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Erna Cohn (née Müller) * 1897
Otzenstraße 3 (früher Paulstraße 3) (Altona, St. Pauli)
Anton Müller, born on 1 July 1908 in Wiesbaden, murdered on 23 Sept. 1940 in the Brandenburg/Havel euthanasia killing center
Erna Cohn, née Müller, born 12 June 1897 in Wiesbaden, deported on 6 Dec. 1941 to Riga, murdered
Egmont Max Cohn, born on 17 July 1900 in Altona, deported on 6 Dec. 1941 to Riga, murdered
Emma Müller, née Singer, born 18 Oct. 1878 in Obererlenbach, deported on 8 Nov. 1941 to Minsk, murdered
Stolpersteine in Hamburg-St. Pauli, at Otzenstrasse 3 (formerly Paulstrasse 3)
Anton Müller’s parents settled in Hamburg in 1915. His mother Emma, née Singer, born on 18 Oct. 1878, came from Obererlenbach, today part of Bad Homburg. She lived with her parents in Wiesbaden on Ober-Erlenbogengasse until her marriage in 1896 to the ten-year older Adolf Müller, born on 17 Apr. 1868 in Limbach near Chemnitz.
In Wiesbaden, Erna was born on 12 June 1897 as the oldest child, followed by Hertha on 25 Oct. 1898, and Anton on 1 July 1908. Around 1912, the Müller family relocated to Hollerich/Luxembourg. Shortly after Kurt’s birth on 6 June 1913, the family moved to Jägerstrasse 52 (today Wohlwillstrasse) in Hamburg-St. Pauli. At this address, Adolf Müller operated a trade for "department store articles” and a wholesale for wicker furniture, respectively. He had lost a lot of money abroad during the First World War. He suffered from severe depression and ended his life on 6 May 1923. The entry indicating "Emma Müller, Jägerstrasse 52, representative” in the 1931 Hamburg phone directory may suggest that henceforth Adolf Müller’s widow earned the family’s living as a "collector of subscribers.” The subletting of two rooms to a young couple with one child also contributed to the family income.
Anton Müller finished his school education at Easter 1923 at the Wahnschaffsche Schule, a private school located at Alte Rabenstrasse in the Rotherbaum quarter. His graduation diploma showed average grades. He wanted to learn a trade, but had to leave several traineeships because the apprentice’s masters did not tolerate his violent outbursts. In 1924/1925, he attended the Allgemeine Fortbildungsschule, a general further education institution at Fuhlentwiete 34 in Hamburg-Neustadt. Eventually, he worked as a messenger for a while. During this time, Anton Müller lived in his mother’s home.
In June 1926, Anton Müller caught the attention of the police when he committed exhibitionist acts toward a boy. He then became a case for public youth welfare, which in Aug. 1926 committed him to the Erziehungsanstalt für Knaben at Alsterdorfer Strasse 502 in Ohlsdorf, a boys’ reform school. There the slight Anton Müller developed so positively that in June 1927 he was placed to a farm in Wunstorf on a trial basis. However, after a few weeks, the experiment had to be stopped. Various jobs on farms followed, from which he frequently absented himself, and where he could not work with others because of his violent temper. Finally, he was sent to Wulfsdorf Estate. There, the City of Hamburg tried to employ young people in agriculture "usefully and in an educationally favorable sense.”
After placement in institutional care had been recommended for Anton for the rest of his life, he was committed to the Calmenhof youth welfare branch near Idstein (Rheingau/Hessen) in mid-1928. There, too, he performed agricultural work, mainly in the cow barn. The rather positive reports about Anton’s development contradicted his own feelings. On 6 Nov. 1929 – Anton was of age by then – he tried to take his own life. One day later, he was transferred to the closed Eichberg institution (not far from Eltville near Wiesbaden). In June 1930, he returned to Hamburg. He was admitted to the Friedrichsberg State Hospital (Staatskrankenanstalt Friedrichsberg) with a diagnosis of "congenital feeblemindedness” ("angeborener Schwachsinn”).
The attempt launched again in mid-1932 to have Anton work for a farmer was abandoned after a few days. Despite problematic diagnoses, especially because of his violent temper, the Friedrichsberg State Hospital did nothing to bring him back to the institution, instead regarding him as discharged. At this time, Anton Müller lived with his mother, who had moved to Schanzenstrasse 6 in the meantime. On 22 Apr. 1933, he was again admitted to the Friedrichsberg State Hospital, this time in an ambulance from the Stadthaus, the Hamburg police headquarters. As Anton Müller himself said, he had approached a girl indecently in order to get back to Friedrichsberg.
