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Johanna Gustloff * 1884

Vierländer Damm Rothenburgsorter Marktplatz (Hamburg-Mitte, Rothenburgsort)

JG. 1884
ERMORDET 11.4.1944

Johanna Gustloff, born 1 Feb. 1884 in Hamburg, died 11 Apr. 1944 in the Wagner von Jauregg Institution in Vienna

Vierländer Damm/Rothenburgsorter Marktplatz (Billhorner Röhrendamm 214)

Johanna Gusloff entered the Alsterdorf Institution on 26 February 1942, shortly after her 58th birthday.

She was the second child of the blacksmith Ferdinand Adolf Gustloff and his wife Johanna Henriette, née Bosse. She had an elder sister, Frieda, who was four years her senior, and two younger siblings, Mathilde (*1885) and Friedrich (*1886). A fifth child, Pauline, was born in late 1892, but died at the age of nine months.

Johana Gustloff had suffered from epileptic seizures since her childhood. Very little is known about her life before she entered the Alsterdorf Institution. Her father’s date of death is unknown. Her mother Johanna moved from Barmbek to Rothenburgsort, which was at that time called Billwärder Ausschlag, in 1893, and also lived for a short time in her hometown of Goslar. She earned her living as a shopkeeper and manual laborer. Her official address, Billhorner Röhrendamm 117, was that of a relative. When she died on 4 May 1899, her daughters Mathilde and Frieda, who were still minors, and probably Johanna as well, remained at that address with their bother Friedrich. Mathilde and Frieda worked as household help. Mathilde worked for several months in the villages in the surrounding area, and Frieda found work in the city. When Frieda married Heinrich Poppe in 1905, she took Johanna into her new home.

When she was admitted to the Alsterdorf Institution, Johanna Gutsloff was described as fretful and unable to care for herself. Her condition did not improve. After the air raids in July and August 1943, the Institution was unable to provide enough beds for their patients, and appealed to the Public Health Office for help. It approved the transport of patients to Vienna on 16 August 1943. The Institute put together a list 228 women and girls of all ages to be transferred. Johanna Gustloff was among them.

The transport arrived at the Wagner von Jauregg Institution of the City of Vienna on the next day. When she arrived, Johanna Gustloff was able to walk, but she was disoriented, spoke slowly and gave hesitant answers. She spent the next several days quietly in bed, and afterwards sat apathetically with her fellow patients. A 20-minute Rorschach test on 19 December resulted in a diagnosis of "epileptic dementia.” She suffered between two and six seizures per month.

After a fall in the bathroom on 5 April 1944, Johanna Gustloff remained in bed with a high fever on the next day. Her sister Frieda was sent a letter saying that Johanna’s condition had become worse, but it was returned undelivered. She had died during the firestorm, but this fact was not determined until many years later. On 10 April Johanna’s fever rose to 40°C (104°F), and she died the next day of pneumonia. The autopsy gave no indication of a suspected hip fracture, but did show a severe case of pneumonia, with alterations to several inner organs.

Johanna’s brother Friedrich Gustloff received the news of her death on 20 April 1944, together with the information that she was buried at the Vienna Central Cemetery. Johanna Gustloff was 60 years old when she died.

Translator: Amy Lee

Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.

© Hildegard Thevs

Quellen: Ev. Stiftung Alsterdorf, Archiv, V 333; Jenner, Meldebögen; Wunder, Abtransporte; ders., Exodus.

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