1784 Narrenturm ("Fools' Tower") erected in Vienna's General Hospital under Joseph II
1853 Lower Austrian Lunatic Asylum founded on the Brünnlfeld (in today's 9th district of Vienna)
1859 With his book "On the Origins of Species by Means of Natural Selection or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life", the English naturalist Charles Darwin (1809-1882) revolutionises the natural sciences. Subsequent scientists and ideologues apply Darwin's theories, especially about the survival of the fittest through selection in the "struggle for life" not only to animal and plant species, but also to human society ("Social Darwinism").
1868 The German zoologist and natural philosopher Ernst Haeckel (1834-1919) promotes Social Darwinist ideas in his work "Natürliche Schöpfungsgeschichte" ("Natural History of Creation").
1883 Francis Galton, a cousin of Charles Darwin, introduces the idea of eugenics into scientific discourse. He advocates systematic incentives by the State to encourage the English elite to marry early and beget numerous offspring; in this manner, the "number of the excellent" could increase from generation to generation.
1895 Alfred Ploetz (1860-1940), main proponent of German racial hygiene, publishes his major work "Die Tüchtigkeit unserer Rasse und der Schutz der Schwachen" ("The Excellence of our Race and the Protection of the Weak"), which calls for a "genetic improvement", i.e. a radical restructuring of society along sociobiological and racist principles. In contrast to the "eugenicists", the völkisch-nationally orientated advocates of racial hygiene around Ploetz also postulate a genetic hierarchy of the various "races" (Ayrians forming the top).
1903 The physician Wilhelm Schallmayer (1857-1919) publishes his treatise "Vererbung und Auslese im Lebenslauf der Völker" ("Heredity and Selection in Peoples' Generations"), which becomes the leading standard work on eugenics.
1904 Alfred Ploetz launches the magazine "Archiv für Rassen- und Gesellschaftsbiologie" ("Archive for Racial and Social Biology"), which is distributed internationally.
1905 Ploetz establishes the Society for Racial Hygiene in Berlin, and the German Society for Racial Hygiene in 1910.
1907 18. October The Niederösterreichische Landes-Heil- und Pflegeanstalt für Geistes- und Nervenkranke "Am Steinhof" is opened. It comprises 34 pavilions (clinic, nursing home, sanatorium) and has an overall capacity of 2,200 beds.
1914-1918 In the course of World War I almost 2,800 Steinhof patients succumb to infectious diseases and the drastic scarcity of food.
1920 The expert in penal law, Karl Binding (1841-1920) and the psychiatrist Alfred Hoche (1865-1943) are the first to coin the term lebensunwert ("unworthy to live") in their paper "Liberalising the Destruction of Unworthy Lives. Scope and Form", in which they advocate the right to kill the incurably sick. The paper triggers a vehement discussion on euthanasia in the Weimar Republic.
1924/1925 Foundation of the Viennese Society for Racial Hygiene. The first president is Professor Otto Reche, who has been called from Hamburg to Vienna to become head of the university's Department of Anthropology. His deputy is the hygienist Professor Heinrich Reichel. The Society plays a central role in the promulgation of eugenicist ideas at the universities and in public even before 1938. The members, some of them notable scientists, largely come from the German völkisch and anti-Semitic academic milieu.
1927 Publication of the book "Sterilisation by Law of Mentally Handicapped People" by the Catholic theologist Joseph Mayer, who argues that the sterilisation of mentally sick people is compatible with the principles of Catholic moral theology. With this theological opinion Mayer remains in a minority position within the Catholic church.
1928 In a speech for the "Österreichischer Bund für Volksaufartung und Erbkunde", the Social Democrat Julius Tandler, Viennese City Councillor for Welfare, advocates the "sterilisation of the inferior". The Social Democrats also discuss questions of population policies which despite their social focus aim at "hygienising" society and eliminating fringe groups.
1931 The "Wiener Klinische Wochenschrift", published by the Viennese Society of Physicians, publishes a contribution of Heinrich Reichel's on "Alfred Ploetz and the Contemporary Eugenic Movement". Eugenic ideas are published in respectable media by eminent scientists such as Nobel laureate Julius Wagner-Jauregg. The latter's essay "Modern Eugenics" (1935) shows numerous parallels with the Nazi health policies carried out since 1933.
1931 The "Centralausschuss der Evangelischen Inneren Mission" establishes an expert conference on "Eugenics and Welfare". At the first conference in Treysa from 18-20 May 1931 the sterilisation of mentally sick people is described as "religiously and morally justifiable" in certain cases.
