Names, Graves and Memory

The Psychiatric Hospital Mauer-Öhling (Lower Austria) during National Socialism
Top Citizen Science Project

After the termination of the so-called „Action T4“ in August 1941, in which about 1,300 patients of the „Heil- und Pflegeanstalt“ Mauer-Öhling were deported to Hartheim near Linz and gassed there, murder was going on internally.
The mortality rate rose dramatically, from about five percent in the pre-war period to 18 percent by the end of 1943. The regular institutional cemetery, whose area with 1,000 graves since its establishment had been enough, soon reached its capacity limits, although the graves were reassigned after nine years. In June 1944,  therefore a piece of woodland in the north-northeast of the cemetery wall along the street Amstetten-Waidhofen was cleared to expand the cemetery by about 300 graves in five double rows.

The first patients buried on this site from 10th November 1944 onwards were victims of the euthanasia murders of the resident physicians Dr. Emil Gelny and Dr. Josef Utz. In total, another 190 patients were killed by the end of the war and thrown into mass graves on the „New Part“ - up to nine persons per shaft. By May 8, 1945, a total of 275 dead were buried on the site.

The extended part of the cemetery was abandoned in the 1980s and spruces were planted on the grave rows, which meanwhile had to be cleared again due to bark beetle infestation. Today the area is empty. There is no indication of its contaminated history, the site still awaits an appropriate design.
In May 2019, a general memorial for the victims of Nazi euthanasia – the „Himmelstreppe“ – was unveiled in today's Landesklinikum Mauer. As a further step towards a dignified commemoration, the Top Citizen Science Project aims at researching the persons buried in the extended cemetery area. The goal is to lift them from anonymity and to remember them with their names.

On the basis of the death register of the cemetery administration, the protocols and medical records at the Niederösterreichische Landesarchiv (NÖLA; Archive of Lower Austria) interested citizens should reconstruct, discuss and document a selection of the life stories of these people. The cemetery is to be transformed from a forgotten, anonymous place into a „Gedächtnisort“ (lieu de mémoire).

Following the opening ceremony in the town hall of Amstetten on 10 September 2019 at 19:00, workshops, a historical tour on the grounds of the Landesklinikum, film presentations and a visit to the NÖLA in St. Pölten are planned. The dates will be announced on time.

Project management: |mail: Martha Keil|
Project staff: |mail: Wolfgang Gasser|, |mail: Philipp Mettauer|, |mail: Tina Frischmann|
Cooperation partner: |mail: Thomas Buchner| (City Archive Amstetten)

In cooperation with the |City of Amstetten |and |Landesklinikum Mauer|. Funded by the |Austrian Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research|.