Archive/File: places/germany/euthanasia/brandt.001 Last-Modified: 1994/08/25 ********** Extracts from the testimony of Karl Brandt ********** DR. SERVATIUS: Witness, you are charged with participation in the Euthanasia Program. I shall show you the decree of 1 December [1 September 1939]. (NO-630, Pros. Ex. 330.) Please describe how this decree came about. DEFENDANT KARL BRANDT: After the end of the Polish campaign in about October, the Fuehrer was at Obersalzberg. I was called to him for some reason which I can no longer remember and he told me that because of a document which he had received from Reichsleiter Bouhler, he wanted to bring about a definite solution in the euthanasia question. He gave me general directives on how he imagined it, and the fundamentals were that insane persons who were in such a condition that they could no longer take any conscious part in life were to be given relief through death. General instructions followed about petitions which he himself had received, and he told me to contact Bouhler himself about the matter. I did so by telephone on the same day, and I then informed Hitler about my conversation with Bouhler. Thereupon he drafted a formulation of this decree, not in the form we have here, but in a similar form, and certain changes were made. My request was that a precaution be introduced because of the medical participation, and I used an expression for this which was familiar to me from expert opinions. It stated that euthanasia could be carried out on persons and then comes the formulation "who are incurable with a probability bordering on certainty." Since this formulation was strange to him, "on the most careful diagnosis of their condition of sickness" was added. Therefore when this decree was signed about the end of October, the text read as follows: "Reichsleiter Bouhler and Dr. Brandt are charged with the responsibility of extending the authority of certain doctors, to be designated by name in such a manner that persons, who, according to human judgment, are incurably sick, can, on the most careful diagnosis of their condition of sickness, be accorded a mercy death." Q: Did you talk to Bouhler? A: At first I only talked to Bouhler on the telephone and even after the decree was signed I did not talk to him immediately but sent the signed decree to him in Berlin. Q: And what was Hitler's idea of enthanasia? What did he understand by it? A: The decisive thing for him was also expressed here in the decree, namely, that incurably sick persons - actually it should have read insane persons - other persons were absolute exceptions - could be accorded a mercy death. That is, therefore, a measure dictated by purely humane considerations, and nothing else could be thought under any circumstances, and nothing else was ever said to me. Q: You said that the Fuehrer gave you the assignment on the basis of a telephone call from Bouhler? The call from Bouhler could not have been the only reason. There must have been others. A: It was not a telephone call. There was some kind of a documentary incident which was decisive. It may be that the Fuehrer already had these documents or that Bouhler spoke to him again about them. I don't know exactly. But this was not the cause of the Euthanasia Program being started. In his book, "Mein Kampf," Hitler had already referred to it in certain chapters, and the law for the "prevention of the birth of children suffering from hereditary diseases" is a proof that Hitler had definitely concerned himself with such problems earlier. The law for the "prevention of the birth of children suffering from hereditary diseases" is actually a law which followed the events. It certainly arose because children with congenital diseases existed. Proof that this is a problem which affects the whole world lies in the fact that similar laws with similar formulation and contents have been passed in other countries. Dr. Gerhardt Wagner, who was Dr. Conti's predecessor, discussed these questions at the Party rally in Nuernberg. I did not talk to Gerhardt Wagner at that time and had nothing to do with these things. However, I hear now that in 1935 Gerhardt Wagner had a film made presenting the problem of the insane. Apparently the film was made in asylums with insane persons. Q: Witness, did not the requests received by Bouhler and the Fuehrer play a certain part? A: Request to this effect were certainly constantly received by Bouhler, and the Chacellery of the Fuehrer always received such things. I only know that these request were afterwards passed on to the Reich Ministry of the Interior. I myself know of one request which was sent ot the Fuehrer himself through his adjutant's office in the spring of 1939. The father of a deformed child approached the Fuehrer and asked that this child or this creature should be killed. Hitler turned this matter over to me and told me to go to Leipzig immediately - it was in Leipzig - to confirm the fact on the spot. It was a child who was born blind, an idiot - at least it seemed to be an idiot - and it lacked one leg and part of one arm. Q: Witness, you were speaking about