Hartheim Castle

Eferding, Austria

Hartheim Castle was built by Jakob von Aspen in 1600, and it is a prominent Renaissance castle in the country. The building became notorious as one of the Nazi Euthanasia killing centers, where the killing program Action T4 took place.

Until the middle of the 14th century the site consisted mainly of just one tower, subsequently a residence was added and it was surrounded by a small wall with ramparts and ditches. After changing hands several times the castle ended up in the possession of the Aspen family, who probably built the castle into its present shape. At the beginning of the 1690s they had a completely new castle built conforming to perceptions of the ideal Renaissance style with a regular four-winged building with four polygonal corner towers and a higher central tower.

In 1799 George Adam, Prince of Starhemberg, purchased the castle. But by 1862 the castle was in a rather poor condition. In 1898 Camillo Henry, Prince of Starhemberg, made a present of the castle building, the outbuildings and some land to the Upper Austrian State Welfare Society.

Following Hitler's euthanasia decree in 1939, Hartheim was selected as one of six euthanasia centres in the Reich. Between May 1940 and December 1944, approximately 18,000 people physically and mentally disabled were killed at Schloss Hartheim by gassing and lethal injection as part of the T-4 Euthanasia Program. These included about twelve thousand prisoners from the Dachau and Mauthausen concentration camps who were sent here to be gassed, as were hundreds of women sent from Ravensbrück concentration camp in 1944, predominantly sufferers of TB and those deemed mentally infirm. The castle was regularly visited by the psychiatrists Karl Brandt, Professor of Psychiatry at Würzburg University, and Werner Heyde. In December 1944 Schloss Hartheim was closed as an extermination centre and restored as a sanatorium after being cleared of evidence of the crimes committed therein.

After World War II, the building was converted into apartments. Beginning in 1969, the gas chamber was opened to visitors. Hartheim Castle is now a Memorial Site dedicated to the thousands of physically and mentally handicapped persons who were murdered here by the Nazis.

References:

Comments

Your name

Website (optional)



Details

Founded: 1690s
Category: Castles and fortifications in Austria

More Information

en.wikipedia.org

Rating

4.4/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

CeYK (13 months ago)
You should visit and feel the atmosphere...
DAVID OAKLEY (13 months ago)
It's a very profound experience, there is little to remind you of the horror that occurred there to the innocent people from the surrounding area and southern Germany. There was strong resistance to what was happening here and those that protested disappeared as a warning to everyone else . Tours and conferences are arranged to those that are interested or as part of the local education experience. It's a credit to the Austrian people that their education includes the mistakes of the past in order to prevent such horrors in the future.
vtgbart (3 years ago)
Lovely palace which Nazis turned into secluded mass killing centre. Now there is a museum, which commemorates the victims of Nazi German euthanasia programme T4
An Ka (3 years ago)
There is a clarification that I would like to make. Hartheim Castle was a place where not only Germans and Austrians were murdered but in very large numbers also citizens of Poland. Among them my Uncle, Polish man. He was first in Mauthausen Gusen Concentration Camp then later transported to Hartheim Castle and murdered. To my knowledge Hartheim Castle was the last place for many man of many nations. Over 30 thousands people was murdered there. I was`t there yet but to publish my clarification it was a must to rate it. I will visit there this year.
Al Cohen (4 years ago)
It is eerie how serene and almost majestic this castle looks given the heinous crimes that the Nazis perpetrated here. For those unfamilar, this was one of the sites where the Nazis "euthanized" mentally ill and disabled Germans and Austrians. After learning about the process and murders committed here it is fitting to turn the corner to the modern day - the cafe is staffed by mentally ill and disabled persons. Support their efforts and the positive that is now helping the types of people murdered here.
Powered by Google

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Château de Chaumont

The Château de Chaumont was founded in the 10th century by Odo I, Count of Blois. The purpose was to protect his lands from attacks from his feudal rivals, Fulk Nerra, Count of Anjou. On his behalf the Norman Gelduin received it, improved it and held it as his own. His great-niece Denise de Fougère, having married Sulpice d'Amboise, passed the château into the Amboise family for five centuries.

Pierre d'Amboise unsuccessfully rebelled against King Louis XI and his property was confiscated, and the castle was dismantled on royal order in 1465. It was later rebuilt by Charles I d'Amboise from 1465–1475 and then finished by his son, Charles II d'Amboise de Chaumont from 1498–1510, with help from his uncle, Cardinal Georges d'Amboise; some Renaissance features were to be seen in buildings that retained their overall medieval appearance. The château was acquired by Catherine de Medici in 1550. There she entertained numerous astrologers, among them Nostradamus. When her husband, Henry II, died in 1559 she forced his mistress, Diane de Poitiers, to exchange Château de Chaumont for Château de Chenonceau which Henry had given to de Poitiers. Diane de Poitiers only lived at Chaumont for a short while.

Later Chaumont has changed hands several times. Paul de Beauvilliers bought the château in 1699, modernized some of its interiors and decorated it with sufficient grandeur to house the duc d'Anjou on his way to become king of Spain in 1700. Monsieur Bertin demolished the north wing to open the house towards the river view in the modern fashion.

In 1750, Jacques-Donatien Le Ray purchased the castle as a country home where he established a glassmaking and pottery factory. He was considered the French "Father of the American Revolution" because he loved America. However, in 1789, the new French Revolutionary Government seized Le Ray's assets, including his beloved Château de Chaumont.

The castle has been classified as a Monument historique since 1840 by the French Ministry of Culture. The Château de Chaumont is currently a museum and every year hosts a Garden Festival from April to October where contemporary garden designers display their work in an English-style garden.