Mathilde Ludendorff [von Kemnitz], by Wikipedia

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Ernst Rüdin
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 12/29/18



Ernst Rüdin: Hitler's Racial Hygiene Mastermind.
by Jay Joseph and Norbert A. Wetzel
Journal of the History of Biology
Vol. 46, No. 1 (Spring 2013), pp. 1-30.

Ernst Rüdin (1874-1952) was the founder of psychiatric genetics and was also a founder of the German racial hygiene movement. Throughout his long career he played a major role in promoting eugenic ideas and policies in Germany, including helping formulate the 1933 Nazi eugenic sterilization law and other governmental policies directed against the alleged carriers of genetic defects. In the 1940s Rüdin supported the killing of children and mental patients under a Nazi program euphemistically called "Euthanasia." The authors document these crimes and discuss their implications, and also present translations of two publications Rüdin co-authored in 1938 showing his strong support for Hitler and his policies. The authors also document what they see as revisionist historical accounts by leading psychiatric genetic authors. They outline three categories of contemporary psychiatric genetic accounts of Rüdin and his work: (A) those who write about German psychiatric genetics in the Nazi period, but either fail to mention Rüdin at all, or cast him in a favorable light; (B) those who acknowledge that Rüdin helped promote eugenic sterilization and/or may have worked with the Nazis, but generally paint a positive picture of Rüdin's research and fail to mention his participation in the "euthanasia" killing program; and (C) those who have written that Rüdin committed and supported unspeakable atrocities. The authors conclude by calling on the leaders of psychiatric genetics to produce a detailed and complete account of their field's history, including all of the documented crimes committed by Rüdin and his associates.

The German Society for Racial Hygiene (German: Deutsche Gesellschaft für Rassenhygiene) was a German eugenic organization founded on 22 June 1905 by the physician Alfred Ploetz in Berlin. Its goal was "for society to return to a healthy and blooming, strong and beautiful life" as Ploetz put it. The Nordic race was supposed to regain its "purity" through selective reproduction and sterilization....

Soon after the society was founded, it received generous support by the German imperial government ... Notable members comprised Ploetz' brother-in-law Ernst Rüdin.

-- German Society for Racial Hygiene, by Wikipedia

Ernst Rüdin, 1944
Born 19 April 1874
Died 22 October 1952 (aged 78)

Ernst Rüdin (April 19, 1874 in St. Gallen – October 22, 1952) was a Swiss-born German psychiatrist, geneticist, eugenicist and Nazi. Rising to prominence under Emil Kraepelin and assuming his directorship at what is now called the Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry in Munich, he has long been scientifically honoured and cited internationally as the pioneer of psychiatric inheritance studies. He also argued for, designed, justified and funded the mass sterilization and clinical killing of adults and children.

Early career

Commencing in 1893 Rüdin studied medicine at universities in several countries, graduating in 1898. At the Burghölzli in Zurich, he worked as assistant to Eugen Bleuler who coined the term 'schizophrenia'. He completed his PhD, then a psychiatric residency at a Berlin prison[verification needed]. From 1907 he worked at the University of Munich as assistant to Emil Kraepelin, the highly influential psychiatrist who had developed the diagnostic split between 'dementia praecox' ('early dementia' – reflecting his pessimistic prognosis – renamed schizophrenia) and 'manic-depressive illness' (including unipolar depression), and who is considered by many to be the father of modern psychiatric classification.[1] Rüdin became senior lecturer in 1909 as well as senior physician at the Munich Psychiatric Hospital, succeeding Alois Alzheimer.[2]

Kraepelin and Rüdin were both ardent advocates of a theory that the German race was becoming overly 'domesticated' and thus degenerating into higher rates of mental illness and other conditions.[3] Fears of degeneration were somewhat common internationally at the time, but the extent to which Rüdin took them may have been unique, and from the very beginning of his career he made continuous efforts to have his research translate into political action. He also repeatedly drew attention to the financial burden of the sick and disabled.[4]

Rüdin developed the concept of "empirical genetic prognosis" of mental disorders. He published influential initial results on the genetics of schizophrenia (known as dementia praecox) in 1916.[5] Rüdin's data did not show a high enough risk in siblings for schizophrenia to be due to a simple recessive gene as he and Kraepelin thought, but he put forward a two-recessive-gene theory to try to account for this.[6] This has been attributed to a "mistaken belief" that just one or a small number of gene variations caused such conditions.[7] Similarly his own large study on Mood disorders correctly disproved his own theory of simple Mendelian inheritance and also showed environmental causes, but Rüdin simply neglected to publish and continued to advance his eugenic theories.[8] Nevertheless, Rüdin pioneered and refined complex techniques for conducting studies of inheritance, was widely cited in the international literature for decades, and is still regarded as "the father of psychiatric genetics".[9]

Rüdin was influenced by his then brother-in-law, and long-time friend and colleague, Alfred Ploetz, who was considered the 'father' of racial hygiene and indeed had coined the term in 1895.[10] This was a form of eugenics, inspired by social darwinism, which had gained some popularity internationally, as would the voluntary or compulsory sterilization of psychiatric patients, initially in America. Rüdin campaigned for this early on. At a conference on alcoholism in 1903, he argued for the sterilisation of 'incurable alcoholics', but his proposal was roundly defeated.[10] In 1904 he was appointed co-editor in chief of the newly founded Archive for Racial Hygiene and Social Biology, and in 1905 was among the co-founders of the German Society for Racial Hygiene (which soon became International), along with Ploetz.[11] He published an article of his own in Archives in 1910, in which he argued that medical care for the mentally ill, alcoholics, epileptics and others was a distortion of natural laws of natural selection, and medicine should help to clean the genetic pool.[3]

Increasing influence

In 1917 a new German Institute for Psychiatric Research was established in Munich (known as the DFA in German; renamed the Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry after World War II), designed and driven forward by Emil Kraepelin. The Institute incorporated a Department of Genealogical and Demographic Studies (known as the GDA in German) – the first in the world specialising in psychiatric genetics – and Rüdin was put in charge by overall director Kraepelin. In 1924 the Institute came under the umbrella of the prestigious Kaiser Wilhelm Society. From 1925 Rüdin spent three years as full Professor of Psychology at Basel, Switzerland.[11] He returned to the Institute in 1928, with an expanded departmental budget and new building at 2 Kraepelinstrasse, financed primarily by the American Rockefeller Foundation. The institute soon gained an international reputation as leading psychiatric research, including in hereditary genetics. In 1931, a few years after Kraepelin's death, Rüdin took over the directorship of the entire Institute as well as remaining head of his department.[4][7][12][13]

Rüdin was among the first to attempt to educate the public about the "dangers" of hereditary defectives and the value of the Nordic race as "culture creators".[14] By 1920 his colleague Alfred Hoche published, with lawyer Karl Binding, the influential "Allowing the Destruction of Life Unworthy of Living".[15]

In 1930 Rüdin was a leading German representative at the First International Congress for Mental Hygiene, held in Washington, US, arguing for eugenics.[11] In 1932 he became President of the International Federation of Eugenics Organizations. He was in contact with Carlos Blacker of the British Eugenics Society, and sent him a copy of pre-Nazi voluntary sterilization laws enacted in Prussia; a precursor to the Nazi forced sterilization laws that Rüdin is said to have already prepared in his desk drawer.[16]

From 1935 to 1945 he was President of the Society of German Neurologists and Psychiatrists (GDNP), later renamed the German Association for Psychiatry, Psychotherapy and Neurology (DGPPN).[17]

The American Rockefeller Foundation funded numerous international researchers to visit and work at Rüdin's psychiatric genetics department, even as late as 1939. These included Eliot Slater and Erik Stromgren, considered the founding fathers of psychiatric genetics in Britain and Scandinavia respectively, as well as Franz Josef Kallmann who became a leading figure in twins research in the US after emigrating in 1936.[4] Kallmann had claimed in 1935 that 'minor anomalies' in otherwise unaffected relatives of schizophrenics should be grounds for compulsory sterilization.

Rüdin's research was also supported with manpower and financing from the German National Socialists.

Nazi expert

Wilhelm Frick in his cell at Nuremberg, November 1945

In 1933, Ernst Rüdin, Alfred Ploetz, and several other experts on racial hygiene were brought together to form the Expert Committee on Questions of Population and Racial Policy under Reich Interior Minister Wilhelm Frick. The committee's ideas were used as a scientific basis to justify the racial policy of Nazi Germany and its "Law for the Prevention of Hereditarily Diseased Offspring" was passed by the German government on January 1, 1934. Rüdin was such an avid proponent that colleagues nicknamed him the "Reichsfuhrer for Sterilization"[2][18]

In a speech to the German Society for Rassenhygiene published in 1934, Rüdin recalled the early days of trying to alert the public to the special value of the Nordic race and the dangers of defectives. He stated: "The significance of Rassenhygiene racial hygiene did not become evident to all aware Germans until the political activity of Adolf Hitler and only through his work has our 30-year-long dream of translating Rassenhygiene into action finally become a reality." Describing it as a 'duty of honour' for society to help implement the Nazi policies, Rüdin declared: "Whoever is not physically or mentally fit must not pass on his defects to his children. The state must take care that only the fit produce children. Conversely, it must be regarded as reprehensible to withhold healthy children from the state."[14]

From early on Rüdin had been a 'racial fanatic' for the purity of the 'German people'.[19] However he was also described in 1988 as "not so much a fanatical Nazi as a fanatical geneticist".[20] His ideas for reducing new cases of schizophrenia would prove a total failure, despite between 73% and 100% of the diagnosed being sterilised or killed.[7]

Rüdin joined the Nazi party in 1937.[21] In 1939, on his 65th birthday, he was awarded a 'Goethe medal for art and science' handed to him personally by Hitler, who honoured him as the 'pioneer of the racial-hygienic measures of the Third Reich'. In 1944 he received a bronze Nazi eagle medal (Adlerschild des Deutschen Reiches), with Hitler calling him the 'pathfinder in the field of hereditary hygiene'.[11]

In 1942, speaking about 'euthanasia', Rüdin emphasised "the value of eliminating young children of clearly inferior quality". He supported and financially aided the work of Julius Duessen at Heidelberg University with Carl Schneider, clinical research which from the beginning involving killing children.[4][18][22][23]


At the end of the war in 1945, Rüdin claimed he had only ever engaged in academic science, only ever heard rumours of killings at the nearby insane asylums, and that he hated the Nazis. However, some of his Nazi political activities, scientific justifications, and awards from Hitler were already uncovered in 1945 (as were his lecture handouts praising Nordics and disparaging Jews). Investigative journalist Victor H. Bernstein concluded: "I am sure that Prof. Rüdin never so much as killed a fly in his 74 years. I am also sure he is one of the most evil men in Germany." Rüdin was stripped of his Swiss citizenship which he had held jointly with German, and two months later was placed under house arrest by the Munich Military Government. However, interned in the US, he was released in 1947 after a 'denazification' trial where he was supported by former colleague Kallmann (a eugenicist himself) and famous quantum physicist Max Planck[verification needed]; his only punishment was a 500-mark fine.[24]

Karl Brandt on trial, August 20, 1947

Photo from Josef Mengele's Argentine identification document (1956)

Speculation about the reasons for his early release, despite having been considered as a potential criminal defendant for the Nuremberg trials, include the need to restore confidence and order in the German medical profession; his personal and financial connections to prestigious American and British researchers, funding bodies and others; and the fact that he repeatedly cited American eugenic sterilization initiatives to justify his own as legal (indeed the Nuremberg trials carefully avoided highlighting such links in general). Nevertheless, Rüdin has been cited as a more senior and influential architect of Nazi crimes than the physician who was sentenced to death, Karl Brandt, or the infamous Josef Mengele who had attended his lectures and been employed by his Institute.[25]

After Rüdin's death in 1952 the funeral eulogy was held by Kurt Pohlisch, a close friend who had been professor of psychiatry at Bonn University, director of the second-largest genetics research institute in Germany, and expert Nazi advisor on Action T4.[26]

Rüdin's connections to the Nazis were a major reason for criticisms of psychiatric genetics in Germany after 1945.[5]

He was survived by his daughter, Edith Zerbin-Rüdin, who became a psychiatric geneticist and eugenicist herself. In 1996 Zerbin-Rüdin, along with Kenneth S. Kendler, published a series of articles on his work which were criticised by others for whitewashing his racist and later Nazi ideologies and activities (Elliot S. Gershon also notes that Zerbin-Rüdin acted as defender and apologist for her father in private conversation and in a transcribed interview published in 1988).[27][21] Kendler and other leading psychiatric genetic authors have been accused as recently as 2013 of producing revisionist historical accounts of Rüdin and his 'Munich School'. Three types of account have been identified: "(A) those who write about German psychiatric genetics in the Nazi period, but either fail to mention Rüdin at all, or cast him in a favorable light; (B) those who acknowledge that Rüdin helped promote eugenic sterilization and/or may have worked with the Nazis, but generally paint a positive picture of Rüdin's research and fail to mention his participation in the "euthanasia" killing program; and (C) those who have written that Rüdin committed and supported unspeakable atrocities."[28][29]

Partial bibliography

• Über die klinischen Formen der Gefängnisspsychosen, Diss. Zürich, 1901
• (Hrsg.) Studien über Vererbung und Entstehung geistiger Störungen, 1916–1939
• Psychiatrische Indikation zur Sterilisierung, 1929
• (Einl.) Gesetz zur Verhütung erbkranken Nachwuchses vom 14. Juli 1933, 1934
• (Hrsg.) Erblehre und Rassenhygiene im völkischen Staat, 1934
• Die Bedeutung der Eugenik und Genetik für die Psychische Hygiene. Zeitschrift für psychische Hygiene 3 (1930), S. 133–147

See also

• T-4 Euthanasia Program
• Ethnic cleansing
• Eugenics
• Nazi doctors (list)
• Racial hygiene
• Werner Heyde
• Werner Villinger
• Alfred Ploetz


1. Kearney, Chris; Trull, Timothy J. (2014-02-11). Abnormal Psychology and Life: A Dimensional Approach. ISBN 9781305162792.
2. Science and Inhumanity: The Kaiser-Wilhelm/Max Planck Society William E. Seidelman MD, 2001
3. Brüne, Martin (1 January 2007). "On human self-domestication, psychiatry, and eugenics". Philosophy, Ethics, and Humanities in Medicine. 2 (1): 21. doi:10.1186/1747-5341-2-21. PMC 2082022. PMID 17919321.
4. Man, Medicine, and the State Pg 73-
5. Matthias M. Weber (1996). "Ernst Rüdin, 1874–1952: A German psychiatrist and geneticist". American Journal of Medical Genetics. 67 (4): 323–331. doi:10.1002/(SICI)1096-8628(19960726)67:4<323::AID-AJMG2>3.0.CO;2-N. PMID 8837697.
6. Gottesman, Irving I.; Shields, James (1982-06-30). Schizophrenia. ISBN 9780521295598.
7. Torrey EF, Yolken RH (September 2009). "Psychiatric Genocide: Nazi Attempts to Eradicate Schizophrenia". Schizophr Bull. 36 (1): 26–32. doi:10.1093/schbul/sbp097. PMC 2800142. PMID 19759092.
8. Kösters, Gundula; Steinberg, Holger; Kirkby, Kenneth Clifford; Himmerich, Hubertus (2015-11-06). "Ernst Rüdin's Unpublished 1922–1925 Study "Inheritance of Manic-Depressive Insanity": Genetic Research Findings Subordinated to Eugenic Ideology". PLoS Genetics. 11 (11): e1005524. doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1005524. ISSN 1553-7390. PMC 4636330. PMID 26544949.
9. Models of Madness: Psychological, Social and Biological Approaches to Psychosis 2013. Eds. John Read, Jacqui Dillon. Pg 35. Citing Steeman (2005) & Straus (2006)
10. Racial Hygiene: Medicine Under the Nazis, 1988, by Robert Proctor. Pg 96–97
11. Who's Who in Nazi Germany Robert S. Wistrich, Routledge, 4 Jul 2013
12. Ernst Klee: Das Personenlexikon zum Dritten Reich. Wer war was vor und nach 1945. Fischer Taschenbuch Verlag, Zweite aktualisierte Auflage, Frankfurt am Main 2005, ISBN 978-3-596-16048-8, S. 513.
13. Psychiatric research and science policy in Germany: the history of the Deutsche Forschungsanstalt fur Psychiatrie (German Institute for Psychiatric Research) in Munich from 1917 to 1945MM. Weber, 2000
14. The Science and Politics of Racial Research by William Tucker. University of Illinois Press, 1994. Pg121. Original transcript: E. Rudin, "Aufgaben and Ziele der Deutschen Gesellschaft fur Rassenhygiene," Archiv für Rassen- und Gesellschafts-Biologie 28 (1934): 228–29
15. Understanding Mental Health: A Critical Realist ExplorationBy David Pilgrim
16. The Eugenics Society, Its Sources and Its Critics in BritainPauline Mazumdar, Routledge, 20 Dec 2005] Pg207
17. Psychiatry under National Socialism: Remembrance and Responsibility Archived 2015-02-12 at the Wayback Machine. Frank Schneider, 2011
18. The Missing Gene Jay Joseph, 2006, pg142-
19. Peters UH (1996). "[Ernst Rüdin--a Swiss psychiatrist as the leader of Nazi psychiatry--the final solution as a goal]". Fortschr Neurol Psychiatr. 64 (9): 327–43. doi:10.1055/s-2007-996402. PMID 8991870.
20. Ethics and Mental Health: The Patient, Profession and Community Michael Robertson, Garry Walter, preface. Original source psychiatrist Robert Jay Lipton in 1988 book Nazi Doctors.
21. Elliot S. Gershon (1997). "Letter to the Editor: Ernst Rüdin, a Nazi psychiatrist and geneticist". American Journal of Medical Genetics. 74 (4): 457–458. doi:10.1002/(SICI)1096-8628(19970725)74:4<457::AID-AJMG23>3.0.CO;2-G. PMID 9259388.
22. Medicine and Medical Ethics in Nazi Germany: Origins, Practices, Legacies Chapter by V. Roelcke, Pg106
23. Program and practice of psychiatric genetics at the German Research Institute of Psychiatry under Ernst Rudin: on the relationship between science, politics and the concept of race before and after 1993 by V. Roelcke, 2002
24. Genetic Research in Psychiatry and Psychology Under the Microscope Jay Joseph. Pg 33-, 48. Original source: Created Nazi Science of Murder Victor H Berstein, 1945, August 21, PM Daily
25. From a Race of Masters to a Master Race: 1948 To 1848.A.E. Samaan, 8 Feb 2013.
26. Baltic Eugenics: Bio-Politics, Race and Nation in Interwar Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania 1918–1940 : Volker Roelcke: 3. Eliot Slater and the Institutionalization of Psychiatric Genetics in the United Kingdom pg312 & note 71 on pg 323
27. Edith Zerbin-Rüdin, Kenneth S. Kendler (1996). "Ernst Rüdin (1874–1952) and his genealogic-demographic department in Munich (1917–1986): An introduction to their family studies of schizophrenia". American Journal of Medical Genetics. 67 (4): 332–337. doi:10.1002/(SICI)1096-8628(19960726)67:4<332::AID-AJMG3>3.0.CO;2-O. PMID 8837698.
28. Joseph J, Wetzel NA (2013). "Ernst Rüdin: Hitler's Racial Hygiene Mastermind". J Hist Biol. 46 (1): 1–30. doi:10.1007/s10739-012-9344-6. PMID 23180223.
29. Understanding Mental Health: A Critical Realist ExplorationDavid Pilgrim. Pg 51-

External links

• History of Mental Health: 1874: Ernst Rüdin By Henk van Setten
• The Simon Wiesenthal Center Multimedia Learning Center Online: Ernst Rudin (nb: page moved)
• International Eugenics
• Julian Schwarz, Burkhart Brückner: Biography of Ernst Rüdin in: Biographical Archive of Psychiatry (BIAPSY), 2016.


