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Hans Emil Bajohr * 1890

Geschwister-Scholl-Straße 64 (Hamburg-Nord, Eppendorf)

JG 1890
VERHAFTET 19.2.1944

Hans Emil Bajohr, born on 7 July 1890 in Rostock, arrested by the Gestapo on 19 Feb. 1944, transferred from the Fuhlsbüttel police prison to the Neuengamme concentration camp on 20 Apr. 1945 and murdered there between 22 Apr. and 24 Apr. 1945

Geschwister-Scholl-Strasse 64 (Niendorfer Strasse 68-70)

Hans Emil Bajohr was among the 71 "protective custody prisoners” ("Schutzhäftlinge”) of the Hamburg Gestapo who were strangled, beaten to death, torn apart by hand grenades, or shot in the head in the detention bunker of the Neuengamme concentration camp in the nights of 22 to 24 Apr. 1945.

His life is only documented in fragments, but one thing is certain: He came from very cramped circumstances, his life was unsteady and precarious, and he also incurred guilt. His mother, Auguste Anna Henriette Bajohr, born in 1858 as an illegitimate child in the village of Laschnicken in what was then East Prussia (today Derzhavino in Russia), worked as a maid in Stubbendorf, an estate near Rostock/Mecklenburg. Hans Emil was born on 7 July 1890 in the midwifery school in Rostock. The mother did not give the name of the father.

Where Hans Emil spent his childhood is not known. According to his own statements to various authorities, he temporarily attended the Bürgerschule [a secondary school for the middle classes] in Gnoien, a small town in the district of Rostock, and then worked as a domestic servant in the region. Still in his youth, he moved to Hamburg and worked for one and a half years in a bleachery, then in road construction. After that, he said, he had been on the road for several years, wandering through Holland and Belgium, and he had lived from casual work. This was followed by a year at sea as a deck and kitchen boy.

In 1913, by then 23 years old, he returned to Germany. In 1914, at the beginning of the World War, he was drafted into the military and assigned to the Grand Ducal Mecklenburg Fusilier Regiment Kaiser Wilhelm No. 90 based in Rostock. The regiment was part of the 34th Infantry Brigade, which was deployed on the western front throughout the war and took part in the heaviest battles in Belgium and France, including the Battle of the Somme (1 July to 18 Nov. 1916, with over a million dead and wounded on both sides). According to Hans Emil Bajohr’s information in a questionnaire dated 17 Nov. 1941, he was discharged in 1919 with the rank of sergeant, decorated with the Iron Cross Second Class, the Mecklenburg Cross of Merit, and the Wound Badge in Silver. He was 29 years old by that time.

Back in Hamburg, he met Adela Selwinder, born on 16 Apr. 1900 in Suwalki, in today’s eastern Poland near the borders to Lithuania and Belarus. (From 1815 to 1919, Adele’s birthplace belonged to the Russian Tsarist Empire.) The two married. Since Adele had lost contact with her parents in Poland during the war, the couple set out on a search and thus made their way through Belarus, fought over between Poland and the young Soviet Union, to Russia, the Ukraine, and as far as Turkmenistan. They made their living as day laborers in agriculture. Adele’s parents they did not find. They returned to Germany in 1922.

Further stations of Bajohr’s life, interrupted by shorter and longer periods of unemployment, were Bochum (1923); several months as a construction worker during reconstruction in the Champagne region; back to the Ruhr area (Essen), then again to Hamburg with odd jobs, at first until 1935. According to his own account, he was unemployed for a total of eight years from 1922 to 1935.

In these extremely difficult times, Adele Bajohr had given birth to two daughters in Bochum in 1923 and in Hamburg in 1930. The family lived in extremely cramped circumstances at Niendorfer Strasse 68-70 in Eppendorf, today Geschwister-Scholl-Strasse. (The house no longer exists; it was demolished with others in the 1950s, and there is a large gap in the numbering there. The Stolperstein is therefore located in front of house no. 64).

