|Annotated Historical Investigation
Plan of Investigation
Between 1939 and 1944, Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party launched the T 4 euthanasia program; a battle against the physically and mentally disabled that was designed to rid Germany of genetic weakness and "useless eaters” 'T4' was officially cancelled in 1941 (although it continued clandestinely unti1 1944), Introduce your topic and since then, there has been much historical debate over the causes behind its cancellation. Introduce the historical debate- explain why this question is an acceptable topic. The purpose of this paper is to examine the role one man, Bishop Clemons von Galen, played in the halting of the euthanasia program. Identify purpose/goal of research This investigation will cover resistance from different segments of German society, and evidence will be taken from Galen's sermons, as well as revisionist biographies and accounts of the T 4 program. Introduce scope
Summary of Evidence: Identify the key topics that you need to discuss in order to understand your question. Question 1: What is the euthanasia program of the Nazis As early as 1935, Adolf Hitler had contemplated the realization of euthanasia, or 'mercy-killing,' for economic benefit. The theory, although extreme by modem standards, was not new: it was first introduced in 1920 by German scholars Binding and Hoche. However, the killing of mentally and physically disabled children and adults was implemented in 1939 under Hitler's infamous euthanasia program. By 1944, over 100,000 handicapped would be exterminated through gassing, injection and starvation. Code named T 4, the program utilized a panel of three medical 'experts', who reviewed the cases of over 300,000 children and adults. Those condemned to death were sent to six 'killing centres,' and false documentation regarding location and means of death were sent to their families.' Despite Nazi efforts to cover up the results, rumours quickly spread through the general public. In 1941, the T4 program was officially cancelled, but continued in secret until 1944 under a codename. However, the legacy of the T4 program was worse than its immediate effects. It was a training ground for the 'final solution. As Henry Friedlander noted, "euthanasia was not simply a prologue, but the first chapter of Nazi genocide."
Was there resistance to the program? Notice the clear SOC Despite the secretive nature of the T4 program, there was both open and internal resistance. Werner Moelders, a Catholic Luftwaffe pilot and war hero threatened to return his decorations if the program was not halted. Lathar Kreyssig, a Reich judge, and several patients' guardians pressed murder charges against the directors of two institutions, but the court never even heard the cases. There was also dispute inside the Nazi party: letters from 'killing centre' heads to the Reich minister of Justice warned of public knowledge of T4.Heinrich Himmler, head of the SS, wrote to a colleague: 'What happens there is a secret, and yet is no longer one. Resistance also emerged from religious circles. Letters from Evangelical and Roman Catholic clergymen warning public dissent towards the T4 program were ignored, and some priests were arrested for their open criticism of the Reich. Although many claim that the cancellation of the T4 program was only due to public knowledge and disquiet, we must not ignore the influence of Bishop Clemens von Galen.
Who was Galen and what has is role in the resistance?
(Do not assess how successful he was as this should be done in the analysis section)
Born into an aristocratic family with a tradition of serving the church, Galen became the bishop of Munster in 1933. In 1936, Galen created a political commotion when he attacked the Nazis for violating the 1933 Concordat. However, his defining moment came in the summer of 1941, with his sermon on the T4 program. It was well-written and well- documented, openly accusing the Nazi's of breaking their own Penal Code, as well as the doctrines of the Catholic Church. The message of Galen's sermons was far-reaching: copies were smuggled to the German front lines, and the Allied forces used them as anti- Nazi propaganda. The Gestapo and Hider's top aide Martin Bormann wanted von Galen hanged but propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels warned the regime would forfeit the loyalty of an entire region of Germany. Transition to analysis and historiography Here as well, debate exists over Galen's contribution to the halt of the T4 program. Traditionalists like John Conway labelled him as the 'Lion of Munster,' and called the sermons "the strongest attack against the German political leadership for decades."However, revisionist historians such as Beth Griech-Polelle have attacked Galen's selective criticism of the Nazis. Whatever the specific impact, Galen's sermons of 1941 were a public warning about the atrocities of the Nazi regime.
Evaluation of Sources: Always choose two different sources – one from the time and whose origin is by a key personality in the issue. The other source should be a historian’s work of critical analysis The Third Sermon" delivered by Bishop Clemons August von Galen. August 3,1941.
IFrom: Portmann, Rev. Heinrich Cardinal yon Galen, trans. R.L. Sedgwick, 1957, pp. C 239-246.
Put the command words into italics The origin of this source is the final address in a series of three controversial sermons delivered by Bishop von Galen in August of 194.1, which openly challenged the Nazi party and its T 4 Euthanasia program. Its purpose is for Galen to voice the moral, legal and religious wrongs of the killing of the disabled to the parishioners of Munster. Although Galen appeared to attack the subject from a very personal standpoint, the value of the sermon rests in its reflection of public opinion: rumours of mass killings had been circulating for months among the German population. The sermon also reflected the response to Euthansia from within the Catholic Church. Although Galen's sermon was the most effective religious stance against Euthanasia, he was by no means the first to voice concern over the T 4 program. The argument presented is well-structured and convincing (it was copied and circulated throughout Germany, and caused concern among high-ranking Nazi officials). However some limitations of the source exist: Galen's use of religious rhetoric and, at many times, his zealous and preaching tone remind us that this is a speech designed to sway the opinion of a religious congregation.
