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Aktion T4 Hadamar
One of the Aktion T4 locations

Tötungsanstalt Kaufbeuren

Location: Kaufbeuren, Germany
Richard Jenne, the last child to be killed at Kaufbeuren
Papers describing the brain removal
Autopsy table in Irsee
Made up caus of death
The facility around 1935

The Kaufbeuren District Hospital is a specialist psychiatric clinic in Kaufbeuren in Bavaria. During the National Socialist era, the predecessor institution, Heil- und Pflegeanstalt Kaufbeuren-Irsee, was involved in the murder of numerous patients at its locations in Kaufbeuren and Irsee in the course of "euthanasia". The then director of the Kaufbeuren main station and its branch, Valentin Faltlhauser, was an active advocate of the killing of mentally and physically impaired people.

After the National Socialists came to power and numerous ordinances, the “Heil- und Pflegehaus Kaufbeuren-Irsee” was actively involved in the euthanasia killings of mentally and physically impaired people between 1939 and 1945. Its significance for the murders of the sick under National Socialism lay primarily in the fact that the institution, with 1.200 beds, was already the largest facility of its kind in Swabia in the 1930's. Since September 1939, people from all over Bavaria have been transferred to the Kaufbeuren-Irsee asylum.

Action T4

At the beginning of 1940, the director Valentin Faltlhauser received a list for the first time with the names of those patients who were to be transferred to specific imperial institutions in the course of the T4 campaign and who were to be killed there with gas. A total of 687 patients were transported to the Grafeneck and Hartheim killing centers between August 26, 1940 and August 8, 1941 and murdered there. With the end of the T4 campaign and the end of the transports, the Kaufbeuren-Irsee sanatorium carried out the killings of the adults and children themselves.

"Starvation of patients"

The "withdrawal diet" used in a targeted manner was the continuation of the T4 action that had been canceled. In Bavaria, the state welfare associations had been pushing for a reduction in accommodation costs since the late 1920's. Even before the beginning of the war, Valentin Faltlhauser advocated dieting for patients based on work performance. In Irsee, the "hungry diet" had therefore been used since August 1942 and in Kaufbeuren since October 1942. On November 30, 1942, Walter Schultze signed the “Hunger Food Decree” on behalf of the Bavarian Ministry of the Interior, according to which all “unable to work” patients were undernourished and exhausted due to malnutrition. The majority died from the resulting deficiency symptoms or from corresponding secondary diseases. The food given contained no carbohydrates, no fat, no meat and only little bread. The change in meals significantly increased the death rate in the institution during these years.

Tuberculosis experiments

The senior physician at the Mittelberg children's sanatorium, Georg Hensel, carried out medical experiments on physically and mentally impaired children at the Kaufbeuren-Irsee sanatorium between 1942 and 1944. In order to find a vaccine against tuberculosis, Hensel, in consultation with Valentin Faltlhauser, vaccinated at least 13 children a self-developed vaccine. The medical experiments were fatal for six of the children.

Liberation by US troops

American troops occupied Kaufbeuren at the end of April, but did not yet intervene in the institution's operations. It was not until July 1, 1945 that the rumors about the infanticide reached the military office, whereupon three soldiers and a photographer broke into the institution and stopped the killing. In the months after the end of the war, the Allied troops described the liberated institutions and the doctors involved in a report. This report by the American intelligence service bears the handwritten title “Medical extermination camp in Kaufbeuren, Bavaria” and was probably not far from the truth, as the following description shows:

“Almost every inhabitant knew exactly that people there were being used as guinea pigs and systematically slaughtered. The perpetrators or passive contributors were in no way aware of their crimes, they were Germans, not Nazis. There were also Catholic sisters among them. The head nurse, who admitted to having killed 'about' 210 children by intramuscular injections in two years, simply asked: 'Will something happen to me?' The stinking corpses of men and women were found in an unrefrigerated morgue who had died twelve hours to three days earlier. They weighed between 26 and 33 pounds. Among the children still alive was a ten-year-old boy who weighed less than 10 kilos. And whose legs were 6 centimeters in diameter at the ankles. Dr. Valentin Faltlhauser, 69 years old, Chief Medical Officer since 1919, was the director and was arrested. Also Franziska Vill, secretary to Dr. Faltlhauser was arrested. His deputy Dr. Lothar Gärtner, 43 years old, and who had been employed since January 1, 1930, committed suicide by hanging himself with the cord of a bedside lamp. Three other doctors were also arrested".

