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Wilhelm Wendorf * 1901

Gilbertstraße 69 (Altona, Altona-Altstadt)

JG. 1901
ERMORDET 26.1.1942

Wilhelm Richard Hermann Wendorf, born on 23 May 1901 in Kussow/Mecklenburg, died on 26 Jan. 1942 in the Sachsenhausen concentration camp

Gilbertstrasse 69 (Gustavstrasse 83)

Wilhelm Wendorf was born in 1901 in Kussow near Güstrow (Mecklenburg) to a working-class family. His mother died of typhoid fever in 1904 and his father remarried. He died in World War I. From his father’s second marriage, Wilhelm Wendorf had at least one stepbrother, with whom he also lived in Altona later on. At Easter of 1915, he left the village school, afterward working as a domestic servant in neighboring Gremmelien for two years, before working on various Mecklenburg estates as a servant in the period following until 1929. In references, all employers testified to his irreproachable conduct. From 1921 until 1923, he fell seriously ill with tuberculosis of the knee joint, which required an extended stay in the Rostock University Hospital and caused painful secondary diseases. Apparently, the relationship to a fiancée produced a child that died of TB after three weeks. After having found a position as a messenger with Norddeutsche Bank in Hamburg in May 1929, he moved to the Hanseatic city of Hamburg for a short time, though residing in neighboring Altona again from 1930 onward.

In July of that year, he came up against the law for the first time because of a homosexual act. Two police sergeants were informed by a local resident of Eckernförderstrasse in the St. Pauli quarter at 3 a.m. that two men were masturbating in the entrance to a house. The police brought charges against Wilhelm Wendorf and his partner. Though in the verdict of the Hamburg District Court (Amtsgericht) dated 22 Oct. 1930, the presiding judge confirmed the deed per se to be exempt from punishment, since before the tightening of the criminal law in 1935, Sec. 175 [of the Reich Criminal Code] applied only to acts similar to intercourse, he nevertheless sentenced the two men for "causing a public nuisance” in accordance with Sec. 183 to a fine of 50 RM (reichsmark). Even in the Weimar Republic and increasingly in the early years of the Nazi period, this section, similar to Sec. 185 concerning the offense of "assault and battery” (if there was physical contact), was frequently used against homosexual men.

In subsequent criminal proceedings initiated against Wilhelm Wendorf in 1935 pursuant to Sec. 175, he was initially sentenced to 18 months in prison, but he was acquitted in the appeal hearing because the tightened Sec. 175, amended only on 1 Sept. 1935, could not be applied to this deed. However, a verdict following the tightened section was then passed in a second case on 8 June 1936 before the Hamburg Regional Court (Landgericht) on charges of "unnatural sexual offenses” ("widernatürlicher Unzucht”), with a sentence of six months in prison, which he served in the Fuhlsbüttel penal institution from 31 Aug. 1936 until 28 Feb. 1937. As in the previous instances, unfortunately, the criminal files concerning the same offense in 1939 were destroyed; however, based on a prisoner registration file of Wendorf archived in the Wolfenbüttel State Archive, a few details on the verdicts have been preserved. The 24th Office of the Criminal Investigation Department (24. Kriminalkommissariat) responsible for persecuting homosexuals imprisoned him in the Fuhlsbüttel concentration camp from 5 to 9 June 1939 before being transferred to pretrial detention until 21 July 1939. Following a verdict passed against him by the Hamburg court of lay assessors (Schöffengericht) on 17 July 1939 for two offenses in accordance with Sec. 175, he was sentenced to two years in prison and committed to the Wolfenbüttel penitentiary five days later. He had met two male prostitutes in the "Monte Carlo” gay bar, taking each of them to his apartment. One of the male prostitutes also extorted large sums of money from him. Nevertheless, and due to his numerous previous convictions for similar offenses, the sentencing court imposed an extended prison term "in the interest of public safety.” Even though Wilhelm Wendorf, only 1.63 meters (5 ft 4 in) in height and restricted by a stiff left leg, had "conducted himself impeccably and worked satisfactorily” while in prison, the prison administration gave him a devastating prognosis, thus sealing his death sentence: "His entire past life reveals that he has homosexual tendencies to a considerable degree. Since despite his previous convictions and despite additional proceedings pending against him, Wendorf reoffended, I do not believe that the current imprisonment will impress him to such an extent that a repeat offense can be ruled out. Therefore, I recommend that in the interest of public safety preventive police measures be ordered against Wendorf beyond the time of his release.” The Hamburg criminal investigation department did not have to be asked twice to do so, ordering initially "superimposed detention” ("Überhaft”) for his pending release on 3 June 1941 and committing him to the downtown Hütten police prison.

