Their Genocide, Our History, Our PresentRoundup: Historians' Take
Warren Rosenblum is an associate professor of history at Webster University.
In the summer of 1942, a German electrician named Müller brought his 2-year-old daughter Jutta to the Langenhorn Asylum near Hamburg. Jutta had been born prematurely and showed signs of physical and mental “abnormalities.” Langenhorn was rumored to be a place that euthanized incurably sick children. In a meeting with the asylum’s director, Herr Müller made it clear, albeit in coded, euphemistic language, that he wanted his child to die.
As described by the German historian Götz Aly, the Director hesitated. He felt that Jutta might be capable of outgrowing her disabilities. He recommended Müller take the child home or put her back in the progressive asylum where she had been originally placed. This case needed more observation. Müller, however, pleaded with the doctor, describing the economic burdens he and his wife faced and their desire to have a “healthy child.” The director soon relented, and Jutta Müller became one of the 10,000-plus children with disabilities murdered during the Third Reich.
At least some readers must be thinking, “enough about the Nazis already!” We are so accustomed to grotesque, awful stories from the Third Reich, that probably nothing surprises us anymore. Hollywood long ago turned Nazis into the ultimate agents of evil. Our bookshelves are sagging with swastika-adorned histories. What more is there to say?...
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