1933 30. January Adolf Hitler becomes chancellor of the German Reich. The National Socialists seize power in Germany. Racism and racial hygiene are now part of state ideology and form a central component of Nazi policy.
1933 14 July The "Law for the Prevention of Hereditary Sick Progeny" is passed, on the basis of which almost 260,000 people in the German Reich are subjected to forced sterilisations until 1940 alone.
1934 3 April The "Law for the Standardisation of the Health System" enables the creation of a nationwide net of public health offices in charge of carrying out "genetic and racial hygiene".
1935 15 September The Nuremberg Laws are decreed at the Nuremberg Rally: the Gesetz zum Schutz des deutschen Blutes, or Blutschutzgesetz, criminalises intermarriage of "Jews" and "non-Jews" and any extra-marital sexual intercourse between "Jews" and "citizens of German blood". It also forbids female German citizens under 45 to be employed in a "Jewish household". According to the Reichsbürgergesetz, only "citizens of German or racially related blood" now count as citizens of the Reich; "Jews" are merely classified as citizens who no longer have a claim to civil rights. The Reichsbürgergesetz forms the legal basis for countless further anti-Jewish and racist laws and regulations. Already at the Nuremberg Rally Hitler announces the extermination of handicapped, mentally ill and nonconformist people - "millstone existences" and "useless eaters" - in a conversation with Reichsärtzeführer Gerhart Wagner.
1935 18 October The Gesetz zum Schutz der Erbgesundheit des deutschen Volkes ("Marriage Health Law") enables the public health offices to prevent marriages deemed undesirable from the point of view of genetic and racial hygiene.
1938 12. March Anschluss of Austria with the German Reich: the former Austrian health system begins to be restructured on the model of the Altreich. Vienna's public health offices start a genetic "stock-taking" of the city's population by means of a "genetic file" supposed to register all "inferior" people. By 1945, more than 700,000 file-cards have been compiled. With the Anschluss, the Jewish population begins systematically to be driven out of all areas of the health and welfare system. The anti-Jewish laws and regulations now also coming into force in Austria gradually ruin the social and economic existence of Jewish doctors. A majority of these succeed in escaping abroad, mainly to the United States and Great Britain. Also affected by the expulsion are Jewish university teachers; they are largely replaced by doctors coming from the Nazi movement.
1938 July Jewish doctors lose their contracts.
1938 30 September The "fourth amendment" to the Reichsbürgergesetz annihilates Jewish doctors' licences. Only Jewish Krankenbehandler are permitted for the remaining Jewish population. There now live 370 Jews in Vienna, and by 1945 the number is reduced to almost zero through expulsion and deportations to concentration camps and ghettoes.
1939 Summer "The Knauer case": The parents' request to Hitler to sanction "mercy killing" of their severely handicapped "child K." initiates the practice of "children's euthanasia".
1939 18 August A secret decree of the Reich Ministry of the Interior obliges all midwives and senior doctors in maternity wards to report to the respective public health offices any case of deformity (idiocy, mongolism, microcephaly, hydrocephalus, misshapen limbs) and infants up to the age of 3 suffering from these. This decree can be seen as the prelude to "children's euthanasia".
1939 1 September German attack on Poland. Start of World War II. Hitler's "authorisation" to grant "mercy killing" to the "incurably sick" bears the date of the outbreak of war - it was presumably given at a later date and antedated. The chief of the Führer's Chancellery, Reichsleiter Philipp Bouhler, and Hitler's doctor, Karl Brandt (who had both been put in charge of organising "children's euthanasia" several months earlier) are appointed to carry out the "euthanasia" programme. Because the Führer's Chancellery must on no account be connected with the euthanasia killings Bouhler, Brandt and Herbert Linden of the Reich Ministry of the Interior create several "front organisations" whose headquarters (Zentraldienststelle) is at 4, Tiergartenstrasse, in Berlin. The Zentraldienststelle reports direct to Main Office II of the Führer's Chancellery, headed by Viktor Brack. The abbreviation "T4" is soon used by everyone involved as a designation for the Zentraldienststelle and a code name for the killing programme targeted especially at the patients in clinics and sanatoria.
1939 21 September Circular decree of the Reich Ministry of the Interior to register all clinics and sanatoria. The decree is part of the preparatory stage of the "T4 Programme".
