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Dr. Anton Carl Engelbert Decker * 1889
Mundsburger Damm 65 (Hamburg-Nord, Uhlenhorst)
Verhaftet 1936, 1937 und 1941
Flucht in den Tod
Anton Carl Engelbert Decker, born on 10 Aug. 1889, detained in 1936, 1937–1938, and 1941, suicide on 30 Mar. 1941 in the Hütten police prison
Mundsburger Damm 65
Engelbert Decker, who called himself Egbert, was born as the eighth of nine children of Joseph Decker and Maria, née Wachtmeister, in Werne/Westphalia. He attended high school (Gymnasium) and began studies in dentistry in Munich, which he completed in 1912 with a grade of "good” [equivalent approx. to B]. From 1913 to 1915, he worked as a dental assistant in Vegesack near Bremen. In the First World War, he was not drafted but instead worked in civilian service at a military hospital for patients with jaw injuries in Münster/Westphalia.
In 1919, he went to Hamburg, where he set himself up as an independent dentist as of 1 Jan. 1920 and was awarded the doctorate by the Medical Faculty of Hamburg University on 22 Dec. 1920. In 1937, he indicated for his Hamburg practice at Mundsburger Damm 65 that it was going "reasonably well,” "as a result of which my economic situation is in good order.” The surviving records of the Langenhorn State Sanatorium (Staatskrankenanstalt Langenhorn) do not reveal whether his dependency on drugs and alcohol, clinically treated in 1918 and 1932, was connected to his homosexual tendencies. Every time, Egbert Decker found his way back to leading a regular life.
From 16 to 31 Oct. 1936, Egbert Decker was probably detained for the first time in the Fuhlsbüttel concentration camp on charges of having committed homosexual acts, without resulting in a conviction, however. What sealed his downfall eventually on 18 Oct. 1937 was being reported to police by a chief stoker in the German Navy (Stabsheizer), who had performed sexual acts with Egbert Decker for money earlier on. Immediately afterward, the former called police to have Egbert Decker arrested, who denied all accusations. The hardly plausible behavior of the chief stoker, who had also committed a serious case of theft in Decker’s apartment, did not save the dentist from arrest and Gestapo detention in the Fuhlsbüttel concentration camp, where he was kept in custody from 19 Oct. until 13 Nov. 1937. After that, a period in the pretrial detention facility at Holstenglacis followed, as well as interrogations at the Hamburg Stadthaus [the headquarters of the Gestapo in Hamburg]. According to Kriminaloberassistent [approx. equivalent to detective technical sergeant] Mertens, "people only have good things to say about him and he is also supposed to be a good dentist. Among his clients, all occupations are represented, i.e. from simple worker to professor.” Engelbert Decker described himself as homosexual and was recorded several times in files of the police and the judiciary because of his sexual orientation, without being convicted, however.
On 22 Apr. 1938, he was sentenced by the Hamburg District Court (Amtsgericht) to eight months in prison in accordance with Sec. 175 [of the Reich Criminal Code]. An excerpt from the judgment of District Court Director Erwin Krause: "The court is of the opinion that the defendant denies persistently and therefore does not deserve any particular leniency at all. As a doctor and member of the educated class, he must not allow himself to make a mockery of truth with his assertions as he does. One can expect such a thing from an uneducated man and not hold it against someone like that as one does against the accused, of whom one would have expected to have admitted his crime courageously.” With his "protective” custody and pretrial detention calculated against his sentence, Decker was released from the Fuhlsbüttel men’s prison eight weeks later, on 24 June 1938. Whereas his housekeeper and a close friend did not incriminate him in any way, his family attempted to place him under the care of a guardian. Decker’s alcoholism may have contributed to this as well. Whether these efforts succeeded does not emerge from the records.
Based on the legal proceedings, Engelbert Decker was stripped of his degree of "Dr. med. dent.” by the Hansische Universität [Hamburg University] on 23 Nov. 1938. Probably, the Hamburg Chief of Police also revoked his license to practice dentistry, something Decker’s lawsuit before the Hamburg Administrative Court (Verwaltungsgericht) suggests.
On 29 Mar. 1941, Engelbert Decker was arrested again and committed to the Hütten inner-city police prison. This time, a young male prostitute had disclosed his name in a police interrogation. On 30 Mar. 1941, only one day after his arrest, he hanged himself in his cell using his belt. When a lawyer commissioned by his family made inquiries regarding Decker’s whereabouts on 7 Apr. 1941, he had already died.
A Stolperstein in front of his practice and home at Mundsburger Damm 65 will commemorate his fate. The Hamburg Dental Association has taken on the sponsorship of the Stolperstein.
Translator: Erwin Fink
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.
© Bernhard Rosenkranz/Ulf Bollmann
Quellen: StaHH, 213-11 Staatsanwaltschaft Landgericht – Strafsachen, 5531/38 und 6908/42; StaHH, 213-8 Staatsanwaltschaft Oberlandesgericht – Verwaltung, Abl. 2, 451 a E 1, 1 a und 1 b; StaHH, 242-1 II Gefängnisverwaltung II, Ablieferungen 13 und 16; StaHH, 364-5 I Universität I, L 50.6 Heft 22; StaHH, 331-5 Polizeibehörde – Unnatürliche Sterbefälle, 955/41; StaHH, 352-8/7 Staatskrankenanstalt Langenhorn, Abl. 1995/2, 19863; B. Rosenkranz/U. Bollmann/G. Lorenz: Homosexuellen-Verfolgung in Hamburg 1919–1969, S. 204; Gert Eisentraut: Stolperstein für Hamburger Zahnarzt gesetzt. Dr. Engelbert Decker durch KZV Hamburg geehrt, in: Hamburger Zahnärzteblatt Nr. 5, Mai 2009, S. 8–9; Einen Stolperstein für Hamburger Zahnarzt gesetzt, in: Die ZahnarztWoche DZW, Ausgabe 20/09 vom 05.05.2009, S. 32.