• One of the Aktion T4 locations

    Tötungsanstalt Hadamar

    Location: Hadamar, Germany
  • Tötungsanstalt Hadamar, the involuntary euthanasia center
  • Tötungsanstalt Hadamar front and side view of the main facility
  • A group of nurses at Hadamar
  • A party among the guards and nurses
  • "Grey Buses" similar to these were used to round up the patients
  • The dark en narrow corridors at Hadamar
  • Smoke coming from the crematorium chimney
  • Another victim of the Aktion T4
  • Head nurse Irmgard Huber
  • Trial of Klein, Wahlman, Ruoff, Blum, Willig, Merkle and Huber
  • Court testimony transcript of Phillip Blum
  • Ths bodies discovered by the US 2nd Infantry Division
  • Major Herman Bolker performs an autopsy on an exhumed victim.

In 1883 a correctional institute opened in Hadamar. The state hospital emerged from it in 1906.  In 1940, in a wing of the main building of the Hadamar Psychiatric Institution, preparations were made for the implementation of the National Socialist euthanasia program, as the last of a total of six euthanasia centers in the German Reich. In addition to furnishing an office and living and recreation room for the new staff, a gas chamber with an adjacent crematorium with two ovens was secretly constructed in the basement of the building. Shortly before Christmas, the specially selected staff for the euthanasia program arrived, including doctors, nurses and nursing staff, as well as three buses from the transport company Gemeinnützige Krankentransportgesellschaft mbH (Gekrat or GeKraT for short), which transported the patients to the place where they would be murdered.

The victims

The victims came from separate institutions and were first transported to one of the institutions assigned to Hadamar without notifying their relatives in advance. From there, the victims were summoned by Hadamar to be murdered. After the buses were parked in the still existing garage, the patients were led through a fenced-off path to the building, where they would eventually be killed.

After arrival, each of the patients was first presented separately before a doctor and an administrative assistant. The doctor took a quick look at the naked victim, then selected the most likely from a list of 61 possible causes of death to include on the death notice that was sent to the family. The victims were also weighed and photographed, after which they were taken by two nurses to the approximately 14 m² gas chamber in the basement. This gas chamber, camouflaged as a shower room, could accommodate up to 60 people.

The doctor who just carried out the brief investigation and determined the cause of death of the victim, also operated the gas tap in a side room and observed the dying people through a small opening in the wall. Some preselected victims were then taken to a separate room for their brains to be removed for scientific investigation. The remaining corpses were moved to a room near the crematorium, where any gold teeth were first extracted and then cremated. After the murder, a special official department of Hadamar-Mönchberg sent an obituary to the family with the false cause of death.

According to similar testimonies, the cremation of the 10.000th patient was celebrated in a bizarre way in the summer of 1941. The staff were invited to attend the event over lunch. Towards evening, the guests gathered in the right wing of the building, where everyone was given a bottle of beer before heading to the cellar. There, on a bier decorated with flowers, lay the body of a naked man with a large hydrocephalus. Märkle, a staff member of the institution, had dressed up as a priest for the occasion and delivered a funeral oration. After the corpse was pushed into the incinerator, music was played and a drinking bout broke out, which eventually degenerated into a festive procession around the entire building.

The doctor who just carried out the brief investigation and determined the cause of death of the victim, also operated the gas tap in a side room and observed the dying people through a small opening in the wall. Some preselected victims were then taken to a separate room for their brains to be removed for scientific investigation. The remaining corpses were moved to a room near the crematorium, where any gold teeth were first extracted and then cremated. After the murder, a special official department of Hadamar-Mönchberg sent an obituary to the family with the false cause of death.

Original name of the facility:

Tötungsanstalt Hadamar


Patients gassed: ± 10.072
Patients murdered: ± 4.817

Officially in operation

13 January 1941 - 1 September 1941

Location of the facility
Related video footage

From august 1942 onward, a fake cause of death had to be found for each patient that was murdered. Like in this letter to Mrs. Wichern informing her that her daughter Anna died unexpectedly of "pneumonia".

Phase 1

From 1941 onwards, people with disabilities and mental disorders from the institutions of the Prussian provinces of Hesse-Nassau, Westphalia, Hanover and the Rhine Province and the states of Hesse, Baden and Württemberg were brought to Hadamar via intermediate institutions in large gray buses.

According to an internal T4 statistic between 13 January 1941 and 1 September 1941, 10.072 people were gassed in Hadamar or, according to the language of their killers, disinfected.

According to updated lists of the Gedenkstätte Hadamar (2010), the number of victims in the first operational phase of the euthanasia center was 10.122 patients. Although the operations were top secret, the smoke from the crematorium, the stench of burnt meat, along with trickling reports from the staff, must at least have led the population of Hadamar to suspect that there was systematic murder on Mönchberg.

Partly thanks to fierce protests from the Roman Catholic Church, the first phase of Aktion T4 was closed on August 24, 1941 by order of Hitler. The bishop of Limburg, Antonius Hilfrich, in whose diocese Hadamar was located, had also sent a letter of protest to the Minister of Justice. In this first phase of so-called adult euthanasia, a total of more than 70,000 patients in the various centers were killed by gassing.


Phase 2

After Berlin decided in the summer of 1942 to stop euthanasia under Aktion T4, the gas chamber in Hadamar was closed and the rooms in the main building restored to their original condition. However, the murders of handicapped and mentally ill continued as early as August 1942. Herbert Linden, one of the organizers of Aktion T4, set out to free up another 60% of the available psychiatric beds for bomb victims and wounded soldiers. This became the task that ushered in the second phase of the euthanasia program.

As part of the "second phase of the murder", the former Hadamar State Hospital again took on the function of a killing facility. From 13 August 1942 to 26 March 1945, 4.817 other victims died. Anyone who did not succumb to the targeted starvation diet or the withheld medical care quickly enough was killed by overdosed medication. In the morning, the doctor, head nurse and head nurse decided which patients should die. The night shift then administered the deadly drugs to the selected victims. Their bodies were buried in mass graves in the specially created prison cemetery. The patients were brought to Hadamar in large transports from all over the Reich. These included Forced laborers from the former Soviet Union and Poland as well as children with one Jewish parent were also found. Until the occupation of the American troops on 26 March 1945, the systematic killings in Hadamar continued.

Letter by Adolf Hitler authorising the killing of the "incurably sick" by means of a "mercy death".
More related images
Hadamar's death list, with the names of "patients" killed from 15 to 21 March 1945, just few days before liberation.

The Gedenkstätte Hadamar

In 1953 a relief was added to the then main building (House number 5). In the cemetery, where many victims were buried in mass graves, a monument was placed in 1964 with the text Mensch, Achte den Menschen. Today, the memorial center Gedenkstätte Hadamar commemorates the victims of the euthanasia program.

The center informs about the events, but also thematizes current issues. The memorial center consists of a permanent exhibition, the still authentic cellars with the former gas chamber, the crematorium with the re-exposed furnace, the former garage where the buses with the new victims were parked and the cemetery.

Liberated by: US 2nd Infantry Division

The perpetrators of the facility

Alfons Klein

Director
Sentenced: Death penalty

Adolf Wahlmann

Chief doctor
Sentenced: Life in prison

Heinrich Ruoff

Head male nurse
Sentenced: Death penalty

Karl Willig

Ward male nurse
Sentenced: Death penalty

Irmgard Huber

Head female nurse
Sentenced: to 35 years

Philipp Blum

Cemetery attendant
Sentenced: to 25 years

Adolf Merkle

Registrar and bookkeeper
Sentenced: to 30 years

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