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Porträt Hugo Stoltze 1941
Porträt Hugo Stoltze 1941
© Ev. Stiftung Alsterdorf

Hugo Stoltze * 1937

Hude 1 (Bergedorf, Bergedorf)

JG. 1937
"VERLEGT" 7.8.1943
ERMORDET 12.10.1943

Hugo Stoltze, b. 11.25.1937 in Hamburg, on 8.7.1943 relocated to the State Mental Hospital in Eichberg (Hesse), murdered on 10.12.1943

Hude 1

Hugo Rudolf Stoltze’s parents, Arnold Stoltze, b. 1912, und Else, née Flach, b. 1913, had married around 1934. The mother was a worker and came from Curslack in the Vier- und Marschlanden (Hamburg/Bergedorf district). The father was also a worker and born in Hamburg. The marriage ended on 25 November 1937; the mother was deemed the guilty party. Six weeks later, on 25 November 1937, Hugo Stoltze was born at home. At birth, which was uncomplicated he weighed 9.9 lbs. Hugo had a sister who was two years older. With the agreement of their father, the children remained with their mother. Hugo was a healthy baby, falling ill only once, in March 1938, with chickenpox. Thereafter, he ceased growing.

According to the records of the Youth Office from 25 August 1938, this was the result of his mother’s "completely inadequate care for the child.” Two months prior to this, Hugo was brought to the Children’s Department of the St. Georg Hospital on Baustrasse (today Hinrichsenstrasse) suffering from rickets and malnourishment; he had been cured and released straightaway. In the hospital, it was ascertained that Hugo suffered from a nutritional disorder. After finding the right diet for him, he thrived but was, to be sure, unable to hold his head up unassisted, even though he was already nine months old. Mentally, he also seemed somewhat retarded. Hugo smiled constantly in a friendly way and repititiously wrung his hands. In this condition, he was sent to the Youth Office’s infants’ home on Winterhude Weg.

After the mother had also cared poorly for the older daughter, the father made use of the "Right of Personal Custody." That meant he could alone decide where the children would be located. The daughter went to a foster home, but for Hugo no such facility was found possible. Because he could not go back to his mother, who had meanwhile become engaged to a soldier, it was decided he would go to a "provisional childcare” institution.

When Hugo was almost 15 months old, he went, on 10 February 1939, to the the Pferdeweg Children’s Home in Hamburg-Harburg. In October 1940, while still at the home, he was certified as no longer manageable "because of weak-mindedness.” He was described as calm and friendly, but mentally one or two years behind. Now three years old, he could not speak and communicated by means of babbling and screaming. His physical development was normal for a three-year old, although he ran poorly. Hugo was shifted to another environment, the Feuerbergstrasse Observational School.

In the records of the Youth Office under the date 27 April 1941, Hugo’s condition was described as follows: "Physically well-developed, mentally, however, abnormal in his responsiveness. Even the most primitive sorts of activities are impossible for him; he doesn’t know what to do with toys, throws building blocks helter skelter, and tears up picture books. He puts crayons in his mouth, etc. In group situations he has an uncommonly disturbing effect because of his excited, restless ways. He is impossible with other children, even playing a game quietly. He steals their toys, throws building blocks at them, scratches and bites. If he does not immediately get his way, he screams and yells and throws himself on the floor, enraged. He also laughs and cries without rhyme or reason. Hugo is totally dependent, cannot dress or undress himself, does not recognize his things. He does not appear to recognize the people who are constantly around him. Experiments have demonstrated that he cannot recognize people or objects. He cannot even say the word "yes,” and just utters inarticulate sounds. The smallest sort of thing can quickly make him happy; silverware awakens a special joy in him. Now and then, he soils the bed.”

At that time, the boy was categorized as "weak-minded.” Today, his condition would be judged differently. The description of the three year old might perhaps be simply that he was hypersensitive or mildly autistic. Perhaps, he was simply being overtaxed.

On 8 September 1941, Hugo Stoltze was relocated to the Alsterdorf Institute, the costs being borne by the Hamburg Social Welfare Administration. Arnold Stoltze had married again and, together with his new wife, made contact with his son. He was drafted into the German Armed Forces and died as a soldier. Hugo received a guardian.

In May 1942, when Hugo’s stepmother was staying with an uncle in Groß Garz in the Altmark [Saxony-Anhalt], she wanted to fetch Hugo in order to help his recovery. The institute rejected the request on the grounds that Hugo, despite all the difficulties he presented, was well-cared for at Alsterdorf. Moreover, there was an infectious epidemic going on that prohibited all furloughs. A general release, considering Hugo’s conditions, was out of the question.

During the great Allied air raids of July-August 1943, the Alsterdorf Institute was also damaged. The directors of the institute, with the permission of the Hamburg Health System Administration, transferred more than one hundred patients through the "euthanasia” center of Berlin to "air raid-safe” regions. The first transport of 128 children and adults left Hamburg on 7 August and was divided up between the institutes at Kalmenhof in Idstein and Eichberg in the Rheingau [Hesse]. Hugo Stoltze, along with 27 other children, was delivered to the Eichberg Psychiatric Institute. Despite the missing documentation, which the director burned shortly before the liberation of his institute by the Americans, it is nonetheless certain that Hugo Stoltze died there on 12 October 1943. It is known today that the children’s department was purely a killing operation. Its "euthanasia doctors”snuffed out the lives of those defined by the Nazis as "unworthy of life," a category which included children considered to be "weak-minded.” They allowed them to starve to death or administered lethal injections. We may, therefore, suppose that Hugo Stoltze, just six-years old, was killed at Eichberg.

Translator: Richard Levy
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.

Stand: January 2019
© Leon Mahnke, Luisa Müller

Quellen: Ev. Stiftung Alsterdorf, Archiv, V 014; Michael Wunder/Ingrid Genkel/Harald Jenner, Auf dieser schiefen Ebene gibt es kein Halten mehr, Hamburg 1987; Landesheilanstalt Eichberg,

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