October 12, 1937: The SS takes control of Grafeneck for “the needs of the Reich”
Three months later, Grafeneck had been transformed into the first killing institute and became the model for all subsequent liquidation facilities. Grafeneck was now officially designated as a ‘Reich Care Institute’ or ‘State Care Facility’.
Between January and December, 1940, a total of 10,654 institutional patients became victims of the ‘T4 Action’ at Grafeneck. Of these, approximately 4,500 came from Reich institutions in Baden, just under 4,000 from institutions in Wuertemberg, more than 1,500 from Bavarian facilities, and a further 500 from institutions in other parts of the Reich. The statistics for Wuertemberg alone cite 20 facilities from which patients were brought to Grafeneck to be murdered.
Twelve months after the start of the ‘Euthanasia’ action and just prior to the 1940/1941 New Year, the facility at Grafeneck was ‘shut down’, presumably at the intervention of Himmler. The reason for this appears to be the continued unwillingness on the part of a large portion of the population as well as protests from churches and within the NSDAP itself.
In June, 1947, Grafeneck was returned to the Samaritan Foundation. The Foundations, with head offices in Nürtingen since 1975, is a member of the Diakonischen Werkes and the Protestant Church in Wuertemberg.
Since 1990, a memorial in the form of an outdoor Memorial Chapel provides a reminder of the more than 10,500 victims of the so-called ‘euthanasia’ at Grafeneck. A stone threshold sunk in the ground at the memorial entrance lists the homes and institutions from which the individuals were brought to Grafeneck for killing. A memorial book which is continuously being added to currently contains the names of more than 6,000 victims.