Nazi “T4″ Psychiatrists – Some were Executed, Some Suicided, Some Escaped Justice
“… T4 was, in fact, the nerve center of the extermination campaign and was not just the forerunner of the ensuing mass extermination of the Jews, Gypsies, Poles and other human beings ‘unworthy of life.’ T4 was actually the organizer, education center and spiritual and administrative focal point. …”
PSYCHIATRISTS: THE MEN BEHIND HITLER
By Karl Loren
GSPN: German Society for Psychiatrists and Neurologists which had changed its name in 1955 from the German Society of Neurologists and Psychiatrists, started in 1935.
Sterilization Act, 1933: the law that cleared the path for wholesale euthanasia in Germany. The estimated number of sterilizations was between 100,000 and 350,000.
WPA: World Psychiatric Association
WFMH: World Federation of Mental Health
T4: This is the name and number of a street in Berlin, Tiergartenstrasse 4, where the Working Association of Sanitariums and Caretaking Facilities of the Republic (Reichsarbeitgemeinschaft Heil-und Pflegeanstalten) was located. The organization’s sole purpose was to gather and kill “inferiors.” T4 was, in fact, the nerve center of the extermination campaign and was not just the forerunner of the ensuing mass extermination of the Jews, Gypsies, Poles and other human beings “unworthy of life.” T4 was actually the organizer, education center and spiritual and administrative focal point that would continue in its criminal activity for another six years.
Questionnaires from state and private sanitariums and caretaking institutes poured into the T4 euthanasia headquarters. Consultants then marked the form: those who were to be killed had a red “+” sign, and those allowed to live were marked with a blue “-” sign.
They “did no examinations, had no access to medical histories, and made their decision solely on the basis of the questionnaire.” However, Jewish inmates did not have to fit the normal criteria used for normal medical killing.
By August 1941, T4 had already reached its original quota of 70,000 persons euthanized. Indeed, it had exceeded its quota–by 273 persons.
The psychiatrists involved in the Nazi killing machine were needed for their leadership skills and chosen for their closeness to the Nazi regime, their high recognition in the profession and their sympathy for euthanasia, or at the very least a radical approach to eugenics.
ERNST RÜDIN: PRESIDENT OF GSPN FROM 1935 TO 1945
In 1916, Ernst Rüdin was appointed Professor of Psychiatry of the Department of Genealogy of the German Research Institute for Psychiatry in Munich and in 1919 became its director. In 1933, he was promoted within the Third Reich to Commissioner of the German Society for Racial Hygiene and named Chairman of the Advisory Board of experts on population and racial politics.
Besides being a racial hygienist and the principal drafter of the Sterilization Act he was also the co-author of the treatise which was relied upon as the Nazi’s justification for the Law for the Prevention of Genetically Diseased Children. His co-author, Falk Ruttke, was also the author of the Nuremberg Race Act, which legalized the persecution of Jews.
It is difficult to overstate Rüdin’s influence on the Third Reich’s atrocities. He was able to become a significant source of legitimization for the Nazi regime’s racial policies and through him, psychiatry enjoyed what amounted to carte blanche to research, develop and even practice its most deadly and inhumane theories and methods.
In 1937, he joined the Nazi Party and two years later was awarded the Goethe Medal for Art and Science by Adolf Hitler himself. Five years later, the Fuhrer personally honored Rüdin with a bronze medal embossed with a swastika and with the honorary title of “Pioneer of Racial Hygiene.”
In 1943, he wrote of Hitler, extolling him and the Regime for their “decisive…path-breaking step toward making racial hygiene a fact among the German people…and inhibiting the propagation of the congenitally ill and inferior.” He praised the laws for “preventing the further penetration of the German gene pool with Jewish blood,” and the SS for “its ultimate goal, the creation of a special group of medically superior and healthy people of the German Nordic type.”
Rüdin was removed from his directorship in November of 1945 by the American military government, but he was never brought to trial. He claimed to be “only a nominal member” of the Nazis and with that managed to be completely exonerated. He is one of the most outrageous examples of psychiatrists who neither fled nor hid. They just acted as if nothing had happened.