1939 October First "children's ward" established in the Landesanstalt Görden near Brandenburg; roughly 30 such "children's wards" will follow. They serve for the carrying out of so-called "children's euthanasia". Children who in the opinion of the clinic's doctors are candidates for killing, are reported to the Reich Committee for the Scientific Registration of Serious Hereditary and Congenital Ailments, a front organisation of the Führer's Chancellery. If the Committee gives the respective order, the child is killed by means of sedatives or withdrawal of food.
1939 9 October On the basis of a decree by the Reich Ministry of the Interior, signed by Secretary of State and Reichsärzteführer Leonardo Conti, registration forms are sent to the clinics to record all patients who qualify for "euthanasia". Salaried T4 medical experts examine the forms and, by means of a simple + or -, decide over life and death of the patient concerned.
1940 1. January The "Law for the Prevention of Hereditary Sick Progeny" is passed in the Ostmark. It is estimated that up to 10,000 people had to undergo forced sterilisations in the Ostmark.
1940 1 January The "Marriage Health Law" also comes into force in the Ostmark.
1940 January Brandenburg and Grafeneck, the first of overall six Nazi euthanasia institutes, are put into operation. The patients selected by the medical experts are transported from the clinics to the killing centres by train or in grey busses; there they are killed in gas chambers by means of carbon monoxide.
1940 1 March Professor Max Gundel, director of the Hygienic Institute in Gelsenkirchen, is put in charge of restructuring the Viennese health system by Bürckel, Reich Commissioner for the Reunification of Austria with the German Reich. As City Councillor for the Viennese Heath System he is the person primarily responsible for implementing the "genetic health policy" and the measures for "euthanasia" at the municipal level.
1940 3 April At a session of the German Gemeindetag in Berlin, the senior figures of the city administration are informed of the "euthanasia" programme.
1940 15 April The Reich Ministry of the Interior decrees that all clinics have to report the number of their Jewish inmates.
1940 May The gassing of patients takes place for the first time in the euthanasia institution of Hartheim Castle near Linz. The killing institution is headed by the psychiatrist Rudolf Lonauer from Linz and his deputy Georg Renno (from Strasbourg). Hauptmann and SS Obersturmführer Christian Wirth (from Stuttgart) plays the role of office leader and personnel and security chief ("manager"). He is supported by two Austrians, SS- and Polizeiführer Franz Reichleitner and Franz Stangl (starting in November).
1940 10 June A letter by the Reichsstatthalter in Vienna to Alfred Mauczka, director of the Heil- und Pflegeanstalt der Stadt Wien "Am Steinhof" (Wagner-von-Jauregg Heil- und Pflegeanstalt), announces that a large part of the clinic's patients is going to be "transferred" soon.
1940 12 June By order of Professor Heyde, head of the medical department of "T4", a committee in the Steinhof clinic begins to select the patients for transfer. The selection takes no more than four days and is based on an examination of the patients' case histories.
1940 July The transfer from Steinhof to Hartheim of at least 3,200 patients, among them 400 Jews, begins. Roughly a third are provisionally housed in the institution at Ybbs, which is virtually "cleared" for this purpose. By the end of August, most of the patients' transports to Hartheim have been carried out.
1940 8 July Lothar Kreyssig, judge in the guardianship court of Brandenburg, files a protest with Reich Justice Minister Gürtner, claiming that mentally sick people have been transferred to Hartheim and other clinics and killed there. The mass murders of the "T4 Programme" fully underway in 1940 pose problems to the judiciary, which is formally still bound by legal norms. On the one hand, individual state prosecutors and law courts are prompted by reports to the police to start inquiries and preliminary proceedings in connection with the euthanasia murders, as for instance senior prosecutor Eypeltauer against the Hartheim doctor Georg Renno. On the other hand, there are proceedings under the "Malice Law" against persons who have mentioned or criticised the euthanasia killings.
1940 23 July Viennese nurse Anna Wödl appeals to the Reich Chancellery in Berlin and to assistant director Linden in the Reich Ministry of the Interior and protests in vain against the removal of Steinhof patients. Moreover, she urges a number of relatives of Steinhof inmates to send letters of protest to Berlin, where indeed "washing baskets of mail" arrive from Vienna. Resistance against euthanasia in the Steinhof clinic comes from the inmates' relatives; they can scarcely rely on any support from the doctors and nursing staff. Demonstrations take place in front of the clinic and are met with police and SS intervention.