Tötungsanstalt Kaufbeuren

Location of the facility
  • Kaufbeuren, Germany

Patients murdered: ± 2.400

In operation from:

3 September 1939 - April 30, 1945

Map of the facility
Related video footage

Remember Ernst Lossa

Victim's personal data file
Died: 09.08.1944
Came from: Irsee
Execution reason: Bronchopneumonia

Ernst Lossa's death certificate
Ernst Lossa's death certificate
Ernst Lossa's death certificate

Ernst Lossa  was born on November 1, 1929 in Augsburg. His father Christian Lossa belonged to the Yenish minority and earned his living as a peddler. His mother Anna Lossa died of pulmonary tuberculosis on September 24, 1933. Ernst Lossa grew up with a brother and two sisters Amalie, Anna and Christian Lossa. After the forced labor law of December 29, 1935 came into force, his father was imprisoned in the Dachau concentration camp from January 25, 1936 to December 24, 1938. According to Amalie Lossa, the father was taken into “protective custody” “because he cursed on an  SS man”. Ernst Lossa and his two sisters were then placed in the "children's custody" in Augsburg-Hochzoll. In this home, as Amalie Lossa recalled, they were often discriminated against as “gypsies”, presumably because of their father's origin.

On February 15, 1940, Ernst Lossa was transferred to a youth education center in Indersdorf near Dachau due to alleged “immorability”. Amalie Lossa reported: "He's already run away, stole a bike, stole sandwiches from others". Although he was credited with well-developed intellectual skills and a clear mind, Lossa's school grades continued to deteriorate. Triggered by the difficulties in the home, an expert opinion was drawn up which certified Lossa's alleged “community incapacity”. He was then transferred to the Kaufbeuren sanatorium on April 20, 1942.

According to a carer, Lossa was a “bright” and capable boy, who “steals everything and does all sorts of stupid things”. Prints a “psychiatric report on Lossa Ernst”, from which it emerges that Lossa is a “good-natured but completely unwilling, unfounded, almost average gifted, instinctual psychopath”. In addition, he embodies "the type of person with a congenital steal addiction".

At the time, the Kaufbeuren facility was the largest specialist psychiatric clinic in Swabia. The clinic was significantly involved in the so-called "euthanasia" campaigns in southern Germany. Lossa was transferred to the Irsee branch on May 5, 1943. According to witnesses, he was murdered on August 9, 1944 under the pretext of receiving an injection against typhus at the age of 14. While he was sleeping, the nurse Pauline Kneissler, ordered by the director of the institution Valentin Faltlhauser, administered morphine scopolamine in the presence of male nurse Paul Heichele.

Ernst Lossa fought with death for several hours. Late in the evening of August 8, 1944, a nurse injected the boy with an overdose of the sleeping pill Luminal. According to the death certificate, he dies the following afternoon.

A clinic is housed in the institution to this day.

After Hitler came to power, disabled people quickly became the focus of Nazi racial madness. As early as July 1933, the law for the "Prevention of Hereditary Offspring" was passed. Hundreds of thousands of people with disabilities were forcibly sterilized afterwards; In crude Nazi thinking, this served the goal of a "racially pure and racially capable Aryan people's body

1948, a courtroom in Germany, psychiatric nurse Pauline Kneissler, is on trial. A witness testifies against her. He says, “Pauline greeted me very warmly. And one comes away saying, ‘Oh, that’s a fine nurse. She’s taking splendid care of my mother.” But, he said, “In doing so she was the murderer of my mother.” Pauline Kneissler was found guilty of this murder, and hundreds more. She murdered her patients willingly.


