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Brack's photograph for the Nuremberg trial
Viktor Hermann Brack
9 November 1904
|Died||2 June 1948 43) (aged|
|Cause of death||Execution|
|Occupation||Chief of Office II: Affairs of the Party, State, and the Armed Forces in the Chancellery of the Führer of the NSDAP|
|Conviction(s)||Crimes against humanity|
|Criminal penalty||Death 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Brack was born to a middle-class family in Haaren (now part of Aachen) in the Rhine Province. He was educated in local schools.
The formerly independent town of Haaren lies four kilometers north of Aachen, into which it was incorporated in 1972.
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.
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.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 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.
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.
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.By a (backdated) decree of 1 September, 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. The implementation of the killing operations were left to subordinates such as Brack and SA-Oberführer Werner Blankenburg. 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.
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 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.
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 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-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:
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".
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.
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Karl Brandt was a German physician and Schutzstaffel (SS) officer in Nazi Germany. Trained in surgery, Brandt joined the Nazi Party in 1932 and became Adolf Hitler's escort doctor in August 1934. A member of Hitler's inner circle at the Berghof, he was selected by Philipp Bouhler, the head of Hitler's Chancellery, to administer the Aktion T4 euthanasia program. Brandt was later appointed the Reich Commissioner of Sanitation and Health. Accused of involvement in human experimentation and other war crimes, Brandt was indicted in late 1946 and faced trial before a U.S. military tribunal along with 22 others in United States of America v. Karl Brandt, et al. He was convicted, sentenced to death, and later hanged on 2 June 1948.
Aktion T4 was a postwar name for mass murder through involuntary euthanasia in Nazi Germany. The name T4 is an abbreviation of Tiergartenstraße 4, a street address of the Chancellery department set up in the spring of 1940, in the Berlin borough of Tiergarten, which recruited and paid personnel associated with T4. Certain German physicians were authorized to select patients "deemed incurably sick, after most critical medical examination" and then administer to them a "mercy death". In October 1939, Adolf Hitler signed a "euthanasia note", backdated to 1 September 1939, which authorized his physician Karl Brandt and Reichsleiter Philipp Bouhler to implement the programme.
Odilo Globočnik was an Austrian war criminal. He was a Nazi and later an SS leader. As an associate of Adolf Eichmann, he had a leading role in Operation Reinhard, which saw the murder of over one million mostly Polish Jews during the Holocaust in Nazi extermination camps Majdanek, Treblinka, Sobibór and Bełżec. Historian Michael Allen described him as "the vilest individual in the vilest organization ever known".
Emil Maurice was an early member of the National Socialist German Workers' Party and a founding member of the Schutzstaffel (SS). He was Hitler's first personal chauffeur, succeeded first by Julius Schreck and then Erich Kempka. He was one of the few persons of mixed Jewish and ethnic German ancestry to serve in the SS.
Ernst-Robert Grawitz was a German physician and an SS functionary during the Nazi era.
Leonardo Conti, MD was the Reich Health Leader (Reichsgesundheitsführer) in Nazi Germany. The killing of a large number of Germans who were of "unsound mind" is attributed to his leadership.
Werner Blankenburg was head of the Section IIa in Hitler's Chancellery in Nazi Germany, and thus one of the main responsible persons for the National Socialist "Euthanasia"-program Action T4, the annihilation of the Polish Jews in the "Aktion Reinhard", and the experiments with castration by X-Rays in KZ Auschwitz-Birkenau.
Lorenz Hackenholt was a member of the Schutzstaffel (SS) with the rank of Hauptscharführer. During World War II Hackenholt built and operated the gas chamber at the Bełżec extermination camp in occupied Poland. In so doing, he personally carried out the murder of hundreds of thousands of people.
Franz Breithaupt was a German SS functionary during the Nazi era. From August 1942 until April 1945, he was chief of the SS Court Main Office (Hauptamt SS-Gericht). Breithaupt was murdered by his SS aide Karl Lang just prior to the end of the war in Europe.
Action 14f13, also called "Sonderbehandlung14f13" and Aktion 14f13, was a campaign by Nazi Germany to terminate Nazi concentration camp prisoners. Also called invalid or prisoner euthanasia, the campaign culled the sick, elderly and those deemed no longer fit for work, from the rest of the prisoners in a selection process, after which they were killed. The Nazi campaign was in operation from 1941 to 1944 and later covered other groups of concentration camp prisoners.
Sonderbehandlung is any sort of preferential treatment, but is known primarily as a euphemism for mass murder used by Nazi functionaries and the SS, who commonly used the abbreviation S.B. in documentation. It first came to prominence during Action T4, where SS doctors killed mentally ill and disabled patients between 1939 and 1941, and was one of a number of nonspecific words the Nazis used to document mass murder and genocide. Another notable example was Sonderbehandlung 14f13.
Franz Karl Reichleitner was an Austrian member in the SS of Nazi Germany who participated in Operation Reinhard during the Holocaust. Reichleitner served as the second and last commandant of Sobibór extermination camp from 1 September 1942 until the camp's closure on or about 17 October 1943. As the commanding officer of the camp, Franz Reichleitner directly perpetrated the genocide of Jews.
The Euthanasia trials were legal proceedings against the main perpetrators and accomplices involved in the euthanasia killings of the Nazi era in Germany.
Helmut Kallmeyer was a German chemist in the era of National Socialism. He served as a consultant in Adolf Hitler's Chancellery for gasification methods. Later, he worked in the Technical Institute for the Detection of Crime. He was involved in Action T4, Nazi Germany's program to murder people with disabilities.
Karl Richard Freiherr Michel von Tüßling was a Schutzstaffel (SS) officer who served in the Nazi government of German dictator Adolf Hitler, in the staff of the Reichsführer SS and in the staff of the SS Main Office. From 1936 onwards, he also was the personal adjutant of Reichsleiter and SS-Obergruppenführer Philipp Bouhler, who was in charge of Hitler's Chancellery, head of the euthanasia programme Aktion T4, as well as co-initiator of Aktion 14f13. In 1947 Tüßling provided an affidavit in defence of war criminal Viktor Brack who was sentenced to death at the Nuremberg trials.