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Heinrich Sund, September 1937
© Evangelische Stiftung Alsterdorf

Heinrich Sund * 1935

Horner Landstraße 314 (Hamburg-Mitte, Horn)

JG. 1935
"VERLEGT" 1943
TOT 17.8.1943

Heinrich Willi Sund, b. 5.11.1935 in Hamburg, on 8.7.1943 sent to Kalmenhof/Idstein, death on 8.17.1943

Horner Landstraße 314

After the power transfer to Hitler and the Reichstag Fire, a great many members and sympathizers of the local Communist Association in Hamburg-Horn were imprisoned. Willi Sund belonged to this circle. He was born on 29 December 1903 in Hamburg, the son of a tram operator; he had several brothers. While they went to sea – the oldest became a First Officer – Willi Sund received training as a cabinet maker. In the cellar of his future in-laws, he established a furniture-making workshop and an apartment where he lived with Magda Neumann, who was born in Hamburg on 28 February 1907. Both had successfully attended the Bauerberg elementary school, both came from large family each, with seven children.

On 17 April 1930, their first son was born; they married three months later, and ten days after that Willi Sund was out of work. Magda Sund was a trained children’s nurse but could not find a job in her profession and worked as a cleaning lady until she lost that job because of a second pregnancy. Then her husband, who was not a Communist, was jailed for six months after he and one of his mates inflicted grievous bodily harm on two uniformed Storm Troopers, tearing them off their bicycles and pummeling them with their fists.

In her needy condition, Magda Sund received welfare support. Her welfare worker recommended an unqualified pardon for Willi. She expressed admiration for the esteem in which the wife held for her husband and the meticulousness of her housekeeping. Willi Sund was released on probation on 21 December 1933. On 31 March 1934 Magda Sund gave birth to a second son, and in the following year, on 11 May 1935, to Heinrich.

In contrast to his two brothers, Heinrich was round and plump and was slow to develop intellectually. The assumption of the pediatrician that it was a consequence of meningitis or a defective thyroid remained unconfirmed. Heinrich was fourteen months old when he was placed in the then Alsterdorf Institute for observation. Upon admittance to the children’s ward, the doctor noticed on the well cared for boy open spaces and thick scabs on his scalp. They healed completely n the following two weeks.

Heinrich was a well-behaved little patient, who let himself be fed well, and sucked his thumbs. He could neither sit nor stand nor talk. At the end of the eleven-day observation period, the doctors affirmed that Heinrich had no interaction with his surroundings; he did not even recognize his mother when awakening from sleep with twitches, crying and laughing in bewilderment. Heinrich was sent home with the recommendation to his mother that she give much time to the boy and by means of little gymnastic exercises get him to move independently.

At the age of almost two years, Heinrich was baptized on 8 April 1937 at St. Martin’s Church in Horn. His baptismal verse went:

"The Lord is my helper; I will not fear/
what can man do to me?”

Whether Heinrich was able to internalize the trust in God during his eight years of life remains an open question.

Willi Sund again found regular work. The burden of the three small children became so great for Magda Sund that the parents decided to send Heinrich back to Alsterdorf. Willi Sund wanted to bear part of the costs. In the report upon admittance it states: "In the light of the necessity for a normal development of the two healthy brothers, Heinrich is no longer tolerable at home.” The Social Welfare administration recommended the necessity of institutionalization until 30 September 1943 and assumed the costs. A follow-up ruling never occurred, for six weeks before it ran out, Heinrich was murdered.

Heinrich grew and moved himself, restlessly and aimlessly. Moreover, he seemed completely apathetic. The cause of his retardation, according to the observation diagnosis at Alsterdorf, was "microcephaly,” an abnormally small head. When he returned to the sick children’s ward at Alsterdorf on 3 September 1937, he was no longer the good child of the year before. He screamed loudly when he was not fed quickly enough, but seemed quite satisfied to be thrashing about wildly. From the sick children’s ward he was moved to the pediatric ward, but was returned in December for treatment of diphtheria. When the sisters tended to him he laughed in a friendly way. He also attempted to utter a few words. To leave him alone was not possible.

With interruptions from a few to several weeks, Heinrich spent the time until the end of 1941 in the sick ward. Boils, carbuncles, and abscesses of the sweat glands alternated with one another. At seven years of age, he was transferred from the children’s area to the "adult area” and, after an intestinal infection, yet once again to the sick ward.

At almost eight years of age in early 1943, Heinrich Sund was still a chronic "bed child," did not speak, mumbled a few sounds, and answered the doctor, when he was spoken to, with "Opa.” While he normally had lain stiffly on his back, he occasionally sat up in his bed, clutched his neighbor, and made the rocking motions typical of hospitalism.

This progress in his development was broken off by his transfer to the " Kalmenhof Psychiatric Hospital" in Idstein am Taunus.

The Alsterdorf Institute at that time was involved in the disaster medicine plans of the Reich government. Because of the destruction of Hamburg and parts of the Alsterdorf Institute in July and August of 1943, the director, Pastor Friedrich Lensch, in coordination with the Hamburg Public Health administration and the "Euthanasia” Center in Berlin ("T4” after its address Tiergartenstrasse 4), decided to transfer several hundred residents to regions less endangered by air raids.

Heinrich Sund left Hamburg on 7 August 1943 in a transport of 128 children and men, of which 52 were boys between two and twelve years of age designated for Kalmenhof; the remainder went to the Eichberg Asylum. The transport was run by Gekrat, the Public Utility Transport Company, a sub-organization of T4, with escorting Alsterdorf personnel. The trip began with the notorious gray busses to the Langenhorn freight depot, where the patients boarded, that is, were loaded on the train. Pastor Lensch accompanied them to this point. In Limburg, the coach marked for Idstein was uncoupled and arrived the following morning at Kalmenhof.

Kalmenhof was established in 1888 as an institute for the mentally disadvantaged and had earned a good reputation as a pedagogically progressive establishment. In 1939, however, it had been integrated into the T4 Action "euthanasia” program. After the cessation in August 1941, there was established a "Specialized Children’s Department” of the "Reich Committee for the Scientific Recording of Genetic and Congenitally-Related Serious Illnesses.” Without appropriate reporting procedures, observation and evaluation standing in the way, the attending physician, Mathilde Weber, killed many of the children with overdoses of morphine or scopolamine, among them Heinrich Sund.

Ten days after his transfer, he died allegedly of "abnormal mental excitement (erythrism), feeble-mindedness, an eating disorder, severe undernourishment." In the death register of the registry office his name and date of birth were given, his home "Idstein Kalmenhof,” as well as the – false – causes of death; his birthplace and the name of his parents were considered unknown. This is at least a last trace of Heinrich Sund – not all those murdered in Kalmenhof were ever registered. Presumably, Heinrich was buried in the cemetery, in land behind the Institute.

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

Stand: January 2019
© Hildegard Thevs

Quellen: Evangelische Stiftung Alsterdorf, Archiv, V 82 und Erbgesundheitskartei; Stadtarchiv Idstein, E-Mails 4. und 5. Mai 2011; Wunder, Michael, Ingrid Genkel, Harald Jenner, Auf dieser schiefen Ebene gibt es kein Halten mehr. Die Alsterdorfer Anstalten im Nationalsozialismus, 2. Aufl. Hamburg 1988.

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