Leonardo Conti, State Secretary of the Ministry of Interior, Member of the SS:
In July, 1939, Hitler appointed Conti responsible for administering the euthanasia program. On October 9, 1939, an edict was issued requiring all institutions throughout the Third Reich to categorize all of their patients and inmates according to stated criteria. Conti required reports to be compiled and submitted on all those in care or custody who suffered from a variety of stated symptoms, among them: schizophrenia, epilepsy, senility, paralytic diseases, and feeble-mindedness. Also to be reported were all persons who had been imprisoned for five years or more or who were “criminal” or “not of German or related species’ blood.”
In 1940, Conti personally administered lethal injections to four to six patients who “died only slowly” and some had to be injected a second time. Consequently, the gas chambers were considered a better killing alternative.
Conti, who remained Minister of Health until 1945, committed suicide, avoiding justice.
Werner Heyde: T4 DIRECTOR, Member of the Nazi Party and Gestapo
In 1933, Heyde was one of the chief organizers of the euthanasia program. He released a mental patient, Theodor Eicke, a hardened convicted felon, as no longer dangerous. Later, Eicke became the first commandant of Dachau and in 1934 was promoted to Inspector General and Chief of all concentration camps. By 1936, Eicke had become the leader of the SS “Deathhead” units of which Heyde was also a member.
Heyde joined the Nazi party in 1933, then joined and became an advisor to the Gestapo. By 1935 had become an Associate Judge of the Court for the Elimination of Hereditary Disease which arbitrated sterilization requests. On July 1, 1936, Heyde was appointed to establish and direct “the psychiatric-neurological and genetic surveillance of the concentration camps.” In January, 1940, he oversaw the first killings which used carbon monoxide gas. Eighteen to twenty naked men were led into the “shower room” by nursing staff. The door was shut behind them–they collapsed within one minute. After another five minutes the room was aired. SS personnel took the dead on special stretchers to the crematorium furnaces. The victims did not undergo any medical examination to determine if they were dead before they were cremated. The apparent “success” of this test killing hastened the production of killing facilities.
Later Heyde moved to Berlin to become T4’s medical director and to supervise it’s consulting staff of approximately 30 physicians, most of whom were psychiatrists.
Heyde was eventually arrested in 1947 by the allies but fled and managed to resume his work as a psychiatrist under the alias of “Dr. Sawade.” He became active as a psychiatric consultant in the Courts of the Schleswig-Holstein district of Germany, “even though numerous professors, the Director of the Social Court, the Chief Justice of the provincial Social Court, a district court counselor, a Social Court counselor, two presidents of the Senate and even a federal judge all knew that Professor Heyde was also Dr. Sawade.”
Heyde was re-arrested but in 1961 committed suicide in his cell, before his trial could begin.
Starting in April of 1941, eminent physicians and psychiatrists began to visit the concentration camps, among them Dr. Werner Heyde and Nitsche, the leading T4 consultants. Nitsche, who replaced Heyde as head of the T4, later admitted that “the killing… went along the exact same lines and with the same registration forms as in the insane asylums.”
He was also editor of the German Journal for Mental Hygiene and was director of various state hospitals.
Executed: Ordered to be executed by judges in the Nuremberg Trials, he was sent to the guillotine on March 25, 1948, in Dresden.
Max de Crinis: T4 Nazi psychiatrist, MEMBER OF THE SS.
An Austrian, he practiced in Germany and joined the Nazi Party in 1931. He was considered “the most outspoken and influential Nazi” within German psychiatry and was a psychiatric consultant at the highest level of the regime. He was thought to have provided Hitler with the wording for the original “euthanasia” decree.
By 1936, he was active in the SS and its Race and Settlement Office; he became medical director of the Ministry of Education in 1941. He was also Committee Member of the Kaiser Wilhelm Society (which became the Max Planck Institute involved in psychiatric research) and was a Director of the European League for Mental Hygiene.
While fleeing from the authorities and justice, on May 1, 1945, De Crinis killed himself in the prescribed Nazi manner, by swallowing potassium cyanide but not before he also caused the deaths of his family in the same way.
IMFRIED EBERL: T4 Nazi Psychiatrist, MEMBER OF THE NAZI PARTY
Eberl served as a deputy to Dr. Werner Heyde in supervising the false causes of death and to establish policies for maintaining subterfuge for T4.
