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Elisabeth Glüer, Mitte, und ihre Geschwister
Elisabeth Glüer, Mitte, und ihre Geschwister
Fotograf/in: Privatbesitz

Elisabeth Glüer * 1901

Friedenstraße 7 (5-9) (Wandsbek, Eilbek)

JG. 1901
"VERLEGT" 16.8.1943
ERMORDET 21.8.1944

Elisabeth Glüer, born on 29 Oct. 1901 in Gross-Simnau/East Prussia, lived in several sanatoria from 1938 to 1944, transferred on 16 Aug. 1943 to the Vienna Municipal Wagner von Jauregg-Heil- und Pflegeanstalt, died there on 21 Aug. 1944

Friedenstrasse 7

Elisabeth Glüer was born as the youngest of five children of the pastor Hermann Archibald and his wife Elisabeth Glüer, née Fleischmann, in Gross-Simnau in East Prussia, spending her early childhood there. In 1906, the parents and their children moved to Berlin, where they lived in the building of the Berlin Mission at Georgenkirchstrasse 70 from 1921 onward. Because of her limited aptitude and weak constitution, Elisabeth was given private lessons and achieved modest writing but solid reading skills. In contrast to her older siblings, she received no further education. Elisabeth remained closely attached to her mother.

When the parents moved to Sandow located in the March of Brandenburg (Mark Brandenburg) in 1921, the older siblings had already left the parental home. Elisabeth stayed with her parents in the pastorate household as a Haustochter [note: in this context, a daughter of legal age working as a domestic help/nanny in her parental home], though also working outside the household as an assistant in the nearby children’s home and as a "reading auntie” for the numerous nieces and nephews. In 1925, she suffered four convulsive epileptic seizures in short succession, after having experienced only moderate epileptic dizzy spells. Physicians in Berlin diagnosed congenital epilepsy, which was treated by administering sparing doses of Phenobarbital (Luminal).

After his retirement in 1932, the father, Hermann Glüer, moved back to Berlin with his wife and Elisabeth. For treatment of her epilepsy, Elisabeth spent several weeks in the von-Bodelschwingh Asylum (von-Bodelschwinghschen Anstalten) in Bethel in 1934, though this did not result in the desired success. From then on, she was considered unfit for gainful employment. Against her express wishes, she was sterilized in Berlin in 1935 on the grounds that she was an epileptic with a hereditary predisposition. When talking to the medical officer about the prevention of offspring with hereditary diseases (Verhütung erbkranken Nachwuchses), she scoffed "that in that case they might as well beat her to death.” After this highly traumatic event, paranoia and existential fears set in, which meant that hence she required care as a patient.

In 1937, Elisabeth’s mother passed away. Elisabeth’s wish to manage the household was impossible to fulfill because of her illness. The parental household was dissolved, and the father moved to East Prussia. After that, Elisabeth lived for several months in the large-scale household of pastor Gerhard Wilde and his wife Emily, née Glüer, her sister in Stolzenhagen near Stettin (today Szczecin in Poland). Fuelled by the fact that the pastorate was under constant political and police observation, her fear of persecution grew. To withdraw her from this pressure, in Jan. 1938 she was entrusted by her relatives to the care of the Protestant Kükenmühlen sanatorium near Stettin. However, as she did not feel comfortable in the large welfare and social institution, believing that she did not get any effective help there, she wished to move to the institution in Neuendettelsau (in Franconia) managed by deaconesses, where she had already undergone medical treatment before.

She relocated there in Aug. 1938. Despite all of the loving and understanding care, the separation from her relatives as well as the unfamiliarity of the new surroundings initially posed a threat to her. She expressed this in a clairvoyant way in a poem she gave her sister, the Hamburg deaconess Anni Glüer, on the occasion of a visit:

The world around me is quiet and stilled,
With heavy thoughts my heart is filled.
As the evening darkens,
Quietly fear awakens.

From that time onward, Elisabeth sometimes reacted aggressively toward nursing sisters or she was apathetic. The medical diagnosis was "congenital epilepsy, feeblemindedness, schizophrenia.” This time of her stay in Neuendettelsau coincided with the "euthanasia” decree of the Nazi government, of whose implementation in church institutions the relatives were not aware. They mistakenly imagined their daughter and sister, respectively, to be in the safe care of an institution of the Protestant social welfare work (Diakonie).

