Owinska


About ten kilometres north of Poznan lies a small town called Owinska, where was 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 banned the transfer of any patient. The Germans informed the former management that the hospital would be closed and the patients would be transferred to other hospitals.

Starting sometime in the second half of October 1939, SS Sonderkommando Lange began to pick up the patients in trucks and brought them either to Fort VII in Poznan or to a wooded area at Roznowice approx three miles north of Owinska. At Fort VII, patients were murdered in a bunker converted into a gas chamber, and at Roznowice they were shot or gassed in a truck en route 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 thus did not fulfil any function and deserved to be killed on the basis of a motive of mercy. When the patients were either murdered or moved, the mental hospital 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. Sometime around 2010 the buildings were bought by private stakeholders 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 overview 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).