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Already layed Stumbling Stones

Porträt Uwe Hinsch, 1941
Uwe Hinsch, 1941
© Archiv Evangelische Stiftung Alsterdorf

Uwe Anton Hinsch * 1936

Eißendorfer Pferdeweg 12 (Harburg, Heimfeld)

JG. 1936
"VERLEGT" 1943
ERMORDET 17.8.1943

further stumbling stones in Eißendorfer Pferdeweg 12:
Peter Harms, Ewald Kuhlmann, Alfred Rahnert, Walter Carl Stein, Herbert Thörl

Uwe Hinsch, born on 7 Nov. 1936 in Hamburg, admitted to the Alsterdorf Asylum (Alsterdorfer Anstalten) on 28 Mar. 1940, transferred to the Eichberg Regional Mental Asylum (Landesheil- und Pflegeanstalt) on 7 Aug. 1943, murdered on 17 Aug. 1943

Eißendorfer Pferdeweg 12

Uwe Hinsch was born in Hamburg on 7 Nov. 1936 in the home of his mother’s sister. Less than seven years later, he fell victim to the "euthanasia” policy of the National Socialists.

Agnes Hinsch and Ewald Flohr, the boy’s parents, were not married, and Uwe was thus regarded as an illegitimate child. His father had originally intended to marry Agnes Hinsch, but backed away from his promise when he learned that she already had an illegitimate child, in addition to Uwe. This child was living with his grandparents at the time.

As early as 17 Nov. 1936, 10 days after his birth, the infant Uwe Hinsch was admitted to the hospital in Eppendorf with conjunctivitis. The doctors declared him to be blind. For six months they tried in vain to cure his eye condition. When he was scheduled to be released in May 1937 with his condition unchanged, Agnes Hinsch was unwilling to take her son home with her again, because her next fiancé rejected the little boy. The other relatives were also unwilling to look after him.

On 24 May 1937 Uwe Hinsch was admitted to the Harburg Children’s Home on Eißendorfer Pferdeweg. There too, the caretakers very quickly realized that he was "almost unable to see.” Despite the extreme cloudiness of his corneas, however, he could still recognize and grasp objects lying on the table in front of him, and could at least distinguish between light and darkness. His sense of hearing was intact. He could not yet keep himself clean, however, though he could walk alone and, luckily, also eat and drink without assistance. He was not particularly interested in the other children. He usually played by himself, in "a manner not appropriate to his age,” by throwing toy blocks through the room and yelling as he did so. At the age of three, he slowly began to repeat words that were said to him.

Two and one-half years later, the administrators of the home regarded it as an urgent necessity to subject Uwe Hinsch to a psychiatric examination, because they thought his presence in this home was "no longer tenable.” As a result, he was medically examined on two occasions – 1 and 13 Nov. 1939 – by the Hamburg Regional Youth Welfare Office (Landesjugendamt).

In their conclusive diagnosis at the end of the examinations, Dr. Otto Hülsemann, the chief physician at the Hamburg Youth Welfare Office, and his representative, Dr. Gräfe, stated that Uwe suffered from imbecility and severely impaired vision. His visual disorder involved a high-density clouding of the cornea. In addition, he had a "constant coarse nystagmus” in both eyes, which resulted in involuntary eye movements. Among other things, it could also happen that the little boy’s eyes danced involuntarily in various directions or that a sensation of dizziness arose.

During his stay in the children’s home, he was found to have varicella, or chicken-pox, and nasal diphtheria, and was treated for these diseases. The boy was constantly reliant on medications and special care. To treat his eye problems, a serum was dripped into his eyes several times each day. On the basis of this diagnosis, the admission of Uwe Hinsch to what was then the Alsterdorf Asylum was regarded as unavoidable.

On the genetic value scale of the Hamburg Youth Welfare Office, he was assigned to Group B. B. V., that is, persons who were "markedly inferior in terms of intelligence and character.” In an explanatory note, it was stated that this group was made up of persons – including children – "who as a result of an extremely low level of intelligence and character pose a danger to the racial community [Volksgemeinschaft] and therefore must be segregated at an early stage and held in safe custody in an economical way.”

