Gniezno


Just over fourty kilometres northeast of Poznan lies Gniezno (german Dziekanka) and there is a mental hospital dating from the nineteenth century. According to Nazi racial ideology, mentally handicapped people did not deserve to exist. They were considered a threat to the Aryan ideal man and his welfare and would therefore be eradicated. In the wake of the German occupation of Poland in the autumn of 1939, a murder wave of mentally ill people systematically retrieved from the Polish mental hospitals followed.

In early December 1939, a special unit called command Lange arrived at the mental hospital in Gniezno. This was a command led by Herbert Lange and had the task of murdering mentally ill people who were in mental hospitals around Poland as the Germans after the occupation of Wartheland (german district in occupied Poland).

The procedure was that before the patients were murdered, they were given a sedative syringe by a nurse. Then they were led into the cargo area of a truck. The cargo space was hermetically closed and after the doors were closed the engine was started. The engine exhaust was then led into the hermetically sealed cargo area and the patients died of carbon monoxide poisoning.

During two actions that took place in December 1929 and January 1940, approximately 1050 people were murdered. The bodies were later buried in mass graves in a wooded area at Nowaszyce, about twenty kilometres north of Gniezno. Between 1943 and 1944, a ward for children up to 14 years of age was established in the hospital. These were children who carried hereditary diseases and about 90 of about 140 children who sat in the ward were murdered based on a racial biological motive.
 

Current status: Preserved eith monument (2021).

Location: 52°38'56.42"N 17°36'21.93"E (Nowaszyce).

Get there: Car.

My comment:

After the war, the previous psychiatric care was resumed and is still ongoing. At the hospital chapel, there is a memorial plaque on the facade in honor of the patients who were murdered. In the woods around Nowaszyce, there has been a memorial monument for the victims since 2010. It is really in the middle of nowhere and can be difficult to find if you do not know where to go on the small gravel roads that are available. Not all the mass graves in which the victims were buried have been found.

Follow up in books: Friedlander, Henry: The Origins of Nazi Genocide – From euthanasia to the final solution (1995).