Before the Nazis made murder efficient in the gas chambers, there first were the unspeakable “mercy deaths” to purge Germany of its population with cognitive and developmental disabilities. Code-named "Operation T4," the street address of the Berlin headquarters, Tiergartenstraße 4, from September 1939 until August 1941, German and Austrian medical institutions executed many of Germany’s most vulnerable citizens. This campaign and the “wild euthanasia” program that followed resulted in the deaths of approximately 200,000 individuals.
The Nazis used carbon monoxide gas chambers in a program designed to "heal" a nation by killing those deemed "genetically inferior."
Nazi Germany has been described as a biological state where official policy was based on an extreme form of the pseudo-science eugenics. Within the framework of the Nazi biological vision anyone considered "less valuable" was targeted for systematic destruction. The impetus was the underlying belief that, since its defeat in World War I, Germany was sick and needed to be healed.
When Adolf Hitler seized power in 1933, "biological enemies" were targeted for elimination. New marriage and reproduction laws were issued; and mental hospitals were encouraged to neglect their patients. In 1939, Hitler ordered the "mercy killing" of institutionalized patients who were physically disabled and mentally ill.
Gas chamber of the killing institution Pirna-Sonnenstein. Courtesy of the Memorial Site Pirna-Sonnenstein/Photographer Juergen Loesel
This so-called Nazi "euthanasia" program was a secret government killing program derived from ruthless economic policy and eugenic theory. The aim was not to ease the suffering of individual persons with painful terminal diseases, but instead to kill a group of human beings considered to be inferior so that the national gene pool would be strengthened.
Through the "euthanasia" program and latter the "Final Solution," Hitler attempted to create his vision of a strong German society - a "master race."
page updated on 11/02/2011