A Soldier Uncovers the Horrors of the Nazis’ Hadamar Camp


The Hadamar Euthanasia Centre ( NS-Tötungsanstalt Hadamar) was located at a psychiatric hospital in the German town of Hadamar, near Limburg in Hesse, from 1941 to 1945.

  Gas chamber in Hadamar hospital

Beginning in 1939, the Nazis used this site as one of six for the T-4 Euthanasia Programme, which performed mass sterilizations and mass murder of “undesirable” members of German society, specifically those with physical and mental disabilities. In total, an estimated 200,000 people were killed at these facilities, including thousands of children. These actions were in keeping with the eugenics ideas about racial purity developed by German ideologues. While officially ended in 1941, the programme lasted until the German surrender in 1945. Nearly 15,000 German citizens were transported to the hospital and died there, most killed in a gas chamber. In addition, hundreds of forced labourers from Poland and other countries occupied by the Nazis were killed there. 

Hadamar and its hospital fell within the American occupation zone after the war. From October 8–15, 1945, United States forces conducted the Hadamar Trial, the first mass atrocity trial in the years following World War II. They prosecuted doctors and staff on charges of murdering citizens of allied countries, namely, forced labourers from Poland and other countries. The US had jurisdiction for these crimes under international law. Several people were convicted and executed for these crimes. After the German courts were reconstructed under the occupation, in 1946 a doctor and nurse were prosecuted by Germans for the murders of nearly 15,000 German citizens at the hospital. Both were convicted. The hospital continues to operate. It holds a memorial to the euthanasia murders as well as an exhibit about the Nazi programme. Up to 100 victims arrived in post-buses every day.   Garage of the “Grey Buses”. They were told to disrobe for a “medical examination”. Sent before a physician, each was recorded as having one of 60 fatal diseases, as “incurables” were to be given a “mercy death.” The doctor identified each person with different-coloured sticking plasters for one of three categories: kill; kill & remove brain for research; kill & extract gold teeth.

The six-man U.S. military tribunal sentenced to death by hanging the Hadamar chief administrator Alfons Klein , and two male nurses, Heinrich Ruoff  and Karl Willig. Because of his advanced age, chief physician Adolf Wahlmann,  received a life sentence, which was eventually commuted. Two Hadamar administrative staff received sentences of 35 and 30 years, respectively. Irmgard Huber,

  a nurse and only female defendant, received the lightest sentence, that of 25 years’ imprisonment. On 14 March 1946, Klein, Ruoff, and Willig were executed. In December 1945 the Allies promulgated Allied Control Council Law No. 10, which allowed the elastic charge of “crimes against humanity” to cover the massive scale of extermination the Germans had carried out against Jews, Poles, Gypsies and other populations.