Aktion T-4 Program: Nazi Euthanasia - 1935-1942

The collection of German-produced propaganda films on euthanasia represents a greatly neglected field of study in the history of the Holocaust. It was Hitler who ordered the production of euthanasia propaganda films early in 1935 to coincide with the Nazis' insidious plans to exterminate countless mentally and  physically disabled, including 300,000 innocent men, women and children at specially establishing killing centers disguised as medical facilities. Goebbels' propaganda program took full advantage of the well-developed film industry that had already been retooled as an instrument of the regime in order to maintain and certainly to expand backing for the dictatorship. The general approach had been slick, well-produced propaganda films utilizing constant repitition of erroneous and deceptive pseudo-scientific statistics and information, coupled with normally overwhelming emotional visual imagery that always confirmed already built-in stereotypes and prejudices. Our archive maintains film prints of all such topics. Also included are the Allied liberation films of the Nazi euthanasia killing centers. 

Hereditarily Ill [c. 1936

Orig. title: "Erbkrank" 1936 NS-Rasse und Politischen Amt/Propaganda Ministry 29 min. B/W HD  sound guage: 16mm 24 f.p.s. Copyright: TF.
Insidious euthanasia propaganda film directed by Herbert Gerdes during 1935-1936 for the 'Nazi Race and Political Office of the NSDAP' propagated the topic as an "educational documentary" which essentially launched the infamous "Aktion T-4" program which had been headed-up by Himmler. which ended up murdering 300,000 mentally and physically disabled men, women and children during the Holocaust.

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Victims of the Past [c. 1937]

Orig. title: "Opfer der Vergangenheit" 1937 NS-Rasse und Politisches Amt 35 min. B.W HD sound guage: 16mm 24 f.p.s. Copyright: TF.
Propaganda film sequel to "Erbkrank" (c. 1936) directed by red-hot Nazi euthanasia fanatic Gernot Bock-Stieber and Kurt Botner in 1937 for the 'Nazi Race and Political Office of the NSDAP" produced on Hitler's direct order for mass consumption. Showings of the film were mandatory in all German movie theatres after March 1937. This is the first film which was part documentary and part dramatized for the propaganda content for general audiences that concerned themselves with the Nazi notion of a new generation of the hereditarily ill through the sterilization of the mentally ill. 

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The Heirs [c. 1935]

Orig. title: "Das Erbe" 1935 NS Rasse und politische Amt 20 min. B/W HD sound guage: 16mm 24 f.p.s. Copyright: TF.
Propaganda film written by Walter Lueddecke and directed by Harold Mayer for the Nazi Race and Political Office of the NSDAP in 1935. This insidious propaganda film was designed to hammer home the dark theme that "the weak should perish and the strong should survive according to the natural law and God's order," so states the commentator over the soundtrack. This film was one of the more fanatical ideological propaganda weapons of the Aktion-T-4 program during the Holocaust and was obviously yet another sinister audiovisual tool to commit murder.

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Existence without Life - Psychistry and Humanity [c. 1942]

Orig. title: "Dasein ohne Leben - Psychiatrie und Menschlichkeit" 1942 Tobis-Filmkunst 75 min. B/W HD sound guage: 16mm 24 f.p.s. Copyright: TF.

Insidious euthanasia feature-length propaganda film had been written and directed by Hermann Schenninger, who had been one of the  three managing directors of the so-called 'Gemeinuetzige Krankentransport' ('Charitable Ambulance'), a faux front company of Aktion t-4, the central institution  for the systematic mass murder of mentally and physically ill patients in Germany during the Holocaust. The order to produce the film came directly from Hitler's Chancellery, and was produced by the German film studio Tobis-Film in Berlin. "Dasein ohne Leben" was shown to German medical students, doctors and nurses. In December 1942, the film was shown at the Military Medical Academy, which had included top officials of the SS, SD, Gestapo, the Propaganda Ministry, Reich Ministry of the Interior, the HJ (Hitler Youth), physicians in medical service on the battlefield, the medical services staff of the Luftwaffe and the Director of the Berlin Health Office. Separately, major red-hot Nazi perpetrator of the Holocaust Arthur Nebe ordered the film be screened to hundreds of SS officers, who has reportedly received the film "enthusiastically." The production and exploitation of this sinister murder film of the Third Reich had been clear as it, like many others greatly contributed to the mass murder of the disabled during the Holocaust. 

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