"Ernst Rudin," from "The University Department of Psychiatry in Munich: From Kraepelin and his predecessors to molecular psychiatry"
by H. Hippius, H.J. Moller, N. Muller and G. Neundorfer-Kohl

Ernst Rudin (1874-1952) had already once worked for Kraepelin (1900 until 1901 in Heidelberg) before becoming Kraepelin’s co-worker for a second time in 1907.

Ernst Rudin was born in St. Gallen (Switzerland) as son of a teacher who later worked as a textile salesman. Rudin grew up with his three elder sisters. The second eldest sister influenced him strongly and in many different ways. She was eight years older than him, was extremely assertive and was one of the first women in Switzerland to graduate in medicine. During her studies she med Alfred Julius Ploetz (1860-1940), who came from Silesia, was economist and founder of the racial hygiene movement in Germany. With his social-Darwinist views on “racial hygiene” Ploetz made a lasting impression on the young Ernst Rudin. Even after Ploetz and Rudin’s sister divorced, Ploetz and Ernst Rudin kept in contact. Apart from being influenced by Ploetz’s initially utopian ideas, which later turned into the actual reality of racial hygiene, Rudin was also influenced as a young man by the works of A. Forel. Forel had been Professor for Psychiatry in Zurich since 1879, managed the Psychiatric Clinic Burgholzli in Zurich and was a committed member of the Swiss abstinence movement. Already during his school days, Rudin combined Ploetz’ social reforming postulate and concept of racial hygiene with the efforts of Forel enforcing the ideas of the abstinence movement.

Influenced by these ideas Rudin began his medical studies in 1893, which took him to Switzerland, Italy, Germany and Ireland. After graduation in Zurich in 1898 he worked for a year at the Psychiatric Clinic for Forel’s successor E. Bleuler (1857-1939), before leaving to join Kraepelin in Heidelberg. His graduation in Zurich was entitled “About the clinical forms of prison psychoses.” After working in Heidelberg for a short time, Rudin’s career took him back to Bleuler in Zurich and then finally to Berlin where he – after working in neurology for H. Oppenheim (1858-1919) – worked at the observation department of the prison Berlin-Moabit. During this time Rudin was again in close contact with A. Ploetz; plans to publish a new journal – “Archive of Biological Hygiene for Race and Society” – were established. The editor and co-publisher of the journal was Rudin and he was co-founder of an “Association for Racial Hygiene.” The “Archive of Biological Hygiene for Race and Society” followed up on the “degeneration doctrine” developed by French psychiatrists during the second half of the 19th century and set down procedures for “prophylaxes of madness.”

From 1905 until 1907 Rudin worked mainly as editor of the “Archive of Biological Hygiene for Race and Society.” Then he returned to psychiatry. He became assistant to Kraepelin at the Munich clinic. At this time, Kraepelin was preoccupied with work on the hereditary aspects of mental diseases and was critically analyzing the degeneration doctrine which he found to be conceptually inaccurate. Rudin stayed with Kraepelin for 18 years, having studied at 6 or 7 different universities, after working for 6 years at many different clinics and finally having spent two and a half years as publisher and editor of a journal. He worked at the Munich clinic for 10 years and then at the German Psychiatric Research Institute, which Kraepelin had founded. During his entire time with Kraepelin Rudin remained a dedicated advocate of “racial hygiene.”

Two years after joining the Munich clinic, Rudin habilitated in 1909 at the medical faculty with a thesis “About the clinical research of mental disorders in prisoners sentenced to life-long imprisonment” and in doing so, followed up on his graduation topic in Zurich. Forensic-psychiatric problems were always of interest to Rudin; he lectured on forensic psychiatry. From 1911 onwards he lectures on “Facts, Problem and Prophylaxis of Degeneration.”

After habilitating, Rudin began his work on the “Empirical hereditary prognosis.” With his study on dementia praecox he became a founder of modern psychiatric-genetic research.

In 1909 Kraepelin made Rudin clinical senior consultant in place of Alzheimer who wanted to dedicate himself to scientific work. Consequently, Rudin was responsible for the Psychiatric Out-Patient Clinic and met Ida Senger, a co-worker of Hans Gudden. Rudin married Ida Senger in 1920.

Kraepelin had hesitated for a while before making Rudin clinical senior consultant. Following Gaupp’s appointment to Tubingen (1906), Alzheimer took over the job of senior consultant on an interim basis. Kraeplin tried to convince Alzheimer to keep the job as long as possible, but Alzheimer constantly urged to be freed from his duties and Kraepelin finally decided to give Rudin the job in 1909.

Kraepelin was very critical of many of Rudin’s ideas.

When Rudin left the clinic in 1917, he took over the genealogical demographic department of the Research Institute and continued to collaborate with the clinic doctors. This situation was possible because the Research Institute occupied rooms at the clinic for quite some time.

During the last months of the war and the first years following the First World War, Rudin made some important forensic-psychiatric expertises. For example, together with E. Kahn (see below), he gave his expert opinion on some of the members of the revolutionary unrest which had played a role in the founding of the Munich council republic. The “revolutionary leaders” were judged according to psychopathological criteria as “ethically defective, seriously psychopathic personalities.” These expert opinions were in considerable contrast to the forensic psychiatric expertise Rudin made on Count von Arco-Valley, who had shot the Bavarian Minister President Eisner in 1919. In Arco-Valley “no grounds for mental disease” could be found, but “only an immature personality tending towards impulsive acts” (this expertise by Rudin from 1918/1919 is nowadays an unsettling example – and justifiably so – of how a psychiatric evaluation can unfortunately be defined by the personal conviction of a single expert).

Rudin remained head of the genealogical demographic department of the Research Institute until 1925; he then was offered the chair for psychiatry in Basle. He managed the Basle clinic for three years and after Kraepelin’s death returned to the Research Institute in Munich in 1928. In Basle he was not able to carry out his plans for psychiatric-genetics studies as wished. In Munich, with the building of the Research Institute sponsored by the Rockefeller Foundation, he received the research opportunity he had been looking for. In 1931 he became manager of the Research Institute and in 1933 was given the title and academic rights of an ordinary professor of psychiatry of the University of Munich.

In the following years he extended he department with considerable organizational talent. After 1933 he profited from the fact that his genetic-psychiatric research and ideas of racial hygiene were exactly what the new potentates were looking for. As early as 1933, Rudin became head of the “Working Group for Racial Hygiene and Racial Politics” for the advisory council for “Racial and Population Politics” to the Reichs-Minister of the Interior, became assessor at the Court for Genetic Health and thus became more and more involved in the calamitous developments of the national-socialistic regime. The genealogical demographic department of the German Psychiatric Research Institute was subsidized directly by funds from the Reich’s Chancellor.

Immediately after the end of the Second World War the Swiss authorities withdrew Rudin’s citizenship. In autumn 1945 he was dismissed from office by the American Military Government and interned. Within the denazification project he was considered to be amongst the “less guilty” and after probation he was classified as “follower.” Rudin died in Munich on October 22, 1952.

The opening of the German Research Institute had been so much work for Kraepelin in 1917/1918 that the problems at the clinic had second priority. When Rudin left the clinic in 1917 to take over the genealogical demographic department at the Research Institute, the job of senior consultant remained unoccupied for the time being. In 1919 G. Stertz became senior consultant at the clinic, and when Stertz was appointed to Marburg two years later, E. Kahn took his place. Kahn managed the clinic after Kraeplin’s retirement and did so provisionally until O. Bumke took over.
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Re: Mathilde Ludendorff, by Wikipedia

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Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry [Kaiser Wilhelm Institute of Psychiatry]
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 12/29/18



German Research Institute for Psychiatry (a Kaiser Wilhelm institute) in Munich. It is now the Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry. [Kaiser Wilhelm Institute of Psychiatry]

-- Kaiser Wilhelm Society, by Wikipedia

Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry
Formation February 13, 1917; 101 years ago
Type Scientific institute
Purpose Research in psychiatry
Headquarters Munich, state of Bavaria, Germany, European Union
Key people
Emil Kraepelin (founder)
Parent organization
Max Planck Society
Website (in English)
Formerly called
German Institute for Psychiatric Research

The Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry (German: Max-Planck-Institut für Psychiatrie) is a scientific institute based in the city of Munich in Germany specializing in psychiatry. Currently directed by Elisabeth Binder, Alon Chen and Martin Keck, it is one of the 81 institutes in the Max Planck Society.[1]


The Institute was founded as the German Institute for Psychiatric Research (German: Deutsche Forschungsanstalt für Psychiatrie) by King Ludwig III of Bavaria in Munich on February 13, 1917. The main force behind the institute was the psychiatrist Emil Kraepelin.[2][3][4] Substantial funding was received from the Jewish-American banker James Loeb,[5] as well as from the Rockefeller Foundation, well into the 1930s. The Institute became affiliated with the K. W. Society for the Advancement of Science (German: Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gesellschaft zur Förderung der Wissenschaften) in 1924.

In 1928 a new building of the institute was opened at 2 Kraepelinstrasse. The building was financed primarily by a donation of $325,000 from the Rockefeller Foundation. Under the leadership of department heads Walther Spielmeyer, Ernst Rüdin, Felix Plaut, Kurt Schneider and Franz Jahnel, the Institute gained an international reputation as a leading institution for psychiatric research.[6]

Rudin, a student of Kraepelin's, took over the directorship of the Institute in 1931, while also remaining head of genetics. As well as fostering an international scientific reputation, the Institute developed close ties with the Nazi regime. Rudin (along with Eugen Fischer of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute of Anthropology, Human Heredity, and Eugenics) joined expert government committees. Rudin wrote the official commentary endorsing the forced sterilization laws. He was such an avid proponent that colleagues nicknamed him the "Reichsfuhrer for Sterilization".[7][8] Felix Plaut (in 1935) and Kurt Neubürger were dismissed from the Institute due to their Jewish origin.[6][9] Copies of Rudin's lecture notes show that his teaching at the Institute was anti-semitic.[10] The Institute received a great deal of government funding, which was openly designed to further the Nazi regime's aims.[11] Some Institute funds seem to have gone on to support the work of Institute employee Julius Duessen with Carl Schneider at Heidelberg University, clinical research which from the beginning involving killing children.[12][8][13][14]

During the Second World War, the Institute's facilities sustained much damage.[6] After the war, Rudin claimed he was just an academic, had only heard rumours of the killing of psychiatric patients at nearby asylums, and that he hated the Nazis. He was supported by former Institute colleague Josef Kallmann (a eugenicist himself) and famous quantum physicist Max Planck[verification needed] and released with a 500 mark fine.[10]

In 1954 the Institute was incorporated into the Max Planck Society (as successive institution of the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gesellschaft zur Förderung der Wissenschaften under maintenance of the foundation of 1917). The Institute was divided into an Institute of Brain Pathology and a Clinical Institute, both at 2 Kraepelinstrasse. Twelve years later in 1966, the Institute was renamed as the Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry. In the same year, a new research clinic was opened in Kraepelinstrasse 10.[6]

In 1984 the theoretical part of the Institute moved to a new building in Martinsried, west of Munich. The Departments of Neurochemistry, Neuromorphology, Neuropharmacology and Neurophysiology were moved there. The Clinical Department, the Departments of Ethology and Psychology remained in Kraepelinstrasse. The independent Research Center of Psychopathology and Psychotherapy were closed.[6]

In 1989 the Institute's building in Kraepelinstrasse was renovated and enlarged with the addition of a new laboratory wing.[6]

In 1998 the theoretical part and the clinical part of the Institute segregated. The theoretical division of the Institute became the Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology and the clinical part kept the name "Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry".[6]


The Institute is one of the leading research centers on psychiatry. Physicians, psychologists, and natural scientists conduct research on psychiatric and neurological disorders and on the development of diagnosis and treatment.[15]

Many patients participate in different clinical trails each year. Extensive phenotyping of the patients with analysis of blood and fluid samples, clinical psychopathology and neuropsychological testing, neurophysiological methods, neuroimaging techniques, and protein and gene analyses form the basis to investigate the causation of complex psychiatric and neurological diseases.[15]

The concept of the Institute is based on a suitable balance between clinical and laboratory research. Research groups work on topics such as stress, anxiety, Posttraumatic stress disorder, depression, neurologic diseases, psychopharmacology, schizophrenia, sleep, and other topics.[16]

The Institute consists of a 120-bed clinic equipped with laboratories for research on neuroendocrinology and sleep physiology, several special wards, a dayclinic for depression and psychiatry and various laboratories for cell and molecular biology.[16]

Medical services

The Institute provides medical service for psychiatric and neurological disorders. It has a hospital, dayclinic for depression and psychiatry and several outpatient clinics. The hospital consists of four psychiatric and one neurological ward with 120 beds. It treats about 2000 inpatients per year.[17]

The Institute provides treatment for depression, anxiety disorder, schizophrenia, sleep disorders, dementia, multiple sclerosis, Morbus Parkinson, restless legs syndrome, and endocrine diseases.[17]


The following are the primary heads of the institute's respective departments:

Scientific Directors

• Elisabeth Binder (Managing Director)
• Alon Chen

Head of Clinic

• Martin E. Keck
• Matthias M. Weber (Hospital Deputy Head)

Head of Administration

• Hartmut Lingner

See also

• Max Planck Institute for Brain Research (Frankfurt)
• Institute of Psychiatry (UK)


1. "Max Planck Institutes". Max Planck Society. Retrieved 2014-07-29.
2. Engstrom, Eric J., Wolfgang Burgmair, and Matthias M. Weber. "Psychiatric Governance, Völkisch Corporatism, and the German Research Institute of Psychiatry in Munich (1912–26)." History of Psychiatry 27, no. 1/2 (2016): 38-50, 137-52.
3. Engstrom, Eric J et al. "Psychiatrie und Politik im Dienste des deutschen Volkes." In Emil Kraepelin: Kraepelin in München II, 1914-1921, ed. Wolfgang Burgmair, Eric J. Engstrom and Matthias M. Weber, 17-82. Munich: Belleville, 2009.
4. Engstrom, Eric J. et al. "Wissenschaftsorganisation als Vermächtnis." In Emil Kraepelin: Kraepelin in München, Teil III: 1921-1926, edited by Wolfgang Burgmair, Eric J. Engstrom, and Matthias Weber, 17-71. Munich: belleville, 2013.
5. Burgmair, Wolfgang, and Matthias M. Weber. "'Das Geld ist gut angelegt, und du brauchst keine Reue zu haben': James Loeb, ein deutsch-amerikanischer Wissenschaftsmäzen zwischen Kaiserreich und Weimarer Republik." Historische Zeitschrift 277 (2003): 343-378.
6. "History of the Institute". Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry. Retrieved 2008-08-05.
7. Science and Inhumanity: The Kaiser-Wilhelm/Max Planck Society William E. Seidelman MD, 2001
8. The Missing Gene Jay Joseph, 2006, pg142-
9. Hippius, Hanns; Hans-Jürgen Möller; Norbert Müller; Gabriele Neundörfer-Kohl (2007). The University Department of Psychiatry in Munich: From Kraepelin and His Predecessors to Molecular Psychiatry. Springer. p. 94. ISBN 3-540-74016-3.
10. Genetic Research in Psychiatry and Psychology Under the Microscope Jay Joseph. Pg 33-, 48. Original source: Created Nazi Science of Murder Victor H Berstein, 1945, August 21, PM Daily
11. Baltic Eugenics: Bio-Politics, Race and Nation in Interwar Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania 1918-1940 : Volker Roelcke: 3. Eliot Slater and the Institutionalization of Psychiatric Genetics in the United Kingdom pg 304
12. Man, Medicine, and the State Pg 73-
13. Medicine and Medical Ethics in Nazi Germany: Origins, Practices, Legacies Chapter by V. Roelcke, Pg106
14. Program and practice of psychiatric genetics at the German Research Institute of Psychiatry under Ernst Rudin: on the relationship between science, politics and the concept of race before and after 1993 by V. Roelcke, 2002
15. "Research". Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry. Retrieved 2014-07-29.
16. "Profile". Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry. Retrieved 2014-07-29.
17. "Medical services". Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry. Retrieved 2014-07-29.
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Re: Mathilde Ludendorff, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Sun Dec 30, 2018 5:24 am

Carl Schneider
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 12/29/18




Carl Schneider (December 19, 1891 in Gembitz, Kreis Mogilno, Province of Posen – December 11, 1946 in Frankfurt am Main), professor at Heidelberg University, (1933–1945)[1] chairman of its department of Psychiatry,[2] director of its clinic, was a senior researcher for the Action T4 euthanasia program.

