Lossa, Ernst
First name:
20th century
Place of birth:
* 01.11.1929
† 09.08.1944
Biography print

Victim of the Nazi regime


Ernst Lossa (1929-1944) was born on 1 November 1929 in Augsburg. His father, Christian Lossa, was Yenish and earned a living as a peddler (Cranach 2010, p. 89). His mother Anna Lossa died on 24 September 1933 from pulmonary tuberculosis. Ernst Lossa had two sisters and a brother: Amalie Lossa (b. 1931, m. Speidel), Anna Lossa (b. 1932) and Christian Lossa (b. 1933). Following the endorsement of the forced labour laws on 29 December 1935, his father was detained in Dachau, where he remained from 25 January 1936 until 24 December 1938. According to Amalie, he was taken into custody ‘because he railed against the SS in a pub’ (Römer 1986, p.18 f.). Lossa and his sisters were then placed in Augsburg-Hochzoll, a children’s home. In this place, Amalie recalls, she was often discriminated against as a "Gypsy", likely due to her father's heritage (ibid., 20). Deemed ‘ineducable’, on 15 February 1940 Ernst was sent to the Young People’s Home in Indersdorf near Dachau. Amalie states: ‘He ran away, stole a bike, and took the sandwiches of others’ (ibid., 20). Though he was intelligent and bright, Lossa’s school grades deteriorated. His misbehaviour in the home was reflected in a report that described him as a ‘burden to the community’ (ibid., p. 21). Subsequently, on 20 April 1942, he was transferred to the Kaufbeuren Psychiatric Institution (Cranach 2012a, p. 478; Steger 2005).


Kaufbeuren Psychiatric Institution

According to one of the attendants, Lossa was a ‘high-spirited’ and able boy, but he ‘kept stealing everything and doing all sorts of silly things’ (qtd. in Römer 1986, p. 21). Von Cranach (2012a, p. 479 f.) presents a ‘psychiatric report on Lossa Ernst’, showing that Lossa was a "good-natured but rather average-minded and completely weak-willed, uncontrollable, and compulsive psychopath". In addition, he was a perfect example of ‘the type of a man with inborn kleptomania.’ Römer (1986, p. 21) is convinced that Lossa was not mentally disturbed.

At that time Kaufbeuren was the largest psychiatric clinic in Swabia. The institution had a central role in the so-called ‘Euthanasia’ campaign in southern Germany. Michael von Cranach (2012a, p. 483) maintains that Ernst Lossa was aware of the systematic slaughter of the patients there. Lossa was transferred to the Irsee branch of Kaufbeuren on 5 May 1943. According to witnesses, he was executed on 9 August 1944, at the age of fourteen, under the pretext of receiving an injection for typhoid fever (Cranach 2012a, p. 484). Under the orders of the institution manager, Valentin Faltlhauser (1876-1961), and in the presence of attendant Paul Heichele (1896-1979), nurse Pauline Kneissler (1900-?) injected Lossa with morphine-scopolamine while he slept. He died the following day (Schmidt, Kuhlmann, von Cranach 2012, p. 292; Kolling 2017).


Court Trial

On 28 January 1948 the Regional Court of Frankfurt sentenced Pauline Kneissler to four years and attendant Paul Heichele to twelve months of prison. Both nurses Mina Wörle (1895-1973) and Olga Ritter (1901-1979) received prison sentences of 18 and 21 months, respectively (see Benedict & Shields 2014). The Higher Regional Court of Frankfurt upheld Kneissler's sentence on 20 October 1948 for murder and aiding and abetting.

The trial against those responsible for the events in Kaufbeuren took place in Augsburg in 1949 (see Rüter and de Mildt 2012, pp. 175-188, Case No. 162, Augsburg District Court, Decision No. 490730). The death of Ernst Lossa played an important part in the trial. On 30 July 1949, Valentin Faltlhauser was sentenced to three years in prison for incitement to manslaughter in at least 300 cases. However, the prison sentence was never enforced. His confinement was repeatedly postponed due to him being unfit for detention, and in 1954 he was pardoned by the Bavarian Minister of Justice (Harms 2010, p. 408). In court Faltlhauser stated that Lossa had been relocated to Kaufbeuren for the purpose of euthanasia. His death had been ordered by the Reich Committee for the Scientific Registering of Serious Hereditary and Congenital Illnesses (Römer 1985, p. 21 f.).


The Memory of Lossa

In memory of Ernst Lossa and his family, Stolpersteine (‘stumbling stones’) were placed in front of the home of the Lossas in Wertachstraße in Augsburg in May 2017 (Augsburg Stolpersteine Initiative 2017). In addition, a street in the Pfersee District of Augsburg was named after Ernst Lossa in 2008.

