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Benjamin 'Benno' Engländer * 1901
Lerchenstraße 115 (Altona, Sternschanze)
Benjamin Engländer, born 2 Jan. 1901 in Altona, deported 23 Sep. 1940 from the Langenhorn Psychiatric Hospital to the Brandenburg Extermination Centre
Stumbling Stone in Hamburg – Sternschanze, Lerchenstraße 115 (previously Nachtigallenstraße 2)
Benjamin Engländer was born on 2. January 1901 in Altona, the youngest of the nine children of Juda Berl and Gesa Rosa Engländer, née Mantel. The family had moved from Poland to Altona a few years before his birth. The eldest son, Israel, was born in 1877 in Rzeszow, a small town in Galicia (southeastern Poland), where nearly half of the population was Jewish. The family had then lived for some time in Brzeczkowice, near Katowice, where a daughter, Chane Neche, later called Anna, was born on 31. May 1884. Feitsze was born on 16. December 1890 in Altona, where the family first lived on Kleine Gärtnerstraße (later Stresemannstraße), before they moved to Nachtigallenstraße (later Lerchenstraße). Feitsze later called herself Fanny.
Benjamin Engländer attended the Talmud Tora School from 1907 to 1916. According to his own statement, he found learning difficult. Whether he entered an apprenticeship or had a steady job is unclear. His final certificate from the Talmud Tora School, in the "Remarks” section, contains the entry "business”, and a hospital record from 1938 lists his profession as "businessman.” On a self-diagnosis form he answered the question "Which profession did you learn?” with "none.” Benjamin probably helped his mother in her shop. After the death of her husband in 1917 of a stomach condition, she supported the family by selling costume jewelry. Two of Benjamin’s brothers had died before his father, another died in 1925.
Benjamin had probably suffered from epilepsy, which was officially diagnosed in 1923, since his childhood. In August of that year he was diagnosed with a "psychological shift,” for which he was treated some weeks as a patient on the psychiatric ward at the Altona Hospital. From there, on 7. Oct. 1930, Benjamin Engländer was not discharged to his home but admitted to the Regional Nursing and Care Institution Neustadt in Holstein, where he spent almost four years. This institution was established in 1893 as an "asylum for idiots” in the buildings of a sugar refinery that had gone bankrupt.
In the years 1934/1935 the "Friedrichsberg – Langenhorner Plan” led to mass transfers of male and female patients in the Hamburg area. We do not know whether Benjamin Engländer was handed over in September 1934 directly from Neustadt or from Hamburg to the "Ricklinger Sanatorium for the Mentally and Alcohol Afflicted ("Kranke”) in the Segeberg district, where he was in various facilities– first in Falkenhorst and one year later in Thetmarshof – and, like most of the patients, probably did farm work when his condition allowed. According to his hospital records he suffered from regular epileptic attacks, which were accompanied by "numerous delusions.” His general condition was described as "mentally extremely slow, inhibited, without contact and drive, generally dull.”
In 1938, the management of the Ricklinger Sanatorium tried to "exchange” the jewish patients living there for non jewish ones. Supposedly the management was worried that they might lose their charitable status and the tax benefits associated with this "if we do not admit exclusively german patients”. As a result, four male patients were transferred to the National Hospital Langenhorn, amongst them Benjamin Engländer. The only female jewish occupant of Rickling (as far as we know), Paula Fraenkel, was exempted from this transfer operation. The reasons for this are not known.
On 22 April 1938 he was admitted to the Langenhorn State Psychiatric Hospital, but also here he remained for only a short time. Already on 9. May he was transferred to the Strecknitz Institution in Lübeck, where more and more patients from Hamburg were placed due to overcrowding. A report on him from November 1938 was not exactly positive, possibly also influenced by the fact that Benjamin Engländer did not fit in with the discipline imposed there.
"The attempt to find him useful employment failed because the patient refused to take orders from the work foreman and because he stood idly by and did nothing. He is constantly somewhat irritable and, at every consultation, has some kind of grievance or complaint about the institution, which he expresses in a nagging or ironic tone. He has little contact to other patients, but sometimes gets into arguments because of his fractiousness, his bossiness, and his pedantic habits.”
