Vitos Rheingau

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Vitos Rheingau non-profit GmbH

legal form profit company
founding 1815
Seat Eltville am Rhein , Germany
management Servet Dag
Branch psychiatry

Eichberg Clinic near Eltville

Vitos Rheingau (formerly the Center for Social Psychiatry Rheinblick ) is an institution of the State Welfare Association of Hesse in Eltville am Rhein , which goes back to an " insane asylum " opened in 1815 in the Eberbach monastery . The company is part of the Vitos GmbH holding, which was initially founded on January 1, 2008 under the name LWV-Gesundheitsmanagement GmbH .


Beginnings as a "madhouse"

The establishment of the " Eberbach Madhouse " in 1815 was based on an edict of the Duchy of Nassau , in which part of the Eberbach monastery was to be made available for this purpose. On August 16, 1815, the facility opened with four mentally ill patients.

The proximity to the “correction house”, a kind of “reformatory” for socially deviant people, was, however, an expression of a basic understanding aimed at the “deviation” of those affected. Nevertheless, a kind of understanding of illness gradually developed, which is expressed, for example, in the aid association established at the time for the care of discharged mentally ill people, which was supported in the region by a total of over 1200 paying members and which helped those affected to reintegrate into society (work, home, etc. .) supported.

The premises soon became too small. This was followed by the planning of a facility specifically geared to the needs of a sanatorium that were propagated at the time. Historical reports show that the buildings erected were counted among the most beautiful institutions in Germany. In contrast to some other facilities for the mentally ill, the clinic was built at a location that is visible from afar. This avoided the impression that they just wanted to hide the sick.

On October 18, 1849, the new ducal Nassau sanatorium and nursing home was opened on a site southeast of the monastery, the " Landes-Heil- und Pflegeanstalt Eichberg ". The architect was construction officer Eduard Zais . 160 patients moved to the new building.

The selection of the first director was based on a selection process, during which the applicants, in addition to their scientific reputation, were sent on a trip through Germany to inquire about improvements in the treatment of mentally ill people and to include them in a scientific discussion and later in the treatment of the Allow patients to flow in. The choice fell on Ludwig Snell, then 29 years old. In addition to his “somatic” approach, he was characterized by early social-psychiatric approaches, the implementation of which only made him known beyond the borders after he moved to an institution in Hildesheim.

After the new buildings were no longer sufficient, some of the sick were temporarily housed again in the monastery buildings until further buildings were ready for occupancy in 1884. At this time, the relief organization that had meanwhile faded into the background was revived by the then director Schroeter under the name "Eichberger Aid Association for the Mentally Diseased" . After internal improvements were made during this time, the originally humanitarian approaches deteriorated, especially under the impression of tighter financial possibilities. In Germany, for example, more and more institutions praised themselves as “surviving” economically independently, which, in view of the mentally and often physically attacked people, could only be made possible through excessive use of their remaining workforce.

After biological explanatory approaches in the early days of the sanatoriums and nursing homes relativized the still common religious or morally intended stigmatizations of those affected and thus opened the way to an understanding of illness, these explanatory approaches gradually came to a head at the end of the 19th century in the sense of a hereditary theory, which should ultimately represent the basis for the murder of thousands of mentally ill people that would then begin. Up to the First World War there were 750 beds.

In the course of the war, due to poor nutritional and hygienic conditions, the number fell to a quarter compared to 1914. From 1932 to 1937 this number was increased to 900.

Killings, murders of the sick during the National Socialist era

Monument by Uwe Kunze from 1993

With the rise of National Socialism , the ideas of a so-called Social Darwinism came to a head. Mentally ill people, especially patients with schizophrenic psychoses and mentally impaired people, were understood to be hereditary. This understanding of mental illnesses and disabilities should soon be sufficient in the sense of the onset of Nazi racial hygiene to sterilize thousands against their will and later to murder them in the context of the mass murders committed by the sick, which were called Aktion T4 after 1945 . The Eichberg acted both as a transit station to other killing institutions and as a killing site .

