Berlin-Wittenau (Städtische  Nervenklinik für Kinder ["Wiesengrund"])

map of Berlin

The special children's ward was located in the Municipal Psychiatric Clinic for Children, called "Wiesengrund." It became independent from the main facility in Wittenau that it had previously been a part of on 1 July 1941. The main facility in Wittenau had operated as "Wittenauer Heilstätten, Nervenklinik für Kinder. Angeschlossen: Erziehungsheim mit Hilfsschule. Entwicklungsgestörte, fortbildungsfähige Kinder im Alter von 7 bis 15 Jahren" (Wittenau Care Facilities: Psychiatric Clinic for Children: Included: Educational Facility with Special Education School: Developmentally Delayed Children Who Can Be Educated in the Ages of 7-15) in its letterhead and consisted of an educational facility (Erziehungsheim) with a special needs division (heilpädagogische Abteilung) and a special education school (Sonderschule) as well as a neurological-psychiatric department and a policlinic (for the convoluted history, see Beddies and Schmiedebach 2004, pp. 167-9). The newly independent clinic comprised two physically separate entities: the educational facility with a school of special education as well as the clinical division I (this included the policlinic), housed at the site of the Wittenauer Heilstäten; and the second entity, the clinical divisions II and III, which included the psychiatric division (see also Schmuhl, p. 235 n. 264). This entity was located in two pavilions of the former Dalldorf farmyard, which since 1929 were used as the "Psychiatric Facility for Men" and underwent construction upgrades financed by the Reichsaussschuss. The special children's ward was located in house B/division III. As a result of aerial bombings, a part of the clinic was transferred to to Bad Freienwalde in the children's facility there in 1943. After WWII, the buildings continued to be used for the city.

picture of building Source: Krüger, p. 157

Dr. Dr. Ernst Hefter was responsible for the clinic as a whole. Responsible for the special children's ward was Dr. Gertrud Reuter, who assumed her position in March 1942 and was responsible for division III. Dr. Gerhard Kujath was responsible for division II and carried out medical examinations and experiments with the children of the special children's wards.

Dr. Hefter was arrested by the Soviet occupational power and received in 1946 received a sentence of ten years in prison for providing 55 assessments leading to sterilization and having "put to sleep" 30 children. He died in prison in 1947. Since Dr. Hefter had previously died, the state attorney's office in the 1906s in Berlin concluded its investigations against Dr. Hefter and his associates, which commenced after a former inmate of the Erziehungsheim had filed a criminal complaint, without moving to trial. Dr. Reuter was not investigated. Dr. Kujath and others disclaimed any involvement in "euthanasia." The court noted that "indications of suspeicious circumstances" were considerable but not sufficient to demonstrate that he was assisted in his deeds by others. From this time dated the declaration of the administration of the Karl-Bonhoeffer-Nervenklinik, as the successor to the "Wiesengrund," that both administrative and patient records were no longer extant. Dr. Reuter left Berlin at the end of February 1945 and worked in Essen as a specialist for neurology an psychiatry between 1947 and 1975. She died there in 1999. Dr. Kujath became head of the Pediatric Psychiatric Department at the Children's Clinic of the Free University Berlin and was a well-regarded expert in this field. He died in 1978.

On occasion of its 100th anniversary, the Karl-Bonhoeffer-Nervenklinik published a commemorative book in 1980, which alluded to the period of 1933-1945 in a single sentence (Karl-Bonhoeffer-Nervenklinik 1980). In his medical dissertation in 1982, Wolfgang Stender claimed that no patient records existed and stated that no killing of children could be confirmed. A commemorative publication of the clinic in 1982 (Machineck et al. 1982) came to the same conclusion.

exhibit at Totgeschwiegen 1988 new exhibit totgeschwiegen
Source: author; http://freenet-homepage.de/museumkesselhaus/html/totgeschwiegen_1.html

In 1984 a group of staff formed at the Karl-Bonhoeffer-Nervenklinik on the initiative of the director Dr. Bernd-Michael Becker to address the history of the clinic under National Socialism. The members of this group included Sabine Damm, Norbert Emmerich, Ursula Grell, Christina Härtel, Marianne Hühn, and Martina Krüger. Their activities led to the rediscovery of patient records as well as a book Totgeschwiegen: 1933-1945 and exhibit of the same name. The exhibit was one of the earliest exhibits on the topic of "euthanasia" that now has been recently resurrected (see exhibits). It included a detailed section on "euthanasia" crimes and an account of the murders at the Kinderfachabteilung at "Wiesengrund."

Martina Krüger's essay in the book established that 175 children had been "Reichsausschusskinder" in the special children's ward, for whom 159 medical records were found. 81 children of these children died in the clinic, and 14 of them in an affiliated home. The essay notes that the last child was admitted by the Reichsausschuss in January 1945, and it includes a reference to a child that had been admitted in mid-January 1942. More recent research of Thomas Beddies and Heinz-Peter Schmiedebach has not only confirmed the initial findings but also demonstrated that before the special children's ward was opened, 167 children at the Wittenauer Heilstätten were transferred to Brandenburg-Görden (itself the location of a special children's ward), whence 19 were sent to a T4 gassing facility. 118 of the children died in Brandenburg-Görden (without being linked to T4 or the Reichsausschuss), and seven children were transferred to the "decentralized euthanasia" facilities Hadamar and Meseritz/Obrawalde after T4. At least 41 minors (and perhaps twice as many) were transferred directly from the Wittenauer Heilstätten to Meseritz/Obrawalde and murdered there. Moreover, many of the children at the Wittenauer Heilstätten were subjected to horrendous forms of medical experimentation and research.

