We're all heard of the final solution and the death camps. What I never knew about was the Nazi Racial hygiene programs. In 1939 the Nazi's attempted to "Cleanse the body of the German people". They set up 21 children's departments, to evalueate children with birth defects, any abnormality, mental retardation, etc. To identify these kids they used social agencies (previously set up to help kids like this), hospitals, the church etc. To the Nazi's these kids were "Racially Valueless" and qualified for their "euthanasia" program and were put to death by injection, starvation, or poison gas. They started this up when they came to power and in control of the state mental hospitals and sent form letters to the families of the murdered children. At one point in 1941 some families put two and two together when neighbors received the same letter and started to ask questions. The program was shutdown for a time and then started right back up when the protest blew over. Over 5000 kids were murdered. In the 40's the program was expanded to adults of which 80,000 were killed in the same manner. If you were lucky enough not to be murdered, you got a forced sterilization (about 400,00 of those up to 1945).
The Nazi's are not nice people folks...
I always wondered how much about the Final solution the world knew about. How much did the German population know? None of the camps were in Germany because the Nazi's knew there would be public opposition to them at home (as much as could be mustered of course). I also heard about the Madagascar plan for the first time. After they invaded France, one of the co-conspirators there offered up the Island of Madagascar as a possible haven for European Jews. There was some plan drafted up, which called for the use of the defeated British navy ships to help with the plan, but the English didn't cooperate by not losing. Jewish relocation was already going on in Germany and I'm pretty sure everyone knew that it wasn't going to be taking anyone off on holiday...
I always thought it quite ridiculous that a short little black-haired guy from Austria conjured up images of big, blonde, blue-eyed folks as the perfect (Aryan) German race. Didn't he ever look in the mirror? Apparently he had a division of people charged with rounding up kids who looked like this in Germany and surrounding annexed countries for a massive repopulation experiment.
No more Boy scouts. Now you gotta go to the Hitler Youth. All aspects of social life were controlled. you had a League of German girls, national Socialist groups for attorney's, physicians, woman's league, etc.. Even the Barbers had a National Socialist club.
Hitler never signed any orders during his reign of terror (Hitler dairies? full of crap). Some of those clueless aforementioned people who still think fondly of the guy always point to this as evidence that he had little to do with the holocaust and the other atrocities. I say he was much too chickenS&$t to sign anything lest it go wrong and he become associated with it.
All three of his girlfreinds attempted suicide. What does that tell you about Adolf? One or two succeeded.
Did you know the best time to arrest some0ne in Nazi Germany is at two in the morning? Early on when the Nazis forbade any public criticisms of the party, the Gestapo hauled a lot of people away in the middle of the night. You'd tell a Hitler joke in a bar, some people would laugh. That night at 2:00am, you'd get a knock on your door and then it was bye bye time. Got a hate on for your neighbor? Does his cat piss on your lawn? Call the Gestapo, tell them the cat's owner is a communist. Problem solved. Sometimes, they did an extra nice thing whereby not only would they arrest you, but your wife, your parents, your kids, your friends, your relatives... Lots of us in life are brave enough to stand up for ourselves, and others, but not to the point where it lands your whole frickin family in the gulag. My god what an inhumane way to live. No wonder your typical German citizen looked the other way after awhile. The crazy train had already left the station.... Once the Nazi's got in, they made sure they stayed in, and started rolling out little 'ammendments' in such a trickle that it was like watching corn grow. You don't notice the place has gone to hell until it's too late.
I read in the paper once, a small tidbit by a Canadian soldier who stated rather heatedly that there was a difference between the German Army and the Nazi's. The two were just not the same. The Nazi's, the SS, the Gestapo, these were the crazies in charge. The German Army just followed orders and 'made war' (although I'm sure the Russians would disagree; and probably a whole lot of other people), but from what I read, there was a difference. Perhaps it's a lesser of the two evils thing. If it was to be a foregone conclusion, you definitely wanted to get captured by the German Army, than by the 'other' guys.
The one great quote I always remember from that time period is from a German, Martin NiemÃ¶ller
Here is one of the adapted versions, but you get the meaning:
- First they came for the Communists, and I didnÂ?t speak up,
- because I wasnÂ?t a Communist.
- Then they came for the Jews, and I didnÂ?t speak up,
- because I wasnÂ?t a Jew.
- Then they came for the Catholics, and I didnÂ?t speak up,
- because I was a Protestant.
- Then they came for me, and by that time there was no one left
- to speak up for me.
When I was finishing up the last lecture, I was in the process of picking up my kid from school. I always turn the podcast off and flip over to music my kids like.. Today she was misbehaving and when we got in the car she demanded some song or other and I told her:
"Nope.. I'm not letting you listen to your music. We're listening to Hitler!"
The parent getting out of the car beside me was not impressed.