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Literature

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Literature

Memorial Plaques

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Photo: Memorial plaques in the arcades

In the 1950’s, the next of kin of the victims of Hartheim, put up the first commemorative plaques in the arcades of the palace and on the outer walls of the rooms where the victims were killed. In 1969, a memorial room was created out of the former Admission chamber, and till 1999, some 40 commemorative plaques were put up here. Thus, a unique and 'home grown' monument of remembrance arose. Reading the plaques, one can see that more emphasis is laid on political victims, resistance fighters from the concentration camps who were killed in Hartheim in the 14f13 programme. It was only in the 1990’s that plaques were put up in remembrance of the handicapped who were murdered in the NS-Euthanasia programme.

The new concept saw all the plaques back in the arcades and on the outer wall of the crematorium.

Memorial Site

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Photo: The arcades in the ground floor with the writing 'Gedenkstätte' (memorial site)

In post-war times, only private memorial plaques in the arcade court served as reminders of the euthanasia and prisoner murders that took place at the castle. It was not until 1969 that the Upper Austrian State Welfare Society established a memorial in the rooms that had once served as a reception room and gas chamber at the euthanasia centre.

In 1997, the State of Upper Austria and the Upper Austrian State Welfare Society decided to combine the restoration of the castle with a new concept and contemporary design for the memorial. It was now possible for the first time to include all the rooms where the murders took place as historical places in the memorial.

The traces left by the euthanasia campaign on the building itself were isolated and secured. In addition, a cut made through the euthanasia rooms to reveal the organisation of the mechanised path of death represented a radical change to the structure of the building. A walkway leads through the cut and shows visitors the way. It is possible to walk through, but not enter euthanasia rooms, which provides the distance to the historical rooms that is considered necessary for dealing with the topic. The objective is to enable a critical approach to this place where people were murdered. It also possible to approach the subject from an emotional perspective, but this is not obligatory.

Right after the former euthanasia rooms follows a peaceful room for remembrance, meditation and prayer, which was designed by artist Herbert Friedl.

Outside of the building, the location of the former bus garage and the part of the garden where human remains from the crematorium were buried represent an integral part of the memorial. A mausoleum is located at the latter, where the remains of the victims of the Nazi euthanasia programme in Hartheim are interred.

Comprehensive historical information about the Nazi euthanasia programme and the role played by Hartheim Castle are offered in the former functional spaces of the castle.

Cemetery

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Photo: Tomb Photo: Tomb

The area to the east of the palace, the former palace garden, was used as a place to store the ash from the crematorium, bone remains and useless personal belongings of the victims while the palace was being used as a Euthanasia Institute. These were then buried. In December 1944 / January 1945, building rubble like tiles, bricks and furnace bricks were added when the last traces of the 'killing apparatus' were removed.
From October 2001 to May 2002, archaeologists investigated the area. The fact that human remains were discovered, which dated from the years 1939–1945, meant that the regulations of the 'War Graves Welfare Law' were activated. This law states that human remains are to be formally laid to rest and the area concerned is to be declared a cemetery.
The funeral of the mortal remains of the victims took place on 27th September 2002 amid participation of representatives of all confessions and the public. The cemetery is characterised by a symbolic grave, designed by Herbert Friedl, to mark the site.

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