|Owinska Mental Home
Owinska is a town near Poznan (about 10 km north of Poznan). Its Mental Home was the oldest hospital
for mental ill people in the Wielkopolska region.
The German army occupied Owinska in mid-September 1939
The mental home was taken over by the
of Poznan. A Nazi commissioner was put in charge of the mental home.
The new chief demanded a list of all Owinska patients and forbid discharging anyone from the hospital.
The staff was told that Owinska mental home should be closed and all patients transferred to other
The SS Sonderkommando Lange
was ordered to Owinska for
exterminating all patients.
In the second half of October 1939
, the first patients
were picked up by military trucks, under
surveillance of SS men. 1-3 trucks left Owinska Mental Home every day. The staff of the hospital
didn't know where they went and why.
At first all men were deported, followed by the women, finally 78 children were sent to death
on 11 November 1939
. Until 30 November 1939
the Owinska Mental Home was empty, apart from a few persons for economic affairs.
|Entrance to Fort VII
A lot of the patients were killed in a primitive gas chamber at
in Poznan. Later mobile gas chambers (gas vans) drove the people to
During the drive all victims were killed by exhaust fumes.
Each incoming truck at Fort VII held around 25 persons. After their arrival they were brought
into a gas chamber which was installed in a bunker in the court of Fort VII. The closed door was
sealed with clay. The prisoners had to stay in the gaschamber when the SS installed gas cylinders
with (probably) carbon monoxide besides the entrance. When all victims were dead, a special group
of regular prisoners were forced to open the door and to remove the killed persons. The corpses
were loaded onto trucks and driven away.
The names of the victims are still unknown because all documents have been destroyed obviously.
The names of the Fort VII staff you can read here
The commanders were: SS-Sturmbannführer Herbert Lange
(10-16 October 1939
SS-Hauptsturmführer Hans Weibrecht
(16 October 1939
until June or July 1940
(summer 1940 until 1941
) and SS-Obersturmführer
(1943 until 1944
Between 1941 and 1943
, the camp was led by these men (commanders or deputies):
Langes, Mollendorf, Wagner and Werner
|A Staff Member
During the war Owinska Mental Home was converted into barracks for SS men. In course of the German
army's retreat the building was burned down partially in the summer of 1944
The hospital never has been reactivated.
For many prisoners Fort VII was a temporary prison. Later they were brought to other
concentration camps, mainly to Auschwitz, Dachau, Ravensbrück
. The last remaining prisoners were sent to the
Most probably the Nazis killed around 10,000–15,000 persons at Fort VII by torture,
executions and gassing. Only 479 victims can be proved. Today Fort VII is a
See Fort VII Ground Plan
Marian Olszewski: “Fort VII in Poznan”
Prof. Zdzislaw Jaroszewski publications
© ARC 2005