The Frankfurt Regional Court sentenced the nurse Pauline Kneissler to four years and the nurse Paul Heichele to twelve months in “penitentiary”. The two nurses Mina Wörle (1895 - 1973) and Olga Ritter (1901 - 1979) received 18 and 21 months in prison. The Frankfurt Higher Regional Court confirmed Kneissler's sentence on October 20, 1948 for murder and aiding and abetting. In 1949, the case against those responsible in Kaufbeuren took place in Augsburg. Ernst Lossa's death played an important role in the trial. On July 30, 1949, Valentin Faltlhauser was sentenced to three years imprisonment in at least 300 cases for inciting aiding and abetting manslaughter. The prison sentence, however, was never carried out after several postponements due to incapacity and a pardon by the Bavarian Minister of Justice in 1954. In court, Faltlhauser stated that Lossa had been relocated to Kaufbeuren for the purpose of "euthanasia". His death was ordered by the Reich Committee for the Scientific Registration of Hereditary and Constitutional Serious Ailments.

A nurse of the Kaufbeuren institution testified that she had to kill children on Faltlhauser's orders. As a rule, luminal tablets were given dissolved in tea, only in isolated cases by injections. The patients died after two to three days. Morphine scopolamine injections are said to have only been given to particularly restless children in isolated cases. The dose was determined by Faltlhauser himself.

Together with four other members of the Kaufbeurer prison staff, Faltlhauser was charged with involvement in euthanasia crimes before the Augsburg regional court. The subject matter of the proceedings included “participation in the 'euthanasia program' by transporting the mentally ill to the killing centers, as well as participating in the killing of adult and adolescent patients using luminal tablets, morphine scopolamine injections and inadequate nutrition”. In July 1949, Faltlhauser was sentenced to three years in prison for inciting aiding and abetting manslaughter. After repeated postponement of the execution of the prison sentence because of incapacity to custody, the pardon by the then Bavarian Minister of Justice  and the re-approval of the pension, which had meanwhile been canceled, took place in December 1954.

After the war, Faltlhauser justified his behavior with a sense of duty, compassion and social consensus.  As a civil servant, he was brought up to obey the respective orders and laws.

“In any case, my actions did not occur with the intention of a crime, but on the contrary permeated with the consciousness to act mercifully towards the unfortunate creatures, with the intention of freeing them from a suffering for which there is no salvation with the means known today to act as a true and conscientious doctor. "

Due to the decades of discussions about euthanasia, he assumed a social consensus and therefore did not doubt the justification of Hitler's “euthanasia” decree.

Letter by Adolf Hitler authorising the killing of the "incurably sick" by means of a "mercy death".
More related images
Ernst Lossa's medical record
Special images of this institution
Children victims of Kaufbeuren
Children victims of Kaufbeuren
Children victims of Kaufbeuren
Children victims of Kaufbeuren
    Gedenkstätte Tötungsanstalt Kaufbeuren

    On the current site of the Swabian Education Center Irsee there are three memorial sites dedicated to the victims of Nazi euthanasia:

    On November 22, 1981, a monument by the Allgäu artist Martin Wank was erected on the institutional cemetery used between 1944 and 1972. Another memorial plaque, which was installed in 2009, is located at the entrance to the prosecution. Also in 2009 the artist Gunter Demnig let three stumbling blocks in front of the Irsee Monastery and in September 2015 seven more stumbling blocks.

    There are three more monuments in the city of Kaufbeuren:

    In 1989 the employees of today's district hospital initiated the erection of a three-tonne memorial in front of the hospital's Thomas Church. Since 2006 there has also been a monument by the Irsee artist Peter R. Müller at the former prison cemetery. In 2008, a group of students from Kaufbeuren schools erected a memorial in front of the youth center in Kaufbeuren, which among other things is dedicated to the memory of the victims of the Nazi regime.

    The perpetrators of the facility

    Dr. Valentin Faltlhauser

    Died: January 8, 1961

    Pauline Kneissler

    Died: January 26, 1989

    Paul Heichele

    Died: Not known
    Deputy doctor

    Philomena "Mina" Wörle

    Died: Not known
    Head nurse children’s ward

    Dr. Lothar Gärtner

    Died: Not known
    Doctor Irsee Monastery

    Olga Rittler

    Died: Not known

    Georg Frick

    Died: Not known
    Administrative director