Menu JTA Search

200 Witnesses to Testify Against Nazi ‘euthanasia Doctor’ in Germany

SIGN UP FOR THE JTA DAILY BRIEFING

More than 200 witnesses have been located for the forthcoming trial of Dr. Werner Heyde, the Nazi “euthanasia doctor” and former SS officer, who was indicted yesterday in the murder of more than 100,000 persons, the Hesse Chief Public Prosecution office announced today.

Dr. Heyde, as head of the Reich Society for Mental Institutions, was one of Hitler’s chief planners in the disposal of those considered as unfit to live for various reasons. Evidence at the various Nazi war crimes trials indicated that about 60,000 inmates of mental hospitals and 140,000 prisoners in concentration camps were slaughtered in the euthanasia program.

The announcement indicated that the reason for the long delay in bringing Dr. Heyde to trial was the immensity of the task of assembling the documentary evidence and arranging for witnesses. The indictment totals more than 800 pages. Described as “colossal,” the documentation consists mostly of the files of asylums where Dr. Heyde and two co-defendants did most of the medical killings, in addition to those in the camps.

According to the indictment, Dr. Heyde had the final word in preparing medical opinions on those selected to be killed. The other defendants are Dr. Herard Bohne, of Dusseldorf, charged with responsibility for the “mercy killing” program until April, 1940 and Dr. Hans Hefelman, of Munich, a close collaborator of Dr. Heyde. Dr. Bohne is being held in jail with Heyde, awaiting the trial. Dr. Hefelman was released a year ago on bail for reasons of health. Dr. Bohne was charged specifically with the murder of 15,000 persons and Dr. Hefelman with the killing of 73,000.

The trial will be held this fall before a jury court in Limburg, a small town near Hadamar which was the site of one of the mental institutions where the euthanasia program was carried out. Dr. Heyde assumed the alias of Fritz Sawade after World War II. He obtained a job as a psychiatric expert under that alias from the Schleswig-Holstein state government.

NEXT STORY