Postcard from... Berlin


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The new memorial stands just outside the front door of the Berlin Philharmonic orchestra concert hall.

But its transparent blue glass panels have nothing to do with music. They are part of a now permanent exhibition recalling one of the most dreadful chapters in German history. The memorial explains how the Nazis set about systematically murdering the weakest members of society under their so-called “Euthanasia” programme.

From a since demolished building which once stood on the site, Hitler’s henchmen organised the extermination of hundreds of thousands of physically handicapped and mentally ill people.

Most were gassed to death. Families were fobbed off with medical certificates claiming their relatives had died from causes such as heart failure. 

The memorial was unveiled just a fortnight ago – 69 years after the end of the Second World War. One of the victim was Sigrid Falkenstein’s aunt, Anna. She was diagnosed with “learning difficulties” in 1939 at the age of 19. First the Nazis sterilised her. Then she was sent to a convalescent home where she was murdered in 1941. Mrs Falkenstein said that for decades after the war the plight of people like her aunt remained simply “erased” from memory.