Christianity and Middle-Earth

Sunday, March 13, 2005

When the Cold of Winter Comes

“We will not leave Merry and Pippin to torment and death – not while we have strength!”

Aragorn, The Fellowship of the Ring


The Deciding

I stand upon a western shore, my path is shadow-dim;
The Bearer’s kin are taken by an evil band and grim.
To Minas Tirith, lady-white, ‘tis charged to me to go,
But shall I leave the little ones to drink a bitter woe?
Yet humble is their battle-might that they could serve the West,
While the city of my blood and bone is by the darkness pressed.

The one road of our Fellowship is sundered into three,
And of the Nine but two remain in company with me.
Three slender boats of Elven-make we rode upon the wave,
But one has borne a warrior unto his Rauros-grave;
We gave him to the River and our hearts were cold and numb,
And the water throbbing, throbbing like the pounding of a drum.

Upon the lake’s far eastern side, the second craft lies still,
Her oarsmen vanished in the wood that climbs the steepling hill.
And could I read the footprints there, they’d speak of halfling folk;
The Bearer found his courage to endure the heavy yoke.
But closer than a brother is a true and loving friend,
Thus faithfulness companions him, death-loyal to the end.

Tomorrow calls from Gondor’s gates beyond the hills afar,
And there my feet must turn if I would find the evening star;
But if I set my heart and sword to seeking my desire
And leave them to a fate malign, these children of the Shire,
Though of the folk of Middle-Earth the least of them they be,
No kingdom will be fair and sweet if they are lost to me.


“Not long after Terri's injury, Michael melted down her wedding and engagement rings to make a ring for himself.”

It's ours, ours! We must get the Precious, we must get it back!

Gollum, The Return of the King


The Origins of Nazi Genocide

Chapter 3, p. 39

The attack on handicapped patients in state hospitals and nursing homes had opened in 1933 with sterilization and a reduced standard of care. But this was only the beginning. In 1935 Adolf Hitler told Gerhard Wagner, the Reich physician leader, that once war began he would implement euthanasia. He kept his word. When war started on 1 September 1939, the machinery to kill the handicapped was in place and the killings began. And just as the sterilization legislation enacted against the handicapped was followed by that enacted against Jews and Gypsies, the murder of the handicapped would be followed by the murder of Jews and Gypsies.

First came the murder of handicapped children. In 1938 the newly born infant of a family named Knauer served as the pretext for Hitler to set in motion the program of euthanasia he had intended to institute. The Knauer baby, sex unknown, was apparently born with severe handicaps. The exact nature of its affliction cannot be reconstructed with certainty, by testimony does seem to agree that it was born with a leg and part of an arm missing. Some evidence suggests that it was also blind, and the physicians also diagnosed it as an “idiot.” But its blindness was not noted by all observers, and the diagnosis “idiot” was not definite. In addition, the baby apparently suffered from convulsions.

The child’s father consulted Werner Catel, the director of the Leipzig University Children’s Clinic, and asked him to admit the infant. Catel, who admitted the child to the hospital, later claimed that the father request that he kill the child and that he refused because this was against the law. Shortly thereafter, the Knauer family appealed to Hitler to grant permission to have the infant killed. Such appeals reached Hitler through his private chancellery, where similar appeals had already been collected. This Chancellery of the Führer (Kanzlei des Führers, or KdF), headed by Philipp Bouhler, prepared the information for Hitler, who decided to act in the Knauer case. He instructed his escorting physician (Begleitarzt), Karl Brandt, to visit the Knauer infant, consult with the Leipzig physicians, and kill the child if his diagnosis agreed with the conditions outlined in the appeal. In Leipzig, Brandt consulted with the attending physicians, confirmed the diagnosis, and authorized euthanasia; the baby was killed.

After the killing of the Knauer infant, Hitler authorized Brandt and Bouhler to institute a program of killing children suffering from physical or mental defects…


The killing system depended on the cooperation of bureaucrats, physicians, and parents…As the system of reporting and evaluating disabled children commenced, the need to establish and staff additional killing was became urgent…

…Eventually, at least twenty-two killing wards for children were established by the Reich Committee. Little is know about some wards except that they existed; others have become infamous through postwar revelations in judicial proceedings.

p. 49-50

[One] children’s killing ward was established in 1940 in the federal state of Bavaria in the large public institution Eglfing-Haar near Munich…headed by Hermann Pfannmüller, an early participant in adult and children’s euthanasia. Pfannmüller, who had received his medical license in 1913 and his specialty certification in psychiatry in 918, had served in various state institutions—often specializing in the treatment of alcoholics—before his appointment as director of Eglfing-Haar…Pfannmüller participated in the enforcement of the racial and eugenic legislation, heading in 1935 the Augsburg office for racial heredity; he was also an early advocate of euthanasia. In Eglfing-Haar, he rapidly introduced a system that subjected his patients to a rigorous regimen; he also conducted tours through his institution to educate the public about the biological deficiency of his charges.

We have unusually graphic testimony about these Pfannmüller tours and the treatment of patients at Eglfing-Haar even before euthanasia had officially commenced. Ludwig Lehner, a Bavarian schoolteacher, testified in 1946 in London, where he was then held as a German POW, about his experiences on one of these Pfannmüller tours. Lehner, an opponent of the Nazi regime, took this tour in the “fall of 1939,” shortly after his release from Dachau. Although he was drafted in 1940 and spent the war years as a German solider, Lehner vividly remembered his tour through Eglfing-Haar and described to his British captors what he remembers:

"During my tour, I was eyewitness to the following events: After visiting a few other wards, the institution’s director himself, as far as I remember he was called Pfannmüller, led us into a children’s ward. This hall impressed me as clean and well-kept. About 15 to 25 cribs contained that number of children, aged approximately one to five years. In this ward Pfannmüller explicated his opinions in particular detail. I remember pretty accurately the sense of his speech, because it was, either due to cynicism or clumsiness, surprisingly frank: ‘For me as a National Socialist, these creatures (meaning these children) obviously represent only a burden for our healthy national body [Volkskörper]. We do not kill (he might also have used a euphemism instead of the word ‘kill’) with poison, injections, etc., because that would only provide new slanderous campaign material for the foreign press and certain gentlemen in Switzerland. No, our method is, as you can see, much simpler and far more natural.” As he spoke these words, {Pfannmüller] and a nurse from the ward pulled a child from its crib. Displaying the child like a dead rabbit, he pontificated with the air of a connoisseur and a cynical smirk something like this: “With this one, for example, it will still take two to three days.” I can still clearly visualize the spectacle of this fat and smirking man with the whimpering skeleton in his fleshy hand, surround by other starving children. Furthermore, the murderer then pointed out that they did not suddenly withdraw food, but instead slowly reduced rations."


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