University of Minnesota
Center for Holocaust & Genocide Studies


  • Recognition of the victims

    Recognition of the victims

    Recognition of the victims, Coping with the past and rememberance

    Opposing the stigma - "Bund der Zwangssterilisierten" (Association of the victims of forced sterilization) founded in Detmold, February 1987
    "Bund der "Euthanasie"-Geschädigten and Zwangssterili-sierten e.V" (Association of 'euthanasia' and forced sterilisation victims).

    Immediately after the war, an Association of the Victims of Forced Sterilization and "Euthanasia" was founded with the objective to strive for the concerns of those involved. However, most of its members were not even accepted by the established associations for the victims of persecution. Frustrated, the association finally decided its dissolution.

    In 1960, the Reparations Committee of the German Parliament dealt with the issue of compensation claims by this group of victims; however, the result of these deliberations was negative. Those involved remained excluded from the Federal Compensation Law. It was not until 1981 that the Government agreed to establish a fund designed to indemnify individual, cases for their hardships by means of a single payment amounting to up to 5,000 - DM. Since 1988, compensation for the damages to the victims' health could be requested. From spring 1990, inmates of institutions who were subjected to forced sterilization were entitled to obtain monthly allowances amounting to 200 - resp. 100 DM.

    The "Bund der "Euthanasie"-Geschädigten and Zwangssterilisierten", founded in 1986, stands up for the recognition of both the victims of forced sterilization and of "euthanasia" as victims of the unlawful Nazi regime. It represents the interests of the victims before the Parliament and the federal states, informs them on their rights, and assists them in submitting applications for support with the authorities.

    Relief for the remembrance of the "euthanasia" victims in the entrance hall of the psychiatric hospital Hadamar dating 1952.

    In the fifties, Hadamar began to remember the persons murdered in this institution. Of course, there were reports from the postwar trials, but the motor for early measures aiming at the memory of the victims in Hesse was the deputy Landesdirektor of the Landeswohi-fahrtsverband Hessen, Dr. Friedrich Stöffler (1894-1982) who had published a first study on the "euthanasia" crimes in Hesse in 1961.

    Human being should respect human being Stele on the Hadamar cemetery, 1964

    In 1964, the Hadamar cemetery was inaugurated by Kirchenpräsident Martin Niemöller, as a Memorial for the victims of "euthanasia".

    Inauguration of a memorial plate in the psychiatric hospital Herborn, 1989

    Since the beginning of the eighties, dealing with and understanding of the occurrences in the institutions under the Nazi period, and the remembrance of the victims is getting more and more important for both the individual welfare system institutions and the responsible authorities in Hesse. Memorial events and discussions as well as the establishment of reminder and memorial plates are the start of an intensive effort to deal with the crimes of the past.

    Hadamar Memorial, 1990

    In 1990, the Hadamar memorial, located in the center of the "euthanasia" crimes in Hesse, was re-organized. In addition to the remaining installations of the gas¥killings of 1941, still very visible and touching, a large-scale exhibition now informs on the occurrences during the Nazi era.

    a memorial