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Hans-Werner Dübgen * 1909
Bethesdastraße 38 (Hamburg-Mitte, Borgfelde)
TOT AN FOLGEN 4.7.1945
Hans-Werner Dübgen, born on 12 Mar. 1909 in Hamburg, died on 4 July 1945 in the Heil- und Pflegeanstalt Mainkofen/Lower Bavaria
The end of the Second World War did not save Hans-Werner Dübgen’s life. In Nov. 1945, his family, living in their post-war accommodation in Aumühle, received news about the death of their son and brother, who had died in the Heil- und Pflegeanstalt Mainkofen, a sanatorium and nursing home in Lower Bavaria, on 4 July 1945.
Immediately prior to Hans-Werner Dübgen’s transfer from what was then the Alsterdorf Asylum (Alsterdorfer Anstalten) to Mainkofen, his family was bombed out of their home at Bethesdastrasse 38 in Borgfelde, finding accommodation initially at Bellealliancestrasse in Eimsbüttel, then near Soltau, and eventually in Brünn (today Brno in the Czech Republic), where they stayed beyond the end of the war. Up to that point, the family had maintained very close contact by means of frequent visits since Hans-Werner had fallen ill in 1925, subsequently substituting that with letters, parcels, and cash remittances channeled via the institutional director and the caregivers until their hoped-for return to Hamburg. Contact became one-sided because the institution no longer reacted, and at the beginning of Apr. 1945, Hans-Werner’s father, Nicolai Dübgen, wrote his last letter.
Nicolai Dübgen was an administrative employee of Barmbek General Hospital and married to Frieda, née Deierling. Hans-Werner was born on 12 Mar. 1909 and baptized on 13 June that same year at the Erlöserkirche (Church of the Redeemer) in Borgfelde. The family also included one daughter. Hans-Werner turned out to be a child talented in languages and the fine arts, growing up to become a shy, introverted, and dreamy adolescent.
He successfully finished the Realschule [a practice-oriented secondary school up to grade 10] on Lübecker Tor and started a commercial apprenticeship. In Aug. 1925, he suddenly went into a state of excitement, in which he believed himself to be Christ, and was admitted to Friedrichsberg State Hospital. The initial diagnosis of juvenile schizophrenia was reversed. However, Hans-Werner continued to suffer from delusions; but the doctors considered him fit for physical work. At his father’s request, he was discharged on 9 Nov. 1925 and enrolled in commercial school. He dropped out after half a year to become a violinist, giving up that training as well, however, as being too "scintillating.”
At the end of May 1926, he was admitted once again to the Friedrichsberg neurological clinic because of motor hyperactivity and delusions, staying there for three months and being discharged again at the request of his father, though "improved” only slightly. In Feb. 1927, his father put him in the von-Bodelschwingh Asylum (von-Bodelschwinghschen Anstalten) in Bethel because of his restlessness. In Mar. 1934, Hans-Werner Dübgen was examined again at Friedrichsberg and committed the following year to [the] Alsterdorf [Asylum] because of "dementia praecox,” "juvenile insanity.” ("Jugendirresein"). When admitted there on 29 Mar. 1935, he was in good physical health, with a height of 1.7 meters (5 ft. 7 in.) and a weight of 67 kilograms (148 lbs), but mentally, he proved timid, listless, and affectless. He preferred to keep to himself, talked to himself, sometimes looked surly and at other times smiled in a forced way, and neglected his personal hygiene.
The Hereditary Health Court (Erbgesundheitsgericht) scheduled a hearing for 5 Feb. 1937 to which Hans-Werner Dübgen appeared in person. He agreed to his sterilization. After implementation of the procedure, the ban on taking leave was lifted. One day, he surprised nursing staff and his parents with his independence: He did not return to his ward after his leave but went back home after his parents had dropped him off at the entrance. In 1940, Hans-Werner, by then aged 31, was declared unfit for military service. Because of his compulsion to move, he changed wards over subsequent years and was occasionally accommodated in the "observation room” (Wachsaal – a room in which patients were immobilized and underwent continuous therapy) and in the closed ward.
When in Aug. 1943 the institutional administration, in agreement with the public health authority, had occupants transported off, Hans-Werner Dübgen belonged to the transport comprised of 113 men transferred to the Heil- und Pflegeanstalt Mainkofen near Passau on 10 Aug. In his letters to the institutional management, Nicolai Dübgen expressed his concern regarding adequate food supplies, warm and Sunday clothes, and asked for a picture because all photographs had been lost during the bombing raid. The answer at the end of the year stated, "Hans-Werner is indifferent, inactive, speaks little, does not occupy himself with any activities, and keeps calm.” It is not known why Nicolai Dübgen did not visit him. He eventually supplied him with bread stamps when a ban on sending parcels was imposed in early 1945. This did no longer suffice to make up for the lack of food, not to mention the other weakening circumstances of Hans-Werner’s life, which ultimately caused him to contract tuberculosis. Hans-Werner Dübgen lived to see the end of war, though constantly losing weight and dying of tuberculosis on 4 July 1945.
The transfer back of those occupants of the former Alsterdorf Asylum transported to Mainkofen who had survived Nazi rule dragged on until the end of 1946.
Translator: Erwin Fink
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.
© Hildegard Thevs
Quellen: Ev. Stiftung Alsterdorf, Archiv, V 423; Jenner, Meldebögen, in: Wunder/Genkel/Jenner, Ebene, S. 169–178; Wunder, Abtransporte, in: ebd., S. 181–188; ders., Exodus, ebd. S. 189–236.