he suggested, not much of a choice.[2133] So in April 1942 Stangl reported to Lublin, where after an interview with Odilo Globocnik, he was sent to Belzec to see how Wirth had organized mass murder there. One month later he was appointed the first commandant of the new extermination camp at Sobibor. So efficient was he considered at this task that in September 1942 he was transferred to Treblinka to succeed the disastrous Irmfried Eberl (q.v.). Globocnik was sufficiently impressed by Stangl to commend him to Himmler, reporting that he was “the best camp commander and had the most prominent part in the entire Aktion.”[2134] Richard Glazar described Stangl as Treblinka commandant:

On top of the sandy rampart a distant figure promenaded and then stopped from time to time…From there he viewed his estate… He didn't carry a heavy bullwhip like all the other SS, but only a light riding crop, and he always wore light-coloured deerskin gloves and a field cap on his head. A few fingers of his right hand hooked into the front of his fitted green uniform jacket…He keeps his distance from everyone and his perspective over everything from above. He rarely comes up to the operation from his headquarters in the lower part of the camp…. When he does appear at roll call, he does so only to look in on events from the sidelines…And then, tapping his riding crop lightly against his boots, he leaves before the end of roll call, without saying a word…He gives the impression of being the lord of the manor…He is in a position where he needs neither to fire a shot himself nor wield a bullwhip.[2135]

After the Treblinka uprising, together with most of the Aktion Reinhard personnel, Stangl was transferred to Trieste, ostensibly to organize anti-partisan measures, although it is certain that the killing activities of Aktion Reinhard also continued under the somewhat unimaginative title of Aktion R. [2136]

At the war's end, Stangl returned to Austria, where he was eventually interned by the Americans as a member of the SS. In late summer 1947, Austrian investigations into activities at Hartheim uncovered Stangl's presence in a prisoner-of-war camp at Glasenbach. He was transferred to a civilian prison in Linz, whence he escaped in May 1948. He made his way to Rome, from where, with the assistance of Bishop Alois Hudal, he obtained a Red Cross laissez-passer and a job as an engineer in Damascus. In 1951, he and his family moved from Syria to Brazil, where Stangl worked under his own name in the Volkswagen factory at Sao Bernardo do Campo, near Sao Paulo.

After a tip off by a former Gestapo official, Simon Wiesenthal discovered Stangl's whereabouts and informed the authorities. At the request of the Austrian government, Stangl was arrested by Brazilian police in February 1967. Within four months he had been extradited to Germany, where his trial commenced in Düsseldorf in May 1970. Stangl claimed that although he had been commandant of Treblinka, “I have had nothing to do with the killing of the Jews in the camp”,[2137] an assertion the court found no difficulty in dismissing. Found guilty of complicity in the murder of at least 400,000 people at Treblinka,[2138] in December 1970 he was sentenced to life imprisonment. His part in the murder of more than 100,000 people at Sobibor, or of the unknown thousands in whose deaths he was implicated through his involvement in the “euthanasia” programme, did not form part of the judgement. However, the court had little doubt concerning Stangl's character, concluding that “…coupled with ambition, this attitude of expediency and utilitarianism runs like a continuous thread through his biography…The defendant's thinking and acting resulted from his striving to advancement at any price.”[2139]

There is no evidence that Stangl was a vicious killer like Wirth, or a psychopathic murderer such as Kurt Franz (q.v.). Indeed it is questionable whether Stangl ever personally killed anyone. He didn't need to. There was no shortage of henchmen to do that for him. Nor was he a fanatical anti-Semite, at least judged by Gestapo standards. Rather, he was an efficient organizer and administrator, a man prepared to further his career by following orders and eliminating anybody deemed by the state he served to be unworthy of life. It was said that when he appeared, everyone worked faster, his own men included. Yet when asked whether he hadn't felt that his victims were human, he was only capable of replying: “Cargo. They were cargo.”

