The term "euthanasia" literally means "good death" and refers to the inducement of
a painless death for a chronically or terminally ill individual. In Nazi usage, "euthanasia" was a systematic killing institutionalized
mentally and physically disabled patients, without the knowledge or consent of themselves or their families. Not the production
of Hitler's master race of blonde hair, blue eyed children.
In October of 1939 amid the turmoil of the outbreak of war Hitler ordered widespread "mercy killing" of the sick and disabled.
Code named "Aktion T 4," the Nazi euthanasia program to eliminate "life unworthy of life" at first focused on newborns
and very young children. Midwives and doctors were required to register children up to age three who showed symptoms of mental
retardation, physical deformity, or other symptoms included on a questionnaire from the Reich Health Ministry.
A decision on whether to allow the child to live was then made by three medical experts solely on the basis of the questionnaire,
without any examination and without reading any medical records.
Each expert placed a + mark in red pencil or - mark in blue pencil under the term "treatment" on a special form. A red
plus mark meant a decision to kill the child. A blue minus sign meant meant a decision against killing. Three plus symbols
resulted in a euthanasia warrant being issued and the transfer of the child to a 'Children's Specialty Department' for death
by injection or gradual starvation.
The decision had to be unanimous. In cases where the decision was not unanimous the child was kept under observation and
another attempt would be made to get a unanimous decision.
The Nazi euthanasia program quickly expanded to include older disabled children and adults. Hitler's decree of October,
1939, typed on his personal stationary and back dated to Sept. 1, enlarged "the authority of certain physicians
to be designated by name in such manner that people who, according to human judgment, are incurable can, upon a most careful
diagnosis of their condition of sickness, be given a "merciful death."