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Ernst Abel * 1900
Bogenstraße 5 (Eimsbüttel, Rotherbaum)
deportiert 1939 KZ Buchenwald
ermordet 07.09.1942 KZ Ravensbrück
Heinrich Johannes Ernst Abel, born 2 July 1900 in Harburg, died on 7 Sep. 1942 in Ravensbrück Concentration Camp
Erns Abel was born in Harburg on 2 July 1900 as the oldest child of the guard Hinrich Abel and his wife Emma, neé Gugel. His younger sister Emmi was later to become a married Thöne, a brother – who is said to have been bisexual – died aged 18. Ernst Abel attended elementary school in Harburg and later began a commercial apprenticeship at the trade company Wooge. Six months before the end of his apprenticeship he was dismissed because of a theft of 20 Pfennig. This issue was going to remain "obstructive for his future life” on several occasions, as said a note written by the court assistance for adults in 1934. Between spring and November 1918 he was a soldier in the First World War.
During the time of inflation, Ernst Abel tried to earn his living as a traveling salesman for smaller chocolate companies. These, however, soon went bankrupt. In 1924 he began to produce chocolate on his own with money he had borrowed. He sold this chocolate among others at the Monte Carlo - a bar for homosexuals – at St. Pauli. Due to the Great Depression his circle of customers increased and he tried to cope with the financial straits by committing smaller thefts and frauds. When the love of his life – the electrical technician Walter Wagner (born in 1904, died in 1929) - committed suicide while interned at Fuhlsbüttel prison, Ernst Abel’s life – being already far from stable – fell apart, and he gradually caught the interest of the officials. In the years between 1924 and 1934 he was accused altogether of 14 cases of fraud and sentenced to imprisonment several times, sentences varying between of a couple of days and two years and nine months. For the time between 1930 and 1937 many records can be found at the detention centre of the City of Hamburg because of his criminal activities, his homosexual predisposition, his drug addiction, and because of an attempted suicide. Today these documents bear witness to his state of mind and his life, but they also report of the invasion of his privacy back in the time. These records also contain a photo of him with an older friend "Fritz” to whom he also dedicated a poem.
In 1933/1934 he came under suspicion of homosexual predisposition, because "he was often visited by young men in the age of 20/21” while being a lodger at different places at St. Pauli and Hammerbrook. In 1934 he requested an amount higher than what he was entitled to on his withdrawal slip at the welfare office with the intent to defraud (45 instead of 9 RM), but this attracted attention and he was sentenced to two years of imprisonment and a punitive fine of 150 RM by the district court. His appeal was rejected after a graphological expert assessment, and he also failed when he later tried to achieve a resumption of proceedings at the Hanseatic Higher Regional Court in 1935. He served the sentence at the prison of Bremen-Oslebshausen until Nov. 1935. His appeal for early release was rejected.
Between Nov. 1936 and Mar. 1937 Ernst Abel began to earn money by arranging life assurances. He approached potential customers in the well-known bar for homosexuals at St. Pauli, the "Anker". This job was suddenly interrupted, however, when he was betrayed as a sexual partner by a couple among his friends to the Gestapo investigating the area of Altona on 3 Mar. 1937. The three of them had met each other for the first time the evening before at the bar "Monte Carlo” and had sex later in Ernst Abel’s room. About two years later the young male prostitute and blackmailer of homosexuals Theodor Gehring also testified against Abel during an interrogation to having masturbated together with Abel in summer 1937, but at this time Abel was already imprisoned in a concentration camp. Between 9 and 11 Mar. 1937 Ernst Abel was taken into "preventive custody” because of the "incident” with the two men and he was imprisoned at Fuhlsbüttel concentration camp. It seems that following this he was transferred to Lichtenburg concentration camp (province of Saxony at that time). A report exists noting that Ernst Abel was transferred from Lichtenburg concentration camp to the court-prison Torgau on 10 Apr. 1937 after an arrest warrant was issued against him. On 16 Apr. he was transferred from Lichtenburg concentration camp – which was since 1934 used to imprison increasing numbers of homosexual men – to the remand prison in Hamburg. In Sep. 1937 the district court of the City of Hamburg sentenced him to three years in prison, six years of loss of civil rights with subsequent preventive detention according to § 175 and because of theft, misappropriation, fraud, and forgery of documents. The sentence was reduced to one year imprisonment by the Land Court of Hamburg after an appeal hearing in Dec. 1937. While Ernst Abel served his sentence at the prison of Altona from 20 Dec. 1937 to 7 June 1938 he was not granted appeal for clemency he applied for. Things got even worse: After the sentence persecution continued in form of the National Socialist so-called "para-judiciary” ("Nebenjustiz”) of arbitrary "police preventive detention” for "professional criminals” ("Berufsverbrecher”, BV) in concentration camps. From the detention centre of Hamburg he was transferred initially to Buchenwald concentration camp where he was given prisoner number 5464, and from there he came to Flossenbürg concentration camp on 4 Nov. 1938 and was given prisoner number 323. The odyssey through all these concentration camps was meant to break the prisoners’ will and to prevent the development of closer relationships between them. For Ernst Abel it ended with his transport to Ravenbrück where he received the prisoner number 2112. 7 Sep. 1942 is recorded as his date of death there.
Since Ernst Abel‘s last freely chosen place of residence was Bogenstraße 5, a Stumbling Stone commemorates him in front of this house.
The denouncer Theodor Gehring was executed on 9 July 1942 (see also Henry Heitmann’s biography).
Translator: Paula Antonella Oppermann
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.
© Bernhard Rosenkranz(†)/Ulf Bollmann
Quellen: StaH 332-5, 13375 (Eintrag Nr. 914); 242-4 Kriminalbiologische Sammelstelle, 2; 213-11 Staatsanwaltschaft Landgericht – Strafsachen, 4874, 409/38 u. 3834/40, Blatt 389–393; 242-1 II Gefängnisverwaltung II, Ablieferungen 13 u. 16; Auskünfte der KZ-Gedenkstätte Flossenbürg, Schreiben vom 06.06.2006, der Gedenkstätte Buchenwald, Schreiben vom 02.08.2011, der Mahn- u. Gedenkstätte Ravensbrück, E-Mail vom 19.11.2011 u. von Rainer Hoffschildt, Hannover; Rosenkranz/Bollmann/Lorenz, Homosexuellen-Verfolgung, S. 17 u. 197.