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Oscar Henschel * 1926

Von-Heß-Weg 4 (Hamburg-Mitte, Hamm)

1941 Minsk

further stumbling stones in Von-Heß-Weg 4:
Erwin Henschel, Gerda Henschel, Herbert Henschel, Käthe Henschel, Leopold Henschel, Leopold Henschel, Röschen Henschel

Erwin Henschel, born on 29 Sept. 1923, deported on 8 Nov. 1941 to Minsk
Gerda Henschel, born on 10 Nov. 1927, deported on 8 Nov. 1941 to Minsk
Herbert Henschel, born on 30 Mar. 1921, deported on 8 Nov. 1941 to Minsk
Käthe Henschel, born on 29 Sept. 1923, deported on 23 Sept. 1940 to the euthanasia killing center in Brandenburg
Leopold Henschel, born on 30 Dec. 1872, deported on 8 Nov. 1941 to Minsk
Leopold Henschel, born on 28 Jan. 1906, deported on 26 Aug. 1942 to Auschwitz
Oscar Henschel, born on 5 Mar. 1926, deported on 8 Nov. 1941 to Minsk
Röschen Henschel, née Oppenheim, born 30 Jan. 1890, deported 8 Nov. 1941 to Minsk

Von-Hess-Weg 4

Käthe Henschel was born on 29 Sept. 1923 as the daughter of the jewish couple Leopold and Röschen Henschel. Leopold Henschel, born on 30 Dec. 1872 in Sorau/Lausitz was a qualified businessman who had already settled in Hamburg before 1914. He was wounded in World War I and suffered from then on from the aftereffects of his injury. Leopold Henschel’s second wife Röschen, née Oppenheim, was born on 30 Jan. 1890 in Hamburg. They married on 23 Oct. 1919. His first wife, Dora, née Nissensohn, born on 6 July 1870 in Hamburg, had died on 7 Febr. 1919 without giving birth to any children.

On 24 Mar. 1919, the German-Israelitic Community in Hamburg noted on Leopold Henschel`s tax card "Tax waived, has nothing”. As a result of his wound, the former war veteran could never settle down professionally. Apart from a few occasional jobs as an ancillary clerk, Leopold Henschel was unemployed. His family lived largely from welfare support.

Leopold and Röschen Henschel had five children. Herbert, born on 30 Mar. 1921, the twins Erwin and Käthe born on 29 Sept. 1923, Oscar born on 5 Mar. 1926 and Gerda born on 10 Nov. 1927. All were born in Hamburg. Erwin Henschel, Käthe`s twin brother, attended the Talmud Tora school from April 1930 to Easter 1938 and left it having completed his primary school education.

Käthe Henschel had spent the first 18 months of her life in a baby nursery. Back home at Schlachterstrasse, Thekla Picard, the Jewish Community Welfare Worker never found Käthe without bruises. She reported "The siblings, particularly her twin brother Erwin, were jealous of Käthe after she had returned to the family. The parents sought to rectify this by giving the boy preferential treatment”. In 1926, the paediatrician, Max Schmidt, expressed his concern over Käthe`s state of health and recommended putting her into the children`s rest home Wilhelminenhöhe for the winter. Käthe then lived in this home in Blankenese from 9 Aug. 1926 till 19 Jan. 1927. The children`s rest home in Wilhelminenhöhe subsequently reported "When she was admitted, she was a quiet, pale child and had a tendency to frequent rises in temperature, coughing and wetting the bed. She has developed an excellent appetite, has become lively, has had no more cold symptoms for at least two months and her whole habitus has been extraordinarily strengthened through exposure to the sunray lamp. She has stopped wetting the bed. Her weight on admission was 24 pounds 100 gram and 27 pounds 400 gram when she was discharged”.

This positive development did not continue after Käthe returned to her family. Thekla Picard wrote in May 1927: "The child is now (…) intimidated, shy and threatens to fall into bad ways”.

