ISSN: 1230-2813
Advances in Psychiatry and Neurology/Postępy Psychiatrii i Neurologii
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vol. 26

History and the present – thirty years of German-Polish psychiatry meetings

Friedrich Leidinger
Andrzej Cechnicki

Adv Psychiatry Neurol 2017; 26 (3): 121-126
Online publish date: 2017/09/30
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On Wednesday, 6 May 1987, in front of the university psychiatry clinic in Cracow, there was a group of men and women waiting for the guests to arrive. But the guests were late. While those waiting for the visitors were patiently standing on the sidewalk, the weak May sun was hiding behind rain clouds growing heavier every minute. It started to rain and hail. The group of waiting people got caught in downpour and had no place to take shelter. Their scarves, hats and wadded jackets were dripping wet. But it seemed that this did not bother them. The elder ones have witnessed worse than this. They spent time talking about things they would do with the visitors when they got home. Finally, more than two hours later than expected, a coach with Cologne number plates took a turn into Kopernika Street. In this coach, there were thirty employees of psychiatric institutions from Western and Northern Lands. They were to spend the next four days in the homes of Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp survivors, their children and Cracow psychiatrists.
A group of people from the Federal Republic of Germany – physicians, nurses, psychologists, sociologists and educators – had been on their way for a week. They were following the tracks of German psychiatric patients who during the war – in the period from 1940 to 1944 – were deported to Poland occupied by Germany and murdered there. When on the first day they appeared at the entrance to the psychiatric hospital in Międzyrzecz, they heard the words: “The last Germans we had here were wearing uniforms”.
Psychiatrists from Germany were treated in a friendly manner everywhere they went, they could move around freely and undisturbed. They were impressed by a hall to commemorate 10,000 German psychiatric patients murdered in Międzyrzecz. They visited psychiatric hospitals in Gniezno and Warta, listened to Mr Chróścielewski, a forensic medicine Professor, a former Auschwitz prisoner, who was talking about his research covering hundreds of mass graves located in the former province called “Warthegau”, they talked to Mr Zakrzewski, who at the age of two was imprisoned in the youth camp (“Jugendverwahrlager Litzmannstadt”), and to Ms dr Kaleniewicz who, as a young doctor, was a witness to the murder of Polish patients to make place for thousands of the sick deported from Germany. They laid flowers at the bunker in Fort VII, former KZ Posen, in the...

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