“Linz09” to Include an International Conference in Castle Hartheim

Austrian Press Agency (APA) (11/30/2007)

Foundation’s financial coverage is quite substantial

Linz – The program, Linz 2009 European Capital of Culture, is planning also another international conference in commemoration of former NS victims of euthanasia crimes in Castle Hartheim “Place of Learning and Remembrance,” located in Alkoven in the district of Eferding in Upper Austria. That was reported by the head curator of the Hartheim Castle Association and regional governor Josef Pühringer at the meeting in Linz. The preliminary title that was selected was, “Eugenics and Human Genetics.”

Between 1940 and 1944, the National Socialists murdered almost 30,000 physically and mentally handicapped in gas chambers as well as disabled concentration prisoners and forced laborers who had been designated as “unworthy of life” as part of their euthanasia program. In 1969 a remembrance room was created for the victims. In 1995 a committed group of people founded the Hartheim Castle Association with the goal of finding a worthy use of the Renaissance building, given its history. With strong support by the government of Upper Austria, the castle was restored at the cost of twenty-five million Euros, the memorial erected in 1969 was rebuilt and a permanent exhibition created entitled, “The Value of Life.”  

The “Hartheim Castle Association of Place of Learning and Remembrance” has organized numerous events and exhibitions and carried out research. The first International Hartheim Conference, having as its theme, “Meaning and Guilt – Questions Asked to Life’s End” was opened by Federal President Fischer. Since 2003, visitors to Hartheim have numbered twenty thousand people, and the trend is on the increase.

In 2004 a decision was made by the regional government to establish a foundation with the goal of securing the future of the site of learning and remembrance through the interest accrued. For that purpose, it was necessary to raise some seven million Euros as foundation capital. Approval was soon met by Heinz Fischer as Federal President and patron of this initiative. Numerous well-known personalities and institutions from the public and private sector made contributions. Pühringer reported that some six million Euros had been donated and contributions are increasing. The foundation will intensify its fundraising in the coming year.