The eugenics movement influenced the minds of many, one of which was Adolf Hitler. Obsessed by his power, ambition and opinions, Hitler was convinced that he could create a superior race via eugenics. One of the first minorities targeted by his plan were people with disabilities. He used euthanasia to end the lives of many people. Institutionalized children with disabilities were murdered by Hitler and his Nazi regime because he deemed them “unworthy of life”.

Hitler organised secret camps and signed a secret authorization form to allow euthanasia of people with disabilities in 1939. His order was made in response to a letter written by parents of a child with disabilities seeking permission to kill their child. This lead to the creation of Aktion 4 program which involved the killing of children and adults with disabilities by involuntary euthanasia.

Under the Aktion 4 program, Nazi Germany constructed and tested its first gas chambers to kill people with disability. It is estimated that Aktion 4 resulted in the deaths of over 200,000 people with disabilities – and perhaps over 500,000 people. The gas chamber technology would later be used on an even greater scale to kill millions of Jewish people in what is known as “The Holocaust” and Roma people.

Boy with Down syndrome and other children with disability taken at Schönbrunn Psychiatric Hospital, 1934. By Franz Bauer
German nurse with children of the Nazi’s Lebensborn program to breed a master race.
Eugenics centre in Nazi Germany where babies were selected for Women judged according to standards of ‘Aryan purity’.

The ‘Memorial and Information Point for the Victims of National Socialist Euthanasia Killings’ in Berlin was opened in 2014 to remember the disabled victims of Nazi Germany.

Visitors at the T4 – Memorial and Information Centre for the Victims of the Nazi Euthanasia Programme.