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War crimes investigation of Hartheim - The Charles Dameron Report

Hartheim Euthanasia  

War Crimes Investigation - The Charles H. Dameron Report


Picturesque view of Hartheim in 1940

When this team arrived in Hartheim, Austria and was directed to the address Hartheim 1, it found a large building which apparently, at least at one time, had been a castle.


It is referred to throughout the investigation as “Schloss Hartheim” and for the purposes of this report will, therefore, be designated as the “Castle.” The building is presently being used as an orphanage housing 70 young children and 10 Catholic nuns and has been so used since 12 January 1945. According to one witness the building is between 300 and 500 years old.


 It was operated by the German Welfare Institute for the insane from 1903 to 1938.


In approximately May 1940 the building was taken over by the SS and a crematory was installed. The witness Ignaz Schuhmann, present Burgermeister in Hartheim, personally saw the materials brought in for such use.


At this time there was installed on the ground floor of the building a receiving room, photography room, a room in which to undress patients, a gas chamber, a mortuary, a room equipped with a cremating oven, and one room to be used for dissecting. This part of the building was concealed from view by the erection of a board wall around two sides of the courtyard in the centre of the building.


An electrical bone crushing machine was also part of the equipment and there is some evidence that there were two ovens instead of one in the crematory. The purpose of the renovation was to make the building suitable for disposing of weak-minded and insane people in the German Reich, in accordance with what was explained to the employees as a “Secret German Law which would be made public after the War.”


Prominently exhibited in a framed plaque hanging on the wall near the main entrance to the castle was the printed admonition: “Whoever is not healthy and worthy in body and soul, is not permitted to immortalise his ailments in the body of his child.”


Immediately adjacent thereto was to be found a plaque with the further admonition: “Respect for great men must be impregnated upon the German youth as a holy inheritance.”


Of the documents which were left behind and found by this team in the castle, books on Euthanasia predominated. In short, the purpose of the establishment was to put to death by gassing such mentally weak and insane persons of Germany, as were directed by higher authority and to then cremate their bodies.


One of the witnesses was reluctant to use the word death in this connection and preferred to use the word “redeem.” Even in the report on the number of persons executed the execution of these idiots is referred to as “disinfection.”


The Crematorium belches forth smoke at Hartheim

The entire institution was operated under the direction of what was known as the “Foundation for Asylum Care,” Headquarters Berlin 35 Tiergatenstrasse 4. Most of the employees arrived in Hartheim during April and May 1940 and were either from the SS or SA or were employed by the former.


All of the employees interviewed from the director’s secretary to the scrub woman were required to sign an oath to keep secret anything they might see or hear in the establishment under penalty of death or confinement in a concentration camp.


The exact date on which operations began is not definitely known, but it is known that some victims arrived as early as May 1940. This date coincides with that found in the unidentified statistical report recovered from the premises.


In the beginning they were brought from insane asylum such as Linz-Niedernhart, Baumgartenberg, Gallneukirchen, Wien-Steinhof, Graz- Feldhof, Wiesengrund and others.


The victims were brought to the castle in Hartheim in large busses, the capacity of which has been estimated at between 50 and 90. The number of such busses which arrived each day has been variously estimated at 2-3, six.


The witness Ignaz Schuhmann stated that he has seen as many as 7 or 8 busses arrive in one day. The victims were always accompanied by male or female nurses depending upon their sex.

Read more here: http://www.holocaustresearchproject.org/euthan/dameron.html

The Holocaust Education & Archive Research Team

Copyright Carmelo Lisciotto H.E.A.R.T 2009

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