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Lily Offenbacher Shares Her Knowledge of the "Euthanasia" Program with the U.S. Coordinator of Information (September 1941)

In the fall of 1939, Hitler’s authorized agents Phillip Bouhler (1899-1945), head of his Chancellery, and Dr. Karl Brandt (1904-1948), his personal physician, to begin carrying out the so-called Euthanasia Program. The action was organized by a semi-governmental central office specially created for this purpose. It was located at Tiergartenstraße 4 in Berlin, and this address later gave rise to the frequently used designation “Action T4.” The program aimed at the elimination of what was labeled “life not worth living,” a classification that referred in general to those with incurable or hereditary diseases but also applied to criminal and non-Aryan patients. A circular decree from the Reich Ministry of the Interior required all sanitoria to provide information on their patients by submitting patient registration forms to the program. In Berlin, expert reviewers in the T4 office then decided which patients would be sent to one of what would eventually become six killing institutions, where they were killed by carbon monoxide poisoning. As the following report from an eyewitness reveals, rumors about the euthanasia action spread quickly among the German population. After a number of representatives from the church and the judicial administration lodged protests, Hitler ordered the official suspension of the T4 action in September 1941. By this time, however, it had claimed more than 70,000 victims. Thereafter, the euthanasia program was continued in a decentralized fashion. Moreover, three of the killing institutions were put to further use in the killing of more than 20,000 concentration camp inmates unfit to work. The core of the T4 staff made its expertise available as regards the industrial murder of the Jews that was then getting under way in Eastern Europe.

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Mrs. Lily Offenbacher, 4802 - 43rd Street, Woodside, Long Island City, is a Jewish widow of a man who was connected with Der Gerade Weg, a Catholic newspaper in Munich, edited by Dr. Fritz Gerlich and supported by the Jesuits and in strong opposition to the Nazis in 1932-1933. It was, therefore, the object of an immediate attack when the Nazis came into power in March 1933. Dr. Gerlich was murdered in prison.

Mrs. Offenbacher has been recommended to us by Mr. Fluegge and was interviewed by Mrs. Stewart. She seems very reliable and her statements seem to be correct. She herself is still rather nervous as she had been in prison shortly before she left Germany. She gives the following information:

"I left Germany in June. I went to Lisbon by Airplane and continued the journey by boat. I could not leave Germany before because I had to nurse my sick mother who died in the meantime. I also wanted to bring my aged father with me and we had endless difficulties with our passports.

During the last two years I have continually tried to get information about German war industries. I have reliable information about Munich and its surroundings. I think my information might be valuable for the R.A.F. because during the air attacks on Munich last August and September and again on the 8th of November not a single military object was hit. I have learned since that there were reports outside Germany that the attack was intended for the B.M.W.; if such a plan existed, it failed completely. The objectives hit included: the restaurant Baurngirgl; the residential section in the center of the town; the house of an iron monger, Dandl, whose house is opposite the Sterneckerbrau where the Nazi party had its first meeting place. If the Brau was the aim it was a close miss. In Munich several bombs fell in the Englisch Garten and the Bavaria Ring.

The most important places besides the B.M.W. (which seemed not to be camouflaged at all) are the big munitions factory in Wolfratshausen; the Linde Eis Maschinerie factory, Hoellriegelskreuth, both in Isartal south of Munich and the new factory at the Ostfriedhof and last but not least, the big munition[s] factory Friderick Deckel in Mittel Sendling. The factory in Mittel Sendling makes important parts of guns and cannons, mainly mechanical springs, etc.

The Wolfratshausen factory was built in 1935 and is completely underground. Only railroads and cranes are on the surface and they are well hidden between the high trees of the surrounding woods. Workmen working there are mostly convicts released from the penitentiary after having served part of their sentence and being bound over for the rest. They are living on the premises which are surrounded by barbed wire fences. The factory which is said to be the biggest in south Germany is situated between the River Isal and Loisach. It is forbidden to land there when rowing on the river. I did it all the same.

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