1940 24 July The Wiener Städtische Jugendfürsorgeanstalt "Am Spiegelgrund" is founded and housed in the Steinhof pavilions 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, 15 and 17. Erwin Jekelius becomes medical director. The "Babies' and Infants' Ward" in pavilion 15 serves as "Children's Ward" for the killing of handicapped children and youths. The doctors on duty in this ward are, among others, Heinrich Gross, Marianne Türk and Margarethe Hübsch. Between 1940 and 1945, the Children's Ward's register of the dead lists 789 names. In the dissection room of the clinic, the brains and spinal cords of most of the dead children are removed and preserved as specimens for future scientific examination. Among these victims are also the children killed in the course of experiments with tuberculosis vaccines carried out by Vienna University Children's Clinic under Elmar Türk's leadership.
1940 30 August The Reich Ministry of the Interior decrees that Jewish clinic inmates are to be removed to specific public clinics, among them Vienna-Steinhof. In the course of the "T4 Programme", almost 400 Jewish patients are taken from Steinhof and murdered in Hartheim Castle.
1940 Autumn A flier of the illegal Communist Party of Graz publicly denounces the deportation and murder of the Steinhof patients.
1941 April Start of the project "14f13" (so called after the respective file number of the inspector of concentration camps for the Reichsführer SS): "T4" medical committees select concentration camp prisoners who are personae non gratae or no longer fit for work to be killed in the euthanasia institutions.
1941 16 April In Salzburg, the Sister Superior of the Sisters of Mercy of Saint Vincent de Paul, Anna Bertha von Königsegg, is arrested for the second time for protesting against the deportation of inmates in her care in a letter to Reichsstatthalter Friedrich Rainer and forbidding her fellow sisters to co-operate in the deportation. During her confinement the patients are deported from the Schernberg institution. In August 1941 Sister Anna Bertha is released after four months of Gestapo arrest, on condition that she leave Salzburg immediately.
1941 23/24 April Conference by the Reich Ministry of Justice chaired by Secretary of State Franz Schlegelberger in Berlin's "House of Aviators", at which the entire top echelon of the judiciary has to be present. Viktor Brack of the Führer's Chancellery and Werner Heyde (senior T4 medical advisor) inform the assembled chief state prosecutors and regional appeal court presidents of the "T4 programme", which is supposed to be shielded from any interference by judges and state prosecutors. Schlegelberger instructs the chief state prosecutors not to pursue any applications or criminal charges made with reference to euthanasia.
1941 23 May A transport arrives in the Vienna-Steinhof clinic of 23 Jewish children from a home at 2 Langackergasse in the 19th district. Franziska Danneberg-Löw, welfare official of the Jewish Community of Vienna (later Jewish Council of Elders in Vienna) since 1937, tries to save the lives of these children. A few days later the children are officially removed to a "sanatorium for the mentally ill in the General Government", in reality, however, most probably to Hartheim. Mrs. Danneberg-Löw does succeed in saving the children of the home at 3 Tempelgasse in the 2nd district from euthanasia by transferring them to the Rothschild Hospital, where she finds an ally in Dr. Viktor Frankl. The children are, however, affected by the later deportations to Poland.
1941 23 June Last transport of 13 Jewish patients from Steinhof to Hartheim within the "T4 Programme".
1941 22 June German attack on the Soviet Union. The "war of extermination" in the East starts.
1941 3 August Sermon by Bishop Clemens August Graf von Galen in the Lamberti Church in Münster in which he openly denounces the killing of mentally sick people as murder and declares that he has preferred a charge of murder. Galen's sermon has powerful reverberations. It is hectographed, thousands of copies are spread illegally and dropped as fliers by the Royal Air Force.
1941 24 August Motivated by domestic considerations (protests of the population and the churches, the attack on the Soviet Union), Adolf Hitler calls an official halt to euthanasia. However, the so-called termination of the "T4 Programme" does not affect other existing euthanasia programmes (Nazi children's euthanasia, project "14f13"), nor does it hinder the development of new ones ("wild euthanasia", Ostarbeiter).
1941 August After the termination of the "T4 Programme", the Heil- und Pflegeanstalt Vienna-Steinhof develops increasingly into a centre of organised mass killing ("wild euthanasia", "decentralised institutional murder") in which the management and staff of the institution, the local administration of Vienna, the Viennese Gau administration, the Central Office T4 in Berlin, the Reich Commissioner for clinics and sanatoria Dr. Linden and the Wehrmacht are the leading participants. Mass death of patients ensues as the clinic is overcrowded and understaffed, the patients are neglected and drugs and food scarce. There is a breeding ground for the spread of infectious diseases. The combination of hunger and infectious disease proves particularly disastrous.
