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Hedwig Erna Freitag (née Ludden) * 1906

Horner Landstraße 195 (Hamburg-Mitte, Horn)

JG. 1906
"VERLEGT" 22.6.1943
ERMORDET 28.6.1943

Hedwig Erna Freitag, née Ludden, born on 6.11.1906, admitted on 7.12.1942 to the Langenhorn Sanatorium and Nursery Home, "transferred" on 22.6.1943 to the Hadamar Sanatorium, murdered on 28.6.1943

Horner Landstraße 195, Horn

Hedwig Erna Freitag, née Polewka, adopted Ludden was born on 6.11.1906 in the street Marktplatz 5 in Harburg. Her mother was Josefa Berta Polewka (born 27.6.1879), who was not married, and her father was Wenzel Kosche (born 8.9.1881), who was born in Austria. He had lived in Hamburg since June 25, 1904 and lived at Reesestraße 26/ Barmbek-Süd as a subtenant with Fehlandt.

Josefa Polewka and Wenzel Kosche had one more child: Margaretha Bertha (born 31.1.1908). For both children the senator Tilemann of the City of Harburg took over the guardianship. When Josefa Berta Polewka moved with the children to Kleine Brauerstraße 5 in Altona, their guardianship changed to the innkeeper Wilhelm Rodemann as of September 1, 1909.

On November 4, 1911, Josefa Berta Polewka married the locksmith Otto Ludden (born 27.3.1878). Both belonged to the Catholic Church. They moved to Große Fischerstraße 63 in Altona and lived on the first floor. The couple had a daughter together, Helene Ottilie Martha (born 12.11.1911), but she died after a few months on June 17, 1912. Otto Ludden adopted the girls Hedwig and Margareta on May 26, 1913 with the consent, they then took the family name Ludden.

During her school years, Hedwig Ludden spent her summer vacations with her stepfather Otto Ludden's parents in Meppen in 1918 and 1919. After her school years, Hedwig, or "Hedel" as she was called, found employment in a household. She acquired good sewing and housekeeping skills.

In 1923 and 1924, Hedwig Ludden lived at Heinrich-Barth-Straße 12 in Rotherbaum as a subtenant with Gustav Glückstadt on the second floor, possibly working there as a domestic servant. She then moved with her mother and stepfather to Kleine Brauerstraße 12 in Altona. (The street no longer exists today).

On March 4, 1930, Hedwig Ludden moved in with Joseph Hermann Georg Freitag, who lived at Kleine Brauerstraße 2. They had known each other since childhood. Georg Freitag (born 27.8.1900) had moved with his parents (Maximilian Aloys Freitag and Berta Elisabeth Freitag, née Klar) from Langenbielau/Poland to Altona on September 5, 1909. The family lived there at Kleine Brauerstraße 2, where Hedwig Ludden now also moved in. The young couple married on May 12, 1931.

Georg Freitag worked as a coppersmith at the ironworks in Ottensen at Große Brunnenstraße 109-113.

On August 9, 1931, their son Karlheinz was born as a forceps birth. Hedwig Freitag wanted another child, but suffered a miscarriage in 1935. As a result, severe depression set in. Georg Freitag, on the other hand - as he stated to the doctors at the Langenhorn Sanatorium and Nursery Home on March 23, 1942 - was glad that there was only one child, because the couple's economic circumstances were limited, although Hedwig, in addition to raising the children, worked as a temp in a laboratory where she washed glasses.

Probably also for economic reasons, both spouses left the Catholic Church, Hedwig in February 1936 and Georg Freitag in June 1936. They also moved into a smaller apartment at Bachstraße 40/Barmbek-Süd in February 1936, for which they probably had to pay less rent. But the marriage suffered not only from the material conditions: Georg Freitag had become an alcoholic and the couple had drifted apart.

In the meantime, Hedwig Freitag's mother Josefa Berta Ludden had renounced Catholicism and joined the Jehovah's Witnesses. These, then called "Bible Students," were persecuted by the National Socialists because they did not fall in line with the new understanding of the state, but refused the Hitler salute, "voting" (and later military service), stayed away from state celebrations, and continued to distribute their leaflets and writings. Imprisonment and concentration camp incarceration (purple triangle) were the result. Hedwig Freitag's mother was also arrested on December 8, 1937 for distributing the magazine "Wachturm”. She was taken from the police barracks in Altona to the "Kolafu," concentration camp where she was held in solitary confinement from December 8, 1937, until February 2, 1938. Hedwig Freitag, who was in close contact with her mother, suffered greatly from this situation.

