In the early years of Nazi Germany, Hitler ordered the euthanasia program, codenamed Aktion T4, to eliminate those “unworthy of life”. The first series of murders were by starvation, then lethal injection before finally evolving to the gas chamber and cremation. Unlike in the concentration camps doctors, not soldiers, were put in charge of deciding those who were executed. Over 400,000 Germans were sterilized while just about 200,000 were exterminated for having various mental disabilities.
Over ninety years ago during World War I, British and German soldiers put down their weapons, walked out into the desolation of No-Man’s Land and shook hands. This was the Christmas cease fire of 1914. In a moment unique to the First World War, troops were given a moment of respite from the horrors of the war when soldiers exchanged gifts, looked at each others’ family photographs and played friendly games of football with the enemy.
A survivor looks out a barred window at the Hadamar Institute. Hadamar was one of six institutes used by the Nazis during the "T4 Operation". T4 was the codename for euthanasia activities performed by German doctors on the mentally and physically disabled, children of mixed marriages, geriatrics, disabled soldiers and other lebensunwertes Leben - life unworthy of life. Patients were gassed or killed by overdose or starvation. Between 1939 and 1945, 200,000 people died under T4 guidelines.
June 22, 1941: On the first day of Operation Barbarossa, German troops of 101 Division cross the bridge at the Polish city of Przemysl and suffer the very first casualties of the conflict with Russia. Note the soldier in the foreground who stares at his dead comrade lying between the railroad tracks.