As early as 1939, the National Socialists had 178 patients at the Eichberg Clinic forcibly sterilized . Friedrich Mennecke became director of the Eichberg in January 1939. From 1941, the institution, like the institutions in Andernach , Herborn , Scheuert , Weilmünster and the Kalmenhof in Idstein , was a transit station for around 2,200 people who were killed in the gas chambers of the Hadamar killing center during the T4 campaign . This was done in order to cover up the whereabouts of the evacuated patients. When they were "transported away", the victims were taken to the train station in Hattenheim in gray buses of the non-profit ambulance transport company ( GeKraT ) with windows hung .

In the facility, which was designed for 900 patients, up to 1,800 people were accommodated in partly three-story beds. In the Second World War , people were killed / murdered on the Eichberg itself from 1941 onwards. In the children's department alone , which was headed by Mennecke's deputy Walter Schmidt , at least 430 children were murdered. This was partly done in cooperation with Heidelberg University Psychiatry . From 1942 until Germany's liberation in 1945, adults were also killed. According to clinical records, this was a total of more than 3,600 people, including 600 own patients and 2,000 people transported here.

Memorial forms

After the end of the National Socialist era, the clinic was again run as a psychiatric department. However, it was not until many years later that the events were critically reflected on on site. Some of the responsible employees were able to continue their service with impunity despite their past.

It was not until 1985 that a cross was erected in the prison cemetery to commemorate the euthanasia victims. In 1988, a memorial plaque on the chapel of the cemetery also commemorated the murdered children. A memorial stone of the stonemason Uwe Kunze commissioned by the State Welfare Association of Hesse was dedicated to them in 1993 . It shows a sarcophagus from which a teddy bear, a wooden horse and children's dishes protrude. The inscription on the sarcophagus reads:

»In memory of the many people who were victims of Nazi forced sterilization and 'euthanasia' crimes on the Eichberg, we remember - the 301 women and men who were forced sterilized from 1935 to 1939 - the 2019 patients Patients who were transferred to the Hadamar killing center in 1940/41 via the Eichberg killing center, including 660 people from Eichberg - the 476 handicapped children who were observed from 1941 to 1945 in a so-called children's department for “scientific purposes” and then murdered - of the many patients who died violently from 1942 to 1945 from malnutrition and overdosed medication. Your life and death are a reminder and a mandate for the present and the future.

post war period

After the number of patients increased again in the post-war period, some of whom also eke out their lives there for years in hospital wards, the psychiatry enquête paved the way for the socio-psychiatric era. For the first time, it named the unequal treatment of the mentally ill compared to the physically ill and introduced appropriate laws to improve the care of the mentally ill.

As a result, the clinics were able to hire more staff. However, it was not until the 1980s that the possibilities were used more extensively. Then, however, the necessary modifications were made to dismantle the hospital wards that were still in use. The wave of dephospitalization that then emerged showed that many of the abnormalities of the patients were more due to years of internment in closed rooms than to the illness itself. However, the changes in the clinic were only flanked by increasing social psychiatric offers in the previously poorly cared for regions.


Vitos Clinic Eichberg

The Vitos Klinik Eichberg with 214 inpatient beds as well as a further 20 places in the Wiesbaden day clinic and an institute outpatient clinic on site with a branch in Wiesbaden takes over the inpatient care for the Rheingau-Taunus district. The patients are cared for by 320 full-time nurses. In addition to the care of the mentally ill in open, psychotherapeutic and closed wards, there is also treatment for addicts with detoxification for alcohol and drug addicts. The departments work together with other providers of complementary regional help including addiction counseling centers and social psychiatric centers.

The compulsory care for the patients of the state capital Wiesbaden was given to the Dr. Horst Schmidt Clinics (HSK) in Wiesbaden-Dotzheim . Their psychiatric department was enlarged and rebuilt.

Vitos Clinic Rheinhöhe

The Rheinhöhe Clinic with its locations in Eltville and Idstein and a day clinic in Wiesbaden was opened in 1974 as a clinic for child and adolescent psychiatry, psychosomatics and psychotherapy. In addition to the clinic locations, it also has outpatient departments in Eltville, Wiesbaden, Idstein, Bad Ems and in the Hochtaunus.

Eichberg cultural center

The Eichberg cultural center , or KuZ for short , was opened in 1991. The idea of ​​the KuZ is related to the socio-psychiatric developments that began at that time and the intention to be closer to the community, which was not given at least for the patients from Wiesbaden due to the rural location. Conversely, the KuZ should bring relatives, residents and the population of the region into the facility through its open cultural program in order to enable contact to a natural social environment at least within the facility. Today the KuZ works extremely successfully and creates a program every year with its own music and cabaret program and a communal cinema.

