People aren’t usually evil. Nor are the easily accepting of evil. Usually, in order to get people to accept evil, it has to be hidden in a way. It has to be slipped in when they aren’t looking…slowly, so that it is accepted as normal…or a new normal. When Hitler ordered the systematic murder of the mentally ill and handicapped people in 1939, the people of Germany were outraged. Never before had any leader made such a boldly, callous move. Like throwing a frog in a pot of boiling water, they jumped…fought back.

Hitler moved too fast, and the people rebelled. The program, known as Hitler’s Euthanasia Department that began in 1939, came under the heading of unhidden evil. Hitler misjudged his people. He thought they would follow blindly along. When they began complaining about the T.4 program, which began as the systematic killing of children deemed “mentally defective,” Hitler had to act. He had been transporting children from all over Germany to a Special Psychiatric Youth Department and killing them. Later, certain criteria were established for non-Jewish children. They had to be “certified” mentally ill, schizophrenic, or incapable of working for one reason or another. Jewish children already in mental hospitals, whatever the reason or whatever the prognosis, were automatically to be subject to the program. The victims were either injected with lethal substances or were led to “showers” where the children sat as gas flooded the room through water pipes. The program was then expanded to adults. The program was heinous in every way.

Before long the outraged protests began mounting within Germany, especially by doctors and clergy. Some of them even dared to write to Hitler directly and describe the T.4 program as “barbaric.” Others circulated their opinions more discreetly. Heinrich Himmler, was the head of the SS then, and the man who would direct the systematic extermination of European Jewry. Himmler had only one regret…that the SS had not been put in charge of the T.4 program. He says of the protesting, “We know how to deal with it correctly, without causing useless uproar among the people.” Finally, in 1941, Bishop Count Clemens von Galen denounced the euthanasia program from his pulpit. Hitler was concerned that other nations would get involved with such publicity about his program. He ordered the program suspended on August 18, 1941…at least in Germany. But 50,000 people had already fallen victim to it.

Hitler was not to be deterred. He now knew that he had to keep his programs hidden, if he was going to be able to carry out his plans. So, he revived the program in occupied Poland. The people there already had no say in the matter, and he hoped that it would be far enough from Germany so that the German people would not know what was going on. It worked for a time, but in the end, the world would know about the evil he tried so hard to keep hidden, and in the end the number of murder victims was far more than a mere 50,000…it was more like 11 million people.

Beyer Crest GermanyIn the middle of the 18th century, Germany was a country that had been floundering due to European politics for more than a hundred years.  At that time, France, England, and Spain largely had control of the continent because of their military might. The German states, on the other hand, were left to their own devices, and each leader was running his state for his own gain, without concern for the people or the nation as a whole. As a result of all the political greed, Germany was a nation that was going to quickly go under or eventually succumb to the greed around it and become an evil dictatorship, and no help was coming. It was in this Germany, at this time in history that my 6th Great Grandfather, Philipp Beyer (a name that would later be Americanized to Byer) and his wife, my 6th Great Grandmother Maria, were a young couple with a small son…my 5th Great Grandfather, Johann Beyer.

Germany was quickly becoming a place that was either going to fall apart or be controlled Cornelius George Byerby it’s own evil leaders. Either way, Germany had become a place where my 6th Great Grandparents could no longer afford to raise their family, so they made the decision to immigrate to Russia, which at that time in history was a better choice. I can’t even imagine how they must have felt, as they were leaving the country they loved, and moving to an unknown situation in an unknown country. Russia must have ended up being a good decision, because the family would live there for the next five generations, before my Great Grandfather, Cornelius George Byer, would make the decision in 1874 to immigrate to America, once again in search of a better life and to get away from a government that was quickly becoming extremely evil.

It is a sad thing when a government becomes so evil that you feel like you must immigrate to another country in order to save your children from the tyranny of your own country. Like it or not, that is what many people had to do and still have to do in order to protect Grave of Cornelius George Byertheir children. The move to America would be the best thing my great grandfather ever did. Once here, they were able to get a homestead that belonged to them, and was not subject to confiscation by an evil government, and more importantly, their children could not be taken away by the government to be raised as it saw fit, and become as evil as it was. It does make me very thankful that my grandfathers were wise enough to know when it was time to simply cut your losses, and get out…before their evil government made it impossible to leave.

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