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Werner Ebeling
© Archiv Evangelische Stiftung Alsterdorf

Werner Ebeling * 1928

Methfesselstraße 23-25 (Eimsbüttel, Eimsbüttel)

JG. 1928
"VERLEGT" 10.8.1943
ERMORDET 14.5.1944

Werner Hans Ebeling, born on 16.6.1928 in Hamburg, admitted to the former Alsterdorfer Anstalten (now Evangelische Stiftung Alsterdorf) on 15.11.1935, transported to the "Heil- und Pflegeanstalt Mainkofen" near Deggendorf on 10.8.1943, died there on 14.5.1944.

Methfesselstraße 23-25 (Eimsbüttel)

Werner Hans Ebeling was born on June 16, 1928 as the only child of the worker Max Heinrich Henry Ebeling, born Jan. 31, 1906 in Hamburg, and his wife Emma Berta Auguste, née Moering, born May 25, 1907 in Hamburg.

Immediately after Werner Ebeling's complicated birth at the Eppendorf Women's Hospital, the infant was diagnosed with a cerebral hemorrhage. He is said to have been constantly restless and to have had tantrums thereafter. The Alsterdorf patient file recorded that when he was nearly seven years old, he suffered convulsions that lasted up to three hours.

Werner Ebeling lived with his parents until the chief physician of the Hamburg welfare system referred him to what was then the Alsterdorf Institutions (now the Evangelische Stiftung Alsterdorf) on October 31, 1935, for "idiocy." ("Idiocy" is an outdated term for a severe form of intelligence impairment).

On admission to Alsterdorf on November 15, 1935, the seven-year-old boy was perceived as stubborn, agitated and headstrong. Especially in the early days, he had not been able to fit in. He is said to have run around and climbed onto various beds. Werner Ebeling is also said to have bitten fellow patients. Finally, a "protective jacket" was put on him, which was probably intended less for his own protection than for that of the other patients. (A "protective jacket," colloquially referred to as a "straitjacket," could be used to force extensive restriction of movement). Werner Ebeling had not been able to speak and had to be fed.

This description was repeated in his file in the following years. Several times it was said that he had hit or scratched fellow patients and had broken windows in agitation. The penultimate entry during the Alsterdorf period was dated March 1942, in which Werner Ebeling's condition was described as follows: "Pat.[ient] is completely cared for, must be completely worried. He cannot speak, emits only inarticulate sounds. He does not know his surroundings. His only occupation is pacing back and forth in the day room."

Most recently, on August 6, 1943, Gerhard Kreyenberg, the chief physician, noted in Werner Ebeling's medical record: "Transferred to Mainkofen due to severe damage to the institution by air raid."

After the Alsterdorf institutions had suffered damage during the heavy Allied air raids on Hamburg at the end of July/beginning of August 1943 ("Operation Gomorrha"), the director of the Alsterdorf institutions, SA member Pastor Friedrich Lensch, took advantage of this situation and asked the Hamburg health authorities for permission to remove about 750 institution residents because they had been made homeless by the air raids. As a result, between August 7 and 16, 1943, three transports with a total of 469 girls, boys, women and men left Alsterdorf in different directions, including a transport with 113 men, adolescents and boys on August 10, 1943, with the destination "Heil- und Pflegeanstalt Mainkofen" near Passau. Among them was Hans Werner Ebeling.

The "Heil- und Pflegeanstalt Mainkofen", a psychiatric hospital in the pre-National Socialist era, was systematically developed into a death institution. From there, during the first phase of the "euthanasia" murders until August 1941, people were deported to the killing facility Schloss Hartheim near Linz and murdered with gas. 604 of them are known by name. Subsequently, the death of patients in Mainkofen itself was deliberately brought about by food deprivation under the "Bavarian Starvation Decree" (starvation diet, meat- and fat-free diet, referred to in Mainkofen as "3-b diet"), nursing neglect and overdosed medication. In Mainkofen, 762 patients died in the so-called hunger houses. The alleged causes of death were intestinal catarrh, tuberculosis, pneumonia or pulmonary tuberculosis. This was also the case with Werner Ebeling.

As late as April 22, 1944, his father, in response to an inquiry as to how his son was doing, had been informed "that there has been a change in your son's condition, [...] in that he has recently been physically declining quite a bit."

It was not until May 1, 1944 - almost nine months after his arrival - that a report was recorded for the first time in Werner Ebeling's medical file: "Physically has been declining considerably lately, has constant diarrhea. Lungs show indeterminate breathing in various places. Tuberculosis suspected!"

Ten days later it was said: "The boy's powers of resistance are weakening more and more. The diagnosis of intestinal tuberculosis can no longer be doubted." And finally, on May 14, 1944: "Pat.[ient] comes ad exitus today from his intestinal tuberculosis."

Werner Ebeling died without any recognizable medical efforts to alleviate or even cure his illness being evident from the files.

According to his medical records, he was buried on May 18, 1944 in the Mainkofen institutional cemetery.

Of the 113 Alsterdorf boys and men who arrived at Mainkofen on August 12, 1943, 74 had died by the end of 1945. As in other death institutions, "pulmonary tuberculosis" repeatedly appeared as the cause of death, forty times in the case of 74 Alsterdorf patients who died at Mainkofen. "Intestinal catarrh" was named as the cause of death fifteen times. Only 39 people from Alsterdorf survived 1945, including 15 adults and 24 children and adolescents up to the age of 21. The surviving patients were transferred back to Alsterdorf on December 19, 1947.

According to historian Michael Wunder, a total of 630 handicapped children, women and men were transported from the Alsterdorf institutions to intermediate institutions or directly to "euthanasia" killing centers. Of these people, 511 were killed - according to the state of knowledge in 2016.

Translation by Beate Meyer
Stand: February 2022
© Ingo Wille

Quellen: Evangelische Stiftung Alsterdorf, Archiv, Sonderakte V 421, Werner Hans Ebeling; Hamburger Gedenkbuch Euthanasie – Die Toten 1939-1945, Hamburg 2017, S. 54, 163. Michael Wunder, Ingrid Genkel, Harald Jenner, Auf dieser schiefen Ebene gibt es kein Halten mehr – Die Alsterdorfer Anstalten im Nationalsozialismus, Stuttgart 2016, S. 35, 283 ff., 331 ff.

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