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Heinrich Habitz gen. "Liddy Bacroff" * 1908
Simon-von-Utrecht-Straße 76 -79 (Hamburg-Mitte, St. Pauli)
ermordet 6.1.1943 KZ Mauthausen
Liddy Bacroff (Heinrich Eugen Habitz), born 19 Aug. 1908, imprisoned 1924, 1928, 1931, 1935, 1936 and 1938, died 6 Jan. 1943 in the Mauthausen Concentration Camp
Simon-von-Utrecht-Straße 79 (Eckernfördestraße 78)
The Ludwighafen-born Heinrich Habitz chose to live as a prostitute named Liddy Bacroff in order to fully experience his sexual orientation, what today we would call transgenderism.
He was raised by his grandparents. Joseph Habitz, whom his mother later married, adopted him. Since he was considered "difficult,” he was sent to a reformatory for a year. After quitting a commercial apprenticeship, he worked as an office assistant and messenger boy. There are several entries in his police record during the 1920s and 1930s for property offenses and trespassing. In 1924, when he was 16, he was charged with child molestation and sentenced to six weeks in prison by the Ludwigshafen district court. The sentence was later waived. In 1929 the Mannheim district court sentenced him to two months in prison on charges of homosexuality. Habitz left home for good in 1929 and moved first to Berlin, then to Hamburg. From that point onwards he called himself Liddy Bacroff.
In 1930 she spent another two months in prison for stealing her roommate’s clothing. In June of the same year she received a one-month sentence for trespassing. The next trial was in May 1931, where she was sentenced to four months in prison for homosexual activities. In 1933 and 1934 she was sentenced to six and ten months, respectively, for theft and homosexuality.
While she was in prison in 1930 and 1931, Liddy Bacroff wrote several pieces about her thoughts and feelings, which offer insight into the life of a transvestite. The pieces were called "Freedom! The Tragedy of a Homosexual Love Affair” and "A Transvestite’s Experience. The Adventure of a Night in the Adlon Transvestite Bar!”.
In March 1936 Liddy Bacroff was charged with prostitution for the first time. She was found guilty of theft and was sentenced by the Hamburg regional court to two years in prison and the deprivation of her rights as a citizen for three years. She served her sentence in the Bremen-Oslebshausen prison.
What had happened? In December 1935 a seaman had reported a prostitute to the Altona police for theft. The police investigation found that Liddy Bacroff was the only possible culprit. She was arrested in January 1936. When she was questioned she made the following statement: "I admit the theft of 20 Reichsmarks. In my opinion the man did not know that I was also of the male sex. He most likely assumed that he was having sex with a woman. Since my release from prison I have lived from homosexual intercourse. I have not held a steady job, and have also received no welfare benefits. I met my johns in St. Pauli. I generally received 2 to 3 Reichsmarks for every trick. I had an average daily income of ten Reichsmarks. I stayed at different places, each time only for a few days. That’s where I took my tricks. I don’t remember their names and addresses. I’ve only lived at Seilerstraße for two days.”
The report from the police investigation of Liddy Bacroff reads: "In the matter of Habitz’s sexual orientation, it can be said that his abnormality began to manifest itself very early. He preferred to play with dolls, and his demeanor was that of a girl. His ‘vanity’ made the wearing of lipstick indispensable. His homosexual nature awoke at the age of 16. His emotional world was that of a woman. He never experienced the urge to practice the sexual act as a man. He can accurately be called a ‘man-woman’.”
After her release from prison in January 1938, Liddy Bacroff registered with the police, probably at the Davidstraße precinct in St. Pauli. In order to escape the constant police observation, she used false papers to move to an apartment at Eckernfördestraße 78 (present-day Simon-von-Utrecht-Straße 79). As a result, the police issued an arrest warrant for her.
Liddy Bacroff’s freedom lasted only two months. She became the victim of a denunciation on 25 March 1938. At 11:15 p.m. the police received an anonymous tip that "at the establishment ‘Komet’, there was a man in women’s clothing sitting at a table with another man.” Both she and the man were arrested. In her statement, Liddy Bacroff said that she wore women’s clothing because of her "abnormal nature, in order to pick up men as a homosexual.” Her companion of that night asserted that he did not know her true identity, he thought he had met a woman. During police questioning on 2 April 1938, she willingly told the police officers about her previous life as a transvestite: "I had permission from the police to wear women’s clothing in public. I was under constant observation by the vice squad. … My passion for men finally drove me to prostitution. When my partner and I are in love, I find sexual fulfillment through anal intercourse. … Up until today I have earned my living through prostitution. … In the nine weeks after my prison sentence until my arrest, from 15 January until 25 March 1938, I had about three men per day. Each gave me an average of 3 Reichsmarks. It has happened that a john gave me up to 10 Reichsmarks. In most cases I met my customers on the street in St. Georg, very seldom in an establishment. Sometimes I approached them, sometimes the other way around. After we had agreed upon a price, we went to the Kucharsky boarding house, at the corner of Hansaplatz and Bremerreihe. The owners knew that I was a transvestite.”
On 4 April 1938, Liddy Bacroff submitted an application for "voluntary” castration, in order to "be healed from my abnormal passion, which has led me down the path of prostitution.” She was examined by a physician from the Hamburg Public Health Office. The doctor came to the following conclusions, which were tantamount to a death sentence: "H. is fundamentally a transvestite. His behavior is accordingly feminine and infantile, his voice is eunuchoidal … He will probably continue to act as a Uranian = rent boy = passive pederast even after a castration, because, due to his lack of higher emotions, it is impossible to make him understand the immorality of his actions, i.e. earning a living as a rent boy and passive pederast. He is happy with his situation and is not interested in earning his living with decent work. … His sexual-criminal habitus is a pathological fixation. … This thoroughly unfavorable prognosis strongly indicates that he should be taken into protective custody. He is and will remain a corruptor of morals of the worst kind, and thus must be eliminated from the Volksgemeinschaft.”
On 22 August 1938, the Hamburg regional court sentenced Liddy Bacroff to three years in prison with subsequent protective custody for "homosexual prostitution as a dangerous habitual felon.” An excerpt from the sentencing statement reads: "The court does not consider a castration, as proffered by the accused, an acceptable solution, … as … the findings of the authorized expert indicate that this measure would not suffice to decisively influence the sexual drive of the accused. It would simply make it easier for him to hide his sexual organ from his partners in fornication. It is evident that his offer was made with this intention in mind, since in nearly the same breath, he commented to the examining physiscian that no one could close up his anus.”
After her Gestapo- and pre-trial detainment, Liddy Bacroff was transferred to the Bremen-Oslebshausen prison in October 1938. After serving her sentence she was sent to the Rendsburg Detention Center in October 1941. In November 1942 she was returned to the custody of the Hamburg police department, which sent her to the Mauthausen Concentration Camp, where she was murdered on 6 January 1943.
Translator: Amy Lee
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.
Stand: October 2016
© Bernhard Rosenkranz/Ulf Bollmann
Quellen: Rosenkranz/Bollmann/Lorenz, Homosexuellen-Verfolgung, 2009, S. 63–65, 198.