As of 1939, so-called “racial hygiene” also gained deadly currency and served as the pretext for the systematic elimination of alleged “human ballast”. In a letter dated retroactively to September 1, 1939, Hitler authorized the killing of people with illnesses and disabilities.
Around 70,000 people regarded as incurably ill were murdered by being administered medications, gassed or shot in a first wave of killing, which was justified on the basis of eugenics but actually followed concrete wartime economic considerations to eliminate so-called “human ballast” denied the right to life in the “warring Volksgemeinschaft”.
In the wake of public protests from Clemens August Graf von Galen, Bishop of Münster, in the summer of 1941 and growing unrest among the populace, Hitler had the killing of adults with mental disabilities officially discontinued for about one year. In the summer of 1942, the killing resumed in many facilities, albeit it in altered form. Altogether, over 200,000 people in Germany and the occupied territories were put to death by so-called “euthanasia”.
The Nazi state established its own network of front organizations for its “euthanasia” program – the so-called “T4 Complex”: It included carriers that brought the ill to euthanasia centers to private gassing facilities up through special city clerk’s offices that issued fake death certificates, a whole chain of facilities that solely served to kill people with illnesses.
The staff of the so-called “T4 Program” was later deployed to kill Jews in the extermination camps of occupied Eastern Europe where they applied methods of killing similar to “euthanasia”.