University of Minnesota
Center for Holocaust & Genocide Studies


  • Forced sterilization and more... - Page 2

    Forced sterilization and more... - Page 2

    Places of "T4 "operation

    In 1941 the Nazis stopped the killing of  sick and disabled people in Hadamar and other locations by carbon monoxide gas. They began to apply drugs within the scope of a decentralised "euthanasia "programme, at least 90-100 medical doctor assassins of the T4 killing organisation were transferred to participate in the genocide of the Jewish people beginning 1942.

    Appointed to the so-called "action Reinhard "(named after Reinhard Heydrich - commander of the SS Security Service), T4 members established the three extermination camps of Belzec, Sobibor and Treblinka, located in the so-called "Government general "(occupied Poland). Until 1943, the T4 assassins and their assistants had killed 1.5-2 million European Jews in the gas chambers of these three extermination camps by the use of exhaust gases. Almost all of the central employees of Belzec, Sobibor and Treblinka originated from the T4 killing machinery.

    In 1943, the Austrian village of Hartheim, where the Nazis had run another gas chamber, eventually became the T4 headquarters, which, until that date, was located in Berlin. Finally, T4 operated from the Italian town of Trieste where the rice mill San Sabba had been transformed into a concentration camp.

    map of concentration camps
    (click on image to enlarge)

    Christian Wirth and Gottlieb Hering, no date (about 1943)

    Christian Wirth, a Stuttgart police superintendent and SS Hauptsturmführer was the commander in chief of the three "action Reinhard "camps (and thus the senior official of the three camp commanders). Until 1941, he was the administrative director of the T4 institution of Hadamar and of other killing hospitals. He was then to play a key role in the assassination of European Jewry. Beginning 1942, he was assisted by Gottlieb Hering, commander of the camp of Belzec, who - like Wirth - was a former police officer. More than 600.000 people were put to death in the gas chamber of Belzec.

    Franz Stangl (left) and Kurt Franz (right) in front of barracks of the Treblinka concentration camp, no date. (1942 or 1943)

    From the three "Action Reinhard "concentration camps, the extermination camp of Treblinka put to death the biggest number of people (more than 900 000). In September 1942, the Austrian Franz Stangl (shown with riding crop)took over the command of the camp. Kurt Franz who had worked in different T4 "euthanasia "institutions was made assistant commander of the Treblinka extermination camp. He was the last to command the camp before it was closed down following the prisoners ' revolt in the middle of 1943 and turned into a farm. In the so-called "Treblinka Trial "of the year 1965, the District Court of Düsseldorf sentenced Franz to a lifelong imprisonment.

    Camp Commander Franz Stangl (middle) with accomplices in the Sobibor concentration camp, no date

    Before Stangl took over the supreme command of the Treblinka concentration camp, he passed spring and summer of the year 1942 as commander of the Sobibor extermination camp which was still under construction. Operating from May 1942, the gas chambers of Sobibor killed more than 250 000 Jews in the years 1942 and 1943. Like in Treblinka, the prisoners of the Sobibor camp who had been forced to handle the arrival of the "transports", rose 71 in revolt in I 943. Immediately after the revolt during which several of the T4 supervisors were killed, the camp was closed down.

    Werner Dubois, no date

    Werner Dubois, born in 1913, first worked in the agricultural field while holding a second job as a driving instructor. He became a member of the Brandenburg SS Death 's Head Battalion and started to work as a driver of the Sachsenhausen concentration camp in 1937. In autumn 1939, he left for the T4 organisation where his first job was to drive busses with mentally ill patients to the Grafeneck killing institution (Wurttemberg). He then worked in several T4 institutions, where his duty was to incinerate the dead bodies of those killed. He took up work in Hadamar in January 1941.When in Hadamar patients were no longer killed by gas, Dubois, like many of his T4 colleagues, moved to the extermination camps in occupied Poland. In the Belzec and Sobibor concentration camps, Dubois was part of those who killed the deported Jews in the gas chambers.