Little is known about whether Benjamin was in contact with his family or if they were allowed to visit him during his stays at the various institutions. His mother died in 1935 and his sister Anna took over his guardianship. As Anna was a Polish citizen, however, she was expelled to Zbaszyn in October 1938 and could only exchange letters with her brother. His medical record at Langenhorn contains a postcard that he probably wrote to his family at the end of 1939 at the urging of his sister, and which clearly shows his attachment:
"My dearest family, I hope most of all that you are all well!! Everything is the same with me! I wish you, dear Fanni, a happy birthday!! It is best if you write to Willi [his brother, ed.] in Hamburg … please write so that I know how you are and can rest easy!! I don’t know what else to write other than affectionate regards and kisses to all, Benno Engländer”
In Spring/Summer 1940 the "Euthanasia” Central Office in Berlin, Tiergartenstrasse 4 planned a special operation against Jews in public and private Nursing and Care Institutions. They had the jewish people living in the institutions registered and assembled in so called "Collecting Institutions” ("Sammelanstalten”). The Nursing and Care Institute Hamburg – Langenhorn was designated the Collecting Institution for North Germany. All institutions in Hamburg, Schleswig Holstein and Mecklenburg were instructed to send the jews living on their premises there by 18. September 1940. On 16. September, Benno Engländer was transferred from Strecknitz "in a collective transport of jewish patients to Langenhorn” and was brought from there seven days later on 23. September 1940 together with 135 other patients to the Extermination Centre in Brandenburg where he was murdered on the same day. This transport was the first "Euthanasia” transport and the first deportation of jewish citizens from Hamburg direct to the Gas Chamber. Only Ilse Herta Zachmann initially escaped this fate (see entry on her).
It was noted on the Birth Registry entry for Benjamin Engländer (with a question mark) that the Registry Office Chelm II had registered his death under the date 31. January 1941 and the number "303 ?”. However, the people murdered in Brandenburg were never in either Chelm (polish) or Cholm (german), a town to the east of Lublin. The Polish clinic which had existed there before had ceased to function after SS units had murdered almost all the patients on 12. January 1940. Also there was no german Registry Office in Chelm. It`s invention and the use of dates of death later than the real ones served to cover up the murder operation and at the same time to enable claiming living expenses for a correspondingly longer period of time.
The fates of Benjamin Engländer’s siblings is only partially known. His eldest brother Israel, who lived in Leipzig, emigrated to Holland in 1936 and was murdered in Auschwitz on 21 October 1942. Wolf Leib Engländer, the brother referred to by Benjamin as "Willi,” also died in Auschwitz. His 17 years older sister, Anna Reiss, last resident at Kleine Gärtnerstrasse 134 in Hamburg was deported to Zbaszyn as a polish national in October 1938. Her children, Cäcilie Kiczales born on 1. July 1907, Gerda born on 27 April 1910 and Jacob Reiss born on 18. August 1912 were also brought with her compulsorily to the polish border. Nothing is known about her subsequent fate. Anna Reiss`husband Sender, later called Jacob, is said to have died before 1933. Anna Reiss was later declared dead. Feitsze, called Fanny, was able to escape to England in time. She died in London in 1967 as Fanny Brown. No information has been found about the lives of the brothers David, Hermann Marcus, Adolf Siegmund and Isaak Engländer.
A stumbling stone in Hamburg-Sternschanze, Lerchenstrasse 115 (previously Nachtigallenstrasse 2) commemorates Benjamin Engländer.
Translator: Amy Lee, update Steve Robinson
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.
Stand: January 2018
© Gunhild Ohl-Hinz
Quellen: 1; 4; 5; 8; 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 6267 Geburtsregister Nr. 4076/1890 Engländer Feitsze, 6274 Geburtsregister Nr. 972/1892 Engländer Hermann Marcus, 6280 Geburtsregister Nr. 1583/1893 Engländer Wolf Leib, 6289 Geburtsregister Nr. 1323/1895 Engländer Adolf Siegmund, 6289 Geburtsregister Nr. 1324/1895 Engländer Isaak, 13676 Geburtsregister Nr. 107/1901 Engländer Benjamin, 1070 Sterberegister Nr. 66/1937 Engländer Wolff, 770 Sterberegister Nr. 362/1917 Engländer, Berl Juda, 5398 Sterberegister Nr. 159/1935 Engländer, Rosa Gelle (Gela); 351-11 Amt für Wiedergutmachung, Nr. 15447 Wolf Leib Engländer; 352-8/7 Staatskrankenanstalt Langenhorn Abl. 1/1995 Aufnahme-/Abgangsbuch Langenhorn 26.8.1939 bis 27.1.1941; 352-8/7 Staatskrankenanstalt Langenhorn Abl. 1/1995 Nr. 24885 Benjamin Engländer; 362-6/10 Talmud Tora Schule, TT 12; 424-111 Amtsgericht Altona 5068 Anna (Chane Neche) Reiss, Todeserklärung; Landesarchiv Schleswig, Abt. 377 Nr. 5587 Benjamin Engländer. Delius, Peter, Das Ende von Strecknitz. Die Lübecker Heilanstalt und ihre Auflösung 1941, Kiel 1988. Jenner, Harald/Klieme, Joachim (Hrsg.), Nationalsozialistische Euthanasieverbrechen und Einrichtungen der Inneren Mission, Reutlingen 1997, S. 201f. Sutter, Peter, Der sinkende Petrus. Rickling 1933–1945, Rickling 1986 S. 173f., 247.
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