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Rolf Förster * 1940

Marckmannstraße 135 (ehemalige Kinderklinik) (Hamburg-Mitte, Rothenburgsort)

GEB. 15.9.1940
ERMORDET 17.5.1942

further stumbling stones in Marckmannstraße 135 (ehemalige Kinderklinik):
Andreas Ahlemann, Rita Ahrens, Ursula Bade, Hermann Beekhuis, Ute Conrad, Helga Deede, Jürgen Dobbert, Anneliese Drost, Siegfried Findelkind, Volker Grimm, Antje Hinrichs, Lisa Huesmann, Gundula Johns, Peter Löding, Angela Lucassen, Elfriede Maaker, Renate Müller, Werner Nohr, Harald Noll, Agnes Petersen, Renate Pöhls, Gebhard Pribbernow, Hannelore Scholz, Doris Schreiber, Ilse Angelika Schultz, Dagmar Schulz, Magdalene Schütte, Gretel Schwieger, Brunhild Stobbe, Hans Tammling, Peter Timm, Heinz Weidenhausen, Renate Wilken, Horst Willhöft

Rothenburgsort Children's Hospital

In the former Rothenburgsort Children's Hospital, the National Socialists implemented their "euthanasia program" from the early 1940s.
Hildegard Thevs was able to research 33 names of murdered children.

A plaque on the building has commemorated the more than 50 murdered babies and children since 1999:

In this building
between 1941 and 1945
more than 50 handicapped children were killed.
An expert committee classified them
as "unworthy life" and assigned them
to be killed in specialized children's wards.
The Hamburg health administration
was involved in this.
Hamburg medical officers supervised
the admission and killing of the children.
Doctors of the children's hospital
carried them out.
None of those involved
was prosecuted for this.

Further information (in German) on the Internet at:

35 Stolpersteine für Rothenburgsort – Hamburger Abendblatt 10.10.2009

Stolpersteine für ermordete Kinder – ND 10.10.2009

Stolpersteine gegen das Vergessen – Pressestelle des Senats 09.10.2009

Die toten Kinder von Rothenburgsort – 09.10.2009

35 Stolpersteine verlegt – Hamburg 1 mit Video 09.10.2009

Wikipedia - Institut für Hygiene und Umwelt

Gedenken an mehr als 50 ermordete Kinder - Die Welt 10.11.1999

Euthanasie-Opfer der Nazis - Beitrag NDR Fernsehen 29.05.2010

Hitler und das "lebensunwerte Leben" - Andreas Schlebach NDR 24.08.2009

Rolf Förster, born 15 Sep. 1940 in Hamburg, murdered 17 May 1942

Rolf Förster was the fifth child in his family. His eldest sister was 12 years old when he was born. His parents were originally from Dresden, lived on the Veddel and belonged to the Lutheran church, where Rolf was christened.

On 6 April 1948, Rolf’s father Kurt described to the examining magistrate how his son came to be in the Rothenburgsort Children’s Hospital: "Rolf was being treated by Dr. Nielsen, who had also delivered him. I assume that Dr. Nielsen reported Rolf’s condition to the Health Department. Someone from the Health Department was in my home, but I don’t know who because I wasn’t there. I assume it was a case worker and not a doctor. We were then called to appear at the Health Department office in Uhlenhorst on Graumannsweg. We went without the child. There we filled out an extensive questionnaire about the child and ourselves. Later we received the notification that we were to admit Rolf to the Rothenburgsort Children’s Hospital.”

The diameter of Rolf’s head was 42 cm (16.5 in) at birth, and it continued to expand in the following weeks. By the time he was admitted to the hospital it was at 55 cm (21.5 in). He had difficulty sitting up because his head was so heavy.

Since the Rothenburgsort Children’s Hopsital was overcrowded, the parents took their son to the Langenhorn Institute, where he was admitted to the "special children’s ward” on 27 October 1941. He "cried terribly when his parents left and could not be calmed,” wrote the ward physician Friedrich Knigge. Further: he "has a lively affective reaction to stimuli, has a strong desire to make himself understood with gestures and facial expressions, and repeatedly attempts to speak. He is very sensitive, reacts to touch and pain, wants to be held.”

When the father felt that Rolf’s head was growing, he asked Knigge about possibilities for a cure and a prognosis. The doctor told him it was necessary to keep the child under observation, and there was no treatment. Knigge noted in the hospital records: "both parents agree to any treatment that might help the child.” Obviously, the parent’s understanding of "helpful treatment” was different than that of the doctor.

When Rolf’s condition worsened, the father suspected that Knigge had attempted a treatment that went wrong. Rolf caught a cold and had a fever of over 40° (104°F), and the diameter of his head had become larger.

What the parents didn’t know, was that Knigge had spoken to Bayer on 13 January 1942 about transferring Rolf to his clinic. On 30 March 1942, a nurse took Rolf to Rothenburgsort and then informed Rolf’s mother about the transfer. She was unable to give any reasons.

On 6 February 1948, Sophie Pertzel, a nurse in Rolf’s ward, recounted her memories of Rolf: "We had a two-year-old boy with water on the brain in the ward. The child was very cute and the nurse Gertrud Krohn was especially fond of him. … Because of his head, the nurses often used the endearment ‘Dutt’ [chignon, bun] for him. When I came in to work one morning, I found Rolf Förster unconscious. The night nurse told me that Dr. Knigge had again taken a child for shots the evening before. When the nurse Gertrud Krohn came to work in the morning and saw the child laying unconscious, she cried terribly. Dr. Knigge came for his rounds that morning and asked where Nurse Krohn was. I had to fetch her, and she arrived with red eyes from crying. Dr. Knigge took her into the examining room and spoke to her there. When she returned, she told me that Dr. Knigge had told her not to worry, nothing would happen to the children, she shouldn’t be upset. I knew from a previous conversation with Dr. Knigge about Agnes’ [Petersen] case that his words were untrue. Rolf survived the shot, woke up and recovered, and we were happy that we had gotten him through the worst. One day Dr. Knigge said that he wanted to transfer the child to Rothenburgsort. The nurse Gertrud Krohn cried and didn’t want to let the child go. Her resistance was futile. She told me that Rolf Förster had died at Rothenburgsort, and I know that she visited his grave at the cemetery in Ohlsdorf.”

Only Rolf Förster’s father visited him at Rothenburgsort, so that his heavily pregnant mother was "spared the sight of him.” Frau Förster was delivered of a girl on 4 April 1942. Without the parents’ permission, as they said, the ward doctor Lotte Albers gave Rolf a shot of Luminal (phenobarbital). She did not have the aid of an assistant in this case, although she usually did. Rolf died on the morning of 17 May 1942. His father noticed that the death certificate gave the cause of death as "hydrocephalus and paralysis of the respiratory center,” and did not see the connection between the two. He reported the death to the registry office the next day. Rolf Förster was 18 months old when he died.

Translator: Amy Lee

Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.

© Hildegard Thevs

Quellen: StaH 213-12 Staatsanwaltschaft Landgericht – NSG, 0017/001; 332-5 Standesämter, 1156+299/1942; 352-8/7 Staatskrankenanstalt Langenhorn, Abl. 2000/01, 61.

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