The Regional Welfare Office agreed to act as "caretaker” and thus to absorb all costs for the accommodation and care of the child in the Alsterdorf Asylum until 1 Jan. 1945. AOK Cuxhaven, a public health insurance company, was responsible for health insurance.

On 28 Mar. 1940, after a certain waiting period, Uwe Hinsch was admitted to the Alsterdorf Asylum. Many documents and pieces of information relating to him and his family were archived there. However, they consist exclusively of written attestations penned by adults, which provide no insight into the soul of the child.

The Alsterdorf physicians confirmed the diagnosis made by the two public medical officers in Hamburg. On the basis of their findings too, Uwe Hinsch suffered from imbecility. Upon his arrival in the Alsterdorf Asylum, the boy made "quite a lively impression. He played with objects that he [was able to] reach” and "was only slightly resistant to the examination.” He was also able to say a few words. All in all, however, he nonetheless seemed to the examining physicians to be quite retarded. An additional abnormal behavior was described in the file as "habitual spasmodic turning of the head.”

Six months later, he still had to be "completely taken care of” at mealtime. After two years, some changes in his development were discernible. He continued to be lively and enjoyed playing alone and also with other children, with whom he often quarreled, however, because he took their toys away from them. He was able to eat independently but could not wash and dress himself. His linguistic skills had improved, but he was not always obedient. In addition, "[it] gave him great pleasure to be allowed to assist in small ways.” Because of his various health problems, he was frequently moved to different wards, where he was repeatedly examined and treated. Every two months, his weight was regularly recorded on a chart.

On 7 Aug. 1943 Uwe Hinsch was transferred from the Alsterdorf Asylum to the Eichberg Regional Mental Asylum in Hesse. On 17 Aug. 1943, only 10 days after his "removal,” he died there.

Unfortunately, nothing can be found in the files concerning the reasons for his transfer to Eichberg, the circumstances of his sudden death in this new location, and the communication of the sad news to his family. A subsequent analysis of the files of all those who were taken away led to the conclusion that primarily "low-level” patients had been selected for the transfers to the Eichberg Regional Mental Asylum in Eltville and the Kalmenhof Mental Asylum in Idstein. Many things remain unclear, as only the medical reports are available. The short time interval between the "discharge” of the little boy from the Alsterdorf Asylum and the day of his death supports the conjecture that he did not die accidentally of a disease but rather was murdered by the doctors in the Eichberg facility.

Uwe Hinsch is one of the 629 physically disabled, mentally ill, in some cases merely disturbed or behaviorally disordered children and adults who were deported from Alsterdorf during the Nazi era. For him and 549 other "wards,” it was a journey to their death. In 2006, a "stumbling stone doorstep” with the numbers of those deported and murdered was placed on the grounds of the present-day Alsterdorf Evangelical Foundation on Dorothea-Kasten-Straße, to mark the spot from which the buses carrying patients departed in earlier times. For some years now, many Hamburg citizens have placed roses at this spot on 8 May to commemorate these Alsterdorf victims of the National Socialists’ "euthanasia” program.

Translator: Kathleen Luft

Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.

Stand: October 2016
© Johanna Lotz/Klaus Möller

Quellen: Gedenkbuch der Evangelischen Stiftung Alsterdorf; Uwe Hinschs Patientenakte, Archiv der Evangelischen Stiftung Alsterdorf (V029); Michael Wunder, Ingrid Genkel, Harald Jenner, Auf dieser schiefen Ebene gibt es kein Halten mehr. Die Alsterdorfer Anstalten im Nationalsozialismus, Hamburg 1987; Ruth Baumann, Charlotte Köttgen, Inge Grolle, Dieter Kretzer, Arbeitsfähig oder unbrauchbar. Die Geschichte der Kinder- und Jugendpsychiatrie am Beispiel Hamburgs, Frankfurt a. M. 1994.

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