Schneider is said to exemplify the descent of a distinguished academic psychiatrist into the Nazi worldview. Some described him as having shown great empathy in his psychiatric rehabilitation work, and having a great idealism about transforming the 'horror' of psychiatric patients thought to be regressed, isolated and backward. He would sometimes put forward two possible ways of helping a patient – one of them 'work therapy', and the other to sterilize or kill them.[3]

Schneider joined the Nazi Party in 1932. He defined and elaborated the psychological assumptions of Nazi ideology and science. He coined the term national therapy for ethnic cleansing: ridding the populace of genetic and blood contaminants threatening the psychological and physical health of the German/Aryan population.[4] He collected the brains of murdered Jews,[2] retarded children, and other victims, for research in his clinic and for instruction. He taught a technique of replacing spinal fluid with air, to get clearer x-rays of the brain.[citation needed]

Schneider, along with Konrad Zucker, helped Heidelberg become one of the two leading training centres for the killing of children for theoretically scientific purposes, which went on at thirty clinics for three years.[5]

After the war

At the end of the war Schneider flew out of Heidelberg on the 29 March 1945. The U.S. occupation authorities barred his reinstatement to the university's medical faculty, even before they learned of his role in the euthanasia program. Later Schneider was arrested and moved to Lager in Moosburg . On the 29 November 1946 Schneider was given to the German justice authorities in Frankfurt am Main, to be a witness in the trial against Werner Heyde. Prosecutor said to Schneider, that in a trial his position would be very bad. On the 11 December 1946 Schneider hanged himself in his prison cell (1946) awaiting trial in Frankfurt am Main. His co-workers were not punished and could continue their work.[6] [7] His membership in the Heidelberg academy of sciences was deleted.[8][9][10][11]


1. Shorter, Edward (2005). A historical dictionary of psychiatry. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-517668-1. Retrieved 2009-10-01.
2. Y. A. Adam (March 2007). "Justice in Nuremberg: The Doctors' Trial – 60 Years Later A Reminder". Israel Medical Association Journal. Israel Medical Association. 9 (3): 194&ndash, 195. PMID 17402338. Retrieved 2009-10-01.
3. The Nazi doctors: medical killing and the psychology of genocide pg 122 By Robert Jay Lifton 2000
4. James M. Glass. "Nuremberg Laws: Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity"., Inc. Retrieved 2009-10-01.
5. The Strassmanns: Science, Politics and Migration in Turbulent Times (1793-1993)
6. M. Rotzoll, G. Hohendorf: Die Psychiatrisch-Neurologische Klinik. 2006.
7. Peter Sandner: Verwaltung des Krankenmordes. Der Bezirksverband Nassau im Nationalsozialismus. Psychosozial-Verlag, Gießen 2003, ISBN 3-89806-320-8, S. 932–934, S. 741.
8. Carl Schneider. In: "Mitglieder der HAdW seit ihrer Gründung im Jahr 1909" (in German). Heidelberger Akademie der Wissenschaften. Retrieved 2016-06-11.
9. Remy, Steven P. (2002). The Heidelberg myth: the Nazification and denazification of a German university. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press. pp. 118, 138. ISBN 0-674-00933-9. LCCN 2002069072. Retrieved 2009-10-01.
10. Uwe Henrik Peters, M.D. (2001). "On Nazi Psychiatry" (Fee). Psychoanalytic Review. National Psychological Association for Psychoanalysis. 88 (2): 295&ndash, 309. doi:10.1521/prev. Retrieved 2009-10-01. Schneider also committed suicide, in 1946, while in prison waiting for his trial to begin.
11. L Singer (December 3, 1998). "Ideology and ethics. The perversion of German psychiatrists' ethics by the ideology of national socialism". European Psychiatry. Elsevier SAS. 13(Supplement 3): 87s&ndash, 92s. doi:10.1016/S0924-9338(98)80038-2. PMID 19698678. Carl Schneider committed suicide by hanging after his arrest...(subscription required)


• Friedlander, Henry (1995). The Origins of Nazi Genocide: From Euthanasia to the Final Solution. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press. ISBN 0-8078-4675-9. Retrieved 2009-10-01.
• Kaplan, Robert M. (2009). Medical Murder: Disturbing Cases of Doctors Who Kill. Crows Nest, N.S.W.: Allen & Unwin. ISBN 978-1-74175-610-4. Retrieved 2009-10-01.
• William E. Seidelman (December 7, 1996). "Nuremberg lamentation: for the forgotten victims of medical science". BMJ. BMJ Group. 313(7070): 1463–7. doi:10.1136/bmj.313.7070.1463. PMC 2352986. PMID 8973236.
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Re: Mathilde Ludendorff, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Sun Dec 30, 2018 5:38 am

Part 1 of 2

Aktion T4
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 12/29/18



Hitler's order for Aktion T4
Also known as T4 Program
Location German-occupied Europe
Date September 1939 – 1945
Incident type Forced euthanasia
Perpetrators SS
Participants Psychiatric hospitals
Victims 275,000–300,000[1][2][3][a]

Aktion T4 (German, pronounced [akˈtsi̯oːn teː fiːɐ]) was a postwar name for mass murder through involuntary euthanasia in Nazi Germany.[4][ b] 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.[5][6][7][c] Certain German physicians were authorized to select patients "deemed incurably sick, after most critical medical examination" and then administer to them a "mercy death" (Gnadentod).[8] 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.

The killings took place from September 1939 until the end of the war in 1945; from 275,000 to 300,000 people were killed in psychiatric hospitals in Germany and Austria, occupied Poland and the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia (now the Czech Republic).[9][10][11] The number of victims was originally recorded as 70,273 but this number has been increased by the discovery of victims listed in the archives of former East Germany.[12][d] About half of those killed were taken from church-run asylums, often with the approval of the Protestant or Catholic authorities of the institutions.[14][15] The Holy See announced on 2 December 1940 that the policy was contrary to the natural and positive Divine law and that "the direct killing of an innocent person because of mental or physical defects is not allowed" but the declaration was not upheld by some Catholic authorities in Germany. In the summer of 1941, protests were led in Germany by Bishop von Galen, whose intervention led to "the strongest, most explicit and most widespread protest movement against any policy since the beginning of the Third Reich", according to Richard J. Evans.[16]

Several reasons have been suggested for the killings, including eugenics, compassion, reducing suffering, racial hygiene and saving money.[17][18] Physicians in German and Austrian asylums continued many of the practices of Aktion T4 until the defeat of Germany in 1945, in spite of its official cessation in August 1941. The informal continuation of the policy led to 93,521 "beds emptied" by the end of 1941.[19][20][e] Technology developed under Aktion T4 was taken over by the medical division of the Reich Interior Ministry, particularly the use of lethal gas to kill large numbers of people, along with the personnel of Aktion T4 who then participated in Operation Reinhard.[23] The programme was authorised by Hitler but the killings have since come to be viewed as murders in Germany. The number of people killed was about 200,000 in Germany and Austria, with about 100,000 victims in other European countries.[f]


This poster (from around 1938) reads: "60,000 Reichsmark is what this person suffering from a hereditary defect costs the People's community during his lifetime. Fellow citizen, that is your money too. Read '[A] New People', the monthly magazine of the Bureau for Race Politics of the NSDAP."

At the beginning of the twentieth century, the sterilisation of people carrying what were considered to be hereditary defects and in some cases those exhibiting what was thought to be hereditary "antisocial" behaviour, was a respectable field of medicine. Canada, Denmark, Switzerland and the US had passed laws enabling coerced sterilisation. Studies conducted in the 1920s ranked Germany as a country that was unusually reluctant to introduce sterilisation legislation.[25] In his book Mein Kampf (1924), Hitler wrote that one day racial hygiene "will appear as a deed greater than the most victorious wars of our present bourgeois era".[26][when?][27]

In July 1933 "Law for the Prevention of Hereditarily Diseased Offspring" prescribed compulsory sterilisation for people with conditions thought to be hereditary, such as schizophrenia, epilepsy, Huntington's chorea and "imbecility". Sterilisation was also legalised for chronic alcoholism and other forms of social deviance. The law was administered by the Interior Ministry under Wilhelm Frick through special Hereditary Health Courts (Erbgesundheitsgerichte), which examined the inmates of nursing homes, asylums, prisons, aged-care homes and special schools, to select those to be sterilised.[28] It is estimated that 360,000 people were sterilised under this law between 1933 and 1939.[29]

The policy and research agenda of racial hygiene and eugenics were promoted by Emil Kraepelin.[30] The eugenic sterilization of persons diagnosed with (and viewed as predisposed to) schizophrenia was advocated by Eugen Bleuler, who presumed racial deterioration because of “mental and physical cripples” in his Textbook of Psychiatry,

The more severely burdened should not propagate themselves… If we do nothing but make mental and physical cripples capable of propagating themselves, and the healthy stocks have to limit the number of their children because so much has to be done for the maintenance of others, if natural selection is generally suppressed, then unless we will get new measures our race must rapidly deteriorate.[31][32][33]

Within the Nazi administration, the idea of including in the program people with physical disabilities had to be expressed carefully, given that one of the most powerful figures of the regime, Joseph Goebbels, had a deformed right leg.[g] After 1937 the acute shortage of labour in Germany arising from rearmament, meant that anyone capable of work was deemed to be "useful" and thus exempted from the law and the rate of sterilisation declined.[35] The term "Aktion T4" is a post-war coining; contemporary German terms included Euthanasie (euthanasia) and Gnadentod (merciful death).[36] The T4 programme stemmed from the Nazi Party policy of "racial hygiene", a belief that the German people needed to be cleansed of racial enemies, which included anyone confined to a mental health facility and people with simple physical disabilities.[37]


NSDAP Reichsleiter Philipp Bouhler, Head of the T4 programme

Karl Brandt, personal doctor to Hitler and Hans Lammers, the head of the Reich Chancellery, testified after the war that Hitler had told them as early as 1933—when the sterilisation law was passed—that he favoured the killing of the incurably ill but recognised that public opinion would not accept this.[38] In 1935, Hitler told the Leader of Reich Doctors, Gerhard Wagner, that the question could not be taken up in peacetime, "Such a problem could be more smoothly and easily carried out in war". He wrote that he intended to "radically solve" the problem of the mental asylums in such an event.[38] Aktion T4 began with a "trial" case in late 1938. Hitler instructed Brandt to evaluate a family's petition for the "mercy killing" of their son who was blind, had physical and developmental disabilities.[39][h] The child, born near Leipzig and eventually identified as Gerhard Kretschmar, was killed in July 1939.[41][42] Hitler instructed Brandt to proceed in the same manner in all similar cases.[43]

On 18 August 1939, three weeks after the killing of the boy, the Reich Committee for the Scientific Registering of Hereditary and Congenital Illnesses was established. It was to register sick children or newborns identified as defective. The secret killing of infants began in 1939 and increased after the war started; by 1941 more than 5,000 children had been killed.[44][45] Hitler was in favour of killing those whom he judged to be lebensunwertes Leben (Life unworthy of life). In a 1939 conference with Leonardo Conti, Reich Health Leader and state secretary for health in the Interior Ministry and Hans Lammers, Chief of the Reich Chancellery—a few months before the "euthanasia" decree—Hitler gave as examples the mentally ill who he said could only be "bedded on sawdust or sand" because they "perpetually dirtied themselves" and "put their own excrement into their mouths". This issue, according to the Nazi regime, assumed new urgency in wartime.[46]

After the invasion of Poland, Hermann Pfannmüller said

Für mich ist die Vorstellung untragbar, dass beste, blühende Jugend an der Front ihr Leben lassen muss, damit verblichene Asoziale und unverantwortliche Antisoziale ein gesichertes Dasein haben. (It is unbearable to me that the flower of our youth must lose their lives at the front, while that feeble-minded and asocial element can have a secure existence in the asylum.)[47]

Pfannmüller advocated killing by a gradual decrease of food, which he believed was more merciful than poison injections.[48][49]

Karl Brandt, Hitler's personal doctor and organiser of Aktion T4

The German eugenics movement had an extreme wing even before the Nazis came to power. As early as 1920, Alfred Hoche and Karl Binding advocated killing people whose lives were "unworthy of life" (lebensunwertes Leben). Darwinism was interpreted by them as justification of the demand for "beneficial" genes and eradication of the "harmful" ones. Robert Lifton wrote, "The argument went that the best young men died in war, causing a loss to the Volk of the best available genes. The genes of those who did not fight (the worst genes) then proliferated freely, accelerating biological and cultural degeneration".[50] The advocacy of eugenics in Germany gained ground after 1930, when the Depression was used to excuse cuts in funding to state mental hospitals, creating squalor and overcrowding.[51]

Many German eugenicists were nationalists and antisemites, who embraced the Nazi regime with enthusiasm. Many were appointed to positions in the Health Ministry and German research institutes. Their ideas were gradually adopted by the majority of the German medical profession, from which Jewish and communist doctors were soon purged.[52] During the 1930s the Nazi Party had carried out a campaign of propaganda in favour of euthanasia. The National Socialist Racial and Political Office (NSRPA) produced leaflets, posters and short films to be shown in cinemas, pointing out to Germans the cost of maintaining asylums for the incurably ill and insane. These films included The Inheritance (Das Erbe, 1935), The Victim of the Past (Opfer der Vergangenheit, 1937), which was given a major première in Berlin and was shown in all German cinemas, and I Accuse (Ich klage an, 1941), which was based on a novel by Hellmuth Unger, a consultant for "child euthanasia".[53]

Killing of children

Schönbrunn Psychiatric Hospital, 1934 (Photo by SS photographer Friedrich Franz Bauer)

In mid-1939 Hitler authorized the creation of the Reich Committee for the Scientific Registering of Serious Hereditary and Congenital Illnesses (Reichsausschuss zur wissenschaftlichen Erfassung erb- und anlagebedingter schwerer Leiden), headed by Dr. Karl Brandt, his physician, and administered by Herbert Linden of the Interior Ministry as well as SS-Oberführer Viktor Brack. Brandt and Bouhler were authorized to approve applications to kill children in relevant circumstances,[54][55] though Bouhler left the details to subordinates such as Brack and SA-Oberführer Werner Blankenburg.[56]

Extermination centres were established at six existing psychiatric hospitals: Bernburg, Brandenburg, Grafeneck, Hadamar, Hartheim, and Sonnenstein.[37][57] One thousand children under the age of 17 were killed at the institutions Am Spiegelgrund and Gugging in Austria.[58][59] They played a crucial role in developments leading to the Holocaust.[37] As a related aspect of the "medical" and scientific basis of this programme, the Nazi doctors took thousands of brains from 'euthanasia' victims for research.[60]

Viktor Brack, organiser of the T4 Programme

From August 1939, the Interior Ministry registered children with disabilities, requiring doctors and midwives to report all cases of newborns with severe disabilities; the 'guardian' consent element soon disappeared. Those to be killed were identified as "all children under three years of age in whom any of the following 'serious hereditary diseases' were 'suspected': idiocy and Down syndrome (especially when associated with blindness and deafness); microcephaly; hydrocephaly; malformations of all kinds, especially of limbs, head, and spinal column; and paralysis, including spastic conditions".[61] The reports were assessed by a panel of medical experts, of whom three were required to give their approval before a child could be killed.

The Ministry used deceit when dealing with parents or guardians, particularly in Catholic areas, where parents were generally uncooperative. Parents were told that their children were being sent to "Special Sections", where they would receive improved treatment.[62] The children sent to these centres were kept for "assessment" for a few weeks and then killed by injection of toxic chemicals, typically phenol; their deaths were recorded as "pneumonia". Autopsies were usually performed and brain samples were taken to be used for "medical research". Post mortem examinations apparently helped to ease the consciences of many of those involved, giving them the feeling that there was a genuine medical purpose to the killings.[63] The most notorious of these institutions in Austria was Am Spiegelgrund, where from 1940 to 1945, 789 children were killed by lethal injection, gas poisoning and physical abuse.[64] Children's brains were preserved in jars of formaldehyde and stored in the basement of the clinic and in the private collection of Heinrich Gross, one of the institution's directors, until 2001.[59]

When the Second World War began in September 1939, less rigorous standards of assessment and a quicker approval process were adopted. Older children and adolescents were included and the conditions covered came to include

... various borderline or limited impairments in children of different ages, culminating in the killing of those designated as juvenile delinquents. Jewish children could be placed in the net primarily because they were Jewish; and at one of the institutions, a special department was set up for 'minor Jewish-Aryan half-breeds'.

— Lifton[65]

More pressure was placed on parents to agree to their children being sent away. Many parents suspected what was happening, especially when it became apparent that institutions for children with disabilities were being systematically cleared of their charges and refused consent. The parents were warned that they could lose custody of all their children and if that did not suffice, the parents could be threatened with call-up for 'labour duty'.[66] By 1941, more than 5,000 children had been killed.[45][j] The last child to be killed under Aktion T4 was Richard Jenne on 29 May 1945 in the children's ward of the Kaufbeuren-Irsee state hospital in Bavaria, Germany, more than three weeks after U.S. Army troops had occupied the town.[67][68]

Killing of adults

Invasion of Poland

SS-Gruppenführer Leonardo Conti

Brandt and Bouhler developed plans to expand the programme of euthanasia to adults. In July 1939 they held a meeting attended by Conti and Professor Werner Heyde, head of the SS medical department. This meeting agreed to arrange a national register of all institutionalised people with mental illnesses or physical disabilities. The first adults with disabilities to be killed en masse by the Nazi regime were Poles. After the invasion on 1 September 1939, adults with disabilities were shot by the SS men of Einsatzkommando 16, Selbstschutz and EK-Einmann under the command of SS-Sturmbannführer Rudolf Tröger, with overall command by Reinhard Heydrich, during the genocidal Operation Tannenberg.[69][k] All hospitals and mental asylums of the Wartheland were emptied. The region was incorporated into Germany and earmarked for resettlement by Volksdeutsche following the German conquest of Poland.[71] In the Danzig (now Gdańsk) area, some 7,000 Polish patients of various institutions were shot and 10,000 were killed in the Gdynia area. Similar measures were taken in other areas of Poland destined for incorporation into Germany.[72] The first experiments with the gassing of patients were conducted in October 1939 at Fort VII in Posen (occupied Poznań), where hundreds of prisoners were killed by means of carbon monoxide poisoning, in an improvised gas chamber developed by Dr Albert Widmann, chief chemist of the German Criminal Police (Kripo). In December 1939, Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler witnessed one of these gassings, ensuring that this invention would later be put to much wider uses.[73]

Bunker No. 17 in artillery wall of Fort VII in Poznań, used as improvised gas chamber for early experiments

The idea of killing adult mental patients soon spread from occupied Poland to adjoining areas of Germany, probably because Nazi Party and SS officers in these areas were most familiar with what was happening in Poland. These were also the areas where Germans wounded from the Polish campaign were expected to be accommodated, which created a demand for hospital space. The Gauleiter of Pomerania, Franz Schwede-Coburg, sent 1,400 patients from five Pomeranian hospitals to undisclosed locations in occupied Poland, where they were shot. The Gauleiter of East Prussia, Erich Koch, had 1,600 patients killed out of sight. More than 8,000 Germans were killed in this initial wave of killings carried out on the orders of local officials, although Himmler certainly knew and approved of them.[45][74]

The legal basis for the programme was a 1939 letter from Hitler, not a formal "Führer's decree" with the force of law. Hitler bypassed Conti, the Health Minister and his department, who might have raised questions about the legality of the programme and entrusted it to Bouhler and Brandt.[75][l]

Reich Leader Bouhler and Dr. Brandt are entrusted with the responsibility of extending the authority of physicians, to be designated by name, so that patients who, after a most critical diagnosis, on the basis of human judgment [menschlichem Ermessen], are considered incurable, can be granted mercy death [Gnadentod].

— Adolf Hitler, 1 September 1939[36][75]

The killings were administered by Viktor Brack and his staff from Tiergartenstraße 4, disguised as the "Charitable Foundation for Cure and Institutional Care" offices which served as the front and was supervised by Bouhler and Brandt.[76][77] The officials in charge included Dr Herbert Linden, who had been involved in the child killing programme; Dr Ernst-Robert Grawitz, chief physician of the SS; and August Becker, an SS chemist. The officials selected the doctors who were to carry out the operational part of the programme; based on political reliability as long-term Nazis, professional reputation and sympathy for radical eugenics. The list included physicians who had proved their worth in the child-killing programme, such as Unger, Heinze and Hermann Pfannmüller. The recruits were mostly psychiatrists, notably Professor Carl Schneider of Heidelberg, Professor Max de Crinis of Berlin and Professor Paul Nitsche from the Sonnenstein state institution. Heyde became the operational leader of the programme, succeeded later by Nitsche.[78]

Listing of targets from hospital records

Hartheim Euthanasia Centre, where over 18,000 people were killed.

