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Robert Behr * 1901

Lübecker Straße 101 (Hamburg-Nord, Hohenfelde)

Flucht in den Tod 18.01.1944

Robert Carl Emil Behr, born on 19 Dec. 1901 Hamburg, suicide on 18 Feb. 1944 in the Hamburg pretrial detention center

Lübecker Strasse 101 (formerly Lübecker Strasse 103/105, house no. 8)

On 22 June 1943, Robert Behr voluntarily appeared at the 24th Office of the Criminal Investigation Department (24. Kriminalkommissariat), a section responsible for investigating "homosexual offenses,” because a police officer had asked his landlady about him during his absence in May. He stated that he was "very nervous these days” and wanted to know the reason for the visit. He was not told. When questioned, however, he admitted during this conversation that he had masturbated with one man twice in the spring. As a result, Robert Behr, who had been previously convicted in a similar matter, unnecessarily "sent himself to his own doom,” since the police had long since stopped that investigation. The police assumed that these were acts relating to a trial in which judgment had been passed in 1939. Due to the self-accusation with recent incidents, a new case file was started and Robert Behr was immediately arrested.

Robert Behr was born in 1901 in the St. Georg quarter at Alexanderstrasse 61, the son of a baker and later bakery manager of the same name and his wife Frieda, née Schleyer. Like his parents, he was baptized a Lutheran. After his regular schooling, he first worked at the Hamburg War Supply Office and then received commercial training at an import and export company. Later employers were trade union, church, and municipal institutions. During the economic crisis, he was temporarily affected by unemployment. From the First World War until the death of his parents, he lived together with them in a terrace apartment at Lübecker Strasse 103/105, and later in the same apartment as the subtenant of an elderly woman.

Since age 21, he was aware of his homosexual disposition. For this reason, he came into conflict with the law for the first time in Dec. 1933 and was fined 50 RM (reichsmark) by the Hamburg District Court (Amtsgericht) for "battery and assault of an SA man.” In Apr. 1939, he was arrested again for performing homosexual acts and held from 28 Apr. to 3 May 1939 under more severe conditions during police interrogations in the Fuhlsbüttel concentration camp, before entering regular pretrial detention. In June 1939, the court of lay assessors (Schöffengericht) in Hamburg subsequently sentenced him to an eight-month prison term under Section 175 for "continued sexual offenses” ("fortgesetzter Unzucht”), which he served in the prisons of Altona and Fuhlsbüttel from June to Nov. 1939. A month of his punishment was remitted by means of a pardon. Following his imprisonment, in Jan. 1940 he immediately found employment again as a commercial employee in a reinforced concrete construction company, for which he also worked temporarily in the northern Norwegian town of Narvik.

Robert Behr carried out the homosexual acts described in the course of his self-accusation in May 1943 with unknown men late in the evening in public restrooms: in January, on Heidenkampsweg and in February, on Lange Reihe. Already during his confession he asked for his "castration” because he had a "strong homosexual disposition.” After his arrest in June 1943, he was first held in police custody in the Hütten police prison located downtown, and one day later, he was committed to pretrial detention. From there, on the same day, he filed "already in advance” an application for "castration,” which he withdrew in July, however, because he did not want to become "incapacitated for military service” and thus unemployed. After all, his last employer, who worked on behalf of the Wehrmacht in Norway, wished to keep him employed even after a prison sentence.

During his pretrial detention in July 1943, his apartment was destroyed in the heavy air raids, and he was not granted a short-term prison leave to settle private matters.

The verdict passed in summary proceedings on 10 Sept. 1943 by the Hamburg District Court provided for a prison sentence of one year, taking into account the period of pretrial detention, and promised a "merciful remission of a partial sentence” if castration was still to be carried out. After the verdict, Robert Behr again filed such an application in order to withdraw it only one month later, in Oct. 1943, because he wanted "to be treated and healed by a neurologist.”

During subsequent punitive detention, which Robert Behr served in the building of the pretrial facility on Holstenglacis, he was described as inconspicuous, albeit also melancholic. During a regular work assignment in the afternoon of 18 Feb. 1944, Robert Behr took his own life by hanging himself from a window cross in a material room. The prison doctor assumed that he had taken his own life out of desperation that "his relatives no longer wanted to have anything to do with him.” Later, his personal effects, including a seal ring, were handed over to his uncle Rudolf Schleyer from Rellingen near Pinneberg.

In front of the approximate location of Robert Behr’s last residence at the intersection of Lübecker Strasse 101 and Wandsbeker Stieg, a Stolperstein commemorates his fate.

Translator: Erwin Fink
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.

Stand: December 2019
© Bernhard Rosenkranz (†)/Ulf Bollmann

Quellen: AB Hamburg; StaH, 213-8 Staatsanwaltschaft Oberlandesgericht – Verwaltung, Ablieferung 2, 451 a E 1, 1 d; 213-11 Staatsanwaltschaft Landgericht – Strafsachen, 907/44; 242-1 II Gefängnisverwal-tung II, Ablieferungen 12, Behr und 13, sowie Signatur 10897; 332-5 Standesämter, 13556 (Eintrag Nr. 2590); 352-12 Gesundheitsbehörde – Sonderakten, Ablieferung 1999/1, Behr; B. Rosenkranz/U. Bollmann/G. Lorenz: Homosexuellen-Verfolgung in Hamburg 1919–1969. Verlag Lambda Edition, Hamburg 2009, S. 200.

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