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. connecticut man

    here we go again....haven't we beaten world war 2 to death already?!!!

    January 5, 2011 at 5:57 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Obama

    This is the blueprint for my Obamacare Hospital. Cut lives not worth living and save money, Fiscal Austerity all the way. Fund abortions and end of life procedures. Welcome to a Nazi-America, who said it could never happen again. Oh, you are over-reacting, it is not that bad... not yet... but it will become worse.

    January 5, 2011 at 6:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • stejo

      You are vile...and stupid, if you really believe that.

      January 5, 2011 at 7:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • standingwave

      So you fell for Sarah Palin's "death panel" comment? I feel sorry for you.

      January 5, 2011 at 7:58 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Johnny Dollar


    Unless you are 100% Native American ( I am not) we are all immagrints!

    Hitler was a nut, There 40 attempts on his life and all failed, At least some tried to do away with the problem but would it have helped?

    Gone to town,

    My spelling stinks.


    January 5, 2011 at 6:22 pm | Report abuse |
  4. lblt

    Nazi Health Care had death panels!?

    January 5, 2011 at 6:31 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Joe

    I've been watching a lot of DVD's and TV shows about the German army during the second world war. I knew all about the Holocaust and their programs to kill the disabled, but I never realized the extent of outright random murders they committed. Mass starvations, shooting of all civilians while retreating, and other disgusting things that I don't even want to mention. It's sad to think how many other times this has happened in recent history. And how many of these monsters were allowed to get away with their crimes without punishment.

    January 5, 2011 at 7:09 pm | Report abuse |
  6. lady T

    I Will make sure the 14 amendment DOES NOT get passed thanks to the organizations here in nevada

    January 5, 2011 at 7:19 pm | Report abuse |
  7. steve

    When anything like this surfaces in print, I get chills and sick to my stomach. Just thinking of the atrocities that went on is far beyond my comprehension. Human beings. God, what a waste to mankind!

    January 5, 2011 at 7:29 pm | Report abuse |
  8. AngelaD

    As a German it fills me with great shame every time I read or hear about our dark past. And I have done my homework. I have visited the concentration camps, read the books, watched the movies, talked to old soldiers and survivors. One can not grasp what happened in these short 12 years. I am glad they are researching these findings so that it stays fresh and will never be forgotten. The eternal question remains: How was it all possible? I bow my head for the victims.

    January 5, 2011 at 7:35 pm | Report abuse |
  9. standingwave

    One sad fact should give us all pause. The Nazi euthanasia program was inspired by by a man widely regarded as an iconic American success story-Henry Ford. He was a virulent anti-semite who passionately beleived in the superiority of the Nordic races and as such was admired by Hitler.

    January 5, 2011 at 7:50 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Harold A Maio

    The appearance of the Nazism, "euthanasia," in contemporary journalism is frightening. Please remove it.

    It is likely most of the murderers are dead, though I wonder if all are.

    The T-4 program was well known to allies, allies informed much of the German people though air dropped copies of Bishop Van Graf's sermons exposing it. It is unlikely none of the people around Hartheim did not know. As unlikely as contemporary journalists "not knowing" the meaning of euthanasia.

    Harold A. Maio, retired Mental Health Editor

    January 5, 2011 at 7:51 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Thorrsman

    The main difference between the Progressive party in America at that time and the Nazi party in Germany was that the Progressives could only hope to someday have the power that the Nazis exercised. Their views on eugenics and the "disposal" of the "unfit" were much the same. Leading American Progressives of that era admired the "efficiency" of the German method of dealing with those they considered "unfit" and "wasteful" to keep alive.

    January 5, 2011 at 7:52 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Andrew

    Nazi's killed the blackbirds.

    January 5, 2011 at 7:59 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Harold Bissonette (pronounced Bis-o-nay)

    This will continue to happen again and again as it has throughout history. The fact that people can laugh and joke about death of the magnitude of WW2 is evidence of the crass desensitization people have when it's not their hides or the hides of their family. These people, who probably call themselves patriots, also desecrate and cheapen the loss of life of American soldiers with the flippant, schoolyard humor so gleefully posted.

    January 5, 2011 at 8:00 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Jim Chapman

    It seems that when these Nazi atrocities are brought to light by the news media, it further obscures the atrocities that took place in Russia during this time of the Third Reich. Nearly 30 million people were slaughtered under Stalin's "Great Purge."

    January 5, 2011 at 8:04 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Jim Chapman

    After I've read some of the comments here, this is the reason why I turn on Fox News. At least on Fox News there would be higher probability of explaining that the Germans didn't have the market on atrocities during this era. "Fair and Balanced."
    Believe or not!

    January 5, 2011 at 8:17 pm | Report abuse |
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