Even then, Hans Emil Bajohr could not take it any longer in the same place. He left the family in 1935, allegedly, as Adele later went on the record, to emigrate to the USA and find a better future. In reality, he signed up for a Spanish ship. He was on land in Spain when the Civil War began there in June 1936. This was followed by: joining the International Brigades; wounding; withdrawal to France; internment there at the outbreak of war in Sept. 1939; admission to the Foreign Legion; deployment in North Africa until Sept. 1941; return to Germany on 10 Sept. 1941, by what routes is unknown. He found accommodation with his family on Niendorfer Strasse. He was 51 years old by then, Adele Bajohr was 41; however, the family situation had changed decisively: Adele had divorced him in 1939, four years after he had left the family; she had remarried and bore a new name.

Just three days after his return, on 15 September, Hans Emil was arrested by the Gestapo, Department IVA1 (dealing with "Communism”). Who denounced him, we do not know. A few days later still, Adele appeared at the Gestapo headquarters on Stadthausbrücke and accused the ex-husband of repeatedly having sexually abused his daughter, then 12 years old, before his disappearance in 1935, while she herself, Adele, had gone to work. He had also allegedly been work-shy and had spent the unemployment benefits on alcohol.

Fate then took its course and, except for a few weeks, Hans Emil Bajohr did not escape the clutches of his persecutors anymore: Gestapo, Criminal Investigation Department, judiciary, and finally the murderers of the Waffen-SS in the Neuengamme concentration camp. The Gestapo extended the interrogations beyond the activities in Spain to "incest.” We do not know whether the accusation was true, and we do not know by what means the partial confession he made on this account had come about. He also admitted the political accusations: yes, he had been with the International Brigades, but he had been forced into them. The Gestapo’s head of the "Communism” section, chief detective inspector (Kriminaloberinspektor) Fritz Knuth, reported the accusation of [him having sided with] "Red Spain” and "preparation to high treason” to the Reich Security Main Office (RSHA) in Berlin and to the treason section of the Hamburg Public Prosecutor’s Office. From there, the case was passed on to the General Prosecutor’s Office at the Hanseatic Higher Regional Court (Oberlandesgericht – OLG). On 14 Dec. 1941, the latter transferred it over to the Reich Public Prosecutor with the "People’s Court” (Volksgerichtshof – VGH) in Berlin, who, however, did not pursue the matter any further, perhaps because the criminal justice system continued to pursue the charge of "incest.”

The Gestapo had further reported the information to the criminal investigation department. Adele was summoned there on 10 Nov. 1941, and she repeated the accusations. On 17 November, Hans Emil, who continued to be a "protective custody prisoner” ("Schutzhäftling”) of the Gestapo, testified before the public prosecutor’s office at the Regional Court (Landgericht). He was committed to pretrial detention on 6 December. The Gestapo demanded from the judiciary that he be returned into custody after his possible release. The Regional Court complied with the request, as it turned out later.

The research of the public prosecutor’s office into Hans Emil Bajohr’s biography, which then followed, brought to light several crimes from earlier years that further darkened his situation: In 1933, already during the Nazi era, he and two accomplices had been caught up in a scheme of coercion and blackmail, organized in an amateurish way, and they were quickly exposed. (A doctor was supposed to pay up because he had allegedly issued forged vaccination certificates.) Bajohr was sentenced to four months in prison. He had already been sentenced to six months in prison in 1923 for coercion, and other minor offenses such as defamation (1926) and resisting state authority (1927) were added.

On 30 Jan. 1942, at 11:15 a.m., Criminal Section 2 of the Regional Court pronounced the verdict: Receiving two years in prison, beginning on 20 Jan. 1942, at 3 p.m., he also had to pay the costs of the proceedings. The period spent in pretrial detention from 6 Dec. 1941 to 30 Jan. 1942 was calculated against the sentence. The end of the prison term was set for 6 Dec. 1943.

Hans Emil Bajohr was first transferred to the Bremen-Oslebshausen penitentiary, and on 16 Mar. 1942, he was returned to Hamburg, to the Fuhlsbüttel penitentiary. After the air raids on Hamburg in the night of 3 Aug. 1943, the seventh and last major attack of Operation "Gomorrah,” he was released from prison for two months, as were other prisoners.