An Austrian, he joined the Nazi Party when he was 21-years-old. At 29, he was one of the first to be shown how the poison gas killing methodology worked. In addition to serving in the inner circle of psychiatric experts, he was given special authority to enter various psychiatric institutions to investigate their attitudes towards, and willingness to work in the euthanasia killing program.
At age 32, he went on to become commandant of the notorious death camp, Treblinka, where, with his T4 experience, he was able to construct the gassing apparatus for killing inmates.
He also organized the transporting of Jewish patients to his killing institution at Brandenburg. In August, 1942 alone, he had 215,000 Jews killed (compared to 18,000 patients killed in just over 18 months when he was a T4 expert).
Carl Schneider, T4 psychiatrist, MEMBER OF THE NAZI PARTY
An Austrian, he became director of the University Clinic in Heidelberg. He joined the Nazi Party in 1932 and became a “leader of German psychiatry,” who “took on the mission of preaching National Socialism and offering his own enlightened program of work therapy …”
“Work therapy,” sterilization and medical killing were his proffered ways of “helping” patients. He obtained large sums of money for a research institute where he initiated some of his work, using the brains from the euthanasia program.
At the Rhenish Eichberg Institute in the Rhinegau, which conducted one of the euthanasia programs, human experiments with medical drugs were performed on behalf of I. G. Farben, the chemical manufacturer, which provided carbon monoxide for the gas chambers of concentration camps and the pesticide Zyklon B for experiments on Soviet prisoners of war. At this institute, both children and adults were killed on a regular basis until the end of the war. An argument over the brains of these victims erupted between the Eichberg and Heidelberg research departments. Professor Schneider in Heidelberg demanded part of the so-called “material” for his own research.
Schneider was a member of the T4 team. He was executed as a result of the Nuremberg Trials.
Professor Hans Heinze: T4 Nazi psychiatrist; headed the pediatric department of a killing Institute, Laender.
Heinze gained prominence in the Reich’s “Committee for the Scientific Registration of Hereditary and Inherent Sufferings,” the “cover organization for the murder of handicapped children and youth.” The committee was affiliated with T4. The only difference was that it was responsible for child euthanasia.
In 1931, while Dr. Heinze was a physician at the children’s outpatient department at Leipzig, he collaborated with Paul Schroder on a book called Child Personalities and Their Abnormalities. In the first paragraph of the introduction, they define what they mean by the word “degenerate”: It “is not equal to ‘sick’. ‘Degenerate’ also includes the oversized or undersized person, the athlete, the highly talented, the genius. A degenerate in the psychological area is someone who…deviates above and below the average.”
Heinze was dedicated to defining, segregating and exterminating certain classes of people, following the dictates of the state economy, Nazi doctrine and the precepts of “racial hygiene psychiatry.”
In 1939, Heinze, a director of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute (see Max Planck Institute), was bestowed with the unusual honor of a seat on its Board of Trustees of their Brain Research Institute, and it is extremely likely that a child-killing department was installed there.
By 1940, Leander Institute at Brandenburg-Gorden, where Heize was head of its pediatric department, was functioning as a halfway house for T4 “supply transports.” Some of the sanitarium’s children were sent to the gas chambers of the former prison at Brandenburg, after which their corpses were dissected for psychiatric research.
The institution was also used as training center for other physicians in charge of killing facilities and was referred to as the “Reich’s Schooling Station.”
Sentenced to Hard Labor: Then Mentally Unfit to Stand Trial
Heinze was tried and convicted in 1946 by a Russian military tribunal which sentenced him to seven years’ hard labor. He served his term in various prisons until 1952, whereupon he returned to Germany, and became an assistant physician at a sanitarium near Munster in Westphalia.
In 1962, a preliminary inquiry into Heinze’s wartime activities was begun, but several medical opinions certified him as unfit to be questioned and unable to understand the proceedings. In 1967, he was deemed unfit to stand trial because he was a “mental wreck.”
When he died, nearly two decades later, the following obituary appeared: “At the age of 87, the former director of our department for child and adolescent psychiatry died on February 4, 1983…We shall honor his memory”–signed by The Board of Directors and the Director of Human Resources of the Neiders state hospital of Lower Saxony, Wunstdorf.
