The Holocaust Before the Holocaust

I was at a quilt show admiring the outstanding handiwork of quilters from around the country. The quilting world has gone way beyond piecing together scraps of fabric leftover from making your own clothes to a massive industry led by some highly creative people.

Suddenly I came across an area where all the quilts looked alike; plain white fabric with two bright red X’s on them. I stopped to find out what this was all about.

Between January, 1940 and August, 1941, 70,273 physically and mentally disabled people – men, women, teens, boys, and girls – were murdered by Nazi Germany. The goal of the program was to create a “master race” that would dominate the world.

Nazi doctors would read a person’s medical file and if they deemed that person “unfit” or an “economic burden on society”, they would place a red X at the bottom of the file. Three doctors read each medical file and if two of them made a red X on the page, the disabled person’s fate was sealed. The doctors never even laid eyes on the people they were evaluating. Most victims were murdered within 1-2 hours.

Many have referred to this as the forgotten holocaust. Somehow word got out about what the Nazis were doing and the public outcry became so great that Hitler halted the program after one year. But new records have surfaced recently that the program continued even after it officially ended and claimed the lives of tens of thousands more victims.

Unfortunately, no one spoke up forcefully enough to stop Hitler from annihilating six million Jews between 1941 and 1945 in the greatest holocaust in human history. Some see the murder of the 70,273 as a warm up or rehearsal for the greater holocaust.

Now there is an effort under way led by Jeanne Hewell-Chambers to create a memorial to the victims of this forgotten holocaust. It’s called The 70,273 Project. That’s what the white quilts with red X’s that I encountered at the quilt show were part of. The goal is to commemorate all of those 70,273 voiceless, powerless people who were so callously murdered by the Nazis. The white fabric represents the innocence of the victims and the two red X’s are a reminder of all it took to seal a person’s fate.

In addition to the quilt memorial, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum is currently hosting an exhibit about this tragedy. The exhibit is entitled “Deadly Medicine, Creating the Master Race” and it is on display at the Holocaust Memorial Resource and Education Center in Maitland, Florida.

But has the practice of killing those who are deemed unworthy really ended? At a recent forum on the family in Italy, Pope Francis spoke out against the practice of aborting unborn babies who have potential handicaps. He even compared today’s practice to what the Nazis did in 1940-41 only with “white gloves.”

Today pregnant women go through a number of tests on their unborn children. If any abnormalities are found through the tests, the conversation almost always turns toward abortion. Sadly, many women choose abortion even though the tests do not necessarily prove that the child will not be perfect.

In First Peter, chapter two, Peter writes about the “master race” that the Lord created by his great mercy: “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” (I Peter 2:9-10, ESV) All who are members of God’s master race are unfit and profoundly handicapped by sin yet are chosen and redeemed purely by his grace in Christ Jesus.

There is still time to add to the quilt memorial to the forgotten holocaust. Go to for more information.


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