Jeanne Hewell-Chambers

& her barefoot heart

Aktion T4: Correspondence with Families


Aktion T4 generated a great deal of correspondence. While families and friends were anxious to locate their loved ones, T4 official were determined to keep the whereabouts of these patients secret. Thousands of desperate letters were sent by concerned loved ones to officials, pleading for news.

Here is a letter from an American, penned before the U.S. and Germany were at war and addressed to the therapeutic establishment of Warneck in Wurzburg:

November 1, 1940

I learned that my mother Frau Gertrud Sonder is supposed to be no longer in Warneck. As her only child and as an American citizen who has contributed to the costs of my mother’s upkeep, I request you kindly to give me an indication as to the present whereabouts of my mother. I should be very thankful if you would give me such indication by return airmail. Please charge any eventual expenses to my privileged frozen account.

Hans Sonder


and this letter in search of a cousin . . .


Mainz, 1 December 1940

To the Management of the therapeutic and Nursing Establishment

Eglfing Haar:
I beg to inquire herewith whether my cousin Herr Oswald Feis is in your establishment. He reported to me some time ago from the Therapeutic and Nursing Establishment in Ansbach that he was being transferred to Eglfing. I wrote him directly three times enclosing a stamped envelope for answer without receiving any news from him. A parcel sent to him was also returned to me. I request you kindly let me have some news as soon as possible as to the state of his health and whether he is still staying in your establishment. I would like to prepare a Christmas treat for him.

Most respectfully,


Regardless of where the letters of inquiry were sent, they were answered with the same form letter:


To:         Mrs. Johanna Sara Moritz
Subj:     Rubell Marin, you letter of 1 December 1940

We have forwarded your letter to the competent agency because the name of the receiving center is unknown to us.



Note that the form letters state that the loved one has disappeared into some nebulous “receiving center” and the letter is signed with only an initial. Vague, impersonal responses that leave families and friends in limbo.

There were occasional exceptions, however, like this letter from a loving mother:

Dachau, 14 December 1940

Greatly Honored Herr Direktor:
Please forgive me if I approach you personally with a heavy mother’s heart in these days which also for you must be full of suffering. On 2 December I received an announcement from the institution that my daughter Anny Wild, House 8, had been transferred because the house had to be cleared and that the receiving institution would notify me, but to date I have no heard anything. I beg you urgently to tell me as soon as possible where my daughter is now. At the same time I want to express to you, Venerated Herr Director, and to the other doctors who helped to care for my daughter in her many days of severe suffering, my deeply felt gratitude. If you realize that she has been bedridden for almost a whole year but now at this season had to go on a journey, you will understand my great solicitude; and also if you consider that the holidays are near the we would have liked to much to visit her. I beg you urgency for an immediate reply.

With German greeting.
Elise Strohmaier,
Hermannstrasse 10


To this moving plea, the infamous Dr. Pfannmuller replied at once, likely the only time he didn’t use the standard form (perhaps because of her use of terms like “Greatly Honored” and “Venerated”?):

Greatly Honored Mrs. Strohmier:
In reply to you letter of 14 December 1940, I regret not being able to tell you to which reception institution your daughter has been admitted, since I personally was not informed about the matter. However, I have been assured that you will be informed about the condition of your daughter, Anny Wild, in a short time by the receiving institution. The transfer of the patient occurred within the frame of a planned evacuation of the institution for the purpose of making room for evacuees upon the direction of the Commissioner for Defense of the Realm. The direction of this institution has no influence upon the transfer of patients.


It won’t surprise you to hear that Mrs. Strohmier’s daughter, Anny Wild, was murdered along with 70,272 others.

I can tell you firsthand from my experience with Nancy how agitating, aggravating, and totally unnerving (not to mention unacceptable) it is to not be able to talk to anybody at the institution where the patient resides and for your phone calls, emails, and letters to go unanswered. Poor communication still happens today, unfortunately, though it hasn’t happened a single time since we moved Nancy a few years ago. We are now in constant communication with her caregivers, and let me tell you: that means everything.

