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Henry Gattel, November 1930
Henry Gattel, November 1930

Henry Gattel * 1885

Gotenstraße 20 (Hamburg-Mitte, Hammerbrook)

JG. 1885
"VERLEGT" 23.9.1940
ERMORDET 23.9.1940

Henry Gattel, born on 7 Nov. 1885 in Hamburg, murdered on 23 Sept. 1940 in the Brandenburg/Havel euthanasia killing center

Gotenstrasse 20, Hamburg-Hammerbrook

Henry Gattel was born on 7 Nov. 1885 as the son of Elkan and Liebe (Lina) Gattel in Hamburg-Neustadt, at 2nd Marktstrasse 16 and 18 (to the right off Peterstrasse). The parents were of the Jewish faith. Elkan Gattel came from Lissa (today Leszno in Poland) in the south of the former Prussian Province of Posen. His wife Liebe (Lina) Gattel, née Wilde, born on 14 Aug. 1853, also came from the then Province of Posen. She was born in the district town of Meseritz (today Miedrzyrzecz in Poland), 130 kilometers (some 80 miles) from Lissa.

Elkan and Liebe Gattel apparently moved to Hamburg between 1882 and 1885 with their daughter Meta, born in Leipzig on 27 Oct. 1881. The Hamburg directory, however, includes an entry for the merchant Elkan Gattel with the address of Peterstrasse 28 in Hamburg-Neustadt for the first time in 1892. This suggests that the Gattel family had resided as subtenants until then and had only a very limited income.

Henry Gattel grew up at Peterstrasse 28, adjacent to 2nd Marktstrasse, where living conditions were also cramped. The family temporarily shared the apartment with the widower Jeremias Pincus and his four children.

Information about Henry Gattel’s life story is available until about 1930 from his own reports, which were recorded during his second admission to the Friedrichsberg State Hospital (Staatskrankenanstalt Friedrichsberg) on 1 Nov. 1930. Henry had already been a patient in Friedrichsberg from 14 June to 7 July 1920. There are no longer any records of this. On 19 Oct. 1930, Henry was first admitted to Barmbek General Hospital and then transferred to the State Hospital in Friedrichsberg on 1 Nov. 1930. He related that as a child, after receiving blows, he had fallen down. Already in infancy he had often suffered from seizures, later on he had fainting spells at school. He had come to school late and had not been particularly efficient either as a student or later in his jobs. He found arithmetic particularly difficult. Henry Gattel began an apprenticeship as a bookbinder at the age of 14, which he soon abandoned because he felt he was being taken advantage of as a "domestic servant.” He also prematurely quit an apprenticeship in a cap maker and furrier’s company, because by his own admission he had no desire to do the work. At the age of 15, he made his career wish come true and worked for a year and a half at a barbershop. He attended a technical school for barbers and hairdressers and read books on medicine. Although the barber or hairdresser’s trade was his real career aspiration, Henry Gattel could not gain a foothold in this line of work either. In the following period, he took on employment as a domestic servant, but changed jobs frequently. A boy accused 15-year-old Henry Gattel of having indecently touched him. The court hearing subsequently scheduled ended with an acquittal based on a medical opinion.

When the First World War began in Aug. 1914, Henry Gattel volunteered but he was discharged as unfit. However, he wanted to become a soldier at all cost and forged his military passport. The change from "unfit for service” to "fit for service” was quickly discovered. He was acquitted in the subsequent criminal proceedings. Presumably, the court martial declared him to be of unsound mind. Shortly afterward, while working as a packer in Berlin, Henry Gattel was drafted into the military after all. He was stationed in Frankfurt/Oder as an infantryman. Long before the end of the war, on 24 Mar. 1916, the army discharged him for good "because of his nerves.” After working as a hairdresser and as an office messenger in an export and import business in Hamburg, he lived for a long time without employment with his mother at Grossneumarkt 56 in Hamburg.

Henry’s mother, Liebe Gattel, died on 1 Nov. 1927 in the Hamburg Israelite Hospital. Elkan Gattel, Henry’s father, had already died in Feb. 1909.

Meta Gattel, Henry’s older sister, and Max Rosendorf, a merchant from Neustadt in West Prussia, had married on 11 Jan. 1906. According to the Hamburg directory, Max Rosendorf initially operated an "art institute” ("Kunstanstalt”) at Eiffestrasse 25 in Hamburg-Hammerbrook. Later he called himself an "art architect” ("Kunstarchitect”), and finally he designated his trade as "photographic enlargement.” By that time (1919), the Rosendorf couple lived at Gärtnerstrasse 105 in Hoheluft-West. The shop was located at Mansteinstrasse 56, not far away, and in the early 1920s, Max Rosendorf changed his line of work, subsequently operating a cloth warehouse at Steindamm 49 in the St. Georg quarter. The private address at Gärtnerstrasse 105 was retained. Probably in 1931 or 1932, Meta and Max Rosendorf left Hamburg and settled in Berlin. This meant that there were no more relatives living in Hamburg who could have cared for Henry Gattel.

Henry Gattel spent the years after 1930 in the Friedrichsberg State Hospital. On the one hand, reports indicate that he helped other patients with shaving and gardening. On the other hand, he is said to have often become involved in violent arguments with his fellow patients, which sometimes led to assaults. Eventually, Henry Gattel was transferred to the psychiatric ward.