the Leipzig affair, about this deformed child. What did Hitler order you to do? A: He ordered me to talk to the physicians who were looking after the child to find out whether the statements of the father were true. If they were correct, then I was to inform the physicians in his name that they could carry out euthanasia. The important thing was that the parents could not feel themselves incriminated at some later date as a result of this euthanasia - that the parents hould not have the impression that they themselves were responsible for the death of this child. I was further ordered to state that if these physicians hould become involved in some legal proceedings because of this measure, theser proceedings would be quashed by order of Hitler. Martin Bormann was ordered at the time to inform Guertner, the Minister of Justice, accordingly about this case. Q: What did the doctors who were involved say? A: The doctors were of the opinion that there was no justification for keeping such a child alive. It was pointed out that in maternity wards under certain circumstances it is quite natural for the doctors themselves to perform euthanasia in such a case without anything further being said about it. No precise instructions were given in that respect. Q: What this problem of deformities dealt with anywhere else? A: The problem of deformities was probably discussed before this Leipzig case. However, in the course of the summer it was worked on in more concrete form, first of all by the Ministry of the Interior. In this case, Dr. Linden participated as a special consultant, probably as representative of Dr. Conti - who became Reich Minister for Health after the death of his predecessor Wagner, and then afterwards State Secretary in the Ministry of the Interior. Q: Who was Dr. Linden? A: Dr. Linden was Ministerialrat in the Reich Ministry of the Interior. He was a doctor and was the competent official who was later in charge of this office for the mental institutions, perhaps he already was at the time, I don't know exactly. Later on, during the treatment of the euthanasia question he was appointed exponent of all these matters. Q: What was the procedure at the time? Was Hitler informed about all these matters? A: In August 1944 he ordered me to participate in a conference which took place between Dr. Linden, Mr. Bouhler, and some other people. The question of the registration of these deformities was discussed, and also how to set about this registration. Dr. Linden, on behalf of the Ministry of the Interior, submitted pertinent documents, questionaires, etc., which were then discussed once more in detail. It was the preparatory work for the Reich Committee for the Registration of Serious Hereditary and Constitutional Diseases, which was subsequently established. .......... CROSS-EXAMINATION .......... MR. MCHANEY: Now, Witness, this is the first time that I have ever heard mentioned in connection with the Euthanasia Program that anybody's consent had to be obtained, and I take it that it is a rather fundamental matter. Are you ready to swear to this Tribunal that the Reich committee never performed euthanasia on children without obtaining the consent of the parents of the child? DEFENDANT KARL BRANDT: I said yesterday that the approval of the parents was necessary for the euthanasia of children, and I am of the opinion that such approval was actually given. Q: Was the approval written approval or verbal approval? A: That I don't know. I cannot say. Q: Have you ever seen any written approval? A: I believe that during the first period when this authorization was submitted for signature to Bouhler and to me, all the other papers were together with it, such as approvals, etc. It may be that during the later period we were only concerned with the authorization papers and that the other papers were left with the Reich committee. However, I did see such letters of approval but I don't believe that they were in writing in every case. I think they were partly given orally through the local physician or some other agency which dealt with the case. Q: Well, Witness, let's look at this letter again. I find some difficulty in reconciling your testimony about the necessity of consent by the relatives of the child with what's written here in this letter. For example, the third line reads: "It seems that the relatives of Anna Gasse tried to obtain her release by every possible means." If, Witness, it was necessary to obtain consent, why was there any question about releasing Anna Gasse? A: I cannot say that either. According to my opinion, the child could not be kept in an institution if the parents wanted it at home. Q: And the last sentence which reads, "If from a medical point of view such release is warranted, one could perhaps take into consideration whether one should not perhaps comply with such request in the interest of the good reputation of the institution." Don't you find that language just a bit restrained. Witness? A: Yes. I think it is very restrained.
Site Map ·
What's New? ·
© The Nizkor Project, 1991-2012
Home · Site Map · What's New? · Search Nizkor