DR. VALENTIN FALTLHAUSER, T4 EXPERT
Director of Kaufbeuren psychiatric hospital and its Child Euthanasia program. Faltlhauser passed around a menu at the facility: “totally fat free,” it consisted of potatoes, yellow turnips, and cabbage cooked in water. “The effect,” he claimed, “should be a slow death, which would ensue in about three months.”
On May 8, 1945, the war ended in Germany. In the extermination institutes, they either kept on killing, or let the patients starve to death. As late as May 29, 1945, a four-year-old feeble-minded boy was murdered in Kaufbeuren, and on July 2, 1945, a physician who was junior to the director, hanged himself–Only 12 hours earlier, the last adult patient had died.
Berthold Kihn of Jena: T4 psychiatrist: Kihn filled out “questionnaires” and personally supervised the selection of “patients” in various institutions. Erich Straub: He was a T4 consultant. Dr. Ernst Wentzler: One of the three chief experts of the child euthanasia Reich Committee.
Dr. Hermann Pfannmüller of Eglfing-Haar (camp):
Dr. Pfannmüller joined the Nazi party in May, 1933. He believed strongly in the concept of “life devoid of value,” which demanded the eliminated of what he called “the pitiful patient” who showed “the semblance of being of a human existence.”
Pfannmüller was the director of the institution, Eglfing-Haar, for children. He developed a special starvation diet as a method of killing “useless eaters,” especially children. In 1939, Pfannmüller explained to visiting psychology students the euthanasia or mercy killing that was being conducted–some 25 children, aged between one and five were being starved to death. Pfannmuller lifted up one emaciated child who was near death and told the students that food was withdrawn gradually, not all
at once. The motto was: “We give them no fat, then they go on their own.”
In 1943, he established two more “starvation houses,” this time for an adult population. Some 444 patients died directly or indirectly (contracting pneumonia while malnutritioned) from his diet.
In a report on an interview with him for the Nuremberg Trials, Pfannmüller was described as “a brutal fellow who actually enjoyed to dispatch patients to their death…[was] mostly directly responsible” for the killings at the Eglfing-Haar asylum.
Pfannmuller testified at the Nuremberg trials, “…euthanasia and the work of the National Board had, in my view, nothing to do with National Socialism. They were just as legal as the regulations for prevention of transmission of hereditary diseases and infection in marriage. These laws were passed during the National Socialist Regime. But the ideas from which they arose are centuries old.”
Found Mentally Unfit to Stand Trial:
In 1948, he was declared unfit to stand trial. The next year he was sentenced to six years jail.
Hallervorden was a brain specialist who was Chairman of the Special Pathology Section of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute; he supported the autopsy of euthanized children for research purposes and dissected their brains himself. [The institute’s director was psychiatrist Hans Heinze who would later become a T4 expert.]
He also conducted research on 500 brains of Jewish vitims from the killing centers of the mentally ill. He ordered Nazi physicians to send him the brains from concentration camps, stating: “…I heard that they would do it and so I went there and said to them, ‘Look here, boys, if you kill the people anyway, then at least remove the brains so that the material can be used. They asked me how many I could examine and I told them, ‘An unlimited amount, the more the merrier’…There was wonderful material among these brains, great mental illnesses, deformities and early childhood illnesses. Of course, I accepted the brains. Where they came from and how they got there was of no real interest to me.”
Hallervorden and his boss, Hugo Spatz, fled to Giessen after the war but later ran the Max Planck Institute for Brain Research in Frankfurt until 1957. The fate of the “Hallervorden Collection” was not sealed until 1990. The Max Planck Institute finally admitted that the “historical material” stored in its basement was the harvest of Nazi euthanasia. The “material” was eventually given a burial at a Munich cemetery.
REWARDED WITH PRESIDENTIAL STATUS IN PSYCHIATRY
Then there were the T4 consultants who, despite their involvement in this murder machine, were appointed presidents of the German Society of Psychiatrists and Neurologists after the war.
WERNER VILLINGER: T4 CONSULTANT, Member of the Nazi Party, President of the GSPN, 1952-54.
[President of the German Association for Adolescent Psychiatry, 1952-1961.]
From 1927, Villinger was a follower of Fritz Lenz, a leading advocate of the racial hygiene movement, and whose published works were credited with influencing Hitler. Between 1934 and 1938, Villinger was a member of Germany’s criminal-biological Society, whose chairmen included Ernst Rüdin and Lenz.