Next week we’ll talk about correspondence from the T4 committee to families and friends concerning the deaths of their loved ones.

I mean, the murders of their loved ones.


Speaking of communication, there are many ways you can stay in the loop with The 70273 Project:

Subscribe to keep informed.
Join the Facebook group to enjoy digital s’mores around the campfire with other 70273 Project tribe members.
Like the Facebook page to get occasional updates.
Follow the Pinterest board for images related to Aktion T4.

Making Blocks at the Cashiers Library


When I told Serenity, Head Librarian of the most wonderful Albert-Carlton Cashiers Library about The 70273 Project and asked if we could use the community room to hold a block-making party, she answered with an enthusiastic Yes . . .  then she suggested we hang pieces of the collaborations in which I stitch the marks of Nancy, my mentally disabled sister-in-law. And with that,  plans began for the first solo exhibit for Nancy and me.


The Engineer and I arrived about 10 this morning to help Serenity and Sarah hang pieces. (What would I do without The Engineer? He took these pictures, too, you know. And he fixed my skirt when I came back from the restroom with it tucked in my panties. He loves me, you can tell.) It is the first time many of these pieces have felt air outside The Dissenter’s Chapel & Snug.


When In Our Own Language 1:1 and 2:1 proved too long and puddled on the floor, I pulled out needle and thread and hemmed to keep people from stepping on them or tripping over them. Nancy’s drawings proved a fine backdrop for the afternoon’s block-making party, just as Serenity knew they would.  


My cousin, Ginger stopped by and made some blocks, as did . . .










The Engineer,
and several others who made blocks
and others who took fabric home to make blocks
with their friends and families.

Megan plans to ask her family and the youth she works with
make some blocks.

Serenity likes the project so much,
she offered to tell her colleagues in other libraries
and suggest they invite me and hold a block-making party
at their libraries.

Gretchen teaches art at a nearby private middle school,
and she seems almost as excited as I am
about her idea to approach the social studies teacher
about a possible history lesson followed by
block-making session. 

She also raised her hand to piece and quilt a quilt.

Sarah plans to make more blocks
and tell her friends who work with
special needs folks about The 70273 Project
and encourage them to make blocks.

Ginger took a bundle of bases
to create blocks with her friends
when they go to the beach.

You get the idea.


Folks were willing – interested, even – but nervous.
“I can’t sew,” fell out of many mouths of people
who nevertheless picked up a needle and stitched.
“I can’t draw,” others said
then picked up a marker and sketched.
Stories were told, memories were shared.
Many were commemorated, and many were celebrated.

It was a good day.

Week 22 in Review (July 11 – 17, 2016)


I spent week 22 at Camp Arrowmont, learning a new surface design technique. I don’t see me repeating this technique in its entirety, but there are parts of it I will use again. Isn’t that how good teachers teach – watch what I do, listen to why I do it this way, ask me questions about things you don’t understand, do it my way once, then take off in your own direction? Yeah, I think so, too.


To date, I’ve heard from people in 76 different countries. Keep lighting up that map, y’all.

In my absence, I received blocks from Jeffrey Allen-Kantrowitz, Kathleen Evensong, Sue Beermann, and one anonymous maker, bringing our total number of blocks in hand to 2,398. Now remember, Kitty Sorgen set our next goal at 3,000 blocks in my hands by 9/5/2016, so keep stitching, y’all!



Tomorrow The Engineer and I will go to our local library to hang the first solo exhibit ever for Nancy and me, and on Tuesday, 7/19/2016, the library is hosting a block-making party for The 70273 Project. For visitors who might not know, Nancy is my mentally disabled sister-in-law who started making marks in June 2012. She draws, I stitch. Every time we go visit, I bring home a set of drawings, and once i’ve stitched all the drawings in a set, we have a new piece for the In Our Own Language series. In Our Own Language 1, 2, and 3 will be hanging in this exhibit, along with several pieces of the Apocrypha (a single stitched drawing surrounded by black and white) and Communion series (non-representational representations of what it’s like to have a conversation with Nancy). And, of course, Quilt 1 of The 70273 Project (Pieced by Kitty Sorgen and Quilted by MJ Kinman) will be hanging, too.