1941 September Hauptmann Christian Wirth is transferred from Hartheim to Odilo Globocnik, SS- und Polizeiführer in the district of Lublin, by way of preparation for the "Reinhard Programme", the systematic murder of Jews in the "General Government" (Poland). The "Reinhard Programme" resorts particularly to the personnel of the "T4" organisation who are increasingly available after the halt to euthanasia in August 1941. The logistic and technological experience gained through the "T4 Programme" in the industrial-scale extermination of people is reapplied in a modified form in the Holocaust.
1941 23 September Issue 19 of the propaganda paper Luftpost, dropped on German territory by the Royal Air Force, contains an article entitled "The man with the syringe" which reports Dr Jekelius' murderous activities at Steinhof.
1941 Autumn T4 doctors carry out selections in the concentration camps of Dachau, Mauthausen and Gusen. Prisoners who are sick, unpopular or unfit for work are transferred to the Hartheim killing institution.
1941 November Christian Wirth is put in charge of erecting Belzec extermination camp ("Reinhard Programme"), where he holds the post of camp commandant until August 1942. 90,000 Jews are murdered in Belzec by March 1942.
1941 31 December The bishop of the diocese of Sankt Pölten, Michael Memelauer, attacks Nazi euthanasia in his New Year's sermon: "No life is unworthy in the eyes of our Lord."
1942 January Erwin Jekelius, director of the Wiener Städtische Jugendfürsorgeanstalt "Am Spiegelgrund", enlists in the Wehrmacht. Hans Bertha and Margarethe Hübsch are appointed as provisional directors.
1942 March The is renamed Heilpädagogische Klinik der Stadt Wien "Am Spiegelgrund".
1942 March Franz Stangl becomes commandant of Sobibor extermination camp ("Reinhard Programme"). In August he is superseded by Franz Reichleitner, who has likewise been transferred from Hartheim.
1942 1 July Neurologist Ernst Illing from Leipzig takes over as director of the Heilpädagogische Klinik der Stadt Wien Am Spiegelgrund.
1942 28 July Karl Brandt is appointed Deputy for the Public Health and Hygiene Service.
1942 30/31 August The remaining Jewish patients of Steinhof are deported through the Central Office of the Inspector of the Security Police (i.e. the Central Office for Jewish Emigration in Vienna, headed by Alois Brunner). In September and October they are among the deportees to Terezin (Theresienstadt), Minsk and Maly Trostinec; almost all of these perish.
1942 September Franz Stangl replaces the Austrian euthanasia doctor Irmfried Eberl as head of the Treblinka extermination camp ("Reinhard Programme") and until 1943 supervises the murder of at least 900,000 Jews.
1942 November The Heilpädagogische Klinik der Stadt Wien "Am Spiegelgrund" is split up into the Wiener Städtische Nervenklinik für Kinder "Am Spiegelgrund" ("Municipal Mental Clinic for Children", pavilions 15 and 17) comprising 220 beds, and the Wiener Städtische Erziehungsanstalt "Am Spiegelgrund" ("Municipal Reformatory") with 680 beds.
1943 27. April The first phase of the project "14f13" is terminated due to the increasing employment of the prisoners in the war industry.
1943 8 May 106 women and girls are deported to Vienna-Steinhof from the Diaconal Institute of Bad Kreuznach. This is the first of several collective transports reaching Steinhof in the course of the "Brandt Project". The project takes its name from its chief organiser Dr. Karl Brandt, who was put in charge of "euthanasia" by Hitler in 1939 and has risen to become the most influential Nazi health official by 1942/43. The extension of the air war is taken as a reason to evacuate clinics and sanatoria in endangered areas of the Altreich. In reality the transfers serve to disguise the increasing rate of patient mortality. At Steinhof, too, these "outsiders" from other clinics are among the first to succumb to starvation and infectious diseases. Thus of the 106 patients from Bad Kreuznach at least 84 die by late 1945, which corresponds to a death rate of 80%.
1943 19-21 May 144 boys and men are brought to Vienna-Steinhof from the St.-Josefs-Haus in Hardt near Mönchengladbach; at least 117 die by late 1945.
1943 17 August 298 girls and women arrive in Vienna-Steinhof from the Hamburg institutions Alsterdorf and Langenhorn. At least 257 die by late 1945.
