University of Minnesota
Center for Holocaust & Genocide Studies


  • The Public, Relatives and Friends

    The Public, Relatives and Friends

    The Public, Relatives and Friends

    Maria Mathi, Wenn nur der Sperber nicht kommt, © 19SS C. Bertelsmann Verlag GmbH, München

    In her novel "Wenn nur der Sperber nicht kommt", Maria Mathi (1889-1961) described the destiny of Jews from Hadamar under the Nazi Regime. Describing the surrounding circumstances, she depicts the dark picture of the psychiatric hospital on the Mönchberg. Born in Hadamar, Mathi lived near Lake Constance during the years of the "euthanasia" crimes; in 1949, on occasion of a visit to her hometown, she gathered detailed information about the actions that were still very present in the memory of inhabitants of Hadamar.

    Note of the central security outpost of Wiesbaden regarding the public's awareness on the effects of notifications concerning death cases in mental hospitals and nursing homes, 22nd March 1941

    The killings in the mental hospitals produced permanent unrest within the population and especially in the case of relatives. In spite of the bureaucratically accurate organization of the crimes, the numerous failures of the system made the public become more and more aware of the situation: healthy inmates of the institutions died of chronic diseases within a few days, people found their death because of appendicitis, although surgery had occurred a long time ago. The report on "the public awareness" clearly shows that it took the people of Hadamar only two months to find out about the beginning of the gassings which, finally, left them with horror.

    Paulus Buscher, das Stigma, Koblenz:
    Siegfred Bublies, 1988

    Paufus Buscfier, was born in 1928, expelled from school because of belonging to the illegal Bündische jügend and was arrested by the Gestapo and sentenced to confinement in a camp (1942-1944). In his novel he describes the opening of the coffin of his aunt Katharina, kilted in Hadamar. As Catholic, he felt particularly hurt when the mortal remains were ordered to be incinerated. Although it was strictly forbidden to open a coffin, people continued to do so.

    Report of Dr. Wilhelm F on the rescue of his uncle from the Weilmünster interim institution in the year 1941, 8th June 1946

    Relatives or members of the staff of individual institutions occasionally succeeded in rescuing some inmates. Since the whole "euthanasia programme" was unlawful, even according to Nazi law, the public's awareness of the events began to pose a threat for perpetrators. They therefore tried to avoid any risk by making concessions in individual cases.

    Philippshospital, mental and nursing home, about 1920

    In 1937, the Philippshospital near Goddelau, founded in 1534 (or poor and sick women by the Hessian landgraves, held more than 1,100 places for foster children. In 1941 when the Jewish patients had already been transferred to Heppenheim, 596 men and women were transferred to Hadamar by passing through "interim institutions". In November 1943 another 243 patients were transferred to the Eichberg institution. In 1944, eight men were taken to the concentration camp of Mauthausen.