I see my great-grandmother as a victim of the Nazis. But the deeper I delve into the case, the more confused the roles of victim and perpetrator become.
They are partially fluid, which became clear during my grandmother's life during the war and also shortly thereafter, not least because her marriage, as discussed above, was to a Nazi. He joined the party in ," said my father about my grandfather, Ernst Hechler, who was also an SA Member, and who died in combat in shortly after the defeat of the Wehrmacht at Stalingrad.
Just as ambivalent is that my grandmother intervened for Dr. Vollbrandt, the physician from Homberg who helped her to procure her certificate of fitness for marriage. He pops up again in , when his wife writes to my grandmother that he was imprisoned and had to face charges in front of a hearing panel. In my grandmother writes in a letter that "the evil spirit of euthanasia ceased in July of '41; in the Homberg-Efze district it was halted by Dr. Vollbrandt; that was confirmed in a denazification hearing by the pastor of Homberg-Efze. That they kept an 'innocent man' in prison for such a long time is hardly probable, not least of all because Dr.
Vollbrandt had an elevated position in National Socialism. Why my grandmother defended him this way probably has more to do with the fact that she knew him, he helped her, and from that time on she saw herself as indebted to him. The role of my grandmother's sister-in-law is also ambivalent.
The lists were used to nab people and lock them up. She first heard that people had been taken after the fact. Christian Rau always signed his letters with "Heil Hitler! But I consider this theoretical intellectual game also to be highly unlikely. And not least, Emilie Rau herself.
PORTAL Journal of Multidisciplinary International Studies
In her medical records there are several indications that she expressed anti-Semitic ideas in conversations with doctors. She was quoted, among other things, as saying "Dr. Wahlmann in Hadamar was in my opinion, a Jew, and said that he had been reformed. And one further dimension of the subject is important. It is distinctly easier for me to identify with my great-grandmother than with her husband or with my grandfather. The identification with perpetrators is for me an impossibility, although I recognize that perpetrators, too, belong to my family history.
Magnus Hirschfeld - Wikiwand
It is often a more comfortable way out, both in terms of memory politics and within the family, to resort to identification with the victims and to airbrush the perpetrators out of sight. But my questionable need for clearly defined victim and perpetrator roles in my family is not satisfied by the sometimes contradictory actions of individual family members. They are left to sit on the benches. One hides himself in the corner. Another prefers to sit on the floor. The nurses motion to 'be quiet and wait' and close the door.
The patients are alone. One stands up and starts walking in her stereotypical circle. One whispers and curses at something invisible. Then it hisses. It seems the showers are on. One lets her head down on the bench and then falls headfirst onto the flagstones. The one who had walked in a circle looks up and then collapses to her knees.
On the bench one leans next to the other, slide down, two together and singly, falling over each other.
The 'showers' hiss. I cannot read this text without thinking about my great-grandmother, without imagining how she was one such person whose head slumped to the floor or who collapsed.
- Reference Works;
- Bios | Sexuality, Holocaust, Stigma : Taking Stock.
- EUGENIK - Definition and synonyms of Eugenik in the German dictionary.
- Anatomy in the Third Reich: An outline, part 2. Bodies for anatomy and related medical disciplines?
- Rassismus und Eugenik im Deutschen Reich (German Edition);
- e-book Rassismus und Eugenik im Deutschen Reich (German Edition).
What will she have felt and thought in those last minutes before her death? Figure 5. Photo: An enlargement of the individual Emilie Rau drawn from the group photo in Figure 4. Also from the following text passage from the catalog accompanying the exhibition, Transferred to Hadamar, I cannot read one word without picturing my great-grandmother in my mind's eye:.
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Every weekday from January until August of , the vehicles of the GEKRAT 24 drove from Hadamar to the intermediary facilities and back: first the transport directors with the list of names of those people who were to be picked up and then the gray buses […] with the transport attendants. In Hadamar as in all of the T4 facilities, the same murderous routine prevailed: after the buses had been driven into a garage built especially for this, the patients got out and entered the ground floor through a channel hallway on the right wing.
There in a large hall they were undressed by attendants. Military coats were draped around the victims and they were led single file across a hallway into the physician's examination room across the hall. The physician's room was separated by a curtain: on the one side sat a civil servant from the office who determined the identity of the victim, on the other side, the doctor, who took a brief look at the naked person briefly rendered an opinion about which of the list of 61 false causes of death would be used for the death certificate.
