University of Minnesota
Center for Holocaust & Genocide Studies


  • WWII: Militarisation of Society

    WWII: Militarisation of Society

    World War II: Militarisation of Society

    Prohibition of Sunday visits to the Kalmenhof mental hospital, 20th January 1941

    With reference to the war situation, the directors of the institutions tried to shield the inmates from outside contacts such as visits or letters, in order to keep the crimes within the institutions secret from the public:

    Budgets of the Haina, Marburg and Merxhausen mental hospitals for the fiscal year 1942

    Since the outbreak of the war, all welfare institutions of both the province of Hesse-Nassau and of the Republic of Hesse provided considerable room, sometimes even the whole institution to the Wehrmacht in order to lodge German soldiers and war-prisoners. This was partly achieved by transferring and killing approximately 3.000 inmates of the Hessian institutions in the year 1941 and by concentrating those individuals that remained in the institutions.

    Housing of war-prisoners with the Dynamit-A.G, Allendorf in the men's house 5 of the Marburg mental hospital, 14th March 1941

    In November 1940, the chief executive had signed a contract according to which the "Dynamit-Aktien-Gesellschaft" had obtained two buildings from the mental hospital (men's house 5 and women's house 5) for housing its forced laborers. The company kept the premises until March 1942. Every day, the prisoners working In the armaments industry (production of explosives) were taken to the factory in Allendorf (today Stadtallendorf). Up to 25.000 prisoners were forced to work there in three of its buildings for the German Wehrmacht, under conditions that were both inhuman and extremely hazardous for their health.

    Women's House V of the Marburg mental hospital (1931)

    In 1941/42, the building housed forced female laborers of the factory "Allendorf" belonging to the "Dynamit-Aktien-Gesellschaft". Their exact number is unknown.
    This and some other similar buildings of the mental hospital established in 1876 and constructed in the "style of pavilions", maintained a close relation with the university of Marburg and was originally designed to provide room for small groups of approximately 20 mentally sick women or men intended to live there "like a family". The clear and fresh basements offered room for workshops.

    Request of the mental hospitals to provide for more accommodation, 13th March 1944
    Circular letter

    The letter of state commissioner Scheilmann followed after a corresponding information by the "Reich commissioner for the mental hospitals", that was circulated a year before, with the clear message that priority should be given to the "productive" population: "in cases of special distress we must not accept that physically sick people have to be lodged outdoor or under the most primitive condition, whereas the beds in institutions are reserved for the mentally sick depending on care..:"

    Block 13 of the reserve war hospital Merxhausen, summer 1943

    merxhausen block 13