|The Gas Chamber
Hartheim Castle was converted into an
, with gas chamber and crematorium.
At the western side of the castle a wooden annex was built, in which the victims left the busses,
unnoticed by others.
During May 1940
the first 633 patients were gassed. Four drivers drove the large grey
buses of the Gekrat
organization which carried the victims to the castle, where
they disappeared into a wooden annex. After they have been gassed,
gold teeth were extracted from the corpses. After cremation, bones
were still visible among the ashes. These were pulverized to dust
with a bone mill. At least once a week a lorry left the castle and
drove to the rivers Donau and Traun to scatter the ashes into the water.
Until August 1941
the death toll of the Hartheim killing centre had
risen to 18,269. Later, during the Sonderbehandlung 14f13
operation, nearly 12,000 victims were
killed. Also more than 8,000 inmates of the concentration camps Dachau
Mauthausen / Gusen
The population near Hartheim Castle
became aware of the killings. Always, after the arrival of a grey
bus, a dark cloud appeared from an invisible chimney. On days with
low cloudbanks, the smoke spread over Hartheim town. It smelled of
burned flesh and hair, causing the townsfolk to be physically sick.
The fact that a lot of people were brought to the castle, but
nobody left it, caused rumours to be spread. To calm down the
citizens, the Hartheim authorities arranged information meetings.
The townsfolk were told that used oil had been burned. A warning
was issued against persons divulging any observations.
During December 1944 and January 1945
inmates of the
concentration camp had to dismantle
and remove the gassing installations. Most of the documents were destroyed.
© ARC 2005