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Porträt Paul Gundlach
Paul Gundlach
© Ev. Stiftung Alsterdorf, Archiv

Paul Gundlach * 1888

Roßberg 5 (Wandsbek, Eilbek)

JG. 1888
"VERLEGT" 1943
TOT 31.3.1944

Paul Gundlach, born 15 Apr. 1888 in Hamburg, died 31 Mar. 1944 in the Mainkofen Institution

Roßberg 5

Paul Gundlach’s later life was highly influenced by his experiences as a soldier in the First World War. In his hospital records from the Alsterdorf Institution, dated February 1939, it reads: "Busies himself with household jobs. […] Passionate and good chess player. Cleanliness and orderliness satisfactory. Expresses delusional ideas in conversations in which he first speaks lucidly about his experiences in the war, then interjects confused thoughts and sentences. Then suddenly returns to the topic of conversation.” Apparently the fact that he had once been buried under rubble had a lasting effect. In 1916 he was awarded the Hanseatic Cross, a distinction jointly created in 1915 by the cities of Hamburg, Bremen, and Lübeck for wartime service. In 1924 he was declared an invalid. When his invalid pension was to be raised in 1938 to cover his expenditures for personal needs, like tobacco, for example, the Alsterdorf Institution endorsed the offer in honor of his service during the war. His experiences during the war may also have been one of the reasons he once attempted to boil potatoes over a fire he ignited in a cellar at the Institution.

Paul Gundlach was born on 15 April 1888 in Hamburg, and christened on 13 August at the Lutheran church in St. Pauli. His father, August Gundlach, was the son of a teacher from Hermannrode in Hessen. His mother, Bertha Auguste, was the daughter of the factory-owner Johann Friedrich Ramke from Hamburg. August Gundlach and Bertha Ramke married in 1882 in Hamburg, and lived at Kieler Straße 42. Paul Gundlach had two older brothers and an older and a younger sister. He attended school until the 9th grade, then entered a four-year apprenticeship as a painter. In the following years he worked during the summer and attended a school of arts and crafts during the winter months. In the winter of 1911 he successfully ended his training as a wood and marble painter.

Paul Gundlach’s father August died on 16 April 1910. His mother Bertha moved into an apartment in Eilbek at Roßberg 5. When Paul returned from the war he lived with her.

He worked as a painter in the Hamburg shipyards until he was no longer able to work. In 1926 he was committed to the Friedrichsberg State Institution. During his three-week stay there he was declared legally incompetent and was assigned a legal guardian.

Five years later, in 1931, Paul Gundlach was once again committed to the Friedrichberg State Institution, and diagnosed with schizophrenia. He was described as contemplative, quiet, and without initiative, and after four years was considered "suitable” to be transferred to the Alsterdorf Institution. The criteria for "suitability” are unknown. He entered the Alsterdorf Institution on 29 March 1935. After a turbulent period of acclimatization, he settled into his accustomed compliancy. He enjoyed the freedom of being able to walk outside on the grounds of the Institution. He was seldom delusional, and remained generally healthy until he developed pulmonary tuberculosis in May 1943 and was transferred to the hospital ward. From there he was sent to the Mainkofen Institution in Lower Bavaria on 10 August 1942. Nothing is known about his time there, except that he allegedly died of an intestinal inflammation on 31 March 1944 and was buried in the Institute’s cemetery, according to the information sent to his guardian, Karl Ulrich.

Stand Februar 2014

Translator: Amy Lee

Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.

© Hildegard Thevs

Quellen: Ev. Stiftung Alsterdorf, Archiv, V 408; StaH 332-8 Meldewesen, Althamburgisches Gebiet 1892–1925, K 6174; Wunder, Exodus, in: Wunder/Genkel/Jenner, Auf dieser schiefen Ebene.

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