1944 1. January Hans Bertha, former T4 medical advisor and head of the section "Care for the Mentally Sick, Emotionally Disturbed and Addicts" of Vienna's Main Health Office, supersedes Alfred Mauczka as medical director of Steinhof. Under Bertha's leadership euthanasia in the clinic is intensified; the mortality rate rises from 13.9% (1941) to 22.14% (1944). As late as early 1945 Bertha is appointed associate professor for neurology and psychiatry at the medical faculty of the University of Vienna on recommendation of Professor Max de Crinis (Berlin).
1944 March The Gugging institution is cleared and meant to be turned into an alternative hospital for the city of Vienna: over 280 able-bodied patients, most of them children and young people, are sent to Steinhof. More than a third of these patients do not live to see the end of 1945.
1944 April The second phase of project "14f13" begins. Overall more than 8,000 prisoners of the concentration camps of Dachau, Mauthausen and Gusen will meet their deaths in the gas chamber of Hartheim Castle.
1944 6 September Circular decree of the Reich Ministry of the Interior regarding "mentally sick Ostarbeiter and Poles". These are to be brought together in holding institutions, such as Mauer-Öhling in Lower Austria. Forced labourers permanently unfit for work are to be sent to the Hartheim killing institution for euthanasia.
1944 20 September A letter by the apostolic administrator of the diocese of Innsbruck-Feldkirch, Paul Rusch, forbids all subordinate clerical institutions and nuns to participate in the "sterilisations".
1944 October A small number of patients are transferred to Vienna-Steinhof from Ybbs, due to the conversion of Ybbs reserve military hospital into a war hospital.
1944 12 December Dismantling of Hartheim, the last euthanasia gassing institution.
1945 Februay Hartheim is returned to its use as a children's home.
1945 Spring Smaller transports from the old people's homes of Liesing and Mauerbach and the Lainz nursing home arrive at Steinhof. The rampant infections and aching hunger quickly take their toll of the mostly elderly patients.
1945 April The Vienna-Steinhof institution is liberated by the Red Army. Food supply breaks down almost completely. Given the reigning conditions – overcrowding, infectious diseases and systematic undernourishment – the large-scale death of patients continues over the following months. This year the death rate reaches its peak at 42.76%. Overall more than 3,500 Steinhof patients die of starvation between 1941 and 1945. Director Bertha is arrested and suspended by the city of Vienna. After a short period of confinement, however, he is again posted to Steinhof as a dissector.
1945 30 April Suicide of Adolf Hitler.
1945 5 May Rudolf Lonauer, medical director of the Hartheim killing institution, commits suicide with his family.
1945 8 May Signing of Germany's total capitulation.
1945 May The Wiener Städtische Nervenklinik für Kinder "Am Spiegelgrund" ("Children's Ward") is dissolved.
1945 27 June Major Charles H. Dameron, chief of the War Crimes Investigation Team 6824 of the US Army, conducts inquiries into the euthanasia killings in Hartheim and finds the so-called "Hatheim Statistics", a minute record of "savings" gained through euthanasia. According to this Nazi document, the "T4 Programme" is responsible for the killing of 18,269 people in Hartheim Castle alone. The overall number of "T4" victims is given as 70,273.
1945 4 September Vinzenz Nohel, former stoker at Hartheim, is interrogated by the Linz criminal police. He describes in detail the process of mass murder in Hartheim Castle.
1945 20 November The main war criminals are tried in front of an international military tribunal in Nuremberg. The sentences are pronounced on 1 October 1946. 12 further Nuremberg trials will follow.
1946 29. March The "Mauthausen Trial" begins in Dachau. Vinzenz Nohel, former stoker at Hartheim crematorium, is among 58 people sentenced to death.
1946 August The Viennese People's Court finds the former head of the "Children's Ward" Am Spiegelgrund, Ernst Illing, guilty of manslaughter and sentences him to death; Marianne Türk, who was under Illing's command, receives a ten-year prison sentence. Both confess their participation in killing approximately 200 children between July 1942 and April 1945. The verdict reflects the seriousness with which Austria, under pressure from the Allies, at first strives to persistently prosecute Nazi criminals. Thus proceedings in front of the people's courts are instituted against a number of euthanasia culprits, e.g. the former medical director of the Steinhof clinic, Hans Bertha. However, the proceedings are soon abandoned.
1946 25 October Important Nazi medical criminals are called to account by a US military court in the so-called Nuremberg Doctors' Trial, among them two of the main perpetrators of euthanasia, Karl Brandt and Viktor Brack. The Austrian Wilhelm Beiglböck is indicted for using humans in Dachau concentration camp for his experiments in making sea water potable.
