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.

The forgotten mass graves of the institutional cemetery were the starting point of our project. The interest was overwhelming. More than 400 people attended the events and presentations in Amstetten and St. Pölten, many of them contributed to the intensive discussions.

13 Citizen Scientists – relatives of victims, clinic employees and local historians – took on independent research supported by the project team. The grave with the number 64 was chosen as a representative of the mass graves as it can be identified on site due to a still existing mark. Based on their personal interests, Citizen Scientists researched the biographies of five buried persons as well as additional victims from Nazi “Euthanasia” from their own family, their place of residence or from various groups of victims. One participant evaluated the relevant information in the parish chronicle of Mauer-Öhling, another examined the evacuation of the old people's homes in the district of Amstetten which had been fatal for some of the residents. Due to the COVID-19 epidemic, the final session with a presentation of the results has been postponed and will now take place on November 4th, 2020 in Amstetten’s town hall. The commitment of the Citizen Scientists is having an effect: together with the hospital Mauer, a dignified presentation of the cemetery is being considered.

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|.