In honor of the 700 patients removed from the Protestant Healing and Nursing Institution, Waldbröl, in 1938-1939
we invite you to join us in honoring the lives of the more than 700 psychiatric and mentally disabled patients who were removed from Protestant Healing and Nursing Institution, Waldbröl, during the Nazi time. Many of them were murdered. The home of these patients has since become the home of the EIAB.
Starvation, Poisoning, Hypothermia: The Euthanasia Program
According to our research (1), the NSDAP (the Nazi Party) moved the entire hospital to the Waldbreitenbach Monastery in Hausen, 70km from Waldbröl, in order to reconstruct the hospital into a Kraft durch Freude Hotel for the Nazi Party. Many of the patients removed from the Waldbröl hospital were spared the first wave of the “euthanasia” program in Hausen by hospital staff who intentionally delayed the process of selecting which patients would be killed. Of the 700 patients, 320 who could work were allowed to stay in Hausen, and the majority of them survived both euthanasia and the hardships of war. But the rest who could not work were sent to other institutions where most of them were murdered by intentional starvation, hypothermia or poisoning. (Please contact us for a more detailed historical account.)
Healing Old Wounds
After the war the psychiatric hospital-turned-hotel became the general medical hospital for the town of Waldbröl. Many Waldbrölers are proud of being born in this building. In the 1960’s the hospital moved to a larger location nearby and then the building was used by the German military. In 2007, Vietnamese Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh (also known as ‘Thay’ which means ‘teacher’ in Vietnamese) and his community acquired it and it is now the European Institute of Applied Buddhism or Das Europäisches Institut für Angewandten Buddhismus (EIAB).
On August 22, 2012, we will formally inaugurate the newly renovated EIAB, marking the historical opening of the entire ground floor of the main residence and former hospital, which will be open to the public for the first time since the founding of the EIAB four years ago. This auspicious event includes an Exhibition of many of Thay’s calligraphy and books, as well as the inauguration of a meditation garden marking the new entrance to the EIAB which will contain a gate and a stupa, a traditional Buddhist place of worship that visitors can walk around in mindfulness. The gate and the stupa are being made of large stone columns that have lain unused in the Asoka Building for over seventy years and were originally intended to create a large plaza in front of the building for speeches and gatherings by the Nazi Party. This inauguration represents an important step towards healing the wounds of this land and a transformation of the tragic history of the building. As one of Thay’s calligraphies states,
With the mud of discrimination and fanaticism,
we grow the lotus of tolerance and inclusiveness.
Make a Healing Heart Yourself
As part of this important work of transformation for our generation and generations to come, we invite you to join us in making 700 handmade hearts out of cloth, in honor of each of the 700 psychiatric and mentally disabled patients who once lived in this building. These hearts will then be arranged in an exhibit; an artistic installation of mobiles, sculptures, and case-displays in areas of the impressive ground floor which will then be available for visitors to experience and appreciate all year round. The inauguration on August 22 will also be the opening day of the Healing Hearts exhibit.
You may like to make a heart by cutting two heart shapes out of any cloth that you have at home, especially cloth that has some personal significance to you. Then you can sew the two sides together by hand or with a sewing machine and stuff it with cotton, wool or some other non-perishable material so it is three-dimensional. The heart should be about the size of your palm; a little smaller or bigger is also fine. Feel free to be as creative as you like in designing, coloring, embroidering or otherwise decorating it! Please contact us first if you wish to make a heart out of a material other than cloth.
An Invitation to remember with us
We are inviting the churches, the mosque, and other spiritual communities of Waldbröl to participate, as well as students, teachers, seniors, businesspeople, neighbors, those who attend meditation events at the EIAB and anyone else who is interested in commemorating these 700 people. Please help us spread the word to those you know who might be interested to participate. We invite other institutions in the area be partners with us in realizing this project. Also if you know artists who might enjoy helping us design and construct the installation of the hearts, we would be happy to have their support. Please let them know about this project and encourage them to contact us.
We also welcome the involvement of students and others in researching and documenting the historical background for the exhibit. Perhaps you know of people who might have an important story to share in relation to the history of the 700 patients. For instance, if some of the patients’ families wish to share, there will be space for more personal stories of the lives of a few of these patients. We are looking for such stories to help the exhibit be more concrete and moving, but will only display them anonymously unless families of the patients give specific permission to use their names.
We look forward to realizing together with you this important project, a small step towards the continuing transformation of the wounds and suffering of the past, which still affect us in the present.
Thank you in advance for your participation and support,
Sr. Jewel, on behalf of the EIAB, coordinator of the Healing Hearts project
Please bring or send your Healing Heart to the EIAB no later than July 16th with the completed form below attached to it.
Our address: EIAB, Schaumburgweg 3, 51545, Waldbröl, Germany. For more information contact Sr. Jewel: firstname.lastname@example.org