Röschen Henschel was expecting her fifth child towards the end of 1927. Probably to ease the burden on the mother, the one and a half year old Oscar Henschel was put into the children`s rest home Wilhelminenhöhe. The four year old Käthe Henschel was placed as well as one of the other siblings in the Supervised School (Warteschule) Mühlenberg in Blankenese whose overall aims were defined thus: "The purpose of this institution is to free parents who have to practice their trade outside the home during the day from the care of children aged 2 – 7 years not yet able to attend school, to bring them into good custody and supervision, to protect them from the physical detriment and the mental and emotional harm to which they would otherwise be exposed if left to their own on the streets of the city or in the apartments of their parents …”.

The pedagogue, Anna Warburg, described the actual conditions in the Supervised School Mühlenberg as follows:
"Downstairs the house had two big rooms with large sliding doors so that one person could watch all the approximately 100 children (small children!). These were not in some way trained supervisors but, for example, an old cook… What did the children do? They sat there. They sat in long rows. At lunchtime they were given a soup. They sat dully on long benches without backrests. In the afternoon, they slept with their heads on their arms on the table. If a child dared to raise its head, a small schoolgirl (who was given lunch as a reward) came with a stick and hit the child on the head. Now and then a ‘circle game’ was carried out at the end of the day. The principal took hold of the first child on the first bench by the hand, the first child had to take the hand of the next one and involve her or him in the game. The last child on the first bench had to take the hand of the first child on the second row etc. In this way, all the children were deployed in a huge spiral shaped line. There were so many of them that those on the outside could certainly neither see nor hear what was happening in the middle. It was taken for granted that all the children were taken to the toilet at the same time where it stank terribly. In between the children were not allowed to go. The impressions that I got there were terrible. They probably were the poorest and most neglected children in Hamburg who were taken there."

Finally, on 10 Nov. 1927, Gerda Henschel was born. The family`s circumstances remained bleak. Many times in 1927 and 1928, milk coupons had to be approved. In March 1929, Erwin and Käthe Henschel were again handed over to the Supervised School Mühlenberg, but were taken out again in June. During a house visit, a welfare worker experienced Käthe`s mother scolding her in "a scandalous manner”. Käthe had a red eye, a hematoma and her right cheek was swollen. She was alleged to have hit herself on a bedstead.

The situation for Käthe in the family became more and more difficult. She went to the Supervised School Mühlenberg with her twin brother again in 1929. There, it was felt "that, at home, Käthe must be the scapegoat in every respect”. Erwin and perhaps the other brother passed responsibility for their own misconduct on to Käthe. On the other hand there are reports that Käthe showed clear signs of difficulties which potentially made it necessary to admit her to a suitable institution. During her stay in a daytime holiday colony run by the Jewish Community in summer 1930, Käthe appeared several times to be exceedingly difficult. A medical dossier arranged by the Jewish Community and compiled by the School Doctor, Dr. Gerda Lyon, concluded: "The impression is that Käthe Henschel is not given the attention that she needs in the domestic environment and that in her case we are dealing with a nervous child who could be negatively affected very soon by adverse social factors in her environment. By staying at home there is a danger of undesirable development which is already apparent in some characteristics for example in the beginning of a speech impediment”.

To protect her from the adverse influence of her family, a stay in the Raphael and Jeanette Ettlinger children`s home was suggested. The Raphael und Jeanette Ettlingersches Kinderheim in Hofheim was seen to be particularly suitable for difficult children. Käthe Henschel stayed there from 7 Sept. till 20 Oct. 1930. In the report prepared by the children’s home on the seven year old girl, Käthe was described on the one hand as a happy, cheerful and good natured child who was also obedient. On the other hand, it was reported that Käthe suffered from chronic bed wetting and had not been able to stay in the common dormitory but had to be isolated because of a strong body odour. She was so nervous that she constantly scratched herself and infected herself as a result. It would be desirable to place the child under observation or to bring her in a suitable home since she was at risk.

In spring 1933, the welfare worker, Thekla Picard, reported that Käthe was again causing particular problems in school and in the after-school care centre and requested a psychiatric examination. As a result, Käthe was taken from her family against the will of her parents. She probably lived in the girls orphanage, Paulinenstift am Laufgraben in September and was then admitted to the Israelite orphanage "Wilhelmspflege” in Esslingen.

