Gas Chamber at Hartheim Castle
The photo above shows an interior wall of the gas chamber, which is on the east side of the Hartheim castle. This is the gas chamber where deformed and mentally retarded people were murdered by the Nazis with carbon monoxide gas. The sign reads:
Gas Chamber - The victims entered the room through a low narrow steel door. Shower installations gave the impression that it was merely a bathroom. As soon as the door closed behind the victims, gas (carbon monoxide) was pumped in through a perforated pipe near the floor. When it appeared there were no more signs of life, the gas was pumped out to enable the removal of bodies. Since 1969, this room could be visited as a memorial.
The gas chamber is located in the brown area of the map, between the two corner towers on the east side, which is the right-hand side of the map. The original door into the gas chamber was on the east side of the open courtyard, marked EG, in the center of the map. Hartheim castle has four towers, one on each corner of the building. The rooms of the castle surround a gravel-covered courtyard that is open to the sky. The entrance to the castle is shown by the red dot at the bottom of the map.
In the upper left-hand corner of the map above, there is a rectangular extension built onto the northwest tower. This is where the victims were delivered by buses into a wooden shed; they entered the castle through the door on the northwest side where there is a small red dot on the map. The victims were then taken through the arcade on the north side of the open courtyard to the Admissions room in the northeast tower.
A metal fence has been built at the northwest corner of the castle to represent the shed which was torn down after the Nazis abandoned the building in January 1945. On the right is the northwest tower of the castle. A doorway has been cut into the tower and there is now a sliding glass door there so that visitors can enter the area where the shed once stood. Another sliding glass door is behind the camera.
During the reconstruction of Hartheim Castle to turn it into a Memorial Site a metal fence was built to enclose the arcade where the victims walked from the entrance door in the background to the northeast tower which is behind the camera.
The victims were brought to this room on the ground floor of the northeast tower; here they were photographed before being taken into the gas chamber. The photographs of the deformed and retarded victims are not shown at the Memorial Site. On the wall on the left is a glass panel with the names of some of the 30,000 persons who were murdered here. In the center is a case filled with personal possessions, mixed with ashes, that were unearthed on the east side of the castle when the Memorial Site was constructed. The door into the gas chamber is to the right, but out of camera range.
In the renovation of the castle to turn it into a Memorial Site, a project which was begun in 1999, a passageway was cut through the thick walls so that visitors can now walk through the gas chamber and the adjoining rooms on a gang-plank. To the right is another glass panel with names of some of the 30,000 people who were gassed here. Records kept by the Nazis show that 18,269 mentally and physically handicapped persons were put to death at Hartheim. Note the thickness of the brick wall at the entrance; you can see a bit of the window in the gas chamber through the doorway.