Fight against so-called “Euthanasia”
Several thousand people at Bethel were imperiled by the Nazi “euthanasia” program, which started in 1939 and was initially kept secret. Registration forms, which gave the impression of a purely statistical measure, were used in an attempt to survey “life unworthy of living” in order to be able to “eradicate” it subsequently.
Bodelschwingh recognized the danger and decided not to fill out the form. He subsequently endeavored to avert the killing by negotiating toughly and stalling. Nonetheless, Bodelschwingh’s conduct in the so-called “euthanasia” question is also viewed critically today because some, especially Jewish, patients, who were transferred from Bethel to other institutions or brought home by family members, later became victims of the Nazi euthanasia program. Hitler’s personal physician Karl Brandt, who had been put in charge of the “euthanasia” and had to answer to a court in 1947, referred to Bodelschwingh as the sole individual to raise a serious warning of whom he had been aware.
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- © Hauptarchiv Bethel, 2/39-187