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Porträt Bertha Hecht, ca. 1926
Bertha Hecht, ca. 1926

Bertha Hecht * 1895

Palmaille 1 (Altona, Altona-Altstadt)

JG. 1895
"VERLEGT" 23.9.1940
ERMORDET 23.9.1940

Bertha Hecht, born on 28 Aug. 1895 in Altona, murdered on 23 Sept. 1940 in the "State Asylum” ("Landes-Pflegeanstalt”) in Brandenburg/Havel
Stolperstein in Hamburg-Altona-Altstadt at Palmaille 1 (formerly Breitestrasse 177)

Charlotte Hecht, born on 8 Feb. 1893 in Altona, deported on 25 Oct. 1941 to Lodz/Litzmannstadt, murdered
Stolperstein in Hamburg-Harvestehude at Isestrasse 79

Jacob Hecht, born on 18 Oct. 1896 in Altona, murdered on 25 Mar. 1942 in the Gross-Rosen concentration camp
Stolperstein in Hamburg-Harvestehude at Beim Schlump 9

Flora Gaden, née Hecht, born on 3 Nov. 1897 in Altona, suicide on 16 July 1942
Stolperstein in Hamburg-Rotherbaum at Bundesstrasse 43 (planned)

Bertha Hecht was the third of seven children of the Jewish couple Hermann Hersch and Rywka (Regine) Hecht, née Waldmann.

The couple held Austrian citizenship. They had immigrated around 1890 from Lemberg (today Lviv in Ukraine) to Altona. Hermann Hersch Hecht was an accountant by profession. In Altona, he worked in his field and as a "footwear agent,” i.e., as a footwear representative.

Before Bertha, Josef Hecht was born on 10 Dec. 1887, probably in Lemberg, and Charlotte Hecht on 8 Feb. 1893 at 1st Mühlenstrasse 33 in Altona. After her, Jacob Hecht was born on 18 Oct. 1896, Flora Hecht on 3 Nov. 1897, Rosalie Hecht on 25 Feb. 1899, and finally, Lea Hecht on 23 Aug. 1901 at Palmaille 1. Lea died the day after she was born.

Bertha Hecht completed school up to first grade (at that time the highest grade). She was a good student. She then worked first as a housemaid and subsequently as an office clerk for several years. With the naturalization of her father in Nov. 1915, she acquired Prussian citizenship, as did the entire family.

Until 1922, Bertha Hecht was certainly regarded as headstrong, but completely healthy. Then she changed and to her relatives seemed depressed at times. She experienced states of agitation, which increased to violence against family members. When she imagined that she was married and that she had many children, she was admitted to the psychiatric ward of Altona Hospital on 4 Oct. 1925. One month later, on 4 November, she was sent to the Israelite Sanatorium and Nursing Home for Patients with Nervous Diseases and Emotional Disorders (Israelitische Heil- und Pflegeanstalt für Nerven- und Gemütskranke), the Jacoby’sche Anstalt in Bendorf-Sayn near Koblenz, because – as the argument went – the hospital no longer wanted to supply her with rations. After five months, on 16 Apr. 1926, Bertha Hecht returned to Altona Hospital. With the diagnosis of "simple psychological disorder” ("einfache Seelenstörung”), the hospital justified the necessity of her admission to the Provincial Sanatorium and Nursing Home (Provinzial-Heil- und Pflegeanstalt) in Neustadt in Holstein, which was carried out on 24 Apr. 1926.

Bertha Hecht’s father tried to maintain contact with his daughter and inquired about her condition. The brothers and sisters were also concerned about Bertha’s well-being. In Aug. 1927, Bertha was taken on leave by relatives and returned to the institution six days later.
Bertha’s mother passed away on 17 Feb. 1928. When Bertha’s father died on 28 Jan. 1936 in the Israelite Retirement Home (Altenhaus) at Blücherstrasse 20 in Altona, Jacob Hecht, one of the brothers, took over the guardianship of his sister. In March, he complained angrily to the directorate of the Neustadt institution about the failure to reply to a letter dated 26 Feb. 1936: "I can describe it by all means as the most elementary thing that when I ask to be informed about the life, activities, and treatment of my sister in the home there. If your behavior does not change, I can show you my unpleasant side and thereupon you will be banging your head against a brick wall in any case.” Further entries are missing in Bertha Hecht’s patient file from Neustadt. She was accommodated there until 1940.

In the spring/summer of 1940, the "euthanasia” headquarters in Berlin, located at Tiergartenstrasse 4, planned a special operation aimed against Jews in public and private sanatoriums and nursing homes. It had the Jewish persons living in the institutions registered and moved together in what were officially so-called collection institutions. The Hamburg-Langenhorn "sanatorium and nursing home” ("Heil- und Pflegeanstalt” Hamburg-Langenhorn) was designated the North German collection institution. All institutions in Hamburg, Schleswig-Holstein, and Mecklenburg were ordered to move the Jews living in their facilities there by 18 Sept. 1940.

Bertha Hecht arrived in Langenhorn on 13 Sept. 1940. Her patient file contains a note indicating, "13 Sept. 1940 discharged uncured to Langenhorn by order of the Reich Minister of the Interior.”

