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Jonny Aljes * 1867
Schloßmühlendamm 21 (Harburg, Harburg)
Jonny Aljes, born on 25 Jan. 1867 in Harburg, admitted to the Lüneburg "Provincial Sanatorium and Nursing Home” ("Provinzial-Heil- und Pflegeanstalt” Lüneburg), "transferred” to the Herborn "State Sanatorium” ("Landesheilanstalt” Herborn) on 22 Apr. 1941, transferred further to the Hadamar "State Sanatorium” ("Landesheilanstalt” Hadamar) on 21 May 1941, murdered on 21 May 1941
Harburg-Altstadt quarter, Schlossmühlendamm 21 (formerly: Mühlenstrasse 35)
Jonny Aljes’ father was the owner of a porcelain and stoneware store on former Mühlenstrasse (today: Schlossmühlendamm), the extension of Schlossstrasse (today: Harburger Schlossstrasse) to the Sand, at that time the new city center. As a child, Jonny was able to reach Kanalplatz in Harburg’s harbor unhindered in those days, because the railway connection Harburg-Cuxhaven, which separated the old center of the town around Kanalplatz in Harburg’s harbor from the new town center at the southern end of Mühlenstrasse, was only opened in 1891.
We can assume that Jonny Aljes, when he was admitted as a patient of the Lüneburg "Provincial Sanatorium and Nursing Home,” got to know firsthand the latest treatment methods for people who suffered from these diseases. While in the first half of the nineteenth century, "lunatics” and "mentally ill” persons were still treated like lepers who could not be helped, by the end of that century, more and more doctors became convinced that such patients could be cured. Instead of locking them away behind prison walls in order to protect the majority of the population from them, special institutions were built at the beginning of the twentieth century – as was the case in Lüneburg – where the sick felt like free persons and went to work. In the orchards and vegetable gardens as well as in the many workshops of this new institution and on the pastures and fields of the nearby Wienebüttel provincial estate, there were enough suitable employment possibilities along the lines of this reorganization of therapy for the mentally ill.
After Adolf Hitler’s appointment as Reich Chancellor in Jan. 1933 and at the latest, since Dr. Max Bräuner, the new director of this institution, took office on 1 Jan. 1935, things changed on Wienebüttler Weg. Max Bräuner joined the Nazi party (NSDAP) on 1 May 1933. Two years later, he became a member of the Lüneburg "hereditary health court” (Erbgesundheitsgericht), which after passage of the Nazi "Law for the Prevention of Offspring with Hereditary Diseases” ("Gesetz zur Verhütung erbkranken Nachwuchses”) had to decide whether persons for whom public health officers had applied for sterilization were to undergo a corresponding operation. Between 1933 and 1945, 347 patients of the Lüneburg "Provincial Sanatorium and Nursing Home” were forcibly sterilized. In 1938, Max Bräuner became district representative of the "Office of Racial Policy” ("Rassenpolitisches Amt”) of the NSDAP in Lüneburg.
With the beginning of the Second World War, a further phase of aggressive population policy began, introduced without a legal basis and extended over the entire period of the war. In their work, those responsible invoked Adolf Hitler’s authorization dated 1 Sept. 1939, in which he decreed, "that ... the incurably ill may be granted mercy death upon critical evaluation.” A villa at Tiergartenstrasse 4 in Berlin became the headquarters of those in charge, which gave its name to the "euthanasia operation”: T4. From here, all German sanatoriums and nursing homes – including the Lüneburg "Provincial Sanatorium and Nursing Home” – soon received registration forms with the aim of meticulously recording the productivity of each individual patient. The documents were then sent back to the Berlin headquarters and evaluated there. Patients to be killed received a red plus sign, the others a blue minus sign.
Then, in the course of 1941, more and more "sanatoriums and nursing homes” in all parts of the German Reich received lists with the names of patients who were to be transferred to another institution in order to make room in "their” institution for "plans important to the war effort.”
At the beginning of Apr. 1941, Max Bräuner was asked to organize the transport of 122 male patients from Lüneburg to the Herborn "State Sanatorium” in Hessen. Max Bräuner also added the name Jonny Aljes to this list. The relatives were then informed of the transfer, but not of the new whereabouts.
After a long journey, the transport with the 122 patients from Lüneburg arrived at the destination. The Herborn "State Sanatorium,” similar to the Lüneburg "Provincial Sanatorium and Nursing Home,” was designed in pavilion style for 1,000 to 1,200 patients and was opened on 1 Mar. 1911 after three years of construction. The site was divided into functional zones in which were located the patient buildings, the staff buildings, the administration area, the large nursery, and a heating plant.
In 1940, the Herborn "State Sanatorium” was restructured into a so-called intermediate institution. Like many other institutions, it was assigned the task of ensuring smooth progress of the killing operation in the six large German Nazi "euthanasia” centers, because in this place, the patients were "made available” for quick transport on to the nearby killing facilities. In addition, the intermediate institutions disguised the killing program as it became more difficult for the relatives to determine the whereabouts of their relatives in view of these short-term station changes. In Herborn, the new arrivals were treated as so-called transit patients and accommodated separately from the other residents of the "state sanatorium.”
One month after their arrival in Herborn, Jonny Aljes and the other men from Lüneburg had to board special buses of the "charitable ambulance organization” (Gemeinnützige Krankentransport GmbH – GekraT), which brought them to Hadamar. They stopped in front of the local "state sanatorium,” which had meanwhile been converted into a "euthanasia” killing center. There Jonny Aljes and the others had to undress and line up naked in front of a doctor, who examined them briefly and decided, based on a list, on one of 61 false causes of death used for issuing the death certificate.
After they had been photographed again, the murder victims were taken to the basement, where the gas chamber disguised as a shower room was located. When about 60 people had entered this room, the heavy doors closed. The doctor, who had just carried out the "examination,” then went into an adjoining room and operated the gas tap. The carbon monoxide flowing in led to the suffocation of the persons locked in. The killing doctor observed the dying through a small window in the wall and turned off the gas supply when, in his opinion, all the patients were dead.
Jonny Aljes was 74 years old when he was murdered in this gas chamber on 21 May 1941. Shortly thereafter, his relatives received a forged death certificate and a so-called consolation letter in which it was pointed out that the transfer measures had to be carried out due to the current war situation.
Translator: Erwin Fink
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.
Stand: June 2020
© Klaus Möller
Quellen: Harald Jenner, Michael Wunder, Hamburger Gedenkbuch Euthanasie. Die Toten 1939 – 1945, Hamburg 2017; 100 Jahre Niedersächsisches Landeskrankenhaus Lüneburg. Niedersächsisches Landeskrankenhaus Lüneburg (Hrsg.), Lüneburg 2001, Raimond Reiter, Psychiatrie im Nationalsozialismus und die Bildungs- und Gedenkstätte `Opfer der NS-Psychiatrie´ in Lüneburg, Marburg 2005; Raimond Reiter, Psychiatrie im Dritten Reich in Niedersachsen, Hannover 1997; Heimat, Heide, Hakenkreuz. Lüneburgs Weg ins Dritte Reich, Geschichtswerkstatt Lüneburg (Hrsg.), Lüneburg 1995; Helmut Pless, Lüneburg 45, Nordost-Niedersachsen zwischen Krieg und Frieden, Lüneburg 1976; Bettina Winter `Verlegt nach Hadamar.´ Die Geschichte einer NS-‘Euthanasie´-Anstalt, Landeswohlfahrtsverband Hessen (Hrsg.), Kassel 2002; Harburger Adressbücher; http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vitos_Herborn.