Chapter 7: The Holocause Begins

Hannah Ness

Mentally Handicapped

Germans wanted to target the mentally handicapped next. They taught the children that the mentally handicapped were a waste of money, and that it was not possible for them to live normal or efficient lives. Because of these teachings, people grew up believing such ideas. Many people were killed because of this belief. Nazi's used the public eye and propaganda to make sure most Germans felt this way.

Eventually, the Euthanasia Program began. This basically made it a law for nurses to report mentally ill patients, so they could be killed by doctors. In Hitler's favor, this made room in hospitals and doctors' schedules for the war. When someone was handicapped, doctors will fill out papers and send them to 3 Reich doctors. There, they used a blue minus sign to save the patients, and a red cross if they decided that their life was "useless". This program was eventually given the name Aktion-T4.

While all of this happened, the child's parents never knew because they were told that their child went to a special hospital. They were then told that he/she died of pneumonia or heart failure. In reality, the patients were killed and cremated. Germans outside of the situation thought that the acts were acceptable as long as the parents gave permission.

Germany's next victims would be the elderly. Most strongly disagreed with this and tried to stop it.

Although the whole program was meant to be secret, the public eventually found out. Hitler soon told the public that the euthanasia program would be stopped, after 100,000 had already been killed.

Even though Hitler promised to stop, historians can prove that 200,000 more people were killed after he told the public he would stop.

Handicapped: having a condition that markedly restricts one's ability to function physically, mentally, or socially.

The Nazi's wanted to kill Germany's Jews next. The SS Einsatzgruppe was a group that was formed with about 1000 men. They invaded Poland (under HItler's control) and more Jews became under their control. The the first six months of this, they killed about 500,000 people.

The men in the army were very well educated. They were surprisingly not forced to kill the Jews, they volunteered. They were teenagers, they had been taught war, and they were ready for action. Throughout the war, historians think that two million were killed.

At first, people were split between able to work, and non able to work. From then on, the non able to work were shot. This eventually became not efficient for the workers, so they started using gas chambers. They thought that these death factories were much more effective.

Germans outside of the picture couldn't believe the rumors. They though that such acts were too horrible to be true, and many didn't believe it at all.

To try their best to keep their deeds a secret, the SS did what was needed to keep family members of those dead believing they were safe. Relatives received fake postcards that were supposedly from their loved ones, stating that they were at a camp and okay.

Overall, most of those sent to camps were used for labor while the rest were killed. 20-40% of the people went to labor camps, and those who couldn't work went to the line that lead them to the gas chambers.

Despite their original job, Waffen-SS Members became the guards to the concentration camps.

Camps were very strict. Even the smallest act of wrong could mean being killed or being beaten by a guard.

Euthanasia: the painless killing of a patient suffering from an incurable and painful disease or in an irreversible coma.