It has certainly been an intense day as we left Vienna to make our way towards Salzburg. Our first stop was at Hartheim Castle (Lern und Gedenkort Schloss Hartheim) one of the six euthanasia centers and the only one in Austria. Until August 1941, the center killed over 18,000 people under the T4 program who were deemed “unworthy of life” due to physical and mental handicaps. After then the facility continued to execute people under the 14f13 program, mainly Jews, Communists, and other so-called “Asocials” who were disregarded by the Nazi state. Many of those additional 12,000 people came from KL Mauthausen, another stop today, but some also came from the subcamp Gusen, and possibly even prisoners from Ravensbrück, a research interest area of mine.
By the time we came back to the hotel, I had too much going on in my mind to form a blog post, so this is a day later than what I had signed up for. I am sure that readers will understand. It was actually fortuitous that on my way back from our visit to Salzburg’s synagogue and an informative presentation, I found another “Stone of Remembrance,” or Steinedererinnerung as they are called in Austria, this one commemorating Karoline Höberth, who was murdered in Hartheim in 1941, after being deported there on April 21st from the Sisters of Mercy asylum in Schernberg, Austria, about 70km from Salzburg. She was fifty-five years old, my age in just a few months. I’ve linked her memorial page below the picture, but there is not much information there, aside from the address where the stone was laid, 33 Lasserstrasse.
It has always been important for me to think about the individuals who were murdered by the Nazi regime and its collaborators. As much as the Holocaust is and remains the persecution and murder of 6 million Jews, there were others who were targeted by the Nazi regime during what I tell my students is the “Holocaust period,” from 1933 to 1945, to differentiate between them. Höberth was not Jewish, but she was deemed “not worthy of life” according to the Nazi regime’s eugenics ideals, just as Jews were, and Roma and Sinti people, all of whom are being remembered with these stones in Salzburg and other cities in Austria. Finding the stories, one at a time, of victims like Karoline Höbarth, reminds us of their humanity, and remembering them is our legacy.