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:
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.