Schleswig-Hesterberg (Landes-, Heil- und Pflegeanstalt Schleswig-Hesterberg; since January 1934 Landesaufnahme- und Erziehungsheim)

Schleswig on a map of Germany
The Kinderfachabteilung at the Landes-, Heil- und Pflegeanstalt Schleswig-Hesterberg existed between December 1941 at the latest and February 1942. The facility on the Hesterberg was founded in 1875 and subsequently became a home for mentally disabled children and children with mental disorders. At the end of the 1930s, children who were considered difficult or deviant (called 'psychopaths' for being difficult to educate) were brought there, and in 1934 children who were wards of the state and those who needed extensive nursing care. A year later an infant station was added. It thus was one of the core facilities for the care of children and youths in the Province of Schleswig-Holstein. When in May 1940 a prison of war camp was established on the premises, conditions became cramped, and in April 1941 106 children and youths were transferred to the facility at Schleswig-Stadtfeld. On 3 February 1942 all remaining children were transferred there, as the Hesterberg was used from there on as a military reserve hospital as well as a prisoner of war camp.

The director of the institution was the administrative officer Alfred Hartwig, but responsible for medical matters and for the special children's ward was the physician Dr. Erna Pauselius, who transferred to the Stadtfeld institution with the children in February 1942. Some of the children at the Hesterberg became victims of the "T4" program and were murdered at Bernburg.

In September 1941 Dr. Pauselius took part in an internship at the Kinderfachabteilung Brandenburg-Görden, and the number of children who died at the Hesterberg increased significantly already in December 1940 and stayed at a relatively high level in 1941. Both of these facts could indicate that the special children's ward already existed before December 1941, and the latter that children were killed even before its establishment.

A total of 216 children and youths up to 16 years of age are confirmed to have died at the Hesterberg and Stadtfeld facilities between September 1939 and May 1945. For almost all of them, their medical records are extant. S. Misgajski, in Der Hesterberg (pp. 50, 53), notes that the special children's ward was not physically separated from other children's stations on the Hesterberg.

After WWII, relatives of patients who assumed that patients had been murdered filed charges, and both the state attorney's office (in Kiel) and committees of the diet of Schleswig-Holstein inquired into the subject matter, but the proceedings did not result in a trial. Following the Heyde-Sawade affair, another investigation followed between 1961 and 1965, resulting in no charges. Dr. Pauselius died in 1989.

In the late 1980s a heterogeneous ensemble of citizens and local historians recognized the lack of knowledge about the role of the psychiatric facilities in "euthanasia" in Schleswig during the Nazi period, overcoming initial resistance by the state archive to allow access to records. Symposia in the late 1980s and early 1990s, supported by the directorship of the clinic, and particularly the essay by the historian Klaus Bästlein on the special children's ward established a foundation for commemoration. Also active in the exploration of the Nazi crimes in Schlewig-Holstein, including "euthanasia," is the Arbeitskreis zur Erforschung des Nationalsozialismus in Schleswig-Holstein e. V. (AKENS), which was founded in 1983.

picture of the memorial 1 memorial dedication
memorial Stadtfeld
display at memorial
Source: Kanniess; author

In 1993 a memorial was established in the clinic Hesterberg, a column created by the sculptor Ulrich Lindow from which sound tubes are hung. They are meant to resonate with the souls of the murdered children.

sound symbol Click on sound symbol to hear a recording of the sound of the tubes.

An inscription reads: "In the 'Special Children's Ward' Schleswig between 1941 and 1945 the killing program of the Nazis against disabled and mentally ill persons was carried out. 216 children and youths died. We don't know to this day how it happened" (In der »Kinderfachabteilung« Schleswig wurde von 1941 bis 1945 das Tötungsprogramm der Nationalsozialisten gegen Behinderte und psychisch Kranke durchgeführt. 216 Kinder und Jugendliche starben. Wir wissen bis heute nicht, wie es geschah).

On occasion of the 125th anniversary of child- and youth psychiatric facilities on the Hesterberg a traveling exhibit was created (by Susanna Misgajski) in 1997, for which an accompanying catalog and book was published.

Both the Schleswig-Hesterfeld and the Schleswig-Stadtfeld facilities were part of the SCHLEI-Klinikum Schleswig owned by the DAMP group before becoming part of the HELIOS group under the same name. The company's website does not refer to history of the facilities.


Bästlein, Klaus. 1991a. 'Die "Kinderfachabteilung' Schleswig 1941 bis 1945." Informationen zur Schleswig-Holsteinischen Zeitgeschichte 20:16-45.

———. 1991b. "Die 'Kinderfachabteilung' Schleswig 1941 bis 1945." Schleswig-Holsteinisches Ärzteblatt 63:18-34.

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

Bergen, Hendrike van, Alfred Ebeling, and Christian Radtke. 1998. "Der Gesprächskreis Erzählte Geschichte in Schleswig: Erfahrungen und Ergebnisse aus der Arbeit einer lokalen Geschichtswerkstatt." Informationen zur Schleswig-Holsteinischen Zeitgeschichte 33/34: 219-26. Available at http://www.akens.org/akens/texte/info/33/333417.html.

Godau-Schüttke, Klaus-Detlef. 2010. Die Heyde/Sawade-Affäre: Wie Juristen und Mediziner den NS-Euthanasieprofessor Heyde nach 1945 deckten und straflos blieben. Baden-Baden: Nomos (esp. pp. 103-8).

Heesch, Eckhard. 2004. "Marylene: Ein behindertes Kind im 'Dritten Reich'." Informationen zur Schleswig-Holsteinischen Zeitgeschichte 43 (April): 24-63.

Jenner, Harald. 1995. Die Geschichte einer Psychiatrischen Klinik: Schleswig-Stadtfeld. Schleswig: Fachklinik für Psychiatrie, Neurologie und Rehabilitation Schleswig.

Kanniess, Jens-Ulrich. 1994. "216 Kinder starben in der 'Kinderfachabteilung' Schleswig. – Staatsanwaltschaft untätig? Der Eppendorfer: Zeitung für Psychiatrie 9:25-26.

Landesarchiv Schleswig-Holstein, ed. 1997. Der Hesterberg: 125 Jahre Kinder- und Jugendpsychiatrie und Heilpädagogik in Schleswig: Eine Ausstellung zum Jubiläum der Klinik für Kinder- und Jugendpsychiatrie und Psychotherapie sowie des Heilpädagogikums in Schleswig. Schleswig: Selbstverlag des Landesarchivs Schleswig-Holstein.

Misgajski, Susanna. 2006. "Der Hesterberg." Pp. 68-77 in Schleswig-Holsteinische Erinnerungsorte, edited by C. Fleischhauer and G. Turkowski. Heide: Boyes Buchverlag.

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

Schwarz, Rolf. 1986. "Ausgrenzung und Vernichtung kranker und schwacher Schleswig-Holsteiner: Fragen zu einem unbearbeiteten Problem der Geschichte unseres Landes von 1939-1945." Demokratische Geschichte 1: 317-38.

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.

Last updated on 14 Feb. 2015