History of Kent School - part 4

The British arrive ...

In 1952 the expropriation of all properties of the Franciscan Order by the Nazis was cancelled. Although the brotherhood could now redeem Hostert (at an appropriate price) the feeling was they would not be able to lead the St. Josefsheim community as before, so they sold the buildings to the newly-formed German federation.

In 1952 the Allies rented the institute in Waldniel Hostert, initially for use as a military hospital.

The old building
Main entrance of the British hospital and school

British Military hospital

In the nearby Hardter Forest the Allies were setting up what was to become JHQ and since more military bases were being established a British hospital became necessary. Before the British moved into the buildings in Hostert, there needed to be some conversions made. The two original blocks of 1913 were connected with modern corridors. A modern clinic with two surgical, paediatrician and psychiatric departments were then developed.

It is fascinating that some ex-Kentie pupils actually arrived in this world in the maternity ward of the very buildings they would later attend school at!

Kent/Windsor School

In 1963 Queens School was bursting at the seams and it was clear another school was required in the area. Wegberg was established to offer better hospital facilities so the Hostert site converted into a school.

The redevelopment work included a gymnasium and swimming pool. To the right of the original buildings a cemetery and a large bus park were built, and on the left homes for British soldier families were built in 1967. During the redevelopment work human bones were discovered - remains of the patients who died at the institute between 1939 and 1945.

At the height of it's time as a school it had around 6,000 pupils attending. Interestingly, the school got nicknamed "Colditz", not due to it's wartime past but to it's gothic looking buildings sited high on a hill - so that could be clearly seen as you arrived on those lovely military tin can buses!

The organ stage
Organ stage in the church, 2004

New owners

Due to the general reduction of the Allies military engagement in Germany, Waldniel Hostert was no longer required and so the authorities offered the real estate for purchase. Schwalmtal made two of the buildings that were part of the original complex listed buildings and so protected from being demolished. There have been many proposals, including a catering company using the former church and the following administrative block. The latest thinking is a hotel.

In 2000 the site was purchased by an investor from Duesseldorf. We wait to see what happens.

In front of the gate of the Memorial Garden, 2004

In Memory

The former institute cemetery was inaugurated 1988 as a Memorial Garden for the victims of the National Socialist "euthanasia program". It is known that within the institute's cemetery many hundred patients were buried. Under the Fraciscans until 1935 the annual death rate was an average of 12. Between 1939 and 1943 a total of 512 people died including 128 children from the "specialist division"

The gate
Memorial garden with gate, 2004

The original memorial site

The Pfarre St. Mariae Ascension Day used the institute chapel as church. Therefore it was understandable that once acquired in 1958, the cemetery was no longer properly maintained. In 1962 monies were collected which was used to erect a memorial cross. In 1981 it was shifted from the church to the Waldnieler Heath.

The cross
Cross of 1960, made from cast stone

The new memorial site

In 1987 it was decided the Schwalmtal authorities, following lobbying by the local citizens, established the cemetery as a permanent memorial site for the victims of the Nazi "euthanasia programme". On the 26th November 1988 it was handed over to the public.

Cushion stone with the inscription "The innocent victims"

Part 1   PART 1 - The start of the story

Part 2   PART 2 - Provincial ownership

Part 3   PART 3 - The church building

Part 5   PART 5 - Final notes

Page last updated on: Thu, 13 Jun 2013 11:30