If you’re in the vicinity of Cashiers, North Carolina, please do stop by between 1 and 4 p.m. to make a block. Or several. I’ll have everything you need: a supply of base blocks and Provenance Forms, along with a plethora of materials – fabric, thread, glue, paint, markers – for making the two red X’s. We’ll have ourselves a big time, I promise.


MJ Kinman graciously agreed to become the coordinator for the P’s and Q’s – Piecers and Quilters – and tomorrow four bundles of blocks go out for Quilt 2 (to Michelle Banton); Quilt 3 (to Margaret Williams); Quilt 4 (to Caroline Redistill); and Quilt 5 (to MJ Kinman). Stay tuned for updates cause you know I’ll keep you posted, and thank you to all who have offered to piece and/or quilt. Would you like to piece a top and/or quilt a quilt for The 70273 Project? Drop off a comment here on the blog, on Facebook, or, if you’re a subscriber and receive this as an email, mash the reply button and let me know. Once I hear from you, I’ll put you directly in touch with MJ so y’all can get rolling.


Remember how a month or so ago our MJ Kinman posted on our Facebook page about stitching joy into the blocks she’s making? I thought we’d take a cue from MJ and post on our Facebook page, in our Facebook group, and here on the blog a Monday Meditative Morsel  – something good and positive we can focus on as we stitch during the week. If you’d like to be responsible for one or more weeks, please let me know so I can put you on the calendar. Doesn’t have to be anything elaborate or time-consuming – it can be a single word or a quote. You can write a paragraph or two or not, your choice.  The only things I ask are:
1) Let me know so we don’t have duplicates and I can make sure every week is covered.
2) We stay away from religion and politics.
I’ll start by scheduling the next three months, so let me know if you’re interesting and willing.

And with that, I bid y’all a hearty Thank you and big wishes for a marvelous week ahead.

Inside Envelope 37: Alida Palmisano



Blocks 481 and 482 were created by Alida Palmisano. Aren’t they stunning? Alida writes . . .

I am very new to quilting (I started early 2013) and I immediately fell in love with both the creative aspect of this art, and with the community efforts of projects to help others. I have been involved in making donation quilts since the beginning, and I think that projects like The 70273 Project are extremely important to raise awareness of present and past struggles that we, as society, have to deal with. I am blessed with a wonderful life that I appreciate a lot, and I try not to take anything for granted.

I am a researcher in the biomedical field, and when I am not in front of a computer I love to design my own paper piecing patterns, make scrappy and colorful quilts, and spend time with my significant other and with my kitten sewing helper.


Thank you for being a part of The 70273 Project, Alida. Your spirit is as beautiful as your blocks, and I’m delighted and grateful to have you be a part of The 70273 Project.

You can find Alida here, too:


P.S. I spent tonight doing a little work under the hood, trying to grow the font size to a decent, readable scale and cleaning up a few other things that have consistently gone awry between my blog and the mail carrier. I know what I’ve done, and I know it looks good in the previews, but the real test will be when it lands on your digital doorstep tomorrow morning. Of course you know this means no more kickbacks from optometrists. But you’re worth it.

Thank you for your patience as I give our eyes a much-needed vacation!

