Grafeneck Euthanasia Centre
The Grafeneck Euthanasia Centre (German: NS-Tötungsanstalt Grafeneck) housed in Grafeneck Castle was one of Nazi Germany's killing centres as part of their euthanasia programme. Today, it is a memorial site dedicated to the victims of the state-authorised programme also referred to since as Action T4.
At least 10,500 mentally and physically disabled people, predominantly from Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg, were systematically killed during 1940. It was one of the first places in Nazi Germany where people were killed in large numbers in a gas chamber using carbon monoxide. This was actually the beginning of the Euthanasia Programme.
Built around 1560, the Grafeneck Castle served as a hunting lodge to the dukes of Württemberg. In the 19th Century, it was used as the Forest Service and in 1928 the Samaritan Foundation acquired it, setting up a handicapped home. In 1929, the charitable non-profit organisation Samariterstiftung established an asylum for disabled people. At the beginning of World War II in 1939, the building was confiscated by the Nazis. The killings with gas were performed between January and December 1940. Afterwards, it was used to house children and mothers with babies who had fled from the bombing of the cities. Grafeneck Castle served in as a killing center - the Nazi Euthansasieaktion (later Action T4) killed 10,654 disabled and sick people through lethal injections and gas. They were transported mainly from southern Germany and burned on site in a crematorium. The French occupying forces returned the site in 1946/47 back to the Samaritan Foundation or Samariterstiftung, who re-established it as a centre for disabled and mentally ill people and still operates to this day. Already in the fifties, the development of the cemetery began as a memorial. In 2005, the documentation center Grafeneck Memorial was finally built.
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