Aktion T4 – The Perpetrators

Buhler

As Action T4 implementation system was quite extensive, the list of even key perpetrators of this heinous crime is quite long:

  1. Adolf Hitler – ordered extermination of all “undesirable” patients – children and adults, men and women, citizens of Greater Germany and of occupied territories
  2. Heinrich Himmler – as SS-Reichsfuhrer, was ultimately in charge of Einsatzgruppen, death squads that emptied mental institutions on German-occupied territories by either shooting or gassing their patients/inmates
  3. Reinhard Heydrich – as Director of RSHA, formed and executed strategic com Werner Blankenburg mand of Einsatzgruppen
  4. Philipp Bouhler – SS Obergruppenfuhrer, Chief of the Chancellery of the Führer of the NSDAP, he was tasked by a written order of Adolf Hitler to be responsible for all administrative matters of Aktion T4
  5. Dr. Karl Brandt – SS-Gruppenführer in the Allgemeine SS, Hitler’s “escort doctor” and member of his “inner circle“, he was tasked by a written order of Adolf Hitler to be responsible for all medical matters of Aktion T4
  6. Viktor Brack – SS-Oberführer (senior colonel), he was chief of Hauptamt II (main office II) in the Chancellery of the Führer, which was running most of the Aktion T4 activities in Germany (with the exception of the murders carried out by orders of Gauleiters of certain regions)
  7. Werner Blankenburg – SA-Oberführer (senior colonel), he was head of the Section IIa in KdF and Brack’s right-hand (and eventually his successor)
  8. Erwin Lambert – SS-Unterscharführer (corporal); master mason and building trades foreman, he supervised construction of the gas chambers for the Action T4 euthanasia program at Hartheim, Sonnenstein, Bernburg and Hadamar killing centers
  9. August Becker – SS-Untersturmführer (Second Lieutenant), he was a chemist employed by the RSHA. He helped design the gas vans with and personally participated in a number of gassings of mental patients
  10. Heinrich Gross – head of the Am Spiegelgrund children’s psychiatric clinic personally responsible for the murder of 789 patients
  11. Dr. Werner Heyde – head of the SS medical department and director of the medical office of Aktion T4. which handled the registration, evaluation, and selection of patients for adult euthanasia and had a front organization called the Reich Cooperative for State Hospitals and Nursing Homes
  12. Hermann Nitsche– deputy director of Aktion T4 Medical Office
  13. Herbert Lange – SS-Sturmbannführer (major) and the officer with Einsatzgruppe VI that murdered (by shooting and gassing) over 6,000 patients in mental hospitals in Poland, emptying these facilities
  14. Albert Widmann – SS-Sturmbannführer, a chemist with Kripo who designed the first gas chambers (and the gassing process) used in Fort VII in Poland and subsequently in Brandenburg euthanasia center (and attended the latter). He also designed a gas chamber and process that used automobile engine exhaust as the source of carbon monoxide (these were subsequently used in Operation Reinhard death camps)
  15. Arthur Nebe – SS-Gruppenführer and commander of Einsatzgruppe B. He ordered and supervised the gassing experiment that used a stationary gas chamber and used car engine exhaust as the source of carbon monoxide
  16. Franz Schwede-Coburg, Gauleiter of Pomerania – ordered the deportation of 1,400 patients from five Pomeranian hospitals to several locations in occupied Poland, where they were shot or gassed by the Einsatzgruppen.
  17. Erich Koch, Gauleiter of East Prussia, sent 1,600 mental patients to the same destination and the similar fate
  18. Professor Max de Crinis wrote the Euthanasia Letter which was signed by Adolf Hitler and thus provided (ostensibly) legal foundation for Aktion T4
  19. Christian Wirth – SS-Sturmbannführer, manager of the team of nonmedical supervisors at the killing centers of the euthanasia program
  20. Dr. Irmfried Eberl – SS-Obersturmführer (first lieutenant) was an Austrian psychiatrist and medical director of the euthanasia institutes in Brandenburg and Bernburg
  21. Professor Werner Catel was one of the members of a three-doctor expert panel in the program of euthanasia of children. Two other members were Dr. Hans Heinze and Dr. Ernst Wentzler
  22. Ernst Illing was the director of the Vienna Psychiatric-Neurological Clinic for Children Am Spielgrund, where he killed about 200 children (together with his associate Dr. Marianne Türk)

It is important to note that “all of the above” were volunteers – no one was ever coerced into participating in the euthanasia program.

Why did they volunteer? Mostly because they deeply and sincerely (and erroneously) believed that they were doing the right (and very patriotic) thing – helping their country win the existential war.

Amoral scientists (just about all the Nazi ones were) wanted to solve the problem or conduct research – and did not care about nature of the problem, the morality of solutions or the fate of the subjects.

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