Stangl died in prison of a heart attack on 28 June 1971.[2140]

Franz Suchomel (1907-1979)[2141] was born in Krumau, as were the brothers Franz (q.v.) and Josef Wolf. At the time of Suchomel's birth Krumau was a part of the Habsburg Empire, but after 1918 it became a town within the Sudeten region of Czechoslovakia. Like his father, Suchomel was a tailor, taking over his father's business in 1936 and opening a second shop two years later. He served in the Czech army in the late 1920s and again in autumn 1938,[2142] joining the neo-Nazi Sudeten German Party in the same year, although he never became a member of the NSDAP. However, he was a member of the National Socialist Motorist Corps. He was conscripted into the Wehrmacht in March 1940, but suspended from duty in November of that year to return to the manufacture of uniforms in Krumau, where he remained until ordered to report to the KdF in Berlin in early March 1941.[2143]

The extent to which Suchomel was himself involved in his recruitment to T4, if at all, is unclear,[2144] but it seems a remarkable coincidence that so many individuals from a small town in Czechoslovakia (Suchomel, Franz and Josef Wolf, and Franz Wagner) found their way into that organization.[2145] Moreover, all of them were associated with photography, for Suchomel too was assigned to the T4 photography section, before being ordered to Hadamar in March 1942 to perform photographic duties there until July 1942, at which time he returned to Berlin.[2146] In view of his background, how Suchomel came to be employed as a photographer at all is mystifying. Even more puzzling is why he was considered suitable material for guard duties at an extermination camp, for after having been given the rank of SS-Scharführer like other Aktion Reinhard camp functionaries, in August 1942 Suchomel was posted to Treblinka, where his first duty was at the “station”, dealing with the incoming transports of deportees, and making free use of his whip and pistol while doing so; later he supervised the women's undressing barrack, and led victims to the “tube”, encouraging them to hurry to the showers before the water became cold. Sometimes he even handed out towels to accentuate the lie that the gas chambers were bathhouses. Subsequently he was in charge of the Goldjuden (“gold Jews”, responsible for handling the valuables of the victims) and the tailor shop. Considered, by Treblinka standards, to have been relatively decent,[2147] in late October 1943 he was ordered to Sobibor. Shortly afterwards he joined his T4 colleagues in Trieste. Following the German surrender and a brief period of confinement as a prisoner-of-war, he was released in August 1945. In 1949 he resumed his profession of master tailor in Altötting, where he also again became the enthusiastic amateur musician he had been in pre-war days.[2148]

Suchomel was arrested in July 1963, one of ten defendants to stand trial in the first Treblinka process. In September 1965 he was convicted of participation in the murder of at least 300,000 people, for which he received a sentence of six years' imprisonment.[2149] Released in 1969, several years later he was secretly filmed whilst being interviewed by Claude Lanzmann for inclusion in Lanzmann's film Shoah.[2150] Suchomel was also interviewed by Gitta Sereny in 1971, who clearly had little time for him; she considered that Treblinka had “manifestly been the high point of his life.”[2151]

Friedrich (Fritz) Tauscher (1903-1965) was a lieutenant in the uniformed police assigned to Sonnenstein in 1941-1942, who also served at Brandenburg and Hartheim. He was a member of both the NSDAP and the SS. In late 1942 or early 1943 he was transferred first to Trawniki, then to Belzec.[2152] Other sources suggest that he arrived at Belzec as early as October 1942. However, what is certain is that he was made responsible for the final liquidation of the camp by Gottlieb Hering (q.v.), and became Belzec's de facto final commandant.[2153] Tauscher was in charge of the labour camp at Budzyn for a short time in late summer 1943 before becoming the last commandant of the Dorohucza labour camp.[2154] In 1944 he joined his comrades in Italy as a member of Aktion R. Tauscher committed suicide in prison in 1965.[2155]

Heinrich Unverhau (1911 - ?), born in Vienenburg, Lower Saxony, became a plumber's apprentice on leaving primary school, but after suffering an accident which resulted in the loss of his right eye, abandoned that career in 1925. For the next four years he studied at the Königslutter music school, becoming an accomplished musician, and joining the town bands of first Königslutter and then Neuruppin. In October 1932 he became a member of the Stahlhelm (a paramilitary nationalist organisation), where he was employed as a musician. When the Stahlhelm was incorporated into the SA in autumn 1933, Unverhau was enrolled into the latter organisation; he became a member of the NSDAP in May 1937.

