Cemetary at Hadamar Killing Center
Tiergartenstrasse 4, also known as "T4", was Hitler's solution to ridding society of those "unworthy of life", "useless eaters". Those with defective genes which caused, among a long list of diagnoses, such things as mental illness, cerebral palsy, and Down syndrome.
Most of us are familiar with these actions taken during Hitler's reign, but many are not familiar with WHERE these things happened. The entire Balkan region including Serbia (formerly Yugoslavia), Ukraine, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, etc., was included in these murderous acts.
During T4, the "useless eaters" were housed in institutions, hidden away from society. During Hitler's reign, nearly 200,000 people who fit Hitler's description were murdered either by gas or lethal injection. Stalin also took part in genocide, including warehousing and starving to death those with any visible or diagnosable disability. He was a "pitiless mass murderer", according to Norman M. Naimark.
It is this history, what Stalin and Hitler left behind, that causes the same warehousing of those with disabilities in the Balkans that we see today. These ideologies are deep seated in the lawmakers of today. Oppression can take centuries to overcome, and the oppression of Eastern Europe is very recent. Heck, it hasn't even ended in some areas!
I think these are important things to remember about the region. When I go into orphanages and institutions, I try my very best to keep my emotions in check, and remember some of the staff who is working in these facilities has been taught that this is how "these" are treated. Not all facilities are this way. There are some managed by directors who are forward thinking, where staff is trained in therapy techniques, and genuine caring for the residents is seen.
In the coming weeks I will be in several facilities. The level of care received by the residents will vary greatly. Some good, some very bad. Lord, you alone have lead me here for a reason. I stand in awe of you. I ask you to please protect my heart. Let the memories of what I see, the very memories that will sear deep wounds in my spirit, let them serve a purpose for your greater good. Open my heart to those who are most offensive to me; show me how to pray for them. Let me not forget. Give me the strength to share my experiences with wisdom and understanding. Give me the words to paint a picture of both the horror and the beauty. For there is beauty. Let me find it.