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Günther Gerth * 1926
Sillemstraße 64 (Eimsbüttel, Eimsbüttel)
Günther Fritz Gerth, born 9.12.1926 in Hamburg, admitted to the former Alsterdorfer Anstalten (now Evangelische Stiftung Alsterdorf) on 24.5.1932, transferred from the Langenhorn sanatorium and nursing home on 28.7.1941 to the "Gau-Heilanstalt Tiegenhof" (Polish: Dziekanka) near Gniezno (Polish: Gniezno) on 27.11.1941, died in Tiegenhof on 9.3.1942.
Sillemstraße 64 (Eimsbüttel)
Günther Fritz Gerth was born in Hamburg on Dec. 9, 1926, the son of Friedrich Karl Christoph Gerth, a wagon maker, born Feb. 27, 1904, and his wife, Käthe Bertha Martha, née Knauer, a stenographer, born May 20, 1905.
He was admitted to the then Alsterdorfer Anstalten (now Evangelische Stiftung Alsterdorf) on May 24, 1932. His patient file has not been preserved. The few life data are taken from the admission book of the Alsterdorfer Anstalten. What we also know about Günther Gerth comes from an index card that was created for the Hamburg Health Passport Archive, which was set up from 1934 onwards for the purpose of "hereditary biology inventories" of the population. The entries on these "hereditary health index cards" are consistently made in derogatory and condemning language. For men, they usually contain remarks such as "incurable," "incapable of any productive work," or "totally incapable of work." Typical remarks of this kind can also be found about Günter Gerth, who was not even six years old: "Diagnosis: Imbezillität lowest level. It is a question of a low-standing patient who does not possess any emotional relations to the environment. He is to be regarded as incurably ill. A pronounced nursing case. Causes considerable nursing difficulties due to his constant restlessness and his constant uncleanliness. He was not fit for any work."
On July 28, 1941, at least 50 men from the Alsterdorf institutions were initially transferred to the "Heil- und Pflegeanstalt Langenhorn". Among them was Günter Gerth. (Three days later, on July 31, 1941, another transport followed with at least 20 women).
These transports, which consisted mainly of people who were particularly weak and unable to work, had been assembled on the basis of reporting forms to the euthanasia headquarters at Tiergartenstraße 4 in Berlin.
During this time, Langenhorn developed into an intermediate institution for the entire Hamburg area and a hub for "euthanasia" in the north of the Reich. The relatives were not supposed to see through a complicated "system of displacement" that had been set up as a camouflage (so historian Michael Wunder). Some parents who noticed that their children were no longer in Alsterdorf turned to both the health authorities and the director of the Alsterdorf institutions, SA member Pastor Friedrich Lensch, with complaints about the transfers and the treatment in Langenhorn.
Among the parents who complained were those of Günther Gerth. They wrote to Lensch on October 27, 1941: "We come to you with a heartfelt request concerning our son Günther, currently in the Langenhorn Institutions. Our son was in the Alsterdorf institutions for ten years and had very good care and attention there. We also never expected that the boy could leave Alsterdorf, since we only have one institution for the feeble-minded in Hamburg. On August 1 of this year, we received notification that Günter had been transferred to the Langenhorn institutions. On the first day of the visit we had a great disappointment. Günter, although healthy, was lying in bed. When we asked why the boy was lying in bed, we were told by the nursing staff that the stuff had not yet arrived from the Alsterdorf institutions. We were satisfied with that, hoping that it would be different at the next visit. But it was the same at the next visit. The boy was lying in bed. Now, all of a sudden, they said he was staying down because he was not clean; they had no linen to change. I then said that the child had always been up until now, even though he was not clean; in Alsterdorf he had always been up, and when they put the boy on a potty, he also does his business; we don't have time for that, I was told. So the child just stays down and does everything under himself. I also noticed that the sick lie in bed without their shirts on, because they get everything wet. In the hall, old men lie with the children. Even though Günter is 14 years old, he is like a boy of 8. Now the child has been in bed for a quarter of a year, whereas before he was never sick. It is terrible when you as the parents have to watch like this and even can't do anything. We would be happy if he would come back to Alsterdorf, where he would have his freedom, because I cannot call it anything else. Would you now sincerely ask that it be possible for Günther to return to Alsterdorf.
Günther Gerth's parents, as well as other families, received no response. The health authority, to which the Gerth couple also wrote, replied that "in Hamburg, in view of the overall air situation, not all hospitals can be occupied as they are in peacetime." The parents were to realize that their son's less pleasantly perceived stay in Langenhorn was unavoidable at the moment.
Not only was Günter Gerth not transferred back to Alsterdorf, but on November 27, 1941, he and other men and women from Langenhorn were transferred to the Gauheilanstalt Tiegenhof (Dziekanka) near Gniezno. The Hamburg Euthanasia Memorial Book contains the names of 66 former Alsterdorf patients who were taken to Tiegenhof on this transport. (Four of the total of 70 Alsterdorf patients had died in Langenhorn before the transport).
More than 200 people were transported from the Langenhorn Sanatorium to the Tiegenhof Gau Sanatorium in several transports between September 26 and November 27, 1941. The Hamburg memorial book on euthanasia lists 206 persons.
The Dziekanka psychiatric institution near Gniezno, which was given the name "Gau-Heilanstalt Tiegenhof" after Germany's invasion of Poland, was occupied by the German Wehrmacht in October 1939. Until the summer/fall of 1941, the Germans murdered Polish patients in several actions, for example in December 1939 in gas chambers of Fort VII near Posen/Poznan, and later in mobile gas vans, where exhaust gases or carbon monoxide were introduced into the closed cargo space.
When the patients from Hamburg arrived at Tiegenhof, German patients were also killed, by systematic starvation, overdosing on medication, and neglect.
For this purpose, separate killing rooms were located in the accommodations, where the defenseless and debilitated victims were injected with lethal agents, introduced by means of enema, or administered dissolved in soup.
Günther Gerth lived in the Tiegenhof asylum for only four months, dying on March 9, 1942, at the age of 16.
In the death register entry about his death, the cause of death is given as "general physical weakness with idiocy".
Translation by Beate Meyer
Stand: February 2022
© Ingo Wille
Quellen: Adressbuch Hamburg 1932; Archiv der Evangelischen Stiftung Alsterdorf (ArESA), Erbgesundheitskartei, ArESA, NS 40: Anklageschrift S. 522 ff. und S 529 ff., ArESA, NS 1: Erfassung, Verlegung 1940-1944, Bl. 51 f., Brief der Eheleute Gerth vom 27.10.1941, Ebd., Bl. 53: Antwortschreiben der Alsterdorfer Anstalten an die Eheleute Gerth; Standesamt Gniezno, Sterberegisterauszug Nr. 96/1942 (Günther Gerth); Michael Wunder, Ingrid Genkel, Harald Jenner: Auf dieser schiefen Ebene gibt es kein Halten mehr – Die Alsterdorfer Anstalten im Nationalsozialismus, 3. Auflage, Stuttgart 2016, S. 269 ff.; Enno Schwanke, Die Landesheil- und Pflegeanstalt Tiegenhof. Die nationalsozialistische Euthanasie in Polen während des Zweiten Weltkrieges, Frankfurt/M 2015.