Mass grave of WW2 euthanasia victims found

Oct. 5, 2006 at 11:47 PM
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MENDEN-BARGE, Germany, Oct. 5 (UPI) -- The bones of more than 50 people believed to be victims of Nazi euthanasia have been exhumed from a mass grave in a quiet Catholic churchyard in Germany.

The skeletons include 29 adults and 22 children, the BBC reported.

Officials said there had been rumors about bodies buried in the graveyard in Menden-Barge, a town near Dortmund. They decided to excavate when nothing conclusive could be learned any other way.

The cemetery is close to the site of a hospital operated by Karl Brandt, Hitler's personal doctor. Brandt was hanged in 1948 for war crimes, including his supervision of the euthanasia program.

At least two of the children's skulls show signs that they were handicapped, Deutsche Welle reported. None of the skeletons were in coffins.

Thousands of people with mental or physical handicaps were put to death between 1939 and 1941 by lethal injection or poison gas. The government officially dropped the euthanasia program -- which was always an open secret -- because of protests from religious leaders. But killings continued to occur until the end of the war.

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