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Coat of arms of Irsee
Coat of arms
Irsee   is located in Germany
Coordinates: 47°54′N 10°34′E / 47.900°N 10.567°E / 47.900; 10.567Coordinates: 47°54′N 10°34′E / 47.900°N 10.567°E / 47.900; 10.567
Country Germany
State Bavaria
Admin. region Schwaben
District Ostallgäu
 • Mayor Andreas Lieb
 • Total 17.47 km2 (6.75 sq mi)
Elevation 755 m (2,477 ft)
Population (2015-12-31)[1]
 • Total 1,481
 • Density 85/km2 (220/sq mi)
Time zone CET/CEST (UTC+1/+2)
Postal codes 87660
Dialling codes 08341
Vehicle registration OAL

Irsee is a village and municipality in the district of Ostallgäu in Bavaria in Germany.

Irsee, church: Klosterkirche

The centre of the village is dominated by a monastery (Klosterbau), dedicated to the Virgin Mary, was founded in 1186 by Margrave Henry of Ronsberg to house a community that had grown up around a local hermit. It came close to collapse in the 14th century, when the community was reduced to a single monk, and was saved only by the intervention in 1373 of Anna von Ellerbach, the second founder, sister of the Bishop of Augsburg, and her appointee, abbot Conrad III, known for his extreme frugality. After severe losses during both the German Peasants' War in 1525 and the Thirty Years' War in the 17th century, including on both occasions the destruction of the library and on the second occasion of the archives, the abbey was finally able to put itself back on a stable footing in the later 17th century, and at length in 1694 was granted Imperial immediacy, becoming an Imperial abbey (German Reichsabtei). The monastery was dissolved in the German mediatization of 1802, when its lands became a part of Bavaria. The greater part of the library was moved to Metten Abbey.

In 1812 accommodation for a parish priest and local officials was set up in the monastery buildings. From 1849 the premises were used as an asylum and hospital for the mentally ill.

Euthanasia, 1939 to 1945[edit]

Between 1939 and 1945 more than 2,000 patients, both adults and children, were transported by the Nazi regime from Irsee and Kaufbeuren to death camps. On their arrival at Kaufbeuren, the Americans placed the state hospital 'off limits', as it had a large sign warning of typhus in the hospital. On July 2, 1945, two medical officers inspected the premises, where they found over 1500 neglected patients, one was ten years old and his weight was 22 pounds. The morgue was filled with bodies.[2] The hospital continued for weeks after World War II as a 'wholesale extermination plant' until Allied forces became aware of it.

At the war crimes trial at Wiesbaden, October 1945, in response to questions about the killing of those deemed 'not fit for work' due to physical illness, those responsible for the killings repeated the arguments for euthanasia.[3] The Nazi medical profession studied the brains of the victims to advance neuropathology.[4]

The hospital here operated a 'children's killing ward' for compulsory euthanasia, also known as Aktion T4. On 29 May 1945, Richard Jenne (aged four) was the last victim to be murdered by the Nazi regime in the children's ward of the hospital, more than three weeks after troops from the U.S. had occupied the town.[3][5] The Nazi extermination machine had come full circle, using German nationals. It was in this institution, and other similar ones, that basic training was provided for those who would run the death camps.[6] The site has a memorial with the words "In memory of the 2000 patients of the hospital Kaufbeuren-Irsee who were murdered between 1940 and 1945 as victims of Hitler's 'Euthanasia decree'"[7]

Hospital Closure[edit]

In 1972 the hospital was wound up. The local authority of the district of Schwaben began the restoration of the buildings in 1974, which opened as the Schwäbische Tagungs- und Bildungszentrum Kloster Irsee ("Kloster Irsee Swabian Conference and Training Centre") in 1984. The Conference Centre is home to the Schwabenakademie [1] and is used for a variety of events including the annual Kunstleben, an annual art festival, organised by the Schwabenakademie in co-operation with the University of Augsburg. It was whilst teaching on this in 2007 that the painter Clive Head and art theorist Michael Paraskos began to formulate the New Aesthetics movement in art.[8]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ "Fortschreibung des Bevölkerungsstandes". Bayerisches Landesamt für Statistik und Datenverarbeitung (in German). June 2016. 
  2. ^ Cruel World: The Children of Europe in the Nazi Web, Lynn H. Nicholas, ISBN 978-0-679-45464-9, ISBN 0-679-45464-0, 1. PROLOGUE
  3. ^ a b Henry Friedlander (1995). The Origins of Nazi Genocide: From Euthanasia to the Final Solution University of North Carolina Press, 1995. p. 163.
  4. ^ Hughes, JT. "Neuropathology in Germany during World War II: Julius Hallervorden (1882-1965) and the Nazi programme of 'euthanasia'". J Med Biogr. 15: 116–22. PMID 17551614. 
  5. ^ Suzanne E. Evans. Forgotten crimes: the Holocaust and people with disabilities. p. 93. Retrieved July 25, 2011. 
  6. ^ Cruel world : the children of Europe in the Nazi web / Lynn H. Nicholas. Library of Congress
  7. ^ Irsee Memorial
  8. ^ See Clive Head and Michael Paraskos, The Aphorisms of Irsee (London: Orage Press, 2008)