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May 31, 2011

The crematorium at Hartheim Castle

Filed under: Holocaust — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 11:05 am

A light shines on the spot where the oven was located in the Hartheim Castle Crematorium

Hartheim Castle in Austria is now a Memorial Site in commemoration of the disabled people who were murdered in the gas chamber there during World War II.  The room shown in the photo above is sometimes mistakenly identified as the gas chamber, but it is actually the crematorium where the bodies were burned; a light shines on the exact spot where a single oven was located. (People were not killed in the cremation ovens as some people believe.) Note the vaulted ceiling which shows how the ceiling of the gas chamber looked before a passageway for a ramp was cut through the walls.    

The photo below shows the walkway that goes through the gas chamber and the adjoining rooms; this ramp was installed several years ago when the Castle was converted into a Memorial Site. On the left side of the photo, you can see the reconstructed gas pipe inside the gas chamber, and on the right, the other side of the gas chamber room. The gas chamber is 192 square feet in size. It has a vaulted ceiling, about 9 feet high at the highest point.  In the background, you can see the crematorium with a light shining on the spot where the oven stood.

The walkway through the gas chamber at Hartheim Castle

Original door into the Hartheim gas chamber

The original entrance into the gas chamber was through the door on the right which opens into the courtyard of the castle. The door in the center, which goes into the adjacent room, called the “technical room,” was walled up with bricks by the Nazis in 1945, but was opened up again when the gas chamber was previously shown to visitors before the new Memorial Site was constructed. Now it has been walled up again to show how the Nazis left it.

The "technical room" in Hartheim Castle

The photo above shows a very narrow room, which is called the “technical room.” This room is right next to the Hartheim Castle gas chamber; it is located between the gas chamber and the morgue. The photo shows the metal ramp that goes through the room and on to the morgue. Note the two large pipes on each side which look like plumbing pipes for the four-story castle.  In the background, you can see the crematorium with a light over the spot where the oven once stood.

Exit from the crematorium into the courtyard

The Harthiem gas chamber tour ends in the crematorium, shown in the photo above; on the right is the exit into the open courtyard. You can see the columns of the arcade through the doorway. In the photo above, note the opening on the wall that has been closed up with bricks. This opening was for the chimney of the oven; the chimney was located outside in the open courtyard of the four-story castle.

Open courtyard in the center of Hartheim Castle

The photo above shows the east side of the central couryard of the Hartheim castle; the courtyard is covered with fine gravel and is open to the sky. The exit from the crematorium is on the right in the photo. An arcade with painted arches runs around all four sides of the couryard. On the right, you can see some of the private memorials to the victims which were formerly in the gas chamber and the adjoining rooms.

Meditation room in Hartheim Castle

The photo above shows the non-denominational meditation room, designed by artist Herbert Friedl, which is located in the southeastern tower near the exit from the crematorium. School children from the town of Alkoven collected rocks from the Danube river, one for each person murdered in the gas chamber at Hartheim Castle. The rocks are displayed in a glass case which is like an altar in a church.


  1. I read somewhere that Dachau prisoners were transported to Harthheim Castle for gassing.
    What’s the figure they provide there for total victims and are Dachau prisoners mentioned in any of the signage or educational literature available at the site?

    I visited Dachau during the period when the sign was still up in the gas chamber that said no gassings
    has ever been done in that shower room. But there’s that doctor mentioned in the Dachau trial transcripts who used it once to kill about a dozen or so prisoners as an experiment and the story about Harthheim Castle serving as the extermination center for the camp.

    What would be the point of gassing institutionalized mentally ill and severely handicapped persons when a doctor or a nurse could deliver the coup de grace with a hypordermic needle with a lot less overhead and fuss? T4 program euthanasia experts like Christian Worth were supposedly sent to Poland to oversee the gassings at the Reinardt Camps. Why was Zyklon B used in one camp and carbon monoxide in another?

    Comment by who+dares+wings — June 1, 2011 @ 12:55 pm

    • I visited the Dachau camp for the first time in 1997. At that time, the Dachau Museum had a display which said that 3,166 “terminally ill” prisoners had been transported from Dachau to Hartheim Castle where they were murdered in a gas chamber, beginning in February 1942. There was a document on display in the Museum which showed the form that had to be filled out by the doctors. The name of the terminal illness had to be filled in on the form. The Dachau Museum has changed several times since then. I doubt that this form that had to be filled out by doctors is still displayed.

      Before the mentally ill and severely handicapped persons were taken into the Hartheim gas chamber, a photo had to be taken of each person to show that they were actually handicapped or mentally ill. Those photos used to be on the Internet, but they have since disappeared. There was also a film that showed these people. I saw it on TV several times, but it is not shown any more. The photos and the film showed that most of these people couldn’t walk and many had been born with arms and legs missing. If they were gassed, they would have had to have been carried into the gas chamber and laid on the floor. That is why I think that a doctor or a nurse might have injected the person.

      As for why Zyklon-B was not used at Hartheim, it would have been difficult to make the gas chamber air tight so that the gas would not escape and poison people throughout the building. I think that the original story was that Zyklon-B was used. Fred Leuchter went to Hartheim when he did his investigations of the gas chambers; his opinion was that Zyklon-B could not have been used in the Hartheim gas chamber. After that, the story changed to carbon monoxide and the pipe was “reconstructed.”

      Comment by furtherglory — June 1, 2011 @ 4:35 pm

  2. “you can see the reconstructed gas pipe inside the gas chamber, and on the right, ”

    What kind of gas came out of the “reconstructed” pipe?

    Comment by who+dares+wings — May 31, 2011 @ 12:11 pm

    • Carbon monoxide. The other end of the pipe is located in the “technical room.” As I understand it, carbon monoxide can be obtained in bottles or tanks.

      Comment by furtherglory — May 31, 2011 @ 12:58 pm

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