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. keith

    The way u live is the way u die we still have learn to live togather

    January 5, 2011 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Ro

    regardless of opinions on the matter the holocost, there does exist a mass grave, and whoever they were, it's only right to identify them and give them proper burial.

    January 5, 2011 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Billwsu

    People always say hitler and the nazis were crazy, insane, madmen, monsters. No, no they were not. They were people just like you and me. That, honestly, is the truly scary part of all of it. The holocaust and the war was not perpetrated by some alien race, the people running the gas chambers had families just like us, they liked sports, enjoyed a cold beer, and had hopes and dreams. Remember that it doesnt take much for us to revert to that sort of behavior. We have to recognize that we are all capable of the same things that nazis did. The nazis were regular humans. It can happen here.

    January 5, 2011 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Anne

      Wrong! They vast majority were depraved psychopaths without any conscience. The Nazis set up a school to train the exterminators. Those who proved that they couldn't kill without flinching were sent to the East Front and placed in position where they would surely die soon.

      January 5, 2011 at 4:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cythara

      Anne, that is patent nonsense! I knew Germans who served in the SS during the war. They had a very intense training session to get into the SS, just like the Green Berets or other American Special Forces. If they didn't pass it, they went back to the Regular Army. AT NO TIME, was there any effort by the Nazis to 'specially train' Germans to kill Jews. You have been listening to Jewish propaganda.

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

      You'd like it to be propaganda, wouldn't you, because then you can casually dismiss it. Read "The Murders Among Us" by Simon Wiesenthal. Yes, a Jew, who pursued the awful truth after the war when everyone else just wanted to forget about it.

      January 5, 2011 at 6:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Anne

      Typo correction: "The Murderers Among Us."

      January 5, 2011 at 6:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • stejo

      @Cythara – yep, I'm sure your SS friends would be open about that, seeing that it's a war crime and all. Anne said they were crazy, not stupid.

      January 5, 2011 at 7:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Another Yankee Bitc

      Such truth

      January 5, 2011 at 9:16 pm | Report abuse |
  4. grim reaper

    The atrocities of the 3rd reich are indeed a crime against humanity. today an ally of hitler still slaughters thousands of innocent people each year. i am talking about the curse to humanity that is islam. the islamo nazis just like hitler seek to kill all those who would not follow it's doctrine or beliefs. islam like nazi germany needs to be taken out to the scrap yard of history and tossed away. it is pure trash, and an affront to any civilized person.

    January 5, 2011 at 3:40 pm | Report abuse |
  5. hanna

    My thoughts go out to the victims of the euthanasia program,holocaust and every other tragedy alike. The human race is very degrading and disgusting. There's no excuse for this kind of behavior. This isn't the only bad thing that happened in history and unfortunately there will be many more bad things to happen. I can't believe people had to nerve to post comments on here saying how euthanasia should be allowed these days, news flash people mentally disabled individuals are HUMANS too! It's sickening how uneduated people are. I'm 19 and I have far more knowledge and heart than most of you who write degrading comments have. Go read a book for once and quit searching the internet.

    January 5, 2011 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
  6. isadore

    I am of German Jewish decent. My grandparents escaped Germany with their 5 children... one being my father. All the rest of the family was round up and killed for being Jews. It's weird and disturbing to know that I have family buried in a mass grave somewhere in/around Germany. Maybe here...I don't know. sad. Humans can be such vile creatures...

    January 5, 2011 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
  7. controversial

    There is alot of talk here of Hitler being a mad man and who could do such a thing etc. I will say this before continueing. I DO NOT AGREE WITH IT. That said, from a purely strategic standpoint thining a gene pool to include only the strongest candidates is ideal. By riding your pool of disabled or handicapped individuals you attain what the Spartans did. Only the very best. Looking at the other things that Hitler did, he was tactically brilliant and so morally and ethically messed up. He put the Germans who where in poverty and gave them a common goal to hate the jewish because they had money, which germans did not. War is also a great way of making money. It is sad that all of these things were then put into place by a genious instead of using his intelligence for a better cause. I mourn all those lost to the Nazi regime and all those who endured horrific existances from the same.

