The disabled in Nazi Germany

I recently found myself in London for a business meeting. It was in the lobby-cum-restaurant area of a new hotel at near Waterloo station. There was a fantastic view straight across Waterloo Bridge to Parliament, but I had my back to this view for most of the meeting. Shame.

When the meeting was over, instead of heading for the station and the train home for lunch and then an afternoon of toil in front of the computer I decided I would take an hour out and pop over to the Imperial War Museum. It was only a 10 minute walk from where the hotel was, after all.

Now an hour is not long to spend in a fabulous museum like the IWM so you really have to pick what you’re going to look at. I knew what I wanted to see. The holocaust exhibition. I’d been to the museum a few years earlier with my dad for his birthday. We do something like that every year on or around his birthday – a sort of annual father and son time. This year we went to Bletchley Park - fantastic place. In my opinion the most important place in 20th century UK history. And it’s shameful that it’s been allowed to fall into ruin!

But I digress. When dad and I went to the IWM all those years ago I remember been incredibly moved by the holocaust exhibition. Not least because it was shortly after the birth of my son and there I was confronted by a section of the exhibition that opened my eyes to the terrible treatment of the disabled in Nazi Germany. They too became a part of the holocaust (with so-called ‘Euthanasia’ policies) along with the gypsies, homosexuals, and other undesirables as well as the Jews. Now I pride myself on a fascination with history (thanks Mr Jenkins – you were a great teacher and I was poor student) but I was not aware of, or had not registered before, that individuals like my son had suffered so terribly under Nazism.

It’s difficult to look at these things, even with the cushion of time that’s now passed since the Second World War. But I strongly believe it’s important that EVERYONE should learn about this terrible regime and what it was responsible for. No-one has the right to judge another living human beings worth , say whether that individual has a right to live, force sterilization on them, experiment on them, or any of the other dreadful thing you can learn about in the excellent, if sobering, exhibition.

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