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From the T4 Program to

From the T4 Program to the Holocaust HOLOCAUST EDUCATION IN PEDAGOGY, HISTORY, AND PRACTICE 96 Hartheim, the T4 program and the Holocaust are interconnected. So closely are they intertwined that Simon Wiesenthal called Hartheim a “school for murderers”. For the first time in history, people were systematically deported to be killed in gas chambers and their bodies burnt. Many of the perpetrators from the T4 later became leading figures in the Holocaust. Many individuals who started their work in Hartheim later worked in the extermination camps in Nazi-occupied Poland. These include Christian Wirth, Franz Stangl, Franz Reichleitner, among many others. Perhaps the best known is Franz Stangl. Franz Stangl ; Profile of a Perpetrator Stangl was born in 1908 in Altmünster, Austria. Beginning in 1931 he trained at the federal police academy in Linz. During this time he became a member of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party (NSDAP) commonly referred to as the Nazi party. He made a career in the police force and became a member of the SS (Schutzstaffel) in May 1938. In early 1940, Stangl was offered the job as a supervisor in charge of security at a T4 killing facility. He worked as the deputy office manager of the Hartheim killing facility and also of Bernburg. In March of 1942, he was given the opportunity of returning to the Gestapo in Linz or working for Operation Reinhard, the code name given to the secretive Nazi plan to mass-murder Polish Jews in the General Government district of occupied Poland during the Second World War. Stangl chose to become part of the Operation Reinhard phase of the Holocaust. He was the first commandant of the Sobibor extermination camp and served from April to August 1942. From there, he went on to become the commandant of the Treblinka extermination camp. In 1948 Stangl fled to Syria. He and his family were discovered later to be living in Brazil. It was there that Simon Wiesenthal, the Austrian Nazi hunter, was able to track him down. Stangl was arrested, brought to Germany and tried for the killings of 900,000 people. He was found guilty in October 1970 and sentenced to life imprisonment. He died in prison in June 1971. 3 3 For Franz Stangl see also: Friedlander, Henry: The Origins of Nazi Genocide: From Euthanasia to the Final Solution (1997) / Sereny, Gitta: Into That Darkness: from Mercy Killing to Mass Murder, a study of Franz Stangl, the commandant of Treblinka (1974) / (May 10th 2015)

Franz Sitter – Profile of One Who Refused Franz Sitter was born in 1902. He worked as a nurse in a care facility in Ybbs, Austria. He married in 1929 and fathered two children. Sitter is described as having loved his work as a nurse. In October 1940, he was asked if he would be willing to help with the transportation of patients, and agreed to do so. Together with other nurses from Ybbs, he was brought to Hartheim. He accompanied several transports of patients from various institutions to the Hartheim facility. He was then asked to help the arriving patients undress before they were brought to the gas chamber, but it was against his conscience to work in the killing facility. He refused to work in Hartheim any longer and applied for his immediate transfer back to Ybbs. Although he could not know what the outcome for him and his family would be, he insisted on leaving Hartheim. The physician in charge, Dr. Lonauer, threatened that he would be drafted into the army. However, Sitter was persistent in his desire to leave and was able to leave Hartheim after about 9 days. He went back to Ybbs and carried on working as a nurse there. After some months he indeed was drafted into the army. He survived the Second World War and worked until his retirement in the care facility of Ybbs. He died in 1980. Franz Sitter was the only nurse at Hartheim who insisted on leaving the killing facility. It was not easy for him to leave, but he choose to follow his conscience. 4 About the People Who Lived Near the Killing Facility: Profile of a Village In 1940, the village surrounding the castle consisted of several houses, farms, restaurants, a church and some other buildings. Some of these houses were just a few metres away from the castle. In contrast, Linz, the biggest city of Upper Austria, is about 16 kilometres from Hartheim. Some people living in the village came into contact with the killing of the patients. The people who lived in the direct vicinity of Hartheim noticed changes in the castle that unsettled them. They were also faced with disturbing actions in Hartheim. Nearly every day buses with covered windows approached the building. The most disturbing sign of the killing facility was the thick, black and unpleasant smell of the crematorium. The perpetrators brought the ash and some bones to the nearby Danube River. Sometimes they lost ashes and bones along their way on the street. Rumours spread and some people eventually found out what was really happening in the facility. 97 HOLOCAUST EDUCATION IN PEDAGOGY, HISTORY, AND PRACTICE 4 Fürstler, Gerhard; Malina, Peter: Franz Sitter. In: Österreichische Pflegezeitschrift, H. 5, S. 20–22. (2003)

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