Magazine of the INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION AGAINST PSYCHIATRIC ASSAULT
No. 2 - September 2004
The Bernburg case
Bernburg: formerly a psychiatric extermination institution in the national socialist era, today a psychiatric and forensic hospital
The text shown on the next website is taken from the memorial plaque which members of the international organization IAAPA (International Association Against Psychiatric Assault) installed in the memorial site in Bernburg on May 2, 2004, which is a day of commemoration of the medical mass murder in Germany in 1939-1948 and the day of resistance against psychiatric violations of human rights.
From 1939 to 1948 an estimated 300,000 psychiatric prisoners were systematically murdered in Germany. The murders began with the so-called "Aktion T4", which lasted from 1939 to 1941. Altogether at least 275,000 people (according to data of the Nuremberg Tribunals) were murdered in the periodof 1939 to 1945 - the end of the National Socialist regime. But the murders by systematic starvation in the psychiatric prisons in Germany continued up to 1948/49, so that still 25,000 victims must be added to the number given by the Nuremberg Tribunal.
This was also the case in Bernburg, where a psychiatric institution was established in 1875. During the late summer of 1940 the "Gemeinnuetzige Stiftung fuer Anstaltspflege" ("Non-profit Foundation for Institutional Care"), was given a part of the grounds and there began the so-called "Euthanasia of mentally ill patients", a designation used by the National Socialists for masking the murders, similar to the designation "final solution of the Jewish question".
In Bernburg is one of the two still existing gas chambers, in which 8,601 people went to their death during the "Aktion T4".
After 1945 the systematic murders continued in the institutions up to 1948 - the same personnel as in 1945 left the inmates to hunger to death by the withdrawing their meal rations.
The psychiatric institution in Bernburg still exists today and is still in use. A memorial site, a psychiatric hospital and a forensic ward (psychiatric prison) are all on the same premises. In this building the former gas chamber and the dissection area are in the cellar; in floors above are the offices of the psychiatrists, who today limit themselves to locking people up and inflicting bodily harm by coercive treatment with psycho-drugs and electrical shocks. The psychiatric inmates look onto this building from their sleeping quarters and could - if they were allowed to leave - make an edifying walk to the place where, had they lived 65 years earlier, they would have been exterminated for being "degenerated" (Entartete) and "unworthy of living" ("Lebensunwerte"). And the entrance to the work therapy can be fouind at the foot of the chimney of the former cremation oven...
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