    January 5, 2011 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • sonofgadfly

      controversial: Two point on which I will have to disagree with you (and the Nazis):

      1. No person or government is in any position to decide who is "valuable" and who is not. Health, physical strength, and intelligence may be desirable traits, but the list of ways a human being can be valuable is VERY long. Some of those ways are unique and/or far from obvious. Artificial selection may be much faster and more efficient than natural selection, but artificial selection is generally blind to everything except the (possibly ill-conceived) trait being selected. It is also of course only as wise and fair as the people doing the selecting.

      2. A human being does not need to be "valuable" (to any person or government) in order to "deserve" to live. It has always puzzled me that there are people who love dogs or cats but can't stand "defective" humans. We are all wretched, ignorant creatures, and those among us who entertain notions of superiority cause far more trouble than the people whom they would "vote off".

      January 5, 2011 at 6:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Anne

      Two thoughts here: (1) The Asians who kill their infant daughters in favor of male infants, then wonder later why their 18-year-old sons can't find a wife; and (2) Stephen Hawkins, the brilliant physicist who suffers from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), would have been killed by the Nazis due to his physical disability. Both incredibly stupid "ideals."

      January 6, 2011 at 1:00 am | Report abuse |
  8. Greg

    It will be interesting to see if they did in fact die from gunshots wounds or other by other means of torture. There could also be a strong chance that they died from Typhus, and if the results of their autopsies actually determine this was the cause, you will never hear of this story again.

    January 5, 2011 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Tracy

    We still some of these experiments, like the Nazis did, all legal under the law,,,its called ABORTION!

    January 5, 2011 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • JomoDaMusicMan

      Most abortions are done because the mothers asked for it. But the U.S. govern has been doing illegal experiments on Blacks for since slavery thru probably even today. Many of the German Scientist were hired by the U.S. instead of being executed for war Crimes

      January 5, 2011 at 6:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • stejo

      mkay...not going to get into the abortion argument – but Jomo – do you have evidence that it's going on today, or was that just supposition? I know there are lots of rumors about the CIA being involved in getting crack into the neighborhoods and all that, but even if that's true, that's a far cry from euthanasia. I'd be interested to know any sources you have about that.

      January 5, 2011 at 7:22 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Brad

    How can this be? The Holocaust never happened, according to everything I've read.

    January 5, 2011 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Frank

    I Can Only Hope That Atrocities Like The 3rd Reich Commited Would Never Happen Again. To Those That Find Humor In It, Just Dont Have The Mental Capacity To Comprehend What Happened To Those Unfortunate Souls. Some People Want To Come Off Like A Bada**, And Truth Be Told Are Punks Hiding Behind A Computer Screen. I Have Seen Death,and Have Taken Life,i Dont See How Humans,no Matter How Callous Or Hard They Have Become,could Kill On Such A Grand Scale.

    January 5, 2011 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
  12. duke

    Christopher Z!!
    It wasn't 6million,and the banking system was controlled by the original "god father"Emperor Roethchild!!
    Don't tell me you believe all jews are from Israel??

    January 5, 2011 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Levi

    Ahhh come on this never happened to the new history books.

    January 5, 2011 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Cohen

    It is happening in Palestine now conducted by those who claim they suffered under the Nazis. What about all the Christians who are suffering in the Middle East, no one comes to their defense. Where are the Israeli, not once did they condemn Christian killing. The Israeli want sympathy for events that happened close to 70 years ago and they continually mistreat the Palestinians on daily basis. We can't do anything about the past, but we can do something about present.

    January 5, 2011 at 4:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • stejo

      not condoning what's going on with the Palestinians, but what do you mean "claim"? And yes, you're an idiot racist if you deny the Holocaust happened.

      January 5, 2011 at 7:28 pm | Report abuse |
  15. guest

    So sad. What a world.

    January 5, 2011 at 4:08 pm | Report abuse |
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