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Ulla Drenckhan
© Privatbesitz

Ulla Drenckhan * 1932

Hanfftsweg 8 (Hamburg-Mitte, Hamm)

JG. 1932
ERMORDET 24.8.1943

Ulla Drenckhan, born on 21 Dec. 1932 in Hamburg, admitted on 4 Aug. 1943 to the Schwerin-Sachsenberg "sanatorium and nursing home” (Heil- und Pflegeanstalt), murdered on 24 Aug. 1943

Hanfftsweg 8

Ulla Drenckhan was born Ursula Anna Lucie Drenckhan on 21 Dec. 1932, in the maternity ward of the Bethesda Deaconess Hospital, located at Burgstrasse 39 in Hamburg-Borgfelde. She was the second child of the senior administrative secretary Carl Friedrich Otto Drenckhan and his wife Anna, née Jaap, who lived at Hanfftsweg 8 in Hamburg-Hamm.

The Drenckhan family came from Mecklenburg-Schwerin. Ulla’s great-grandfather, Franz Jürgen Christoph Drenckhan, married to Henriette Elise Marie, née Graak, had lived as a laborer on the Albertinenhof south of Wittenburg, today Ludwigslust-Parchim District. Ulla’s grandfather Johann Jochim Heinrich Friedrich Drenckhan had been born there in 1855. His later wife, Lucia Anna Emma, née Werner, called Lucie, came from a farm in Brodten near Lübeck-Travemünde that still exists today.

Friedrich and Lucie Drenckhan moved to Hammer Deich 129 in Hamburg-Hamm, an up-and-coming workers’ residential area. There their first child, Ulla’s father Otto, was born on 1 Mar. 1889. Their next address was the top floor in the rear building at Capellenstrasse 10 in the St. Georg quarter, where Frieda Caroline was born on 14 Sept. 1893. By the birth of their third child, Wanda Herta Martha, the family was already living at Stresowstrasse 51 in Rothenburgsort.

As the working-class districts grew, so did the number of elementary schools (Volksschulen). They were of a high standard, and those who completed them after eight years of instruction brought with them solid prerequisites for the following apprenticeship. While Otto Drenckhan’s father was still earning a living for his family as a laborer, Otto did training in administration.

Around 1930, he married Anna, née Tiedemann, born on 5 Nov. 1896 in Hamburg, whose ancestors also came from Mecklenburg. Her father, Heinrich Johann Joachim Jaap, had gone to Altona as a laborer and later worked in Hamburg as a shoemaker. Their first child was son Hermann Otto, born on 3 Apr. 1890, followed by Johann, who died while still an infant. The third child was daughter Anna, born on 5 Nov. 1896, the fourth daughter Luise, and the last was Karl, born on 23 Feb. 1901.

Nothing is known about the training of Anna Jaap and her brothers. With her marriage at the time of the Great Depression, Anna Drenckhan took on the role of housewife and soon-to-be mother. Their first child was born on 30 Jan. 1931, Werner, who was given his grandmother Lucie’s last as his first name. Ulla, born in Dec. 1932, bore the name of Lucie as one of her three given names. By the time the children were born, their grandparents were no longer alive. The last to die was Lucia Drenckhan in 1925. In the end, she had resided with her son Otto at Hinschenfelder Strasse 15.

Werner and Ulla grew up together in the care of their parents on Hanfftsweg. Like many families, they escaped the confines of the city for walks and trips to the Lüneburg Heath. A photo from about 1935 shows the family with two other adults on one such outing. In another photo, brother and sister sit in unison at a children’s table. The table is located in front of a house wall under a balcony box, with Ulla eating. In another photo, she struts, in a self-assertive way, presenting a long-stemmed coneflower blossom, in the garden of a weekend cottage. Her hair was long enough for hair loopies, and she sported a big bow on her head as well. Wearing a dress and white socks in sturdy shoes, she looked festive.

A shadow was cast on the family by the death of Frieda Drenckhan. Unmarried, she had been accommodated in the Langenhorn State Hospital (Staatskrankenanstalt Langenhorn) for some time. She died there in 1935 at the age of 41. The cause of death is not known, but she did not fall victim to any "euthanasia” operation.

Ursula Drenckhan was probably baptized in the church of the Holy Trinity in Hammer, as was her brother Werner. We do not know when it was discovered that she suffered from Down’s syndrome and what supportive measures were taken. At the age of ten, on 31 May 1943, she was exempted from compulsory education. She escaped the "euthanasia” program for infants and toddlers with Down’s syndrome, introduced in 1939, because she was already out of the age group.

With the Allied air raids on Hamburg and the ensuing catastrophe of the firestorm on 27/28 July 1943, disaster for the Drenckhan family began as well. The residential house at Hanfftsweg 8 became uninhabitable. Anna and Otto Drenckhan remained in Hamburg for two more days until they fled Hamburg on 30 July 1943. They reached Zarrentin via Ahrensburg and Lübeck. It is not known whether they tried to be taken in by relatives in Brodten or at the Albertinenhof. On 2 August, Anna Drenckhan and Ulla found shelter in Perdöhl near Wittenburg.

Otto Drenckhan returned to Hamburg, where he worked at the World Economic Archive (Weltwirtschaftsarchiv) at Poststrasse 19. Werner Drenckhan was in the Nazi evacuation scheme for children (Kinderlandverschickung) in Schellerhau in the Ore Mountains at the time, but he learned of the family’s fate through letters from his mother.

Ulla’s parents were apparently forced to take their daughter to the Sachsenberg "sanatorium and nursing home” ("Heil- und Pflegeanstalt” Sachsenberg) near Schwerin. Admitted there on 4 Aug. 1943, she died on the 24th of that month, reportedly of "febrile gastroenteritis.”

The indication of the cause of death was probably fictitious. There is no evidence of intentional death by pills or morphine or scopolamine. Only the circumstances indicate that Ursula Drenckhan had become a victim of the Nazi regime’s "euthanasia” program.

The parents were not notified. When Ulla’s mother went to visit her daughter in Sachsenberg on 3 Sept. 1943, she learned of her death, too late to attend the funeral. It had taken place on 27 Aug. 1943 at the cemetery on Obotritenring, after Ulla had been given the last benediction by Pastor Kleiminger of the St. Nikolai Church in Schwerin (Schelfkirche). Reportedly, the fate of the children in Sachsenberg was a personal concern of his.

Family members visited Ulla Drenckhan’s grave several times until 1956. In 1997, Ulla’s brother Werner began a new search. Through his wife, he knew the fate of Ruth Weigert, who was murdered in Auschwitz (see Thus sensitized and experienced in dealing with research and the effects of the murderous deeds of Nazi rule, he brought remembrance of his sister to us with hitherto unknown details.

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

Stand: May 2021
© Hildegard Thevs

Quellen: StaHH, 332-5 Personenstandsregister; Hamburger Adressbücher; Familie Drenckhan: Ulla Drenckhan, unveröffentlichtes Manuskript, Hamburg 2000;;, Abruf 12.6.2020.

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