At the beginning of 1937, Käthe`s parents applied unsuccessfully to take their daughter back into parental custody. They were not considered to be capable of implementing the necessary educational measures which Käthe required. When an attempt was made in October 1938 to obtain Leopold Henschel`s approval to the sterilization of his daughter, he refused albeit hesitantly. The Hamburg City Health Authority (Staatliches Gesundheitsamt Hamburg) now wanted to initiate Käthe`s examination by public health officers with the aim of sterilizing due to the Genetic Health Law (Erbgesundheitsgesetz) of 1934. We do not know whether the operation was finally carried out.

From 2 June 1939 Käthe Henschel, now fifteen years old, was housed in the care centre (Versorgungsheim) Farmsen. The documentation on her that still exists does not contain a diagnosis which could indicate a psychiatric disorder or mental handicap. The admission to Farmsen suggests that Käthe, who had formerly often been described as being "at risk”, was to be "safeguarded” there at minimal cost.

In summer 1940 the "Euthanasia” Central Office in Berlin, Tiergartenstrasse 4, planned a Special Operation against Jews living in public and private nursing and care clinics. They ordered that the Jews living there had to be registered and then concentrated in so-called Collection Homes. The Nursing and Care Home Hamburg-Langenhorn was designated as the North German Assembly institution. All the institutions in Hamburg, Schleswig-Holstein and Mecklenburg were instructed to transfer the Jews living in their establishments to Langenhorn by 18 Sept. 1940.

Käthe Henschel arrived in Langenhorn on 18 Sept. 1940. On 23 Sept. 1940, just before she turned seventeen, she was brought to Brandenburg an der Havel together with 136 other patients from North German homes. The transport reached the city in the Mark Brandenburg on the same day. The people were herded immediately into that part of the former prison which had been converted into a centre for execution by gassing and killed with Carbon Monoxide. Only Ilse Herta Zachmann temporarily escaped this fate (see entry on her).

We do not know whether or when relatives received information about Käthe Henschel`s death. In all the communications which have been documented, it was alleged that the person concerned had died in Chelm (Polish) or Cholm (German). However, the people murdered in Brandenburg had never been in Chelm/Cholm, a town to the East of Lublin. The Polish sanatorium which had previously existed there was no longer operational after SS units murdered nearly all the patients on 12 Jan. 1940. In addition, no German Registry Office had existed there. Its invention and the use of dates of death later than the real ones served to cover up the murders and at the same time to charge food costs for a correspondingly longer period of time.

In May 1936, Käthe Henschel`s brother, Herbert, started an apprenticeship at Perutz & Co., Alter Wall, which he, however, was not able to complete. In autumn 1937 he had to do support work at Waltershof, later in road construction at Wohlerst company near Buxtehude. In 1939 he intended to emigrate to Palestine. He prepared himself for his life in Palestine at the Hachschara Training Centre for Agriculture and later at the market garden in Polenzwerder near Chorin/Eberswalde. However, he never failed to emigrate. He was deported to Minsk on 8 Nov. 1941 together with his parents, Leopold and Röschen Henschel and his three siblings, Erwin, Oscar and Gerda.

Leopold Henschels elder brother, the trader Samuel David, born on 12 Nov. 1871 in Sorau and his wife Martha, née London, born on 21 Nov. 1870 in Hamburg also lived in Hamburg, in fact for many years in Eimsbüttel. After they had been forced to move to Schlachterstrasse 46 they received the deportation order. Samuel David and Martha Henschel were transported to Theresienstadt on 19 July 1942 and, shortly afterwards, to the Treblinka Extermination Camp on 21 Sept.

Samuel and Martha Henschel’s son Leopold, born on 28 Jan. 1906 in Hamburg had lived at Von-Hess-Strasse 4 like his uncle of the same name before he moved to Chapeaurougeweg, also in Hamm. Leopold junior made good money as a commercial agent trading in hides until 1935. With his non-Jewish wife Wilhelmina Anna, born on 4 Dec. 1904 in Hamburg, he had three children who were born between 1931 and 1936: Ralph Jacob Henschel born on 3 Dec. 1931, Eva Martha Henschel, born on 3 Apr. 1934, Lilian Ursula Henschel, born on 14 Jan. 1936. Eva Martha, the elder daughter, died in November 1934 when she was only seven months old. The Jewish Community noted in this connection "died November 1934 as a Christian, burial refused by us”.

