Kinderheim 511 is an orphanage in old East Germany where a series of terrifying psychological experiments were performed, to which Johan Liebert, Christof Sievernich, and an unspecified number of other children were subjected during their stay there.
The orphanage differs from other German orphanages in that it was the only orphanage maintained by the Internal Department as opposed to the others, such as Kinderheim 47, which were under Welfare Department management.
Kinderheim 511 has a tainted reputation with Erna Tietze and other orphanage administrators like her because of its involvement with inhumane experiments on children.
- 1 Under the Internal Affairs Department
- 2 As a laboratory for special experiments
- 3 Disbandment
- 4 Others
Under the Internal Affairs Department
Located somewhere around the former East Berlin, Kinderheim 511 is a special orphanage run by both the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Internal Affairs. It was not just for ordinary orphans; also among its ranks were the children of criminals, political activists, traitors, and spies, people who under the Soviet East German regime warranted not even the most basic of human rights. As such, they were subject to inhumane discrimination, with little other than the most grudging care given to their survival.
It was a place maintained by the contradiction between socialism and totalitarianism --they were treated like prisoners. Directors and instructors displayed unethical behaviour to the children of Kinderheim 511, and they took the packages sent for the children for themselves and resold them. Run by the principle of fear and violence, the children grew estranged from each other, eventually growing to live only for each child's own self-preservation. According to Erna Tietze, it was an experiment laboratory.
The exhaust fan is one of the most commonly seen memories from 511.
The exhaust fan seems to be one of the most riveting memories of 511 to Mikhail Petrov as well, as it is shown in a flashback when Grimmer mentioned the experiments that took place there. As a note of trivia, the object is installed at the top of the window that Johan stays in front of during the opening sequence, although the exhaust fan itself is not visible during it.
Putting it in a politically correct statement, the goal of this orphanage was to serve as a model for reeducation among East German people. Plainly put, its goal was meant to reprogram children into being perfect soldiers entirely at the disposal of the government.
511 compared to other orphanages
Unlike other orphanages, 511 was run under the Internal department. While orphanages before the fall of the Berlin Wall were generally faring well below the current standards, 511 children were receiving inhumane treatment.
As a laboratory for special experiments
Using a psychological intervention called desensitization, commonly known as brainwashing, hypnosis to produce catharsis (and also to annihilate any future display of emotion), and other operant conditioning techniques to facilitate human programming, the children were put together under observation. Directors and instructors watched how the children mentally evolved first toward selfishness and fear, and finally to hate and fight with one another, desensitizing them with isolation and grouping techniques to man’s innate sense of respect and love towards other human beings. In order to create humans without emotions, they desensitized them using negative reinforcement, where they would only escape aversive situations (like being tremendously beaten) by not showing any emotions.
The children, in order for them to be completely under the control of the instructors, were not allowed to use their names. Instead, they were given number codes by which they would be called from then on. Children seen as unfit were kicked out of the orphanage and transferred to other orphanages. These children were found to be detached and in a blunted mood with no interest in socializing whatsoever. The only reaction they would get from these children were the screams and feeble defensive gestures whenever a book was read to them aloud. After a year, those same children would somehow die.
Manipulation of children's thinking was done by telling them they were incapable of thriving, so they should follow the people teaching them the rules of survival if they wanted to become strong. The weak died.
The evidence of any inhumane acts, or their papers that documented their actual methodology, however, were not found after the fire that consumed 511.
The boy kept on sleeping pills
There was a boy who was always kept under sleeping pills. Because he held the words that could destroy any person, the teachers thought he was a monster and kept him locked underground. Such was the terror that they felt towards him that they swore they could see ten horns and seven heads. But one day, the boy developed resistance to the drugs and awakened. He manipulated his jailers and slipped back among the pupils. But the boys didn't know who he was...because none of them knew each other's names or pasts. The boy hated everything about the facility, so he began secretly plotting to have everyone kill each other. First, he would steal all of their memories, so that they couldn't even remember their own names, and then offer them the path to death, through their torment...But the boys never even realized that they were being controlled. Could it be that someone is trying to manipulate us? And so this incredible fervor raced through the orphanage." [quoted directly from Another Monster]
The one who started this rumor was apparently Johan and is implied Johan is the sleeping pill boy.
During Johan Liebert's stay
Johan was sent to 511 because Anna had been decided to be sent to Kinderheim 47. Hartmann said Johan was a participant of a top-secret project of the government. Hartman said he was issued a gag order but was able to tell this story: Johan told a fairy tale about the boy on sleeping pills that made the children in 511 run amok. Johan told the boys to use the tricks they were taught, and the boys were able to make the instructors hate the directors.
