Every year, on 27 January, the world commemorates International Holocaust Remembrance Day honouring the victims of the Holocaust. Most people are not aware that the Nazi genocide started with disabled people. Persons with handicaps were the first guinea pigs designated for all extermination, sterilization and euthanasia techniques – later applied also to homosexuals, gypsies and political opponents – that finally culminated in the Holocaust of the Jewish population.
Sterilization, internment and deportation campaigns of people with disabilities started in 1933, in the months immediately after Hitler’s rise. The Law for the Prevention of Genetically Diseased Offspring became one of the means by which the Nazi party implemented its racial and eugenic legislation. After an intensive sterilization campaign -the little known T4 project – in the second half of 1939, they proceeded to systematically kill young people and adults with disabilities. The National Socialist ideology considered these persons as imperfect human beings, and their lives as not worth living.
Between January 1940 and August 1941 (before the Holocaust began), 70,273 physically and mentally disabled people – men, women, teens, boys, and girls – were murdered by the Nazis. Though they never even laid eyes on the disabled person they were evaluating, the Nazi doctors read the medical files and, if from the words on the page, the person was deemed “unfit” or an “economic burden on society”, the doctor placed a red X at the bottom of the form. Three doctors were to read each medical file, and when two of them made a red X on the page, the disabled person’s fate was sealed. Most were murdered within 1-2 hours.
Jersey is taking part in a worldwide quilt-making project called The 70273 Project that commemorates the lives of the disabled people murdered by the Nazis. Members of the public are invited to drop in and sew a block on 4 February 2017 at St Lawrence Parish Hall between 10am and 3pm. You do not need any experience of quilting or even be able to sew. There is an interview with the organisers by the Jersey Evening Post here.
As a charity that supports minorities, many of whom were targeted by the Nazis, this project is one that we urge you to give your time to. It doesn’t take long to make a block for the quilt and, with Holocaust Memorial Day less than a week away, it is a different way to remember those who lost their lives.
If you cannot attend on 4 February but would like to make a block, download the instructions here.
If you want to find out more about this period of hidden history, the Holocaust Memorial Day website has more information.
Reblogged with with the comment: As a disabled person this touched me deeply.
Thank you for your comment, Elizabeth. Are you also doing the quilt?
No. I’m just learning to sew. I hope by next year I can do a quilt. But I thought it was important people know about it.
Hello Elizabeth. Thank you for helping spread the word. I’d love to have you make blocks or an entire quilt (doesn’t have to be large as I want quilts made in every size so we can get this message into every size venue that will have us!) I see you’ve just started sewing. Don’t let that stop you! As I repeated tell people who fear they’ll do something wrong or less than perfect, remember who we commemorate here: the perfectly imperfect. Let me know if you have any questions or suggestions. And whenever you make some blocks, thank you for helping us commemorate these people that might otherwise be forgotten. xo
I will make some blocks as soon as I know I can do them properly. This project is very, very important to me!
thank you Elizabeth 🙂
You’re quite welcome!
If you’ve not seen the movie “Paperclips” you would enjoy it. It touched my heart and I think it will yours also. It was about a small school in the south that embarked on learning about the Holocaust. It all transpired around the time of 9-11, but it sends chills through you because they discovered the story that is no longer taught. I was amazed that a school of Jewish youth were invited to see their project and many of them had also not known their history. It’s really interesting and you’ll have a good cry afterward.
Thank you for the recommendation. Sounds like an interesting, albeit hard, film to watch.
Thank you for helping us promote this event 🙂
It’s a great idea and fabulous that Jersey is doing its bit – considering the island’s history, too.
When the idea came and whispered itself to me (as I stitched the marks made by my mentally disabled sister-in-law, Nancy), I thought I’d do this all by myself . . . but it didn’t take but a few minutes for me to do enough math to know that was impossible, me living on the finite side of infinity and all. I was gonna’ need a lot of help, so I asked the world, and the world has responded in the most big-hearted, compassionate, kind ways. In the Channel Islands, Kim and Gisele are doing a fantastic job of spreading the word and commemorating these 70,273 victims. Thank you for using your voice and your bandwidth to let people know about this and encourage their participation.
It’s a fantastic project and we are so pleased to be supporting it. Good luck with reaching your goal of 70,273. Every one of those victims deserves to be commemorated. I hope the quilt will tour the world when it is complete with a display about this little known bit of history. I look forward to seeing it in Jersey if it makes it here!
Oh there will be more than 1200 quilts, and there will most surely be some exhibited there in the Channel Islands. We will send enough quilts to fill the largest venue there that will have us! Thank you again for the support. Though The 70273 Project commemorated the 70273 disabled people who were murdered, it is my vision that we celebrate differences of all kinds – not with the intent to create a cookie cutter society (wouldn’t that be boring?), but to celebrate our individuality and respect the individuality of others. Thanks for all you’re doing to create such a world.
Liberate is all about that, Jeanne! We love a rainbow world here!!
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