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Halle-Nietleben Asylum


Halle-Nietleben Asylum (1844 - 1934)

Location: Halle, Kingdom of Prussia

Halle-Nietleben Asylum

The Halle-Nieleben Provinzial-Irren-Anstalt (Provincial madhouse) was founded by a pupil of Hegel, Heinrich Damerow (1798-1866), who became the institution’s first director. At the time it opened it was the only public asylum in Saxony. It was the first German institution which by its title - Relativ verbundene Heil und Pflegeanstalt - claimed to combine healing and caring. Built on the site of a former vineyard of 60 hectares, Halle-Nieleben first admitted male patients in 1844 and female patients in 1857.

Its buildings were arranged around a rectangular courtyard, and comprised the houses with wards for the patients, separated into male and female, curable and incurable, accommodation for the director, the clergyman, the doctors, many civil servants and nurses, and a church. The wards could hold a total of 500 patients in three classes. In December 1851 (prior to the building of accommodation for female patients) there were 313 residents. By the time Moritz Köppe became the director in 1866, the asylum was overcrowded, conditions regarding hygiene and drinking water were unsatisfactory, and the care offered patients was coming under increasing critical scrutiny. Whereas Halle-Nietleben had enjoyed an international reputation as a model institution in the 1840s, in 1880 a member of the county parliament actually compared it to a prison.

In 1876 all patients who were able to work were transferred to Altscherbitz, a new asylum near Leipzig, which temporarily eased the situation. In the years that followed new buildings were added. In the 1920s Halle-Nietleben became renowned for the cure of syphilis. The asylum was closed in 1934 when space was required for new military barracks. Several of its buildings were subsequently demolished. After the Second World War, those that remained were used by a Soviet garrison till it left in 1991. In the 1990s, the remaining structures, including many of the original buildings, were redeveloped and now form part of a business and innovation park in Halle’s outskirts.