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Porträt Karl Heinz Harms, November 1940
Karl Heinz Harms, November 1940
© StaH

Karl-Heinz Harms * 1922

Börnestraße 69 (Wandsbek, Eilbek)

gedemütigt / entrechtet
Flucht in den Tod

Karl Heinz Dietrich Harms, born 30 Oct. 1922 in Hamburg, died on 23 June 1941 in Hamburg (suicide)

Börnestraße 69 (Josef-Klant-Straße 69)

"Dear Mama, forgive me.” After leaving these words of farewell for his mother on the coffee table, 18-year-old Karl Heinz Harms, using a double-action revolver, ended his life with a shot to the heart during the evening hours of 23 June 1941 at Hachmannplatz, near the main railway station.

Little is known of the young man commemorated here: He was born in Hamburg on 30 Oc¬t. 1922 and was the son of Richard Harms, who made a living by renting out barges and lighters, and Luise Wiebke Marie, née Nissen. In 1924, his father too committed suicide. Karl Heinz Harms worked for the company Kühne & Nagel as a clerk. As was ascertained by the police after his suicide, the 24th Criminal Investigation Division, which was in charge of "offences” committed by homosexuals, had investigated him six months previously. The police noted: "Juvenile, on suspicion of violation of § 175 of the Reich Criminal Code. He was also in remand custody, but then was supposedly cleared of the charge. Harms is said to have continued to consort with others of his kind, and he is thus likely to have feared new proceedings, although the 24th Division is not yet aware of any.” Verification of his detention in remand custody can no longer be provided today, but the proceeding pending with the public prosecutor’s office, "2 Js 3416/40,” was instituted there on 8 Nov. 1940. One day later, however, it was closed because the prosecution had little chance of succeeding. Shortly after his proceeding, he applied for and received a passport.

Possibly he actually did fear a new proceeding, as his aunt also told the police that he continued to spend time in "homosexual circles,” and took his own life for that reason. He is thus part of the approximately 25 percent of the victims of homosexual persecution who preferred this terrible path to the police methods of persecution under National Socialism.

A Stumbling Stone placed before his last residence, in the home of his mother in Börnestraße – during the National Socialist era, temporarily renamed for the first Gau leader of the NSDAP in Hamburg, Josef Klant – recalls his fate.

Translator: Kathleen Luft

Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung Hamburg

Stand: October 2016
© Bernhard Rosenkranz(†)/Ulf Bollmann

Quellen: StaH 213-11 Staatsanwaltschaft Landgericht – Strafsachen, 346; StaH 331-5 Polizeibehörde – Unnatürliche Sterbefälle, 1065/41; StaH 332-8 Meldewesen, 29; Rosenkranz/Bollmann/Lorenz, Homosexuellen-Verfolgung, S. 215.

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