Search for Names, Places and Biographies
Already layed Stumbling Stones
Gustav Schönherr * 1889
Stadthausbrücke 8 (ehemalige Gestapo-Zentrale) (Hamburg-Mitte, Neustadt)
aus dem Fenster geworfen
Gustav Adolph Schönherr, born 1 Aug. 1889 in Hamburg, died 18 Apr. 1933 at Hafenkrankenhaus hospital as a consequence of his severe injuries
Stadthausbrücke 8 (former Gestapo Headquarters)
Alter Steinweg 3 (Alter Steinweg 71)
On 6 Mar. 1933 the Hamburg State Police (officially renamed Secret State Police, abbreviated Gestapo, in Dec. 1935) were given legal capacity to take political dissidents into "protective custody” with no judicial order. Communists and Social Democrats became fair game. This led to house searches, arrests and initial interrogations carried out by the "Special Task Squad” (Kommando zur besonderen Verwendung – K.z.b.V.), who used the most brutal methods and frequently severely maltreated people. The squad was under the command of Ernst Simon, Chief of the Hamburg Order Police.
The communist and dockyard worker Gustav Schönherr was one of his first victims.
Gustav Schönherr was born at Dammtorwall 133, the son of the shoemaker Heinrich Robert Schönherr (born 6 Sept. 1864, died 11 Apr. 1948) and his wife Maria Emma, née Bibelhausen (born 12 Nov. 1861, died 28 May 1922), and he grew up with several siblings. On 16 Feb. 1924 Gustav Schönherr married the Neuhaldensleben native Ida Kullik (born 4 Dec. 1895). During the first years, the couple lived at the former Winkelstraße 13, which runs from Valentinskamp to Dammtorwall (today Emporio-Hochhaus, previously Unilever-Haus).
Under the code name Schönfelder, Gustav Schönherr operated as the main courier of the regional organization of the Red Front Fighter’s League (RFB), an illegal protection and defense organization of the Communist Party of Germany (KPD). Already during the Weimar Republic, the Hamburg Regional Court sentenced him to one year in prison for "rioting and insulting an official” due to his political activity. He served the term until 7 Aug. 1931 at the penitentiaries in Flensburg and Neumünster.
Gustav’s brother Albert August (born 19 Apr. 1888) was also politically active. He was taken into "protective custody” for the first time on 5 Apr. 1933 following a search of his apartment at Mathildenstraße 7.
Eight days later on 13 Apr., the Special Task Squad carried out a search of Gustav Schönherr’s apartment in the rear courtyard of the building at Alten Steinwegs 71. Since communist propaganda material was allegedly found at this home, he was taken to the Stadthaus for interrogation, headquarters of the Hamburg State Police. The official report stated that he threw himself out of one of the highest windows in the building at the corner of Große Bleichen and Stadthausbrücke to "escape the preliminary investigation”. Gustav Schönherr died on 18 Apr. 1933 as a consequence of his severe injuries at Hafenkrankenhaus hospital. An anonymous letter sent to state prosecutors, pastors, lawyers and other well-known figures in the summer of 1934 stated, among other things, that Gustav Schönherr did not jump from the window with the intent to kill himself as reported but was thrown out of the window following horrendous maltreatment.
Nor did Ida Schönherr believe the claim that her husband had chosen suicide. She was staying with friends when her home was searched a second time in her absence the day after her husband’s funeral. According to her own account, she was taken into custody several times for aiding and abetting the RFB until she fled to her father in Altmark. She did not return to Hamburg until after the war in Nov. 1945. Ida Schönherr died on 23 June 1972 at the age of 77.
After the death of his brother, Albert Schönherr was taken into "protective custody” on three further occasions: at Fuhlsbüttel Police Prison, at Hüttengefängnis penitentiary and at Stadthaus. He was then drafted into the Wehrmacht and survived the end of the war in Belgian captivity.
Translator: Suzanne von Engelhardt
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.
Stand: June 2020
© Susanne Rosendahl
Quellen: StaH 351-11 AfW 18321 (Schönherr, Ida); StaH 351-11 AfW 11970 (Schönherr, Gustav); StaH 351-11 AfW 10540 (Schönherr, Albert); StaH 213-11 Staatsanwaltschaft Landgericht – Strafsachen, LOO 21/37 Band 1; StaH 113-2_A II 4b; StaH 332-5 Standesämter 2713 u 840/1887; StaH 332-5 Standesämter 2202 u 3658/1889; StaH 332-5 Standesämter 2231 u 4321/1890; StaH 332-5 Standesämter 2261 u 4964/1891; StaH 332-5 Standesämter 2314 u 2212/1893; StaH 332-5 Standesämter 855 u 339/1922; StaH 332-5 Standesämter 3484 u 83/1924; StaH 332-5 Standesämter 1010 u 121/1933; Diercks: Gedenkbuch Kola-Fu, S. 34; Diercks: Dokumente Stadthaus, S. 24.