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Robert Wedeking * 1897
Billhorner Mühlenweg Ecke Billhorner Kanalstraße (Hamburg-Mitte, Rothenburgsort)
Robert Wedeking, b. 10.15.1897 in Harburg, died on 8.27.1944 in the Mainkofen "Medical and Nursing Home”
Billhorner Mühlenweg/Billhorner Kanalstraße (Billhorner Canalstraße 30)
Robert Wedeking‘s mother, the factory worker Bertha Prawit, from Königsberg, East Prussia, married her child’s father on 4 June 1898 in Hamburg and moved in with him. On 26 October 1901, she had Robert baptized at the Trinity Church in Hamburg-Hamm. He attended primary school for eight years and then finished a mechanic’s apprenticeship. During the First World War, he operated an artillery shell lathe for a year. A year later he was for a short time a drill press operator at Blohm & Voss and then was jobless, unable to find a new position.
Robert Wedeking’s personality underwent a change. He isolated himself, was inclined to actions that, in view of his environment, were senseless and immoral; from time to time he became disoriented. This led to his being committed to the Friedrichsberg State Hospital in the summer of 1933. According to the doctors there, a cure was not to be expected; he was therefore sent to the Alsterdorf Institute on 22 March 1935. The costs were met by the Welfare System of the City of Hamburg. At the time of his admission, according to the report, Robert Wedeking seemed to be uninterested, was, however, appropriately oriented in time and space, could communicate verbally, although slowly and reluctantly. He was assigned to light outdoor tasks, however, frequently separated himself from the work column and roamed the countryside.
Meanwhile, his mother had died, but his father and sister Helene showed concern for Robert, fetched him home occasionally on furlough. As a so-called day pass inmate, he was induced to undergo compulsory sterilization. As was the custom, had he refused, he would have been threatened with an end to his furloughs. With Robert Wedeking the intervention was carried out in the summer of 1938 in the university clinic in Eppendorf.
In 1941, because of the prolongation of his care and the responsibility for its costs, a new document for the Social Administration was necessary. Now Robert Wedeking was declared to be schizophrenic. He was in good physical condition, easy-going with other patients, completed small household tasks, occasionally had hallucinations, was slow and lacking in motivation, although also compulsive and, only when controlled, was he clean and orderly. With the extensive destruction of Hamburg in air raids at the end of July and beginning of August 1943, his life took a dramatic turn. His sister lost her home and all her possessions in the "fire storm” and was evacuated to the vicinity of Graudenz. The siblings did not see each other again. Robert died on 27 August 1944 in the Mainkofen "Medical and Nursing Home” near Passau (Bavaria), before his sister was able to visit him there.
The Alsterdorf Institute itself suffered bomb damage. In order to create space, and in collaboration with the Public Health authorities, within a week, 469 individuals designated by the institution’s directory were sent to four state mental and nursing facilities: Eichberg near Eltville in the Rheingau; Kalmenhof in Idstein/Taunus; Mainkofen in Lower Bavaria, and Vienna. Robert Wedeking reached Mainkofen along with 112 males of all ages on 10 August 1943. A year later he allegedly died there of tuberculosis. His sister was informed by letter of her brother’s death and burial in the institution’s cemetery. Robert Wedeking was 45 years old.
Translator: Richard Levy
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.
Stand: May 2019
© Hildegard Thevs
Quellen: Ev. Stiftung Alsterdorf, Archiv, V 450; Jenner, Meldebögen; Wunder, Abtransporte; ders., Exodus.