In October, 1939, Hitler authorized a euthanasia program "... So that patients, who on the basis of human judgment, are considered incurable, can be granted a mercy death after discerning diagnosis." The program became known as "Operation T-4" after the address of the confiscated Jewish villa at Tiergartenstrasse 4 which became the headquarters of the program. Hitler selected his Chancellery Chief, Philip Bouhler and one of his personal physicians, Karl Brandt, to head the program.
Hospitals, nursing homes, and other public health facilities, were instructed to compile questionnaires on the state of health and capacity to work of their patients. These forms were sent to physicians, usually psychiatrists, who acted as review commissions. They would mark each name with either a "+" mark for death, a "-" mark for life, and a "?" For further review. Patients were examined rarely, with most decisions being made primarily on the basis of the questionnaires. Those selected to die were sent to one of six killing centers. Initially, most were killed by lethal injection, but eventually gassing by carbon monoxide became the method of choice. Between January, 1940, and August, 1941, over 70,000 persons were killed in these six centers.
It was difficult to keep a program of this size secret. When news of the program became public knowledge, the public outcry forced Hitler to officially halt the T-4 program on August 24, 1941. However, the "mercy" killings continued under greater secrecy until early 1945. It is estimated that between 200,000 and 250,000 persons were murdered under the T-4 and other Nazi euthanasia programs.
Hadamar, a well know psychiatric clinic, was the site of one of the six killing centers established by the T-4 program. Hadamar was the last center to be put into operation (December, 1940). Below are thumbnails of the front and back of a cover postmarked July 9, 1940, from a Jewish inmate at Hadamar to Kansas City. Please click on the thumbnail to see the full image, and then click your back key or "Hadamar" in the left frame to return.
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