Wilhelm Wendorf’s committal to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp under prisoner number 39,532 in the prisoner category of "B. V. 175” ("professional criminal according to Sec. 175”) and "professional criminal” is documented for Sept. 1941. On 24 September, he was in prison section 11, the infirmary, from which he was discharged again on 29 Sept. 1941. On 26 Jan. 1942, he died in prisoner section 18 at the age of 40. His remains were buried in the Güterfelde forest cemetery in Wilmersdorf, as were 719 other German concentration camp prisoners and 383 Poles, who were buried there as deceased prisoners from the Sachsenhausen and Wewelsburg/Niederhagen concentration camps in 1942.

Although according to more recent research, Wilhelm Wendorf’s residential addresses from 1937 onward were located at the former Friedrichsbaderstrasse 6, Breite Strasse 177, and in the very end at Grosse Roosenstrasse 82 in Altona, the Stolperstein in front of the house at Gilbertstrasse 69, formerly Gustavstrasse 83, is appropriate because he lived there with his stepbrother Albert Burmeister on the third floor for the longest period.

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

Stand: April 2018
© Bernhard Rosenkranz (†) / Ulf Bollmann

Quellen: AB Altona 1936; LSH, Abteilung 352.1 (Landgericht und Staatsanwaltschaft Altona), Nr. 10246 mit Dank an Dr. Stefan Micheler, der uns Einblick in seine Aufzeichnungen über die von 1933 bis 1937 in Altona geführten Verfahren nach § 175 gab, die im LSH verwahrt werden, und Dr. Elke Imberger, LSH, für die Vorbereitung einer Vorort-Recherche; StaH, 213-11 Staatsanwaltschaft Landgericht – Strafsachen, A 03645/31; StaH 242-1 II Gefängnisverwaltung II, 29205 und Ablieferung 13; StaH 332-8 Meldewesen, A 34/1 (= 741-4 Fotoarchiv, K 4580); Mit Dank für Auskünfte an Rainer Hoffschildt, Hannover, für das Zurverfügungstellen seiner Forschungsergebnisse vom 30.12.2014 aus dem Niedersächsischen Landesarchiv, Staatsarchiv Wolfenbüttel, 43 A Neu Fb. 3 Buch 5, Häftlingsnr. 1228 und 43 A Neu 4 Jg. 1938 Nr. 1228 und an Monika Liebscher, Gedenkstätte und Museum Sachsenhausen, für eine Auskunft vom 19.11.2014 mit Hinweisen aus dem Russischen Staatlichen Militärarchiv, Moskau, 1367/1/54, Bl. 091 und 086 (= Archiv Sachsenhausen, D 1 A/1054, Bl. 067 und Bl. 072), dem FSB-Archiv, Moskau, N-19092/Tom 98, Bl. 022 (= Archiv Sachsenhausen, JSU 1/98, Bl. 022) und dem Standesamt Oranienburg, Nr. 143/1942 (I), Bl. 20; 24 sowie einer Friedhofsliste des Wilmersdorfer Waldfriedhofs Güterfelde vom 31.1.1951 "Grundliste der Gräber während des Krieges 1939–1945 gefallenen oder verstorbenen Soldaten und Zivilpersonen, Waldfriedhof Güterfelde, Krs. Teltow" beim ITS Arolsen, KL Sachsenhausen/Ordner 40, Bl. 59, 24; Zur Strafaktenvernichtung vgl. Bästlein, Zehntausend Akten, und Micheler: "Verfahren nach § 175"; Müller/Sternweiler: Homosexuelle Männer im KZ Sachsenhausen, S. 21; Rosenkranz/Bollmann/Lorenz, Homosexuellen-Verfolgung in Hamburg, S. 266.

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