Sunday 19 September 2010

Aktion T4

The comparison being drawn between the French government's current persecution of Roma people and the Nazi persecution of Jews is a strange one. Surely the more obvious comparison would be with the Nazi persecution of the Roma people, of whom perhaps one million were murdered in the Holocaust. The understandable focus on Nazi antisemitism seems to have led many to forget other victims, not least the Roma (whom we in Britain traditionally call Gypsies) and also people with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder many of whom were murdered in the names of eugenics and cost-savings under the policy "Aktion T4". As we celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Britain it is worth remembering that this victory ultimately prevented the slaughter of countless people with a serious mental illness across the world (the "Few" may not have known it at the time but I don't suppose they would have been surprised).

The poster shows the poor German worker shouldering the financial burden of supporting inmates of the mental hospital in the background - the 50,000 Reichsmark life-time cost could be saved by the simple expedient of killing them.

Postscript: like all proper schoolboys in the 1960s I made an Airfix Spitfire. The great dilemma was whether to glue the undercarriage down so it could stand alone or up in which case there was a rather rubbish stand. I went for up and no stand so it only made sense being whizzed manually around the kitchen with a-a-a-a-a! machine-gun commentary.