In Mar. 1941, the Protestant institutions in Neuendettelsau were converted into a military hospital of the German Wehrmacht. Elisabeth Glüer relocated to the Protestant Kropp sanatorium in Holstein, thus moving closer to her sister Anni Glüer, who as a deaconess of the Amalie-Sieveking Mother House (Amalie-Sieveking-Mutterhaus) worked in Hamburg-Volksdorf and since 1931 in the "Parish Hall of the Church of Peace” ("Gemeindehaus der Friedenskirche”) foundation in Hamburg-Eilbek. In this location, the foundation had rebuilt the "Eilbeck waiting school” ("Warteschule Eilbeck”), the kindergarten and day care center, according to modern principles. After 1933, the foundation came into conflict with the standards of the new rulers concerning child rearing, though it was able to assert itself against the National Socialist People’s Welfare authority (Nationalsozialistische Volkswohlfahrt – NSV). Since the relocation of her ill sister Elisabeth to Kropp, Anni Glüer took on all responsibility regarding room and board for the patient in her father’s place, also visiting her on a regular basis. The father came only once more from East Prussia to Kropp, but, much to his regret, he was intensely rejected by his daughter. During her stay at Kropp, Elisabeth Glüer suffered only one more epileptic seizure and was considered "poorly oriented but physically improved” at the time she had to leave this place, too, in the following year.

Since the institution in Kropp was also converted into a military hospital, Anni Glüer had her sister come very close to her in Mar. 1942, to what was then the Alsterdorf Asylum (Alsterdorfer Anstalten). She was registered with police at her sister’s address at Friedenstrasse 7, but she did not live there. The vicinity of her sister Anni was good for her. Nevertheless, due to her illness she was unable to set out – together with her sister – on the eagerly expected journey to East Prussia to celebrate their father’s eightieth birthday in the summer of 1943. Anni Glüer traveled there alone, the ill sister reacted embittered and – according to the patient’s medical file – became dissatisfied and aggressive. She ranted and raved to herself a lot and tried to run away.

The return of sister Anni coincided with the time of the large-scale air raids on Hamburg at the end of July/early Aug 1943. When the first bombs hit the parish hall, she and a fellow sister managed to extinguish the fire, but in a subsequent bombing raid, almost the entire district of Eilbek was destroyed. Nevertheless, she established another daycare center in the basement of the parish hall as well as an aid center for bombed-out persons, doing whatever was in her power. When she went to Alsterdorf on 17 Aug. to check on her ill sister, she learned that on the day before, Elisabeth had been transferred to the Vienna Municipal Wagner von Jauregg-Heil- und Pflegeanstalt, a state-operated "sanatorium and nursing home.” Neither she nor any other relatives had been notified.

After the extensive destruction of the city, the institutional administration in Hamburg had secured the consent of the Hamburg public health authority and the T 4 head office in Berlin to transfer several hundred male and female patients to so-called areas "safe from bombing” ("luftsichere Gebiete”). The largest of these transports was comprised of 228 women and girls, going to the former "Steinhof,” a "sanatorium and nursing home” in Vienna. After her admission there, Elisabeth Glüer had hardly any contact with relatives anymore. Her sister was in Hamburg, enlisted for work in the war effort. The request by her father for a visit to Vienna was refused. According to her patient’s medical file, Elisabeth experienced a rapid loss of weight, evidently a result of the starvation rations. She died on 21 Aug 1944, allegedly of pulmonary tuberculosis and was buried in Vienna.

The father traveled to Vienna to attend her funeral but he came too late, returning after talks with the gravedigger at the cemetery to East Prussia, a broken man. From there, he had to flee from the invading Red Army in the spring of 1945. In mid-March, he showed up without any advance notice and without any baggage at his daughter Anni’s place of deployment in Hamburg-St. Georg. After difficult weeks, during which her work in the city, still threatened by bombs, took all of her strength, she managed to accommodate her father, who was not familiar with either air protection requirements or the bottlenecks in feeding the major city, at the deaconess mother house in Volksdorf. At this location, he experienced at least outward calm, dying on 12 Nov. 1945.

Status as of Feb. 2014

Translator: Erwin Fink

Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.

© Hildegard Thevs mit Richard Wilde

Quellen: Ev. Stiftung Alsterdorf, Archiv, V 345; Mitteilungen Richard Wildes, Mai 2012; Glüer, Anni, Mein Leben, unveröffentlichtes Manuskript, 1986; Severin, Günther, Kurze Beschreibung der Stiftung "Gemeindehaus Eilbek", Privatdruck.

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