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On #HolocaustMemorialDay, a reminder that Hitler began with the devaluing and murder of disabled lives. Too often we forget to honor the hundreds of thousands of disabled people killed during the Holocaust or tell the story of how they died. So I will. (Thread)
1/ One of the first steps taken by the Nazis in their pursuit of the "master race" was instituting the "Law for the Prevention of Progeny of Hereditary Diseases" in 1933, which called for the sterilization of all disabled people. #HolocaustMemorialDay
2/ Along with this law's passage, the Nazis also increased their propaganda against disabled people, labeling them as "unworthy of life" and "useless eaters". #HolocaustMemorialDay
3/ Hitler's forced sterilization program was extremely effective. In the first 6 years, the Nazis sterilized 360,000 disabled people against their will. But in 1939, they shifted focus. That's when they decided to start killing disabled people instead. #HolocaustMemorialDay
4/ In 1939, Hitler secretly authorized "Aktion T4", a medically administered program of "mercy death" for disabled people. In the first year of the program alone, more than 70,000 disabled people in Austria and Germany were killed. #HolocaustMemorialDay
5/ Most of the disabled people killed were in the first rudimentary gas chambers, which were built *in mental hospitals*. In 1941, Hitler formally "halted" the program, but secretly allowed it to continue, killing another 205,000 disabled people. #HolocaustMemorialDay
6/ The first person killed during the Holocaust was the baby of an SS officer—a disabled child born without arms and legs. The child's *own father* dropped him off and said he would not be coming back for the child and did not care "what happened to it." #HolocaustMemorialDay
7/ Pausing briefly here, because it's impossible to write this out without crying, and I need to take a breath. I will continue momentarily. #HolocaustMemorialDay
8/ Very few disabled people survived the Holocaust. Robert Wagemann was one of them. After Robert was ordered to report for a physical, his mother overheard staff talking about putting him "to sleep". She and Robert fled, managing to survive the Holocaust. #HolocaustMemorialDay
9/ Here's an example of the propaganda the Nazis used against disabled people to make killing them more socially acceptable. This cartoon claims that the financial "burden" of a disabled person is equal to that of an able-bodied family of five. #HolocaustMemorialDay
10/ The Nazis also used film as anti-disability propaganda. The film "Ich Klage An" ("I Accuse") was a pro-euthanasia film depicting the beautiful young wife of a doctor who is diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and pleads with doctors to kill her. #HolocaustMemorialDay
11/ The woman's husband is put on trial, after giving her a fatal overdose. During his trial, they argue that prolonging life is sometimes contrary to nature, that death is a right and a duty and that preventing the deaths of disabled people is "cruelty". #HolocaustMemorialDay
12/ "Ich Klage An" was only one of many anti-disability propaganda films put out by the Nazis. Other titles included "Das Erbe" (The Inheritance), "Sünden der Väter" (Sins of the Fathers), "Abseits vom Wege" (Off track), and "Erbkrank" (Inherited Malady). #HolocaustMemorialDay
13/ The Nazis began to encourage the alienation (and elimination) of disabled people by setting up "Hereditary Health Courts". Each court had a judge and 2 doctors. By doing so, they effectively painted disability as a criminal offense, punishable by death. #HolocaustMemorialDay
14/ As @WritesTruths points out, it was not uncommon for disabled people to be called “thieves” and “criminals” and to be accused of stealing resources from able-bodied people. #HolocaustMemorialDay
15/ The Nazis depicted disability as a "us vs them" fight as a way to keep able-bodied people silent. And it worked. In Hadamar, Germany, which housed a psychiatric clinic, nearly 15,000 disabled people were killed while the town looked the other way. #HolocaustMemorialDay Cemetary in Hadamar, Germany with rows of graves
16/ The residents of Hadamar were as complicit as they were silent. Thick black smoke rose daily from the psychiatric unit's euthanasia facility & onsite crematorium. Children in Hadamar would taunt each other by saying they'd "end up in the Hadamar ovens". #HolocaustMemorialDay
17/ In the United States, we talk a lot about the Holocaust and debate whether what happened in Nazi Germany could happen here. But we rarely acknowledge that some of it, like the abuse and demonization of disabled people, *did* happen here. #HolocaustMemorialDay
18/ In 1927, Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote that "three generations of imbeciles are enough" in his opinion in Buck v. Bell, in which SCOTUS ruled that forced sterilization of the "unfit" is constitutional. #HolocaustMemorialDay
19/ In Buck v. Bell, Justice Holmes wrote that, “It is better for all the world if… society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind.” That decision has never been expressly overturned by the Supreme Court. #HolocaustMemorialDay
20/ In 2007, Judge Brett Kavanaugh ruled in Doe v. D.C. that intellectually disabled women under the guardianship of the state had no right to be consulted about medical procedures to be performed on them. He went on to join the Supreme Court. #HolocaustMemorialDay
21/ In 2015, famous bioethicist Peter Singer said “I don’t want my health insurance premiums to be higher so that infants who can experience zero quality of life can have expensive treatments.” while appearing on Breitbart reporter Aaron Klein's radio show. #HolocaustMemorialDay
22/ Beginning in the 1860s, many states began passing "ugly laws", which deemed it illegal for persons who were "unsightly or unseemly" to appear in public. These laws expressly targeted disabled bodies—and the last of them were not repealed until 1974. #HolocaustMemorialDay
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