The ‘Disappearance’ of SS-Hauptscharführer
Lorenz Hackenholt

A Report on the 1959-63 West German Police Search for
Lorenz Hackenholt, the Gas Chamber Expert of the Aktion
Reinhard Extermination Camps ©

Michael Tregenza

(Page 3)

dealt with affairs of the Nazi Party and the State - and his deputy SA-Oberführer Werner Blankenburg, who informed them about a secret euthanasia operation then being prepared to rid the mental asylums and psychiatric wards of hospitals in the Reich of their mentally handicapped patients. Dubois recalled about this interview:

Photographs of extreme cases of mental illness were shown to us. We were told that ... the institutions from which the mentally ill were to be taken were needed as military hospitals. We were further told that gas chambers were to be built in which the victims would be gassed, after which they would be cremated. We, anyway, would have nothing to do with the killings, we would only have to cremate the corpses. [6]
A part of the duties of the SS drivers from Sachsenhausen would also be to collect the patients from the mental asylums and deliver them to the killing centres in a fleet of buses.

The SS-NCOs were then sworn to secrecy in perpetuity and told that they were now employed by the 'Gemeinnützige Stiftung für Anstaltspflege' (Charitable Foundation for Institutional Care), later referred to simply as 'die Stiftung' (The Foundation). This fake organization — it existed only as a letter-heading — was first to organize and carry out the killing of over 70,000 German mental patients in six specially adapted establishments in the Reich under the code designation 'T4', after the address of its headquarters in a secluded villa at Tiergartenstrasse 4 in Berlin-Charlottenburg. Later, during 1942-43, the Foundation — which was merely a front organization to hide the direct involvement of the Führer's Chancellery in the killings — was also to manage the extermination of the Jews of Poland in death camps under the code name Aktion Reinhard. [7]

The SS-NCOs were further informed that they were to perform their duties in the euthanasia operation in civilian clothes only, but would be permitted to retain their pistols and SS paybooks. Civilian clothes were bought for them at the expense of the Führer's Chancellery, and after spending the night in a guest house on the Hallesches Ufer, the SS-NCOs were driven in a bus to Grafeneck castle in the Swabian Alps south of Stuttgart in Württemberg. The bus in which they travelled was driven by SS-Scharführer Lorenz Hackenholt.[8]

In the grounds of the old ducal castle — once the property of the Dukes of Württemberg, but since 1929 a mental asylum run by the Innere Mission (Internal Mission) of the Evangelical Church in Stuttgart — the first gas chamber was constructed in an old coach shed, and two portable crematorium furnaces bought from the Berlin firm of Heinrich Kori, installed in a wooden barrack hut close by. Within less than a year, this,


[6] Zentrale Stelle der Landesjustizverwaltungen (ZStL) 208 AR-Z 251/59: The Case Against Kurt Bolender et al (Sobibor Case), p. 703. Statement by Werner Dubois, 7.9.1961 in Schwelm.
[7] For details of the Foundation and its activities within 'T4' see: Henry Friedlander, The Origins of Nazi Genocide: From Euthanasia to the Final Solution (Chapel Hill & London, The University of North Carolina Press, 1995).
[8] ZStL 208 AR-Z 251/59 (Sobibor Case), p. 703. Statement by Werner Dubois, 7.9.1961 in Schwelm.
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