miércoles, 3 de septiembre de 2014
More than 300,000 disabled people who were murdered by the Nazis are to be honoured with a memorial due to open this week in Berlin.
It will be the fourth and probably final major memorial to Adolf Hitler’s victims built in or near Berlin's central Tiergarten park, following sites dedicated over the last decade to Jews, gays and Roma slaughtered in the Holocaust.
"The murder of tens of thousands of patients and residents of care homes was the first systematic mass crime of the National Socialist regime," said Uwe Neumaerker, director of the memorial foundation.
"It is considered a forerunner of the extermination of European Jews."
The site next to the city's world-renowned Philharmonie concert hall will commemorate the fates of people like Benjamin Traub, a German schizophrenic who was admitted to a psychiatric hospital near the Dutch border in 1931.
Nine years later, with Hitler at the height of his power, he was selected for transfer nearly 300 kilometres (190 miles) away to a Nazi "intermediate facility" in the western state of Hesse.
In 1941, he was taken to a clinic nearby in the town of Hadamar which had been transformed into a factory of death. There, immediately after his arrival, Traub was sent to a gas chamber and murdered with carbon monoxide.
Between January 1940 and August 1941 doctors systematically gassed more than 70,000 people - the physically and mentally handicapped, those with learning disabilities, and people branded social "misfits" - at six sites across the German empire.
In an elegant villa at Tiergartenstrasse 4 in Berlin, more than 60 Nazi bureaucrats and like-minded doctors worked in secret under the "T4" programme to organise the mass murder of sanatorium and psychiatric hospital patients deemed unworthy to live.
From August 1941 until the war's end in 1945, tens of thousands more died through forced starvation, neglect or fatal doses of painkillers such as morphine administered by purported caregivers.
The German parliament voted in November 2011 to erect a memorial to the victims of the Nazis' cynically labelled "euthanasia" programme where the villa once stood.