Theresia KARAS was born in Parsch (now a district inside the city of Salzburg) on May 13, 1928. She was the youngest of the four children born of the Catholic couple Maria and Josef Karas.
Her father was a railroader with the Austrian National Railroad (ÖBB) and the entire family had local citizenship rights in Gnigl (which became part of the city of Salzburg in 1935).
After August 1928 they lived in the ÖBB-Family House Number 9 (at what was then 27 Schillinghofstraße, now it is the Aglassingerstraße).
Theresia, who was called »Reserl« by her parents and siblings, came down with polio when she was two and never fully recovered.
Thanks to her older siblings she was able to attend the primary school in Gnigl, but health problems forced her to drop out after the third grade.
After September 1939 she was a patient in the Evangelical Diakoniewerk in Gallneukirchen near Linz in Upper Austria. A letter that the 11-12 year old Theresia wrote to her parents shows that she was mentally healthy and active:
Thank you for your card, is father at home, is he on vacation? I’m doing well, was just out walking with all the children, the sun is shining but it still isn’t warm! The fall is beautiful, the trees are yellow, there are many leaves down in the garden! Two new girls have arrived!
Every day I go to the workshop and sew patches! Are you all doing well, are you all healthy as I am?
Many heartfelt greetings from your Resi – I often go to church.
On January 13, 1941 59 patients from the Gallneukirchen Diakoniewerk were transferred to the Hartheim killing center and murdered, including the 12 year old Theresia Karas from Salzburg.
Like all the other victims of the secret Nazi »T4«1 campaign her death was not recorded in the city of Salzburg police registration files.
Theresia’s parents received a false report from the Pirna-Sonnenstein Clinic that their daughter had died there unexpectedly from septicemia.
On March 1, 1941 her parents and siblings received an urn with an accompanying note — and that was all, none of her personal effects were ever returned to her family.
Theresia’s mother died in Salzburg in 1962, and her father died here in 1971. Neither of them ever learned that their beloved »Reserl« had been murdered at Hartheim.
The Salzburg Academic Gymnasium is the sponsor of the Stumbling Block for Theresia Karas.
1 The »T4« murder campaign was so-called after the address of its Berlin headquarters at number 4 Tiergartenstraße.
Main persons responsible for the murders of the sick in Salzburg: Dr. Friedrich Rainer as Reichsstatthalter, Dr. Oskar Hausner as head of the Gaufürsorgeamt, Dr. Leo Wolfer as head of the Landesheilanstalt and Dr. Heinrich Wolfer as head of the hereditary biology department of the Landesheilanstalt (today Christian Doppler Clinic).
- Salzburg city archives
- The learning and memorial center at Schloss Hartheim
Translation: Stan Nadel
Laid 03.07.2014 at Salzburg, Aglassingerstraße