1947 November At the People's Court of Linz eight Hartheim staff are tried for aiding murder. Judgment is pronounced on 27 November: the nursing staff are acquitted, only the two drivers receive prison sentences of two and a half and three and a half years, respectively.
1948 1. April Heinrich Gross is arrested in Köflach (Styria) and transferred to the Vienna District Court for his participation in the children euthanasia at the Spiegelgrund.
1948 9 April The Viennese People's Court sentences Anna Katschenka, former nurse in the "Children's Ward" Am Spiegelgrund, to eight years' incarceration for manslaughter. In December 1950 she is reprieved and released.
1948 July Trial at the People's Court of Linz of three former staff members of Hartheim and Niedernhart. Two male "nurses" are sentenced to prison terms of five and a half and three years, respectively; one is acquitted.
1948 December Alfred Hackel, director of the "Labour Institution for Asocial Women and Girls Am Steinhof" and originally sentenced to 20 years of imprisonment for crimes against humanity (forced sterilisations, emetic injections) by the Viennese People's Court, has his prison sentence revised to six and a half years by the Supreme Court. He is conditionally discharged on 17 May 1949, having served only a fraction of this prison term. In the course of the Cold War and the efforts to reintegrate the former National Socialists into society, criminal prosecution of Nazi medical staff in Austria diminishes and finally peters out altogether.
1950 29. March Heinrich Gross, former doctor in the Spiegelgrund "Children's Ward", is sentenced to two years' incarceration for manslaughter by the Viennese People's Court. Gross and the nurse Katschenka are convicted only for manslaughter because the Austrian jurisdiction holds that the malicious murder of mentally sick people is impossible as the latter lack "comprehension".
1951 April The Supreme Court rescinds the verdict against Dr. Gross.
1951 May The State Prosecution retracts the charges against Gross and the proceedings are discontinued. Gross subsequently trains as a specialist in the Neurological Hospital at Rosenhügel, then returns to Steinhof where he rises to the rank of primarius (senior doctor) in 1962. Gross' is not an isolated case. Whilst many culpable doctors continue their professional careers, the victims of Nazi medicine are, in contrast to the politically and racially persecuted, denied any public recognition or compensation.
1953 Gross begins the medical examination of the brain specimens of Spiegelgrund victims which have been carefully preserved. For a period of 25 years this serves him as a basis for dozens of publications in the field of neuropathology, in which he partly collaborates with eminent colleagues. In the same year he joins the Austrian Socialist Party SPÖ.
1954 Hans Bertha, former T4 medical advisor, director of the Wien-Steinhof sanatorium in 1944/45 and one of the principal agents of Nazi euthanasia in Vienna, is made associate professor for neurology and psychiatry at the University of Graz. Bertha is never called to account for his part in Nazi euthanasia. Despite incriminating evidence, the People's Court of Graz acquits him of illegal activities for the NSDAP in 1948, thanks to the exonerating testimony of former SS comrades. As a "minor culprit" Bertha is now able to build a new career for himself and begins by working as a specialist doctor in his hometown Bruck an der Leitha.
1955 20 December In the year of the State Treaty the Austrian people's courts, set up exclusively to prosecute war and Nazi crimes, are dissolved. As of now, no euthanasia trial in Austria results in a valid conviction.
1961 25. October Georg Renno, one of the two gassing dotors of Hartheim, is arrested in Ludwigshafen, Germany. In Germany, a change of attitude among parts of the post-war judiciary leads to a second wave of court trials in the 1960s, aiming at a serious further examination of Nazi crimes.
1964 Hans Bertha dies in a car accident, two years after he was appointed tenured professor of neurology and psychiatry, and elected dean of the Medical Faculty of the University of Graz. The Austrian Doctors' Paper publishes an apologetic obituary.
1968 Gross receives his own Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Research into Malformations of the Nervous System, where he continues systematically to exploit the brain specimens preserved during the Nazi period. Besides he establishes himself as one of the most sought-after and highest-earning court psychiatrists in the country.
1969 August Proceedings are opened against Georg Renno, one of the three defendants in the third euthanasia trial of Frankfurt. Whilst his co-defendants receive high prison sentences (ten and seven years, respectively), Renno succeeds in having the proceedings against him stayed on grounds of poor health.
