Continuing rumors of ancient atrocities led German authorities to excavate a site that some thought contained the bodies of Nazi victims from World War II. This gossip proved all too accurate; they discovered a mass grave that the Nazis used to bury its youngest and most helpless victims:
Authorities in western Germany have found a mass grave containing 35 bodies, many of them of young children, and are checking whether they may have been victims of Hitler’s program of forced “euthanasia” that killed tens of thousands of people with physical and mental disabilities.
The search of the site in a cemetery in the town of Menden near Dortmund began last week after rumors and eyewitness testimony that the cemetery contained the bodies of Nazi victims.
Among the bodies found so far are 20 skeletons of children believed to have been aged between one and seven. Most of them were buried without coffins. Two of the children’s skulls show signs of possible physical disabilities. Some of the bodies were found in a war cemetery adjoining Menden’s Catholic cemetery.
“There’s a vague preliminary suspicion that they may be euthanasia cases,” said prosecutor Heiko Oltmanns of the Dortmund public prosecutors’ office.
The euthanasia program still haunts Germany, as this excavation proves, and for good reason. Over 70,000 children and handicapped adults met their deaths in the first two years of this gruesome government program that intended on producing a generation without defect. Tens of thousands more died during the war as the Nazis killed off the “undesirable” as resources grew more scarce. They didn’t even have the decency to bury their victims properly. The mass grave had bodies less than 70 cm below the surface.
Der Spiegel reports that Germany will conduct DNA testing to see if the nearby hospital and its doctors had any role in the euthanizing of these victims. If so, they promise criminal prosecution. It seems an empty threat more than 60 years after the murders. Even the candy-stripers or the German equivalent would be in their eighties now, and they would hardly have criminal responsibility for the atrocities unearthed in Menden.
Instead, it should serve as another stark reminder about the inevitable corruption that occurs when we give governments the power to decide which lives are worth living and which should end, regardless of whether any offense has occurred. That urge does not limit itself to tyrants, either.