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Friedrich Böhning * 1909

Heinrich-Heine-Straße 34 (Harburg, Wilstorf)

1941 eingewiesen
'Heilanstalt' Kaufbeuren
ermordet 12.05.1944

Friedrich Böhning, born 22 Oct. 1909, committed to the Rotenburg Institution of the Inner Mission (Rotenburger Anstalten der Inneren Mission), moved to the mental hospitals ("Heil- und Pflegeanstalten”) Günzburg and Kaufbeuren-Irsee, died there on 12 May 1944

Wilstorf district, Heinrich-Heine-Straße 34

When Friedrich Böhning was committed to the Rotenburg Institution of the Inner Mission at age eight and a half in the spring of 1918, the more than 300 residents of this institution were cared for by a group of nurses who had followed Elise Averdieck, the founder of the Hospital of the Protestant Deaconesses Bethesda (Kranken- und Diakonissenmutterhaus Bethesda), from Hamburg to Rotenburg, a county seat on the Wümme river south of Hamburg.

30 Jan. 1933 marked a deep rupture in the history of the Rotenburg Institution. The Nazis’ takeover of power ("Machtergreifung”) was welcomed enthusiastically by the Inner Mission. The "Memorandum of the Protestant Health Services” ("Denkschrift der Evangelischen Gesundheitsfürsorge”), dated 1936, states: "In deep gratitude for this turn of events, the Innere Mission, too, stands … in its place in the National Socialist state, joyfully prepared to serve the folk community (Volksgemeinschaft) into which it knows it has been placed by God.” This attitude is also reflected in the support of the Central Commission of the Innere Mission (Zentralausschuss der Inneren Mission) for the "Law for the Prevention of Offspring with Hereditary Diseases” ("Gesetz zur Verhütung erbkranken Nachwuchses”) of 14 July 1933; the physicians at the Rotenburg Institution participated in its implementation. Between Aug. 1934 and 1943, 335 residents of the institution, both men and women, were sterilized.

The situation of these people and all others who were cared for here worsened dramatically when "Operation T4” ("T4-Aktion”), the program for "the killing of life not worthy of living” ("Vernichtung lebensunwerten Lebens”), began a short time after the beginning of the Second World War. In July, 1940, the management of the Rotenburg Institution was asked to fill in registration forms for those patients who did not perform productive work, had been treated for more than five years, had a criminal record, and could not prove their "Aryan” descent. There can hardly have been any doubt about the purpose of these registration forms for this group of patients. Although the management of the institution could delay processing these forms for a time, it could not prevent it. On 24 Apr. 1941, a commission of four physicians and three typists arrived in Rotenburg and examined the 1,150 residents of the institution in four days, thus carrying out the order of the main T4 office in Berlin in a very short time.

Moving patients of the Inner Mission’s Rotenburg Institution according to plan began on 30 July 1941, when 70 men were transported to the "Weilmünster Mental Institution” ("Landesheilanstalt Weilmünster”), a stop on the way to the "killing center” ("Tötungsstätte”) Hadamar; one Jewish woman and two Jewish men had already been "moved.” Even after the official ending of "euthanasia” on 24 Aug. 1941, the transports of people from this institution of the Inner Mission continüd. This also affected 819 of the roughly 1,100 people living in the Rotenburg Institution, and 547 of them were taken to their deaths.

Friedrich Böhning was one of the Rotenburg patients who was moved first to Günzburg in Swabia on 7/8 Oct. 1941 and from there to the Kaufbeuren-Irsee mental institution ("Heil- und Pflegeanstalt Kaufbeuren-Irsee”) in late 1943/early 1944. The director of this institution was Valentin Falthauser, who played a decisive role in various "euthanasia measures.” In the fall of 1942, he introduced the "deprivation diet” ("E-Kost” or "Entzugskost”) in Kaufbeuren-Irsee. It was a diet practically free of fat and vitamins that was to result in slow starvation. Friedrich Böhning’s medical file shows that he became emaciated: within four months, his weight had dropped from 40.5 kg to 30 kg.

Friedrich Böhning died on 12 May 1944. The cause of death was given as double pulmonary tuberculosis of the most severe degree.

Translator: Sandra H. Lustig
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.

© Klaus Möller

Quellen: Archiv der Rotenburger Werke der Inneren Mission, Akte Nr. 123; Rotenburger Werke (Hrsg.), Zuflucht, S. 5ff.; Wunder u.a., Kein Halten, S. 29ff.; Cranach/Siemen, Psychiatrie, S. 265ff.; Reiter, Psychiatrie Niedersachsen, S. 193ff.

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