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Martha Münden (née Gräfenberg) * 1876
Grindelallee 153 (Eimsbüttel, Rotherbaum)
Dr. Max Münden, born on 25 Feb. 1865 in Hamburg, died on 24 Sept. 1936 in the Bergedorf court prison
Martha Münden, née Gräfenberg, born on 10 July 1876 in Adelebsen, deported on 6 Dec. 1941 to Riga
Marcus Max Münden probably attended, like his two brothers born after him, Daniel (in 1866) and Anton (in 1867), the Talmud Tora School in Hamburg, located during his school days on Kohlhöfen. The early death of the father, Salomon Münden, in 1877 limited the family’s ability to fund university studies for the sons. Nevertheless, the oldest son Max was enabled to attend school up to obtaining his high school graduation diploma (Abitur). Since the Talmud Tora School only had the status of a Realschule [a practice-oriented secondary school up to grade 10] of the second order (2. Ordnung), upon taking his exams there, Max Münden had to study for another two years at an Oberrealschule [a high school without Latin] or a Realgymnasium [a high school focused on science, math, and modern languages]. With the exam passed there, in 1883, he then had the prerequisites for university studies but his parents’ financial circumstances did not permit this. In 1887, his brother Daniel Münden started his own company, putting him in a position to contribute to supporting his mother and siblings.
With his load lightened in this way, Max Münden started studying medicine in 1888, at the age of 33. He attended the universities of Jena, Munich, Berlin, and Kiel and received a doctorate in medicine and surgery, with the title of "Dr. med et chir.” The doctoral thesis dealt with the topic of "A peculiar fatal case of trauma” (Ein eigentümlicher tödlich verlaufener Fall von Trauma).
Max Münden specialized in gynecological disorders and sexually transmitted diseases, being listed with his own practice in the Hamburg phone directories since 1898. On 19 May 1898, he had the Hamburger Fremdenblatt print an ad with the following text: "I have set myself up as a general practitioner, surgeon, and obstetrician at Grindelallee 131a on the second floor. Dr. Max Münden. Office hours 8–9:30 a.m., 4:30–6:30 p.m.” Since 1907 at the latest, his consulting rooms were at Steindamm 43. Thus, the practice was located in the St. Georg quarter near the Reichshof Hotel built in 1909, an entertainment district populated with many prostitutes as well.
The area around the central station and Steindamm in particular were monitored by the vice squad. As the niece related, his wife Martha was not allowed to set foot in the practice room. Dealings with prostitutes were generally considered offensive.
The home of the Münden couple was located in the Rotherbaum quarter: at Grindelallee 131a (1898–1899), Grindelallee 124 (1900), Grindelallee 122 (1901–1908), and Grindelallee 153 (1909–1936). In the apartment at Grindelallee 153, Max Münden attended to patients in a room set aside specifically for this use.
Max Münden and Martha Gräfenberg were married after 1909, and the marriage remained childless. Martha Gräfenberg was born in 1876 in Adelebsen, a town with about 1,200 residents near Göttingen. Her father Salomon Gräfenberg (1834–1918) operated a hardware store there. Thus, he ranked among the more affluent Jews in town. From 1868 until 1882, he was the head of the Adelebsen Synagogue Community (Synagogengemeinde) and from 1889 until 1893, he served as chair of the Adelebsen municipal council. Subsequently, the family members moved to Göttingen separately.
In Oct. 1909, 33-year-old Martha relocated there as well. Two of her brothers attended high school and university: Selly Gräfenberg (1863–1921) studied Spanish and later taught as a PhD. at the University of Frankfurt/Main. Ernst Gräfenberg (1881–1957) studied medicine in Göttingen and Munich, obtaining his doctorate in 1905 and operating his own practice as a gynecologist in Berlin-Schöneberg, as well as holding a position as a chief physician at the hospital in Berlin-Britz. He was dismissed from this post in 1933 and sentenced to three years in prison on charges of currency smuggling in 1937. After his dismissal, he managed, with assistance from friends and through selling his property, to emigrate to the USA, where in the course of sex research he discovered the G-spot named after him. His brother, Hans Gräfenberg (1877–1956), managed the Michaelis & Gräfenberg women’s coats factory in Berlin.
In 1931, at the age of 56, Max Münden joined the Jewish Community. His brother Daniel Münden (see corresponding biography) held various offices in the Jewish Community since 1918 already. Anton Münden, the youngest of the three brothers, had been a member of the Community as early as 1913. Max Münden also dealt with Judaism on a literary level. For instance, he tried to establish that Goethe’s Faust was based on a fable from the Book of Job and that Goethe was thus arguing in an Old Testament or, respectively, cabbalistic way.
The family ties were close: Every Sunday, Max and Martha Münden joined Anton and Hedwig Münden and their children in Eppendorf (at Beim Andreasbrunnen 3) for supper. There, the brothers Daniel, Max, and Anton Münden (from left to right), were photographed sitting next to each other on the sofa in the smoking room, probably in 1933 (see printed biography of Anton Münden in the brochure on Eppendorf).
After his university studies, Max Münden made it a habit to borrow books from the Commerz Library. The beginning of the Nazi dictatorship saw not only the removal of undesirable books from libraries but also the new acquisition of publications conforming to Nazi ideology. It is not known just when Max Münden started reading these kinds of books as well. Documentation does exist, however, of the fact that on 29 Jan. 1936, he borrowed the following three books: Oswald Spengler, Jahre der Entscheidung (The Hour of Decision); Otto Dietrich, Mit Hitler an die Macht (With Hitler on the Road to Power), as well as Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf.
