Doctor and co-uncoverer of the Gross affair: Werner Vogt is dead

Doctor and co-uncoverer of the Gross affair: Werner Vogt is dead
Werner Vogt (r.) in an archive photo from 2001
Image: (APA)

The filmmaker, screenwriter and journalist Elisabeth Scharang, whose family was friends with Vogt, announced this via Facebook on Saturday evening. Vogt, a native of Tyrol, was 85 years old. Vogt became known through his argument with the psychiatrist and court expert Heinrich Gross, who was controversial about his past under National Socialism.

That’s what the Gross case is about

Vogt made the public aware that Gross – one of the busiest court experts in the judiciary until the 1980s – had abused disabled children for research purposes as a ward doctor at the Vienna “euthanasia clinic” Am Spiegelgrund during the Third Reich. In 1979, Vogt accused Gross of being involved in the murder of hundreds of children after he met Spiegelgrund survivor Friedrich Zawrel. Gross sued the controversial trauma surgeon for defamation and lost the case. The court expert’s career was damaged and criminal investigations were launched. However, it took almost 20 years before Gross was charged with murder on charges of participating in the killing of nine children in the summer of 1944. However, the trial at the Vienna Regional Court for Criminal Matters was put on hold shortly after the trial began in March 2000 due to the defendant’s “advanced cerebral dementia”. Gross died at the end of 2005.

Trauma surgeon with many assignments abroad

Vogt, who worked as a trauma surgeon at the Lorenz Böhler Hospital in Vienna from 1969 to 2000, also provided medical assistance on missions abroad – for example in Nicaragua or Kosovo. In 2003 he was appointed nursing ombudsman in Vienna, after which he worked as a nursing ombudsman in the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs. In 2019 he was honored for his life’s work by the Austrian League for Human Rights.

“Significant contributions to society”

The Association of Social Democratic Academics, Intellectuals and Artists (BSA) expressed recognition to the deceased surgeon on Sunday. “Werner Vogt gave back dignity to many, like Friedrich Zawrel, who were victims of National Socialist terror and revealed that willing enforcers of this horror, like the psychiatrist Heinrich Gross, found their political home in the BSA after the end of the Nazi dictatorship .” This led to the BSA documenting and processing this past under Sepp Rieder and Caspar Einem. “His commitment to justice and his commitment to social and humane medicine were not always appreciated by social democracy, but were significant contributions to a humanistic society,” said BSA President Andreas Mailath-Pokorny.

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