Of Turtles and Home

A house is not an end in itself, any more than “home” is just one geographic location where things feel safe and familiar. Home can be any place in which we create our own sense of rest and peace as we tend to the spaces in which we eat and sleep and play. It is a place that we create and re-create in every moment, at every stage of our lives, a place where the plain and common becomes cherished and the ordinary becomes sacred.”
― from “The Gift of an Ordinary Day: A Mother’s Memoir” by Katrina Kenison
Thank you to my lifelong friend Susan Bray Green for reminding me of this book last week. I’m enjoying it the second time around as much as I enjoyed it the first time.
This is my home this week: the Wild Wing of Hughes Hall at Arrowmont. Camp, I call it, and it is the best kind of camp: a week long arts and crafts time . . . although what I learn this week is nothing like the lanyards I excelled in at Camp Inagahee, and my friend Dianna isn’t along. This week, I fly solo.
Monday I spend the entire day feeling befuddled as I walk on unfamiliar ground, trying to grasp what it is we’re doing and what lies ahead of us so I can plan.  I sleep 13 hours Monday night.
Tuesday is Photoshop day, and for this former freelance graphic designer, it is a homecoming. I feel a skoch better . . . but only a skoch because it’s been a l-o-n-g time since I used Photoshop, and what with all the upgrades through the years, about the only thing that is the same is the way it’s spelled.
Wednesday my best laid plans go kaput, but I keep moving, even though I’m still not quire sure where I’m headed. I make good use of some of the sit-a-spell-and-rest spots.
These signs aren’t posted (this one right behind my dorm room) just for the cuteness factor – a bear stops by at lunch time. A real skinny woman makes herself bigger and says authoritatively “Go away,” and the bear did. It’s funny how an animal that is so huge has no concept of size. And speaking of lunch, these camp meals are infinitely more delicious than what we were fed at my childhood summer camps. And nobody makes me clean my plate or drink milk.
Today (Thursday) I’ll print, (and tomorrow I’ll no doubt print do-overs for the ones that don’t quite turn out the way I’d like. It’s a given.)
The dorm room is comfortable in its simplicity, and the studio is magnificent. I have asked The Engineer to bring a tape measure when he comes to fetch me on Friday so I can at least dream about recreating one atop the mountain. The work table is sturdy and gives the sense it can withstand anything. This table is a partner, an accomplice, a studio assistant. It is constant, ready, and able. The top is covered with a layer of padding and topped off with white vinyl. Underneath the table is a built-in shelf, perfect for storing bags and whatnot. A strip of electrical outlets runs down the side of each wall so there’s never a need to search for a place to plug something in or a need for a multi-outlet gizmo. Several other outlets hang from the ceiling, making them perfect for irons. There is a place for and room for everything.
The design wall is massive – I need a step ladder to fully avail myself of it, and for one who hasn’t room for a design wall in The Dissenter’s Chapel & Snug, this is like working in a dream. There really is a tremendous difference when you can see things from a distance.
Done by Jeana Eve Kelin
This week renews my desire to print on fabric, and I’ve learned things that will take me further on that adventure.
I’m not sure I’ll ever recreate this technique, though, (even if I could!) because (a) Jeana’s technique requires painting, and I do not paint and have sub-zero interest in learning; (b) I like my quilts to warm you up when you get cold and to make you feel better when you’re feeling puny; and (c) this process is rather tedious and technical while I prefer intuitive and take-it-as-it-comes. But then I’m certainly old enough to know to never say never . . .

(Please excuse any formatting ick. WordPress is being difficult.)

Week 21 in Review (July 4-10, 2016)


It’s 3:34 in the morning here at The 70273 Project Heartquarters. Can you believe I’m (kinda’) early posting the week in review for a change? In a few hours, I’m heading out for a surface design workshop The Engineer found last year before The 70273 Project was even a blink of an idea, and though I could sure use the time here in The Dissenter’s Chapel & Snug (my studio),  I’m going and planning to thoroughly enjoy myself whilst I spend time by myself with cloth and thread in my hands (and 70273 project work at night).

Honestly, I’m getting a teensy little bit nervous about this because I (finally) read the information they sent me about the workshop, and I want y’all to know that this instructor likes math and she apparently uses it a lot in what she’s gonna’ teach us. Good thing there aren’t any grades involved cause I sense the distinct possibility that I’ll be winging it and stitching to the beat of my own drummer. (How’s that for mixing metaphors?) (Remember: no grades.)


