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Already layed Stumbling Stones

Betty Berges * 1890

Rutschbahn 24 (Eimsbüttel, Rotherbaum)

JG. 1890
"VERLEGT" 23.9.1940
ERMORDET 23.9.1940

further stumbling stones in Rutschbahn 24:
Marcus Elias

Betty Berges, b. 4.27.1890 in Lübeck, murdered on 9.23.1940 in the Brandenburg on the Havel River killing facility
A commemorative stone in Hamburg-Rotherbaum, at Rutschbahn 24

Betty Berges came from a long-settled and many-branched Jewish family in Lübeck-Moisling. She was born on 27 April 1890 in the Lübeck Old City, at Aegidienstrasse 9; she was the daughter of Simon Selig (Siegfried) Berges and his wife Bertha, née Lissauer. Betty Berges’ father, born in Moisling in 1848, lived in Lübeck and worked there as a book binder. In 1872, he entered into his first marriage in Ohlau, Silesia with the Christian seamstress, Johanna Christina Lucie Fick. After a short stay in Ohlau, they resettled in Lübeck. In 1875, Simon Selig was again working in Lübeck. The marriage produced four daughters: Lucie, Auguste Anna Helene Martha, Hannchen, and Charlotte. Presumably, Simon Selig Berges temporarily moved the residence of his family to Hamburg, for it was there that his first marriage was dissolved.

On 15 March 1882, Simon Selig Berges married again. With his second wife, Bertha (Bräunchen) Lissauer, born in Lübeck-Moisling on 28 May 1857, and also from a Jewish family, he had five children, Betty being the second youngest. Next to her half-brothers and sisters from her father’s first marriage, Betty had two sisters and two brothers: Cäcilie, b. 30 November 1883, Charlotte, b. 6 May 1886, Heymann Friedrich, b. 1 January 1888, and Selig (called Semmy), b. 4 August 1891; all were born in Lübeck.

Betty’s father Simon Selig described himself as a businessman, a traveling salesman, and a business traveler. In 1903, he obtained citizenship in the Hansa City of Lübeck. The connection to Lübeck did not hinder him, however, from moving permanently to Hamburg in 1906. The Hamburg directory registered Simon Selig Berges in its 1907 edition as Siegfried Berges, with a dealership in antiques at Strasse Rutschbahn 8. The business and residential addresses changed thereafter: in 1909, Bornstrasse 34, in 1911, Fehlandstrasse 21, and from 1912, together with his son Selig, jr. (Semmy), Rutschbahn 24. It was here that Simon’s second wife, Bertha, Betty’s mother, died at age 58. Father and son, continued to run the antique business together. They moved it in 1919 to Grindelallee 45. In 1925, at the advanced age of 67, Simon Selig Berges, senior, withdrew from the business. His retirement lasted only a short while, because he died on 25 April 1926.

Betty Berges remained single and worked for a while as a nanny. When, in 1915, she was admitted for unknown reasons to the Friedrichsberg Asylum for the Mentally Ill, her profession was registered as "support help” (domestic). From here she was sent on 18 October 1915 to the Langenhorn Psychiatric Hospital and then released again in late February 1916. For the period between 1916 and 1925, all that is known is that she lived with her parents, that is to say, after her mother’s death, with her father at Rutschbahn 24. In June 1927, on the basis of a certification from Friedrichsberg, she was sent to the Langenhorn institution with a diagnosis of "mental illness.” Her sister Cäcilie was noted as next of kin.

For the next 13 years, Betty Berges remained in the meanwhile renamed "Langenhorn State Mental Institution.” In 1938, many patients had to leave Langenhorn in order to make room for patients from the Friedrichsberg State Mental Institution. According to the Friedrichsberg-Langenhorn Plan, Friedrichsberg was reserved for those "national comrades…who could benefit mentally and physically from a stay in this beautiful institution.”

The Langenhorn men and women transferees found lodgings in various north German establishments. Thus, Betty Berges came to the Lübeck-Strecknitz Mental Hospital. Her police registration in Lübeck was dated 9 May 1938.

The antique business had allowed the Berges Family a comfortable living, but after 1933, and in consequence of discrimination by the National Socialist state, it became increasingly impoverished. The costs of care in Langenhorn and in Lübeck were taken over by the Hamburg Welfare Administration. Upon her arrival at Strecknitz, Betty Berges had a dress and dentures. She did not possess more.