The studio, which is well-known beyond the borders, deserves a special mention, in which psychiatric experts can freely paint and draw under the open, technical rather than content-related guidance of the artist Helmut Mair. The works of some artists there have already been presented and published nationwide. For his work with patients and his own work, Helmut Mair, who has headed the studio since 1995, was honored with the Rheingau-Taunus District Culture Prize in 2005 . The studio and the KuZ can be visited during the opening times specified in the program.

Vitos accompanying psychiatric services

In 1994 the dephospitalization area was put into operation. In 1997 it was renamed the residential and nursing home for people with mental disabilities and since 2009 this area has been operating under the name of accompanying psychiatric services . This facility maintains a residential and rehabilitation offer for people with mental disabilities according to SGB XII with the locations Rüdesheim am Rhein , Geisenheim , Eltville and Wiesbaden, a residential and rehabilitation offer for people with alcohol-related brain damage according to SGB XII on the Eichberg, as well as a residential and rehabilitation offer for chronically multiple addicts (CMA) according to SGB XII in Wiesbaden-Biebrich . There are also day-structuring offers in the form of day structure centers and occupational therapy.

Vitos Clinic for Forensic Psychiatry Eltville

After capacities on the Eichberg became free through the creation of outdoor living groups and the assumption of inpatient care for Wiesbaden by the Dr.-Horst-Schmidt-Kliniken, these have been used as a penal system since 2001 .

Vitos Clinic for Psychosomatics Eltville

In January 2019, a psychosomatic clinic was opened on the Eichberg site . It comprises 26 fully inpatient treatment places.

See also


  • G. Deutschle: "To err is human". A report about the Eichberg today. In: Home year book of the Rheingau-Taunus-Kreis . 48, 1997, pp. 161-164.
  • H. Dickel: Everyday life in a state hospital during National Socialism. The example of Eichberg. in: D. Blasius, C. Vanja (Ed.): Euthanasia in Hadamar. The National Socialist Extermination Policy in Hessian Institutions. Accompanying volume for the exhibition of the State Welfare Association Hessen. Kassel 1991, ISBN 3-89203-015-4 , pp. 105-113.
  • A. Goldberg: Sex, religion, and the making of modern madness. The Eberbach Asylum and German Society, 1815-1849. Oxford [u. a.] 2001, ISBN 0-19-514052-4 .
  • E. Krausbeck: The madhouse at Eberbach. The history of Nassau psychiatry in the age of Biedermeier in Eltville. Bad Ems 1992, ISBN 3-929610-00-0 .
  • Markus Benedikt Kreitmair: In Fear of the Frail. The Treatment of the Disabled at the Eichberg Asylum for the Mentally Ill in Nazi Germany . Master thesis. Simon Fraser University 2000 (PDF; 8.09 MB).
  • C. Niesta-Hoffmann (Ed.): 150 years of Eichberg. A reason to celebrate? Eltville 1999.
  • P. Sandner: Administration of the murder of the sick. The Nassau District Association under National Socialism. Giessen 2003, ISBN 3-89806-320-8 ( Historical series of publications by the State Welfare Association of Hesse. University publications. 2).
  • AT Schneider-Wendling: Institutional psychiatry under National Socialism using the example of the Eichberg sanatorium. Dissertation. University of Mainz 1997.
  • C. Vanja, G. Deutschle, Vitos Rheingau (Ed.): Knowledge and Irren. Two centuries of psychiatry history - Eberbach and Eichberg. revised new edition. Kassel 2015, ISBN 978-3-00-050998-8 ( Historical series of publications by the State Welfare Association of Hesse. Sources and studies. 6).

Web links

Commons : Eichberg (Eltville)  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. a b Lutz Kaelber: Commemoration of the Nazi "Child Euthanasia" - the case study of the Eichberg State Hospital ( Memento from September 1, 2019 in the Internet Archive )
  2. ^ Memorial site ( Memento of April 4, 2018 in the Internet Archive ) Official Vitos Rheingau website

Coordinates: 50 ° 2 '17.9 "  N , 8 ° 3' 36.7"  E