In March 1934, the leader of the Neuruppin mental hospital band offered Unverhau a position as a student nurse at the institution, which he was pleased to accept. He continued to work at Neuruppin until December 1939, when together with other Neuruppin nurses he was ordered to report to T4 in Berlin. There he was instructed about the part he was to play in the “euthanasia” project, sworn to secrecy, and sent to Grafeneck. When Grafeneck closed in December 1940 he was transferred to Hadamar to perform similar duties - escorting victims to the gas chambers, injecting them with sedatives, ventilating the gas chambers, and dealing with the disposal of the bodies and the victim's property.

He too became part of the mysterious Organisation Todt mission to Russia. When that ended he returned to Hadamar in March 1942; a few months later he was ordered to report to Lublin, where Christian Wirth (q.v.) assigned him and the colleagues accompanying him to the Belzec extermination camp.[2156] There he found that “exactly the same enterprise had been set up as at Hadamar.” Whilst freely admitting as early as 1948 in his testimony to the Tübingen police that “Belzec was an extermination camp for Jews in the district of Tomaszow in Poland”, Unverhau claimed to have had nothing to do with the gassings, being principally concerned with the supervision of the undressing barracks and the sorting of clothing.[2157]

After spending some months in various hospitals suffering from a variety of illnesses, including typhus, Unverhau was sent to Sobibor in June 1943, where he supervised workers at the undressing area in Camp II, the sorting barracks, and the Waldkommando (the wood-gathering detail). He remained at Sobibor until he was briefly transferred to Treblinka in September 1943 to assist with the liquidation of that camp. He returned to Sobibor in November for a short time[2158] before at Christmas 1943 he became another of the T4 personnel dispatched to Trieste; he returned to the T4 head office in Berlin in March 1944. One month later he was assigned to an army unit, but was soon readmitted to hospital. He was briefly a prisoner-of-war until his release in September 1945 to resume his career as a musician. By 1952 he was again in gainful employment as a nurse at the Königslutter hospital.

In March 1948, Unverhau was arrested in connection with his activities at Grafeneck, but eventually acquitted on the grounds that he and his co-defendants had reason to believe that threats of execution or incarceration in a concentration camp would be the consequence of non-compliance with the killing programme. – although there was no evidence that such threats were ever carried out.[2159] Fifteen years later, Unverhau and seven others were indicted for complicity in the crimes committed at Belzec – in Unverhau's case, the alleged murder of some 360,000 victims. But in January 1964, the Munich court decided not to continue with proceedings against him and six of the other defendants, and Unverhau was again released.[2160]

A few months later Unverhau was on trial for a third time, on this occasion for his activities at Sobibor, and for a third time he was acquitted.[2161] Thus despite involvement at a variety of killing institutions over a period of years (which in fairness he had never attempted to deny), Unverhau received no punishment whatsoever. It should be added that he was considered by former Jewish prisoners to be among the less brutal of the guards at Sobibor, behaving with relative decency, a factor which undoubtedly weighed heavily in his favour with the court.[2162]

Gustav Franz Wagner aka “Günther Mendel” (1911-1980)[2163] was born in Vienna and joined the then illegal Austrian Nazi party in 1931. To avoid arrest for his Nazi-associated activities, he fled to Germany in 1934, where he joined first the SA and then the SS. In 1940 he was ordered to Hartheim, where he worked as a Brenner. This proved excellent training for his next posting to Sobibor, where he arrived in March 1942, when the camp was still under construction. At Sobibor he was appointed “der Spiess”, a sort of second-in-command, in charge of day-to-day camp activities, including those conducted in Camp lll, where the gas chambers were situated.[2164]