Griech-Polelle, Beth A. Bishop yon Galen: Gennan Catholicism and National Socialism. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2002.
The origin of this source is a revisionist biographical account of Bishop von Galen. Beth Griech-Polelle is also the author of many articles on the Holocaust and euthanasia programs. The purpose of this biography is to tackle Galen's personal history; in particular his resistance to Nazism in 1940-1 and his role in the overall picture of anti-Nazi resistance, in a context appropriate for historians and students. Her revisionist viewpoint certainly proves valuable in providing an interesting (if controversial) alternative to the traditional interpretation of Galen as the "Churchman-Resister." She compiles many secondary and contemporary sources, and acknowledges the benefit of historical hindsight in her concluding chapters. However, she has been widely criticized by many reviewers for the
misinterpretation of evidence regarding timelines and religious doctrines and proceedings.(23) Finding reviews of books will greatly help you identify what other historians see as the value and limitations of the source Her limitations seem to show in the historical accuracy her work as well: according to her reviewers, she commits several serious mistransations throughout the course of her analysis. Despite this, Griech-Polelle's work must be considered groundbreaking in that it is the first scholarly study of von Galen in English, and provides an intriguing thesis regarding Galen's 'selective' resistance to the Nazis. '"
Analysis: Identify the key questions that you will need to answer to form a conclusion about your topic
Introduction of the historiography and historical debate By 1941, resistance to the T 4 program was mounting: significant internal pressure, with protests from the judicial and religious authorities had combined with widespread public knowledge of the program. Historians have debated vehemently over why Hider decided to officially back down in the face of opposition. Was there a decisive factor that forced Hider to back down, or was it that, as many revisionists like Henry Friedlander argue, "a combination of growing public knowledge of the killings and subsequent popular disquiet led to Hider's decision”? The plan for the analysis Analysis of the specific impact of different types of resistance is difficult because of the lack of tangible Nazi documentation. Few documents exist that suggest why the euthanasia program was discontinued. We can however, infer the severity of specific attacks based on the Nazi response.
How significant was the resistance (Summary of evidence would outline acts of resistence) What evidence we have from inside the Nazi party suggests that internal pressure to halt the euthanasia program existed due to concerns over public knowledge of the killings. Letters from the killing centre heads warned of the "complete lack of confidence in justice among large groups of people” Heinrich Himmler, head of the SS, acknowledged that he was well aware of the "useless uproar among the people." But did internal apprehension have any real effect on the course of the T4 program? Historian Fried1ander argues that officials were too preoccupied with war issues to worry about euthanasia. Historian Guenter Lewy argues that "the.., war seemed the propitious moment for inaugurating this. ..program.” Indeed, the very fact that the T4 program was launched the same day as the German invasion of Poland (Sept. 1, 1939) seems to indicate that Hitler and the T 4 leaders intended to use the war as a means of 'hiding' the program from criticism. Analytical conclusion to the above question. Thus, we must conclude that, although internal resistance existed, it did little to halt the T4 program.
Was the Nazi party aware of the resistance and were they concerned Despite the secretive nature of the T 4 program, rumours of killings quickly spread among the public. Although there was no widespread protest against the program, there were some brave individuals who decided to 'take on' euthanasia themselves. Although history must commend them for their bravery, their effect was negligible. Many who protested were simply arrested and held by the Gestapo. A similar form of resistance came from some judicial circles in the Reich. Most notable was the case of Judge Kreyssig, who tried to bring murder charges against the Reich Minister of Justice. However, such cases as these had little effect on the inner circles of the Nazi party- It was not until the sermon of Bishop; von Galen that they began .to pay attention to resistance to the T 4 program.
How effective was the resistance? Although Galen’s sermon was effective in stirring up reaction from the Nazi party, its historical significance in the halting of the T4 program is now questioned. We know that many Nazi leaders wanted Galen hanged for high treason. Hitler himself said: I am quite sure that… Galen knows that after the war I shall extract retribution… to the last farthing”. Although Joesph Goebbels, propaganda minister, warned of the political inexpediency of targeting a member of the clergy, that warning did not extend to those connected with Galen. The lieutenant of Munster (Galen’s parish) was dismissed for “political untrustworthiness” and Heinrich Himmler, in a letter to a fellow military leader, said “we shall catch up with him [Galen] later on, and the whole Church with him” On the surface, it appears that Galen’s speech provoked a bitter response from the Nazi party. However, was his sermon enough to halt T4 euthanasia? Historian Michael Burleigh argues that by 1941, the T4 program had accomplished its 'final goal. Along with many other revisionist historians, Burleigh concludes by saying: "the euthanasia program was...halted. ..because its team of.. .murderers were needed to carry out the vaster enormity in the East” It appears that while Galen's sermon certainly had a strong effect on the Nazis, its role in the direct halt of the T 4 program should not be overestimated.
Clearly answer your historical question While the efforts by members of the public, political and judicial circles, as well as the contribution made by Galen himself, were valiant attempts to stop the T4 program, many revisionist historians have concluded that resistance of any form had little to do with the cancellation ofT4. Much of the evidence points to a much more sinister causality: that the T4-program was 'cancelled' because its workers and facilities were needed to initiate the first steps of the Jewish holocaust.