Treasure Island

Paul Hartal


T4


On the road between Cologne and Frankfurt
The SS bus with painted over windows made its way
Through the streets of picturesque Hadamar
Heading for the psychiatric hospital of the town.
The vehicle carried on board a terrible secret
But the people of Hadamar already knew it.
And when the children sighted the bus they shouted:
'Here goes the death crate again'.

The travellers on the SS bus were handicapped Germans
Physically deformed or mentally ill children and adults
Slated for murder by lethal injection or carbon monoxide.
In the summer of 1941 thick smoke billowed over Hadamar
From the ovens of the hospital while its staff celebrated
With champagne the cremation of their ten thousandths patient.

It was in1933 that the Third Reich legalized
The eugenic sterilization of the incurably malformed
The blind, the deaf, the psychotic and the feeble minded.
Six years later Hitler signed a written order
Authorizing his euthanasia operation for the killing
Of Germans graded as inferior and racially valueless.

The euthanasia program was a state secret. It started
In a Berlin villa at Tiergarten 4 and the location
Provided the code name T4. At the Brandenburg clinic
Near the capital the patients were murdered
By orally administered drugs, injections or gas.
The gas chambers were disguised as shower baths
Wherein the victims were poisoned by carbon monoxide
Emitted from gas cylinders.

Apart from Brandenburg and Hadamar, there were
Four additional euthanasia centres: Hartheim, Grafeneck,
Bernburg and Sonnenstein. By the summer of 1941 at least
5,000 children and 70,000 adults were murdered in them.

The authorities delivered urns containing the ashes
Of the victims to their families and told them lies
About the cause of death. One family was informed
That their beloved relative died of acute appendicitis
Although this patient had had his appendix taken out
Several years before.

In 1941 the bishop of Munster, Clemens August
Graf von Galen filed murder charges
Against unknown persons at the public persecutor's office
And also delivered a public sermon denouncing
The euthanasia program. On 24 August of the same year
The murder operation stopped temporarily.

It was renewed later under even greater secrecy.
In fact the Nazis expanded the operation
And applied the experience that they gained
At the euthanasia clinics to what they called euphemistically
The 'final solution' to the 'Jewish problem'. Thus T4
Had facilitated the systematic murder of six million Jews.

Submitted: Friday, February 01, 2013
Edited: Friday, February 01, 2013

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Poet's Notes about The Poem

T4 tells a horrible but true story. Hitler's Euthanasia Program is well documented by historians. I learned about it from Robert Jay Lifton's book, 'The Nazi Doctors: Medical Killing and the Psychology of Genocide' (New York: Basic Books,1986) , and 'The War Against the Jews: 1933-1945', by Lucy S. Dawidowich (New York: Bantam Books,1975) .

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