The T4 Memorial for Patients Killed by their Doctors: A Personal View

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Marlies ter Borg


This is the story of the murder, by psychiatrists, of patients with genetically based psychiatric disorders in Nazi Germany. It is told from the viewpoint of a person with bipolar disorder, reflecting on the suffering of people like herself. The various stages in the so-called “Euthanasia” programme are mentioned: sterilisation, forbidding marriage, gassing, poisoning, starvation.


This dark page of German Psychiatry is lightened up by:


  • Its contrast with the author’s experience of compassionate and professional psychiatric therapy today.

  • The inspiring sermons of the Bishop of Munster in 1941 leading to protests among patients and their families, the largest protest movement in Nazi Germany.

  • The informative and uplifting group of monuments in Berlin commemorating the victims.

  • The speech by the chairman of the German association of psychiatrists in 2010 asking for the victims to forgive them.

  • The incorrect use of the term ‘Euthanasia’ for the memorial and its correct use in a humane Dutch law, passed in 2002.

Article Details

How to Cite
TER BORG, Marlies. The T4 Memorial for Patients Killed by their Doctors: A Personal View. Medical Research Archives, [S.l.], v. 11, n. 3, mar. 2023. ISSN 2375-1924. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 20 apr. 2024. doi:


Left: T4 - Memorial for the Victims of the Nazi Euthanasia Programme Tiergarten Strasse 4 Berlin Transparent 24-metre-long blue glass wall, 2014, by the artists Ursula Wilms, Nikolaus Koliusis and Heinz W. Hallmann. Right Two curved rusty iron walls, dating from the resurrection of the Philharmonic hall in 1963 by Bernhard Hans Henry Scharoun.
The phrase ‘ Himmelhoch Jauchzend, zum Tode betrübt’ is often used to indicate bipolar /manic depressive disorder. It comes from Klärchen's song in the third act of Johan Wolfgang Goethe’s play ‘Egmont’ 1788, put to Music by Beethoven. At the end of the play the heroine Klärchen commits suicide.
Photograph by Marlies ter Borg, memorial Memorial Tiergartenstrasse 4 Berlin
Bronze memorial slab at Tiergartenstrasse 4 Berlin. The small image is by Else Blankenhorn, interned artist and patient. Eigensinnige Welten, die Malerin Else Blankenhorn (1873-1920) Herausgegeben von Jan Merk, Modo
According to the German Penal code doctors murdering patients deserved capital punishment, thus the Bishop pointed out. Armin Trus Die ‘Reinigung des Volkskörpers’ Metropol, Giessen 2019, p. 211
Armin Trus see note 7
Dr. Frank Schneider, Psychiatrie im Nationalsozialismus Erinnerung und Verantwortung, 26 November 2010 Deutsche Gesellschaft für Psychiatrie, Psychotherapie und Nervenheilkunde, DGPPN 2011 Springerverlag, Berlin
Euthanasia and the law: dying with the aid of a medical doctor.
MD’s can in special cases help patients to die. That is called euthanasia or help in taking one’s own life. Doctors will do this only if the patient her- or himself requests this. In the law all the rules are stated that hold in cases of euthanasia or taking one’s own life.
The official name of the law is The law for the assessment (scrutiny) of terminating an individual’s life at request and help in taking one’s own life.
Euthanasie en de wet: sterven met hulp van een arts
Artsen kunnen in bijzondere gevallen een patiënt helpen met sterven. Dat heet euthanasie of hulp bij zelfdoding. Artsen doen dat alleen als een patiënt daar zelf om vraagt. In de euthanasiewet staan alle regels die gelden bij euthanasie of hulp bij zelfdoding. De officiële naam van de euthanasiewet is Wet toetsing levensbeëindiging op verzoek en hulp bij zelfdoding (Wtl).
Armin Trus Die ‘Reinigung des Volkskörpers’ Metropol, Giessen 2019 p 136.
See note 9 p 36-37
See note 9 p 36-37
Zirkulares Irresein (manisch-depressives) Psychopathische Personlichkeiten - Handbuch der Erbkrankheiten , published by A. Gütt, Georg Thieme Verlag, Leipzig, 1942
Morel, B-A. Traité des dégénérescences physiques, intellectuelles et morales de l'espèce humaine et des causes qui produisent ces variétés maladives, 1857.
(Treatise on the physical, intellectual and moral degeneration of the human race and on the causes that produce these various sickly states)
Emil Kraepelin, Psychiatrie, Ein Lehrbuch Fur Studierende Und Arzte (1903) several later editions
Gundula Kösters, et al. Ernst Rüdin’s Unpublished 1922-1925 Study “Inheritance of Manic-Depressive Insanity”: Genetic Research Findings Subordinated to Eugenic Ideology, Plosgenetics, 2015
Law for the Prevention of Hereditary Disease in Posterity or Sterilization law. July 1933
Hitler, Mein Kampf 1925 p 125 English 1933 quoted on page 303
Robert Domes, Nebel in August, Die Lebensgeschichte des Ernst Lossa CBT, München 2008 Kai Wessel, Nebel in August, film 2016 eg Netflix
Photo’s taken with mobile phone, by Marlies ter Borg at the T4 information centre Berlin
Photo by Marlies ter Borg at monument on Tiergartenstrasse 4
Excerpt from Bishop von Galen’s Sermon (August 3, 1941)
English translation: Sermon by the Bishop of Münster, Clemens August Count von Galen, on Sunday, August 3, 1941, in St. Lambert’s Church, Münster; reprinted in Beth A. Griech-Polelle, Bishop von Galen: German Catholicism and National Socialism. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2002, pp. 189-91.
Source of original German text: Bistumsarchiv Münster, Fremde Provenienzen, A 8. Schreibmaschinenabschrift. Überschrift: Niederschrift der Predigt des Bischofs von Münster, Sonntag, den 3. August 1941, in der St. Lambertikirche in Münster; reprinted in Johann Neuhäusler, Kreuz und Hakenkreuz: Der Kampf des Nationalsozialismus gegen die katholische Kirche und der kirchliche Widerstand. 2nd edition. Munich: Verlag Katholische Kirche Bayerns, 1946, part II, pp. 364-66.
Saint Lamberti Church in Münster: speech printed in a pamphlet distributed by the Saint Lamberti Church. Republished here with permission by the Diocesan Archives, Münster.Der Münsteraner Bischof Clement August Graf vor Galen (1878-1946) in seiner bberühmten Prdeig von 3 August 1941, Armin Trus, see note 3.
See also: Bishop von Galen, Three Sermons in Defiance of the Nazis by Bishop von Galen,
Medical staff were obliged to swear an oath for obedience and secrecy. Armin Trus p. 137, see note 11
See M.ter Borg and D. Kasteleijn The cultural context of diagnosis: The case of Vincent van Gogh, Epilepsy & Behavior, 2012, p. 8
As Mpho Tutu van Furth shows in her book Forgiveness and Reparation, the Healing Journey, the request for forgiveness should be answered by full hearted acceptance on the side of the ‘victims’. An earnest request for forgiveness should be answered by the deed of forgiving. Published by Sarton, Lomgman and Todd , London 2022.
I hope my article can contribute to the healing process. Thankyou.