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Already layed Stumbling Stones
Wilhelm Dose * 1901
Lübecker Straße 72 (Hamburg-Nord, Hohenfelde)
further stumbling stones in Lübecker Straße 72:
Woldemar Preussner, born 3 Apr. 1916 in Hamburg, believed to have died 31 May 1942 at Bernburg killing center
Wilhelm Karl Theodor Dose, born 8 Sept. 1901 in Hamburg, died 31 Aug. 1942 at Dreibergen-Bützow Penitentiary
Lübecker Straße 72
The National Socialists’ persecution machinery brought these two gay men together and then tore them apart. They first met while both were serving time at Fuhlsbüttel Penitentiary from 1938 to 1939. Then, after only a brief period living as tenants of Martha Boley on the second floor at Lübecker Straße 72, they succumbed to the pressure of the criminal investigations department and began incriminating each other with accusations. They were reunited in death as they both died shortly after one another in mid 1942, one at a killing center, the other in prison. Two Stumbling Stones in front of their last residence bear witness to their persecution.
Wilhelm Dose was born in 1901 in Hamburg-Eimsbüttel, the son of a carpenter of the same name and his wife Anna, née Wendt, at Vereinsstraße 40 and was baptized in the Evangelical Lutheran Church. The youngest of five children, he had two brothers and two sisters. His mother died in 1905 when he was still a small child, and his father died in 1937. His siblings too all had died by 1937, one sister of epilepsy in 1914 at the Alsterdorfer Asylum, one brother in an accident during World War I, and his other sister died after falling out of a window, which may have been suicide.
From ages 6 to 14, Wilhelm Dose attended elementary school but was unable to finish his final year due to an illness. Later he trained three years to become a professional waiter in Hamburg and Dresden and then initially worked as one in small establishments. In 1920 he served in the Bahrenfeld Voluntary Corps. After World War I, he got a job abroad through the Geneva International Waiters Association and worked in the Netherlands, France, Spain and Brazil, among other places. Between jobs he regularly returned to Germany and worked in Hamburg, Stuttgart, Munich and Constance in temporary positions, such as at the Hamburg Cathedral, the Oktoberfest in Munich and on ships.
At the World Fair in Barcelona in 1929, Wilhelm Dose earned great praise for his very efficient work. Through the German club Germania in Rio de Janeiro, he found even more promising work with the Friedrichshafen Zeppelin Shipping Company which ran a casino on a landing site at Pernambuco in Brazil, serving its South American line. After meeting the captain of the Graf Zeppelin blimp, he became a waiter on a stretch of the flight from 1931 to 1933. The company even offered him a permanent position on an airship that was planned to be built, which is why Wilhelm Dose returned to Germany in 1933.
When construction of the airship was delayed, he was forced to work in the dining car of a Mitropa train. That same year, a mental illness forced him to return to Hamburg where he found work at Hotel Continental and at the gay establishment Café Rheingold until mid 1936.
Regarding his sexual orientation, he later stated he had been seduced by a soldier at the age of 13 and since then had enjoyed sexual activity with other men. He had frequented gay establishments since the 1920s where he found his partners. Out of work in the summer of 1934, he lived off of welfare and was supported by the parents of a young male friend of his in Barmbek.
In July 1935, Wilhelm Dose was assaulted there by a man who allegedly had been a former sexual partner and blackmailer from Frankfurt am Main. Wilhelm Dose was severely injured with 17 knife wounds to his head and chest.
As of Mar. 1936, he travelled to Constance via Munich for work. It was in Constance that the police arrested him on 15 June 1936 for the first time due to his sexual orientation, and on 25 Nov. Constance Local Court found him guilty of perverse fornication and crimes of immorality (sexual acts with persons under the age of 14) after sections 175 and 176 and sentenced him to one year and three months in prison. He had engaged in consensual sexual acts with four students and apprentices between the ages of 13 and 20.
