Viktor Brack

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Viktor Brack
Viktor Brack Nurnberg 2.jpg
Brack's photograph for the Nuremberg trial
Born
Viktor Hermann Brack

9 November 1904
Died2 June 1948(1948-06-02) (aged 43)
Cause of death Execution
OccupationChief of Office II: Affairs of the Party, State, and the Armed Forces in the Chancellery of the Führer of the NSDAP
Motive Nazism
Conviction(s) Crimes against humanity
Criminal penaltyDeath by hanging

Viktor Hermann Brack (9 November 1904 – 2 June 1948) was a German Nazi war criminal, an organiser of the euthanasia programme Action T4, where the Nazi state systematically murdered over 70,000 disabled German and Austrian people. Following this, Brack was one of the men responsible for the gassing of Jews in the extermination camps, and he conferred with Odilo Globocnik about the practical implementation of the Final Solution. Brack was sentenced to death in 1947 and executed in 1948.

Euthanasia is the practice of intentionally ending a life to relieve pain and suffering.

Extermination camp Nazi death camps established during World War II to primarily kill Jews

Nazi Germany built extermination camps during the Holocaust in World War II, to systematically kill millions of Jews, Slavs, Poles, Roma, Soviet POWs, political opponents and others whom the Nazis considered "Untermenschen" ("subhumans"). The victims of death camps were primarily killed by gassing, either in permanent installations constructed for this specific purpose, or by means of gas vans. Some Nazi camps, such as Auschwitz and Majdanek, served a dual purpose before the end of the war in 1945: extermination by poison gas, but also through extreme work under starvation conditions.

Final Solution Nazi plan for the genocide of the Jews

The Final Solution or the Final Solution to the Jewish Question was a Nazi plan for the genocide of Jews during World War II. The "Final Solution of the Jewish Question" was the official code name for the murder of all Jews within reach, which was not restricted to the European continent. This policy of deliberate and systematic genocide starting across German-occupied Europe was formulated in procedural and geopolitical terms by Nazi leadership in January 1942 at the Wannsee Conference held near Berlin, and culminated in the Holocaust, which saw the killing of 90% of Polish Jews, and two thirds of the Jewish population of Europe.

Contents

From a middle-class family, he became a member of the Nazi Party and Schutzstaffel (SS) from the age of 25, and held increasing positions of responsibility in Hitler's Chancellery in Berlin. He was a senior colonel in the SS by the age of 35.

Nazi Party Fascist political party in Germany (1920-1945)

The National Socialist German Workers' Party, commonly referred to in English as the Nazi Party, was a far-right political party in Germany that was active between 1920 and 1945, that created and supported the ideology of National Socialism. Its precursor, the German Workers' Party, existed from 1919 to 1920.

<i>Schutzstaffel</i> Major paramilitary organization of Nazi Germany

The Schutzstaffel was a major paramilitary organization under Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party (NSDAP) in Nazi Germany, and later throughout German-occupied Europe during World War II. It began with a small guard unit known as the Saal-Schutz made up of NSDAP volunteers to provide security for party meetings in Munich. In 1925, Heinrich Himmler joined the unit, which had by then been reformed and given its final name. Under his direction (1929–45) it grew from a small paramilitary formation to one of the most powerful organizations in Nazi Germany. From 1929 until the regime's collapse in 1945, the SS was the foremost agency of security, surveillance, and terror within Germany and German-occupied Europe.

Hitlers Chancellery

Hitler's Chancellery, officially known as the Kanzlei des Führers der NSDAP was a Nazi Party organization. Also known as the Privatkanzlei des Führers, the agency served as the private chancellery of Adolf Hitler, handling different issues pertaining to matters such as complaints against party officials, appeals from party courts, official judgments, clemency petitions by NSDAP fellows and Hitler's personal affairs. The Chancellery of the Führer was also a key player in the Nazi euthanasia program.

Career

Brack was born to a middle-class family in Haaren (now part of Aachen) in the Rhine Province. He was educated in local schools.

Haaren (Aachen) City of Aachen in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany

The formerly independent town of Haaren lies four kilometers north of Aachen, into which it was incorporated in 1972.

Aachen Place in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany

Aachen, also known as Bad Aachen, and in French and traditional English as Aix-la-Chapelle, is a spa and border city in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. Aachen developed from a Roman settlement and spa, subsequently becoming the preferred medieval Imperial residence of Charlemagne, and, from 936 to 1531, the place where 31 Holy Roman Emperors were crowned Kings of the Germans.

Rhine Province province of Prussia

The Rhine Province, also known as Rhenish Prussia (Rheinpreußen) or synonymous with the Rhineland (Rheinland), was the westernmost province of the Kingdom of Prussia and the Free State of Prussia, within the German Reich, from 1822 to 1946. It was created from the provinces of the Lower Rhine and Jülich-Cleves-Berg. Its capital was Koblenz and in 1939 it had 8 million inhabitants. The Province of Hohenzollern was militarily associated with the Oberpräsident of the Rhine Province.

