About ten kilometres north of Poznan lies a small town called Owinska, and there lied at the time of the outbreak of the Second World War Poland’s oldest mental hospital. When the Germans occupied Owinska in mid-September 1939, the hospital was taken over by the germans. The German commissioner who became the temporary head of the hospital requested patient lists and did not allow any patient being removed from the hospital. The Germans informed the hospital’s management that the hospital would be closed and the patients would be moved.

Starting sometime in the second half of October 1939, SS Sonderkommando Lange, used trucks to remove patients and take them either to Fort VII in Poznan or to Roznowice forest, about thirty kilometres north of Owinska. At Fort VII, patients were murdered in a bunker converted into a gas chamber. At Roznowice they were shot or gassed in the truck’s hermetically sealed cargo space on the way to Roznowice. Wherever they were murdered, they were buried in mass graves at Roznowice. The entire procedure was supervised by the SS. By the end of November, up to maybe 1,000 patients had been murdered.

The murders were part of the Nazi racial ideology that people who carried mental illnesses were a threat to healthy people and that they were an economic and social burden on society. They were seen as useless people and unworthy of life. After the hospital had been emptied it became a military facility.

Current status: Partly preserved/demolished (2021).

Location: 52°30' 42.42" N 16°58' 50.40" E

Get there: Car.

My comment:

The Mental hospital was closed after the war and the buildings began to decay. Sometimes around 2010 the buildings were bought by private owners and it is now surrounded by fences and walls where unauthorized persons do not have access. It can therefore be difficult to get a good view of the location. What might happen to the buildings, I do not know. There seems to be no monument or memorial plaque on the site.

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