In early October, all hospitals, nursing homes, old-age homes and sanatoria were required to report all patients who had been institutionalised for five years or more, who had been committed as "criminally insane", who were of "non-Aryan race" or who had been diagnosed with any on a list of conditions. The conditions included schizophrenia, epilepsy, Huntington's chorea, advanced syphilis, senile dementia, paralysis, encephalitis and "terminal neurological conditions generally". Many doctors and administrators assumed that the reports were to identify inmates who were capable of being drafted for "labour service" and tended to overstate the degree of incapacity of their patients, to protect them from labour conscription. When some institutions refused to co-operate, teams of T4 doctors (or Nazi medical students) visited and compiled the lists, sometimes in a haphazard and ideologically motivated way.[79] During 1940, all Jewish patients were removed from institutions and killed.[80][81][82][m]

As with child inmates, adults were assessed by a panel of experts, working at the Tiergartenstraße offices. The experts were required to make their judgements on the reports, not medical histories or examinations. Sometimes they dealt with hundreds of reports at a time. On each they marked a + (death), a - (life), or occasionally a ? meaning that they were unable to decide. Three "death" verdicts condemned the person and as with reviews of children, the process became less rigorous, the range of conditions considered "unsustainable" grew broader and zealous Nazis further down the chain of command increasingly made decisions on their own initiative.[83]


The first gassings in Germany proper took place in January 1940 at the Brandenburg Euthanasia Centre. The operation was headed by Brack, who said "the needle belongs in the hand of the doctor."[84] Bottled pure carbon monoxide gas was used. At trials, Brandt described the process as a "major advance in medical history".[85] Once the efficacy of the method was confirmed, it became standardised, and instituted at a number of centres across Germany under the supervision of Widmann, Becker, and Christian Wirth – a Kripo officer who later played a prominent role in the extermination of the Jews as commandant of newly built death camps in occupied Poland. In addition to Brandenburg, the killing centres included Grafeneck Castle in Baden-Württemberg (10,824 dead), Schloss Hartheim near Linz in Austria (over 18,000 dead), Sonnenstein Euthanasia Centre in Saxony (15,000 dead), Bernburg Euthanasia Centre in Saxony-Anhalt and Hadamar Euthanasia Centre in Hesse (14,494 dead). The same facilities were also used to kill mentally sound prisoners transferred from concentration camps in Germany, Austria and occupied parts of Poland.

Bishop Jan Maria Michał Kowalski, killed at Hartheim Euthanasia Centre.

Condemned patients were transferred from their institutions to newly built centres in the T4 Charitable Ambulance buses, called the Community Patients Transports Service. They were run by teams of SS men wearing white coats, to give it an air of medical care.[86] To prevent the families and doctors of the patients from tracing them, the patients were often first sent to transit centres in major hospitals, where they were supposedly assessed. They were moved again to special treatment (Sonderbehandlung) centres. Families were sent letters explaining that owing to wartime regulations, it was not possible for them to visit relatives in these centres. Most of these patients were killed within 24 hours of arriving at the centres, and their bodies cremated.[87] For every person killed, a death certificate was prepared, giving a false but plausible cause of death. This was sent to the family along with an urn of ashes (random ashes, since the victims were cremated en masse). The preparation of thousands of falsified death certificates took up most of the working day of the doctors who operated the centres.[88]

During 1940, the centres at Brandenburg, Grafeneck and Hartheim killed nearly 10,000 people each, while another 6,000 were killed at Sonnenstein. In all, about 35,000 people were killed in T4 operations that year. Operations at Brandenburg and Grafeneck were wound up at the end of the year, partly because the areas they served had been cleared and partly because of public opposition. In 1941, however, the centres at Bernburg and Sonnenstein increased their operations, while Hartheim (where Wirth and Franz Stangl were successively commandants) continued as before. As a result, another 35,000 people were killed before August 1941, when the T4 programme was officially shut down by Hitler. Even after that date, however, the centres continued to be used to kill concentration camp inmates: eventually some 20,000 people in this category were killed.[n]

In 1971, Gitta Sereny conducted a series of interviews with Stangl, who was in prison in Düsseldorf after having been convicted of co-responsibility for killing 900,000 people as commandant of the Sobibor and Treblinka extermination camps in Poland. Stangl gave Sereny a detailed account of the operations of the T4 programme based on his time as commandant of the killing facility at the Hartheim institute.[90] He described how the inmates of various asylums were removed and transported by bus to Hartheim. Some were in no mental state to know what was happening to them, but many were perfectly sane, and for them various forms of deception were used. They were told they were at a special clinic where they would receive improved treatment, and were given a brief medical examination on arrival. They were induced to enter what appeared to be a shower block, where they were gassed with carbon monoxide (the ruse was also used at extermination camps).[90]

Number of euthanasia victims

The SS functionaries and hospital staff associated with Aktion T4 in the German Reich were paid from the central office at Tiergartenstrasse 4 in Berlin from the spring of 1940. The SS and police from SS-Sonderkommando Lange responsible for murdering the majority of patients in the annexed territories of Poland since October 1939, took their salaries from the normal police fund, supervised by the administration of the newly formed Wartheland district; the programme in Germany and occupied Poland was overseen by Heinrich Himmler.[91] Before 2013, it was believed that 70,000 persons were murdered in the euthanasia programme, but the German Federal Archives reported that research in the archives of former East Germany indicated that the number of victims in Germany and Austria from 1939 to 1945 was about 200,000 persons and that another 100,000 persons were victims in other European countries.[24][92] In the German T4 centres there was at least the semblance of legality in keeping records and writing letters. In Polish psychiatric hospitals no one was left behind. Killings were inflicted using gas-vans, sealed army bunkers and machine guns; families were not informed about the murdered relatives and the empty wards were handed over to the SS.[91]

Victims of Aktion T4 (official data from 1985), 1940 – September 1941 [93]

T4 Center / Operation timetable / Number of victims
-- / From / Until (officially and unofficially) / 1940 / 1941 / Total

Grafeneck / 20 January 1940 / December 1940 / 9,839 / — / 9,839
Brandenburg / 8 February 1940 / October 1940 / 9,772 / — / 9,772
Bernburg / 21 November 1940 / 30 July 1943 / — / 8,601 / 8,601
Hartheim / 6 May 1940 / December 1944 / 9,670 / 8,599 / 18,269
Sonnenstein / June 1940 / September 1942 / 5,943 / 7,777 / 13,720
Hadamar / January 1941 / 31 July 1942 / — / 10,072 / 10,072
-- / -- / Total by year [93] / 35,224 / 35,049 / 70,273

Territories of occupied Poland [91]
Hospital / Region / Extermination of mentally ill / Number of victims

Owińska / Warthegau / October 1939 / 1,100
Kościan / Warthegau / November 1939 – March 1940 [94] / (2,750) 3,282
Świecie / Danzig-West Prussia / October–November 1939 [95] / 1,350
Kocborowo / Danzig-West Prussia / 22 Sep 1939 – Jan 1940 (1941–44) [94] / (1,692) 2,562
Dziekanka / Warthegau / 7 Dec 1939 – 12 Jan 1940 (July 1941) [94] / (1,043) 1,201
Chełm / General Government / 12 January 1940 / 440
Warta / Warthegau / 31 March 1940 (16 June 1941) [94] (499) / 581
Działdowo / Ostpreussen / 21 May – 8 July 1940 / 1,858
Kochanówka / Warthegau / 13 March 1940 – August 1941 / (minimum of) 850
Helenówek (et al.) / Warthegau / 1940–1941 / 2,200–2,300
Lubliniec / Oberschlesien / November 1941 (children) / 194
Choroszcz / Bezirk Bialystok / August 1941 / 700
Rybnik / Bezirk Kattowitz / 1940–1945 [94] / 2,000
-- / -- / Total by number [94] / c. 16,153

Technology and personnel transfer to death camps

After the official end of the euthanasia programme in 1941, most of the personnel and high-ranking officials, as well as gassing technology and the techniques used to deceive victims, were transferred under the jurisdiction of the national medical division of the Reich Interior Ministry. Further gassing experiments with the use of mobile gas chambers (Einsatzwagen) were conducted at Soldau concentration camp by Herbert Lange following Operation Barbarossa. Lange was appointed commander of the Chełmno extermination camp in December 1941. He was given three gas vans by the RSHA, converted by the Gaubschat GmbH in Berlin[96] and before February 1942, killed 3,830 Polish Jews and around 4,000 Romani, under the guise of "resettlement".[97] After the Wannsee conference, implementation of gassing technology was accelerated by Heydrich. Beginning in the spring of 1942, three killing factories were built secretly in east-central Poland. The SS officers responsible for the earlier Aktion T4, including Wirth, Stangl and Irmfried Eberl, had important roles in the implementation of the "Final Solution" for the next two years.[98][o] The first killing centre equipped with stationary gas chambers modelled on technology developed under Aktion T4 was established at Bełżec in the General Government territory of occupied Poland; the decision preceded the Wannsee Conference of January 1942 by three months.[99]


Gas chamber in Hadamar

In January 1939, Brack commissioned a paper from Professor of Moral Theology at the University of Paderborn, Joseph Mayer, on the likely reactions of the churches in the event of a state euthanasia programme being instituted. Mayer – a longstanding euthanasia advocate – reported that the churches would not oppose such a programme if it was seen to be in the national interest. Brack showed this paper to Hitler in July, and it may have increased his confidence that the "euthanasia" programme would be acceptable to German public opinion.[55] Notably, when Sereny interviewed Mayer shortly before his death in 1967, he denied that he formally condoned the killing of people with disabilities but no copies of this paper are known to survive.[100]

There were those who opposed the T4 programme within the bureaucracy. Lothar Kreyssig, a district judge and member of the Confessing Church, wrote to Gürtner protesting that the action was illegal since no law or formal decree from Hitler had authorised it. Gürtner replied, "If you cannot recognise the will of the Führer as a source of law, then you cannot remain a judge", and had Kreyssig dismissed.[51] Hitler had a fixed policy of not issuing written instructions for policies relating to what could later be condemned by international community, but made an exception when he provided Bouhler and Brack with written authority for the T4 programme in his confidential letter of October 1939 in order to overcome opposition within the German state bureaucracy. Hitler told Bouhler that, "the Führer's Chancellery must under no circumstances be seen to be active in this matter."[76] The Justice Minister, Franz Gürtner, had to be shown Hitler's letter in August 1940 to gain his cooperation.[77]


In the towns where the killing centres were located, many people saw the inmates arrive in buses, saw the smoke from the crematoria chimneys and noticed that the buses were returning empty. In Hadamar, ashes containing human hair rained down on the town. The T4 programme was no secret. Despite the strictest orders, some of the staff at the killing centres talked about what was going on. In some cases families could tell that the causes of death in certificates were false, e.g. when a patient was claimed to have died of appendicitis, even though his appendix had been surgically removed some years earlier. In other cases, several families in the same town would receive death certificates on the same day.[101] In May 1941, the Frankfurt County Court wrote to Gürtner describing scenes in Hadamar where children shouted in the streets that people were being taken away in buses to be gassed.[102]

Hans Gerhard Creutzfeldt in 1920

During 1940, rumours of what was taking place spread and many Germans withdrew their relatives from asylums and sanatoria to care for them at home, often with great expense and difficulty. In some places doctors and psychiatrists co-operated with families to have patients discharged or if the families could afford it, transferred them to private clinics beyond the reach of T4. Other doctors "re-diagnosed" patients so that they no longer met the T4 criteria, which risked exposure when Nazi zealots from Berlin conducted inspections. In Kiel, Professor Hans Gerhard Creutzfeldt managed to save nearly all of his patients.[103] Lifton listed a handful of psychiatrists and administrators who opposed the killings; many doctors collaborated, either through ignorance, agreement with Nazi eugenicist policies or fear of the regime.[103]

Protest letters were sent to the Reich Chancellery and the Ministry of Justice, some from Nazi Party members. The first open protest against the removal of people from asylums took place at Absberg in Franconia in February 1941 and others followed. The SD report on the incident at Absberg noted that "the removal of residents from the Ottilien Home has caused a great deal of unpleasantness" and described large crowds of Catholic townspeople, among them Party members, protesting against the action.[104] Similar petitions and protests occurred throughout Austria as rumors spread of mass killings at the Hartheim Euthanasia Centre and of mysterious deaths at the children's clinic, Am Spiegelgrund in Vienna. Anna Wödl, a nurse and mother of child with a disability, vehemently petitioned to Hermann Linden at the Reich Ministry of the Interior in Berlin to prevent her son, Alfred, from being transferred from Gugging, where he lived and which also became a euthanasia center. Wödl failed and Alfred was sent to Am Spiegelgrund, where he was killed on 22 February 1941. His brain was preserved in formaldehyde for "research" and stored in the clinic for sixty years.[105]

Church protests

The Lutheran theologian Friedrich von Bodelschwingh (director of the Bethel Institution for Epilepsy at Bielefeld) and Pastor Paul-Gerhard Braune (director of the Hoffnungstal Institution near Berlin) protested. Bodelschwingh negotiated directly with Brandt and indirectly with Hermann Göring, whose cousin was a prominent psychiatrist. Braune had meetings with Justice Minister Gürtner, who was always dubious about the legality of the programme. Gürtner later wrote a strongly worded letter to Hitler protesting against it; Hitler did not read it but was told about it by Lammers.[106] Bishop Theophil Wurm, presiding the Evangelical-Lutheran Church in Württemberg, wrote to Interior Minister Frick in March 1940 and the same month a confidential report from the Sicherheitsdienst (SD) in Austria, warned that the killing programme must be implemented with stealth "in order to avoid a probable backlash of public opinion during the war".[107] On 4 December 1940, Reinhold Sautter, the Supreme Church Councillor of the Württemberg State Church, complained to the Nazi Ministerial Councillor Eugen Stähle for the murders in Grafeneck Castle. Stahle said "The fifth commandment Thou shalt not kill, is no commandment of God but a Jewish invention".[108]

Bishop Heinrich Wienken of Berlin, a leading member of the Caritas Association, was selected by the Fulda episcopal synod to represent the views of the Catholic Church in meetings with T4 operatives. In 2008, Michael Burleigh wrote

August von Galen

Wienken seems to have gone partially native in the sense that he gradually abandoned an absolute stance based on the Fifth Commandment in favour of winning limited concessions regarding the restriction of killing to 'complete idiots', access to the sacraments and the exclusion of ill Roman Catholic priests from these policies.[109]

Despite a decree issued by the Vatican on 2 December 1940 stating that the T4 policy was "against natural and positive Divine law" and that "The direct killing of an innocent person because of mental or physical defects is not allowed", the Catholic Church hierarchy in Germany decided to take no further action. Incensed by the Nazi appropriation of Church property in Münster to accommodate people made homeless by an air raid, in July and August 1941 the Bishop of Münster, August von Galen, gave four sermons criticizing the Nazis for arresting Jesuits, confiscating church property and for the euthanasia program.[110][111] Galen sent the text to Hitler by telegram, calling on

... the Führer to defend the people against the Gestapo. It is a terrible, unjust and catastrophic thing when man opposes his will to the will of God ... We are talking about men and women, our compatriots, our brothers and sisters. Poor unproductive people if you wish, but does this mean that they have lost their right to live?[112]

Galen's sermons were not reported in the German press but were circulated illegally as leaflets. The text was dropped by the Royal Air Force over German troops.[15][113] In 2009, Richard J. Evans wrote that "This was the strongest, most explicit and most widespread protest movement against any policy since the beginning of the Third Reich".[16] Local Nazis asked for Galen to be arrested but Goebbels told Hitler that such action would provoke a revolt in Westphalia and Hitler decided to wait until after the war to take revenge.[114][15]

A plaque set in the pavement at No 4 Tiergartenstraße commemorates the victims of the Nazi euthanasia programme.

Commemorative plaque on wall on bunker No. 17 in Fort VII.

In 1986, Lifton wrote, "Nazi leaders faced the prospect of either having to imprison prominent, highly admired clergymen and other protesters – a course with consequences in terms of adverse public reaction they greatly feared – or else end the programme".[115] Evans considered it "at least possible, even indeed probable" that the T4 programme would have continued beyond Hitler's initial quota of 70,000 deaths but for the public reaction to Galen's sermon.[116] Burleigh called assumptions that the sermon affected Hitler's decision to suspend the T4 program "wishful thinking" and noted that the various Church hierarchies did not complain after the transfer of T4 personnel to Aktion Reinhard.[117] Henry Friedlander wrote that it was not the criticism from the Church but rather the loss of secrecy and "general popular disquiet about the way euthanasia was implemented" that caused the killing to be suspended.[118]

Galen had detailed knowledge of the euthanasia program by July 1940 but did not speak out until almost a year after Protestants had begun to protest. In 2002, Beth A. Griech-Polelle wrote that,

Worried lest they be classified as outsiders or internal enemies, they waited for Protestants, that is the "true Germans", to risk a confrontation with the government first. If the Protestants were able to be critical of a Nazi policy, then Catholics could function as "good" Germans and yet be critical too.[119]

On 29 June 1943, Pope Pius XII issued the encyclical Mystici corporis Christi, in which he condemned the fact that "physically deformed people, mentally disturbed people and hereditarily ill people have at times been robbed of their lives" in Germany. Following this, in September 1943, a bold but ineffectual condemnation was read by bishops from pulpits across Germany, denouncing the killing of "the innocent and defenceless mentally handicapped and mentally ill, the incurably infirm and fatally wounded, innocent hostages and disarmed prisoners of war and criminal offenders, people of a foreign race or descent".[120]
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Re: Mathilde Ludendorff, by Wikipedia

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Part 2 of 2

Suspension of T4 killings

On 24 August 1941, Hitler ordered the suspension of the T4 killings. After the invasion of the Soviet Union in June, many T4 personnel were transferred to the east to begin work on the final solution to the Jewish question. The projected death total for the T4 program of 70,000 deaths had been reached by August 1941.[121] The termination of the T4 programme did not end the killing of people with disabilities; from the end of 1941, the killing of adults and children continued less systematically to the end of the war on the local initiative of institute directors and party leaders. After the bombing of Hamburg in July 1943, occupants of old age homes were killed. In the post-war trial of Dr. Hilda Wernicke, Berlin, August, 1946, testimony was given that "500 old, broken women" who had survived the bombing of Stettin in June 1944 were euthanized at the Meseritz-Oberwalde Asylum.[122] The Hartheim, Bernberg, Sonnenstein and Hardamar centres continued in use as "wild euthanasia" centres to kill people sent from all over Germany, until 1945.[121] The methods were lethal injection or starvation, those employed before use of gas chambers.[123] By the end of 1941, about 100,000 people had been killed in the T4 programme.[124] From mid-1941, concentration camp prisoners too feeble or too much trouble to keep alive were murdered after a cursory psychiatric examination under Action 14f13.[125]


Doctors' trial

After the war a series of trials was held in connection with the Nazi euthanasia programme at various places including: Dresden, Frankfurt, Graz, Nuremberg and Tübingen. In December 1946 an American military tribunal (commonly called the Doctors' trial) prosecuted 23 doctors and administrators for their roles in war crimes and crimes against humanity. These crimes included the systematic killing of those deemed "unworthy of life", including people with mental disabilities, the people who were institutionalized mentally ill, and people with physical impairments. After 140 days of proceedings, including the testimony of 85 witnesses and the submission of 1,500 documents, in August 1947 the court pronounced 16 of the defendants guilty. Seven were sentenced to death and executed on 2 June 1948, including Brandt and Brack.

The indictment read in part:

14. Between September 1939 and April 1945 the defendants Karl Brandt, Blome, Brack, and Hoven unlawfully, wilfully, and knowingly committed crimes against humanity, as defined by Article II of Control Council Law No. 10, in that they were principals in, accessories to, ordered, abetted, took a consenting part in, and were connected with plans and enterprises involving the execution of the so called "euthanasia" program of the German Reich, in the course of which the defendants herein murdered hundreds of thousands of human beings, including German civilians, as well as civilians of other nations. The particulars concerning such murders are set forth in paragraph 9 of count two of this indictment and are incorporated herein by reference.

