Bethel Institution

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Bethel Institution
Established 1865
Opened 1867
Current Status Active
Building Style Single Building
Location Bielefeld, Germany
Alternate Names
  • Evangelische Heil- und Pflegeanstalt für Epileptische (Protestant institute of healing and care for epileptics)


At the request of the Provincial Committee gather in Dusseldorf those who want to support an institution founded for people with epilepsy. The preparatory committee shall decide to set up a small hospital for formable epileptic boy. Since most previously existing institutions were in the Rhineland, the new institution will be located in Westphalia. Construction of a new hospital building in 1871. The first, called Ebenezer House was intended from the outset to be temporary until the construction of a new hospital building. After completion, the new hospital building was named Bethel, that house of God. Later it was called Greater Bethel. The house has an extensive vegetable garden and fields, so that the residents can be involved in field work.

In 1874, to offer the supervised in Bethel people with epilepsy more meaningful work of the first crafts enterprise, the joinery is established. In the following years, further business establishments follow. Many of these companies still exist today. Opening of the House "Friedrich Hütte" in the Senne for alcoholics in 1888.

By 1911, after several years of planning a new hospital facility New Moriah was opened. It offered space for the inclusion of 120 so-called "lunatics" and "epileptic madman" patients, ie people with mental illness. In acutely ill patients Moriah both as long-term patients were included. 429 deaths in 1917 among the sick through malnutrition. Hunger in Bethel in spite of the relief by Torflieferungen for heating and oats supplies from sanctuary and the products of the agricultural stations of the institutions.

The "Law for the Prevention of Genetically Diseased Offspring" in 1933 adopted and entered into force on January 1, 1934. By excluding supposedly hereditary contaminated groups of people from the reproductive one should arise "purified body politic". The sterilization was considered a scientifically sound reasonable measure for the prevention of Genetically Diseased Offspring. This "small sacrifice" meant you to be able to expect the person concerned. In Bethel had to euthanasia and eugenics since the twenties repeatedly different relative position. A classification of human life as unworthy of life has always been rejected on principle Christian considerations, however, been endorsed eugenics. Even prison director Fritz von Bodelschwingh her was quite receptive to, on the one hand as a portable concession to medical progress, on the other hand as a humane alternative to the "euthanasia", which he always refused uncompromising. From 1934 at least 1 176 people are forcibly sterilized in Bethel hospitals. Today a stele in the town of Bethel is reminiscent of this injustice.

In Bethel-publishing some publications have appeared that deal with critical and open the topic of euthanasia and eugenics, among other clues of Anneliese Hochmuth and stamped Lifetime as inferior , issue of Pastor Bernward Wolf. In the 1997 by Professor Dr. Matthias Benad published book about "Friedrich v. Bodelschwingh d. J. and the Bethel Institutions" deal among others the historian Dr. Bernd Walter and Dr. Niels Pörksen, former chief physician of the Psychiatric Hospital in Bethel, the issue of forced sterilization.

Second World War[edit]

Notification of establishments and homes by the Reich Defense Commissioner. Laying sick in collective transports without notification of their families. Mid-April 1940 begins the evacuation of several institutions. Shortly afterwards strange obituaries appear in the newspapers. There is talk of immediate cremation of the dead. Pastor Paul Gerhard Braune, Head of Hoffnungstal Institutions and Vice President of the Central Committee of Internal Mission of the German Evangelical Church investigated these deaths. He notes discrepancies. So carrying the urn of a deceased on April 10 from Grafeneck as the no. A 498. On 12 May, the urn of another deceased in Grafeneck wears the number. A 1092. On June 28, before the number. A 3111. The institution but Grafeneck counts only 100 beds. Pastor Braune and Fritz v. Bodelschwingh make representations with these results with government agencies, but received no response.

Pastor Paul Gerhard Braune, Head of the Institution of belonging to Bethel Hoffnungstal Institutions Lobetal and Mayor of Lobetal is arrested by the Gestapo and sent to the infamous prison in the Prinz-Albrecht-Strasse in Berlin, where he three months detained and interrogated in "protective custody" becomes. Reason for the arrest was Brown used for the persecuted, and especially his fight against euthanasia. After the first rumors had arisen over murders of patients researched Pastor Brown and gathered evidence of the government-mandated, but top secret misdeeds. Fritz von Bodelschwingh supported him there. In early July sent Paul Braune its results to Adolf Hitler, Hermann Goering and Justice Minister Gurtner and protested in a memorandum vigorously against the killing.

During the war, carried out eleven air raids on Bethel; 25,000 incendiary bombs and 70 explosive bombs fell. 1,100 nursing places were lost. About 100 houses were hit; 15 houses were completely destroyed; 58 dead had Bethel to mourn by air raids; 519 members of the Zion Church have fallen or died. Bethel receives thousands of requests for missing relatives. Voices of the churches and many other places are loud, "Bethel wants to help." Bethel targeted as the first organization of its kind, a search service Bethel. Up to 80 employees work in the browser. The end of 1950 the index includes three million names.

Post War[edit]

In 1962, started industrial work in an old wooden barrack, because fewer and fewer residents with disabilities are able to craft and agriculture to work in the traditional areas of work. 17 disabled employees and a foreman begin deburring and installation of various plastic parts. From these beginnings, the sheltered workshops in Bethel arise. By the end of it are seven workshops, ie a central and seven house workshops in which a total of 100 people are employed with disabilities. The Bethel Institution is currently still being used as a mental hospital.[1]