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Adolf Ziebarth, 1939
© Archiv Evangelische Stiftung Alsterdorf

Adolf Gustav Ziebarth * 1871

Schulterblatt 24 (Altona, Sternschanze)

JG. 1871
"VERLEGT" 7.8.1943
ERMORDET 28.9.1943

further stumbling stones in Schulterblatt 24:
Lina Friedmann, Bruno Niemann

Adolf Gustav Ziebarth, born on 23 Nov. 1871 in Zhytomyr (then Russia, today Ukraine), admitted to what was then the Alsterdorf Asylum (Alsterdorfer Anstalten; today Evangelische Stiftung Alsterdorf) on 29 Mar. 1935, "transferred” on 7 Aug. 1943 to the Eichberg "sanatorium and nursing home” ("Heil- und Pflegeanstalt Eichberg”), died on 28 Sept. 1943

Schulterblatt 24, Sternschanze

When Gustav Ziebarth was born on 23 Nov. 1871 in Zhytomyr, District of Rowno (Równo), his parents lived in the German settlement colony of Friedrichsdorf (Solomka) in the then Russian Tsarist Empire (today Ukraine). They were of the Lutheran faith and probably, like most of the German settlers in the Volhynia Governorate, engaged in agriculture.

We do not know the reason why Gustav Ziebarth’s family settled in Mecklenburg. According to his own statements, this could have been in 1887. The father, Peter Ziebarth, lived last as a "working man” in Levetzow (today part of the municipality of Lübow near Wismar). Further details about him, his wife Johanna, née Ruechert, and about other family members are not known.

Gustav Ziebarth reported at the time of his subsequent admission to the Friedrichsberg State Hospital (Staatskrankenanstalt Friedrichsberg) that he had been employed as a 16-year-old in Mecklenburg, first as a "Hofegänger” (day laborer on an estate), and later as a farmhand (agricultural worker) until 1903. On 30 Dec. 1902, he had married in Vietlübbe, Amt Gadebusch (22 kilometers [approx. 13.5 miles] northwest of Schwerin), his bride being the maid Dora Rosa Frieda Jörns, born on 28 Nov. 1882 in Geesthacht. Both lived in Dragun, a town in today’s District of Nordwestmecklenburg.

In 1905, the couple moved to Hamburg. Gustav Ziebarth found work at Blohm & Voss and later at other shipyards. Until 1917, they lived near the port, first at Erichstrasse 37, then moving a few houses down the road to No. 49. From 1918 to 1923, they lived at Kielerstrasse 49 (today Clemens-Schultz-Strasse), and shortly thereafter in what is today the Schanzenviertel quarter, at Schulterblatt 24, House 4.

In 1927, Gustav Ziebarth lost his job. His marriage had already been divorced the year before. On 3 Mar. 1928, Gustav Ziebarth was placed under the supervision of the municipal "Trinkerfürsorge” (public alcoholics care service) because of persistent alcohol abuse. It is not known how he made his living at this time, because he received neither unemployment nor welfare benefits.

On 8 Nov. 1929, Gustav Ziebarth appeared, confused and with a bleeding wound, at a police station in the St. Pauli quarter and he was initially taken to the Harbor Hospital. Reportedly, he had been "talking crazy” and later claimed that his landlord had knocked him to the ground. With the diagnosis of "alcoholic dementia,” hospital physician Brokate referred him to the "Friedrichsberg State Hospital” on 13 Nov. 1929.

According to the patient file, Gustav Ziebarth suffered from severe memory disorders when he was admitted to Friedrichsberg, and at times, he was disoriented. He had filled his memory gaps with invented stories. The doctors described the clinical picture as Korsakov’s syndrome, a severe disease of the brain caused by years of alcohol abuse. Gustav Ziebarth’s health did not improve at first; expressing "ideas of poisoning,” he was described as lacking drive and interest. On 18 Oct. 1930, he was legally incapacitated.

An entry in the patient file dating from Aug. 1931 stated that Gustav Ziebarth was constantly "scandalizing” (making noise) and that he was "bedded down” for immobilization (method of immobilization by forced fixation in bed). Apparently, however, his condition improved in the following period, because in May 1932, the following was noted in his medical record: "Cares for himself alone” and "converses tolerably with others.”

Soon after the Nazis came to power, intensive investigations began in Hamburg as to how cost reductions could be achieved in the accommodation and care of people with mental disabilities and psychological illnesses, which resulted in the "Langenhorn-Friedrichsberg Plan”: In 1934, the Hamburg Senate decided that "curable sick people” should be cared for in the best possible way, while "incurably sick people” should be taken into custody and their medical care reduced to a minimum. To realize this plan, 1366 of the 1700 Friedrichsberg patients were transferred to other institutions in 1935/1936, including 389 to the Alsterdorf Asylum (Alsterdorfer Anstalten).

Among them was Gustav Ziebarth, who became a patient of what was then the Alsterdorf Asylum on 29 May 1935. At the end of 1937, the senior physician of the Alsterdorf Asylum, Gerhard Kreyenberg, reported to the Hamburg welfare authorities that Gustav Ziebarth was extremely weak in judgment and comprehension, often spoke in a confused and incoherent manner, and scratched his face almost daily. He could not be used for any work and continued to require institutional care.

Toward the end of his eight-year stay in Alsterdorf, he felt – according to the patient file – comfortable and secure there. Due to his age, being 71 years old by then, he had become frail and bedridden.

During the heavy air raids on Hamburg in the summer of 1943 ("Operation Gomorrah”), the Alsterdorf Asylum also sustained damage, first on the night of 29/30 July 1943, and then again on 3/4Aug. 1943. The director of the institution, Pastor Friedrich Lensch, asked the public health authorities for permission to transfer 750 patients, allegedly to make room for wounded and bomb-damaged persons. With four transports between 7 and 16 August, a total of 468 girls and women, boys and men were transferred to the "Eichberg sanatorium and nursing home” ("Heil- und Pflegeanstalt Eichberg”) near Wiesbaden, to the "Kalmenhof sanatorium and nursing home” ("Heil- und Pflegeanstalt Kalmenhof”) near Idstein in the Rheingau, to the Mainkofen "sanatorium and nursing home” ("Heil- und Pflegeanstalt Mainkofen”) near Passau, and to the "Vienna Municipal Wagner von Jauregg-Heil- und Pflegeanstalt,” a "sanatorium and nursing home.”

Gustav Ziebarth was one of the 76 men and children who were transferred to the "Eichberg sanatorium and nursing home” on 7 Aug. 1943. The last entry in his medical record read, "Transferred because the Alsterdorf Asylum has been destroyed.”

The "Eichberg sanatorium and nursing home” had served as an intermediate facility for the Hadamar "euthanasia” killing center during "Operation T4” ("Aktion T4”). "Operation T4” was a cover name for the Nazis’ "euthanasia” program, so named after the location of the Berlin euthanasia headquarters at Tiergartenstrasse 4. After the "euthanasia program” was officially halted in Aug. 1941, the killing continued, through systematic malnutrition or overdosed medication combined with neglect in nursing care – including at Eichberg itself.

Gustav Ziebarth survived his arrival in Eichberg for only six weeks. He died on 28 Sept. 1943, with the official cause of death listed on the death register entry of the registry office being "infirmity and cardiac insufficiency accompanied by (schizophrenic) mental illness.”

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

Stand: May 2021
© Susanne Rosendahl

Quellen: Archiv Evangelische Stiftung Alsterdorf, Sonderakte V 001, Gustav Ziebarth; Standesamt Erbach/Rheingau Nr. 575/1943 Sterberegistereintrag Gustav Ziebart; Michael Wunder, Ingrid Genkel, Harald Jenner, Auf dieser schiefen Ebene gibt es kein Halten mehr. Die Alsterdorfer Anstalten im Nationalsozialismus, 3. Aufl. Stuttgart 2016, S. 168 f., 283 ff, insbesondere S. 299 ff.; Herbert Diercks, "Euthanasie". Die Morde an Menschen mit Behinderung und psychischen Erkrankungen in Hamburg im Nationalsozialismus. Hrg.: KZ-Gedenkstätte Neuengamme, 2014; Kirchenbuchduplikat Mecklenburg, Heiratsregister Adolf Gustav Ziebarth und Dora Rosa Frieda Jörns (Zugriff 2.7.2020); Volkszählung 1900 in Mecklenburg-Schwerin (Gustav Ziebarth, Zugriff 2.7.2020); (Zugriff 2.7.2020).

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