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Child Murder in Nazi Germany: The Memory of Nazi Medical Crimes and Commemoration of “Children’s Euthanasia” Victims at Two Facilities (Eichberg, Kalmenhof)

Author(s): Lutz Kaelber

Journal: Societies
ISSN 2075-4698

Volume: 2;
Issue: 3;
Start page: 157;
Date: 2012;
Original page

Keywords: National Socialism | medical crimes | euthanasia | children | memory | commemoration | Germany | trauma | atrocity

Nazi Germany’s “children’s euthanasia” was a unique program in the history of mankind, seeking to realize a social Darwinist vision of a society by means of the systematic murder of disabled children and youths. Perpetrators extinguished “unworthy life” during childhood and adolescence by establishing killing stations, misleadingly labeled Kinderfachabteilungen (“special children’s wards”), in existing medical or other care facilities. Part of a research project on Nazi “euthanasia” crimes and their victims, this paper uses a comparative historical perspective to trace memories of the crimes and the memorialization of their victims at the sites of two of these wards (Eichberg and Kalmenhof in Hesse, Germany). It also discusses the implications of the findings for theorizing mnemonic practices and analyzing ways in which memorials and other sites of memory deal with past trauma and atrocity.
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