Verein Schloss Hartheim (Hartheim Castle Society)

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Photo: Commemoration outdoors, bird's eye view

The Hartheim Castle Society was established in 1995. The initiative came from the Upper Austrian Welfare Society, the owners of Hartheim Castle and Institut Hartheim. The objective was to create a dignified memorial for the victims of the Nazi euthanasia programme at Hartheim Castle and to transform the entire castle into a place of reflection and learning. Moreover, the association expressed its intention to take part in the current socio-political debate about bioethical and medical issues. It was possible to win over figures from public life, the arts, culture and sciences for the association and project.
1997 marked a decisive victory: Governor Dr Pühringer approved the financing of an exhibition project at Hartheim Castle, the main content of which was to process the euthanasia crimes under National Socialism at this location. At the same time, the castle and its outbuildings were to be renovated from the ground up. The Upper Austrian State Government provided approximately 10 million euro in financing.
The development of the conceptual contents of the exhibition and memorial was essentially undertaken by scientists who are also part of the Hartheim Castle Society. After the special "Wert des Lebens" (Value of Life) Exhibition of the State of Upper Austria closed in November 2003, management of the project Hartheim – Gedenkstätte, Ausstellung und pädagogische Arbeit (Hartheim – Memorial, Exhibition and Educational Work) was transferred to the Hartheim Castle Society for on-going operations. Now that the initial objective of the association has been fulfilled and Hartheim Castle has become a place for learning and remembrance, the association sees its further work in the management and development of this project.