FROM SMALL BEGINNINGS...
"Race, Science and Eugenics in East Central Europe in the 19th and 20th Centuries"
November the 2nd and 3rd, hosted by Central European University, Vienna
CEU's move into Otto-Wagner-Areal ‘Am Steinhof'
CEU moving into Otto-Wagner-Areal ('Steinhof')
CEU (Central European University) will be soon initiating events, as part of From Small Beginnings, that will be looking at the continued legacies of eugenics from the perspective of Central Europe, with a particular emphasis on Vienna before, during and after the Nazi era. Details to follow shortly.
Since its establishment in 1991, CEU has always been guided by a set of principles: the pursuit of truth wherever it leads, respect for the diversity of cultures and peoples, and commitment to resolve differences through debate not denial. Central European University originally opened its doors in Warsaw, Prague and Budapest with the ambition to bring world class education to the future thinkers and leaders of the region. By 1995, all activities were moved to Budapest and CEU became even more engaged in defending human rights and the rule of law around the world. Thirty years later, the once small private graduate school now welcomes grads and undergrads from over 100 countries spread over 6 continents. In 2017, despite public outcry and international support for academic independence, the Hungarian government forced CEU out of the country. Since 2020, CEU offers its courses in its temporary location in Vienna, before moving in 2025 to its final home: the Otto Wagner Areal. Formerly known as Am Steinhof Psychiatric Hospital, the site is currently undergoing renovations to transform some of the century-old medical buildings into a modern university campus.
Established in 1907, and designed by the famed Viennese architect Otto Wagner, Am Steinhof was promoted as the largest and most progressive psychiatric institute in Europe. However, the site, tainted by eugenics and Nazi atrocities, raises important moral and political questions. Between 1938 and 1945, an estimated 7,500 patients were killed either through intentional neglect or systematic murder. More than 3,200 were transported to Castle Hartheim (near Linz), under the Aktion T-4 program, where they were gassed to death. Between 1940 and 1945, at least 789 children were murdered at the children’s ward, euphemistically named Am Spiegelgrund (reflection ground).
When CEU relocates to the Otto-Wagner-Areal in 2025, it will be joining existing organizations, like the Documentation Archive of Austrian Resistance (DÖW), as custodians of this troubled space. CEU remains optimistic that engaging with the dark legacy of Am Steinhof will not only bring further awareness to the topic of eugenics and the abhorrent practices of murder in the name of science, but ultimately help to further the principles of truth, diversity and debate.
‘Presidential Lectures’ on the history of the Otto-Wagner-Areal Am Steinhof.
Reckoning with the Steinhof Legacy:
Nazi Medical Crimes at the Psychiatric Hospital Am Steinhof:
Steinhof: A Difficult Modernity: