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Aktion T4, the Nazi program for involuntary euthanasia

Aktion T4 was the name for the mass murder by involuntary euthanasia in Nazi Germany's eugenics program based on "mercy killing" and mandatory sterilization. As soon as 1925, in his book "Mein Kampf", Hitler left no doubt that in the long run, only the Aryan race had the right to exist. When the National Socialists came to power in 1933, the improvement of the race of the German people was therefore high on the agenda. For example, with the introduction of the Nuremberg Race Laws, sexual relations and marriages between Aryans and non-Aryans were banned. Almost at the same time, the “Lebensborn project” was launched, which aims to increase the birth rate of pure bred Aryan children.

Who was responsible for Aktion T4?

The program started in October 1939 on the orders of Adolf Hitler. The office that had to implement this Sonderprogram worked under the leadership of Philipp Bouhler a German senior Nazi Party functionary who was both a Reichsleiter (National Leader) and Chief of the Chancellery of the Führer of the NSDAP. He was also the SS official responsible for the Aktion T4 euthanasia program that killed more than 250.000 disabled adults and children in Nazi Germany, as well as co-initiator of Aktion 14f13, also called "Sonderbehandlung" ("special treatment") that killed between 15.000 - 20.000 concentration camp prisoners.

Also appointed as an organiser was Karl Brandt Hitler's personal physician. Trained in surgery, Brandt joined the Nazi Party in 1932. A member of Hitler's inner circle at the Berghof, he was selected by Philipp Bouhler, the head of Hitler's Chancellery, to administer the Aktion T4 euthanasia program. Brandt was later appointed the Reich Commissioner of Sanitation and Health (Bevollmächtigter für das Sanitäts- und Gesundheitswesen). Accused of involvement in human experimentation and other war crimes, Brandt was indicted in late 1946 and faced trial before a US military tribunal along with 22 others in United States of America v. Karl Brandt. He was convicted, sentenced to death and later hanged on 2 June 1948.
The name T4 is derived from the address of their office, Tiergartenstraße 4 in Berlin.

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