|The Gas Chamber
a mental home with a capacity of 132 beds was founded in 1875
. During late
summer of 1940
a section of the complex was leased to the Gemeinnützige
Stiftung für Anstaltspflege
(Public Welfare Foundation for Mental Nursinghomes), better known as
. From then onwards Bernburg mental home was
divided into a regular institute and an euthanasia killing site.
Within four weeks during October/November 1940
, 80 m2
of the cellar at the former Männerhaus 2
(Men House No.2) were converted into a killing facility:
1. A small room was equipped with a peephole, the walls and floor were tiled.
In this gas chamber (14 m2
) 8,601 people were killed during the euthanasia Aktion T4
2. Another room was converted into a crematory by installing two cremation ovens.
3. A dissecting room.
4. A mortuary.
|The Location of the Gas Chamber
The killing started on 21 November 1940
with 25 persons of the
mental home at
who became the first victims.
served as a Zwischenanstalt
(Intermediate Home). In Bernburg
the extermination procedure was the same as in other euthanasia killing centres:
-undressing and handing over of the valuables (rings, watches etc.) to the
-a superficial inspection of the victims, to see which plausible
cause of death the Bernburg administration could pass on to the
-taking photos of the victims,
-taking the doomed persons to the gas chamber and gassing
-cremation of the corpses in the institute's ovens,
-filling the urns with ash, (it was unimportant to the staff
from which particular corpse the ash came)
-dispatching urn and death certificate to the relatives.
In Bernburg the incoming victims were killed at once. Big grey buses entered the wooden
. The garage doors were closed, then
the victims were allowed to leave the bus. Through a corridor they were led
to the ground floor. In several rooms they were examined etc.
Victims having physically special features, were marked
with a red cross on their back, by the doctors. In groups of 60-75
they were ordered downstairs to the cellar, accompanied by
"nurses". After gassing, the two gas chamber doors remained closed
for one hour, until the room was ventilated. Next to the gas
chamber was the dissection room. After gassing the marked victims
were sorted out and the doctors performed an autopsy on their
corpses. The others were cremated immediately by the "burners" in the heating house where
a crematory oven was connected with the large
of the heating.
Photos: Dr Ute Hoffmann, Bernburg Memorial
© ARC 2005