In 1929 at the age of 25, Brack became a member of the Nazi Party (NSDAP) and the Schutzstaffel (SS). By 1936, he was appointed chief of Hauptamt II (main office II) in the Chancellery of the Führer in Berlin. [1] The office handled matters concerning the Reich Ministries, Wehrmacht, NSDAP, clemency petitions and complaints received by the Führer from all parts of Germany. On 9 November 1940, Brack was promoted to the grade of SS- Oberführer (senior colonel).

Führer is a German word meaning "leader" or "guide". As a political title it is associated with the Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler. Nazi Germany cultivated the Führerprinzip, and Hitler was generally known as just der Führer.

Berlin Capital of Germany

Berlin is the capital and largest city of Germany by both area and population. Its 3,748,148 (2018) inhabitants make it the second most populous city proper of the European Union after London. The city is one of Germany's 16 federal states. It is surrounded by the state of Brandenburg, and contiguous with its capital, Potsdam. The two cities are at the center of the Berlin-Brandenburg capital region, which is, with about six million inhabitants and an area of more than 30,000 km², Germany's third-largest metropolitan region after the Rhine-Ruhr and Rhine-Main regions.

<i>Wehrmacht</i> unified armed forces of Germany from 1935 to 1945

The Wehrmacht was the unified armed forces of Nazi Germany from 1935 to 1945. It consisted of the Heer (army), the Kriegsmarine (navy) and the Luftwaffe. The designation "Wehrmacht" replaced the previously used term Reichswehr, and was the manifestation of the Nazi regime's efforts to rearm Germany to a greater extent than the Treaty of Versailles permitted.

Action T4

Hauptamt II officials under Viktor Brack played a vital role in organising the killing of mentally ill and physically handicapped people in the Action T4 "euthanasia" programme, especially the child "euthanasia" from 1939. [2] By a (backdated) decree of 1 September, [3] Hitler appointed Philipp Bouhler and his personal physician Karl Brandt to manage the euthanasia program, where they would oversee the murder of physically and/or mentally disabled persons. [4] The implementation of the killing operations were left to subordinates such as Brack and SA-Oberführer Werner Blankenburg. [5] In December 1939, Brack gave August Becker the task of arranging gas-killing operations of mentally ill patients and other people whom the Nazis deemed "life unworthy of life". The Action T4 program was related to popular early 20th-century ideas of eugenics and improving the race, not allowing disabled or mentally ill people to reproduce. Initially the doctors in the program sterilized people, then murdered nearly 15,000 German citizens at Hadamar Euthanasia Centre under an extension of this program. [6]

Disability Impairments, activity limitations, and participation restrictions

According to many definitions, a disability is an impairment that may be cognitive, developmental, intellectual, mental, physical, sensory, or some combination of these. Other definitions describe disability as the societal disadvantage arising from such impairments. Disability substantially affects a person's life activities and may be present from birth or occur during a person's lifetime.

Disabilities is an umbrella term, covering impairments, activity limitations, and participation restrictions. An impairment is a problem in body function or structure; an activity limitation is a difficulty encountered by an individual in executing a task or action; while a participation restriction is a problem experienced by an individual in involvement in life situations. Disability is thus not just a health problem. It is a complex phenomenon, reflecting the interaction between features of a person’s body and features of the society in which he or she lives.

Child Euthanasia was the name given to the organised murder of severely mentally and physically handicapped children and young people up to 16 years old during the Nazi era in over 30 so-called special children's wards. At least 5,000 children were victims of this programme, which was a precursor to the subsequent murder of children in the concentration camps.

Philipp Bouhler German general

Philipp Bouhler was a senior Nazi Party functionary who was both a Reichsleiter and Chief of the Chancellery of the Führer of the NSDAP. He was also the SS official responsible for the Aktion T4 euthanasia program that killed more than 250,000 handicapped adults and children in Nazi Germany, as well as co-initiator of Aktion 14f13, also called "Sonderbehandlung", that killed 15,000–20,000 concentration camp prisoners.

Following the war, during the 1947 Doctors' Trial in Nuremberg, Brack testified from the witness stand that after 1941, when the extermination of Jewish population by Germany was at full capacity, Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler ordered him to contact physicians from the Euthanasia Program to find a way to sterilize young, strong Jews capable of labour for use in the German war effort. The goal was to develop a method by which the victim could be sterilized without being aware of the process. In March 1941, Brack fulfilled his assignment and prepared a report for Himmler. He described the method of sterilizing patients using X-rays, without the victim's knowledge until the effects became obvious.

