staatliche Heil- und Pflegeanstalt für Geisteskranke Wiesloch)
The Kinderfachabteilung in Wiesloch operated from
November/December 1940 at the latest (the first child had been admitted
at the end of June 1940), until probably August 1941, after no
admissions to the ward had been made after April. It
was the fifth or sixth of all "special children's wards" to
open, and the first to be established in what is today the state of
clinic's director was Dr. Wilhelm Möckel, and the deputy director and responsible for the Kinderfachabteilung
was Dr. Arthur Schreck. After Dr. Schreck found it impossible to continue with
the killing personally, a physician from the special children's ward in
Eglfing-Haar, Dr. Fritz Kühnke
(see Eglfing-Haar), came to carry out the murders. After the war, Dr.
Schreck was sentenced in Freiburg in 1950 to 12 years in prison, but he
was pardoned by the governor of the state in 1954 and worked as a
physician in Pfullendorf. He died there in 1963. Dr. Möckel died in 1954.
The number of children who died in the special
children's ward was small. 13 small children who had been admitted by
April 1941 had died between March and August 1941; one of them after
been transferred to the special children's ward in Eglfing-Haar.
According to Dr.
Schreck, the Kinderfachabteilung had been closed at the end of June
1941. Three of the children were killed by Dr. Schreck; nine, by Dr. Kühnke. Older children
and youth also had been admitted to Wiesloch and reported on
questionnaires used for the T4 action; after the sudden stop to T4
their status likely changed to "Reichsausschusskinder," and six of them
were transferred to the special children's ward in Kaufbeuren in
December 1941. This likely ended the collaboration between Wiesloch and
At the beginning of the 1943, four children/youths were admitted to the
"research station" on site. It was directed by Dr. Carl Schneider of
the University of
Heidelberg and autonomous from the Wiesloch hospital in matters
of organization, finance, and personnel. It existed between January
and March of 1943. Two of these four children/youths died there or
shortly after release, while two others were transferred to Emmendingen
and then Kaufbeuren, where one of them was killed.
Soon after the end of WWII the American major Leo Alexander,
commissioned to produce a report for the Combined Intelligence
Objectives Sub-Committee, visited Wiesloch and noted his impressions as
well as the facts he established in his report (see here: 1, 2, 3, 4). The full report contains an extensive appendix not included in the version on the Internet (see Alexander 1945).
On occasion of the 40th anniversary of the transport of the first 42
mentally ill patients of the hospital Wiesloch to the T4
killing center Grafeneck (see T4) in late February 1940 staff of the
clinic assembled to commemorate this event and to erect an almost 2
meter high wooden cross in front of the hospital chapel, with the
inscription "To the victims of the 'Program Merciful Death,'" and a
first commemorative event took place. In 1990, at the 50th anniversary
of the above-mentioned event, a larger audience witnessed the
commemorative event, and a heterogeneous group of staff,
medical personnel, and
students formed as the "Committee Infirmary and Hospital Wiesloch
During the Period of National Socialism." It included the then medical
director, Dr. Hans Dieter Middelhof,
who actively supported their activities. The committee
helped bring about a
variety of activities to shed light on the past, as well as create a
permanent memorial. A competition for a permanent memorial was
The memorial was established in April 1994, replacing the wooden cross.
The sculpture was created by artist Susanne Zetzmann. The inscription
reads: "In the years 1934 to 1945 more than 2,000 patients of the
infirmary and hospital Wiesloch were made to lose their dignity,
[they were] mistreated, and murdered. To them in commemoration, to us as a warning"
(In den Jahren von 1934 bis 1945 sind mehr als 2000 Patienten der Heil-
und Pflegeanstalt entwürdigt, misshandelt oder ermordet worden. - Ihnen
zum Gedenken, uns zur Mahnung).
The iron sculpture has the form of a circle, with a
small ring broken off, tilted upward and sunken in in part. A
possible, suggested interpretation of the memorial's shape and form is
that the larger part symbolizes the majority (bystanders, supporters,
perpetrators), while the smaller part, which sinks somewhat into the
soil, represents the minority (victims), who remain anonymous and
largely unknown. The memorial does not address the victims of the
children's ward in particular.
Since 1996, Germany has had a Day of Commemoration for the
Victims of National Socialism on 27 January, and for some years on this
day a variety of commemorative activities have taken place at the
hospital Wiesloch, although it does not appear that any one of them has
been specifically dedicated to the victims of the special children's
The web page of the clinic, today the
Psychiatrisches Zentrum Nordbaden, openly and frankly addresses
the events during the Nazi period. A local internet magazine has a detailed report on commemorative activities in 2011 and includes a list of names
In 2011, Dr. Janzowski presented new insights into
"children's euthanasia" in the context of a memorial event (see here: 1, 2)
and published a book chapter on the current state of knowledge. Dr.
Peschke has published a monograph on the asylum at Wiesloch in 2012.
Alexander, Leo. 1945. "Public Mental Health Practices in Germany:
Sterilization and Execution of Patients Suffering from Nervous or
Mental Disease." Cios Item 24 Medical. Armed Forces Supreme
Headquarters: Combined Intelligence Objectives Sub-Committee.
Arbeitskreis "Die Heil- und Pflegeanstalt Wiesloch in der Zeit des
Nationalsozialismus." 1992-1995. Schriftenreihe
des Arbeitskreises "Die Heil- und Pflegeanstalt Wiesloch in der Zeit
des Nationalsozialismus. Wiesloch: Psychiatrisches Landeskrankenhaus
Wiesloch. Available here: vol. 1, 2, 3.
Udo. 2003. "Genese
und Struktur der
'NS-Kinder- und Jugendlicheneuthanasie.'" Monatsschrift für Kinderheilkunde
"Gedenken an Euthanasieopfer: 'Organisierte Selektion zum Tode.'" Localmatador.de 06 February 2011. Available at http://www.lokalmatador.de/article/c06e3f61addc4e91b4ed590c4780e8d6/.
Janzowski, Frank. 2011. "Reichsausschusskinder und andere Minderjährige in der Wieslocher Heil- und Pflegeanstalt 1940 bis 1944." Pp. 91-120 in Kindermord und "Kinderfachabteilungen" im Nationalsozialismus: Gedenken und Forschung, edited by Lutz Kaelber und Raimond Reiter. Frankfurt: Lang.
Peschke, Franz. 2009. "Die Heil- und Pflegeanstalt Wiesloch im Dritten Reich." Public lecture. Available at http://www.ag-landeskunde-oberrhein.de/index.php?id=p492v.
———. 2012. Ökonomie, Mord und Planwirtschaft: Die Heil- und Pflegeanstalt Wiesloch im Dritten Reich. Bochum: projekt verlag.
Puvogel, Ulrike, and Martin Stankowski. 1996. Gedenkstätten
für die Opfer des Nationalsozialismus, vol. 1. 2d ed. Bonn:
Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung. Available at http://www.bpb.de/files/5JOYKJ.pdf.
"Schreck, Arthur." Wikipedia (German language) (http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arthur_Schreck)
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.
Last updated: 12 March 2013