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Alfred Godemann * 1897

Dithmarscher Straße 48 (Hamburg-Nord, Dulsberg)

JG. 1897
TOT 23.6.1944

Alfred Carl Godemann, born on 4 Apr. 1897 in Hamburg, imprisoned in 1942, died on 23 June 1944 in Oradea/Romania

Dithmarscher Strasse 48

Sometime in the afternoon on 6 Mar. 1942, the Kriminalsekretär [a rank equivalent to detective sergeant or master sergeant] Voigt observed in a public restroom located on Hopfenmarkt in front of St. Nicholas’ Church (Nikolaikirche) a man "dwelling for an extended period at the men’s urinal, pretending to urinate … The man’s behavior suggested that he sought men’s acquaintances for the purpose of indecent intercourse. The reporting officer intervened and the suspect was taken to the police station.”

The person in question was the public administration employee Alfred Godemann, born in 1897 as the son of the sworn weigher Karl Godemann and Wilhelmine, née Nagler, in Hamburg. After attending the eight-grade elementary school (Volksschule), he completed a commercial apprenticeship at a shipping company. He also worked for a shipping agency until the outbreak of the First World War, during which he fought until the armistice in 1918. That same year, he married Elisabeth, née Baxmann. The marriage produced a daughter in 1920 and in 1923 son Karl-Heinrich, who died in Belgium as a private in the German Wehrmacht in Jan. 1945. After getting married, Alfred Godemann started his own business, a publishing company, which he operated until 1932. After a period of unemployment until Oct. 1935, he found a job with the Hamburg-Nord Tax and Revenue Office on Steinstrasse. Starting in Feb. 1940, he was drafted for military service in the Wehrmacht for one year, participating in the western advance as a dispatch rider.

Although there were no police findings regarding homosexual behavior incriminating Alfred Godemann up to that date, he was arrested and taken to the detention post in the Stadthaus [the State Police headquarters]. During his first interrogation on 7 Mar. 1942, he admitted to having bisexual inclinations and to having sought adventures with men since about 1931, which he mostly found on Hopfenmarkt with persons unknown to him. After several "remonstrations” ("Vorhalten”), which can also be understood as clues to intimidation taking the form of threats and physical mistreatments, he conceded at the Stadthaus additional homosexual adventures in other public restrooms in the Hammerbrook district. In the police report filed at the end of the first day of interrogations, Alfred Godemann signed, after further "remonstration,” the following declaration: "I confess to having had additional adventures in the homosexual area and I am prepared to tell the entire truth about this matter. For this purpose, however, I still need some time to reflect, which means I cannot provide any further information at this time.” Afterward, he was detained in the Fuhlsbüttel concentration camp until 14 Mar. 1942. The term of imprisonment was interrupted only by interrogations at the Hamburg Stadthaus, during which he conceded other contacts to men.

After his transfer into regular pretrial detention, his wife filed a petition for release from custody until the trial date, describing their marriage as a happy and harmonious one: "My husband was always quite happy to be with the family, hard-working, and he treated me well.” However, as expected, there was no conditional discharge during the criminal proceedings headed by the dedicated persecutor of homosexuals, public prosecutor Nicolaus Siemssen. On 14 Apr. 1942, Alfred Godemann was on trial before the District Court (Amtsgericht). His wife continued to stand by him, again declaring during the proceedings, "My husband always treated me well. I will never give him up, despite his unfortunate inclination.” He was sentenced by the District Court to seven months in prison. Although the period of pretrial detention was calculated against his total sentence due to his confessions, owing to his marriage he hardly encountered any understanding for his "deeds” overall because he had not, after all, suffered from "sexual deprivation” ("Geschlechtsnot”). Moreover, he was assessed as a "personality with entirely homosexual tendencies.”

Contrary to this assessment and conviction, he was released from pretrial detention to go home on the very day the sentence was passed. Possibly, he had made a declaration that he intended to volunteer for "probation on the front,” especially because his employment at the tax and revenue office had been terminated by then. At least his case file contains clues dated Oct. 1942 from the "Court of Duty Station Army Post Service no. 04209 R.H.L. 17/42,” which was located at the eastern front, to the effect that the sentence would be "suspended on probation until the end of the state of war.” However, in June 1943, the suspension of the sentence was revoked because the court of the 198th Field Commandant’s Office in Konstantinowka [today: Kostiantynivka in Ukraine] sentenced him to three months in prison for "dealing in stolen property” ("Sachhehlerei”). After copies of his conviction in accordance with Sec. 175 [of the Reich Criminal Code] had been requested from Hamburg, his military environment was well informed about his inclinations.

Not surprisingly, after that time, Alfred Godemann was labeled in the field penal camp, where he was scheduled to serve his sentence until 26 Apr. 1944, as "unstable in terms of character” and "weak,” and his "behavior as a soldier” was described as "soft and changeable.” Another aspect criticized was that he "was wounded … in action after a short time.” Although the battles in the Soviet Union were becoming more threatening and involved heavier losses all the time, the court-martials having jurisdiction still dealt with "the examination of repeat offenses in the cases of men convicted in accordance with Sec. 175 of the Reich Criminal Code [Reichsstrafgesetzbuch – RStGB]” even as late as Apr. 1944, now at the post in Kagul (Cahul). In May 1944, a report went to the public prosecutor’s office in Hamburg that "due to general physical weakness,” Alfred Godemann was handed over to an "auxiliary administrative platoon” (Behelfs-Verwaltungs-Zug – B.V.Z.). Then, at the end of July 1944, information was sent that he had already died of typhus in a military hospital, Army Post Service no. 44558, on 23 June 1944. By accessing the internet portal of the German War Graves Commission (Volksbund Deutsche Kriegsgräberfürsorge e. V.), it was possible to locate his grave in Oradea/Romania.

Translator: Erwin Fink

Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.

© Ulf Bollmann

Quellen: StaH, 331-1II (Polizeibehörde II), Ablieferung 15, Band 2; StaH 242-1II (Gefängnisverwaltung II), Ablieferung 1998/1; StaH 213-11 (Staatsanwaltschaft Landgericht – Strafsachen), 6953/42; Gräbersuche Online unter, Alfred Godemann (eingesehen am 18.7.2011).

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