Together with Karl Frenzel (q.v.) and Hubert Gomerski (q.v.), Wagner was considered one of the most cruel and dangerous of the SS-men in the camp. Many thought him the worst of all, “not only the most brutal, but also the shrewdest, and most intelligent of all the SS-men at Sobibor.” [2165] Nicknamed Welfel (Wolf) by the inmates, there was no limit to his depravity. He was continuously checking the prisoners as they worked, administering beatings and shooting people out of hand. Years later, Regina Zielinski (née Feldman) described to her son a whipping she suffered at Wagner's hands after she was discovered leaning her head against a boiler in the camp laundry in an attempt to ease the pain of an earache:

[Wagner] administered a severe whipping with his metre-long leather-covered steel whip. Each time the whip snapped around to the front of my mother's body, it left welts and blisters. When he stopped, he told my mother to go back to the laundry and return to work. She was suffering excruciating pain, but because she knew what happened to people who appeared or reported sick, she knew that she must continue working as if nothing were wrong.[2166]

As a consequence of Wagner's vicious beating, Zielinski was forced to have a kidney surgically removed after the war.[2167]

Wagner was another fortunate enough to have been on leave at the time of the uprising in Sobibor. There is no doubt that he would otherwise have been the major quarry. On the other hand, it has been suggested that the uprising might not have succeeded at all had he been in the camp at that time. Wagner was very prescient[2168]

Following the liquidation of Sobibor, like other Aktion Reinhard personnel, Wagner was ordered to Italy. In somewhat similar fashion to Franz Stangl (q.v.), after the war he fled via Syria and Lebanon to Brazil, where he lived under the name of Günther Mendel. In May 1978 he was traced by Simon Wiesenthal and his identity was confirmed by Sobibor survivor Stanislav Szmajner. Extradition requests from the governments of Austria, the Federal Republic, Poland, and Israel were rejected by Brazil on appeal. Interviewed by the BBC in 1979, Wagner showed no remorse for the innumerable crimes committed by him in Sobibor, stating: “I had no feelings there ... It was just another job for me. After hours, we have never talked about our work, but we drank and played cards.”

On 15 October 1980, Wagner allegedly committed suicide. Szmajner implied that a degree of assistance may have been rendered to help Wagner achieve this goal.[2169]

Christian Wirth (1885-1944)[2170] was born in Oberbalzheim in Württemberg, and trained as a carpenter before undertaking a four year spell in the Imperial army.[2171] He joined the police in 1910, and following the outbreak of hostilities in 1914, served on the Western Front with distinction, being decorated with the rarely awarded gold Military Cross.[2172] After the cessation of hostilities he first worked as a builder before re-entering the police force, where he was noted for his extreme efficiency. He first joined the Nazi party sometime before 1923, but resigned after the Munich beer hall Putsch. He rejoined the party in 1931, as well as the SA in 1933 and the SS in 1939. By that time he was a highly regarded Kriminalkommissar in the Stuttgart criminal police. A colleague recalled:

He was a criminologist from head to toe, energetic and methodical, unflinching in his fight against the criminal underworld and was the most hated man in criminal circles…Ruthless to himself, he sacrificed innumerable nights and Sundays to lead the fight against the criminal underworld. Through this he had the trust of the Stuttgart Kripo, not only in Württemberg but also further afield…he was always in demand, which earned him a considerable reputation.[2173]

As “the kind of exceedingly efficient officer who is seldom found”, Wirth was the ideal man to oversee the first phase of the “euthanasia” programme at the nominated killing centres, and in 1939 he was head-hunted by T4, who clearly knew the kind of man they needed, and were getting.[2174] In October of that year he arrived at Grafeneck; shortly afterwards he was transferred to Brandenburg, where he was appointed administrative director.[2175] Having been present at the first experimental gassing at Brandenburg in late December 1939 or early 1940, Wirth organized the administration not only there, but also at Grafeneck and Hadamar; however, it was at Hartheim that he expanded and refined the killing process in readiness for greater tasks to come.[2176] He made a notorious speech at Hartheim to the T4 recruits:

