Landesanstalt Zschadraß (euthanasia program Eu-Aktion) – Elisabet Scheffler correspondence




Eu-Aktion was a euthanasia program geared towards creating genetically pure Germanic people. Patients with psychiatric, neurological or physical disabilities, the ‘incurable’, were systematically eliminated. This euthanasia was seen as a ‘therapeutic act’ called ‘Gnadentod’ (a mercy death). Within the ‘Eu-Aktion‘ (the so-called Aktion T4 whose name was derived after WWII from its headquarters address in Berlin at Tiergartenstraße 4), six institutions in the German Reich were equipped for the execution of ‘euthanasia’. The building of a former prison in Brandenburg was used for this purpose, while in Grafeneck, Hartheim, Pirna-Sonnenstein, Bernburg, and Hadamar, ‘euthanasia’ was carried out in former lunatic asylums. All ‘T4’ annihilation centers were fitted with a gas chamber where patients were killed with carbon monoxide. The medical organization of this operation fell to some prominent psychiatrists. Nurses and office clerks were recruited locally. Some perpetrators were employed thanks to their personal connections with the main organizers. Eu-Aktion operated between 15th January 1940 and 24th August 1941 and over 70,000 people were killed within this operation. A large part of the participating personnel (starting in the autumn of 1942) was employed in ‘Action Reinhard’ (Aktion Reinhard), which by the autumn of 1943 led to the murder of 1.75 million Jews.


Transit Institution Landesanstalt Zschadraß

Most of the victims killed in annihilation center Heil- und Pflegeanstalt Pirna-Sonnenstein came via the four so called ‘transit institutions’ ; Arnsdorf, Großschweidnitz , Waldheim  and Zschadraß. These institutions were psychiatric clinics in Saxony near Sonnenstein. The patients stayed in these ‘transit institutions’ until space became available in the killing facility at Pirna-Sonnenstein. These ‘transit institutions’ also helped to conceal the murder and made investigations more difficult for the relatives of the victims. In total 3284 victims came from Zschadraß alone.


Elisabet Scheffler

Elisabet Scheffler, born on 03 June 1885 in Leipzig, was transferred on 17 March 1941 from Altersheim Leipzig-Schönefeld  to ‘transit institution’ Landesanstalt Zschadraß. She was kept there as a patient until 05 May 1941, the day that 91 people  from Landesanstalt Zschadraß  were transported of to the annihilation center Heil- und Pflegeanstalt Pirna-Sonnenstein. Most probably Elisabet Scheffler was killed on the day of arrival.


Postcard sent on 21 March 1941

Zschadraß at Colditz Sa
To Mrs. Klara Donner
Bairische Strasse 45 I

“Dear Mrs. Donner!
I just wanted to let you know, that since 15/3 I am no longer in Schönfeld.
If I get the opportunity to go to Leipzig, I will visit you! As the time there was too short.
Sending many greetings, your Elisabet Scheffler.”



Hagen Markwardt
Gedenkstätte Pirna-Sonnenstein

Doreen Etzold
Staatsarchiv Leipzig

Peter Eigelsberger
Gedenkstätte Schloß Hartheim