Leipzig (Universitätskinderklinik Leipzig)
The Kinderfachabteilung at the University Children's Clinic in Leipzig
was established in 1941 as the second of (what today is the state of)
Saxony's three "special children's wards. It continued to operate at
Children's Clinic until the Clinic was bombed in December 1943
(the Kinderfachabteilung was housed in a wooden barrack and burned down
completely). Thereafter, the special children's ward may not have
closed but continued in a decentralized manner in Klinga and
(see Buhl, p. 43; Topp 2005, p. 36 n. 175). Its medical director was
Dr. Werner Catel (who became a professor of pediatrics in Kiel after
WWII until he was forced to retire in 1960; he died in 1981), and
responsible for the special children's
ward were Dr. Hanna(h) Uflacker (who after WWII worked at the
Justus-Liebig University in Giessen and became the author of a
well-known pediatric book on child care; in 1962 the state attorney's
office in Hanover investigated her [as well as Hans Heinze, Ernst
Wentzler, and Werner Catel], but the case was discharged at the end of
1964; Benzenhöfer 2003b, p. 16 n. 16), Dr. Ernst Klemm (who became head
physician at the children's hospital in Zeven near Bremen; see Klee 2001, p. 107), Dr. Hans
Hempel (who continued to work at the University Children's Clinic until
becoming medical director of a hospital in Karl-Marx-Stadt and head
physician of the children's clinic there; see Leide, p. 332-6),
and Dr. Hans-Joachim Hartenstein, who was a pediatric physician in Berlin (Klee 2001, p. 107).
Leipzig also has a special significance due to the fact the the first
child, "K.," whose disability and death gave rise to the
Reichsausschussverfahren, was killed in Leipziger University Children
Clinic, and that Leipzig was the place where Binding and Hoche's book,
Allowing the Destruction of Life
Unworthy of Living (here), was published there in 1920.
Eene Meene Muh
The location of the Kinderfachabteilung was in Station 9/10, a wooden barrack, which was destroyed in the bombing in 1943.
The number of children killed is not known. However, in his
master's thesis Sascha Topp (p. 80) has provided the following
"According to the correspondence between Catel and von Hegener on the
subject of the compensation between 5 to 8 people were involved in the
proceedings [of the "children's ward"] during the war years. An
involvement of medical personnel of this magnitude outside of Leipzig
can be found only in Brandenburg-Görden,
Leipzig-Dösen, Eglfing-Haar, and Vienna 'Am Spiegelgrund,' so that one
can assume, under consideration of a four-year period of activity of
the ward, that several hundred children and youths fell victim to this
After a series of articles in the magazine Der Spiegel in 1960 alluded to Dr.
Catel's involvement in "children's euthanasia" (see 1, 2),
Eastern German newspapers published reports on the lenient treatment of
Nazi murders in the West. As a result, the Stasi received reports that
personnel at the University Children's Clinic engaged in discussions
about children's euthanasia and the involvement of Dr. Catel and one of
his assistants, Dr. Hempel, who still worked there. While
investigations by the Stasi found some material suggestive of the
involvement of Dr. Hempel, further investigations were quashed in 1961
in fear of Dr. Hempel's flight from East Germany and West German
prosecutors unlikely to prosecute him there (see Leide, pp. 332-6).
This status of suspended knowledge about children's euthanasia
continued until the mid-to-late 1990s, when an exhibition was created
at the clinic in Leipzig-Dösen (the other Kinderfachabteilung in the
area; see there) and the physician Christiane Roick
published her medical dissertation on the medical crimes there during
National Socialism, which also referred in passing to the
special children's ward in Leipzig. The current municipal
coordinator of psychiatric services in Leipzig, Dr. Thomas Seyde,
advocated for a public commemoration of the victims of "euthanasia"
crimes in Leipzig. In 1998 a number of urns were found at
the municipal Ostfriedhof with the remants of 35 T4 victims who had
been patients at Leipzig-Dösen. Christoph Buhl, who had done an
internship with Dr. Seyde, then conducted a study (his master's thesis)
on the history of eugenics and "euthanasia" in Leipzig in 2001, which
included a report on Dr. Seyde's findings concerning the locations of
victims' graves, including those of child victims, in a variety of
municipal cemeteries. In 2000 the city council passed a resolution
to establish a memorial book with the names of all victims of the
tyranny of National Socialism (here),
followed by a resolution on 13 December 2006 supportive of a
commemoration of the victims, further research, and providing
information to the public (see here).
Students and teachers in area schools created an extensive
exhibition on the subject: "505: Children's
Euthanasia-Crimes in Leipzig" (505. Kindereuthanasie–Verbrechen in
Leipzig; see exhibitions, and here)
with the support of the municipal offices of health and youth, and the
town also provides a detailed guide for students and teachers (here).
Source: Google Earth; author.
In 2008 the city council decided to support the establishment of a
memorial for child and adult victims of euthanasia (here),
located in the Ostfriedhof, where at least 70 adult and child
"euthanasia" victims from Leipzig were buried. The memorial was
established in a section of the cemetery where 35 victims and one child
victim are known to lie buried. It has a traditional style of graves of
the 1940s. The inscription on the left reads "In lasting memory to the
victims of children's euthanasia of Leipzig who rest in the surrounding
burial grounds." The inscription on the right reads "In lasting memory
to the victims of euthanasia of Leipzig who rest in the surrounding
grounds." Below the inscriptions are the names and dates of birth and
death of 35 victims. Every year from now on a wreath will be placed
there on May 8. Since none of the child victims of the children's ward
at the University Children's Clinic are known by name, these are names
of victims of the special children's ward in Leipzig-Dösen.
