ARC Main Page Gas Chambers Overview

The Gas Chamber at Bernburg

Last Update 12 July 2006


The Gas Chamber
The Cellar
In Bernburg (near Magdeburg) 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 Aktion T4. 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 Neuruppin who became the first victims. Neuruppin 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 personnel,

-a superficial inspection of the victims, to see which plausible cause of death the Bernburg administration could pass on to  the relatives,
-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.

Fake Showers
Fake Showers
Dissecting Table
Dissecting Table
In Bernburg the incoming victims were killed at once. Big grey buses entered the wooden garage. 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 chimney of the heating.

Photos: Dr Ute Hoffmann, Bernburg Memorial

© ARC 2005