Paul Braune Confronts the National Socialists' "Euthanasia" Program
Holocaust and genocide studies 2007; 21(3): 454-87
On July 9, 1940, asylum director Paul Braune completed a twelve-page memorandum, or Denkschrift, on the National Socialists' T-4 "euthanasia" program. The memorandum identified three killing centers within a carefully planned, Reich-wide program and summarized what Braune's research had uncovered about the fate of asylum patients at various T-4 facilities. Braune estimated that several thousand disabled people had been murdered between February and June 1940. After Protestant church leaders formally submitted Braune's memorandum to the Reich Chancellery, Braune was arrested by the Gestapo-pursuant to a direct order by Reinhard Heydrich-for having "sabotaged measures of the state in an irresponsible way." Despite Braune's protest, the killing of German asylum patients continued unabated. This article shows what a determined German citizen, assisted by an extensive network of information sources, was able to learn about the "euthanasia" program during the first six months of its implementation, and reveals the formidable difficulties that opponents of the program faced in their efforts to stop the killing of disabled people.