T4 by Ann Clare LeZotte

Cover to T4 by Ann Clare LeZotte

“Life Unworthy of Life”

The Nazi leaders (mostly) went along with idea of eugenics. That is, having more of the types of people they thought were worthy of keeping around, while getting rid of the people they believed were undesirable—whom they considered a “burden to society.” They blamed the Jews for the economic troubles their country faced after World War I. So, in their “Final Solution,” the Jews had to go. The horrors as millions of people—mothers, children, fathers, businesspeople, craftspeople, retirees—were taken to their imprisonment and death is remembered as the Holocaust.

But there were more people the Nazis did not want around: those with physical or mental challenges, gypsies, and those who had an inconvenient religion or group association. While some of these were also sent to the death camps, others, particularly disabled children, were rounded up and taken to special “schools” which would soon report to the parents that their children had died suddenly from an illness. In fact, they had been put to death, usually by an injection though sometimes by other means. They called it euthanasia. A “good death.”

T4 was the name of the order issued that sentenced these children to death. T4 is also the name of a short, poignant novel, written by a modern deaf woman, about a deaf girl’s experiences in World War II. Taken away from her family and kept in hiding, Paula Becker tells her story in spirited, innocent free verse:

My parents were aware

These things
Were happening
In our country.

But they didn’t tell me.

Follow Paula’s story, and celebrate her life and those of the many people condemned as unworthy with this short book. T4 gives a human side to a massive tragedy that sprang from the truly unworthy hearts of those in power.