Austria to exhume possible Nazi-era mass grave at psych hospital
January 5th, 2011
01:13 PM ET

Austria to exhume possible Nazi-era mass grave at psych hospital

Austrian officials plan to exhume a mass grave near a psychiatric hospital that could contain victims of the Nazis' so-called euthanasia program.

Officials in the western Austrian city of Hall told UPI that they will begin digging in March, when the ground thaws. The process could take two years.

The Irish Times reported that construction workers at the hospital, about 6 miles east of Innsbruck, found 220 decomposed bodies while they were excavating the site for a new building.

Though Christian Haring, a director at the hospital, which is still in operation, told the Times it was unclear whether all the bodies were of euthanasia victims, historian Oliver Seifert told UPI that the bodies were buried between 1942 and 1945.

Seifert further told the Guardian in London that the death rate of patients at the hospital spiked toward the end of World War II, even though the hospital was not officially included in the Third Reich’s euthanasia program.

“We know that murder was actively carried out at other psychiatric institutions, by overdosing patients, neglect or undernourishment,” Seifert told the newspaper.

The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum says Adolf Hitler’s attending physicians “began to organize a secret killing operation targeting disabled children” in 1939. It was broadened to include disabled adults later that year, the center says.

The program was officially discontinued after an outcry from the public and church officials, but the Times reported that the practice continued unofficially until the war ended.

Experts told the Times that as many as 200,000 people – many of them physically or mentally disabled – are estimated to have been killed.

Hartheim Castle near Linz was occupied Austria’s most notorious euthanasia facility, the site of an estimated 30,000 killings, the newspaper reported.

Scientists exhuming the bodies in Hall will try to determine the identity and cause of death for each victim, and the hospital is asking anyone who believes their relatives are among the victims to come forward.

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Filed under: Austria • Crime • Germany • Human rights • War
soundoff (249 Responses)
  1. Chelle

    Some ppl r so damn cold hearted...very well on there way to hell...smh

    January 5, 2011 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse |
  2. musings

    This may be an example of the "slippery slope", where euthanasia becomes part of the lifeboat mentality in a country. Right now, the attack is on "anchor babies".

    January 5, 2011 at 2:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kerry

      Are you serious?

      "Anchor babies" are babies born of ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS in our country. They're not being targeted because they're poor, defenseless babies. They are here illegally along with their parents. They do not belong here and they are not American citizens. A path to citizenship is available to them, as is to almost all, called immigration. There is no move afoot to bring violence to their young lives.

      January 5, 2011 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Seedenbetter

      Are you seriously comparing the extermination of people found to be "not worthy of life" by the Nazi regime to a law that the US should have always had to not reward people who come to the US illegally and have a baby with citizenship?

      January 5, 2011 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • KeithTexas

      Yes, you can make comparisons. The racist rhetoric and the rampant Nationalist opinions that you can read right here every day is an indication that people are stupid and that things can get out of hand.

      Changing the 14th amendment would be a dangerous step toward Nationalism and that wouldn't be a good step.

      January 5, 2011 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • JC

      Deportation and extermination are not the same, regardless of the rhetoric. Judge the actions, not the words.

      January 5, 2011 at 3:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • stejo

      Kerry – so-called "anchor babies" ARE citizens of this country, born here of illegal immigrant parents. so says the 14th amendment, at any rate

      January 5, 2011 at 7:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Thorrsman

      @stejo
      Incorrect. The 14th Amendment lays out EXACTLT who is covered by it, and illegal aliens–and their children–are NOT. This mistake comes from judges legislating from the bench rather than upholding the laws of America.

      January 5, 2011 at 9:39 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Tim Weatherhead

    Again...Why not one more bombing of Germany for their total lack of regard for human life

    January 5, 2011 at 2:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Shaunathan

      There's an idea. Those Krauts get a bit "restless" every 150 yrs or so.

      January 5, 2011 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • scott

      Because that would be another example of a total disregard for human life. Bomb a country 70 years after the fact? Really?

      January 5, 2011 at 2:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Shaunathan

      @scott: No, we're going to bomb 70 yrs before the fact. Another thing- LIGHTEN UP!!!

      January 5, 2011 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
  4. tony

    Lol. You are a real stupid idiot. I hope this will happen to you some day. And then you will lol in hell

    January 5, 2011 at 2:07 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Quincy9

    Yet another horrible reminder of how cruel, depraved and disgusting the human race can be. A treasure trove of hate, indifference, cruelty and evil has just been unearthed. Hey, look.... and the world is still at it. The human race is doomed by our own hands and our relentless stupidity. Leaders and people of various agendas want power; power is helping and encouraging life and not taking it away. Cowards take away and only great people give.

    January 5, 2011 at 2:11 pm | Report abuse |
  6. buggamaroo

    why so many arguments it happened and everyone knows it. Lets learn from mistakes and move forward instead of fighting over it. Lord help those to be identified.

    January 5, 2011 at 2:12 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Donald The Duck

    Why do some find this so repugnant? They were doing what they thought was best for their society. Think that is wrong- your opinion.

    Morality is subjective, built over millions of years. For example we mass murder animals to eat. I think it is okay. We dropped bombs and nukes to terrorize civilians into capitulation. I think that was okay too. Many americans committed many atrocities. Not okay IMHO. Humans pollute and sin generally. A perfect world would be cruel to humans. No one is innocent. Feeling for others is human, so is survival of the fittest and the master/servant dialectic.

