The Villa Where a Doctor Experimented on Children

September 27, 2023

(The New Yorker) – Then Evy scrolled through her search results for the Sonnenstrasse villa, which were in German, she noticed an unusual word: Kinderbeobachtungsstation, or “child-observation station.” She’d always assumed that the villa had been some sort of psychiatric facility. It had seemed like “a transfer hub,” as she recently put it—a place where children were monitored, classified, and then sent to other institutions. From the search results, Evy learned the name of the woman who’d headed the place: Dr. Maria Nowak-Vogl, a psychologist at the University of Innsbruck. Typing Nowak-Vogl’s name into Google, she learned that the villa had indeed been a psychiatric facility, of a very peculiar kind. In 2013, an expert commission under the aegis of the Medical University of Innsbruck had issued a damning report about the facility, saying that Nowak-Vogl had perpetrated systematic abuse under the guise of dealing with “difficult” children. The report came three years after a muckraking Austrian historian named Horst Schreiber published a book that reported on Nowak-Vogl, “In Namen der Ordnung” (“In the Name of Order”). Schreiber had interviewed dozens of Nowak-Vogl’s victims and had publicly demanded that the Austrian government offer them apologies and financial compensation. The government, Evy learned, was now doing so. (Read More)