Hadamar from the inside
Testimonies of relatives and survivors
First and second murder phase
I received [your] dear letter together with a card [,] the mistake was that you left out the word Landesheilanstalt, because I do not have my own apartment in Hadamar, so the card had to go back [,] I am not yet as well known in Hadamar as in Bremen-Ellen or in Wesermünde. Have only been here a good quarter of a year; [...]. I also come down to Hadamar very little. I would certainly not like to be a letter carrier in Hadamar and climbing up and down thousands of steps every day is really no fun. Of the 127 people who arrived here from [Bremen-]Ellen, only 82 are lying in the institution cemetery, so you can get an idea, 45 more so far, if this goes on, not a single one will come back, soon more will die here than soldiers in the field. Those listed are only men, the women and girls are at least as many. Of the 82, many were employed here as cave diggers and corpse bearers. If you think that you alone have so much work, you are wrong, there are only 5-6 nurses here, all the work is done by the patients. There is a shoemaker, a carter on the estate, a locksmith and a carpenter who is also a truck driver. A gardener, an estate manager [,] ½ dtz. nurses who are cooking and washerwomen and flatterwomen. [...] In the whole of Hadamar there is no longer a blacksmith or locksmith. Many come to us, even peasants from the surrounding area, for help and advice. We are just everything here [,] only horse shoeing we have not done yet. [...] Many greetings to you and all friends there, as many as remember me, from your Theophil Henning.
All life flows from him, the only true God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, he is highly praised in eternity. Amen."
(Typescript copy of 3rd card from Theophil Henning to Gustav Gerdes, 8 Dec. 1942; HHStA Wiesbaden, Dept. 461, No. 32061, Vol. 6, Bl. 1091)
Henning also describes that Hadamar is once again an extermination facility. In December 1942, 45 of the 127 men who had arrived from Bremen in August of the same year, were still alive. Some of them worked as "cave diggers and corpse bearers." They had to dig deep pits in the newly constructed institutional cemetery. Several corpses at a time were thrown into a grave without a coffin.
During the second murder phase, the chance of staying alive for a longer period of time through the work performed was not great. Henning's last card reached its addressee in Bremen on May 26, 1943: "Many already have to work for private individuals in the city. Must suddenly do earthwork. Many greetings also to all friends and acquaintances there." (Ibid.: 1092RS)
rest in their beds at the Hadamar Institute.|
The photograph was taken by an American military photographer soon after the liberation.
Photographer: Troy A. Peters / Date: 1945 April 05
Christoph Schneider is a freelance author and cultural scientist. He has been working on the history and post-history of Nazi "euthanasia" for many years. He has a lectureship at the University of Gießen.
Hadamar von innen. Überlebendenzeugnisse und Angehörigenberichte. Ed. by Christoph Schneider. Berlin: Metropol Verlag, 2020. Studies and Documents on Holocaust and Camp Literature, vol. 10.
Christoph Schneider (2021): Hadamar from the inside. In: Public Disability History 6 (2021) 7.