The Sonnenstein Castle is a castle in Pirna housed a mental hospital, which operated from 1811 to the end of World War II in 1945. During the War, it functioned as an extermination centrefor the Third Reich Action T4 program. It was shut down following the war, and reopened in 1970.
Sonnenstein was built after 1460 on the site of a former medieval castle. Sonnenstein castle was used as a mental home since 1811. Among other patients, Sonnenstein was the asylum in which Daniel Paul Schreber wrote his Denkwürdigkeiten eines Nervenkranken in 1900-2. Because of the advanced methods practiced there, it received worldwide acclaim and served as a model for other institutions. Sonnenstein Asylum was one of the first 'therapeutic asylums'; activity rooms included billiards and music rooms.
From early 1940 until the end of June 1942, a part of the castle was converted into a killing centre. A gas chamber and crematorium were installed in the cellar of the former men's sanitary (building C 16). A high brick-wall on two sides of the complex shielded it from outside while a high hoarding (billboard) was erected on the other sides. Four buildings were located inside the shielding. They were used for offices, living rooms for the personnel etc. Sleeping quarters for the men who burned the bodies were provided for in the attic of building C 16. It is possible that other sections of the buildings were also used by T4.
From end of June 1940 until September 1942, approximately 15,000 persons were killed in the scope of the programme and the Sonderbehandlung 14f13. The staff consisted of about 100 persons. One third of them were ordered to the extermination camps in occupied Poland, because of their experiences in deception, killing, gassing and disposing of prisoners.
During August / September 1942 the Sonnenstein killing centre was liquidated and incriminating installations such as gas chambers and crematorium ovens dismantled. From October 1942 the buildings were used as a military hospital.
In the summer of 1947 some Action T4 members appeared as accused in the Dresdner Ärzteprozess (Doctor's Trial in Dresden). Professor Paul Nitsche, medical chief of T4, and two male nurses from Sonnenstein were sentenced to death.
It took about 40 years to recognise the part Sonnenstein played in the T4 program, and in 1989 the public commemorated the history of the centre. On 9 June 2000 a memorial center for the T-4 Program was opened in the house. It is managed by the Stiftung Sächsische Gedenkstätten zur Erinnerung an die Opfer politischer Gewaltherrschaft (Foundation for Memorial Institutions in Saxony for the Victims of Tyranny).
Since 1970, the building has again housed disabled people. After the establishment of a rehabilitation center, a workshop for disabled people was opened in 1991.References:
The Church of Saint Demetrius, or Hagios Demetrios, is the main sanctuary dedicated to Saint Demetrius, the patron saint of Thessaloniki. It is part of the site Palaeochristian and Byzantine Monuments of Thessaloniki on the list of World Heritage Sites by UNESCO since 1988.
The first church on the spot was constructed in the early 4th century AD, replacing a Roman bath. A century later, a prefect named Leontios replaced the small oratory with a larger, three-aisled basilica. Repeatedly gutted by fires, the church eventually was reconstructed as a five-aisled basilica in 629–634. This was the surviving form of the church much as it is today. The most important shrine in the city, it was probably larger than the local cathedral. The historic location of the latter is now unknown.
The church had an unusual shrine called the ciborium, a hexagonal, roofed structure at one side of the nave. It was made of or covered with silver. The structure had doors and inside was a couch or bed. Unusually, it did not hold any physical relics of the saint. The ciborium seems to have been a symbolic tomb. It was rebuilt at least once.
The basilica is famous for six extant mosaic panels, dated to the period between the latest reconstruction and the inauguration of the Byzantine Iconoclasm in 730. These mosaics depict St. Demetrius with officials responsible for the restoration of the church (called the founders, ktetors) and with children. An inscription below one of the images glorifies heaven for saving the people of Thessalonica from a pagan Slavic raid in 615.
Thessaloniki became part of the Ottoman Empire in 1430. About 60 years later, during the reign of Bayezid II, the church was converted into a mosque, known as the Kasımiye Camii after the local Ottoman mayor, Cezeri Kasım Pasha. The symbolic tomb however was kept open for Christian veneration. Other magnificent mosaics, recorded as covering the church interior, were lost either during the four centuries when it functioned as a mosque (1493–1912) or in the Great Thessaloniki Fire of 1917 that destroyed much of the city. It also destroyed the roof and upper walls of the church. Black-and-white photographs and good watercolour versions give an idea of the early Byzantine craftsmanship lost during the fire.
Following the Great Fire of 1917, it took decades to restore the church. Tombstones from the city"s Jewish cemetery - destroyed by the Greek and Nazi German authorities - were used as building materials in these restoration efforts in the 1940s. Archeological excavations conducted in the 1930s and 1940s revealed interesting artifacts that may be seen in a museum situated inside the church"s crypt. The excavations also uncovered the ruins of a Roman bath, where St. Demetrius was said to have been held prisoner and executed. A Roman well was also discovered. Scholars believe this is where soldiers dropped the body of St. Demetrius after his execution. After restoration, the church was reconsecrated in 1949.