In 2008 Robert Domes published the fictionalized biographical novel Fog in August: The Life Story of Ernst Lossa. The movie adaptation of the book appeared in 2016 and was directed by Kai Wessel.



Benedict, S., Shields, L. (Hg.) (2014). Nurses and Midwives in Nazi Germany. The "Euthanasia Programs". New York: Routledge.

Cranach, M. v. (2010): Mitwissen und Kooperation. Die Haltung der Anstaltspsychiatrie. In: M. Rotzoll (Hg.): Die nationalsozialistische „Euthanasie"-Aktion „T4" und ihre Opfer. Geschichte und ethische Konsequenzen für die Gegenwart. Paderborn: Schönigh, pp. 83-90.

Cranach, M. v. (2012a). Ernst Lossa. Eine Krankengeschichte. In: Cranach, M. v., H. L. Siemen (Hg.): Psychiatrie im Nationalsozialismus. Die bayerischen Heil- und Pflegeanstalten zwischen 1933 und 1945. München: Oldenbourg, pp. 475-484.

Cranach, M. v. (2012b): Handlungsmotivation der NS-Euthanasieärzte. In: H. Förstl (Hg.): Theory of Mind. Berlin: Springer, pp. 253-262.

Cranach, M. v., Eberle, A., Hohendorf, G., S. v. Tiedemann (2018, Hg.): Gedenkbuch für die Münchener Opfer der nationalsozialistischen „Euthanasie“-Morde. Göttingen: Wallstein.

Domes, D. R. (2008): Nebel im August. Die Lebensgeschichte des Ernst Lossa. München: cbt.

Harms, I. (2010): Die Gutachter der Meldebogen. Kurzbiografien. In: M. Rotzoll (Hg.): Die nationalsozialistische „Euthanasie"-Aktion „T4" und ihre Opfer: Geschichte und ethische Konsequenzen für die Gegenwart. Paderborn: Schöningh, pp. 405-420.

Heberer, P. (2011): Children during the Holocaust. Altamira: Rowman.

Kolling, H. (2017): Heichele, Paul. In: H. Kolling (Hg.): Biographisches Lexikon zur Pflegegeschichte. „Who was who in Nursing history“. Bd. 7. Berlin, Wiesbaden: hpsmedia, pp. 109-114.

Römer, G. (1986): Die grauen Busse in Schwaben. Wie das Dritte Reich mit Geisteskranken und Schwangeren umging. Augsburg: Wißner.

Rüter, C. F.; de Mildt, D.W. (2012): Justiz und NS-Verbrechen, Bd. V, Verfahren Nr. 148 - 190 (1949). Amsterdam: University of Amsterdam, pp. 175-188.

Schmidt, M., Kuhlmann, R., M. v. Cranach (2012): Heil- und Pflegeanstalt Kaufbeuren. In: Cranach, M. v., H. L. Siemen (Hg.): Psychiatrie im Nationalsozialismus. Die bayerischen Heil- und Pflegeanstalten zwischen 1933 und 1945. München: Oldenbourg, pp. 265-325.

Steger, F. (2005): Kinder als Patienten der Heil-und Pflegeanstalt Kaufbeuren-Irsee. Die „Kinderfachabteilung “ in den Jahren 1941-1945. In: Sudhoffs Archiv 89, (2), pp. 129-150.

Stolpersteininitiative Augsburg (2017): Erinnerungsblatt 14: Familie Lossa. URL: http://www.vvn-augsburg.de/4_stadtrundgang/Erinnerung/Gedenkblatt014-2017_Familie%20Lossa.pdf



(1) Landgericht Frankfurt, Urteil wegen Euthanasie gegen Pauline Kneissler u.a., 28. Januar 1948; Staatsarchiv Sigmaringen Wü 29/3 T 1 Nr. 1759/03/09. Permalink: http://www.landesarchiv-bw.de/plink/?f=6-904690-2.

(2) Oberstaatsanwalt beim Landgericht Frankfurt, Schreiben vom 18. 11. 1948; Staatsarchiv Sigmaringen Wü 29/3 T 1 Nr. 1759/03/09. Permalink: http://www.landesarchiv-bw.de/plink/?f=6-904690-31.


Gereon Frederick Breuer

(English translation: Mila Daskalova)


Referencing format
Gereon Frederick Breuer (2019): Lossa, Ernst.
In: Biographisches Archiv der Psychiatrie.
URL: www.biapsy.de/index.php/en/9-biographien-a-z/276-lossa-ernst-engl
(retrieved on:17.04.2024)