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“Finding Ivy” the story of people with learning disabilities and Aktion T4

By Lloyd Page and Steve Hardy

We started off really early on a Saturday at London Kings Cross and we boarded the train at 08.03am to Leeds. We were going to the University to film a documentary about Aktion T4 and our main contact was Dr. Helen Atherton.

Helen has spent the last five years researching what happened to people with learning disabilities in Austria and Germany before and during World War II. There was a policy developed by the Nazis called Aktion T4 - which meant that doctors, nurses could experiment on people with learning disabilities and murder them by involuntary euthanasia. Helen and colleagues are writing a book about Aktion T4 and dedicating it to people with learning disabilities who lost their lives to this barbarick "policy". The book contains 13 chapters, each telling the story of a person with learning disabilities.

The reason we were there was by an invitation from Simon Jarrett from Birbeckm University London to introduce the documentary about the life of 'Ivy Angere' who was killed in Aktion T4 on the 2nd September 1940. Ivy had a learning disability and was Jewish. We met Helen at a lovely building of the University to do the filming.

David and Jodie from Newcastle were the producers. We did two practice runs of the script. I was doing really well except I had trouble prounoucing the Austrian and German names. Helen taught me to break down the names into audible chunks. For example sh-van-inger, this was very helpful.

Then the director started saying 'action' and everything went really well until the end. I had to stop because it was the point when Ivy and friends were killed. I am sorry to what happened to Ivy and friends and it brought a tear to my eyes. It was hard to read and speak about the truly awful atrocities that they all had to face. Over 70.000 people with learning disabilities lost their lives. I am so glad that I live in 2023 and now there are laws to protect people with learning disabilities.

This finished documentary will be launched at Nottingham University in 2024 where we both will be attending . It was an absolute privilege to be involved in such a very sad but very worthwhile story that deserves to be heard by everyone. We sincerely thank Helen, Simon and the lovely Helen Laverty. Thank you for thinking of us and telling us about Ivy's story.

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