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Wilhelmine Cammann
Wilhelmine Cammann
© Archiv Evangelische Stiftung Alsterdorf

Wilhelmine Cammann * 1885

Danziger Straße 6 (Hamburg-Mitte, St. Georg)

JG. 1885
"VERLEGT" 16.8.1943
ERMORDET 10.6.1944

Marie Wilhelmine Cammann, born 25.2.1885 in Beedenbostel (district of Celle), admitted to the Alsterdorf Asylum (now Evangelische Stiftung Alsterdorf) on 3.7.1926, "transferred" to Vienna on 16.8.1943 to the Wagner von Jauregg – Curative and Nursing Home of the City of Vienna (Wagner von Jauregg – Heil- und Pflegeanstalt der Stadt Wien), died there on 10.6.1944.

Danziger Straße 6, St. Georg

Marie Wilhelmine Cammann was born on 25 Feb. 1885 in Beedenbostel (district of Celle) as the third of six children of the carpenter Wilhelm Heinrich Cammann, born on 26 Feb. 1859 in Beedenbostel, and his wife Marie (Maria) Dorothee, née Heers, born on 6 Dec. 1862 in Höfer (district of Celle).

The family settled in Hamburg in the early 1890s. They were first mentioned in the Hamburg address book in 1892 with the address Borgfelderstraße 32/34 Haus 1 (today Borgfelder Straße) in the Borgfelde district. Probably four of Wilhelmine Cammann's five siblings were born in Beedenbostel, only Dora Amanda was born in Hamburg on 22 Jan. 1896 at Conventstraße 5 Haus 1 in Eilbek.

At the beginning of the twentieth century the family lived for several years in the street Eichholz 11 in Hamburg-Neustadt and then from about 1909 in Borstelmannsweg 163 in the Hamm district.

When Wilhelmine was admitted to the Alsterdorf Asylum her sister Dora Amanda reported that, at the age of three, Wilhelmine had developed symptoms of illness in the form of spasms. She had been able to walk and talk and had started school at primary school age, but had to stop school attendance after one year.

After the death of Wilhelmine Cammann's father on 21 July 1916, she continued living with her mother at Borstelmannsweg 163. On 3 Aug. 1918 her sister Dora Amanda married Johann Joseph Martin Krummeck, a precision mechanic's assistant and later a sales representative. When Wilhelmine Cammann's mother died on 7 Aug. 1925, her sister's family took Wilhelmine, now 40 years old, in their apartment at Danziger Straße 6 in the St. Georg district.

After Wilhelmine had been living in the Krummeck family for a year, the family doctor Gustav Marr wrote the following report: "Cannot be active in the household because she never finishes anything; she can only work under supervision. She cannot read or write, does not know coins. She can't be let alone on the street because she can't find her way around or back. At home she is quiet, she sits happily at the window and looks at the street without telling about her impressions. She also looks at picture books, but without interest. Pat.[ient] is with her married sister; there are two children there; the sister has only two rooms available. Pat.[ient] now has to sleep in the living room on the sofa. I recommend to refer the patient to the Alsterdorf Asylum."

That was how it happened. The Alsterdorf Asylum admitted Wilhelmine Cammann on 3 July 1926. In the years up to 1942, the entries in her patient file recorded that she could wash and dress herself, but that she had to be combed. Her clothes were always unclean and untidy. However, she was diligent in the vegetable room, where she was kept busy peeling potatoes. It was further noted about the now 50 years old adult, that she was generally agreeable, at times "disobedient" and "cheeky".

When she was admitted to Alsterdorf Wilhelmine Cammann's weight was 51 kg and increased from 66 kg in 1934 to 84 kg in 1938. It then decreased again to the admission weight of 51 kg in January 1943. No explanations for the striking changes of weight can be found in the records of the institution.

During the heavy air raids on Hamburg at the end of July/beginning of August 1943 ("Operation Gomorrha"), the Alsterdorf Asylum also suffered bomb damage. The director of the institution, SA member Pastor Friedrich Lensch, took the opportunity, with the consent of the health authorities, to get rid of some of the residents who were considered to be "weak in labor, in need of care, or particularly difficult" by transferring them to other sanatoriums and nursing homes.

On 16 Aug. 1943, 228 women and girls from Alsterdorf and 72 girls and women from the Langenhorn sanatorium and nursing home were "transferred" to the "Wagner von Jauregg Sanatorium and Nursing Home of the City of Vienna" (also known as the institution "Am Steinhof") in Vienna. Among them was Wilhelmine Cammann.

When she was admitted to the Vienna institution, Wilhelmine Cammann – as noted in the patient's file – was able to give her name correctly, but did not know her age, where she was or what the current date was. She could not solve any arithmetic problems or designate differences. To questions she had responded with smiles.

In December 1943 Wilhelmine Cammann's weight was given as 43 kg, in May 1944 as 42 kg. From the beginning of June 1944, her body temperature increased, which was attributed to her severely distended legs and a swelling of the abdomen. On 8 June, "increasing deterioration" and "heart sounds none, increasing weakness of circulation" were recorded in the patient's file.

Wilhelmine Cammann died in the evening of 10 June 1944, of "tuberculosis of the peritoneum and pneumonia."

During the "T4" program ("Euthanasia" program of the National Socialists, so called after the location of the Berlin Euthanasia Headquarters at Tiergartenstraße 4), the asylum in Vienna was an intermediate facility for the Hartheim killing center near Linz. After the official end of the murders in the killing centers in August 1941, however, patients were still murdered in large numbers in previous intermediate institutions, i.e. also in the Vienna institution itself: by overdosing on medication and not treating illnesses, but above all by depriving them of food. It can be assumed that Wilhelmine Cammann also died in this way.

By the end of 1945, 257 of the 300 girls and women from Hamburg had died, 196 of them from Alsterdorf.

Translation: Elisabeth Wendland

Stand: March 2023
© Ingo Wille

Quellen: Adressbuch Hamburg 1890 bis 1935; StaH 332-5 Standesämter 742 Sterberegister Nr. 1234/1916 Wilhelm Heinrich Cammann, 894 Sterberegister Nr. 1151/1925 Maria Dorothea Cammann; Evangelische Stiftung Alsterdorf Archiv, V 368 Bewohnerakte Wilhelmine Cammann; Michael Wunder, Ingrid Genkel, Harald Jenner, Auf dieser schiefen Ebene gibt es kein Halten mehr – Die Alsterdorfer Anstalten im Nationalsozialismus, Stuttgart 2016, S. 35, 283 ff., 331 ff.

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