Comrades, I've called you here together today in order to inform you about the present position in the castle and what is going to happen from now on. I have been assigned the task of running the castle from now on by the Reich Chancellery.[2177] As the boss I am in charge of everything. We must build a crematorium here, in order to burn mental patients from Austria. Five doctors have been chosen who will examine the patients to establish what can or cannot be saved. What can't be saved goes into the crematorium and will be burned. Mental patients are a burden upon Germany and we only want healthy people… Certain men will be chosen to work in the crematorium. Above all else, the motto is silence or the death penalty. Whosoever fails to observe this silence will end up in a concentration camp or be shot.[2178]

Having served as a kind of trouble shooter at the killing centres, turning up whenever there was a problem to be resolved, in 1940 Wirth was appointed inspector of all T4 establishments. Franz Stangl (q.v.) described him as

…a gross and florid man…He stayed at Hartheim for several days…and came back often. Whenever he was there, he addressed us daily at lunch. And here it was again, this awful verbal crudity: when he spoke about the necessity for this euthanasia operation, he wasn't speaking in humane or scientific terms…He laughed. He spoke of “doing away with useless mouths” and said that “sentimental slobber” about such people made him “puke”.[2179]

Rabidly anti-Semitic and completely without compassion or morality, Wirth was a natural candidate for Aktion Reinhard. He was probably involved in “euthanasia” matters in western Poland between September and December 1941, although the precise nature of his activities during this period is obscure; there are claims that he may have been present at some stage at the Chelmno extermination camp, which commenced operations on 8 December 1941. What is certain is that, as already described, following some experimentation with killing methods in the Lublin region, Wirth was responsible for organizing the extermination camp at Belzec, where he officially arrived on 22 December 1941 to be appointed the camp's first commandant. He then supervised the establishment of Sobibor, Treblinka and other marginally less lethal camps, before being promoted to the position of Inspector of all of the Aktion Reinhard killing centres on 1 August 1942.[2180] It was almost certainly Wirth who the Treblinka survivor Abraham Krzepicki was describing in this passage:

He was a captain, 50 years old, stout and of medium height. He had puffed-up red cheeks, and a black moustache; he was the very image of the active soldier. He was always full of anger; it is hard to tell whether it was only towards Jews. He used to carry a rubber truncheon in his hand, and he never failed to vent his anger when he passed some Jews. “Idiots!” was his term of insult, and he used to utter it in a squeaking voice…He let out the squeak at the same moment that he started hitting his victim with all the strength and rage of a well-fed man of action…After each blow, he would almost bend down to the ground, like a man cutting grain.[2181]

Krzepicki goes on to relate how after himself suffering a beating from this sadistic officer, “the killer with the red cheeks and the black moustache” began senselessly hitting out with his truncheon at women and children.[2182]

Another Treblinka survivor, Jankiel Wiernik, relating his encounter with a Hauptmann (Captain) whilst removing corpses from the gas chambers, was also probably describing Wirth:

We worked under [his] supervision, a medium-sized bespectacled man whose name I do not know. He whipped us and shouted at us. He beat me too, without a stop. When I gave him a questioning look, he stopped beating me for a moment and said, “If you weren't the carpenter around here, you would be killed.”[2183]

With the virtual completion of Aktion Reinhard, together with the other ex-T4 operatives Wirth was sent to Trieste in September 1943, and was shot near Kozina in Istria in May 1944, allegedly by partisans. It is possible that he was in fact killed by his own men; given Wirth's character and the manner in which he treated his subordinates, this seems quite conceivable. Stangl certainly thought so.[2184]

Responsible for the industrialization of mass murder, in a world inhabited by brutal and merciless killers Wirth could lay claim to being the most repugnant of them all. He was a crude, coarse bully, prepared to murder any perceived “enemies of the state” without compunction – indeed with insatiable ferocity. His own subordinates called him “Christian the Terrible”.[2185] Having instituted a smoothly functioning series of killing machines at the “euthanasia” centres, it was Wirth who created the system of terror and murder that reigned in the Aktion Reinhard camps, thereby empowering his staff with the ability to literally choose between life or death for the inmates. Stangl stated: “It was not possible to save even a child in Treblinka. Wirth gave very specific instructions in this respect”;[2186] and “Wirth constantly stressed that those who do no work had to be taken away. Each leader of a working group and each camp commander could send to the Lazarett every prisoner who did not work or behave satisfactorily”.[2187] In the words of Franz Suchomel (q.v.): “From my activity in the camps of Treblinka and Sobibor, I remember that Wirth in brutality, meanness, and ruthlessness could not be surpassed…The brutality of Wirth was so great that I personally see it as a perversity”.[2188]

