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.

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Details

Founded: 1690s
Category: Castles and fortifications in Austria

More Information

en.wikipedia.org

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User Reviews

Andre Birch (3 years ago)
Memories!
CeYK (6 years ago)
You should visit and feel the atmosphere...
DAVID OAKLEY (6 years 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.
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