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Senta Henschel * 1902

Kaiser-Wilhelm-Straße 18–20 (Hamburg-Mitte, Neustadt)

JG. 1902
"VERLEGT" 23.9.1940
ERMORDET 23.9.1940

Senta Henschel, born on 22 Nov. 1902 in Hamburg, murdered on 23 Sept. 1940 in the "euthanasia” killing center in Brandenburg/Havel

Kaiser-Wilhelm-Strasse 18-20 (formerly No. 56), Hamburg-Neustadt

Senta Henschel was born on 22 Nov. 1902 as a child of the Jewish couple Moses and Doris Henschel, née Israel, at Kaiser-Wilhelm-Strasse 56 in Hamburg-Neustadt. The couple had married in Hamburg in 1892. Moses Henschel called himself a cigar dealer, his bride Doris called herself an artist. In the birth entry of their first child, Mathilde, born on 10 Feb. 1887, Doris Israel’s profession was indicated as ballet dancer. Moses Henschel adopted his wife’s daughter in early 1900.

John was born on 3 July 1893 as their first child. He was followed by sons Eduard on 20 Mar. 1895 and Kurt on 2 Mar. 1897; another child was born dead in 1907.

Moses Henschel maintained his activity as a cigar dealer for many years. At Senta Henschel’s birth in 1902, "commission agent” was entered on the birth certificate as her father’s profession.

Senta Henschel was eight years old when she was admitted to the then Alsterdorf Asylum (Alsterdorfer Anstalten) on 27 July 1911. Her medical file no longer exists, only the "hereditary health card,” which was created after 1933. What emerges from it is that Senta suffered from a mental disability. She lived in the Alsterdorf Asylum for 27 years. Details of her life were not recorded in that card.

After 1933, the Alsterdorf Asylum developed into a Nazi model operation where eugenics ideas were supported and, associated with them, forced sterilization as "prevention of unworthy life” ("Verhütung unwerten Lebens”). It was only a matter of time before the persecution of the Jews in the German Reich also led to corresponding measures at the Alsterdorf Asylum. A ruling by the Reich Audit Office (Reichsfinanzhof) of 18 Mar. 1937 served as a pretext for preparing the discharge of all Jews from the Alsterdorf Asylum. Pastor Friedrich Karl Lensch, the director of the Alsterdorf Asylum, deduced from the verdict the danger of losing non-profit status under tax law if Jews continued to stay in the institution. A letter dated 3 Sept. 1937 to the Hamburg Welfare Authority contained 18 names of "Jewish charges who are accommodated here at the expense of the welfare authority,” including that of Senta Henschel. On 31 Oct. 1938, together with 14 other Jewish residents from Alsterdorf, she was first transferred to the Oberaltenallee care home (Versorgungsheim Oberaltenallee) and from there apparently to the Averhoffstrasse care home. In Apr. 1940, the Alsterdorf Asylum eventually managed to rid itself of the last Jewish institutional inmate.

In the spring/summer of 1940, the "euthanasia” headquarters in Berlin, located at Tiergartenstrasse 4, planned a special operation aimed against Jews in public and private sanatoriums and nursing homes. It had the Jewish persons living in the institutions registered and moved together in what were officially so-called collection institutions. The Hamburg-Langenhorn "sanatorium and nursing home” ("Heil- und Pflegeanstalt” Hamburg-Langenhorn) was designated the North German collection institution. All institutions in Hamburg, Schleswig-Holstein, and Mecklenburg were ordered to move the Jews living in their facilities there by 18 Sept. 1940.

Senta Henschel arrived in Langenhorn on 18 Sept. 1940. Together with 135 other patients, she was transported to Brandenburg/Havel on 23 Sept. 1940. In the part of the former penitentiary converted into a gas-killing facility, the patients were driven into the gas chamber on the same day and killed using carbon monoxide. Only Hertha Zachmann escaped this fate at first (see corresponding entry).

We do not know whether and if so, when relatives learned of Senta Henschel’s death. In all documented death notices, including that of Senta Henschel, it was claimed that the person concerned had died in Chelm (Polish) or Cholm (German). On her birth register entry, it was noted that her death had been registered by the Chelm II records office under no. 382/1941. Those murdered in Brandenburg, however, were never in Chelm/Cholm, a town east of Lublin. The former Polish sanatorium there no longer existed after SS units had murdered almost all patients on 12 Jan. 1940. Also, there was no German records office in Chelm. Its fabrication and the use of postdated dates of death served to disguise the killing operation and at the same time enabled the authorities to claim higher care expenses for periods extended accordingly.

Senta Henschel’s father Moses had already died in Jan. 1930 at the age of 71. According to the information on Senta Henschel’s hereditary health card, her oldest sister Mathilde got married. No further details are known. Eduard, Senta Henschel’s brother, who was managing director of Behr Nachfolger [Behr Succrs.] (men’s fashion, maritime equipment), fled to the USA in 1938 with his wife Emma, born on 7 Jan. 1899, and his then eleven-year-old son Edgar. He died on 18 May 1972 in Frankfurt/Main. Senta Henschel’s brother Kurt reportedly lived in Denmark. It has not been possible to establish any details about his subsequent fate, that of her brother John, and that of her mother Doris.

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

Stand: July 2020
© Ingo Wille

Quellen: 1; 4; 5; 9; 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 2370 Geburtsregister Nr. 995/1895 Eduard Henschel, 2314 Geburtsregister Nr. 2429/1893 John Henschel, 2428 Geburtsregister Nr. 826/1897 Kurt Henschel, 2149 Geburtsregister Nr. 912/1887 Mathilde Henschel, 2795 Heiratsregister Nr. 382/1892 Moses und Doris Henschel geb. Israel, 3103 Geburtsregister Nr. 3103/1902 Senta Henschel, 8102 Sterberegister Nr. 58/1930 Moses Henschel; 351-11 Amt für Wiedergutmachung 17810 Eduard Henschel; 351-14 Arbeits- und Sozialbehörde – Sonderakten Nr. 1264; 352-8/7 Staatskrankenanstalt Langenhorn Abl. 1/1995 Aufnahme-/Abgangsbuch Langenhorn 26.8.1939 bis 27.1.1941. Evangelische Stiftung Alsterdorf, Archiv, Erbgesundheitskarteikarte Senta Henschel. Wunder, Michael, Das Schicksal der jüdischen Bewohner der Alsterdorfer Anstalten, in: Wunder, Michael/Genkel, Ingrid/Jenner, Harald, Auf dieser schiefen Ebene gibt es kein Halten mehr. Die Alsterdorfer Anstalten im Nationalsozialismus, Stuttgart 2016, S. 248ff.
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