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Bernhard Benedix * 1884

Bismarckstraße 90 (Eimsbüttel, Eimsbüttel)

JG. 1884
"VERLEGT" 23.9.1940
ERMORDET 23.9.1940

Bernhard Benedix, born on 29 Apr. 1884 in Hamburg, murdered on 23 Sept. 1940 in the "euthanasia” killing center in Brandenburg/Havel

Stolperstein in Hamburg-Hoheluft-West, at Bismarckstrasse 90

Bernhard Benedix was born in Hamburg’s Rotherbaum quarter at Bundesstrasse 50. The parents, the livestock commissioner (a merchant who sold livestock in his own name for a third party’s account in return for a commission) Joseph Benedix and his wife Sara, née Peine, were of the Jewish faith. Bernhard had an older sister, Clara, born on 10 Dec. 1882, and two brothers: Selig, born on 12 Oct. 1886, and Max Moses, born on 14 May 1890, who was given the sole first name of Max.

Bernhard was 16 years old when his father died on 4 Aug. 1900. Nevertheless, the family was able to provide him with a qualified education as a chemist and technician. On 28 Aug. 1912, he married Bertha Albertine Marie Quaas, born in Hannover, Germany on 16 Sept. 1891. Bertha Quaas, daughter of a conductor living in Dresden, belonged to the Lutheran denomination. At the time of the wedding, she lived in Hamburg at Rappstrasse 3.

Already at the age of 21, Bernhard Benedix ran an agency and commission business. It is unclear whether he was able to benefit from his training as a chemist and technician. The enterprise was entered in the company register. Bernhard Benedix was thus a fully qualified merchant and, according to the directory, also a member of the Association of the "Honorable Merchant.” In 1912, his private address was first located at Werderstrasse 6 in Harvestehude. With his business, he was based at Amelungstrasse 6 in Hamburg-Neustadt, at times parallel at Grindelberg 18 in Harvestehude, and later at Bismarckstrasse 90 in Hoheluft-West. At times, the residential and business addresses were identical.

Bernhard Benedix’ marriage remained childless and was divorced after eleven years on 27 Nov. 1923.

In 1926 or 1927, Bernhard Benedix became a patient of the psychiatric Friedrichsberg State Hospital (Staatskrankenanstalt Friedrichsberg) for the first time. In Feb. 1928, the Hamburg District Court (Amtsgericht) declared him incapacitated. By this point at the latest, he could no longer manage his company himself. It was probably sold in 1929 to M. Ch. Benzimra, who is identified as the owner in the 1930 directory.

From Bernhard Benedix’ patient file card of the Friedrichsberg State Hospital we know that he was admitted to Friedrichsberg twice more, in 1929/1930 and 1931. At times, he was also accommodated in the Oberaltenallee care home. The subsequent admission to the Hamburg-Langenhorn State Hospital on 18 Jan. 1935 was based on a referral from Friedrichsberg with the diagnosis of "schizophrenia.”

During the admission procedure in Langenhorn, Bernhard Benedix called himself a "freethinker.” Apparently, he had given up Jewish religious affiliation. The Langenhorn admission form contains the occupational designation of "merchant.”

On 20 Mar. 1935, the "hereditary health court” (Erbgesundheitsgericht) ruled that Bernhard Benedix should be sterilized. The basis was the "Law for the Prevention of Offspring with Hereditary Diseases” ("Gesetz zur Verhütung erbkranken Nachwuchses”) dated 14 July 1933, which served the Nazi German Reich to enforce its idea of racial hygiene by "making infertile” any persons allegedly deemed to be "patients suffering from hereditary diseases.” Apparently, Bernhard Benedix opposed this decision, because on 6 June 1935 a "hearing” of the "higher hereditary health court” took place in the Langenhorn State Hospital. His resistance was unsuccessful. On 9 July 1935, the Hamburg Public Health Department ordered him by ultimatum to have the procedure performed within two weeks at the Eppendorf University Hospital. At the same time, he was threatened that "the operation might also be performed against your will if necessary.” Sterilization took place after Bernhard Benedix was admitted to the Hamburg-Eppendorf University Hospital on 29 July 1935.

