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Shofar FTP Archive File: places/germany/brandenburg/brandenburg.001

Archive/File: places/germany/brandenburg/brandenburg.001
Last-Modified: 1999/05/17

"The old prison in Brandenburg on the Havel [transcription
note: near Berlin] was history's first operational killing
center. [19] The Brandenburg facility was probably chosen by
T4 for its convenient location. Its first director was Adolf
Gustav Kaufmann, chief of the T4's Inspector's Office, who
supervised the work needed to transform the prison into a
killing center. As soon as remodeling was finished, Kaufmann
turned over the installation to Irmfried Eberl, the
physician-in-charge. [21]

The actual killing facility was located on the ground floor;
a number of rooms were used for receiving and collecting the
arriving patients, undressing them, and presenting them to
the physicians. The gas chamber and the crematorium were on
the same floor. The Brandenburg gas chamber was disguised as
a shower room, but at first no showerheads were installed
and patients were therefore told that they were entering an
"inhalation room" for therapeutic reasons. Only later were
showerheads added. A small adjacent room served as storage
for the carbon monoxide tanks, and, from there, physicians
could operate the valve that allowed the gas to enter the
gas chamber.[22] The crematorium was located next to the gas
chamber and consisted of two mobile ovens attached to the
chimney of the building and heated with oil. But the chimney
was too low for this task, and flames often escaped from the
top. In addition, an unpleasant smell of burning flesh
engulfed the city. In about July 1940, the crematorium was
moved due to these problems. The mobile ovens were set up in
an isolated house surrounded by a high wooden fence and
located about three miles from town, and the corpses were
driven there in a post office van at night.[23]"
(Friedlander, 88-90)

Grafeneck was next: "Apparently ninety-five patients were
gassed at Grafeneck during January 1940 (NARA, RG338,
Microfilm Publication T-1021, roll 18, "Hartheim
Statistics," p. 2), and the first victims on 20 January were
about forty persons from Eglfing-Haar (Morlok, Grafeneck,
p.41)." (Friedlander)

Hartheim (located in Alkoven, not far from Linz, and near
the Mauthausen concentration camp) followed in May, 1940:
"Offices and staff quarters were located on the upper floors
of Hartheim Castle, while the killing installation occupied
the ground floor, which surrounded an inner courtyard. A
high fence at the west gate, through which the busses
entered, blocked the view for outsiders, and a fence inside
the courtyard hid the crematorium from arriving patients.
Various rooms for receiving, examining, and undressing
patients lined the courtyard. The gas chamber, located on
the east side of the courtyard, was disguised as a shower
room and had a capacity of up to 150 persons; as usual, the
gassing process was activated from an adjacent room. At
least two crematoria, one located in a room on the east side
of the courtyard and one in the courtyard itself, were
available for burning the corpses. The heavy smoke from the
crematoria could be observed at some distance, and the smell
of burning flesh pervaded the region; during the night, the
staff carted the ashes to the Danube River and dumped them
there.[32]" (Friedlander)

19. Although we have seen that the killing center at
Brandenburg was operational for the experimental gassing in
January 1940 at the latest, the first "regular" gassing of
patients does not seem to have taken place prior to February
1940. See NARA, RG338, Microfilm Publication T-1021, Roll
18, "Hartheim Statistics," p. 2.

21. GStA Frankfurt, Anklage Adolf Gustav Kaufmann, Js
16/63(GStA), 27 June 1966, p.29, GStA Frankfurt, Anklage
Ullrich, Bunke, Borm und Endruweit, Js (GStA), 15 January
1965, p.179.

22. Ibid. pp. 176-77

23. Ibid. pp. 177-78, 183-84 (Testimony of Erich Sporleder).

32. AMM, 13/15/3: Auszug aus der Pfarrerchronik Alkoven;
Florian Zehethofer, "Das Euthanasieprogram im Dritten Reich
am Beispiel Schloss Hartheim (1938-1945)" Oberroesterreich
Heimatblaetter 32 (1978): 42-62, esp. 53-55; DOEW, file
E18370/3: Kriminalpolizei Linz, interrogation Vincenz Nohel,
4 Sept. 1945; DOEW, file 11440: StA Linz, Anklage Franz
Stangl, Karl Harrer, Leopold Land und Franz Mayrhuber, 3 St
446/46, 24 Apr. 1948, p.5.

                         Work Cited
Friedlander, Henry. The Origins of Nazi Genocide. Chapel
Hill & London: University of North Carolina Press, 1995

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