VIENNA — Hundreds of skeletons have been exhumed from a Nazi-era graveyard suspected of holding mentally or physically disabled victims of mass killings and many had bones apparently broken by hospital personnel, an anthropologist said Monday.
George McGlynn told reporters that about a third of the 221 skeletons have been examined and half of those — about 35 — had broken ribs. Others had broken noses or collarbones.
It had long been suspected that the remains — dug up over the past seven months from a disused hospital cemetery in the Tyrollean city of Hall, east of Innsbruck — were those of people killed by the Nazis because of physical or mental disabilities.
McGlynn said it could still not be confirmed whether they were killed, although the fractures were likely the result of violence they suffered while in the hospital. "I doubt they resulted directly in death," he said.
The anthropologist was cited by the Austrian Press Agency as saying that none of the fractures were listed in the medial histories of the deceased, strongly indicating that such injuries occurred after they were admitted to the hospital.
Across Europe, 75,000 people were killed before and during World War II for real or imagined mental, physical or social disabilities that did not fit Nazi pseudo-Aryan ideals. The killings were part of a mass "euthanasia" campaign ordered by Adolf Hitler.
McGlynn said earlier this year that initial examinations had shown that the remains were of people who were either physically or mentally disabled. Officials Monday said their ages ranged from 14-years old to over 90, and both sexes were equally represented.
They said attempts were being made to contact descendants and still-living hospital personnel.