Seven Churches in South Oxfordshire

From the Rector: Tuesday 30th April 2024

Back to the Zoo

Dear friends

On the south side of Berlin’s famous Tiergarten park is the grand modern building that is the home base of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, a fitting cultural powerhouse for a global city. Walking around this open concourse, however, will bring you upon a memorial to one of the lesser known atrocities of the Nazi regime. “Tiergartenstrasse 4” was the address of a villa on the site where the first steps in European state-sponsored euthanasia came into being in 1939, the program being known colloquially as “T4”. With brutal efficiency, the physically handicapped, the mentally ill and handicapped, the psychotic, (whether frail elderly or young children) were judicially murdered by the Nazi state, by starvation, or injection, or, finally, gassing, and all with the compliance of the medical infrastructure of the day. About 70,000 adults and children, most of them native Germans, were the first victims of the Nazi regime in the period between 1939 and 1941, when a public campaign against the program, led by the churches, finally brought it (largely) to a halt. However the genie was out of the bottle, a line had been crossed, and it is no coincidence in my mind that many of the individuals involved in T4, both bureaucrats and “medical practitioners”, who then found themselves “out of work” were very shortly afterwards in high demand as experienced architects in mass death and were recruited by the State for a new scheme in public health, being labelled as “The Final Solution.”

What brought this dark story back into my memory (and indeed, raised a wary eyebrow) was the news that the Scottish government’s proposed Euthanasia legislation will have the built in safeguard of two independant medical authorizations. Back in 1939 the T4 program required three, which goes to show that you can have all the hedging in the world, but if the State itself is criminal, disfunctional or morally bankrupt, or the law corrupt, or the institution broken, or the personnel compromised, or the conscience neutered, then mayhem and hubris will ensure. Personally, if I’m going to face the music I’d rather it were the Berlin Philharmonic.

Worship Services for Sunday 5th May

9.30am Family Service at St John’s, Stoke Row with Mr Brian Turner

11am Morning Prayer at St Peter and Paul, Checkendon with Revd Dr James Leach

Midweek zoom service: Wednesday Evensong at 5.00pm  410 935 129

Pray Today

For all who work in the UK’s world-leading hospice and palliative care sector.

For those coming to the end of their lives, that there may be contentment, reconciliation, and peace.

For those who care for the frail, the sick, and the vulnerable.

I beg of You, my God, let me know You and love You so that I may be happy in You. And though I cannot do this fully in this life, yet let me improve from day to day till I may do so to the full. Let me know You more and more in this life, that I may know You perfectly in heaven. Let me know You more and more here, so that I may love you perfectly there, so that my joy may be great in itself here, and complete in heaven with You. O Truthful God, let me receive the happiness of heaven which You promise so that my joy may be full. In the meantime, let my mind think of it, let my tongue talk of it, let my heart long for it, let my mouth speak of it, let my soul hunger after it, let my flesh thirst after it, let my whole being desire it, until such time as I may enter through death into the joy of my Lord, there to continue forever, world without end. Amen. (Attributed to St Augustine)

Your Rector, in the service of life       Kevin Davies

PS. The T4 program went on “unofficially” after 1941, the last individual killed by the German medical authorities being in December 1945, in Hamburg. The Nazi regime had been destroyed six months earlier, but the idea of “useless lives” lived on.



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