I’ve prepared four more bundles of blocks that will head out the door to Piecers in the next week or so. And speaking of Piecers and Quilters . . . help me show a little love to our MJ Kinman who has graciously agreed to become The Coordinator for Piecers and Quilters. (She needs a snappy title. Ideas?) Blocks and quilts will continue to be mailed to me, and I’ll be the one mailing blocks out to Piecers, but everything in between will be handled by MJ. A big round of Thank you to MJ for taking this on.


Don’t let the short stack fool you. Even though the Independence Day holiday made for a short week, we still add 98 blocks to the count, bringing our in-hand total to 2392! Let’s have a big hip, hip, hooray . . . then get back to stitching ’cause our Coxswain Kitty has set our next goal for 3,000 blocks by Labor Day (9/5/16).

Wherever you are and whatever you’re doing, y’all have yourselves a fine week now, ya’ hear me?

Inside Envelope 14

Block112BarbaraAtwell3.5x6.5 copy

Block140BarbaraAtwell3.5x6.5 copy

Block125BarbaraAtwel3.5x6.5l copy

Block149BarbaraAtwell3.5x6.5 copy(Some of the blocks made by Barbara Atwell, 3.5×6.5)

Darkness cannot drive out darkness;

Block150BevWiedeman3.5x6.5 copy

Block155BevWiedeman3.5x6.5 copy(Some of the blocks made by Bev Weideman, 3.5×6.5)

only light can do that.

Block156AnonymouseMaker4 copy(Block made by Anonymous 4, 6.5×9.5)

Hate cannot drive out hate;

Block157AnonymousSix copy(Block made by Anonymous 5, 3.5×6.5)

only love can do that.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

Barbara Atwell’s first batch of blocks arrived on 3/22/2016, a little over a month after The 70273 Project launched. Envelope 14 also included blocks from some of Barbara’s fellow Truckee Meadows Quilters guilt. To this day, Barbara remains devoted in her support, regularly sharing links to blog posts on her Facebook timeline, stitching more blocks, and continuing to share information with fellow members of the Truckee Meadows Quilters.

Thank you, Barbara and Bev, and thank you to your two friends who wish to remain anonymous.

Would you like to become a part of The 70273 Project?
Make some blocks.
Subscribe to the blog and share the posts.
Like the Facebook page.
Join the Facebook group.
Follow the Pinterest board.

Clearing Backlogs


In celebration of the Fourth of July, I declare my independence from a bulging inbox and a tremendous backlog of facebook communications that beg a response. Having company and being out of pocket for 3 weeks in May and 2 weeks in June can really back things up, and justifiable as the reasons may be, it does nothing to relieve my feelings of embarrassment and guilt. The only way to rid myself of the guilt and embarrassment is to go through the emails and facebook comments/messages.

Now I could tick an entire page full of boxes and elect to delete emails en masse, but I don’t, preferring instead to re-read each and every one. Though plowing through emails that are months old may leave me feeling quite unproductive at the end of the day,  the re-reading of them leaves me feeling much-loved and appreciated. It has been a heart-warming skip down memory lane as I re-read your funny, loving, touching, supportive messages. Thank you for your patience and your friendship . . . and for the bulging heart warmers folder that now stands ready for me to dip into next time I have one of Those Days.


The T4 program under which the 70,273 physically and mentally disabled people we commemorate with The 70273 Project were murdered generated a tremendous amount of paperwork as thousands and thousands and still more thousands of completed medical forms poured into headquarters. The 10-15 assessing physicians agreed to make evaluations on top of full time jobs and additional wartime responsibilities that were already in progress. One assessing physician, Hermann Pfannmuller, for example, was the manager of a rather large psychiatric institution. During his fifteen months of service – from January 1940 to April 1941 – Dr. Pfannmuller received 159 separate shipments of forms, each containing between 200-300 questionnaires.  159 shipments x 250 (splitting the difference) questionnaires = 39,750 evaluations in 15 months. He actually passed judgment on some 2,058 patients over an eighteen-day period during which he continued to fill the daily duties associated with his full-time job and his additional wartime responsibilities.