Jacob Wöger (1897-?) first worked in local government before serving in the First World War. He joined the Württemberg police force in 1922, and in 1933 became a member of both the NSDAP and the SS. By 1936 he had risen in rank to Kriminalsekretär in the Stuttgart Kripo; in 1938 he transferred to the Sipo, and a year later was recruited by Gerhard Böhne (q.v.) for T4.[2189] Wöger was sent to Grafeneck to act as supervisor. Both Christian Wirth (q.v.) and Gottlieb Hering (q.v.) were members of the Stuttgart police force, as was Wöger's deputy and eventual successor at Grafeneck, Hermann Holzschuh (q.v.), which suggests a high probability of collusion.[2190]

When his tour of duty at Grafeneck was completed, Wöger returned to the Stuttgart police. He was injured in a traffic accident in 1940, which may explain why he was not sent eastwards, like his aforementioned Stuttgart police colleagues, but so far as is known, there was no further involvement on his behalf with T4 in any of its manifestations.[2191]

Franz Wolf (1907 -?) was originally a Czech citizen living in the Sudeten town of Krumau who first found employment as a forester. Subsequently, together with his two brothers, he worked in his father's photography shop, until in 1938 his father died and the brothers inherited the business. Wolf had served in the Czech army and was briefly recalled to the colours at the time of the Sudeten crisis. He had joined the pro-Nazi “Sudeten German Party” in 1936; it is unclear whether he joined the NSDAP after Germany annexed the Sudetenland, but whether a party member or not, Wolf was conscripted into the Wehrmacht in August 1939 and served in Poland and France.[2192]

Another resident of Krumau, Franz Wagner (not to be confused with Gustav Franz Wagner [q.v.]), had been apprenticed to Wolf's father, and worked as head of the T4 photography section in Berlin. It is unclear whether Wolf asked Wagner to recommend him for the position, or Wagner simply acted of his own accord, but in autumn 1940 Wolf's military service was suspended by order of the KdF, and in January 1941 he was ordered to report to Hadamar. There he was assigned the job of photographing naked victims prior to their gassing. In autumn 1941 he worked in the Berlin headquarters of T4, enlarging the photographs he had taken for further study, before moving on to the Heidelberg psychiatric clinic to perform a similar task. He remained in Heidelberg until March 1943,[2193] at which time, together with his brother Josef, who had also been recommended to T4 by Franz Wagner, he was transferred to Sobibor.

At Sobibor, where amongst other supervisory activities he was in charge of a group of 60 women who sorted the luggage of the victims, Wolf behaved in a similar fashion to most of his SS comrades. If considered less brutal than some of them,[2194] nevertheless he was feared by the inmates as a man more than ready and willing to flog the prisoners he commanded, particularly the women. Apart from his physical excesses, he appeared to take particular pleasure in degrading and humiliating his workers, suggesting a probable sexual motive for much of his behaviour.

Josef Wolf was killed during the course of the Sobibor uprising in October 1943, but after serving in Italy together with many other Aktion Reinhard personnel, Franz Wolf survived to stand trial in Hagen in 1965, accused of complicity in the murder of at least 39,000 individuals. He claimed to be no anti-Semite and to have been horrified by what he found at Sobibor, but had acted as he did out of fear of the punishment that would surely follow if he had disobeyed orders. Moreover, he had repeatedly sought a transfer away from the death camp. The court was unimpressed by Wolf's evidence, but, not unusually, found extenuating circumstances, ruling that his actions did not compellingly show that he acted out of the racist motives of his superiors:

He could have acted this way because he believed such behaviour belonged to a proper implementation of orders. If so, it cannot be excluded that he did not act out of his own will to exterminate, but out of the will obediently and readily to be of service to his superiors.