After serving his time in Freiburg in Breisgau, he returned to Hamburg at the end of Oct. 1937. His father had died while he was in jail, yet he had to sue his brother for the inheritance to which he was legally entitled. Early in Nov. 1937, he was admitted to Friedrichsberg Mental Hospital. He had suffered a nervous breakdown and believed he was being followed. His psychiatrist Professor Hans Bürger-Prinz diagnosed "manic-depressive madness”.
He was discharged in June 1938 after having behaved normally throughout May 1938. But at that time the Hamburg criminal police were already investigating him again due to statements against him made by former partners. On 18 June 1938 he was arrested anew and taken into remand prison, and on 18 Aug. Hamburg Local Court once again sentenced him after section 175 to one year in prison.
Among the men he had named as his sexual partners was his fellow waiter Otto Schneider (born in 1903, died on 13 Feb. 1945 in Neuengamme concentration camp, subcamp Bremen-Farge, see Stumbling Stones in Hamburg-Altona and www.stolpersteine-hamburg.de) whom he had known since 1920. Wilhelm Dose had performed all the sexual acts prior to his first sentencing as a person without a criminal record, which made the judge more lenient in his sentencing. His consensual contact, in some instances with teenage apprentices who had already had homosexual encounters, was not regarded as debauchery in court, nevertheless the criminal justice investigators described him as "a ruthless debaucher” who acted "soft” and had not yet understood "the reprehensibility of his criminal behavior”.
He served his sentence in Fuhlsbüttel. Due to his stay at the psychiatric clinic, he was forcibly sterilized on 27 Sept. 1938 at the remand prison infirmary by the physician Wilhelm Schädel, in accordance with the Law for the Prevention of Progeny with Hereditary Diseases. In mid Dec. 1938 Wilhelm Dose suffered another nervous breakdown during his incarceration and was admitted to Langenhorn Mental and Nursing Home and State Hospital completely "disoriented, easily startled and anxious”. In late Jan. 1939 he was transferred back to Fuhlsbüttel Penitentiary, having again been deemed "fit for incarceration”. His sentence ended on 18 June 1939. During that time he had met and fallen in love with his fellow inmate the 22-year-old gay man Woldemar Preussner. Their relationship led to gossip in the prison.
Woldemar Preussner (he later spelled his name at times Preußner) was born in 1916 as the illegitimate child of Elisabeth Ruhland in Hamburg. His mother had divorced Gustav Adolf Preussner. Woldemar’s biological father was the pharmacist Woldemar Knauthe from Jöhstadt in the Erz Mountains who had had a brief relationship with Woldemar Preussner’s mother in Hamburg. In 1927 the welfare office described the family as problematic. His grandmother allegedly ran a brothel in Silesia, and her daughter, Woldemar Preussner’s mother, had two illegitimate sons, the older of whom, Hans, is said to have earned money as a male prostitute.
Woldemar Preussner attended school in Hamburg-Eilbeckthal until the age of 15. He was described as loner. He started a commercial apprenticeship with an iron monger but broke it off, stating that it was not for him. His supervisor later reported that Woldemar Preussner had been dismissed for repeated theft. With no occupational training, he worked at various department stores as a messenger. For three months he set out to sea on a steamship of the German-Africa line as a kitchen boy.
In 1934 Woldemar Preussner was drafted into fatigue duty with the military for one year. From 1935 to 1937 he fulfilled his military service. As of late 1937 he worked at the mattress store Bettenhaus Köhn on Wandsbeker Chaussee and as a domestic servant in Bergedorf. In most of his jobs he did not measure up to what was expected of him.
In mid May 1938 he was reported to the police by the 16-year-old bellboy Kurt Reichert: Woldemar Preussner had allegedly touched him in an indecent manner at the stall called Oskar at Pferdemarkt in Hamburg. Following a brief detention, however, Woldemar Preussner was released because the witness was unable to clearly prove any sexual harassment, and unintentional touching might have taken place in the throngs at the outdoor market.