    All this politically correct 'we hate the nazis' babble is the voice of bleeding hearts and mindless mobs directed to think by pop culture. Make you own evaluation of evil instead of relying on media.

    January 5, 2011 at 2:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • fred

      I cannot agree more. I also think anyone overweight, or who smoke or drink should be culled due to their cost to our medical system... and don't get me started on all those deadweight retirees that keep dragging down our economy. Maybe we could have a mandatory "permanent" retirement six feet under for those over
      age 60 (Too bad Mom and Dad)... And don't get me started on short people...

      January 5, 2011 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ace Frehley

      Poor Donald,
      You really should get some education before you open your mouth.

      January 5, 2011 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • SnafuBob

      Your both idiots, and Fred please let me know when your approaching 60, I'll be sure to help carry out your wish...

      January 5, 2011 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • solowd

      You act like the Germans are headhunters in New Guinea. They had the same moral development as the rest of Europe and the US, and signed the same treaties. This isn't a case of "people with different values."

      Furthermore, it's clear that the German people did not support mass killings (and they knew what was going on, they weren't stupid). They were either frightened of the gestapo or just felt powerless to make a complaint in their society.

      If anything, it's an example of authority gone out of control. The people in charge were accountable to no one, least of all the German people.

      January 5, 2011 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Donald The Duck

      Look nazism was a different culture that was trying something new. Human life that did not follow certain req was not valued. Very extreme philosophy but capable of doing some powerful things. Some say the individual is more important, or dignity, compassion, etc. No, here it was about winning.

      To the uneducated comment, education is a lot of things, all of which I have. Your statement is clearly aimed to insult; it missed the mark.

      Final comment, on the willing executioners. The regime lead the country. There were enough believers to administer and protect it. The American belief that "good germans" were sitting scared in bunkers somewhere is what post-war germans let us believe, also something we wanted to. The 1933 election numbers, resulting popularity, and steadfastness until the end tell a different story.

      January 5, 2011 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Billy Cosby

      You people are so dumb. Hitler was an intelligent man who used a bad economy to get himself in control lied to everyone and then did what he wanted and convinced the people it was good sound familiar? National health care

      January 5, 2011 at 6:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • emigdio

      The Americans never wanted to commit atrocities., only bu
      Sh wanted to. That's the problem with Europeans, they always blame everyone for the act one one. Just because our motto is "out of many, one" doesn't mean that everyone agrees. If it were up to me, I'd have my former president hanged for crimes against humanity.

      January 5, 2011 at 9:32 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Homer Simpson

    hell wont sound so bad in another 10 years, lookout mexico here we come

    January 5, 2011 at 2:15 pm | Report abuse |
  9. hahah

    his pears? Ruby go back to school, finish K-12, and then try to repost. thank you.

    January 5, 2011 at 2:17 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Angelika Irene Bertrand

    Another book I recommend. Is the Encylopedia of the Holocaust. I have read it , it has many pictures and references about the Nazis. I despise this part of my German history. I hope Hitler got what he deserved and is rotting in hell.

    January 5, 2011 at 2:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • DavidMichael

      Hitler was simply following Martin Luther. You would be horrified to read: On the Jews and their Lies by Martin Luther....very disturbing.

      January 5, 2011 at 6:20 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Kenster

    Society has beat this topic to death to coin a pun. The entire European Continent suffered greatly, some more than others. Who is speaking up for atrocities put on the Cambodians or Aremenians? Or Rowandans? Or?

    January 5, 2011 at 2:23 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Seedenbetter

    I believe this is the place where Hitler sent one of his siblings who had a mental illness and was euthanized . I bet he/she is buried in this mass grave. If they do DNA analysis on the bodies they should find him/her.

    January 5, 2011 at 2:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • DavidMichael

      It was Hitler's own cousin that was euthanized. The Doctor that was head of the hospital, the name escapes me at the moment, wanted to marry Hitler's sister and had asked her to marry him. Hitler's sister already was in the house that she wanted; Hitler forceably convinced the then current owners to sell or else. When Hitler was informed that the doctor proposed to his sister, the doctor was sent to Siberia never to be heard from again. Mental Illness ran in Hitler's family and he obviously wanted that hushed up.

      January 5, 2011 at 6:24 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Steve

    Hard to believe "This" is "just in" since BBC reported it yesterday. I guess CNN was too busy recommending news stories from last year, or reporting what's popular on Facebook.

    January 5, 2011 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Shaunathan

    A sad fact that nobody has mentioned yet is that the United States had its own eugenics programs (state-run, not federal IIRC) in which low-IQ individuals (and often their children) were forcibly sterilized. Nazi Germany sent scientist to the U.S. to study those programs and incorporate those ideas and methods. Now, every time I hear people blabbing about how "stupid people shouldn't breed" I think "yeah, and Neo-Nazis should be shot."

    January 5, 2011 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
  15. courtney

    Well not everyone was accounted for during The Holocaust. & the sad stories continue. So what will happen to Mexico & its uneducated murdering psychotic drug lords who think they're Gods gift to survival. What a life.

    January 5, 2011 at 2:35 pm | Report abuse |
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