— International Military Tribunal[126]

Earlier, in 1945, American forces tried seven staff members of the Hadamar killing centre for the killing of Soviet and Polish nationals, which was within their jurisdiction under international law, as these were the citizens of wartime allies. (Hadamar was within the American Zone of Occupation in Germany. This was before the Allied resolution of December 1945, to prosecute individuals for "crimes against humanity" for such mass atrocities.) Alfons Klein, Karl Ruoff and Wilhelm Willig were sentenced to death and executed; the other four were given long prison sentences.[127] In 1946, newly reconstructed German courts tried members of the Hadamar staff for the murders of nearly 15,000 German citizens at the facility. Adolf Wahlmann and Irmgard Huber, the chief physician and the head nurse, were convicted.

Other perpetrators

Aktion T4 marker (2009) in Berlin

• August Becker, initially sentenced to three years after the war, in 1960 was tried again and sentenced to ten years in prison. He was released early due to ill health and died in 1967.[128]
• Werner Blankenburg lived under an alias and died in 1957.[129]
• Philipp Bouhler committed suicide in captivity, May 1945.[129]
• Werner Catel was cleared by a denazification board after World War II and was head of pediatrics at the University of Kiel.[130] He retired early after his role in the T4 program was exposed but continued to support the killing of children with mental and physical disabilities.[131]
• Leonardo Conti hanged himself in captivity, 6 October 1945.[132]
• Dr. Ernst-Robert Grawitz killed himself shortly before the fall of Berlin in April 1945.[133]
• Dr. Herbert Linden committed suicide in 1945. Overseers of the program were initially Herbert Linden and Werner Heyde. Linden was later replaced by Hermann Paul Nitsche.[134]
• Dr. Fritz Cropp d. 6 April 1984, Bremen. A Nazi official in Oldenburg, Cropp was appointed the country medical officer of health in 1933. In 1935 he transferred to Berlin, where he worked as a ministerial adviser in the Division IV (health care and people care) in the Ministry of the Interior. In 1939, he became Assistant Director; Cropp was involved in the Nazi "euthanasia" Aktion T4 in 1940. He was Herbert Linden's superior and was responsible for patient transfers.[135]
• Dr. Werner Heyde[125] after escaping detection for 18 years, killed himself in 1964 before being brought to trial.
• Dr. Heinrich Gross was tried twice. One sentence was overturned and the charges in the second trial in 2000 were dropped as a result of his dementia; he died in 2005.[136]
• Lorenz Hackenholt vanished in 1945.[137]
• Erich Koch served time in prison from 1950 to his death in 1986.[138]
• Erwin Lambert died in 1976.[137]
• Dr. Friedrich Mennecke died in 1947 while awaiting trial.[139]
• Philipp, Landgrave of Hesse, the governor of Hesse-Nassau, was tried in 1947 at Hadamar for his role in Aktion T4 but was sentenced only to two years' "time served"; he died in 1980.[140]

Aktion T4 memorial at Tiergartenstraße 4, Berlin

• Paul Nitsche was tried and executed by an East German court in 1948.[141]
• Professor Carl Schneider hanged himself in his prison cell in 1946, while awaiting trial.[142]
• Franz Schwede was sentenced to 10 years in prison in 1948 and was released in 1956; he died in 1960.[143]
• Dr. Ernst Illing was the director of the Vienna Psychiatric-Neurological Clinic for Children Am Spielgrund, where he killed about 200 children; sentenced to death on 18 July 1946.[144]
• Dr. Marianne Türk was a doctor at Vienna Psychiatric-Neurological Clinic for Children Am Spielgrund where, with Ernst Illing, she killed 200 children. She was sentenced to 10 years prison on 18 July 1946.[144]

The Ministry for State Security of East Germany stored around 30,000 files of Aktion T4 in their archives. Those files became available to the public only after the German Reunification in 1990, leading to a new wave of research on these wartime crimes.[145]


The German national memorial to the people with disabilities murdered by the Nazis was dedicated in 2014 in Berlin.[146][147] It is located in the pavement of a site next to the Tiergarten park, the location of the former villa at Tiergartenstrasse 4 in Berlin, where more than 60 Nazi bureaucrats and doctors worked in secret under the "T4" program to organize the mass murder of sanatorium and psychiatric hospital patients deemed unworthy to live.[147]

See also

• Nazi doctors (list)
• Nazi eugenics, the racially based social policies that placed the improvement of the Aryan race at the heart of Nazis ideology.
• Nazi medical experimentation
• Operation Reinhard, men of Aktion T4 provided expertise for building the extermination camps during the Holocaust.
• Aktion 14f13 (1941–44), a Nazi extermination operation that killed prisoners who were sick, elderly, or deemed no longer fit for work
• Racial hygiene
• T4-Gutachter experts selecting victims killed by gas in "euthanasia" centers
• Ich klage an, Nazi pro-euthanasia propaganda film
• Life unworthy of life

Killing centers

• Am Spiegelgrund clinic
• Bernburg Euthanasia Centre
• Brandenburg Euthanasia Centre
• Grafeneck Euthanasia Centre
• Hadamar Euthanasia Centre
• Hartheim Euthanasia Centre
• Soldau concentration camp
• Sonnenstein Euthanasia Centre
• Jewish skeleton collection
• Nazi euthanasia and the Catholic Church


1. As many as 100,000 people may have been killed directly as part of Action T-4. Mass euthanasia killings were also carried out in the Eastern European countries and territories Nazi Germany conquered during the war. Categories are fluid, and no definitive figure can be assigned but historians put the total number of victims at around 300,000.[3]
2. Sandner wrote that the term Aktion T4 was first used in post-war trials against doctors involved in the killings and later included in the historiography.[4]
3. Tiergartenstraße 4 was the location of the Central Office and administrative headquarters of the Gemeinnützige Stiftung für Heil- und Anstalts- pflege (Charitable Foundation for Curative and Institutional Care).[7]
4. Notes on patient records from the archive "R 179" of the Chancellery of the Führer Main Office II b. Between 1939 and 1945, about 200,000 women, men and children in psychiatric institutions of the German Reich were killed in covert actions by gas, medication or starvation. Original: Zwischen 1939 und 1945 wurden ca. 200.000 Frauen, Männer und Kinder aus psychiatrischen Einrichtungen des Deutschen Reichs im mehreren verdeckten Aktionen durch Vergasung, Medikamente oder unzureichende Ernährung ermordet.[13]
5. Robert Lifton and Michael Burleigh estimated that twice the official number of T4 victims may have perished before the end of the war.[21][page needed][19] Ryan and Schurman gave an estimated range of 200,000 and 250,000 victims of the policy upon the arrival of Allied troops in Germany.[22]
6. [24]
7. This was the result either of club foot or osteomyelitis. Goebbels is commonly said to have had club foot (talipes equinovarus), a congenital condition. William L. Shirer, who worked in Berlin as a journalist in the 1930s and was acquainted with Goebbels, wrote in The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich (1960) that the deformity was from a childhood attack of osteomyelitis and a failed operation to correct it.[34]
8. Robert Lifton wrote that this request was "encouraged"; the severely disabled child and the agreement of the parents to his killing were apparently genuine.[40]
9. Professors Werner Catel (a Leipzig psychiatrist) and Hans Heinze, head of a state institution for children with intellectual disabilities at Görden near Brandenburg; Ernst Wentzler a Berlin pediatric psychiatrist and the author Dr. Helmut Unger.[61]
10. Lifton concurs with this figure, but notes that the killing of children continued after the T4 programme was formally ended in 1941.[66]
11. The second phase of Operation Tannenberg referred to as the Unternehmen Tannenberg by Heydrich's Sonderreferat began in late 1939 under the codename Intelligenzaktion and lasted until January 1940, in which 36,000–42,000 people, including Polish children, died before the end of 1939 in Pomerania.[70]
12. Several drafts of a formal euthanasia law were prepared but Hitler refused to authorise them. The senior participants in the programme always knew that it was not a law, even by the loose definition of legality prevailing in Nazi Germany.[75]
13. According to Lifton, most Jewish inmates of German mental institutions were dispatched to Lublin in Poland in 1940 and killed there.[82]
14. These figures come from the article Aktion T4 on the German Wikipedia, which sources them to Ernst Klee.[89]
15. Role of T4 "Inspector" Christian Wirth in the Holocaust.[98]


1. "Exhibition catalogue in German and English" (PDF). Berlin, Germany: Memorial for the Victims of National Socialist ›Euthanasia‹ Killings. 2018.
2. "Euthanasia Program" (PDF). Yad Vashem. 2018.
3. Chase, Jefferson (26 January 2017). "Remembering the 'forgotten victims' of Nazi 'euthanasia' murders". Deutsche Welle.
4. Sandner 1999, p. 385.
5. Hojan & Munro 2015.
6. Bialas & Fritze 2014, pp. 263, 281.
7. Sereny 1983, p. 48.
8. Proctor 1988, p. 177.
9. Longerich 2010, p. 477.
10. Browning 2005, p. 193.
11. Proctor 1988, p. 191.
12. German Federal Archive (2013). "Euthanasia in the Third Reich"[Euthanasie im Dritten Reich]. Bundesarchiv. German Federal Archive.
13. German Federal Archive (2013). "Euthanasia in the Third Reich"[Euthanasie im Dritten Reich]. Bundesarchiv. German Federal Archive.
14. Evans 2009, p. 107.
15. Burleigh 2008, p. 262.
16. Evans 2009, p. 98.
17. Burleigh & Wippermann 2014.
18. Adams 1990, pp. 40, 84, 191.
19. Lifton 1986, p. 142.
20. Ryan & Schuchman 2002, pp. 25, 62.
21. Burleigh 1995.
22. Ryan & Schuchman 2002, p. 62.
23. Lifton 2000, p. 102.
24. "Sources on the History of the "Euthanasia" crimes 1939–1945 in German and Austrian Archives"[Quellen zur Geschichte der “Euthanasie”-Verbrechen 1939–1945 in deutschen und österreichischen Archiven] (PDF). Bundesarchiv. 2018.
25. Hansen & King 2013, p. 141.
26. Hitler, p. 447.
27. Padfield 1990, p. 260.
28. Evans 2005, pp. 507–508.
29. "Forced Sterilization". United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
30. Engstrom, Weber & Burgmair 2006, p. 1710.
31. Joseph 2004, p. 160.
32. Bleuler 1924, p. 214.
33. Read 2004, p. 36.
34. Shirer 1960, p. 124.
35. Evans 2005, p. 508.
36. Miller 2006, p. 160.
37. Breggin 1993, pp. 133–148.
38. Kershaw 2000, p. 256.
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44. Proctor 1988, p. 10.
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48. Lifton 1986, pp. 62–63.
49. Schmitt 1965, pp. 34–35.
50. Lifton 1986, p. 47.
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69. Semków 2006, pp. 46–48.
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74. Kershaw 2000, p. 261.
75. Lifton 1986, pp. 63–64.
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80. Browning 2005, p. 191.
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82. b Lifton 1986, p. 77.
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84. Annas & Grodin 1992, p. 25.
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105. NEP 2017.
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114. Kershaw 2000, pp. 427, 429.
115. Lifton 1986, p. 95.
116. Evans 2009, p. 112.
117. Burleigh 2008, p. 26.
118. Friedlander 1997, p. 111.
119. Griech-Polelle 2002, p. 76.
120. Evans 2009, pp. 529–530.
121. Burleigh 2008, p. 263.
122. Aly & Chroust 1994, p. 88.
123. Lifton 1986, pp. 96–102.
124. Hilberg 2003, p. 1,066.
125. Hilberg 2003, p. 932.
126. Taylor 1949.
127. NARA 1980, pp. 1–12.
128. "Trauriges Bild" [Sad Image]. Der Spiegel (in German). 50. 4 December 1967. Retrieved 22 August 2018.
129. Hilberg 2003, p. 1,175.
130. "Professor Werner Catel: Die Medizinische Fakultät" [Enmeshed in the Nazi Euthanasia Program: The Physician Werner Catel] (in German). University of Kiel. 14 November 2006. Retrieved 22 August 2018.
131. "Werner Catel (1894–1981)". Memorial and Information Point for the victims of the National Socialist »euthanasia« killings. 10 August 2017. Retrieved 24 August 2018.
132. Hilberg 2003, p. 1,176.
133. Hilberg 2003, p. 1,179.
134. Sandner, Peter (2003). Verwaltung des Krankenmordes [Administration of Suicides]. Historische Schriftenreihe Des Landeswohlfahrtsverbandes Hes (in German). 2. Gießen: Psychosozial. p. 395. ISBN 3-89806-320-8.
135. Hilberg 2003, p. 1,003.
136. Martens, D. (2004). "Unfit to live". Canadian Medical Association Journal. Canadian Medical Association. 171 (6): 619–620. doi:10.1503/cmaj.1041335.
137. Berenbaum & Peck 2002, p. 247.
138. Hilberg 2003, p. 1,182.
139. Chroust, Peter, ed. (1988). Friedrich Mennecke. Innenansichten eines medizinischen Täters im Nationalsozialismus. Eine Edition seiner Briefe 1935–1947 [Friedrich Mennecke. Interior Views of a Medical Offender in National Socialism: An Edition of his Letters 1935-1947]. Hamburger Instituts für Sozialforschung. p. 8f. ISBN 3-926736-01-1.
140. Petropoulos, Jonathan (2009). Royals and the Reich: The Princes von Hessen in Nazi Germany. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 67. ISBN 0199212783.
141. Böhm, B. (2012). "Paul Nitsche – Reformpsychiater und Hauptakteur der NS-"Euthanasie"". Der Nervenarzt. Springer-Verlag. 83 (3): 293–302. doi:10.1007/s00115-011-3389-1.
142. L Singer (3 December 1998). "Ideology and ethics. The perversion of German psychiatrists' ethics by the ideology of national socialism". European Psychiatry. Elsevier SAS. 13(Supplement 3): 87, 92. doi:10.1016/S0924-9338(98)80038-2. PMID 19698678. Carl Schneider committed suicide by hanging after his arrest...(subscription required)
143. Nöth, Stefan (1 May 2004). "Antisemitismus". Voraus zur Unzeit. Coburg und der Aufstieg des Nationalsozialismus in Deutschland (in German). Initiative Stadtmuseum Coburg. p. 82. ISBN 9783980800631.
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• Klee, Ernst (1983). Euthanasie im NS-Staat. Die Vernichtung lebensunwerten Lebens [Euthanasia in the NS State: The Destruction of Life Unworthy of Life] (in German). Frankfurt am Main: Fischer Taschenbuch Verlag. ISBN 978-3-596-24326-6.
• Klee, Ernst (1985). Dokumente zur Euthanasie [Documents on Euthanasia] (in German). Frankfurt am Main: Fischer Taschenbuch Verlag. ISBN 978-3-596-24327-3.
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• Lifton, R. J. (2000). The Nazi Doctors: Medical Killing and the Psychology of Genocide. New York: Basic Books. ISBN 978-0-465-04905-9.
• Longerich, P. (2010). Holocaust: The Nazi Persecution and Murder of the Jews. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-280436-5.
• Miller, Michael (2006). Leaders of the SS and German Police. I. San Jose, CA: R. James Bender. ISBN 978-93-297-0037-2.
• Padfield, Peter (1990). Himmler: Reichsführer-SS. London: Macmillan. ISBN 978-0-333-40437-9.
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• Read, J. (2004). "Genetics, Eugenics and Mass Murder". In Read, J.; Mosher, R. L.; Bentall, R. P. Models of Madness: Psychological, Social and Biological Approaches to Schizophrenia. ISPD book. Hove, East Sussex: Brunner-Routledge. ISBN 978-1-58391-905-7.
• Ringelblum Archives of the Holocaust: Introduction (PDF). Warsaw: Wydawnictwa Uniwersytetu Warszawskiego. 2013. Retrieved 12 March2017.
• Ryan, Donna F.; Schuchman, John S. (2002). Racial Hygiene: Deaf People in Hitler's Europe. Patricia Heberer, "Targetting the Unfit". Washington, D.C.: Gallaudet University Press. ISBN 978-1-56368-132-5.
• Schmidt, Ulf (2007). Karl Brandt: The Nazi Doctor. London: Hambledon Continuum. ISBN 978-1-84725-031-5.
• Schmitt, Gerhard (1965). Selektion in der Heilanstalt 1939–1945 [Selection in the Sanatorium 1939–1945]. Stuttgart: Evangelisches Verlagsanstalt. OCLC 923376286.
• Schmuhl, Hans-Walter (1987). Rassenhygiene, Nationalsozialismus, Euthanasie: Von der Verhütung zur Vernichtung "lebensunwerten Lebens", 1890–1945 [Racial Hygiene, National Socialism, Euthanasia: From Prevention to Destruction of Life Unworthy of Life 1890–1945]. Kritische Studien zur Geschichtswissenschaft (in German). 75. simultaneous PhD University of Bielefeld, Bielefeld 1986 as Die Synthese von Arzt und Henker. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht. ISBN 978-3-525-35737-8.
• Sereny, Gitta (1983). Into that Darkness: An Examination of Conscience. New York, NY: Vintage Books. ISBN 978-0-394-71035-8.
• Shirer, William L. (1960). The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. New York: Simon and Schuster. ISBN 978-0-449-21977-5.
• Taylor, T. (1949). Trials of War Criminals before the Nuernberg Military Tribunals: Under Control Council Law no. 10, Nuernberg, October 1946 – April 1949 (transcription) (United States Holocaust Museum ed.). Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office. OCLC 504102502. Archived from the original on 4 May 2006.
• Totten, Samuel; Parsons, William S. (2009). Century of Genocide: Critical Essays and Eyewitness Accounts (3rd ed.). New York: Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-99084-4.
• Weindling, Paul Julian (2006). Nazi Medicine and the Nuremberg Trials: From Medical War Crimes to Informed Consent. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 978-0-230-50700-5.


• Baader, Gerhard (2009). Psychiatrie im Nationalsozialismus zwischen ökonomischer Rationalität und Patientenmord [Psychiatry in National Socialism: Between Economic Rationality and Patient Murder] (PDF). Geschichte der Psychiatrie: Nationalsocialismus und Holocaust Gedächtnis und Gegenwart (PDF). Retrieved 12 March 2017.
• Breggin, Peter (1993). "Psychiatry's Role in the Holocaust" (PDF). International Journal of Risk & Safety in Medicine. 4 (2). doi:10.3233/JRS-1993-4204. PMID 23511221 – via PDF file direct download, 4.07 MB.
• Burleigh, Michael (2008). "Between Enthusiasm, Compliance and Protest: The Churches, Eugenics and the Nazi 'Euthanasia' Programme". Contemporary European History. 3 (03): 253–264. doi:10.1017/S0960777300000886. ISSN 0960-7773.
• Engstrom, E. J.; Weber, M. M.; Burgmair, W. (October 2006). "Emil Wilhelm Magnus Georg Kraepelin (1856–1926)". The American Journal of Psychiatry. British Library Serials. 163 (10). doi:10.1176/appi.ajp.163.10.1710. ISSN 0002-953X. PMID 17012678.
• Sandner, Peter (July 1999). "Die "Euthanasie"-Akten im Bundesarchiv. Zur Geschichte eines lange verschollenen Bestandes" [The 'Euthanasia' Files in the Federal Archives. On the History of a Long Lost Existence] (PDF). Vierteljahrschefte für Zeitgeschichte – Institut für Zeitgeschichte. Munich. 47 (3): 385–400. ISSN 0042-5702.
• Semków, Piotr (September 2006). "Kolebka" [Cradle] (PDF). IPN Bulletin. Warsaw: Institute of National Remembrance (IPN Gdańsk) (8–9 (67–68)). 42–50 44–51/152. ISSN 1641-9561. Retrieved 8 November 2015 – via direct download: 3.44 MB.
• Fuller Torrey, Edwin; Yolken, Robert (January 2010). "Psychiatric Genocide: Nazi Attempts to Eradicate Schizophrenia". Schizophrenia Bulletin. Oxford University Press (The Maryland Psychiatric Research Center and Schizophrenia International Research Society). 36 (1): 26–32. doi:10.1093/schbul/sbp097. ISSN 0586-7614. PMC 2800142. PMID 19759092.