The purpose of this measure was to relieve the prisons affected by the bombing for the time being and to repair damages. Among other things, the prisoners on leave were required to report regularly to the police and return punctually and unsolicited on the date set. Many of the "bomb vacationers” – as they were called in the vernacular – went into hiding and thus saved their lives. (Examples that became known were the successful hiding of members of the resistance group Jacob-Bästlein-Abshagen with friends and comrades).

Hans Emil Bajohr also tried to escape re-arrest. He failed in this endeavor. Presumably, due to lack of finding anything better, he had obtained work under his real name at the Hanseatische Kettenwerk (Hake), a munitions plant in Langenhorn and lived in the company’s communal accommodation. The police had been looking for him since 3 September, and on 20 October – his parole had long since expired – he was arrested and returned to Fuhlsbüttel prison. 19 Feb. 1944 at 3:00 p.m. was set as the new end point of his imprisonment. This date remained in effect.

On 25 Jan. 1944, due to the consequences of an accident at the Hake plant, which had occurred sometime earlier but which still caused him problems, he was taken to the institutional hospital of the pretrial detention center. From there, punctually at the end of the imposed prison sentence, he was released at 3 p.m. on 19 February and handed over to the Gestapo at the same moment, as the Gestapo had requested from the administration of justice on 6 Dec. 1941.

Once more a "protective custody prisoner” of the Gestapo, he was taken to Fuhlsbüttel, at this time to the police prison. There he remained, without any charges or trial, as a prisoner of the Secret State Police, imprisoned for another 14 months, until he was taken on trucks together with 70 other persons to the Neuengamme concentration camp on 20 Apr. 1945. They were all on the so-called liquidation list of the Gestapo and the Hamburg SS leadership. Allegedly, they were "persons particularly dangerous to the Nazi state, who must be liquidated at all cost.” In the nights from 22 April to 24 April, they were murdered, 58 men and 13 women, in the detention bunker of the concentration camp.

It is difficult, however, to comprehend the immense danger that Hans Emil Bajohr allegedly posed, a person who had undoubtedly incurred guilt, led a rather unsteady life, and taken part in the Spanish Civil War on the Left for a time many years before. As in the case of some others who were murdered in the massacre in the detention bunker at Neuengamme, it is probably also true of Hans Emil Bajohr that shortly before the end of Nazi rule the Gestapo men wanted to prove to themselves once again that they still had the power to eliminate anyone who displeased them.

Translator: Erwin Fink
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.

Stand: December 2020
© Johannes Grossmann

Quellen: Eine ausführliche Darstellung der Vorgeschichte der Ermordung der 71 "Schutzhäftlinge" und des Geschehens selbst ist zu finden auf Dokumentationen/Die letzten Toten von Neuengamme sowie ebenda im Glossar/KZ Neuengamme. Auf liegen Biographien der Ermordeten vor, zuletzt u.a. zu Hans Vincent Scharlach und Heinrich Schröder; StaH 351-11 AfW 45871 (Bajohr, Hans Emil); StaH 213-11_2165/42 (Staatsanwaltschaft Landgericht-Strafsachen1908 – 2009, Laufzeit 1941 – 1944, Bajohr, H.E.); StaH 213-9_126 (Generalstaatsanwalt Oberlandesgericht-Strafsachen, 1933-1945, Bajohr. H.E.); StaH 213-11_ 2849 (Staatsanwaltschaft Landgericht/Strafsachen, Bajohr); Standesamt Rostock A Nr. 660/1890, Geburtsregister (Bajohr, Hans Emil);ßherzoglich_Mecklenburgisches_Füsilier-Regiment_"Kaiser_Wilhelm"_ Nr._90 (Zugriff 15.4.2020); Somme (Zugriff 15.4.2020); Diercks, Herbert: Gedenkbuch "Kola-Fu", Hamburg 1987; Diercks, Herbert: Dokumentation Stadthaus/Die Hamburger Polizei im Nationalsozialismus, Hamburg 2012; Brunswig, Hans: Feuersturm über Hamburg, Stuttgart 1985, S.261 ff; Hochmuth, Ursula/Meyer, Getrud: Streiflichter aus dem Hamburger Widerstand, Frankfurt 1980, S. 370 ff., Meyer, Gertrud: Nacht über Hamburg, Frankfurt 1971, S. 103 ff.

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