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Gedenkstätte am Steinhof - the Museum of Nazi Medical Crime “War against the Inferior”

Updated: May 10

Join us for a visit to a museum with one of the saddest stories in Vienna, the Centre of Nazi Medical Crimes at Steinhof in Vienna.

The Nazi gave medicine a whole new task - to weed out people that were designated as inferior. In the “people’s community”, Volksgemeinschaft there was no room for the handicapped or the mentally sick, let alone for members of social fringe groups. They were all persecuted, imprisoned and abandoned to annihilation.

What is today know as Otto Wagner Hospital in Steinhof, was a centre of Nazi medical murder centre after the Anschluss in 1938. More than 7,550 persons were killed.

Over 800 sick or handicapped children and young people perished in the “children’s war Am Spiegelgrund between 1940 and 1945. Operation T4 deported over 3,200 patients to Hartheim Castle near Linz where they were murdered. After Operation T4 was officially closed, “euthanasia” was continued by letting further 3,500 patients die due to hunger, neglect and infection.

What remains a big shame in Austria, the remains of the victims of the Am Spiegelgrund clinic were used in medical research until 1980’s and were only interred in an honorary grave at the Vienna Central Cemetery as late as in 2002 and the remains of victims of the “decentralised euthanasia” even later - in May 2012.

The exhibition in Pavilion V of the current Otto Wagner-Spital takes us through a comprehensive overview of this sad era in Austrian history, the circumstances and consequences of the medical crimes of the Austrian Nazis in Vienna.

Some of the most powerful parts include a series of videos of twelve survivors of the Viennese Spiegelgrund telling their life stories where the childhood memories are intertwined between the difficult social conditions at the time, by adverse family circumstances, and by the coldness and violence prevailing in those institutions revealing the brutality with which the National Socialist youth welfare system proceeded against social outsiders, but also highlight the glaring continuities after 1945.

The Viennese euthanasia clinic Am Spiegelgrund scrupulously listed all deaths from the clinic's foundation in July 1940 to the end of the war. The Book of the Dead lists the names of 789 Spiegelgrund victims, with the dates of their birth, committal to the clinic, and death.

There is no museum shop in the museum. There is a small loo at the entrance. There is no café even anywhere in the vicinity but you need to return to the centre to cool down the emotions after the visit.

The museum is not good for persons in wheelchairs or with a pram as the only way in is through stairs.

As you are in Steinhof, you might also consider visiting the two other museums in the compound. Check our reviews for the extraordinarily beautiful Otto Wagner Kirche and VIenna's Queer Museum .

Pavillon V (V Tract), Otto Wagner-Spital

Baumgartner Höhe 1 1145 Vienna


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