On the basis of a decree by Adolf Hitler, backdated to 1 September 1939, "those, who are by all human standards incurably ill according to the most critical judgment of the condition of their health, may receive a merciful death,” there began an unprecedented program of murder, which sacrificed several hundred thousand mentally and physically handicapped people. Only those who could be put to work had a slim chance of survival. This qualification did not apply to Jews. In the summer of 1940, the "Euthanasia” Center in Berlin at Tiergartenstrasse 4, planned a special action against Jews in public and private mental institutions. It called for the institutions to seize the Jews living in them and move them to so-called institutional collections points. The Hamburg Langenhorn mental hospital was designated the collection site for northern Germany. All the establishments in Hamburg, Schleswig-Holstein, and Mecklenburg received the directive to transfer the Jews in their institutions to Langenhorn by 18 September 1940. On 23 September Betty Berges, along with 135 other patients from north German institutions were loaded onto a train at the Ochsenzoll freight depot and transported via Berlin to Brandenburg on the Havel River. The transport reached the city in the Mark of Brandenburg on the same day. At the former prison in the city center, the patients were driven into a constructed gas killing facility and killed by carbon monoxide. Only Ilse Herta Zachmann initially escaped this fate (see her biographical entry).

On the birth registration for Betty Berges, it was noted that the registry office Chelm II recorded her death under number 487/1941. However, those murdered in Brandenburg were never in Chelm (Polish) or Cholm (German). The Polish mental hospital, that formerly existed there, no longer existed, after SS units on 12 January 1940 had murdered almost all its patients. Moreover, there was no registry office in Chelm. The invention of these offices was later used to concoct dates of death, which disguised the murder action and also justified the claims for the costs of extended care.

Concerning Betty Berges’ siblings, the following can be reported:
Cäcilie Berges, the widow of Adolf Weil, lived in Hamburg since 1900. In Berlin in 1912, the piano teacher married the merchant Adolf Weil, born in Wersch near Aachen. The marriage lasted only four years. Adolf Weil died in May 1916 in the Friedrichsberg Asylum for the Mentally Ill. A few years later, Cäcilie became engaged to the restauranteur Heinrich Pohlmann (b. 1876); however, apparently a marriage did not result. Nothing is known of her further fate.

In 1904, at age 18, Charlotte Berges moved to Bremen. In 1907 or 1908, she married Arthur Meyersohn, born in Schwerin on 23 June 1883. The Meyersohns had four children; the youngest, Robert, was born in 1911. In 1919, the family lived in Rostock, according to the national census. The Meyersohn family finally fled Germany and lived in Shanghai in 1944. In early 1947, they traveled to the USA. Charlotte Meyersohn received American citizenship. She died in San Francisco.

In 1914, in Hamburg, Heymann Friedrich Berges married Sara Presser, born in 1890 in Amsterdam. The couple had four children: Salomon, Bertha Beauchene, Marianne, and Charlotte. The family left Germany for Argentina in late 1938.

Selig (Semmy) Berges, Jr., Betty Berges‘ youngest brother, continued his father’s antique business, located from 1935-1936 at Gänsemarkt 30-31. After 1937, he changed businesses and dealt in carpets starting around 1938. His further fate remains unknown.

According to the national census of May 1939, no one of Jewish descent with the name Berges still lived in Hamburg.

Translator: Richard Levy
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.

© Ingo Wille

Quellen: 1; 4; 5; 9; 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 8025 Sterberegister Nr. 492/1915 Bertha (Bräunchen) Berges, 6849 Sterberegister Nr. 517/1902 Christina Lucie Berges, 8085 Sterberegister Nr. 178/1926 Simon Selig Berges, 352-8/7 Staatskrankenanstalt Langenhorn Abl. 1/1995 Aufnahme-/Abgangsbuch Langenhorn 26.1.39–23.9.40; UKE/IGEM, Archiv, Patienten-Karteikarte Betty Berges der Staatskrankenanstalt Friedrichsberg; IMGF Lübeck, Patientenakte Betty Berges; Stadtarchiv Lübeck I 643/1890 Geburtsregister Betty Berges; Nr. 171/1883 Geburtsregister Cäcilie Berges; JSHD Forschungsgruppe "Juden in Schleswig-Holstein" an der Universität Flensburg, Datenpool (Erich Koch). Wunder, Michael, Die Auflösung von Friedrichsberg – Hintergründe und Folgen, in: Hamburger Ärzteblatt (HÄB) (1990) 4, S. 128–131.
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