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Sprecherin: Aylin Nötzold
Hannelore Scholz * 1943
Holstenstraße 114 (Altona, Altona-Altstadt)
Hannelore Scholz, born 18 May 1943 in Altona, admitted 7 Mar. 1945 to the Rothenburgsort Children’s Hospital, murdered there 5 Apr. 1945
At barely two years old, Hannelore Scholz was murdered shortly before the end of the war in the Rothenburgsort Children’s Hospital. She was apparently the last of the children at Rothenburgsort to be "recommended” for euthanasia by the "Reich Committee for the Scientific Registering of Severe Hereditary and Congenital Illnesses.”
Hannelore was a late arrival in the family. She had a 17-year-old sister and and a 13-year-old half-brother. Her father, Eduard Scholz, worked at a bank and was 47 years old when she was born. Her mother was 42. The family lived in a five-room apartment on Holstenstraße in Altona. The parents were Lutheran, and had their daughter christened.
Hannelore’s birth was without complications, and she developed as normally as her elder siblings. After the air raids in July 1934, the mother and children evacuated to Bad Oldesloe. There Hannelore suffered her first seizure, and more followed. The doctor the family consulted in Bad Oldesloe could not improve her condition. The seizures became more frequent, and sometimes led to unconsciousness. Her mother revived Hannelore by holding an onion under her nose.
When the family returned to their apartment in Hamburg in September 1943, the mother consulted several doctors, since Hannelore’s development was stagnating. She finally consulted the pediatrician Wilhelm Bayer, the chief physician at the Rothenburgsort Children’s Hospital. He probably registered the child with the "Reich Committee.” All of the doctors predicted an early death for Hannelore. She did not speak, but made herself understood with her eyes.
In 1944 the Children’s Welfare Office became involved in the case. The district agent insisted that the mother have Hannelore examined by Dr. Walter Stuhlmann at the Altona Public Health Office. Shortly before Christmas 1944, he visited their home and recommended that she be admitted for observation to the Rothenburgsort Children’s Hospital. The family did not follow his recommendation. Stuhlmann visited the home two more times, and explained that he would be forced to continue visiting until Hannelore was taken to the hospital.
Her mother finally took Hannelore to Rothenburgsort on 7 March1945, when the situation at home had become too difficult. In 1948 the mother explained that when Hannelore was admitted, she had asked Wilhelm Bayer if there was any treatment. "Dr. Bayer answered that there was a treatment and they could try it. He meant radiation therapy. But it could turn out badly. In 90% of all cases, radiation therapy led to death.” When she asked "If it were your child, would you do it?” he answered that he would. She acquiesced, and said "Fine, then let’s try it.”
Dr. Ursula Bensel, head physician of the toddlers ward, diagnosed Hannelore, who was one year and ten months old, with "Little’s disease,” as spastic diplegia was called at the time. With uncertain diagnoses, it was routine to do intracerebral and spinal cord examinations, in order to determine any irregularities. On 3 April 1945, Ursula Bensel gave Hannelore an injection of 5cc Luminol, an overdose of a sedative. She entered this injection on the patient’s chart, which was unusual. As expected, pneumonia developed, and Hannelore died on 5 April 1945 at 1:25pm. Her sister Jutta Scholz registered the death with the Billbrook registry office. The official cause of death was listed as "Little’s disease.”
Hannelore Scholz died at the age of barely two years after a four-week stay at the Rothenburgsort Children’s Hospital. She apparently suffered from a severe form of epilepsy. Ursula Bensel, who, as an anthroposophist, rejected euthanasia on religious grounds, explained at a hearing on 8 April 1946 the circumstances under which she gave Hannelore Scholz the lethal injection. At the time, Bayer was in a field hospital in Denmark, where he was treating refugee children from Eastern Europe. A few days before Hannelore’s death, he had spoken to her, and told her the child was sent to the hospital by the "Reich Committee,” and she knew what she had to do. He told her how much Luminal to inject. She tried to find an alternate solution, and spoke to Hannelore’s mother the next time she visited. The mother told her of her conversation with Bayer, and of the difficult situation at home. Bensel encouraged the mother to take the child home with her, but she declined, because she was planning on leaving Hamburg with her mother and her fiancé, whose leg had been amputated. As she was ill herself, she couldn’t flee with the child as well. She asked Bensel to initiate the treatment as agreed with Bayer. Ursula Bensel knew that Bayer had used the word "treatment” so as not to put Frau Scholz in a moral conflict. Bensel now saw no way out of the situation, and gave the child the injection. She had committed murder, despite her own convictions.
Today, a member of the Scholz family says that they do not speak of Hannelore, and that they still suffer from feelings of guilt. On the occasion of the memorial ceremony for the children who were murdered at the Rothenburgsort Children’s Hospital, on 9 October 2009, Frau F., whose 80-year-old mother is Hannelore’s mother’s cousin, spoke on the telephone with the ceremony organizers. When her mother was a young woman her apartment was destroyed in an air raid, and she lived with the Scholz family for several months and knew Hannelore. She never spoke about Hannelore’s fate, or about anything she experienced during the war. At her daughter’s urging, she reluctantly told her some details. The Scholzes, their daughters Hannelore and Jutta, their grandmother, and Walter Pries, the father of the half-brother, lived in the large apartment on Holstenstraße. Eduard Scholz was a "100% Nazi,” but wasn’t drafted as a soldier and worked in Hamburg. Walter Pries had lost a leg in the First World War. Jutta and her half-brother, both blond and blue-eyed, were their parents’ darlings. Hannelore, born in 1943, was an unwelcome pregnancy. She was also blond and blue-eyed, but soon became a problem, especially when Jutta had to leave the household to do her first year of mandatory service.
The Sholzes divorced on 10 January 1945, and the mother married Walter Pries on 14 April. When Frau F. asked her 77-year-old uncle Klaus-Dieter, he said he and Hannelore’s father brought her body home from the Rothenburgsort Childrens’ Hospital in a baby carriage. The undertaker came and picked up the body, and put it in a sack over his shoulder. Hannelore was buried at the Diebsteich Cemetery. It is Frau F.’s wish that the family should break the silence about Hannelore’s fate and honor her memory.
Translator: Amy Lee
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.
Stand: April 2018
© Hildegard Thevs
Quellen: StaH 213-12 Staatsanwaltschaft Landgericht – Nationalsozialistische Gewaltverbrechen (NSG), 0017/001 und 0017/002; StaH 332-5 Standesämter, 1241 und 206/ 1945; StaH 352-8/7 Staatskrankenanstalt Langenhorn, Ablieferung 2000/01, 63 UA 7; mdl. Mitteilungen von Frau F.