All the same, the 24th Criminal Commissioner, responsible for homosexual "offenses”, continued to investigate his case because Woldemar Preussner had already "definitively” come to the attention of the authorities for two instances occurring in 1935 and 1936, but the charges against him had been dropped due to lack of evidence. After new interrogations at the end of May, start of June 1938 and more incriminating statements by the 16-year-old witness, Woldemar Preussner was taken into police custody on 3 June and detained at Fuhlsbüttel concentration camp until 11 June 1938 under more stringent conditions. The criminal police described him as a "crafty” and "dishonest” individual because he could only be moved to a confession in one case. Now he was taken into remand custody and on 31 Aug. sentenced by Hamburg Local Court to one year in prison for misdemeanors under section 175 and, in the case of Kurt Reichert, attempted crimes under section 175a, clause 3. He served his sentence at Fuhlsbüttel Men’s Penitentiary.
During his incarceration, his mother submitted several pleas for clemency to the public prosecutor’s office. The prison director attested to her son’s good behavior, however he saw no true regret and rejected all of the pleas.
Mid June and July 1939, Wilhelm Dose and Woldemar Preussner were each released from Fuhlsbüttel Penitentiary after serving their full terms. Wihlem Dose found a room to sublet at Lübecker Straße 72 and helped Woldemar Preussner get a job at a business belonging to Eugen Ziebert, an SS Sturmführer and proprietor of the nearby pub Lübschen Baum at the corner of Güntherstraße, and mid Aug. he moved into Wilhelm Dose’s room.
On 28 Aug. 1939, two 14-year-old Hitler Youth members, pressured by their parents, told the police that they had been approached by two men at the Wandsbeker Pflaumenmarkt Market, had been given chocolates and candies by them, and had agreed to meet them the next day to go to the movies. The boys believed the men were foreign spies. At the agreed time to meet, the Wandsbek Gestapo apprehended the two men who were identified as Wilhelm Dose and Woldemar Preussner and handed over to the 24th Crime Commission.
The two were detained at Fuhlsbüttel concentration camp and subjected to lengthy interrogations. Under the pressure, Woldemar Preussner confessed to mutual sexual acts, severely incriminating his friend. He also admitted that he had planned to try to seduce the boys, initially portraying Wilhelm Dose as the driving force behind the plans. Wilhelm Dose, for his part, tried to invalidate the incriminating statements by accusing Woldemar Preussner of blackmail. After extensive confessions by both men, Wilhem Dose was admitted to regular custody awaiting trial on 5 Sept. 1939, and Woldemar Preussner on 6 Sept. 1939.
Shortly after being moved to remand prison, Wilhelm Dose was declared unfit for imprisonment by the prison’s infirmary due to agitation and fits of raving madness and was admitted for a second time to Langenhorn Mental and Nursing Home. At the mental institution he reported that he had been dubbed a "pig dog” at Fuhlsbüttel concentration camp and subjected to considerable pressure. The doctor Wigand Quickert described him in a psychological assessment as "unscrupulous”, "a danger to the public” and "a grave danger to youth” and recommended preventive detention for Wilhelm Dose.
First Woldemar Preussner was convicted on 15 Nov. 1939 by the Hamburg Local Court for his sexual relationship with Wilhelm Dose after section 175 and for attempting to seduce a 14-year-old boy after section 175a, clause 3 and sentenced to a two-year prison sentence. Wilhelm Dose was convicted by the same court according to the same sections on 8 Aug. 1940 and sentenced to three years in prison. Additionally he was convicted for aggravated circumstances after section 20a of the Criminal Code as a "dangerous repeat offender” and was to be taken into "preventive detention” once he had served his regular sentence, and it was recommended that he undergo "voluntarily castration”. He lost his appeal to the conviction in Nov. 1940.
On 5 Dec. 1939 Woldemar Preussner was transferred from pre-trial detention to Fuhlsbüttel Penitentiary, then on 15 Jan. 1940 to Emsland Prison Camp III, in Brual-Rhede near Aschendorf. From 17 June to 5 Oct. 1940 he was back in Hamburg pre-trial prison awaiting the trial of Wilhelm Dose, then returned to Emsland Camp on 21 Nov. 1940 where he was placed in Prison Camp I in Börgermoor, and then moved to Bremen-Oslebshausen Penitentiary on 2 Feb. 1941. At the end of his regular prison sentence on 1 Sept. 1941, he was sent to "preventive detention” at Hamburg-Hütten Police Prison.
