Thursday, 12 January 2012

Then they came for me

The propaganda at play currently across much of the mainstream media is both troubling and familiar. As the Government swoop to change the welfare system they are ignoring a report written and compiled and distributed by disabled people their carers and friends. This report contains facts but no one it seems is listening.

 The BBC our very own public broadcaster who I love with a passion, bordering on blinkered worship, was quick to screen two recent documentaries on awful tales of benefit scroungers- now appears less keen to cover in depth a report entitled responsible reform which lays out the facts and the impacts behind the Welfare Reform Bill.

The most salient point being that fraudulent claims for benefits stand at less than 0.5%.

The assurances we hear at every turn about millionaire claimants and scroungers and liars and propagated by the right wing press are little more than a convenient lie.

However this isn’t the first time that disabled people have been subject to dehumanising disenfranchisement.

It’s been done before and as with many things that the government seem less than keen on it stemmed from Europe.

In July 1933 The Law for the Prevention of Offspring with Hereditary Diseases brought in forced sterilizations.

It had been voluntary prior to this but with the dawn on the Nazi controlled day the furtherance of the Aryan dream became a step closer to reality. Doctors began to register any genetic conditions and people were identified and lawfully sterilized against their will. Appeals were mounted but usually denied.

Then a Nazi couple with a mentally disabled son wrote to Hitler and sought permission for their “defective” child to be killed. The purity of the blood, to them so shamefully manifested in their child dovetailed perfectly into a warped Darwinist theory of perfection, that this request was granted.
It also set a precedent.

By August 1939 all newborn babies demonstrating disability had to be reported by medical staff to a panel. This panel drew their conclusions without meeting the children and marked their reports with either a minus of a plus symbol. A plus meant death. This then was extended to children up to the age of three.

The children were removed to clinics or hospitals and administered poison. It was more difficult to persuade the parents of children living at home so the parents were told that the children were going to receive treatment and help.
After they were murdered the parents were told the children had died from natural causes.

The plan expanded exponentially and encompassed Adults too. Deemed untermenschen (sub human) on the basis of their disability they were removed to the hospital at Hadamar stripped, stamped with a number, photographed and told to take a shower.
10,000 disabled adults were murdered in this way. Over 200,000 disabled people during the course of Nazi rule, 5000 of whom were children.

The propaganda used is the point I’m making. The Nazi’s spread a simple notion through the German minds as easily as jam on bread. They argued simply that disabled people cost too much. That they took bread from the mouths of decent people and that paying to care for them cost wounded soldiers vital treatment and houses for hardworking men and women.

The 1930’s equivalent of the squeezed middle in alarm clock Germany?

Possibly not but with every day that passes with every headline that screams scrounger I’m becoming more and more concerned. I think the historical imperative bears closer scrutiny because thoughtlessly peddling the myth of the benefit fraud as a majority, rather than the inconvenient truth of the minority makes propagandists of us all. Lest we forget.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for this insightful blog. I have linked it to my facebook page. THe information is vital to a true understanding of the obstacles faced by anyone involved with the lives of people with disabilities.