Dr Robert Jay Lifton THE NAZI DOCTORS:
                        Medical Killing and the
                            Psychology of Genocide ©
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medicalized treatment ended. The trains arrived in Lublin, an area where Polish Jews were being concentrated and where Jewish confiscated goods were processed with slave labor. The precise fate of these patients is unknown and probably varied, except for the final outcome — their extermination in such camps as Sobibór and Belzec.80

The T4 office set up a Jewish camouflage operation: on “Cholm Insane Asylum” letterheads, statements of condolence and death certificates were sent out. Couriers took the mail to Chelm (the Polish spelling), near Lublin, where they were mailed with the proper postmark. As far as can be determined, the “Cholm Insane Asylum” was a fiction.81
From September 1939, when the war began, with German troops pushing eastward, the SS began to shoot inmates (of whatever race or nationality) of mental hospitals to empty them for the use of soldiers. For example, a hospital in Stralsund, an eastern German city on the Baltic Sea, was emptied by December 1939, and its patients were taken to Danzig to be shot. Their bodies were buried by Polish prisoners, who themselves were then shot. In Chelm-Lubielski, in the General Government of Poland, patients were shot en masse by SS troops, sometimes after having been chased through the asylum, and then buried in mass graves. Once Germany invaded Russia, in June 1941, Einsatzgruppen under Heydrich liquidated hospital patients as well as Jews, Gypsies, and Communist functionaries. Reports from the field mentioned the need for beds for injured soldiers, as well as “the German view” that these were lives unworthy of life.82

More closely related to T4, the Germans set up two psychiatric extermination facilities at Meseritz-Obrawalde and Tiegenhof, both in the old Prussian territory of Pomerania. The policy was first to massacre Polish patients, then bring German patients into the emptied facility, and finally to kill them as well by such methods as shooting, gassing, injection, starvation, or drugs given with food. Standard T4 letters of condolence were sent to families. There is some evidence that physically or mentally impaired German soldiers were also given “euthanasia” in both institutions.83

Concerning the technology of murder, there was diminished reliance on shooting because of psychological trauma to Einsatzgruppen troops. Explosives were tried — as in Russia, in September 1941, when mental patients were blown up. This method proved ineffective in that too much cleaning up was required and more than one charge was sometimes necessary. Gas was clearly preferable.

Carbon monoxide gas was increasingly resorted to — first in canisters (which became ever more expensive to bring from Germany as the troops moved east), and then, after further technological innovation, from the exhaust of vans. During two weeks in May and June of 1940, 1,558 mental patients from East Prussia were gassed in vans at a transit camp in Soldau. The killings were carried out by “the itinerant euthanasia squad known
Medical Killing and the
Psychology of Genocide

Robert J. Lifton
ISBN 0-465-09094
© 1986
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