They were starved, tortured, and killed because they were considered inferior to the Aryan ideal set by Adolf Hitler. Then their organs were put in jars and displayed for research by the doctors accused of causing their deaths under the Nazis. But yesterday they were finally buried, shutting the books on one of Vienna's darkest chapters. Black-clad workers placed a small metal urn into the ground at the city's Central Cemetery; it contained what municipal officials say were the last known unburied remains of victims "treated to death" on the Austrian capital's psychiatric wards during the Hitler era.
The Nazis called them "unworthy lives"—those deemed too sick, weak, or handicapped to fit the Fuehrer's image of the master race. More than 70,000 were killed, gassed to death or otherwise murdered between 1939 and 1941, and thousands more lost their lives at the hands of sadistic doctors and nurses until the end of the war. Thousands of brains, uteruses with fetuses, and other organs and parts were then preserved in jars and used for medical research until 1978. Many adult specimens were kept available until recently for experts trying to trace their histories and identify them; they were successful in linking remains to names in 61 cases.