Few people know over 13,000 Deaf people — andDeaf Holocaust not just the Jewish Deaf — were killed by the Nazis in the late 1930’s.

Not only were the Deaf the first to find the executioner’s hand under Fascism, they were also viewed as inferior “useless eaters” by the ruling party.

Since the Deaf were unable to communicate in the Germanic mother tongue they were not heard or understood by the majority and fell prey to early graves.

The BBC has a wonderful companion website to help us always remember the Deaf who died. Here are three incredible blocks of quotes from the amazing show:

EducationErna Young who was sterilised as a young girl — estimated that some 17,000 deaf people were sterilised between 1933 and 1945 – the youngest was only 9 years old. Given that there was no national register of deaf or disabled people in Germany, many were given over to the authorities by teachers of the deaf – the very people trusted with their care and support. Some Nazi educationalists even began to question the right of deaf children to be educated at all, believing the education of the ‘inferior’ to be wasteful.

Deaths of ‘Useless Eaters’

Deaf HolocaustKarl
– a deaf Holocaust survivor In 1939, the Nazi policy towards deaf and disabled people took an even more sinister and horrific turn.

Hitler decided that Germany should be rid of ‘useless eaters’ and that deaf and disabled children should be killed.

Newborn babies with physical ‘defects’ were removed from their mothers and killed. Children who were judged to have mental or physical disabilities were taken to special children’s wards and killed by lethal injection or starvation. The parents were often informed that their children had died of natural causes. It is estimated that nearly 2000 deaf children were killed in this way.

The T4 Program Also in 1939, Hitler agreed to the creation of the T4 Program, which targeted disabled and deaf adults living in institutional care homes. A questionnaire was filled out for each resident to indicate who should be removed to the hospital killing centres in Germany and Austria.

The residents were never examined by a qualified doctor — the questionnaire was, in effect, the person’s death warrant. Deaf Jews were even more despised than the non-Jewish Deaf and the Deaf Jewish visual history continues to finds life and a voice in hands on the web.

Fritz Stern, a Holocaust survivor, and former professor of history at Columbia University where he dedicated his life’s work to unearthing the surreptitious cycles of Fascism churning beneath human behavior recently said this:

Some people [in prewar Germany] recognized the moral perils of mixing religion and politics, but many more were seduced by it. It was the pseudo-religious transfiguration of politics that largely ensured [Hitler’s] success, notably in Protestant areas.

In Fritz Stern’s 50 year-old book, The Politics of Cultural Despair: A Study in the Rise of the Germanic Ideology, he provides an even harder warning against politics and religion intermingling to beget social policy:

The ideologists of the conservative revolution superimposed a vision of national redemption upon their dissatisfaction with liberal culture and with the loss of authoritative faith. They posed as the true champions of nationalism, and berated the socialists for their internationalism, and the liberals for their pacifism and their indifference to national greatness.

We are in a tenuous time in America and the moment is fast approaching when good people will have to stand up and say “Enough!” to those who attempt to shackle us in a religious ideology while repressing us with a government policy that prevents us from protecting those unable to protect themselves.

History cannot lead us down the right path, but it can warn us against taking the righteous one.

16 Comments

  1. Interesting way you have of putting it. The past horror points to warnings right now. The minority interest of color or disability have always had it hard. When you blend the two you really get into a condition where you have to be careful not to crush people.

  2. How right you are, Karvain.
    Cruelty is always tested first on the weakest or the smallest minority in order to gauge tension and reaction. If the tension can be minimized and the reaction muted, then larger samplings are in the offing and the war is on.

  3. It’s interesting so many nations were built and made prosperous on bad intentions against its weaker citizens in the name of national interest and pride.

  4. It’s always good to remind people of the mistakes of the past, since they always tend to want to repeat the same mistakes.
    We need to be careful that we don’t slide down the slippery slope toward our own “final solutions” as we seek to figure out ways to solve the problems with health care in a society where people are living longer and there will soon be large numbers of non-working older people.
    I can’t understand people who deny the Holocaust. Iran is playing a dangerous game of nuclear roulette, which is extremely dangerous when their religion tells them death is better than life.
    I can see Israel’s (and the Jewish people’s) position since they’ve been the target of destruction since the beginning of time.
    If Iran did nuke Israel, it would lead to the final battle of Armmagedon …
    I just hope cooler heads prevail and the mistakes of history aren’t repeated with the new twist of nuclear weaponry.

  5. Hi Chris!
    Your warning about caring for the aged is extremely important. I am with you on that one and the whole Medicare Part D fiasco deadline looming today is but one example of confusion and misunderstanding that will directly lead to pain and discomfort for those who cannot afford their medication.
    I agree Iran is playing a dangerous game. Israel has made it clear since WWII “Never Again!” and when you tempt them — and provoke an entire nation with its nuclear destruction — you are playing a game that provides zero winners.

  6. Hi David,
    That’s the scary thing about Iran’s taunts to Israel.
    We could have the “line in the sand game” spiral out of control in the Middle East with an exchange of nuclear weaponry, if people aren’t careful.
    I assume the Iranian military is a professional organization and wouldn’t carry out an order from the religious leadership, but one can never tell. One Iranian military official has taken Israel hostage by threatening it with attack if the U.S. takes action against Iran.

    Mohammad Ebrahim Dehghani, an Iranian Revolutionary Guards commander, was quoted last week as saying that if “America does make any mischief, the first place we target will be Israel.” The threat was disavowed the next day by Brig. Gen. Alireza Afshar, deputy to the chief of Iran’s military staff, who said it was Dehghani’s “personal view and has no validity as far as the Iranian military officials are concerned.”

  7. Hey Chris!
    You are absolutely right. Iran is a difficult situation. I bet there are some in the current US administration who believe if Saddam were still in power there would be much less Iranian tension in the region because Saddam and Iran hate each other and their despise kept each other in check and, in turn, kept Israel a little less dead center of the annihilation goal.
    I do not know how we can prevent Iran from claiming a nuclear weapon. Iran has the military backing of Russia and the most of the Middle Eastern region is poised against us. I do not know if the bad blood we have created there can ever be healed in a way that will not threaten us more dearly beyond “mere” terrorist threats and into full declarations of war from nations.

  8. Dave that little piece was profound! I was very enlightened.
    But please allow me to properly introduce myself. My name is Ruben Genowski I just started a blog here on wordpress and was just going around meeting some of the peopole who talk about what I talk about.
    Shalom
    Ruben Genowski