From March 24, 1941, Hedwig, Georg and Karlheinz Freitag lived in a 3-room apartment at Horner Landstraße 195 in the district Hamburg-Horn on the second floor. Georg Freitag's parents moved in with him. Hedwig Freitag's relationship with her parents-in-law was not good, however. She felt rejected by them.

As a result of the overall situation and the conflicts with her husband and his parents, she cried frequently and appeared very depressed. On December 7, 1942, she was admitted to the Langenhorn Sanatorium and Nursing Home with a diagnosis of severe depression. The doctors initially prescribed sedatives, and later regular electroshock therapy. On January 15, 1943, she received a vaccination, the purpose of which is not clear from the records, and a lumbar puncture.

As a result of these treatments, she withdrew completely from other patients and became apathetic. Other signs included a marked need for sleep, an unclear premature organic deterioration, she oozed, hallucinated, regressed, and lost her appetite. Often she could not eat on her own. The asylum certified her as having an "affective disorder."

In June, July and August 1943, a total of 347 exclusively female patients were transported from Langenhorn to Hadamar near Limburg. The Hadamar State Sanatorium was one of six killing institutions in the German Reich in which people with mental illnesses, mental diseases or physical disabilities were murdered in gas chambers using carbon monoxide. After the gas killings stopped in August 1941, the so-called adult euthanasia continued in the summer of 1942, also in Hadamar, but no longer with gas, but with overdoses of the drugs Luminal and Veronal or by injections of air or morphine-scopolamine. On June 22, 1943, a transport brought 49 female patients from Langenhorn to Hadamar.

Among them was Hedwig Freitag. She was murdered on June 28, 1943.

At that time, her son Karlheinz Freitag was just 12 years old. His father feared that Karlheinz might have inherited his mother's illness. The Hadamar Sanatorium exonerated him when it wrote on July 7, 1943: "According to the contents of the medical history, there is no hereditary strain in your wife. The diagnosis of mental illness is disputed. Unfortunately, the assumption of a so-called schizophrenia prevails, which would have to be understood as a hereditary disease. It is advisable to present your son to a doctor of psychiatry as soon as you encounter conspicuous manifestations. However, since according to the rules of heredity a part of the offspring always remains healthy, there is definitely the possibility that your son is mentally healthy."

Hedwig Freitag's mother wrote another letter full of love and care to her daughter Hedwig Freitag, not suspecting that she was already dead.

On July 7, 1943, the ashes, which had been declared as Hedwig Freitag's, were buried in a family plot at the main cemetery in Altona.

Hedwig Freitag's mother, Josefa Berta Ludden, received a disability pension after the war for her imprisonment in the Fuhlsbüttel concentration camp. She died in Hamburg on November 1, 1957.

Translation Beate Meyer

Stand: February 2023
© Bärbel Klein

Quellen: StaH 352-8/7 Ablieferung 1/1995_31045; 213-11_60401; 213-11_60411; 351-11_4490; 424-111_12978 Vormundschaftsakte Polewka; Geburtsurkunden: 332-5_1662/1906; 332-5_355/1908; 332-5_894/1931; Heiratsurkunden: 332-5_1187/1911; 332-5_894/1931; 332-5_76/1915; Sterbeurkunden: 332-5_1232/1912; 332-5_1219/1927; 332-5_28/1960; 332-5_858/1943; 332-5_992/1957; 332-5_782/1954; Filme: 741-4_K2537; 741-4_K4427; 741-4_K4491; 741-4_K6089; 741-4_K6418; 741-4_K6533; 741-4_K6743; 741-4_K7336; Beisetzungsunterlagen Friedhof Altona, Auskunft der Pflege- und Heilanstalt Hadamar vom 06.04.20216 von Gedenkstättenleiterin Dr. Ute Hoffmann;; www. (Einsicht am 26.12.2020); Peter von Rönn u.a., Wege in den Tod, Hamburgs Anstalt Langenhorn und die Euthanasie in der Zeit des Nationalsozialismus, Hamburg 1993, S. 337f., Bettina Winter, Das Morden geht weiter – die zweite Phase der "Euthanasie" 1942-1945, S. 118f. in "Verlegt nach Hadamar" Die Geschichte einer NS-"Euthanasie"-Anstalt, Hrsg. Landeswohlfahrtsverband Hessen, Kassel 1991.

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