<i>Reichsführer-SS</i> special title and rank in Nazi Germany (1925-1945)

Reichsführer-SS was a special title and rank that existed between the years of 1925 and 1945 for the commander of the Schutzstaffel (SS). Reichsführer-SS was a title from 1925 to 1933, and from 1934 to 1945 it was the highest rank of the SS. The longest serving and most noteworthy Reichsführer-SS was Heinrich Himmler.

Heinrich Himmler High Nazi Germany official, head of the SS

Heinrich Luitpold Himmler was Reichsführer of the Schutzstaffel, and a leading member of the Nazi Party (NSDAP) of Germany. Himmler was one of the most powerful men in Nazi Germany and a main architect of the Holocaust.

X-ray form of electromagnetic radiation

X-rays make up X-radiation, a form of electromagnetic radiation. Most X-rays have a wavelength ranging from 0.01 to 10 nanometers, corresponding to frequencies in the range 30 petahertz to 30 exahertz (3×1016 Hz to 3×1019 Hz) and energies in the range 100 eV to 100 keV. X-ray wavelengths are shorter than those of UV rays and typically longer than those of gamma rays. In many languages, X-radiation is referred to with terms meaning Röntgen radiation, after the German scientist Wilhelm Röntgen who discovered these on November 8, 1895, who usually is credited as its discoverer, and who named it X-radiation to signify an unknown type of radiation. Spelling of X-ray(s) in the English language includes the variants x-ray(s), xray(s), and X ray(s).

On 23 June 1942 Brack wrote the following letter to Himmler:

Viktor Brack testifies in his defense at the Doctors' Trial in Nuremberg in 1947 Viktor Brack.jpg
Viktor Brack testifies in his defense at the Doctors' Trial in Nuremberg in 1947

Dear Reichsführer, among tens of millions of Jews in Europe, there are, I figure, at least two to three millions of men and women who are fit enough to work. Considering the extraordinary difficulties the labour problem presents us with, I hold the view that those two to three millions should be specially selected and preserved. This can, however, only be done if at the same time they are rendered incapable to propagate. About a year ago I reported to you that agents of mine had completed the experiments necessary for this purpose. I would like to recall these facts once more. Sterilization, as normally performed on persons with hereditary diseases, is here out of the question, because it takes too long and is too expensive. Castration by X-ray however is not only relatively cheap, but can also be performed on many thousands in the shortest time. I think that at this time it is already irrelevant whether the people in question become aware of having been castrated after some weeks or months, once they feel the effects. Should you, Reichsführer, decide to choose this way in the interest of the preservation of labour, then Reichsleiter Bouhler would be prepared to place all physicians and other personnel needed for this work at your disposal. Likewise he requested me to inform you that then I would have to order the apparatus so urgently needed with the greatest speed.

Heil Hitler! Yours
VIKTOR BRACK.

Following the letter, Himmler ordered the procedure to be tested on prisoners in Auschwitz. Since Brack was transferred to an SS division, his deputy Blankenburg took over responsibility for the task and would "immediately take the necessary measures and get in touch with the chiefs of the main offices of the concentration camps".

Trial and execution

Auschwitz II-Birkenau Auschwitz-birkenau-main track.jpg
Auschwitz II-Birkenau

A Jewish-French doctor, a prisoner in Auschwitz from September 1943 to January 1945, testified in the "Doctors' Trial", part of the Nuremberg trials, that sterilization of Jewish inmates was carried out at Birkenau extermination camp by SS doctors. He cared for nearly 100 male Poles who had been sterilized at Birkenau by surgical operations. According to the witness, members of the group were later castrated by camp doctors.

In later evidence, there was testimony that patients of other persecuted groups were sterilized under very high doses of X-rays for several minutes; this procedure was conducted on other persecuted groups. The men were later castrated.

During the Doctors' trial, Brack was convicted of murder of victims in the Euthanasia Program. The program was later applied under secret order "Action 14f13"; the extermination of those concentration camp inmates deemed unable to work. In March 1947, Bouhler's personal adjutant Karl Freiherr Michel von Tüßling provided an affidavit in defence of Victor Brack who was executed by hanging at Landsberg Prison, on 2 June 1948.

NSDAP decorations

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References

Citations

  1. Friedlander 1997, p. 41.
  2. Schafft 2004, pp. 159–163.
  3. Hilberg 1985, pp. 225–226.
  4. Schafft 2004, p. 160.
  5. Proctor 1988, pp. 206–208.
  6. Vernehmungsprotokoll der Sonderkommission des Hessischen Landeskriminalamtes Wiesbaden, V/1, April 4, 1960, see "Tötung in einer Minute". „Mitschrift der Vernehmung und Fahndungsschreiben von Dr. phil. August Becker“ (in German)

Bibliography