A request for discharge addressed by him to the "lunatic commission” at the beginning of 1932 was unsuccessful. An application for discharge addressed to the health authorities on 8 Nov. 1932 was rejected, as was another one dated 16 Jan. 1934:
"Hamburg, 16 Jan. 1934
I, Henry Gattel, would hereby like to submit a most humble request to the welfare police authority and ask quite obediently for my discharge from this Friedrichsberg State Hospital. I have been in this institution since 1 Nov. 1930; I was born on 7 Nov. 1885 in Hamburg, my profession is that of a hairdresser’s assistant, I worked at Kaffee Koch on Steindamm as a barber and restroom attendant. I still think that I will find a position outside, since I am doing work here in the institution, and the senior physician Dr. Glüh can confirm this.
In the hope that my request will be granted,
Most humbly,
Henry Gattel”

With the Hereditary Health Law (Erbgesundheitsgesetz) dated 14 July 1933, in addition to the freedom of movement already lost, Henry Gattel’s physical wellbeing was also threatened by this time. In the National Socialist German Reich, the law served the so-called racial hygiene by "sterilization” ("Unfruchtbarmachung”) of persons allegedly suffering from hereditary illnesses and of alcoholics. On this basis, the Nazis wanted to "free” the German "national body” ("Volkskörper”) from so-called hereditary diseases in the long term by means of forced sterilization. In Germany, approx. 350,000 to 400,000 people were forcibly sterilized by 1945. Henry Gattel became a victim of this law on 27 Nov. 1934 in the Barmbek General Hospital.

Henry Gattel’s stay at the Friedrichsberg State Hospital ended with his transfer to Barmbek General Hospital. He never returned there, and we do not know where he lived for the subsequent nearly six years. One can assume that he also spent these years in an institution, probably in the Hamburg-Farmsen care home (Versorgungsheim Hamburg-Farmsen). In any case, he was recorded at this address during the German national census on 17 May 1939.

In the spring/summer of 1940, the "euthanasia” headquarters in Berlin, located at Tiergartenstrasse 4, planned a special operation aimed against Jews in public and private sanatoriums and nursing homes. It had the Jewish persons living in the institutions registered and moved together in what were officially so-called collection institutions. The Hamburg-Langenhorn "sanatorium and nursing home” ("Heil- und Pflegeanstalt” Hamburg-Langenhorn) was designated the North German collection institution. All institutions in Hamburg, Schleswig-Holstein, and Mecklenburg were ordered to move the Jews living in their facilities there by 18 Sept. 1940.

Henry Gattel, like the other Jewish residents of Farmsen, was transferred to the Langenhorn "sanatorium and nursing home” on 18 Sept. 1940. On 23 Sept. 1940, he was transported to Brandenburg/Havel with another 135 patients from North German institutions, among them Gertha Pincus, who had temporarily lived with her family with the Gattels as a subtenant (see corresponding entry). The transport reached the city in the Mark (March) on the same day. In the part of the former penitentiary that had been converted into a gas-killing facility, the patients were immediately driven into the gas chamber and murdered by means of carbon monoxide. Only Ilse Herta Zachmann escaped this fate at first (see corresponding entry).

We do not know whether, and if so, when Henry Gattel’s sister Meta in Berlin was informed of his death. The birth register entry of Henry Gattel contains a death notice according to which his death was recorded at the Chelm II records office under register number 578/1940. We know from other descriptions on birth certificates of the Langenhorn patients murdered in Brandenburg that the register number 578/1940 was used for 3 Dec. 1940.

Those murdered in Brandenburg, however, were never in Chelm (Polish) or Cholm (German), a town east of Lublin. The former Polish sanatorium there no longer existed after SS units had murdered almost all patients on 12 Jan. 1940. Also, there was no German records office in Chelm. Its fabrication and the use of false dates of death served to disguise the killing operation and at the same time enabled the authorities to claim higher food expenses for periods extended accordingly.

Henry Gattel’s sister Meta and his brother-in-law Max Rosendorf also lost their lives in the Holocaust. Both were deported from Berlin to Theresienstadt on 18 Mar. 1943, and from there they were further deported to Auschwitz on 9 Oct. 1944. One can assume that both were murdered there.

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

Stand: July 2020
© Ingo Wille

Quellen: 1; 4; 5; 7; 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 2108 Geburtsregister Nr. 5467/1885 Henry Gattel, 3064 Heiratsregister Nr. 16/1906 Meta Gattel, 620 Sterberegister Nr. 133/1909 Elkan Gattel, 926 Sterberegister Nr. 424/1927 Liebe (Lina) Gattel; 352-8/7 Staatskrankenanstalt Langenhorn Abl. 1/1995 Aufnahme-/Abgangsbuch Langenhorn 26.8.1939 bis 27.1.1941; UKE/IGEM, Archiv, Patienten-Karteikarte Henry Gattel der Staatskrankenanstalt Friedrichsberg; UKE/IGEM, Archiv, Patientenakte Henry Gattel der Staatskrankenanstalt Friedrichsberg. Bund der "Euthanasie”-Geschädigten und Zwangssterilisierten e. V., Erbgesundheitsgeschichte. Dokumentation, Göttingen 1997, S. 11f.
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