Max Münden seems to have read these books carefully, giving expression to his diverging opinion and the meagerness of the arguments developed therein in various marginal commentaries. To the author Adolf Hitler in particular, the physician Münden attested paranoia. He marked down comments to this effect on, among other places, pages 70, 279, 479, and 507. He also referred to peculiar concurrences of passages in Mein Kampf that criticized conduct hostile to the state and the very policies practiced by the Nazis in the year 1936 ("exactly like in the Third Reich”).
Apart from that, he pointed out the 38 percent of votes that the National Socialist party (NSDAP) had received in the elections. One comment by Max Münden seems almost like a summary of the entire Nazi reading material: "Within the scope of annotations, it is impossible to do adequate justice to the nonsense below.” In another comment, he pointed to the roots of Christianity, noting right in the official Nazi edificatory literature, "The entire ‘Christian’ Aryan culture is Jewish.”
After the books were returned – probably at the end of Feb. 1936 – and the handwritten criticisms discovered, the police was called in immediately. On 5 Mar. 1936, Max Münden was taken into pretrial detention. The indictment dated 6 April was followed on 16 Apr. 1936 by the verdict by the "special court” (Sondergericht) with the Hanseatic Higher Regional Court (Oberlandesgericht). The "special courts,” existing in Hamburg since 21 Mar. 1933, dealt with criminal proceedings for "sabotage of the National Socialist building process” ("Sabotage des nationalsozialistischen Aufbaus”), for "treacherous attacks against the government of the national uprising” ("heimtückische Angriffe gegen die Regierung der nationalen Erhebung”), and, since 1935, also for insulting the Nazi party, its formations, insignia, etc.
The presiding judge, regional court judge Dr. Harry Lange, as well as the associate judge, regional court judge Ernst Steinitz, sentenced Max Münden to two years in prison, since he, as charged in the indictment with nearly identical wording, "had deliberately made false statements of fact in public that are apt to do serious harm to the welfare of the Reich and to the reputation of the Reich government as well as to the National Socialist party.”
In order to refute the argument by the defendant Münden that he could no longer remember all of the details and that sometimes he acted as if in a day-dream, the forensic pathologist Dr. med. Hans Koopmann was commissioned with reviewing these claims. As one might expect, he arrived at the conclusion that Max Münden was fully accountable. On behalf of the public prosecutor’s office, assessor Romahn took part in the trial before the "special court.”
Max Münden died on 24 Sept. 1936 at 6:15 a.m. in the Bergedorf court prison, located directly behind the District Court (Amtsgericht) at Ernst-Mantius-Strasse 8. The death certificate indicates as the official cause of death "cardiac arrest.” The substance of this official document can no longer be verified.
On 15 June 1937, Martha Münden moved as a subtenant to Eppendorfer Landstrasse 36. On the second floor at that address lived her sister Gertrud Seidl, née Gräfenberg (1883–1943). Her bother-in-law, Anton Münden with his family, also lived nearby (at Beim Andreasbrunnen 3). Martha Münden was deported to the Riga Ghetto on 6 Dec. 1941. Her exact date of death is not known.
Her sister Gertrud Seidl, née Gräfenberg, had still managed to emigrated to the Netherlands before Mar. 1939, and she was deported from there to the Sobibor extermination camp on 28 May 1943. A Stolperstein in front of Isestrasse 23 commemorates her.
Translator: Erwin Fink
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.
Stand: October 2017
© Björn Eggert
Quellen: 1; 4; StaHH 332-5, Generalregister Todesfälle 1936, Standesamt 11, Nr. 179 (Sterbeurkunde Max Münden); StaHH 352-3 (Medizinalkollegium), IV C 45 (Dr. Max Münden, 1898-1911, 1936, inkl. Urteil 11 Js Sond. 306/36); Telefongespräche mit der Nichte Annelise Bunzel geb. Münden (USA), 2009; Adressbuch Hamburg 1940; Adressbuch Bergedorf 1938 (Amtsgericht); Amtliche Fernsprechbücher Hamburg 1898-1936, 1937 (Seidl); Anna von Villiez, Mit aller Kraft verdrängt. Entrechtung und Verfolgung "nicht arischer" Ärzte in Hamburg 1933 bis 1945, Hamburg 2009, S.364/365; Michael Joho (Hrsg.), St. Georg "Kein Ort für anständige Leute", Hamburg 1990, S.45 (Prostitution); Helge Grabitz /Klaus Bästlein, Justiz in der unFreien Hansestadt Hamburg, Sonderdruck der Landeszentrale für politische Bildung Hamburg, Hamburg 1993, S.22-26 (Sondergerichte); wikipedia (Ernst Gräfenberg), eingesehen am 5.1.2009; Stadtarchiv Göttingen, Einwohnermeldekarte (Gräfenberg); (Göttinger ?) Tageblatt spezial, 27.10.2007 (Ernst Gräfenberg), Adressbuch Berlin 1904, 1910 (Michaelis & Gräfenberg); Briefwechsel von Franz Rappolt (Hamburg) und seinem Sohn Ernst Rappolt (USA), 1940-1941, Brief vom 30.1.1940, Privatbesitz (Hinweis auf Familie Seidl); www.joodsmonument.nl (Gertrud Seidl, eingesehen 2.8.2009).
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