Think about that for a minute. This man worked his full-time job AND passed life and death judgments on 2,058 people in 2.5 weeks. Seems way short of careful consideration, doesn’t it?


Become a part of The 70273 Project:
to the blog.
Make blocks.
Join The 70273 Project Facebook group.
Like The 70273 Project Facebook page.
Follow The 70273 Project pinterest board.

Week 20 in Review (June 27 – July 3)


What a week it’s been, y’all. We have company visiting for The Fourth, so I’ll get right to the heart of it . . .

I’ve now hear from 73 different countries, and

drum roll, please . . .

I have 2,294 blocks in hand.

We met Kitty’s goal!

Y’all are the best – Thank you!

Of course we’re not done yet, and I heard from Kitty this afternoon when she delivered our next goal: 3,000 blocks in hand by Labor Day (9/5). Think we can do it? Me, too.

Kitty has committed to making 50+ blocks by Labor Day, and I pledge 100+. What about you? Raise your hand by making your commitment in the comments below.

As always, thank y’all. Thank y’all. Thank y’all.

Week 19 in Review (June 20-26)


Boy howdy. Being out of the studio for 2.5 weeks really puts a girl behind. It put me behind behind. I’m still struggling to catch up, but I do (finally) have some numbers for the week ending last Sunday, 6/26/2016.

Number of blocks in hand: 1714

Remember that Kitty Sorgen set a goal of 2000 blocks by Monday, 7/4, and remember that we still have blocks to be counted for this week that ends on 7/3. This is the mail that’s come in so far this week, and we have 2 more mail-delivery days. So, what do you think? Will we make it?

I’ve heard from people in 72 different countries.




I am honored to have kicked off the training day for the staff of the ARC of Volusia County last Friday morning, 6/24. They are as an enthusiastic, caring, compassionate bunch of folks you’ll ever want to meet, and there’s no doubt in my mind that, like everybody else I know who works with the special needs population, were somebody to come with the intent to harm any one of their students, they would put up a helluva fight. Room 1 on the DeLand campus of ARC Volusia County is where Nancy spends her days. I also brought home a stack of blocks made by the clients, and I’m told that clients at the Daytona campus will be making blocks to send me, too.

We have a block-making party scheduled for the afternoon of 7/19 at our wonderful library here in Cashiers, NC, and the head librarian asked me to bring some blocks and some of Nancy’s stitched drawings to go in the display case. When I took them in this week, Serenity decided she wanted more than what would fit in the display case, so, y’all, on 7/18, Nancy and I will be kicking off our very first solo exhibit! Stay tuned for more on that soon.


And last but not least, a help needed ad:
If you’re looking for something you can do with half your brain, letting the other half rest a bit, and if you have a computer, I have just the ticket. This job doesn’t matter where in he world you live, only that you have a computer and access to email or facebook messaging. You know the numbers I clip to each block? Well I could sure use somebody to create those sheets of numbers for me. I have it all figured out, so I can give you the font to use (Helvetica), the font size (14), and the after paragraph spacing (8 pt). Using this criteria allows me to make the fewest cuts, which saves me time. Anyway, I’m thinking that I can assign people who raise their hand a certain block of numbers. Y’all would fill sheets of paper with these numbers (arranged consecutively, of course), save as a .pdf, and send it to me via email or Facebook message. It’s really easy, and you can listen to a tv show in the background. You just have to stay awake enough to get the numbers right cause that’s important. If you’re willing, let me know in the comment section or send me an email. Sure do appreciate it, y’all.

Thank y’all for your enthusiasm, your investment in The 70273 Project, and for your patience as I sometimes struggle to fit The 70273 Project into what often becomes a full life. This is not how I want things to go, but sometimes it happens. I’ll catch up and do better, I promise.

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