Like many of his suffering comrades, he and his relatives were clearly aware of the dire conditions awaiting him as the threat of being sent to a concentration camp loomed over him. Once again his mother submitted a plea for clemency to the public prosecutor’s office and in a final attempt to "the Reich Chancellor and Leader Mister Adolf Hitler” in Berlin. Woldemar Preussner himself had also requested a pardon and that his fitness to serve in the military be restored so that he could prove himself at the front as a soldier and "a good German citizen”.
An official death certificate, now regarded as fake, "documents” the death of the 26-year-old man in the main camp on 25 June 1942 due to "heart and circulatory failure following myocarditis”. According to the most recent findings, it is mostly likely that he was transferred to the Bernburg killing center where he was killed with gas at an earlier date, on 31 May 1942 or in early June 1942. Those circumstances were not yet known at the time when the Stumbling Stone was made, moreover the stone bears an incorrect date of death: 25 Oct. 1942.
To serve his sentence, Wilhelm Dose was transferred from Holstenglacis Remand Prison on 29 Nov. 1940 to Bremen-Oslebshausen Penitentiary where he began serving his term on 2 Dec. As of 15 Oct. 1941 at the latest, he had been moved to Dreibergen-Bützow Prison where he submitted a request for "voluntary castration” in the hope of afterwards receiving early release from prison through the route of clemency. In Feb. 1942 he demanded assurance that he would not be subjected to "preventive detention” after undergoing castration. Hamburg Public Prosecutor Nicolaus Siemssen rejected his request, commenting, "he has completely misjudged his situation if he believes he may conduct ‘settlement negotiations’. Please inform Dose that his prospects of ever being released from preventive detention without undergoing castration are minimal.”
In response Wilhelm Dose withdrew his request in March 1942. On 25 Aug. 1942, the prison infirmary at Dreibergen-Bützow determined Wilhelm Dose was unfit for detention due to a "mental disorder” and wanted to transfer him to a "mental and nursing facility”. That never came to pass as Wilhelm Dose died at the prison infirmary on 31 Aug. 1942 at the age of 40.
Wilhelm Dose’s address book, seized by the criminal police, contained a poem that "Erich” had dedicated to him on New Year’s Day in 1933:
For all the blooms on a field that persist
That many blows love will ably resist.
As hard as life as a couple may be,
Even worse to bear alone and lonely.
Should all boulders break
And the sky founder
My word I shall keep
Yours be true forever.
Translator: Suzanne von Engelhardt
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.
Stand: December 2019
© Bernhard Rosenkranz (†)/Ulf Bollmann
Quellen: AB Hamburg 1938 und 1942; StaH, 213-8 Staatsanwaltschaft Oberlandesgericht – Verwaltung, Ablieferung 2, 451 a E 1, 1 c und Ablieferung 2, 451 a E 1, 1 d; 213-11 Staatsanwaltschaft Landgericht – Strafsachen, 8739/38, 9830/38, 11068/39 u. 123/41; 242-1 II Gefängnisverwaltung II, Ablieferung, 13, sowie Signatur 13690 u. 23829; 332-5 Standesämter, 10715 (darin Eintrag Nr. 620); 352-8/7 Staatskrankenanstalt Langenhorn, Ablieferung 1995/2, 25464; Jan-Henrik Peters: Verfolgt und vergessen : Homosexuelle in Mecklenburg und Vorpommern im Dritten Reich. Koch, Rostock 2004, S. 236–241 [Diese Arbeit zu W. Dose basiert vor allem auf einer Gefangenenpersonalakte des Landeshauptarchivs Schwerin, Bestand Landesstrafanstalt Dreibergen-Bützow, sonstige Gefangene, Nr. 824, mit weiteren Abbildungen Doses]; B. Rosenkranz/U. Bollmann/G. Lorenz: Homosexuellen-Verfolgung in Hamburg 1919–1969. Verlag Lambda Edition, Hamburg 2009, S. 206–207, 246.