Back in Langenhorn, he was described as so quarrelsome that he had to be temporarily "embedded” ("eingebettet”), according to the patient file. "Embedding” was a method of immobilization in which patients were forcibly held in bed. In the period following, Bernhard Benedix seems to have surrendered to his fate. In 1939, he was regarded as a "useful, diligent worker.” And further, "Nothing noteworthy in the ward lately.”

Probably the evaluation as a "useful, diligent worker” on 11 Dec. 1939 led to his transfer to the Düssin Estate in Western Mecklenburg. The city of Hamburg had bought the estate at the end of 1938. In Düssin, 220 persons with a mental disability or mental illness were accommodated; in addition to Bernhard Benedix, six other people of Jewish descent who had to perform farm work there. On 13 or 14 Sept. 1940, all patients of Jewish descent had to return to Langenhorn.

This return was part of a nationwide operation initiated by the planning and administration center for the Nazi patient murders at Tiergartenstrasse 4 (T 4) and the Reich Ministry of the Interior in Apr. 1940. Within this framework, all Jewish patients were first registered in "sanatoriums and nursing homes” in the German Reich and in the "Ostmark” (Nazi designation for Austria), then concentrated in so-called collection institutions, and eventually murdered with carbon monoxide in several killing facilities. In the Hamburg-Langenhorn "sanatorium and nursing home” ("Heil- und Pflegeanstalt” Hamburg-Langenhorn), 136 mentally disabled and mentally ill patients of Jewish descent from institutions in Hamburg, Schleswig-Holstein, and Mecklenburg were assembled. On 23 Sept. 1940, they were transported to Brandenburg/Havel, where they were murdered with gas on the same day in a part of the former penitentiary converted for the purpose. Only Ilse Herta Zachmann escaped this fate at first (see corresponding entry).

On the birth register entry of Bernhard Benedix, it was noted that the records office Chelm II registered his death under the date of 3 Dec. 1940 and number 575/1940. On 12 Feb. 1941, his guardian received a notification from the "Chelm lunatic asylum, post office Lublin” that Bernhard Benedix had died of cerebral swelling. However, those murdered in Brandenburg were never in Chelm (Polish; in German: 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.

Bernhard Benedix’ sister Clara owned several valuable properties. She was able to leave Germany in time, but lost her fortune and German citizenship in the process. She lived under her married name of Clara Müller in the USA. The fate of brother Selig Benedix is uncertain. Neither in the Memorial Books nor in the victim database of Yad Vashem can his name be found. The youngest of the four Benedix children, Max, emigrated to Belgium and then on to France. There he was arrested, interned in Drancy near Paris, deported to Auschwitz on 14 Aug. 1942, and probably murdered there. Although Max Benedix’ birthplace, the small Bornstrasse 1 (today Heinrich-Barth-Strasse), is the only address known in connection with him, his Stolperstein was laid at Bismarckstrasse 90 next to that of his brother Bernhard, in the spirit of common commemoration.

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

Stand: June 2020
© Ingo Wille

Quellen: 1; 4; 5; 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); 314-15 Oberfinanzpräsident F 21 Gertrud und Natalie Benedix; 332-5 Standesämter 7935 Sterberegister Nr. 1975/1900 Joseph Benedix, 8683 Heiratsregister Nr. 280/1912 Bernhard Benedix/Marie Quaas, 8973 Geburtsregister Nr. 384/1883 Benedix Clara, 8986 Geburtsregister Nr. 1697/1894 Bernhard Benedix, 9015 Geburtsregister Nr. 4666/4666 Selig Benedix; 9054 Geburtsregister Nr. 630/1890 Max Moses Benedix; 351-11 Amt für Wiedergutmachung 7519 Müller Clara, 11605 Müller Clara; 352-8/7 Staatskrankenanstalt Langenhorn Abl. 1/1995 Aufnahme-/Abgangsbuch Langenhorn 26.1.39–23.9.40, Abl. 1/1995 21094 Bernhard Benedix; 371-19 Behörde für Wirtschaft und Verkehr (Wirtschaftsbehörde) 2001 Düssin; 522-1 Jüdische Gemeinden 696 d Geburtsregistereintrag Nr. 40/1849 Sara Peine; UKE/IGEM, Archiv, Patienten-Karteikarte Bernhard Benedix der Staatskrankenanstalt Friedrichsberg.
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