Thursday, May 2, 2024

Hartheim Castle T-4 euthanasia centre killed 30,000 people.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Hartheim castle May 2
I will be speaking at a conference in Germany on Saturday, so I decided to go to Germany for few days to visit some of the T-4 euthanasia killing centre. I decided to first visit the Grafeneck euthanasia memorial because it was the first of the T-4 euthanasia euthanasia sites. Approximately 10,000 people were killed at Grafeneck

Today I visited the Hartheim castle euthanasia memorial. 18,269 people were killed under the T-4 euthanasia program and at least 30,000 people in total were gassed to death at Hartheim. I have been reading more about the T-4 euthanasia program because history seems to be repeating itself.

The Hartheim castle is an historic property that became a home for people with mental disabilities after it was donated by the Prince of Starhemberg to the Upper Austrian State Welfare Society in 1898. The German government took over the property in 1939 to convert it into a killing centre.

I am republishing much of the wikipedia information about the Hartheim killing centre. Here is a link to great information about the Hartheim Castle (Link).

The Hartheim killing centre (German: NS-Tötungsanstalt Hartheim, ... was a killing facility involved in the Nazi programme known as Aktion T4, in which German citizens deemed mentally or physically unfit were systematically murdered with poison gas. Often, these patients were transferred from other killing facilities such as the Am Spiegelgrund clinic in Vienna. ... Other victims included Jews, Communists and those considered undesirable by the state. Concentration camp inmates who were unfit for work, or otherwise deemed troublesome, were also executed here. The facility was housed in Hartheim Castle in the municipality of Alkoven, near Linz, Austria, which now is a memorial site and documentation centre. (This paragraph was edited because wikipedia was wrong).

Hartheim and T-4 statistics

In June 1945, during investigations by US Forces into the former gassing facility at Hartheim, the American investigating officer Charles Dameron broke open a steel safe in which the Hartheim statistics were found. This was a 39-page document produced for the internal purposes of the Nazi "euthanasia" programme (Aktion T4), and contained monthly statistics of the gassing of mentally and physically handicapped patients (called "disinfection" in the document) carried out in the six killing centres on the territory of the Reich. In 1968 and 1970 an ex-employee of the establishment revealed, as a witness, that he had to compile the material at the end of 1942.  The Hartheim statistics included a page on which it was calculated that "disinfecting 70,273 people with a life expectation of 10 years" had saved food in the value of 141,775,573.80 Reichsmarks.

Victims of the first extermination phase in Hartheim

Hartheim gas chamber
According to the Hartheim statistics, a total of 18,269 people were murdered in the gas chamber at Hartheim in the period of 16 months between May 1940 and September 1941:
1940: May, 633, June, 982, July, 1449, August, 1740, September, 1123, October, 1400, November, 1396, December, 947.
1941: January, 943, February, 1178, March, 974, April, 1123, May, 1106, June, 1364, July, 735, August, 1176.
Hartheim bus.
These statistics only cover the first extermination phase of the Nazi's euthanasia programme, Action T4, which was brought to an end by Hitler's order dated 24 August 1941 after protests by the Roman Catholic Church. (specifically Bishop von Galen)

In all it is estimated that a total of 30,000 people were murdered at Hartheim. Among those killed were sick and disabled persons as well as prisoners from concentration camps. The killings were carried out by carbon monoxide poisoning.

14f13 "Special Treatment"

Just three days after the formal end of Action T4, a lorry arrived at Hartheim with 70 Jewish inmates from Mauthausen concentration camp who were subsequently executed there.  The Hartheim killing centre achieved a special notoriety, not just because it was where the largest number of patients were gassed, but because as part of Action 14f13 Hartheim was also the institution in which the most concentration camp prisoners were executed. Their numbers are estimated at 12,000. 

Some of the prisoners at Mauthausen who were no longer capable of working, especially in the quarries, and politically undesirable prisoners were brought to Hartheim to be executed. In the papers these transfers were disguised with terms like "recreation leave". The entries under "sickness" included "German-haters", "communist" or "Polish fanatic". From 1944 on, the prisoners were no longer selected by T4 doctors; the objective was simply to gain space in the Mauthausen camp quickly.  Other transports came from the concentration camp of Gusen, and probably also from Ravensbrück during 1944, made up of women inmates who were predominantly tuberculosis sufferers and those deemed mentally infirm.

Execution Doctors

Rudolf Lonauer
The Action T4 organisers, Viktor Brack and Karl Brandt, ordered that the execution of the sick had to be carried out by medical doctors because Hitler's memorandum of authorisation of 1 September 1939 only referred to doctors. The operation of the gas tap was thus the responsibility of doctors in the death centres. However, during the course of the programme, the gas valves were occasionally operated by others in the absence of the doctors or for other reasons. Also, many doctors used pseudonyms rather than their real names in the documents.

The following execution doctors worked in Hartheim: Head: Rudolf Lonauer: 1 April 1940 to April 1945. Deputy head: Georg Renno: May 1940 to February 1945

Move of headquarters from Berlin to Hartheim and Weissenbach am Attersee

Hartheim euthanasia staff
In August 1943, due to allied bombing of Berlin, the head office for the National Socialist Euthanasia Programme was moved from Tiergartenstrasse 4, Berlin, to the Ostmark region, which was then humorously described as the air raid shelter of the Reich. The statistic and documents by Paul Nitsche, correspondence, notices and reports were taken to Hartheim (office department, accounts office) and the Schoberstein Recreation Centre near Weißenbach am Attersee (medical department).

References can be found on wikipedia (Link)


Anonymous said...

The killing goes on under another name.We aren’t killing the mentally ill it’s the mentally ill doing the killing.What kind of society kills it’s weak instead of protecting them .God has another plan it is called to love your neighbour as yourself .Love is the answer for mankind not murder .We were created in the image of God for love not hate just think what our world would be like.War would end because we would feed our enemies instead of trying to destroy them , starvation would end because we would share not hoard. It’s not to late we can bring heaven to earth 🌎.God is love He loves each and every person turn back to God and ask His Son Jesus into your life and allow Jesus to love through you for Jesus said I am the way the truth and the life no man comes to the Father God except by me..Every life is worth saving every person is valuable God is love let us love one another blessings Marlyen

Anonymous said...

Euthanasia centre is the new death camp, sorry but no other way to say it

Alex Schadenberg said...

It was a death camp between 1940 and 1946.