• Buttlar, H. (1 October 2003). "Nazi-"Euthanasie" Forscher öffnen Inventar des Schreckens" [Nazi 'Euthanasia' Researchers open Inventory of Horror]. Der Spiegel (online ed.). Hamburg. ISSN 0038-7452. Retrieved 12 March 2017.
• "Nazis Killed Hundreds at Austrian Mental Hospital". The Local AB. no oclc. 25 November 2014. Retrieved 16 February 2017.


• Beer, Mathias (2015). "Die Entwicklung der Gaswagen beim Mord an den Juden" [The Development of the Gas-Van in the Murdering of the Jews]. The Final Solution. Vierteljahrshefte für Zeitgeschichte. Munich: Jewish Virtual Library. pp. 403–417. ISSN 0042-5702. Retrieved 12 March 2017.
• Burleigh, Michael; Wippermann, Wolfang (2014). "Nazi Racial Science". Washington, D.C.: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Retrieved 12 March 2017.
• Hojan, Artur; Munro, Cameron (2015). "Overview of Nazi 'Euthanasia' Programme". The Central Office at Tiergartenstrasse 4 in Berlin. The Tiergartenstrasse 4 Association. Further information: Kaminsky, Uwe (2014), "Mercy Killing and Economism" [in:] Bialas, Wolfgang; Fritze, Lothar (ed.), Nazi Ideology and Ethics. pp. 263–265. Cambridge Scholars Publishing, ISBN 1-4438-5422-0 OCLC 875635606. "Once emptied, the Polish institutions were almost exclusively turned over to the SS"[p. 265]. Retrieved 18 November 2017.
• Hojan, Artur; Munro, Cameron (28 February 2013). "Nazi Euthanasia Programme in Occupied Poland 1939–1945". Berlin, Kleisthaus: Tiergartenstrasse 4.
• Jaroszewski, Zdzisław (1993). "German extermination of psychiatric patients in Poland 1939-1945". Zaglada psychicznie chorych w Polsce 1939–1945 by Zdzisław Jaroszewski, ed., [Extermination of psychiatric hospital' patients in Poland 1939–1945]. PWN, Warsaw. Project InPosterum 2011. OCLC 68651789.
• Wiadomości (6 December 2013). "Hospital director and 1,350 patients killed including children. Commemoration of murder victims" [Zabili dyrektora szpitala psychiatrycznego w Świeciu oraz około 1350 pacjentów, także dzieci. Miasto upamiętni ten mord]. Gazeta Pomorska. Archived from the original on 17 November 2017.
• WNSP Świecie (2013). "History of Świecie Hospital" [Historia szpitala w Świeciu]. Regional State Hospital: Wojewódzki Szpital dla Nerwowo i Psychicznie Chorych, Samorząd Województwa Kujawsko-Pomorskiego. Archived from the original on 17 November 2017.
• "Psychiatrzy w obronie pacjentów". Niedziela, Tygodnik Katolicki. 4 February 2013. Archived from the original on 17 November 2017.
• Kaelber, Lutz (29 August 2015). "Am Spiegelgrund". University of Vermont. Retrieved 12 March 2017.
• "Quellen zur Geschichte der "Euthanasie"-Verbrechen 1939–1945 in deutschen und österreichischen Archiven" [Sources on the History of the 'Euthanasia' Crime 1939–1945 in German and Austrian Archives] (PDF) (in German). Berlin: Bundesarchiv. Retrieved 3 March 2018.
• "The Memorial Page of Nazi Euthanasia Programs". Germany National Memorial. Retrieved 12 March 2017.
• "United States of America v. Alfons Klein et al" (PDF). Captured German Records. National Archives and Records Administration. 1980. 12-449, 000-12-31. Retrieved 12 March 2017.

Further reading


• Bachrach, Susan D; Kuntz, Dieter (2004). Deadly Medicine: Creating the Master Race. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Washington D.C.: University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, NC. ISBN 978-0-8078-2916-5.
• Benzenhöfer, Udo (2010). Euthanasia in Germany Before and During the Third Reich. Münster/Ulm: Verlag Klemm & Oelschläger. ISBN 978-3-86281-001-7.
• Binding, K.; Hoche, A. (1920). Die Freigabe der Vernichtung lebensunwerten Lebens: Ihr Mass u. ihre Form [The Release of the Destruction of Life Unworthy of Life: Their Mass and Shape]. Leipzig: Meiner. OCLC 72022317.
• Burleigh, M.; Wippermann, W. (1991). The Racial State: Germany 1933–1945. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-39114-6.
• Burleigh, M. (1997). Ethics and Extermination: Reflections on Nazi Genocide. Part II. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 113–152. ISBN 978-0-521-58211-7.
• Burleigh, M. (2001) [2000]. "Medicalized Mass Murder". The Third Reich: A New History (pbk. Pan ed.). London: Macmillan. pp. 382–404. ISBN 978-0-330-48757-3.
• Friedlander, Henry (1995). The Origins of Nazi Genocide. From Euthanasia to the Final Solution. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press. ISBN 978-0-8078-2208-1.
• Klee, Ernst (1986). Was sie taten. Was sie wurden: Ärzte, Juristen und andere Beteiligte am Kranken- oder Judenmord [What They Did. What They Became: Doctors, Lawyers and other Partners in the Murder of the Ill and Jews] (in German). Frankfurt am Main: Fischer Taschenbuch. ISBN 978-3-596-24364-8.
• Klee, Ernst; Cropp, Fritz (2005). Das Personenlexikon zum Dritten Reich. Wer war was vor und nach 1945. Fischer Taschenbücher. Frankfurt am Main: Fischer-Taschenbuch-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-596-16048-8.
• Ley, Astrid; Hinz-Wessels, Annette (eds.). The "Euthanasia Institution" of Brandenburg an der Havel: Murder of the Ill and Handicapped during National Socialism. Schriftenreihe der Stiftung Brandenburgische Gedenkstätten. 35. Berlin: Metropol. ISBN 978-3-86331-086-8.
• Werthman, Fredric (1967). A Sign for Cain. New York: Macmillan. ISBN 978-0-02-625970-5.


• Ost, Suzanne (April 2006). "Doctors and Nurses of Death: A Case Study of Eugenically Motivated Killing under the Nazi 'Euthanasia' Programme". The Liverpool Law Review. 27 (1): 5–30. doi:10.1007/s10991-005-5345-2. ISSN 0144-932X. PMID 17340766.


• Webb, Chris (2009). "Otwock & the Zofiowka Sanatorium: A Refuge from Hell". Holocaust Research Project. Holocaust Education & Archive Research Team. Archived from the original on 11 July 2011 – via Internet Archive.

External links

• Website with photo of Philipp Bouhler and facsimile of Hitler's letter to Bouhler and Brandt authorising the T4 programme
• United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Final Solutions: Murderous Racial Hygiene 1939–1945
• United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Euthanasia programme
• Nazis euthanasia files made public by the BMJ/British Medical Association: files relating to the 200,000 euthanasia crimes
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Re: Mathilde Ludendorff [von Kemnitz], by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Thu Nov 21, 2019 3:20 am

Erich Ludendorff
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 11/20/19

General der Infanterie
Erich Ludendorff
First Quartermaster-General of the
German General Staff
In office
29 August 1916 – 26 October 1918
Serving with Paul von Hindenburg
(as Chief of the German General Staff)
Personal details
Born Erich Friedrich Wilhelm Ludendorff
9 April 1865
Kruszewnia, Province of Posen, Kingdom of Prussia, (now Kruszewnia, Poland)
Died 20 December 1937 (aged 72)
Munich, Nazi Germany
Political party National Socialist German Workers Party
Other political
affiliations DVFP
Spouse(s) Margarethe Schmidt
(m. 1909; div. 1925)
Mathilde von Kemnitz (m. 1925)
Parents August Wilhelm Ludendorff (father)
Klara Jeanette Henriette von Tempelhoff (mother)
Relatives Hans Ludendorff (brother)
Heinz Pernet (Stepson)
Military service
Allegiance Germany
Branch/service Kaiserstandarte.svg Imperial German Army
Prussian Army
Years of service 1883–1918
Rank General der Infanterie
Battles/wars World War I
German Revolution
Awards Pour le Mérite
Iron Cross First class

Erich Friedrich Wilhelm Ludendorff (9 April 1865 – 20 December 1937) was a German general, the victor of the Battle of Liège and the Battle of Tannenberg. From August 1916, his appointment as Quartermaster general (German: Erster Generalquartiermeister) made him the leader (along with Paul von Hindenburg) of the German war efforts during World War I. His great strategic failure was that of Germany's great Spring Offensive in 1918 in its quest for total victory and he was forced out that October.[1]

After the war, Ludendorff became a prominent nationalist leader, and a promoter of the Stab-in-the-back myth, which posited that the German loss in World War I was caused by the betrayal of the German Army by Marxists, Bolsheviks, Freemasons and Jews who were furthermore responsible for the disadvantageous settlement negotiated for Germany in the Treaty of Versailles. He took part in the failed Kapp Putsch (coup d’état) with Wolfgang Kapp in 1920 and the Beer Hall Putsch of Adolf Hitler in 1923, and in 1925, he ran unsuccessfully for the office of President of Germany against his former superior Hindenburg.

From 1924 to 1928, he represented the German Völkisch Freedom Party in the Reichstag (legislature). Consistently pursuing a purely military line of thought after the war, Ludendorff developed the theory of "Total War", which he published as Der totale Krieg (The Total War) in 1935. In this work, he argued that the entire physical and moral forces of the nation should be mobilized, because peace was merely an interval between wars.[2] Ludendorff was a recipient of the Grand Cross of the Iron Cross and the Pour le Mérite.

Early life

Ludendorff was born on 9 April 1865 in Kruszewnia near Posen, Province of Posen, Kingdom of Prussia (now Poznań County, Poland), the third of six children of August Wilhelm Ludendorff (1833–1905). His father was descended from Pomeranian merchants who had been raised to the lower nobility with the status of Junker.[3]

Erich's mother, Klara Jeanette Henriette von Tempelhoff (1840–1914), was the daughter of the noble but impoverished Friedrich August Napoleon von Tempelhoff (1804–1868) and his wife Jeannette Wilhelmine von Dziembowska (1816–1854), who came from a Germanized Polish landed family on the side of her father Stephan von Dziembowski (1779–1859). Through Dziembowski's wife Johanna Wilhelmine von Unruh (1793–1862), Erich was a remote descendant of the Counts of Dönhoff, the Dukes of Duchy of Liegnitz and Duchy of Brieg and the Marquesses and Electors of Brandenburg.

He had a stable and comfortable childhood, growing up on their small family farm. Erich received his early schooling from his maternal aunt and had a gift for mathematics,[4] as did his younger brother Hans who became a distinguished astronomer. He passed the entrance exam for the Cadet School at Plön with distinction,[4] he was put in a class two years ahead of his age group, and thereafter he was consistently first in his class. (The famous World War II General Heinz Guderian attended the same Cadet School, which produced many well-trained German officers.) Ludendorff's education continued at the Hauptkadettenschule at Groß-Lichterfelde near Berlin through 1882.[5]

Pre-war military career

Ludendorff at the age of 17 in 1882

In 1885, Ludendorff was commissioned as a subaltern into the 57th Infantry Regiment, then at Wesel. Over the next eight years, he was promoted to lieutenant and saw further service in the 2nd Marine Battalion, based at Kiel and Wilhelmshaven, and in the 8th Grenadier Guards at Frankfurt on the Oder. His service reports reveal the highest praise, with frequent commendations. In 1893, he entered the War Academy, where the commandant, General Meckel, recommended him to the General Staff, to which he was appointed in 1894. He rose rapidly and was a senior staff officer at the headquarters of V Corps from 1902 to 1904.

Next he joined the Great General Staff in Berlin, which was commanded by Alfred von Schlieffen, Ludendorff directed the Second or Mobilization Section from 1904–13. Soon he was joined by Max Bauer, a brilliant artillery officer, who became a close friend.

In 1910 at age 45 "the 'old sinner', as he liked to hear himself called"[6] married the daughter of a wealthy factory owner, Margarethe Schmidt (1875–1936). They met in a rainstorm when he offered his umbrella. She divorced to marry him, bringing three stepsons and a stepdaughter.[5] Their marriage pleased both families and he was devoted to his stepchildren.

By 1911, Ludendorff was a full colonel. His section was responsible for writing the mass of detailed orders needed to bring the mobilized troops into position to implement the Schlieffen Plan. For this they covertly surveyed frontier fortifications in Russia, France and Belgium. For instance, in 1911 Ludendorff visited the key Belgian fortress city of Liège.

Deputies of the Social Democratic Party of Germany, which became the largest party in the Reichstag after the German federal elections of 1912, seldom gave priority to army expenditures, whether to build up its reserves or to fund advanced weaponry such as Krupp's siege cannons. Instead, they preferred to concentrate military spending on the Imperial German Navy. Ludendorff's calculations showed that to properly implement the Schlieffen Plan the Army lacked six corps.

Members of the General Staff were instructed to keep out of politics and the public eye,[7] but Ludendorff shrugged off such restrictions. With a retired general, August Keim, and the head of the Pan-German League, Heinrich Class, he vigorously lobbied the Reichstag for the additional men.[8] In 1913 funding was approved for four additional corps but Ludendorff was transferred to regimental duties as commander of the 39th (Lower Rhine) Fusiliers, stationed at Düsseldorf. "I attributed the change partly for my having pressed for those three additional army corps."[9]

Barbara Tuchman characterizes Ludendorff in her book The Guns of August as Schlieffen's devoted disciple who was a glutton for work and a man of granite character but who was deliberately friendless and forbidding and therefore remained little known or liked. It is true that as his wife testified, "Anyone who knows Ludendorff knows that he has not a spark of humor...".[10] He was voluble nonetheless, although he shunned small talk. John Lee,[11] states that while Ludendorff was with his Fusiliers, "he became the perfect regimental commander ... the younger officers came to adore him." His adjutant, Wilhelm Breucker, became a devoted lifelong friend.


At the outbreak of war in the summer of 1914 Ludendorff was appointed Deputy Chief of Staff to the German Second Army under General Karl von Bülow. His assignment was largely due to his previous work investigating defenses of Liège, Belgium. At the beginning of the Battle of Liège, Ludendorff was an observer with the 14th Brigade, which was to infiltrate the city at night and secure the bridges before they could be destroyed. The brigade commander was killed on 5 August, so Ludendorff led the successful assault to occupy the city and its citadel. In the following days, two of the forts guarding the city were taken by desperate frontal infantry attacks, while the remaining forts were smashed by huge Krupp 42-cm and Austro-Hungarian Škoda 30.5-cm howitzers. By 16 August, all the forts around Liège had fallen, allowing the German First Army to advance. As the victor of Liège, Ludendorff was awarded Germany's highest military decoration for gallantry, the Pour le Mérite, presented by Kaiser Wilhelm II himself on 22 August.[12]

Command in the East

German mobilization earmarked a single army, the Eighth, to defend their eastern frontier. Two Russian armies invaded East Prussia earlier than expected, the Eighth Army commanders panicked and were fired by OHL, Oberste Heeresleitung, German Supreme Headquarters. The War Cabinet chose a retired general, Paul von Hindenburg, as commander, while OHL assigned Ludendorff as his new chief of staff. Hindenburg and Ludendorff first met on their private train heading east. They agreed that they must annihilate the nearest Russian army before they tackled the second. On arrival, they discovered that Max Hoffmann had already shifted much of the 8th Army by rail to the south to do just that, in an amazing feat of logistical planning. Nine days later the Eighth Army surrounded most of a Russian army at Tannenberg, taking 92,000 prisoners in one of the great victories in German history. Twice during the battle Ludendorff wanted to break off, fearing that the second Russian army was about to strike their rear, but Hindenburg held firm.

The Germans turned on the second invading army in the Battle of the Masurian Lakes; it fled with heavy losses to escape encirclement. During the rest of 1914, commanding an Army Group, Hindenburg and Ludendorff staved off the projected invasion of German Silesia by dexterously moving their outnumbered forces into Russian Poland, fighting the battle of the Vistula River, which ended with a brilliantly executed withdrawal during which they destroyed the Polish railway lines and bridges needed for an invasion. When the Russians had repaired most of the damage the Germans struck their flank in the battle of Łódź, where they almost surrounded another Russian army. Masters of surprise and deft maneuver, the pair argued that if properly reinforced they could trap the entire Russian army in Poland. During the winter of 1914–15 they lobbied passionately for this strategy, but were rebuffed by OHL.

Early in 1915 Hindenburg and Ludendorff surprised the Russian army that still held a toehold in East Prussia by attacking in a snowstorm and surrounding it in the Second Battle of the Masurian Lakes. OHL then transferred Ludendorff, but Hindenburg's personal plea to the Kaiser reunited them. Erich von Falkenhayn, supreme commander at OHL, came east to attack the flank of the Russian army that was pushing through the Carpathian passes towards Hungary. Employing overwhelming artillery, the Germans and Austro-Hungarians broke through the line between Gorlice and Tarnów and kept pushing until the Russians were driven out of most of Galicia, in Austro-Hungarian Poland. During this advance Falkenhayn rejected schemes to try to cut off the Russians in Poland, preferring direct frontal attacks. Outgunned, during the summer of 1915 the Russian commander Grand Duke Nicholas shortened his lines by withdrawing from most of Poland, destroying railroads, bridges, and many buildings while driving 743,000 Poles, 350,000 Jews, 300,000 Lithuanians and 250,000 Latvians into Russia.[13]

Hindenburg (seated) and Ludendorff. Painting by Hugo Vogel

During the winter of 1915–16 Ludendorff's headquarters was in Kaunas. The Germans occupied present-day Lithuania, western Latvia, and north eastern Poland, an area almost the size of France. Ludendorff demanded Germanization of the conquered territories and far-ranging annexations, offering land to German settlers; see Drang nach Osten. Far-reaching plans envisioned Courland and Lithuania turned into border states ruled by German military governors answerable only to the Kaiser.[14] He proposed massive annexations and colonization in Eastern Europe in the event of the victory of the German Reich, and was one of the main supporters of the Polish Border Strip.[15] Ludendorff planned to combine German settlement and Germanisation in conquered areas with expulsions of native populations; and envisioned an eastern German empire whose resources would be used in future war with Great Britain and the United States[14][16] Ludendorff's plans went as far as making Crimea a German colony.[17] As to the various nations and ethnic groups in conquered territories, Ludendorff believed they were "incapable of producing real culture"[18]

On 16 March 1916 the Russians, now with adequate supplies of cannons and shells, attacked parts of the new German defenses, intending to penetrate at two points and then to pocket the defenders. They attacked almost daily until the end of the month, but the Lake Naroch Offensive failed, "choked in swamp and blood".[19]

The Russians did better attacking the Austro-Hungarians in the south; the Brusilov Offensive cracked their lines with a well-prepared surprise wide-front attack led by well-schooled assault troops. The breakthrough was finally stemmed by Austro-Hungarian troops recalled from Italy stiffened with German advisers and reserves. In July, Russian attacks on the Germans in the north were beaten back. On 27 July 1916 Hindenburg was given command of all troops on the Eastern Front from the Baltic to Brody in the Ukraine. Ludendorff and Hindenburg visited their new command on a special train, and then set up headquarters in Brest-Litovsk. By August 1916 their front was holding everywhere.

