A Question For Yom HaShoah

Does anyone know what attempts, if any, were made to save mentally ill, disabled and retarded Jews during the Holocaust? We know of rescues of a few important people, rabbis and community leaders. Were any disabled or retarded people rescued? Are their stories in print? Does anyone know? Please cite sources. Thank you.



Filed under Blogs, History, Religion, The Church and the Holocaust

5 responses to “A Question For Yom HaShoah

  1. Nigritude Ultramarine

    Wouldn’t they have been killed off first?

  2. D. Samuel

    While I can’t give a direct answer to your question, you might be interested to read about something called “T4”. (“T4” was actually an abreviation for the street address in Berlin of the head office, Tiergarten #4). This was the code name for a Nazi program to euthanize disabled and handicapped children. I found a poorly translated explanation here:

  3. Yochanan Lavie

    Check this out:

  4. Stephen Mendelsohn


    An authorative work on the subject is Henry Friedlander’s The Origins of Nazi Genocide: From Euthanasia to the Final Solution. Part of the problem is that while we know of many Jewish (non-disabled) Shoah survivors, we know of only one survivor of German psychiatry’s T4 “euthanasia” program, Elvira Manthey. The sad part is that while there was quite a bit of opposition to the “euthanasia” murders in Germany, particulary by Christian clergy (Dr. Peter Breggin cites a letter by the Bishop of Limburg to Nazi authorities on August 13, 1941 opposing the mass murders at Hadamar), I know of no similar protests by Jewish leaders in either Europe or the US. This exclusion of people with disabilities continues today. Bayla Sheva Brenner writes in the OU’s Jewish Action (Fall 5766/2005), “Can you imagine a world devoid of people in wheelchairs and absent of the blind, deaf, developmentally disabled, and hearing-impaired? Easy–visit most synagogues, mikva’ot, and Jewish community centers in North America.”

    As long as Jews with disabilities are excluded from Jewish communal life (especially in the more traditional world), the communitiy’s sorry response to the eugenics movement which lead to the wider Shoah will be ignored.

    There is also antother issue at work here. Some Jews erroneously think that by calling attention to the medical/psychiatric murders of psychiatric inmates and people with disabilities, one is distracting from the memory of the six million. Merely by talking about the first victims of genocide, in this case by psychiatrists and other doctors who acted on their own without a direct order from the Nazis, one gets accusations of being a “Holocaust denier” lobbed at anyone who dares advocate for tthe memory of the disabled/psychiatrized victims to silence any discussion of the issue.

    It should also be remembered that the American Psychiatric Association supported a final solution for America’s severely “retarded” children in an official editorial in the July 1942 issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry (“Euthanasia,” pp. 141-143). Were any Jews involved in this promotion of medical murder, and conversely, did any Jews protest the APA’s support for psychiatric genocide in the US? It would be interesting to know.

    additional sources: Frederic Wertheim, M.D., A Sign For Cain, chapter 9, “The Germanium in the Window” (New York: MacMillan, 1966) pp.153-191.


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