General History/mid/late 1930s Germany
I'm wondering if it ever happened that German soldiers (or other officials) would come into someone's house and remove the child with a disability? Or did they have to be in an institution?
Thank you :)
There was no requirement that the children had to come only from institutions and the war drew on, it was easier and easier to take children considered unfit. More information:
In the summer of 1939, the parents of a severely deformed child (identified in 2007 as Gerhard Kretschmar), born near Leipzig, wrote to Hitler seeking his permission for their child to be put to death. Hitler approved this and authorized the creation of the Reich Committee for the Scientific Registering of Serious Hereditary and Congenital Illnesses (Reichsausschuss zur wissenschaftlichen Erfassung erb- und anlagebedingter schwerer Leiden), headed by Karl Brandt, his personal physician, and administered by Herbert Linden of the Interior Ministry and SS-Oberführer, Viktor Brack. Brandt and Bouhler were authorized to approve applications to kill children in similar circumstances, though Bouhler left the details to subordinates, such as SA-Oberführer Werner Blankenburg and Brack.
This precedent was used to establish a programme of killing children with severe disabilities from which the 'guardian' consent element soon disappeared. From August, the Interior Ministry required doctors and midwives to report all cases of newborns with severe disabilities. Those to be killed were "all children under three years of age in whom any of the following 'serious hereditary diseases' were 'suspected': idiocy and Down syndrome (especially when associated with blindness and deafness); microcephaly; hydrocephaly; malformations of all kinds, especially of limbs, head, and spinal column; and paralysis, including spastic conditions". The reports were assessed by a panel of medical experts, of whom three were required to give their approval before a child could be killed.
Various methods of deception were used to gain consent – particularly in Catholic areas, where parents were generally uncooperative. Parents were told that their children were being sent to "Special Sections" for children, where they would receive improved treatment. The children sent to these centres were kept for "assessment" for a few weeks and then killed by injection of toxic chemicals, typically phenol; their deaths were recorded as "pneumonia". Autopsies were usually performed, and brain samples were taken to be used for "medical research." This apparently helped to ease the consciences of many of those involved, since it gave them the feeling that the children had not died in vain, and that the whole programme had a genuine medical purpose.
Once war broke out in September 1939, the programme adopted less rigorous standards of assessment and a quicker approval process. It expanded to include older children and adolescents. The conditions covered also expanded and came to include "various borderline or limited impairments in children of different ages, culminating in the killing of those designated as juvenile delinquents. Jewish children could be placed in the net' primarily because they were Jewish; and at one of the institutions, a special department was set up for 'minor Jewish-Aryan half-breeds'". At the same time, increased pressure was placed on parents to agree to their children's being sent away. Many parents suspected what was really happening, especially when it became apparent that institutions for children with disabilities were being systematically cleared out, and refused consent. The parents were warned that they could lose custody of all their children and if that did not suffice, the parents themselves could be threatened with call-up for "labour duty". By 1941, over 5,000 children had been killed. The last child to be killed under Action T4 was Richard Jenne on 29 May 1945 in the children's ward of the Kaufbeuren-Irsee state hospital in Bavaria, Germany, more than three weeks after troops from the U.S. had occupied the town.[47 wikipedia.org