The directors and instructors, entirely a world of their own in 511, started to quarrel among each other about who would succeed the upper people who died most unusually. Everything went into chaos, even the maladaptive behaviours displayed by the children could not be controlled. Eventually, everyone was frenzied and started killing each other. Fifty children and instructors died in the fire, and Johan just stood on his throne watching them kill each other and others burn.
When Hartmann asked Johan what he did, the 10-year-old boy just said, “I threw an oil-soaked cloth into the open fire.” It means that when people gather, hate is formed, and he just poured a little oil in it. Johan’s goal was, according to him, to be the last person standing.
Johan’s talent in smooth talking was not acquired in Kinderheim 511. He was born a leader. Their experiment could not have made someone like him because all the children who came out from 511 were usually involved in antisocial activities, like Stephen Joos and Roberto.
Johan's audio recording
When Petrov was murdered by a "mysterious blonde lady", he left behind a key to a safe deposit box from Prochazka bank to Grimmer. When they accessed it, the safe deposit box carried a data report and a cassette tape. Recalling Suk has a tape recorder, they listened to the content of the cassette, which happened to be an interview with Johan under drug administration.
[transcription of the recording starts here]
Interviewer: Where are we?
Johan: Kinderheim 511
I: What is your name?
J: My name is Johan
I: What is your last name? [no answer] I'll ask you again. What is your last name?
J: My name is Otto. My name is Hans. My name is Johan. My name is...
I: What is your real name?
J: A long, long time ago, in a land far away, there was a monster without a name. The monster wanted a name so badly...
I: Is that some kind of a story?
J: I was waiting for Anna.
I: Who is Anna?
J: I was waiting for Anna... while I was reading that picture book.
I: Where is your father?
J: I don't know.
I: Your mother?
J: I think she's alive.
I: You're quite an exceptional boy. Are you afraid of anything? What is the thing that frightens you the most? [no answer] I'll ask a different question. Have you ever killed a person?
J: Many people died. So many that it seemed like Anna and I were the only two people in the world.
I: Where was that? [no answer] I'll go back to the other question. What is the thing that frightens you the most?
J: The monster inside me is getting larger. Munch munch, chomp chomp, gobble gobble, gulp. Munch munch, chomp chomp, gobble gobble, gulp. That is the thing that frightens me the most. That is it.
[Grimmer suddenly stops the tape recorder from playing. ]
This recording was left to Suk's mother for safe-keeping, although Johan had somehow traced his recording's whereabouts and visited Mrs. Suk in her confinement. Johan had his tape recording tampered with that when Tenma came to listen for it, the vital parts were erased and were replaced by a message from Johan to Tenma.
Known graduates of 511
Persons known to be affiliated with 511
- Franz Bonaparta
- Mikhail Petrov (formerly Reinhart Biermann)
- General Helmut Wolf
- Jaromír Lipský (Franz Bonaparta's son)
After its burning in 1985, the experiments on the social well-being of students were halted, and all documents were either burned when the building was burned down or was destroyed by the East German government. According to Another Monster, investigations were done and people who were supposedly a product of 511 were subjected to hypnosis. The exact mode of operation was not revealed by it because those people only recalled vague frightening mental images. One thing is for sure though, that their curriculum was fit for someone who was being groomed to be a political leader or religious leader. The participants felt so much fear towards it that they would rather not remember.
- Main article: Another Monster
Werner Weber went into digging up more information about Dr. Tenma and it led him to knowledge Kinderheim 511's existence. He was able to interview Erna Tietze, a social worker from Kinderheim 47 who knew a lot of things about 511. They met at a cafe and look exactly as Weber had imagined her. Weber held on to his initial impression of her until they finally talked about Anna. It looks as like Anna was very dear to her and wishes her a good life even after what fate brought upon her.
When they finally touched the orphanages run by the Internal department, she said 511 is a breeding ground for experiments and that children of the 'dangerous elements' were being kept there. She said that 511's goal was to create a band of perfect soldiers who would answer to the concerns of national interest unflinchingly. Apparently, Tietze knew that much because she was involved in the investigation team created by the new government, and as a member, she saw how the former occupants of the orphanage where psychologically damaged by the curriculum enforced by the system. She said 511 was already up and running 20 years before she joined the work force and she just heard rumors about it. She knew about its name because her orphanage received some of the children 'kicked-out' of 511.
- A similar experiment on pre-pubescent children (although these children weren't orphans) included how prejudice and conflict forms in children, very much like what Hartmann tried to discover.
- Another similar experiment on orphanage children (although this was done on toddlers instead of pre-pubscent boys) included care-takers not being permitted to show affection to the babies under their care.
- As noted by a livejournal user, a plausible analogue for Kinderheim 511 may be the former juvenile detention center in Torgau, though this reeducation process was applied to teenagers rather than young children.
- The activities hosted by the orphanage violated more than half of the later ratified UNICEF children's rights