The Holocaust And The Killing Of People With Disabilities   

By M Ahmad

INTERNATIONAL Holocaust Remembrance Day is an international memorial day   on 27 January commemorating the tragedy of the Holocaust that occurred  during the Second World War. The word “Holocaust,” with Greek roots  meaning “destruction of life by fire” victims were people who were targeted by the government of Nazi Germany for various discriminatory practices due to their ethnicityreligionpolitical beliefs, or sexual orientation. These  institutionalized practices came to be called The Holocaust, and they began with legalized social discrimination against specific groups and physically or mentally challenged persons. According to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum “The Holocaust was the murder of six million Jews and  eleven million of others by the Nazis during World War II”

Killing of people with disabilities: According to Hitler, the ability to be active and strong was a prerequisite for achieving value as a human being and those who do not want to fight in this world of eternal struggle, do not deserve to live’. For him, there was a clear line between the strong and the weak. He said that people with congenital disabilities is a threat to the strong nation, which in turn signaled threat to these people. Between 1939 and 1945 the Nazi regime systematically murdered hundreds of thousands of children and adults with disabilities as part of its “euthanasia” programs – T4 programme. These programs were designed to eliminate all persons with disabilities who, according to Nazi ideology, threatened the health and purity of the German race. It begins with a description of the Nazis’ Children’s Killing Program, in which tens of thousands of children with mental and physical disabilities were murdered. Six “killing centres” were established to speed up the process. At the Brandenburg centre thousands of disabled people were murdered in a gas chamber described as a shower room, and there were number of such infamous centres. Other disabled people were forcibly sterilized so their “tainted” genes would not affect the “pure” Aryan race. It has been estimated that between 1933 and 1939, 360,000 people were forcibly sterilised to prevent “hereditary disease offspring”.

By the year 1940, Hitler, on the advice of Dr. Werner Heyde, suggested that carbon monoxide be used as the preferred means of killing. Experimental gassings were first carried out at Brandenburg Prison in 1939. At Brandenburg Prison, gas chambers were disguised as showers – complete with fake nozzles to deceive victims; prototypes of killing centers’ facilities built in occupied Poland later on in the war. In total, between 200,000 and 250,000 mentally and physically disabled people were murdered between 1939 and 1945 under the T-4 and other euthanasia programs                                                                                                                

UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis, said “We must never forget that the Holocaust was a state programme designed to destroy particular groups, including disabled people, and we must remember all those affected.” The Holocaust Memorial Day explains how it is a day to “work together to create a safer, better future”.

  • The author is the  Principal (I/C), Abhedanana Home (Higher Secondary Institution for Specially-abled Children)  Solina, Rambagh, Srinagar 

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