For those who did not survive...the slaughter of people with mental illnesses
Posted Jan 18 2011 12:00am
An exhibit from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, called "Deadly Medicine: Creating the Master Race" is currently in Jacksonville, which is about 5 hours from where I live. I will probably not get there to see it, because of my car not being young and healthy enough, but I would like to. It is about the slaughter and the medical "experiments" done (ie, genocide and heinous torture) on people with disabilities, including young children, during the Holocaust. A person like myself, with multiple physical illnesses and a diagnosed serious psychiatric disease would have been tortured and/or killed during this time period in parts of Europe. I wouldn't have stood a chance.
From the exhibit website: From 1933 to 1945, Nazi Germany carried out a campaign to "cleanse" German society of individuals viewed as biological threats to the nation's "health." Enlisting the help of physicians and medically trained geneticists, psychiatrists, and anthropologists, the Nazis developed racial health policies that began with the mass sterilization of "genetically diseased" persons and ended with the near annihilation of European Jewry.
Won't you please take the time to explore this site ? I promise you, you will not leave without learning something new, whether it be a fact of which you were unaware regarding what the Nazis did, or a simple short story of the horrors one person lived through. I only wish the website was more in-depth for those of us who cannot get to the traveling exhibit.
I remember when I was a teenager, and I convinced my rather racist, Irish grandfather, who unfortunately passed away in 2009 , to take me to the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, while I was visiting my family in Baltimore and we went to see some museums. I don't think anyone - except a NAZI skinhead Aryan Nation sociopath, could walk through that museum without being profoundly affected, for life. I was crying as I read the stories, and I have never forgotten the brief part of the exhibit then that mentioned people with disabilities who were slaughtered and tortured. I knew then, it would have been me, too. I don't think my grandfather came away with that particular feeling of personally being implicated in this history, of being part of one of the worst stories we have to tell. Though he was an avid viewer of World War II movies, I don't think he felt the feeling I felt that day in that museum, that feeling of, "this would have been me". Because it wouldn't have been him. We were different. I was labeled.
"First They came for the Jews"
-by Pastor Martin Niemoller
First they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Jew.
Then they came for the Communists, and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist.
Then they came for me and there was no one was left to speak out for me.
Let us not only remember the horrors of injustice, racism, and other forms of hatred on Martin Luther King Day (yesterday in the U.S.). Let us remember these atrocities always, and never, ever forget the ease with which they infiltrated our human lives throughout history.
Those of us who live with mental illnesses today are better off than we ever were before in the history of time, as far as I know it. In the past, we were locked up in the closets and basements and attics, left to toil away at scraping the wallpaper like in the story "The Yellow Wallpaper" by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, or left locked up, caged as animals in barbaric, zoo-like institutions where we were warehoused, or we had all manner of inhumane and horrific "treatments" forced upon us, from lobotomies to Insulin treatment, not to mention all of those who were burned at the stake for being mentally ill and "evil" and "witches". We have a long history of mistreatment and of pain.
It is no wonder that people are still afraid today to come out with their illnesses and face the stigma that still enshrouds us. We have come a long way, but we still have a very long way to go. This history of the Holocaust was seventy years ago, not a thousand years ago. It is unbelievable that human beings in this century allowed this genocide to occur. Unbelievable.