The court thus deemed a sentence of 8 years' imprisonment to be appropriate punishment for Wolf's crimes.[2195]

Ernst Zierke (1905-1972) was born in Krampe, near Köslin, Pomerania (now Koszalin, Poland). After being expelled from primary school, he found employment as a forest worker before becoming apprenticed to a blacksmith. He worked for a number of agricultural estates prior to becoming unemployed in the late 1920s. He joined both the NSDAP and the SA in August 1930, and was another to eventually enrol as a student nurse at the Neuruppin mental home in 1933.

In late 1939 Zierke was conscripted by T4 and sent to Grafeneck. There he accompanied the transport of patients from other institutions to the killing centre and also worked in the photography department. When Grafeneck was closed, he was transferred to Hadamar, where for most of 1941 he performed similar duties. At the end of 1941 he was in Eichberg for a short time before, together with many other T4 members, he was sent to Russia as part of the suspicious Organisation Todt mission. On his return he worked for a short time in Eichberg and Hadamar again, before joining the staff at Belzec in June 1942. Following the closure of that extermination camp, he was transferred to the Dorohucza labour camp in March 1943.[2196] Shortly after the killing of the inmates of Dorohucza as part of Aktion Erntefest in November 1943, Zierke was sent to Sobibor to assist with the liquidation of that camp. At the end of December 1943 he joined fellow T4 operatives in northern Italy as part of Aktion R.

Arrested by the Americans in May 1945, Zierke was held in detention until 1946. Thereafter he first stood trial in 1948 in Frankfurt. The full extent of his involvement in T4 was not known at that time, and he was merely accused of photographing Hadamar victims and assisting in their unloading and undressing. Because of his allegedly limited participation, it was impossible to prove that he was aware that he was assisting in a killing process, and he was therefore acquitted “as his activities either lay before the medical examination or consisted of taking pictures.”[2197] Thus the court decided, Zierke might have believed “that only the doctor made the final decision on death and that therefore he [the doctor] carried the sole responsibility.”[2198] It was a generous interpretation (generous to Zierke, that is), but it paled into insignificance when compared with what was to come.

Fifteen years were to pass before Zierke, now employed in a saw-mill,[2199] was again indicted for his crimes, this time by the Munich prosecutor's office. He was accused of complicity in 360,000 cases of murder at the Belzec death camp. On 30 January 1964 the case against Zierke and six others accused with him was dropped when the court decided that they had not engaged “in particular activities in the sense of the National Socialist regime of terror.”[2200] Even before the Munich court had reached its decision, the Dortmund prosecutor filed charges with the Hagen court against 12 former members of the Sobibor staff, including Zierke. Their trial began on 6 September 1965 and lasted 15 months.[2201] At its end, despite having admitted to his participation in the execution of Jewish prisoners after the dismantling of Sobibor had been completed, the court found that Zierke had been compelled to act as he did out of fear for his own life and acquitted him.[2202] So, for his service in three “euthanasia” centres, two Vernichtungslager, an almost equally deadly labour camp, and other probable crimes uninvestigated to date, which taken together resulted in the death of tens of thousands of innocent individuals, Zierke received precisely no judicial punishment whatsoever.

* * *

Of the 182 individuals listed above of whom particulars are known and who were of mature age at some time during the Nazi era, a purely arbitrary analysis of their dates of birth reveals the following approximate percentages:

Pre 1880 – 6%
1881-1890 – 15%
1891-1900 – 20%
1901-1910 – 44%
Post 1910 – 15%

In 1939, Hitler was fifty years of age. Using the classifications listed, the most junior of the theoreticians were born 1887-1891, hence making them contemporaries of his. The majority of the technocrats were born 1901-1910. Physicians, nurses, and scientists were equally divided between those born 1881-1900 and 1901-1910, with a minority born pre-1881, and further minority born post-1910. The great majority of the operatives, the hands-on killers of T4 and Aktion Reinhard, were born post-1901. As might be expected, practical mass murder was predominately a young man's occupation.


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