After this 'examination' the male and female patients would be led in line into a photo room, where three photographs were taken of each person: a full-body photo, one of the upper-body, and one in profile. Besides that, they were weighed. In a room across the hall the men and women had to continue to wait […]. Two [male] nurses led the patients down the stairs into the basement, into the roughly square-meter gas chamber. The doctor who had just minutes before carried out the 'examination' now operated the gas tap in a small room nearby and released the deadly carbon monoxide gas through a pipe leading into the gas chamber.
The gas entered through the holes and caused the victims to die by asphyxiation. The cause for the carbon monoxide poisoning was oxygen deficiency. The inhalation of the gas led to hearing- and vision impairment, nausea, heart palpitations, muscle weakness, agitation, and elevated blood pressure.
The doctor in charge of killing observed the deaths of the people through a small window in the wall and turned off the flow of gas when he believed that all of the patients were dead. In general the patients languished. Many who recognized what was happening screamed, raged, and pounded on the walls and doors in mortal fear. After about an hour the gas was redirected outside through the ventilation system. Following that the burners, called 'disinfectors,' began their work.
They had to carry the knotted corpses out of the gas chamber and take those whose brains were marked for removal into the post-mortem room next door. The remaining dead were transported by the burners by truck to the room where the crematoria were. There, even their gold fillings were pulled. After that the burners burned the corpses of the victims in the crematoria.
Only the physicians were authorized to operate the gas taps.
Synonyms and antonyms of Eugenik in the German dictionary of synonyms
He worked under the name 'Dr. Moos' 27 — all of the doctors who carried out gassings used an alias. He was just 30 years old when he gassed the year-old Emilie Rau. He took part in the first 'trial gassing' in January of in the T4 killing facility in Brandenburg; he selected patients from the institution Bedburg-Hau and accompanied them to the T4 killing facility in Grafeneck. After that followed Hadamar; in June of he joined the navy.
On June 24, , his submarine was sunk. Between January 13, and August 24, , over 10, people in Hadamar were murdered by carbon monoxide gas, or 'disinfected' in the words of their murderers. The staff celebrated the murder of the 10,th person cf. The exact number of murder victims remains an estimate and will probably never be known because not all of the documentation exists anymore. Nine so-called intermediate facilities were assigned to Hadamar, where those people who were to be murdered were picked up from each individual sanatorium and brought to Hadamar, all without previously informing any family members.
From there they were summoned according to the available capacity and transported off to the destination: murder. Upon Hitler's orders, the 'T4 Action' officially ended on August 24, Hinz-Wessels In Hadamar, the rooms where the murders had taken place were remodeled and the evidence of the crime was systematically destroyed. The released personnel were partially relocated to the east for the 'final solution to the Jewish question.
Murdering in Hadamar continued in the meantime without gas: through methodical and intentional starvation, overdosing of administered medication and injections. Another almost 4, people met their deaths this way up until the end of the war. The circle of victims broadened, as it did in many other institutions: beginning in it grew to include people who had fallen ill with tuberculosis, forced laborers who were unable to work, forced laborers with mental illness, and children with one Jewish and one 'Aryan' parent who found themselves in an institution for corrective training cf.
All of the doctors who took part in the Nazi 'euthanasia' did so voluntarily, and in most cases even enthusiastically. They were neither instrumentalized nor coerced by the Nazis cf. Gruber n. Hadamar was and is a small town, a good 70 kilometers northwest of Frankfurt am Main. It is not off the beaten track, but in the midst of the people who live d there. From the surrounding mountains it was possible to look down upon the buildings of the institution; they were not surrounded by a wall, and a well-traveled road led right alongside the buildings. In Transferred to Hadamar it is written:.
Every day the gray busses with the victims who were to die drove through the city; every day the chimney of the crematorium billowed smoke and spread a visible, thick, dark smoke that was visible from a great distance. Even the children knew what the institution was for; they called the buses 'murder boxes' and threatened each other: 'you're going into the baking ovens of Hadamar! The smell of burned corpses and reports of the personnel of the institution led to the conclusion that the residents of Hadamar and the vicinity at least suspected the systematic murders.