memorial display building Source: author

In 1993 a commemorative plaque has been placed on the building that housed the special children's ward (its location was moved in 2007). It reads: "Under the guise of a 'special children's ward' of the psychiatric clinic 66 girls and 109 boys were placed here in this building as 'Reichsausschusskinder' between 1942 and 1945. Under National Socialist rule they received no assistance but were used for supply for experimentation without mercy. Of the 175 children 81 died a painful death. Their age was between a few months and 16 years." Annually, a commemorative wreath has been placed there.

picture of stumbling block Source: http://www.berlin.de/imperia/md/content/bareinickendorf/abteilungen/gessoz/stolpersteine_seite_31bis40.pdf
There are also several stumbling blocks placed there (see here).

plaque for patients 0
memorial plaque oranienburger
Sources: http://de.academic.ru/pictures/dewiki/71/Gedenktafel_Euthanasieopfer_KaBoN.jpg; http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Gedenktafel_Oranienburger_Str_285_%28Witte%29_NS_Opfer_.JPG

In 1994 a commemorative display for the victims of "euthanasia" in general was placed at the entrance of the facility of the Wittenauer Heilstätten. It reads: "In the Wittenau healing facility thousands of patients fell victims to National Socialist crimes between 1933 and 1945. The lives of these persons were considered to be without value. They were termed unworthy to procreate and compulsorily sterilized. They died of starvation by force, were transported to killing facilities and murdered there with drugs or in gas chambers. These persons were entrusted to the facility. They were killed by those who were supposed to protect them. The crimes against these defenseless victims cannot be atoned. The guilty are known to us. The victims are not forgotten."

The recently redesigned and redeveloped exhibit "Totgeschwiegen" also has a section on "children's euthanasia." The clinic itself, the Vivantes - Netzwerk für Gesundheit GmbH, does not provide information about "euthanasia" as part of its history on its website.

A motorcycle club in Berlin made the location of the "Wiesengrund" clinic a part of its alternative city tour and alluded to the history of the crimes there on a webpage.

Most recently, students at a Berlin high school put together an exhibit on some of the child victims, as reported here.


Beddies, Thomas, and Heinz-Peter Schmiedebach. 2004. "'Euthanasie'-Opfer und Versuchsobjekte: Kranke und behinderte Kinder in Berlin während des Zweiten Weltkriegs." Medizinhistorisches Journal 39(3):165-96.

Benzenhöfer, Udo. 2003. "Genese und Struktur der 'NS-Kinder- und Jugendlicheneuthanasie.'" Monatsschrift für Kinderheilkunde 151: 1012-1019.

Krüger, Martina. 1989. "Kinderfachabteilung Wiesengrund: Die Tötung behinderter Kinder in Wittenau." Pp. 151-76 in Totgeschwiegen 1933-1945: Zur Geschichte der Wittenauer Heilstätten, seit 1957 Karl-Bonhoeffer-Nervenklinik, edited by the Arbeitsgruppe zur Erforschung der Geschichte der Karl-Bonhoeffer-Nervenklinik. 2d ed. Berlin: Edition Hentrich.

Karl-Bonhoeffer-Nervenklinik, ed. 100 Jahre Karl-Bonhoeffer-Nervenklinik 1880–1980. Berlin-Reinickendorf: Karl-Bonhoeffer-Nervenklinik.

Machinek, Uwe; Eberhard Hartisch, and Heinz Naegler, eds. 1982. Denkschrift zum 100jährigen Bestehen der Klinik Wiesengrund. Berlin-Reinickendorf: Humboldt-Krankenhaus.

Endlich, Stefanie, Nora Goldenbogen, Beatrix Herlemann, Monika Kahl, and Regina Scheer. 2002. Gedenkstätten für die Opfer des Nationalsozialismus, vol. 2. Bonn: Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung. Available at http://www.bpb.de/files/AFQX24.pdf.

Schmuhl, Hans-Walther. 2005. Grenzüberschreitungen: Das Kaiser-Wilhlem-Institut für Anthropologie, menschliche Erblehre und Eugenik, 1927-1945. Göttingen: Wallstein.

Stender, Wolf. 1982. "Hundert Jahre 'Klinik Wiesengrund': Eine medizinhistorische Untersuchung zur Entwicklung der Kinder- und Jugendpsychiatrie." Medical Dissertation, Freie Universität Berlin.

Topp, Sascha. 2004. “Der ‘Reichsausschuss zur wissenschaftlichen Erfassung erb- und anlagebedingter schwerer Leiden’: Zur Organisation der Ermordung minderjähriger Kranker im Nationalsozialismus 1939-1945.” Pp. 17-54 in Kinder in der NS-Psychiatrie, edited by Thomas Beddies and Kristina Hübener. Berlin-Brandenburg: Be.bra Wissenschaft.

———. 2005. "Der 'Reichsausschuß zur wissenschaftlichen Erfassung erb- und anlagebedingter schwerer Leiden': Die Ermordung minderjähriger Kranker im Nationalsozialismus 1939-1945." Master's Thesis in History, University of Berlin.