Military duumvirate with Hindenburg

Ludendorff in his study at the General Headquarters

In the West in 1916 the Germans attacked unsuccessfully at Verdun and soon were reeling under British and French blows along the Somme. Ludendorff's friends at OHL, led by Max Bauer, lobbied for him relentlessly. The balance was tipped when Romania entered the war on the side of the Entente, thrusting into Hungary. Falkenhayn was replaced as Chief of the General Staff by Hindenburg on 29 August 1916. Ludendorff was again his chief of staff as first Quartermaster general, with the stipulation that he would have joint responsibility.[20] He was promoted to General of the Infantry. Chancellor Bethmann-Hollweg warned the War Cabinet: "You don't know Ludendorff, who is only great at a time of success. If things go badly he loses his nerve."[21] Their first concern was the sizable Romanian Army, so troops sent from the Western Front checked Romanian and Russian incursions into Hungary. Then Romania was invaded from the south by German, Austro-Hungarian, Bulgarian, and Ottoman troops commanded by August von Mackensen and from the north by a German and Austro-Hungarian army commanded by Falkenhayn. Bucharest fell in December 1916. According to Mackensen, Ludendorff's distant management consisted of "floods of telegrams, as superfluous as they were offensive."[22]

When sure that the Romanians would be defeated OHL moved west, retaining the previous staff except for the operations officer, blamed for Verdun. They toured the Western Front meeting —and evaluating— commanders, learning about their problems and soliciting their opinions. At each meeting Ludendorff did most of talking for Hindenburg. There would be no further attacks at Verdun and the Somme would be defended by revised tactics that exposed fewer men to British shells. A new backup defensive line would be built, like the one they had constructed in the east. The Allies would call the new fortifications the Hindenburg Line. The German goal was victory, which they defined as a Germany with extended borders that could be more easily defended in the next war.

Hindenburg was given titular command over all of the forces of the Central Powers. Ludendorff's hand was everywhere. Every day he was on the telephone with the staffs of their armies and the Army was deluged with "Ludendorff's paper barrage"[23] of orders, instructions and demands for information. His finger extended into every aspect of the German war effort. He issued the two daily communiques, and often met with the newspaper and newsreel reporters. Before long the public idolized him as the German Army's brain.

The Home Front

Ludendorff had a goal: "One thing was certain— the power must be in my hands."[24] As stipulated by the Constitution of the German Empire the government was run by civil servants appointed by the Kaiser. Confident that army officers were superior to civilians, OHL volunteered to oversee the economy: procurement, raw materials, labor, and food.[25] Bauer, with his industrialist friends, began by setting overambitious targets for military production in what they called the Hindenburg Program. Ludendorff enthusiastically participated in meetings on economic policy— loudly, sometimes pummeling the table with his fists. Implementation of the Program was assigned to General Groener, a staff officer who had directed the Field Railway Service effectively. His office was in the (civilian) War Ministry, not in OHL as Ludendorff had wanted. Therefore, he assigned staff officers to most government ministries, so he knew what was going on and could press his demands.

War industry's major problem was the scarcity of skilled workers, therefore 125,000 men were released from the armed forces and trained workers were no longer conscripted. OHL wanted to enroll most German men and women into national service, but the Reichstag legislated that only males 17–60 were subject to "patriotic service" and refused to bind war workers to their jobs.[26] Groener realized that they needed the support of the workers, so he insisted that union representatives be included on industrial dispute boards. He also advocated an excess profits tax. The industrialists were incensed. On 16 August 1917 Ludendorff telegraphed an order reassigning Groener to command the 33rd Infantry Division.[27] Overall, "unable to control labour and unwilling to control industry, the army failed miserably"[28] To the public it seemed that Ludendorff was running the nation as well as the war. According to Ludendorff, "the authorities ... represented me as a dictator".[29] He would not become Chancellor because the demands for running the war were too great.[30] The historian Frank Tipton argues that while not technically a dictator, Ludendorff was "unquestionably the most powerful man in Germany" in 1917–18.[31]

OHL did nothing to mitigate the crisis of growing food shortages in Germany. Despite the Allied blockade, everyone could have been fed adequately, but supplies were not managed effectively or fairly.[32] In Spring 1918 half of all the meat, eggs and fruit consumed in Berlin were sold on the black market.[33]

In government

The navy advocated unrestricted submarine warfare, which would surely bring the United States into the war. At the Kaiser's request, his commanders met with his friend, the eminent chemist Walther Nernst, who knew America well, and who warned against the idea. Ludendorff promptly ended the meeting; it was "incompetent nonsense with which a civilian was wasting his time."[34] Unrestricted submarine warfare began in February 1917, with OHL’s strong support. This fatal mistake reflected poor military judgment in uncritically accepting the Navy’s contention that there were no effective potential countermeasures, like convoying, and confident that the American armed forces were too feeble to fight effectively. By the end of the war, Germany would be at war with 27 nations.

In the spring of 1917 the Reichstag passed a resolution for peace without annexations or indemnities. They would be content with the successful defensive war undertaken in 1914. OHL was unable to defeat the resolution or to have it substantially watered down. The commanders despised Chancellor Bethmann-Hollweg as weak, so they forced his resignation by repeatedly threatening to resign themselves, despite the Kaiser's admonition that this was not their business. Bethmann-Hollweg was replaced by a minor functionary, Georg Michaelis, the food minister, who announced that he would deal with the resolution as "in his own fashion".[35] Despite this put-down, the Reichstag voted the financial credits needed for continuing the war.

Ludendorff insisted on the huge territorial losses forced on the Russians in the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, even though this required that a million German soldiers remain in the east. During the peace negotiations with the Russians his representative kept demanding the economic concessions coveted by German industrialists. The commanders kept blocking attempts to frame a plausible peace offer to the western powers by insisting on borders expanded for future defense. Ludendorff regarded the Germans as the "master race"[36] and after victory planned to settle ex-soldiers in the Baltic states and in Alsace-Lorraine, where they would take over property seized from the French.[37] One after another OHL toppled government ministers they regarded as weak.

"Peace Offensive" in the West

In contrast to OHL's questionable interventions in politics and diplomacy, their armies continued to excel. The commanders would agree on what was to be done and then Ludendorff and the OHL staff produced the mass of orders specifying exactly what was to be accomplished. On the western front they stopped packing defenders in the front line, which reduced losses to enemy artillery. They issued a directive on elastic defense, in which attackers who penetrated a lightly held front line entered a battle zone in which they were punished by artillery and counterattacks. It remained German Army doctrine through World War II; schools taught the new tactics to all ranks. Its effectiveness is illustrated by comparing the first half of 1916 in which 77 German soldiers died or went missing for every 100 British to the second half when 55 Germans were lost for every 100 British.[38]

Hindenburg and Ludendorff (pointing), 1917

In February 1917, sure that the new French commander General Robert Nivelle would attack and correctly foreseeing that he would try to pinch off the German salient between Arras and Noyon, they withdrew to the segment of the Hindenburg line across the base of the salient, leaving the ground they gave up as a depopulated waste land, in Operation Alberich. The Nivelle Offensive in April 1917 was blunted by mobile defense in depth. Many French units mutinied, though OHL never grasped the extent of the disarray.

The British supported their allies with a successful attack near Arras. Their major triumph was capturing Vimy Ridge, using innovative tactics in which infantry platoons were subdivided into specialist groups. The Ridge gave the British artillery observers superb views of the German line but elastic defense prevented further major gains.

The British had another success in June 1917 when a meticulously planned attack, beginning with the detonation of mines containing more high explosive than ever fired before, took the Messines Ridge in Flanders. This was a preface to the British drive, beginning at the end of July 1917, toward the Passchendaele Ridge, intended as a first step in retaking the Belgian coast line. At first the defense was directed by General von Lossberg, a pioneer in defense in depth, but when the British adjusted their tactics Ludendorff took over day-to-day control. The British eventually took the Ridge at great cost.

Ludendorff worried about declining morale, so in July 1917 OHL established a propaganda unit. In October 1917 they began mandatory patriotic lectures to the troops, who were assured that if the war was lost they would "become slaves of international capital".[39] The lecturers were to "ensure that a fight is kept up against all agitators, croakers and weaklings".[40]

Following the overthrow of the Tsar, the new Russian government launched the Kerensky Offensive in July 1917 attacking the Austro-Hungarian lines in Galicia. After minor successes the Russians were driven back and many of their soldiers refused to fight. The counterattack was halted only after the line was pushed 240 kilometres (150 mi) eastwards. The Germans capped the year in the East by capturing the strong Russian fortress of Riga in September 1917, starting with a brief, overwhelming artillery barrage using many gas shells then followed by infiltrating infantry. The Bolsheviks seized power and soon were at the peace table.

To bolster the wobbling Austro-Hungarian government, the Germans provided some troops and led a joint attack in Italy in October. They sliced through the Italian lines in the mountains at Caporetto. Two hundred and fifty thousand Italians were captured and the rest of Italian Army was forced to retreat to the Grappa-Piave defensive line.

On 20 November 1917 the British achieved a total surprise by attacking at Cambrai. A short, intense bombardment preceded an attack by tanks, which led the infantry through the German wire. It was Ludendorff's 52nd birthday, but he was too upset to attend the celebratory dinner. The British were not organized to exploit their breakthrough, and German reserves counterattacked, in some places driving the British back beyond their starting lines.

Hindenburg, Kaiser Wilhelm II, and Ludendorff, January 1917

At the beginning of 1918 almost a million munition workers struck; one demand was peace without annexations. OHL ordered that "'all strikers fit to bear arms' be sent to the front, thereby degrading military service."[41]

With Russia out of the war, the Germans outnumbered the Allies on the Western Front. After extensive consultations, OHL planned a series of attacks to drive the British out of the war. During the winter all ranks were schooled in the innovative tactics proven at Caporetto and Riga. The first attack, Operation Michael, was on 21 March 1918 near Cambrai. After an effective hurricane bombardment coordinated by Colonel Bruchmüller, they slashed through the British lines, surmounting the obstacles that had thwarted their enemies for three years. On the first day they occupied as large an area as the Allies had won on the Somme after 140 days. The Allies were aghast, but it was not the triumph OHL had hoped for: they had planned another Tannenberg by surrounding tens of thousands of British troops in the Cambrai salient,[42] but had been thwarted by stout defense and fighting withdrawal. They lost as many men as the defenders—the first day was the bloodiest of the war.[43] Among the dead was Ludendorff’s oldest stepson; a younger had been killed earlier. The Germans were unable to cut any vital railway. When Ludendorff motored near the front he was displeased by seeing how: "The numerous slightly wounded made things difficult by the stupid and displeasing way in which they hurried to the rear."[44] The Americans doubled the number of troops being sent to France.

Their next attack was in Flanders. Again they broke through, advancing 30 km (19 mi), and forcing the British to give back all of the ground that they had won the preceding year after weeks of battle. But the Germans were stopped short of the rail junction that was their goal. Next, to draw French reserves south, they struck along the Chemin des Dames. In their most successful attack yet they advanced 12 km (7.5 mi) on the first day, crossing the Marne but stopping 56 kilometres (35 mi) from Paris. However each German triumph weakened their army and its morale. From 20 March 1918 to 25 June the German front lengthened from 390 kilometres (240 mi) to 510 kilometres (320 mi).

Then the Germans struck near Reims, to seize additional railway lines for use in the salient, but were foiled by brilliant French elastic tactics. Undeterred, on 18 July 1918 Ludendorff, still "aggressive and confident",[45] traveled to Flanders to confer about the next attack there. A telephone call reported that the French and Americans, led by a mass of tanks, had smashed through the right flank of their salient pointing toward Paris, on the opening day of the Battle of Soissons. Everyone present realized that surely they had lost the war. Ludendorff was shattered.

OHL began to withdraw step by step to new defensive lines, first evacuating all of their wounded and supplies. Ludendorff's communiques, which hitherto had been largely factual, now distorted the news, for instance claiming that American troops had to be herded onto troop ships by special police.[46]

On 8 August 1918 the Germans were completely surprised at Amiens when British tanks broke through the defenses and intact German formations surrendered. To Ludendorff it was the "black day in the history of the German Army".[47] The German retreats continued, pressed by Allied attacks. OHL still vigorously opposed offering to give up the territory they desired in France and Belgium, so the German government was unable to make a plausible peace proposal.

Ludendorff became increasingly cantankerous, railing at his staff without cause, publicly accusing Hindenburg of talking nonsense, and sometimes bursting into tears. Bauer wanted him replaced, but instead a doctor, Oberstabarzt Hochheimer, was brought to OHL. He had worked closely with Ludendorff in Poland during the winter of 1915–16 on plans to bring in German colonists.[37] Before the war he had a practice in nervous diseases. Hochheimer "spoke as a friend and he listened as a friend",[48] convincing Ludendorff that he could not work effectively with one hour of sleep a night and that he must relearn how to relax. After a month away from headquarters Ludendorff had recovered from the severest symptoms of battle fatigue.


On 29 September 1918 Ludendorff and Hindenburg suddenly told an incredulous Kaiser that they could not guarantee the integrity of the Western front "for two hours" and they must have an immediate armistice. A new Chancellor, Prince Maximilian of Baden, approached President Woodrow Wilson but Wilson's terms were unacceptable to the German leadership and the Army fought on. The chancellor told the Kaiser that he and his cabinet would resign unless Ludendorff was removed, but that Hindenburg must remain to hold the army together.[49] The Kaiser called his commanders in, curtly accepting Ludendorff's resignation and then rejecting Hindenburg's. Fuming, Ludendorff would not accompany the field marshal back to headquarters; "I refused to ride with you because you have treated me so shabbily".[50]

Ludendorff had assiduously sought all of the credit; now he was rewarded with all of the blame. Widely despised, and with revolution breaking out, he was hidden by his brother and a network of friends until he slipped out of Germany disguised in blue spectacles and a false beard[51] and fake Finnish passport[52] settling in a Swedish admirer's country home, until the Swedish government asked him to leave in February 1919. In seven months he wrote two volumes of detailed memoirs. Friends, led by Breucker, provided him with documents and negotiated with publishers. Groener (who is not mentioned in the book) characterized it as a showcase of his "caesar-mania".[53] He was a brilliant general, according to Wheeler-Bennett he was "certainly one of the greatest routine military organizers that the world has ever seen",[54] but he was a ruinous political meddler. The influential military analyst Hans Delbrück concluded that "The Empire was built by Moltke and Bismarck, destroyed by Tirpitz and Ludendorff."[55]

After the Great War

In exile, Ludendorff wrote numerous books and articles about the German military's conduct of the war while forming the foundation for the Dolchstosslegende, the "stab-in-the-back theory," for which he is considered largely responsible,[56] insisting that a domestic crisis had sparked Germany's surrender while the military situation held firm, ignoring that he himself had pressed the politicians for an armistice on military grounds. Ludendorff was convinced that Germany had fought a defensive war and, in his opinion, that Kaiser Wilhelm II had failed to organize a proper counter-propaganda campaign or provide efficient leadership.[56]

Ludendorff was extremely suspicious of the Social Democrats and leftists, whom he blamed for the humiliation of Germany through the Versailles Treaty. Ludendorff claimed that he paid close attention to the business element (especially the Jews), and saw them turn their backs on the war effort by—as he saw it—letting profit, rather than patriotism, dictate production and financing.

Again focusing on the left, Ludendorff was appalled by the strikes that took place towards the end of the war and the way that the home front collapsed before the military front did, with the former poisoning the morale of soldiers on temporary leave. Most importantly, Ludendorff felt that the German people as a whole had underestimated what was at stake in the war; he was convinced that the Entente had started the war and was determined to dismantle Germany completely.

Ludendorff wrote:

By the Revolution the Germans have made themselves pariahs among the nations, incapable of winning allies, helots in the service of foreigners and foreign capital, and deprived of all self-respect. In twenty years' time, the German people will curse the parties who now boast of having made the Revolution.

— Erich Ludendorff, My War Memories, 1914–1918

Political career in the Republic

Ludendorff (center) with Hitler and other early Nazi leaders and prominent radical German nationalists

Ludendorff returned to Berlin in February 1919.[57] Staying at the Adlon Hotel, he talked with another resident, Sir Neill Malcolm, the head of the British Military Mission. After Ludendorff presented his excuses for the German defeat Malcolm said "you mean that you were stabbed in the back?",[58] ironically coining a key catchphrase for the German right wing.

On 12 March 1920 5,000 Freikorps troops under the command of Walther von Lüttwitz marched on the Chancellery, forcing the government led by Friedrich Ebert and Gustav Bauer to flee the city. The putschists proclaimed a new government with a right-wing politician, Wolfgang Kapp as new "chancellor". Ludendorff and Max Bauer were part of the putsch. The Kapp Putsch was soon defeated by a general strike that brought Berlin to a standstill. The leaders fled, Ludendorff to Bavaria, where a right-wing coup had succeeded. He published two volumes of annotated —and in a few instances pruned — documents and commentaries documenting his war service.[59] He reconciled with Hindenburg, who began to visit every year.

In May 1923 Ludendorff had an agreeable first meeting with Adolf Hitler, and soon he had regular contacts with National Socialists. On 8 November 1923, the Bavarian Staatskomissar Gustav von Kahr was addressing a jammed meeting in a large beer hall, the Bürgerbräukeller. Hitler, waving a pistol, jumped onto the stage, announcing that the national revolution was underway. The hall was occupied by armed men who covered the audience with a machine gun, the first move in the Beer Hall Putsch. Hitler announced that he would lead the Reich Government and Ludendorff would command the army. He addressed the now enthusiastically supportive audience and then spent the night in the War Ministry, unsuccessfully trying to obtain the army's backing.

The next morning 3,000 armed Nazis formed outside of the Bürgerbräukeller and marched into central Munich, the leaders just behind the flag bearers. They were blocked by a cordon of police, and firing broke out for less than a minute. Several of the Nazis in front were hit or dropped to the ground. Ludendorff and his adjutant Major Streck marched to the police line where they pushed aside the rifle barrels. He was respectfully arrested. He was indignant when he was sent home while the other leaders remained in custody. Four police officers and 14 Nazis had been killed, including Ludendorff's servant.