Leopold junior emigrated to Antwerp in 1936 after he had failed a new life in Copenhagen. In Antwerp, he reported voluntarily in response to a public appeal by the police on 10 May 1940 and was interned. After the occupation of Belgium and the armistice with France, he was interned in Gurs and in St. Cyprien, then transferred to the Drancy assembly camp and finally deported to Auschwitz on 26 Aug. 1942. His wife Wilhelmina Anna and the children Ralph and Lilian Ursula Henschel survived.

The third of the Henschel brothers from Sorau, Josef, born on 18 Sept. 1879, lived in Berlin, Prenzlauer Berg. He was married to Emma, née Melawer, born on 8 May 1877 in Neustadt/Eberswalde. The couple was deported to Riga on 15 Aug. 1942 and perished.

Next to the stumbling stone for Käthe Henschel at Von-Hess-Strasse 4 in Hamburg-Hamm, there are also stumbling stones for her father Leopold Henschel, for her mother Röschen Henschel, her brothers Erwin and Oscar and her sister Gerda, also for her cousin Leopold Henschel.

Translator: Erwin Fink, updated by Steve Robinson
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.

Stand: November 2017
© Hildegard Thevs/Ingo Wille

Quellen: 1; 4; 5; 7; AB; StaH 133-1 III Staatsarchiv III, 3171-2/4 U.A. 4, Liste psychisch kranker jüdischer Patientinnen und Patienten der psychiatrischen Anstalt Langenhorn, die aufgrund nationalsozialistischer "Euthanasie"-Maßnahmen ermordet wurden, zusammengestellt von Peter von Rönn, Hamburg (Projektgruppe zur Erforschung des Schicksals psychisch Kranker in Langenhorn); 332-5 Standesämter 809 Sterberegister Nr. 111/1919 Dora Henschel, 870 Sterberegister Nr. 32/1923 Käthchen Oppenheim, 2123 Geburtsregister Nr. 213/1886 Martha Oppenheim, 2256 Sterberegister Nr. 2409 Käthchen Oppenheim, 3066 Heiratsregister Nr. 747/1906 Leopold Henschel/Dora Nissensohn, 7210 Sterberegister Nr. 673/1938 Ludwig Oppenheim, 8124 Sterberegister Nr. 483/1934 Martha Henschel, 8687 Heiratsregister Nr. 880/1912 Bernhard Hirsch/Martha Oppenheim, 8712 Heiratsregister Nr. 190/1916 Ludwig Oppenheim/Käthchen Oppenheim, 8734 Heiratsregister Nr. 623/1919 Leopold Henschel/Röschen Oppenheim; 351-11 Amt für Wiedergutmachung 31413 Leopold Henschel jr.; 351-14 Arbeits- und Sozialbehörde – Sonderakten 1264 Leopold Henschel, 1265 Herbert Henschel; 352-8/7 Staatskrankenanstalt Langenhorn Abl. 1/1995 Aufnahme-/Abgangsbuch Langenhorn 26.8.1939 bis 27.1.1941; 552-1 Jüdische Gemeinden, 390 Wählerverzeichnis 1930; 992 e 2 Deportationslisten Band 2 und 3; 351-11 Amt für Wiedergutmachung 31413 Leopold Henschel; Landesarchiv Berlin, Heiratsregister Nr. 343/1906 Josef Henschel/Emma Melawer; Villiez von, Mit aller Kraft verdrängt, S. 346f. (Erna Lyon). Klee, Ernst, Dokumente zur "Euthanasie", Frankfurt a. M. 2007, S. 258f. Ebbinghaus, Angelika/Kaupen-Haas, Heidrun/Roth, Karl-Heinz, Heilen und Vernichten im Mustergau Hamburg, Hamburg 1984, S. 55. (Zugriff 10.12.2016).
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