1970 29. December Franz Stangl, Hartheim's former "office leader" and commandant of Sobibor and Treblinka, who was extradited to Germany by Brazil in 1967, is sentenced to life imprisonment by the Düsseldorf District Court for his part in the murder of at least 400,000 Jews. He dies in prison half a year later (28 June 1971).
1975 19 December The proceedings against Georg Renno are stayed indefinitely. Despite his alleged serious illness Renno lives until 1997.
1976 Court psychiatrist Gross (who has meanwhile been awarded the Austrian Cross of Honour for Science and the Arts 1st Class), examines the case of Spiegelgrund survivor Friedrich Zawrel, who was interned at Spiegelgrund as a "hardly reformable" ten-year-old. Zawrel recognises his torturer, the former euthanasia doctor of the "Children's Ward". In his expert opinion on Zawrel, Gross freely quotes from Zawrel's Nazi file from 1944. The Viennese doctor Werner Vogt and the "Arbeitsgemeinschaft Kritische Medizin" take up the case and publicly examine Gross' former role as Nazi euthanasia doctor.
1979 Werner Vogt and other members of "Arbeitsgemeinschaft Kritische Medizin" produce fliers protesting against a lecture on "Mentally sick killers" which Gross intends to give at the Salzburg Neurological Clinic (director Professor Harrer). Gross is accused of having collaborated in "the killing of hundreds of allegedly mentally sick children", and sues Vogt for libel.
1981 The career of Gross suffers a first setback. The libel suit against Vogt ends at second instance in Vogt's acquittal. The Viennese Court of Appeal regards it as proven that Gross participated in the killing of children during his time in the "Children's Ward" at Spiegelgrund. Gross is forced into retirement and expelled from the Austrian Socialist Party. By contrast, he is able to continue his work as a court psychiatrist unmolested. In the same year, Gross' Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Research into Malformations of the Nervous System merges with the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Clinical Neurobiology, whose name is retained.
1989 Under pressure from the Ministry of Science Gross has to resign the directorship of the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Clinical Neurobiology which he held jointly with Professor Kurt Jellinger.
1991 Federal Chancellor Franz Vranitzky's public acknowledgement of the role of Austrians as Nazi perpetrators gains international notice. It is the consequence of a new socio-political climate which has been brought about by generational change and other factors and now also has positive consequences for the victims of Nazi persecution.
1995 The Federal Parliament unanimously decides for the creation of a National Fund of the Republic of Austria for Victims of National Socialism, which for the first time gives recognition to the victims of Nazi eugenics. At the same time the Opferfürsorgegesetz (the law regulating public relief for victims) is amended to include disability as a reason for Nazi persecution. By contrast, the children of Nazi reformatories, stigmatised as "antisocial" by the Nazis, are left out of account. They are still fighting for recognition as Nazi victims today.
1997 Due to new incriminating evidence the Documentation Archive of Austrian Resistance prefers charges against Heinrich Gross.
1998 Proceedings for murder are opened against Heinrich Gross at the Viennese District Court. Matthias Dahl's doctoral dissertation on the "Children's Ward" at Spiegelgrund, published against the backdrop of an increasingly sensitive and aware public, marks the first step towards a systematic academic investigation into the complex procedures of Nazi euthanasia in the former Steinhof clinic. A symposium on the "History of Nazi Euthanasia in Vienna" is launched and takes place biennially.
1999 The State Prosecution of Vienna arraigns Dr. Gross.
2001 January The Viennese District Court starts preliminary examinations in connection with the "decentralised institutional murders" at Steinhof (starvation, "wild euthanasia"). The examinations are, however, discontinued.
2000 March The trial of Gross is adjourned on medical grounds, Gross is regarded as unfit for trial. The trial has never been resumed.
2002 28 April In the presence of Federal President Thomas Klestil and Mayor of Vienna Michael Häupl, the remaining Spiegelgrund specimens from the Nazi period are buried in a grave of honour in Vienna's Central Cemetery. Other specimens from the Nazi period, stemming in all likelihood from victims of "wild euthanasia" in the Heil- und Pflegeanstalt Steinhof, still exist in the Otto Wagner Hospital of the city of Vienna.
2005 15 December Dr. Heinrich Gross dies at the age of 90. The criminal prosecution of his crimes has failed for good.
2012 9 May In the presence of Federal President Dr. Heinz Fischer and Vienna Mayor Michael Häupl, further preparations from the National Socialist period are interred at the Vienna Central Cemetery. These are the remains of presumed victims of the “decentralized euthanasia“ at the former psychiatric clinic Am Steinhof.