    Lorenz Hackenholt, no date

    lorenz hackenholtSS Hauptscharführer Lorenz Hackenholt had worked for T4 in Berlin since 1939, among others as driver of Viktor Brack, chief organiser of the "euthanasia "programme, as well as for the killing institutions Grafeneck and Pirna-Sonnenstein. In 1942, Hackenholt began to work in the Belzec extermination camp where he operated the engine that put to death the Jews by the exhaust gases sent into the gas chambers. He had the entrance of the gas chamber building decorated with geraniums and the inscription "Hackenholt Foundation ". In 1945, he succeeded in breaking away.

    Dr. med. Irmfried Eberl, no date (about 1941)

    The personnel used first to kill patients and then to kill Jews not only involved police supervisors and gas chamber and crematorium workers, but to some extent the physicians, too. One example is Dr. Irmfried Eberl, born in 1910 in Bregenz (Voralberg /Austria), who had worked for T4 since the beginning of 1940. In the years 1940 and 1941, he subsequently worked as medical director in the killing institutions of Brandenburg and Bernburg and was then involved in the "Action Reinhard ". In 1942, he participated in the construction of the extermination camp Treblinka, which he directed for a short time. However, since he was unable to manage a mass extermination camp where soon chaotic conditions began to appear, he was dismissed from his office as commander in summer 1942. After the end of World War 11, he first worked as physician. In January 1948, he was committed for trial. One month later, he hanged himself.

    SS-Oberscharführer Heinrich Gley (left)/SS-Obersturmfuhrer Gottlieb Hering (right),no date (about 1942/43)

    Gottlieb Hering, born in Stuttgart in 1887, commanded the Belzec extermination camp from 1942 until 1943. He was said to be its absolute ruler. In 1940/41, he was working in the T4 institutions Sonnenstein, Hadamar and Bernburg as office supervisor and as director of the special registry office. Heinrich Gley had worked as head nurse in the T4 killing institutions of Grafeneck and Sonnenstein before he - just like Hering - came to Belzec.

    SS-Scharführer Karl Frenzel (left) and SS-Oberscharfiihrer Erich Bauer (right) at Soribor concentration camp, no date (about 1942/43)

    The excessive consumption of alcohol is recorded for the personnel of both the T4 killing institutions and the extermination camps. In 1941, Karl renzel was also involved in the incineration of dead bodies in Hadamar; while in Sobibor in 1943, his function was the same. Erich Bauer, a former tramway controller, was responsible, among other things, for operating the gassing engine in the Sobibor extermination camp.

    Statement of Hans Bodo Gorgaß in the Hadamar Trial before the District Court of Frankfurt /Main, 24th February 1947

    Austria, annexed by Germany in 1938, was fully involved in the "euthanasia" programme from the very beginning, among others through the Hartheim killing institution near Linz in Upper Austria. Hartheim was also used as training institute for new killing doctors such as Bodo Gorgaß who had spent some weeks in April and May 1941 with Dr. med. Rudolf Lonauer, director at Hartheim, before he took over responsibility for operating the gas cock in the Hadamar gas chamber.

    Dr. med. Georg Renno, no date

    With more than 18.000 victims killed in the years 1940 and 1941, Hartheim was the biggest of the six T4 killing institutions. Dr. med. Georg Renno as Deputy Director of Dr. Lonauer until 1941, had already tested the killing of patients by soporifics in the years 1939/40, and this on behalf of T4 .In 1942, Renno moved to the Rhineland to take over the ,Kinderfachabteilung" ("paediatric institute ") Waldniel-Hostert (an institution practicing so-called "child euthanasia"). In 1943, Renno returned to Hartheim where until the end of 1944 - within the scope of the so-called ,Sonderbehand lung I4fI3" ("special treatment I4fI3") - at least 8000 prisoners from several concentration camps (such as Dachau and Mauthausen) had been put to death in the gas chamber.