The Kinderfachabteilung in Stadtroda was established in October 1942 at the latest (as the only such ward in what today is the state of Thuringia) and continued to operate until the end of World War II. The clinic’s medical director was Dr. Gerhard Kloos, and the physician responsible for the “special children’s ward” was Dr. Margarete Hielscher. Dr. Kloos continued his medical career after the war in West Germany until his retirement in 1968. He died in 1968. Even though the Stasi discovered her involvement in the killing as perpetrator, Dr. Hielscher received political protection in the East German Republic, where she served as director of the pediatric section of neuro-psychiatry at Stadtroda until her retirement in 1965. She died in 1985.
It has been estimated that 133 children died in the special children’s ward in Stadtroda. However, even before the establishment of the ward, at least 70 children died either because life-saving treatment was withheld or were killed through medication.
These figures established in the research of S. Zimmermann and R. Renner have been indirectly called into question by the physicians J. Kasper and M. Lembke, who in the context of a book commissioned by the state medical association, whose apparent purpose is to exculpate the physician Jussuf Ibrahim in regard to his involvement in Euthanasia, interpret medical evidence in a way that arrives at very conservative figures.
The Kinderfachabteilung was housed in the historic Martinshaus, which has been torn down since.
In the post-WW II period, the author on occasion of the 100th anniversary of the institution in 1948 merely notes a “high mortality” for the war years but makes no mention of the role of Stadtroda in “euthanasia” crimes (Buchda 1948: 49). When in the 1960s the clinic director informed the Ministerium für Staatssicherheit (Stasi) that medical records point to “euthanasia” crimes at the site during the Nazi years, and further investigations by the Stasi substantiated these charges, the records were sealed in an archive and no persecution took place.
In 1985 K. Masuhr and G. Aly published a detailed expose on the crimes of Dr. Kloos in Stadtroda; it also included details on the involvement on Dr. Hielscher as well as the University Children’s clinic’s role in sending children to Stadtroda. State authorities in East Germany began anew to look into the matter but still did not pursue a persecution (see Aly 2000); however, in 1986, the then-director of the pediatric section of neuro-psychiatry at the facility, S. Köhler, in a public lecture on occasion of the 100-year anniversary of the existence of this section not only described the “children’s euthanasia” action at Stadtroda but also mentioned Dr. Hielscher’s murderous involvement and post-war career at the facility (as one of her predecessors) – an unusual acknowledgement in East Germany at the time. S. Zimmermann and G. Wieland presented a further short overview on medical crimes against children in 1989. Subsequent interrogations have shed more light on the subject matter, including the role of the once-esteemed pediatrician Dr. Jussuf Ibrahim (here) and the cover-up by the Stasi (Wanitschke 2005).
The Arbeitskreis zur Erforschung der Geschichte der NS-“Euthanasie” und der Zwangssterilisation (Working Group for Research on the History of NS-“Euthanasia” and Compulsory Sterilization) met in Stadtroda in 1997. Several contributions to the conference addressed the history of the medical crimes during the Nazi period there.
In 1998 a memorial created by Karola Nitz was dedicated in the park of the Landesfachkrankenhaus für Psychiatrie und Neurologie, with support from the directors of the clinic and the association of mental patients “Die Brücke” (The Bridge). The archway symbolizes the gate of the clinic through which people were sent to die, and the book addresses the history of the institution and serves as a warning. The inscription reads: “In memory of the patients of this hospital who between 1941 and 1945 fell victim to the murderous actions under Nazi rule.” The historical chronicle on the website of the clinic (no longer available) referred vaguely to “inhumane violence” that was perpetrated between 1933 and 1945.
Jussuf Murad Bey Ibrahim (Professor Ibrahim’s full name) was also made an honorary citizen of Jena in 1947 by the communist rulers of East Germany. In 1949 he was awarded the title of Merited Doctor of the People and in 1952 he received the National Prize of the German Democratic Republic in the top grade for science and technology.