Resource Type: Article
Aktion T4 was a postwar name for mass murder through involuntary euthanasia in Nazi Germany.
Certain German physicians were authorized to select patients "deemed incurably sick, after most critical medical examination" and then administer to them a "mercy death" (Gnadentod). In October 1939 Adolf Hitler signed a "euthanasia decree" backdated to 1 September 1939 that authorized his personal physician Karl Brandt and Reichsleiter Philipp Bouhler to implement the programme.
The killings took place from September 1939 to August 1941, during which 70,273 people were recorded as being killed at various extermination centres located at psychiatric hospitals in Germany and Austria, along with those in occupied Poland. About half of those killed were taken from church-run asylums, often with the approval of the Protestant or Catholic authorities of the institutions.Despite the Holy See announcing on 2 December 1940 that the policy was contrary to the natural and positive Divine law and that "The direct killing of an innocent person because of mental or physical defects is not allowed", the declaration was not upheld by some Catholic authorities in Germany. On the other hand, in the summer of 1941, protests were led in Germany by Bishop von Galen, whose intervention, according to Richard J. Evans, led to "the strongest, most explicit and most widespread protest movement against any policy since the beginning of the Third Reich."
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