They were tried in early 1924. Ludendorff was acquitted, but Heinz was convicted of chauffeuring him, given a one-year suspended sentence and fined 1,000 marks. Hitler went to prison but was released after nine months. Ludendorff's 60th birthday was celebrated by massed bands and a large torchlight parade. In 1924, he was elected to the Reichstag as a representative of the NSFB (a coalition of the German Völkisch Freedom Party (DVFP) and members of the Nazi Party), serving until 1928. At around this time, he founded the Tannenberg League, a German nationalist organization which was both anti-Semitic and anti-Catholic, and published literature espousing conspiracy theories involving Jews, Catholics—especially Jesuits—and Freemasons.[60]

As his views became more extreme under the influence of his wife, Mathilde von Kemnitz, Ludendorff gradually began to part company with Hitler, who was surreptitiously working to undermine the reputation of his one serious rival for the leadership of the extreme right in Germany. Nonetheless, Ludendorff was persuaded to run for President of the Republic in the March 1925 election as the Nazi Party candidate, receiving only a pitiful 1.1 per cent of the vote; there is some evidence that Hitler himself persuaded Ludendorff to run, knowing that the results would be humiliating.[60]

No one had a majority in the initial round of the election, so a second round was needed; Hindenburg entered the race and was narrowly elected. Ludendorff was so humiliated by what he saw as a betrayal by his old friend that he broke off relations with Hindenburg, and in 1927 refused to even stand beside the field marshal at the dedication of the Tannenberg memorial. He attacked Hindenburg abusively for not having acted in a "nationalistic soldier-like fashion". The Berlin-based liberal newspaper Vossische Zeitung states in its article "Ludendorff's hate tirades against Hindenburg—Poisonous gas from Hitler's camp" that Ludendorff was, as of 29 March 1930, deeply grounded in Nazi ideology.[61]

Tipton notes that Ludendorff was a social Darwinist who believed that war was the "foundation of human society", and that military dictatorship was the normal form of government in a society in which every resource must be mobilized.[62] The historian Margaret L. Anderson notes that after the war, Ludendorff wanted Germany to go to war against all of Europe, and that he became a pagan worshipper of the Nordic god Wotan (Odin); he detested not only Judaism, but also Christianity, which he regarded as a weakening force.[63]

Retirement and death

Ludendorff's grave

Ludendorff divorced and married his second wife Mathilde von Kemnitz (1877–1966) in 1926. They published books and essays to prove that the world's problems were the result of Christianity, especially the Jesuits and Catholics, but also conspiracies by Jews and the Freemasons. They founded the Bund für Gotteserkenntnis (in German) (Society for the Knowledge of God), a small and rather obscure esoterical society of Theists that survives to this day.[64] He launched several abusive attacks on his former superior Hindenburg for not having acted in a "nationalistic soldier-like fashion".

By the time Hitler came to power, Ludendorff was no longer sympathetic to him. The Nazis distanced themselves from Ludendorff because of his eccentric conspiracy theories.[65]

On 30 January 1933, the occasion of Hitler's appointment as Chancellor by President Hindenburg, Ludendorff sent the following telegram to Hindenburg[66]:

I solemnly prophesy that this accursed man will cast our Reich into the abyss and bring our nation to inconceivable misery. Future generations will damn you in your grave for what you have done.[67]

Some historians consider this text to be a forgery.[68] In an attempt to regain Ludendorff's favor, Hitler arrived unannounced at Ludendorff's home on his 70th birthday in 1935 to promote him to field marshal. Infuriated, Ludendorff allegedly rebuffed Hitler by telling him: "An officer is named General Field-Marshal on the battlefield! Not at a birthday tea-party in the midst of peace."[69] He wrote two further books on military themes, demonstrating that he still could think coherently about war despite his political and social prejudices.[70]

Ludendorff died of liver cancer in the private clinic Josephinum in Munich, on 20 December 1937 at the age of 72.[71] He was given—against his explicit wishes—a state funeral organized and attended by Hitler, who declined to speak at his eulogy. He was buried in the Neuer Friedhof in Tutzing in Bavaria.

In popular culture

• The Ludendorff Bridge, also known as the Bridge at Remagen, was named after him.
• The 1974 British television drama Fall of Eagles features actor Michael Bates as Ludendorff.
• The 2003 Canadian TV miniseries Hitler: The Rise of Evil depicts the early relation between Hitler and Ludendorff, who is portrayed by Austrian actor Friedrich von Thun.
• A highly fictionalized version of Ludendorff, which bears little resemblance in terms of appearance or biography, is portrayed by Danny Huston in the 2017 Warner Bros. film Wonder Woman. Taking place 100 years before the events of all the other DCEU movies the film, which is set during the final days of World War I, Ludendorff grows convinced that Germany can turn the tide of the war with a new "hydrogen-based form of mustard gas" developed by his chief chemist Isabel Maru, which he intends to use in a massive chemical attack against London. He eventually engages Diana in one-on-one combat, where she defeats and kills him.
• In a second-season episode of the television series Babylon Berlin, members of the Black Reichswehr hatch a plan to overthrow the Weimar Republic and restore the German Empire with Ludendorff as Chancellor.

Decorations and awards

• Knight of the Military Order of Max Joseph (Bavaria)
• Grand Commander with Star of the House Order of Hohenzollern
• Pour le Mérite (Prussia)
• Grand Cross of the Iron Cross
• Knight of the Military Order of St. Henry (Saxony)
• Knight of the Military Merit Order (Württemberg)
• Knight Grand Cross of the House and Merit Order of Peter Frederick Louis with Swords and laurel
• Military Merit Cross, 2nd class (Mecklenburg-Schwerin)
• Military Merit Cross, 1st class with war decoration (Austria-Hungary)
• Gold Military Merit Medal (Signum Laudis, Austria-Hungary)
• Cross for Merit in War (Saxe-Meiningen)


Books (selection)

Erich Ludendorff - Meine Kriegserinnerungen - Ernst Mittler und Sohn - Berlin 1919

• 1919: Meine Kriegserinnerungen 1914–1918. Berlin: Mittler & Sohn (republished 1936)
• 1933: Mein militärischer Werdegang. Blätter der Erinnerung an unser stolzes Heer. Munich: Ludendorffs Verlag
• 1937: with Mitarbeitern: Mathilde Ludendorff – ihr Werk und Wirken. Munich: Ludendorffs Verlag
• 1937: Auf dem Weg zur Feldherrnhalle. Lebenserinnerungen an die Zeit des 9. November 1923. Munich: Ludendorffs Verlag
• 1939: with Mathilde Ludendorff: Die Judenmacht, ihr Wesen und Ende. Munich: Ludendorffs Verlag

Smaller publications

• 1926: Die Revolution von oben. Das Kriegsende und die Vorgänge beim Waffenstillstand. Zwei Vorträge. Lorch: Karl Rohm
• 1934: Wie der Weltkrieg 1914 „gemacht“ wurde. Munich: Völkischer Verlag
• 1934: Das Marne-Drama. Der Fall Moltke-Hentsch. Munich: Ludendorffs Verlag
• 1934: "Tannenberg". Zum 20. Jahrestag der Schlacht. Munich: Ludendorffs Verlag
• 1934: Die politischen Hintergründe des 9. November 1923. Munich: Ludendorffs Verlag
• 1935: Über Unbotmäßigkeit im Kriege. Munich: Ludendorffs Verlag
• 1935: Französische Fälschung meiner Denkschrift von 1912 über den drohenden Krieg. Munich: Ludendorffs Verlag
• 1938-40: Feldherrnworte. Munich: Ludendorffs Verlag
• 1939: Tannenberg. Geschichtliche Wahrheit über die Schlacht. Munich: Ludendorffs Verlag

As publisher

• 1929–1933 (banned): Ludendorffs Volkswarte ("Ludendorff's Peoples' Viewpoint"; weekly) Munich

See also

• World War I portal



1. William J. Astore, "The Tragic Pursuit of Total Victory." MHQ: Quarterly Journal of Military History(Autumn 2007) 20#1) pp 64-73.
2. "Erich Ludendorff (German general) : Introduction – Britannica Online Encyclopedia". 20 December 1937. Retrieved 16 May 2012.
3. William Brownell, and Denise Drace-Brownell, The First Nazi: Erich Ludendorff, The Man Who Made Hitler Possible (2016) ch 1.
4. Parkinson, Roger (1978). Tormented warrior. Ludendorff and the supreme command. London: Hodder and Stoughton. pp. 13–14. ISBN 0-340-21482-1.
5. "Biografie Erich Ludendorff (German)". Deutsches Historisches Museum. Retrieved 6 June2013.
6. Parkinson, 1978, p. 221
7. von Stein, General (1920). A War Minister and his work. Reminiscences of 1914–1918. London: Skeffington & Son. p. 39.
8. Lee, John (2005). The warlords : Hindenburg and Ludendorff. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson. p. 44.
9. Ludendorff, Erich (1919). Ludendorff’s Own Story. I. New York: Harper and Brothers. p. 31.
10. Ludendorff, M (1929). My married life with Ludendorff. London: Hutchinson. p. 25.
11. Lee, 2005, p. 45
12. Parkinson, 1978. p. 49
13. Kershaw, Ian (2015). To Hell and back. Europe 1914–1949. London: Allen Lane. p. 77.
14. Nazi Empire: German Colonialism and Imperialism from Bismarck to Hitler, page 102, Shelley Baranowski, Cambridge University, Press 2010
15. Armies of occupation page 128 Roy Arnold Prete, A. Hamish Ion - Wilfrid Laurier University Press 1984
16. The silent dictatorship: the politics of the German high command under Hindenburg and Ludendorff, 1916–1918. page 193, Martin Kitchen
17. A History of Modern Germany, Volume 3: 1840–1945. Hajo Holborn, page 488, 1982
18. The German Myth of the East: 1800 to the Present. Vejas Gabriel Liulevicius - 2010, page 138
19. Ludendorff, 1919, I, p. 250.
20. Parkinson, Roger (1978). Tormented warrior, Ludendorff and the supreme Command. London: Hodder & Stoughton. p. 110.
21. von Müller, Georg (1961). Görlitz, Walter (ed.). The Kaiser and his court : the diaries, notebooks, and letters of Admiral Georg Alexander von Müller, chief of the naval cabinet, 1914–1918. London: Macdonald. p. 406.
22. Churchill, Winston S. (1949). The World Crisis. New York: Charles Scribner Sons. p. 685.
23. Binding, Rudolph (1929). A Fatalist at War. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. p. 179.
24. Ludendorff, 1919, 2, p. 151.
25. Feldman, Gerald D. (1966). Army, Industry and Labor in Germany 1914–1918. Princeton: Princeton University Press. p. 180.
26. Lee, John (2005). The warlords : Hindenburg and Ludendorff. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson. p. 10.
27. Kitchen, Martin (1976). The Silent Dictatorship. The Politics of the German High Command under Hindenburg and Ludendorff, 1916–1918. London: Croom Helm. p. 146.
28. Feldman, 1966, p. 478.
29. Ludendorff, 1919,I, p. 10.
30. Ludendorff, 1919, II, 150.
31. Tipton, Frank B. A History of Modern Germany University of California Press, 2003, p. 313
32. van der Kloot, William (2014). Great scientists wage the Great War. Stroud: Fonthill. pp. 71–73.
33. Moyer, L. V. (1995). Victory Must be Ours. New York: Hippocrene Books. p. 284.
34. Mendelsohn, Kurt (1973). The World of Walther Nernst. The rise and Fall of German Science, 1864–1941. London: MacMillan. p. 92.
35. de Gaulle, Charles (2002). The enemy's house divided. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press. p. 113.
36. Delbrück, Hans (1922). Ludendorffs selbstportrait. Berlin: Verlag für Politik und Wirtschaft. p. 11.
37. Ludendorff, 1919, II, p. 76.
38. van der Kloot, William (2010). World War I fact book. Stroud, Gloucestershire: Amberley. p. 110.
39. Ludendorff, 1919, II, p. 72.
40. Binding, 1929, p. 183.
41. Ludwig, Emil (1935). Hindenburg and the saga of the German revolution. London: William Heinemann. p. 153.
42. Zabecki, David T. (2006). The German 1918 Offensives: A case study in the operational level of war. London: Routledge. p. 114.
43. Herwig, Holger L. (1997). The First World War, Germany and Austria-Hungary 1914–1918. London: Arnold. p. 403.
44. Ludendorff, 1919, II, p. 235.
45. von Lossberg, Fritz (1939). Meine Tätigkeit im Weltkriege 1914–1918. Berlin: E. S. Mittler & Sohn. p. 343.
46. Maurice, Major-General Sir F. (1919). The last four months: The end of the war in the west. London: Cassell. p. 67.
47. Ludendorff, 1919, II, p. 326.
48. Foerester, Wolfgang (1952). Der Feldherr Ludendorff im Unglück. Weisbaden: Limes. p. 75.
49. Watson, Alexander (2014). Ring of Steel. Germany and Austria-Hungary at war 1914–1918. London: Allen Lane. p. 551.
50. von Müller, 1961, p. 413.
51. Goodspeed, D. J. (1966). Ludendorff Soldier: Dictator: Revolutionary. London: Rupert Hart-Davis.
52. Jorma Keränen. Suomen itsenäistymisen kronikka: Ludendorff saa suomalaisen passin (in Finnish). Gummerus. p. 153. ISBN 951-20-3800-5.
53. Breucker, Wilhelm (1953). Die Tragik Ludendorffs. Eine kritische erinnerung an den general und seine zeit. Berlin: Helmut Rauschenbusch. p. 53.
54. Wheeler-Bennett, John (1938). "Ludendorff: The Soldier and the Politician". Virginia Quarterly. 14 (2): 187.
55. Delbrück, 1922, p. 64.
56. Nebelin, Manfred: Ludendorff: Diktator im Ersten Weltkrieg, Munich: Siedler Verlag--Verlagsgruppe Random House, 2011 (in German)
57. John W. Wheeler-Bennett (Spring 1938). "Ludendorff: The Soldier and the Politician". Virginia Quarterly. 14 (2): 187–202.
58. Parkinson, 1978, p. 197.
59. Ludendorff, Erich (1920). Urkunden der Obersten Heeresleitung über ihre Tätigkeit, 1916–18 / herausgegeben von Erich Ludendorff. Berlin: E. S. Mittler.
60. Evans, Ricjard J. (2003) The Coming of the Third Reich New York: Penguin. pp. 201–02 ISBN 0-14-303469-3
61. "Ludendorff beschimpft Hindenburg". Retrieved 28 March 2013.
62. Frank B. Tipton (2003). A History of Modern Germany. p. 291.
63. Margaret Lavinia Anderson (5 December 2007). Dying by the Sword. The Fall of the Hohenzollern and Habsburg Empires from History 167b, The Rise and Fall of the Second Reich.
64. "The God-cognition by Mathilde Ludendorff (1877–1966)". Bund für Gotterkenntnis Ludendorff e.V. Archived from the original on 7 October 2011. Retrieved 20 November 2011.
65. David Nicholls, Adolf Hitler: A Biographical Companion, ABC-CLIO, 1 January 2000, p.159.
66. William Brownell, and Denise Drace-Brownell, The First Nazi: Erich Ludendorff, The Man Who Made Hitler Possible (2016) ch 11.
67. Kershaw, Ian. Hitler. Longman, 1991, p. 426.
68. Vierteljahrshefte für Zeitgeschichte. 47. Jahrgang, Oktober 1999 (PDF; 7 MB), S. 559–562.
69. Parkinson, 1978, p. 224.
70. Ludendorff, Erich (1936). The nation at war. Translated by A.S. Rappoport. London: Hutchinson.
71. Ludendorffs Verlag: Der letzte Weg des Feldherrn Erich Ludendorff, München 1938, S. 8: Das Kranken- und Sterbezimmer im Josephinum in München.


• Asprey, Robert B (1991). The German High Command at War: Hindenburg and Ludendorff and the First World War. New York: W. Morrow. ISBN 0-688-08226-2.
• Astore, William J. "The Tragic Pursuit of Total Victory." MHQ: Quarterly Journal of Military History (Autumn 2007) 20#1) pp 64–73.</ref.
• Brownell, William and Denise Drace-Brownell. The First Nazi: Erich Ludendorff, The Man Who Made Hitler Possible (Berkeley: Counterpoint, 2016). 356pp highly negative online review
• Goodspeed, Donald J. (1966). Ludendorff: Genius of World War I. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin.
• Jones, LTC William A. Ludendorff: Strategist (Pickle Partners Publishing, 2015) online.
• Lee, John (2005). The Warlords: Hindenburg and Ludendorff. London: Orion Books. ISBN 0-297-84675-2.
• Livesay, John Frederick Bligh (1919). Canada's Hundred Days: With the Canadian Corps from Amiens to Mons, Aug. 8 — Nov. 11, 1918. Toronto: Thomas Allen.
• Parkinson, Roger (1978). Tormented Warrior. Ludendorff and the supreme command. London: Hodder and Stoughton. ISBN 0-340-21482-1.
• Showalter, Dennis, and William J. Astore. Hindenburg: Icon of German Militarism (2005) excerpt

Primary sources

• Ludendorff, Erich (1971) [1920]. Ludendorff's Own Story: August 1914 – November 1918; the Great War from the siege of Liège to the signing of the armistice as viewed from the grand headquarters of the German Army. Freeport, NY: Books for Libraries Press. ISBN 0-8369-5956-6.
• Ludendorff, Erich. The Coming War. Faber and Faber, 1931. (Weltkrieg droht auf deutschem Boden)
• Ludendorff, Erich. The Nation at War. Hutchinson, London, 1936. (Der totale Krieg)

German studies

• Amm, Bettina: Ludendorff-Bewegung. In: Wolfgang Benz (Hrsg.): Handbuch des Antisemitismus. Judenfeindlichkeit in Geschichte und Gegenwart, Band 5: Organisationen, Institutionen, Bewegungen. De Gruyter, Berlin 2012. page 393 ff. ISBN 978-3-598-24078-2.
• Gruchmann, Lothar: Ludendorffs „prophetischer“ Brief an Hindenburg vom Januar/Februar 1933. Eine Legende. In: Vierteljahrshefte für Zeitgeschichte. Band 47, 1999. pages 559–562.
• Nebelin, Manfred: Ludendorff. Diktator im Ersten Weltkrieg. Siedler, München 2011. ISBN 978-3-88680-965-3.
• Pöhlmann, Markus: Der moderne Alexander im Maschinenkrieg. In: Stig Förster (Hrsg.): Kriegsherren der Weltgeschichte. 22 historische Porträts. Beck, München 2006. ISBN 3-406-54983-7 pages 268–286.
• Puschner, Uwe; Vollnhals, Clemens (Hrgb.); Die völkisch-religiöse Bewegung im Nationalsozialismus; Göttingen 2012 ISBN 978-3-525-36996-8.
• Schwab, Andreas: Vom totalen Krieg zur deutschen Gotterkenntnis. Die Weltanschauung Erich Ludendorffs. In: Schriftenreihe der Eidgenössischen Militärbibliothek und des Historischen Dienstes. Nr. 17, Bern 2005.
• Thoss, Bruno (1987), "Ludendorff, Erich", Neue Deutsche Biographie (NDB) (in German), 15, Berlin: Duncker & Humblot, pp. 285–290; (full text online)
• Wegehaupt, Phillip: "Ludendorff, Erich". In: Wolfgang Benz (Hrsg.): Handbuch des Antisemitismus. Bd. 2: Personen. De Gruyter Saur, Berlin 2009, ISBN 978-3-598-44159-2, page 494 ff. (retrieved über Verlag Walter de Gruyter Online).

External links

• Ludendorff by H. L. Mencken published in the June 1917 edition of the Atlantic Monthly
• Biography of Erich Ludendorff from Spartacus Educational
• My War Memories by Erich Ludendorff at
• Erich Ludendorff at Find a Grave
• Newspaper clippings about Erich Ludendorff in the 20th Century Press Archives of the ZBW
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