A criminal conviction was out of the question because Anton Müller was in a state of "pathological mental disorder” at the time of the offense (in accordance with Section 51 of the old version of the Criminal Code). On the same day, Anton Müller was transferred to the Langenhorn State Hospital (Staatskrankenanstalt Langenhorn). The measure was taken with reference to Section 22 of the Hamburg Verhältnisgesetz (i.e., Verhältnis der Verwaltung zur Rechtspflege, a law regulating the relations of the governing authority to the administration of justice), which made it possible for the police to commit him to an institution for his own protection or to maintain public order. There he was urged to apply for his castration in Jan. 1935 in order to get out of his mental distress as a result of the "overly strong sexual drive” and then to "be able to keep himself in freedom again.” According to the official medical expert opinion dated 27 Nov. 1934, castration was "absolutely justifiable, especially since considering the repeated serious suicide attempts of Müller, removal of the gonads provide a possibility to avert serious danger to the life and health of Müller.” The surgery took place on 11 Jan. 1935 in Hamburg’s Harbor Hospital.
Although Anton Müller was promised release from prison after the operation, he was not released to freedom, but remained in Langenhorn for the next few years, until he was transferred to the Strecknitz "sanatorium” in Lübeck on 9 Feb. 1939. Due to the overcrowded facilities in Hamburg, patients were repeatedly transferred there. Emma Müller was able to visit her son several times in Strecknitz. She was also authorized to take Anton home for a short leave from 7 Apr. to 12 Apr. 1939.
On 16 Sept. 1940, Anton Müller and other patients of Jewish descent were transferred back to the Langenhorn "sanatorium and nursing home.” The return of Jewish patients from Strecknitz to Langenhorn was part of a campaign across the Reich initiated by the "euthanasia” headquarters located at Berlin’s Tiergartenstrasse 4 (T4) and the Reich Ministry of the Interior in Apr. 1940. At first, all Jewish patients were registered in sanatoriums and nursing homes in the German Reich and in the so-called Ostmark (Austria); then they were concentrated in so-called "collection facilities” and subsequently murdered with carbon monoxide in several killing facilities.
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. After all Jewish patients from the North German institutions had arrived in Langenhorn, they were taken to Brandenburg/Havel on 23 Sept. 1940, together with the Jewish patients who had lived there for some time. On the same day, they were killed with carbon monoxide in the part of the former penitentiary converted into a gas-killing facility. Only one patient, Ilse Herta Zachmann, escaped this fate at first (see corresponding entry).
We do not know whether, and if so, when Emma Müller became aware of the death of her son. In all documented notices, it was claimed that the person concerned had died in Chelm (Polish) or Cholm (German). It was noted on the birth register entry of Anton Müller that his death had occurred on 4 Dec. 1940 and that the records office Chelm II had registered the death under number 579/1940. Those murdered in Brandenburg, however, were never in Chelm/Cholm, 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 postdated dates of death served to disguise the killing operation and at the same time enabled the authorities to claim higher care expenses for periods extended accordingly.
Erna and Egmont Max Cohn were assigned to the transport to Riga on 6 Dec. 1941. Their son Walter Adolf Cohn, born on 16 June 1924, survived in Britain. Probably he had left Germany in time on one of the "children transports” (Kindertransporte).
Kurt Müller, Emma Müller’s younger son, survived. He settled in the USA after his emigration.
Emma Müller’s youngest daughter Hertha married Siegbert Gumpel, who was born in Hamburg on 1 Sept. 1899. The couple settled in Berlin in 1932. With their son Werner, born on 5 Sept. 1923 in Hamburg, the family survived in Ecuador. Siegbert Gumpel remigrated after the end of the Second World War. He died on 16 Feb. 1969 in Berlin.
Translator: Erwin Fink
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.
Stand: March 2020
© Susanne Rosendahl/Ingo Wille
Quellen: 1; 4; 5; 6; 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 5351 Sterberegister Nr. 787/1923 Adolf Müller, 13460 Geburtsregister Nr. 2070 Siegbert Gumpel; 332-8 Meldewesen (Alte Einwohnermeldekartei 1892–1925), 351-11 Amt für Wiedergutmachung 3805 Emma Müller, 6613 Kurt Müller, 181078 Emma Müller; 352-8/7 Staatskrankenanstalt Langenhorn, Abl. 1/1995, 20285 Anton Müller; Standesamt Wiesbaden, Geburtsregister Nr. 1277/1908 Anton Müller; Stadtarchiv Bad Homburg, Geburtsregister Obererlenbach Nr. 18/1878 Emma Singer; UKE/IGEM, Archiv, Patienten-Karteikarte Anton Müller der Staatskrankenanstalt Friedrichsberg; UKE/IGEM, Archiv, Patientenakte Anton Müller der Staatskrankenanstalt Friedrichsberg; IMGWF Lübeck, Archiv, Patientenakte Anton Müller der Heilanstalt Lübeck-Strecknitz. Stadt Ahrensburg (Hrsg.), 750 Jahre Wulfsdorf, Ahrensburg 1988.
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