Nazi doctor who killed disabled children is freed
Wednesday 22 March 2000
The Austrian psychiatrist accused of murdering handicapped children during the Nazi era walked free yesterday, after Vienna's high court declared him unfit to stand trial.
Heinrich Gross, 84, who rose to prominence after the Second World War despite his known role in the Nazis' euthanasia programme, was said to be suffering from dementia.
Last week he was giving lucid interviews to the Austrian press. Yesterday, he was struggling with basic questions. "Can you understand me?" Judge Karlheinz Seewald asked. "Badly," Dr Gross replied. "Can you understand anything?" - "A little."
Dr Gross was Austria's leading forensic psychiatrist after the war, working at the same court that was to decide his fate. But when his successor read out a report on the defendant's mental health, Dr Gross said he did not understand a word.
At this point the judge suspended proceedings indefinitely. "I very strongly doubt whether Dr Gross will ever be deemed fit to stand trial," the prosecutor, Michael Klackl, admitted.
Thus ends the third and final attempt to bring Dr Gross to book. In 1950 the case against him collapsed on a technicality. He was nearly put on trial in the 1980s but his crimes were notexempted from Austria's 30-year statute of limitations. New documentary evidence put Dr Gross in the dock at last for nine counts of murder.
More than 700 disabled children branded a burden to the Fatherland by him and his colleagues were killed. Dr Gross preserved their brains in jars, and dissected them during his glittering post-war career. The brains, still showing traces of the drug that killed them, were to have been used as evidence.
Now they can be finally laid to rest in a common grave, as silence descends once again on Austria's sinister past.
- 1 'Not suppost to cry': 9-year-old lists the worst things about being a boy
- 4 Woman opens professional cuddling shop – gets 10,000 customers in first week
- 5 Grayson Perry: London needs affordable housing because 'rich people don't create culture'
Ryan Gosling granted temporary restraining order against a woman 'convinced she was his twin flame'
Jennifer Lawrence sings in new The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Pt 1 clip on YouTube
Mike Nichols dead: The Graduate director dies suddenly following cardiac arrest
Anti-gay hate preacher accidentally tweets 4,000 followers cartoon clip of him 'confessing' to be a 'homosexual sodomite'
Woman opens professional cuddling shop – gets 10,000 customers in first week
Rochester by-election: Ukip gains second MP as Tory defector Mark Reckless holds seat
'Beast of Bolsover' Dennis Skinner takes Ukip MP Mark Reckless to task moments after he is sworn in
Rochester by-election: Labour MP Emily Thornberry resigns after posting white van and England flags tweet
France 'blocks' Russian sailors from boarding a warship
Revealed: How the world gets rich – from privatising British public services
Myleene Klass: Ed Miliband 'strikes back' by comparing UK's need for Labour's mansion tax to Hear'Say track
Voluntary Only - Expenses Reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: A trustee (company d...
£45000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join a successful an...
£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Digital Sales Account Manager...