Prayers for the victims of euthanasia are also part of the "prayer for
peace" at the Leipzig Church of St. Nicolas (Nikolaikirche). In 2009,
its program was created by the association of the disabled (Behindertenverband Leipzig e.V.) on occasion
of the 70th anniversary of Hitler's "euthanasia" decree.
Dr. Seyde's office issued press releases asking relatives of
victims to come forward (see here).
For 2010, the city council ecided to establish a central memorial
for the victims of "children's euthanasia" in the former Neuer
Johannisfriedhof cemetery, now a public park named Friedenspark. It is
located in the vicinity of the former location of the University
Children's Clinic and believed to contain at least 100 graves of child
victims. Further information can be found here and here. It was dedicated on 6 May 2011.
The twisted path along a series of bushes and grasses symbolizes the
fear and the hopeless of the children. An inscribed text at the
entrance reads: "This is the meadow quaking grass, and this the path
farewell." It is based on a verse in a poem of the poet Christine
Lavante. Another inscription reads: "In memory of Sigrid Olympia S. (born 8
Nov. 1939; died 24 May 1941) buried here on the then Neuer
Johannisfriedhof and the more than 500 other children who fell victim
to the children's euthanasia crimes in Leipzig between 1939 an d 1945."
The website of the clinic (which was
reconstructed on the premises) mentions vaguely that under director Dr.
Catel "fascism's destructive ideology did not pass by the Clinic" (here), and no further information is provided one
of its other history pages. The Council on Disability of
the City of Leipzig (Behindertenbeirat) has considered suggesting that
a memorial plaque be established in memory of the beginning of
"children's euthanasia" in Leipzig at the university (see Lahm et. al,
p. 147). A memorial created by Matthias Klemm is expected to be placed in the Room of Silence in the Neue Augusteum.
A city memorial book for citizens in Leipzig who fell victim to the
Nazi rule (Gedenk- und Totenbuch der Leipziger Opfer der
nationalsozialistischen Gewaltherrschaft von 1933 bis 1945) was made
available online on 27 January 2010 (here). It contains the names of child victims at Leipzig-Dösen but not of the Leipziger university children's clinic.
Benzenhöfer, Udo. 2003a. "Genese
und Struktur der
'NS-Kinder- und Jugendlicheneuthanasie.'" Monatsschrift für Kinderheilkunde
———. 2003b. "Hans Heinze: Kinder und Jugendpsychiatrie und
'Euthanasie.'" Pp. 9-52 in Beiträge
zur NS-"Euthanasie"-Forschung 2002,
edited by the Arbeitskreis zur Erforschung der
nationalsozialistischen "Euthanasie" und Zwangssterilisation. Münster:
Klemm und Oehlschläger.
Buhl, Christoph. 2001. "Von der Eugenik zur Euthanasie: Eine
Spurensuche in Leipzig." Master's Thesis, Fachbereich Sozialwesen der
Hochschule für Technik, Wirtschaft und Kultur Leipzig. Here.
meene muh - und raus bist du: Kindereuthanasie in Leibzig: Eine
Erinnerung: Schüler auf der Suche nach verblassten Spuren." Available
Kaelber, Lutz. 2010. "Virtual Traumascapes: The Commemoration of Nazi ‘Children’s Euthanasia’ Online and On Site." Digital Icons: Studies in Russian, Eurasian, and Central European New Media 4: 13-44. Here.
Klee, Ernst. 2001. Deutsche Medizin im Dritten Reich: Karrieren vor und nach 1945. 2d ed. Frankfurt: Fischer.
Lahm, Berit, Thomas Seyde, and Eberhard Ulm, eds. 2008. 505: Kindereuthanasieverbrechen
in Leipzig. Leipzig: Plöttner Verlag.
Leide, Henry. 2007. NS-Verbrecher
und Staatssicherheit: Die geheime
Vergangenheitspolitik der DDR. 3d edition. Göttingen:
Christiane. 1997. "Heilen, Verwahren, Vernichten: Die Geschichte der
Sächsischen Landesanstalt Leipzig-Dösen im Dritten Reich." M.D. Diss.,
Medical College University of Leipzig.
Stadt Leipzig, Dezernat
für Schule, Jugend, Soziales und Gesundheit. 2007.
"Euthanasieverbrechen in der Zeit des Nationalsozialismus in Leipzig."
Available at http://www.leipzig.de/imperia/md/content/53_gesundheitsamt/ozialpsychiatrischerdienst/euthanasieverbrechen_schulinfo-neu.pdf.
Topp, Sascha. 2004. “Der
wissenschaftlichen Erfassung erb- und anlagebedingter schwerer Leiden’:
Organisation der Ermordung minderjähriger Kranker im
Pp. 17-54 in Kinder in der NS-Psychiatrie,
edited by Thomas Beddies and Kristina Hübener. Berlin-Brandenburg:
———. 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.