Meseritz – Obrawalde

Between September 1939 and August 1941 there was a program in Germany called T4. This was a program that legalized the murder of mentally and physically disabled people/patients and was in line with the Nazi racial ideology that only healthy and healthy people had the right to exist. Special psychiatrists had been appointed by the heads of T4 to assess whether patients in mental hospitals around Germany had the right to live or would be mercifully killed. The patients who were not considered to have the right to live were sent to one of the six euthanasia centers established around Germany. The victims were murdered in small gas chambers and cremated in ovens. Protests by the public and clergy, however, forced Hitler to end the T4 program in August 1941. Up til then, some 70,000 German citizens had been killed.

This did not mean that euthanasia was terminated, on the contrary, it instead became more arbitrary and uncontrolled and therefore came to be called wild euthanasia. Nor was it confined to a few hospitals, but it went on to mental hospitals throughout occupied Europe. In time, it lasted until the end of the war. If the victims of the official euthanasia were murdered in the gas chamber, they would be murdered under the wild euthanasia with poison injections, starvation or shooting. The victims were then buried in a forest or existing cemetery. The number of victims is impossible to determine but amounted to at least 200,000.

One of the most feared hospitals where the wild euthanasia was carried out was in the Meseritz-Obrawalde mental hospital (now Miedzyrzecz in Poland). In early 1942, the first transports with patients arrived in Obrawalde. Registered nurses received the patients and brought them to special rooms where the patients were murdered. The murders were carried out either by a doctor or by a nurse. For moral reasons, there were always at least two nurses who took part in the murders in order to distribute the moral burden of responsibility. The victims were then buried in mass graves just outside the hospital area and a false death certificate with a false cause of death was sent to the victim’s relatives. The victims came from at least 26 German cities and for discreet reasons the transports arrived at night. The number of patients killed in Obrawalde is estimated to be around 10,000.

Current status: Partly preserved/demolished with museum (2017).

Address: Poznanska 109, 66-300 Miedzyrzecz.

Get there: Car.

My comment:

The wild euthanasia can be difficult to grasp because it was just wild and more or less arbitrary. Interestingly, it was parallel to the better-known Holocaust. Actually, it started earlier and went on longer in terms of the time interval. There is every reason to believe that the Nazis were as anxious to destroy every mentally/physically disabled person as they were to annihilate every Jew within the Nazi sphere of influence.

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