Saturday, November 22, 2014

A Local Clinic

I live in an area of Germany (within twenty miles of Wiesbaden) that has had its share of sorrow and woes over history.

In 1242, the local folks around Wiesbaden had upset the Catholic Bishop of Mainz, who maintained some control over the region.   The Bishop sent over some thugs....and burned a good portion of Wiesbaden down to the ground. 

From WW II, roughly 4,000 Jews from around Wiesbaden were rounded up and sent off to death or concentration camps.

From 1676/77, the local town of Idstein conducted witch trials and sentenced off 39 men and women to death.

Toward the conclusion of WW II....the US and UK conducted bombing runs over the train station just over the hill from where I live and destroyed the whole railway, and just about every house within walking distance of the station.

So, this week, I came around to Hadamar.....a town just north of Limburg, maybe twenty minutes driving distance from my place.

Hadamar has a fascinating little history.  In 1883, some medical group got some funding and renovated a former monastery into a clinic.  The original concept was to take vagrants and "nuts" from the region, and intern them within a walled community, and attempt to treat them.  There might have been some positive aspects with the plan in the beginning, but with all's not easy to follow the moral trail.

236 rooms for men, and 80 rooms for women were set up.  It was generally supported by the state health care apparatus created by Bismarck.  

Over a twenty-year period, it progressed from a treatment simply a holding facility.  

After the Kaiser was kicked out and new governmental reforms occurred in the 1920s....Hadamar found itself various practices to include sterilization and euthanasia.   The government finally stepped in by 1927 and deemed these to be inappropriate.  

As the Nazi era came into effect (1930s).....the state apparatus gradually changed.  Less funding became one of the objectives of the new structure of health control.....based mostly out of Berlin, instead of individual states.

Hadamar needed more of a gimmick to ensure it's financial survival.  In 1939, Hadamar became the place where you sent German kids with serious issues to be sterilized.  The Berlin folks made it a funded project.  At some point, the evaluation went to a new stage where euthanasia was accepted (easily in fact).  Within six months, the new attitude was that you didn't need to limit this to just could do the same thing with adults.

The local gas chamber at the facility went into full operation, and by the end of summer of 1941....they'd done the job on 10,000 individuals.  Note, these were, crazies, adults with mental issues, women who'd married Jews, disturbed guys left over from WW I, etc.

This entire operation was known throughout the community and openly became a treat that teachers would use on students...suggesting they'd be sent off to the ovens if they were cooperative. At some point near the end of 1941....the Catholic Bishop sent off a letter to Berlin....noting that this was fully known by the public and not being condoned or accepted well.

For some reason, the Hitler staff made a decision to temporarily shut down the operation by the end of 1941.  

This was short-lived....with the operation starting back up in 1942.  The new method was to avoid the gas chambers and crematorium methods....simply using old-fashioned euthanasia on incoming patients.

The groups?  After 1942, the list simply got wider.  German Army solders who'd suffered shell-shock....were being sent there.  Germans at the facility were killing their own society, without any reservations.

All total?  Generally, the number with phase I and II....come near 15,000 killed.  Most all were Germans.  

When the US Army arrived in the spring of's difficult to figure out how they stumbled upon the operation.  Nothing much is written of this discovery.  I would suspect that some locals got into a conversation with approaching US Army personnel....told them of the facility and figured that would finally settle the problem for the locals.

The Army walked in and came to be fairly shocked at the extent of the operation.  By the end of 1945....there was one significant problem with the charging of crimes on this.  They had enough rules in the book for war crimes, but simply killing your own countrymen....that wasn't in the book of rules.  So, they invented a new rule called rule number 'ten', which involved crimes against humanity.  

The investigation continued, and by 1947, Germany had established a court process to handle 'euthanasia' crimes.  They eventually hanged three of the folks who ran the establishment.  

Hadamar?  After WW II.....there was some agreement that there were still a number of mentally ill people around, and the facility made sense to keep open.  Today, it's a mental facility with modern buildings and some plaques on the wall to note it's long history.  Buried around the facility are the remains of the 15,000-odd folks.

How many sterilizations took place there?  Unknown.  From Germany as of a total, it was near 400,000.  You can figure that tens of thousands probably were greeted at the gate of Hadamar, and a day later were sterilized.  In some ways, you can look around Germany today, adding up the men lost in the World War I/II, and the Germans forced under sterilization, and note the zero-population growth attained in today's atmosphere.

There's a phrase that fits Darwinism.  Basically....society working to evolve itself, within it's own medical means, and ensure the fittest and more mentally capable folks carry society forward.

For me, this is an odd piece of history from the local region.  How many folks know the story?  I'd take a guess that barely one or two percent know the whole story.  It's not a pleasant thing that you'd like to share or discuss.

Photo:  Date is probably around the summer of 1941 before they were told to shut down for phase one.  Smoke is from the crematorium on the site.  

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