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1938 – 1945, 10 Niedernharter Straße

In the local authority sanatorium and mental hospital around 800 mentally or physically handicapped patients are classified as “unworthy of life” and brutally murdered.

After the “Anschluss” in March 1938 a single-minded National Socialist, Dr. Rudolf Lonauer, who had just turned 31, was named as head of the provincial lunatic asylum in Niedernhart. He was already an “old trooper” of the Nazi movement – a member of the illegal party from 1931, a member of the SS from 1933 – and he had chosen his medical studies using the criteria of “race hygiene”. Over the next few years he became senior consultant at the Linz General Hospital and head of the “euthanasia” facility in Hartheim.

Lonauer was one of the main actors during the murder of those classified as handicapped in the Oberdonau (Upper Danube) region. It has not been established when the killing began. The first judicially documented case took place in the autumn of 1940: Lonauer murdered six Niedernhart patients between the ages of 10 and 30 by poison injection. Later Lonauer set up “Department VIII”: people were brought here from all over the Ostmark (Austria), from Bohemia and Southern Germany. They were put up for a few days before being transported to Hartheim in grey buses where they were killed.

From 1938 to 1945 approx. 800 people were murdered in Niedernhart by poison, starvation or electric shock. During Rudolf Lonauer’s administration the mortality rate in the provincial lunatic asylum in Niedernhart rose from 6% to about 70%. Just before the US army arrived Lonauer killed his wife, his two daughters and then himself.