On May 1, 1937, while serving as an associate judge of the High Court for Genetic Health in Hamm and Breslau, Villinger joined the Nazi party. That was a year and a half after the time that official records show that 2,675 notifications for sterilization were reported, 600 applications for sterilization were filed and 460 sterilizations were actually performed all under Villinger’s direction. Villinger also relied upon the guidelines of the 1933 Sterilization Act to justify sterilizing what he deemed to be “asocials.” As a military district psychiatrist in 1941, Villinger is listed in official Nazi records as a T4 consultant and thus was involved in the euthanasia program.
According to T4 staff member Meumann, “the registration forms that were processed by [Villinger] came back to us with considerable delays.” He eventually became a critic of euthanasia, preferring compulsory sterilization.
After the war in 1946, he went on to become a Professor and Director of the psychiatric clinic at the University of Marburg and became president of the GSPN in 1952. The Hamburg Medical Faculty described Villinger after 1945 as follows: “Above all as the leading adolescent psychiatrist in the country, it has seldom been mentioned that Villinger is also one of the most active advocates for the application and broad minded interpretation of the Sterilization Act and as a consultant he contributed also to adult euthanasia.”
In 1953, he was awarded the “Cross of the Order of Merit” and later denied his activities as a T4 consultant.
Dr. Friedrich Mauz, T4 Consultant, President GSPN 1957-1958.
In 1928, Mauz was a university lecturer and a professor of psychiatry at Koenigsberg from 1939-1945, holding the same position at Münster beginning 1953.
Mauz was intimately involved in the development of the law for “ending the suffering” of the incurably ill. The final session of the planning of this law took place in August, 1940. The final draft no longer exists, but is documented by a collection of several statements by the participants. The physicians involved were mostly concerned with finding an incontrovertible legal basis for euthanasia. Hitler rejected the draft and left it in a drawer. In the end, then, the psychiatric murders continued unhindered and outside of the law.
Mauz, a T4 consultant, was revered by his peers after the war. According to the “Munsterische Zeitung” on May 17, 1980, “The medical faculty of the University of Munster commemorates today their member of long-standing and Director of the University Clinic, Prof. Dr. Robert Friedrich Mauz…He has helped, as hardly any other psychiatrist of his generation has, to shape the thoughts and actions of German medicine…(Let us) then pay tribute to the special accomplishments of Friedrich Mauz.”
Years later, in Mauz’s obituary, psychiatrist Rainer Tolle refers to Mauz’s tenure as a T4 consultant as follows: “In 1932, Mauz and Kretschmer were called to Bern. If this plan had not fallen apart, Mauz might have been spared a few troubles during the following years and the war, which also left a stain on his record.”
In 1948, he was an official delegate to the Third International Congress of Mental Hygiene in London which formed the WFMH.
Friedrich Panse: T4 Nazi psychiatrist; PRESIDENT OF THE GSNP: 1965 – 1966
Dr. Panse was also a military district psychiatrist. Before that, however, he was the assistant medical director at the Wittenauer
Heilstatten and an associate judge at the High and Common Courts for Freedom from Hereditary Diseases, collaborating in sterilization matters with Dr. Heyde, among others. In 1935, Panse, along with Kurt Pohlisch, created the Rhenish Provincial Institute for Psychiatric and Neurological Genetics.” In 1940, he became a T4 consultant.
Panse was admitted into the GSPN’s predecessor group, GSNP, in 1937, the same year he was lecturering on racial hygiene at the University of Bonn.
The propaganda film about euthanasia that was produced by the Reich was based on an idea by Panse. In 1942, the treatment and cure of war-neurotics, using a form of electroshock, was named after him and called “pansen.” It involved very painful stimulations of electrical currents applied to large sections of the skin using a roller. War neurotics in Panse’s mind, however, meant that they had “psychopathy with the purpose of surreptitiously obtaining pensions and compensations.” In other words, Panse believed soldiers faked being traumatized by the war.
In 1943, he was present at a secret euthanasia conference attended by leading psychiatrists in Berlin in 1943.
In 1947, he was acquitted of wartime collaboration with the Nazis; however, he was never even called upon to explain his actions as a psychiatrist or to account for his methodologies.
He continued to lecture after the war until 1967 at the Universities of Bonn and Dusseldorf . He died in 1973.