After all Jewish patients from the North German institutions had arrived in Langenhorn, they were taken to Brandenburg/Havel on 23 Sept. 1940, together with the Jewish patients who had lived there for some time, on a transport comprised of 136 persons overall. On the same day, they were killed with carbon monoxide in the part of the former penitentiary converted into a gas-killing facility. Only one patient, Ilse Herta Zachmann, escaped this fate at first (see corresponding entry).

In the birth register entry of Bertha Hecht, it was noted that the records office Chelm II had registered her death under number 311/1941 on 10 Feb. 1941. Those murdered in Brandenburg, however, were never in Chelm (Polish) or Cholm (German), 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.

Other members of the Hecht family perished in the Holocaust.
Like her sister Bertha, Charlotte Hecht worked as an office clerk. She had been unemployed since 30 Sept. 1937 and changed her address several times. In the very end, she lived at Isestrasse 79 with the widow H. Kuppermann. There she received the deportation order and had to report to the former Masonic Lodge on Moorweidenstrasse. Charlotte Hecht was deported to the "Litzmannstadt” (Lodz) Ghetto on 25 Oct. 1941 with a total of 1034 Jews. For Charlotte Hecht, a Stolperstein is located at Isestrasse 79 in Hamburg.

Jacob Hecht worked as a commercial agent. His last known address was Beim Schlump 9. He was arrested during the "June operation” ("Juni-Aktion”) in 1938 and imprisoned in the Fuhlsbüttel police prison. From 23 June to 21 Dec. 1938, he was held in the Sachsenhausen concentration camp. After his release, he fled to Belgium in 1939, but from 21 Sept. 1940 onward, he was again detained in the Sachsenhausen concentration camp. From there, he was taken to the Gross-Rosen concentration camp on 9 Sept. 1941, where he perished on 25 Mar. 1942. He is commemorated by a Stolperstein at Beim Schlump 9.

Flora Hecht married the Protestant Arthur Gaden, a merchant, on 12 Aug. 1922. The marriage was divorced in 1936. The reasons for the divorce have not been handed down. Flora suffered greatly under the persecution measures of the Nazi government. She took an overdose of sleeping pills in her apartment at Bundesstrasse 43 and died early on 16 July 1942 in the Jewish Hospital at Johnsallee 54. A Stolperstein is planned for her in Hamburg-Rotherbaum at Bundesstrasse 43.

Rosalie Hecht married the non-Jewish commercial clerk Walter Hansen on 14 Jan. 1933. The marriage was already divorced on 8 Jan. 1934 – for racial reasons, as Rosalie Hansen later explained. In the very end, she lived at Schulterblatt 84a with Sasse and was deported to Riga on 6 Dec. 1941. Rosalie Hansen survived the concentration camp and declared in lieu of an oath in 1950, "I was in the Riga concentration camp until Nov. 1944, then we went with the SS on transit to Thorn [today Torun in Poland]. There we were quartered in Fortress 13. We were there until December, then we came to the suburb of Thorn into a camp. We stayed there until about 22 Jan. 1945. Subsequently, we were driven on foot across the Weichsel [Vistula] and arrived in Bromberg [Bydgoszcz] on about 25 January. In a village near Bromberg, the SS abandoned us and we were freed by the Russians. Because this was a war zone, we could not be taken away at first and stayed there for six weeks. Then we were transported by a Russian hospital train to Lublin, where we arrived on 24 February. From Lublin we went to Kattowitz [Katowice], from Kattowitz to Prag [Prague], from Prag to Karlsbad [Karlovy Vary], from Karlsbad to Leipzig, from there to Berlin and from Berlin, after transit through Segeberg, to Hamburg, where we arrived on 29 Oct. 1945.”

Her claims for restitution were rejected "because the applicant neither proved her legitimacy as an heir nor provided any information to substantiate these claims for restitution.”

Bertha Hecht’s brother Joseph had come to Altona with his parents. He took part in the First World War. We have no information about his subsequent fate.

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

© 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); 332-5 Standesämter 5370 Sterberegister Nr. 278/1928 Rywka Hecht geb. Waldmann, 5247 Sterberegister Nr. 1802/1901 Lea Hecht, 5402 Sterberegister Nr. 318/1936 Hersch Hecht, 6290 Geburtsregister Nr. 2604/1895 Bertha Hecht, 6301 Geburtsregister 3274/1879 Anna Flora Hecht, 6279 Geburtsregister Nr. 489/1893 Charlotte Hecht, 6296 Geburtsregister Nr. 3198/1896 Jacob Hecht, 8180 Sterberegister Nr. 337/1942 Flora Gaden geb. Hecht, 13002 Geburtsregister 616/1899 Rosalie Hecht, 13678 Geburtsregister Nr. 2435/1901 Lea Hecht, 13953 Nr. 19/1933 Heiratsregister Hansen/Hecht; 351-11 Amt für Wiedergutmachung 22608 Charlotte Hecht, 22513 Rosalie Hansen; K 4446 Meldekartei der Stadt Altona, hier: Hermann Hersch und Berta Hecht; Landesarchiv Schleswig LAS Abt. 377 Nr. 802 Patientenakte Bertha Hecht. Schabow, Dietrich, Die israelitische Heil und Pflegeanstalt für Nerven- und Gemütskranke in Bendorf (Jacoby’sche Anstalt, 1869–1942) und die spätere Verwendung der Gebäude, in: Rheinisches Eisenkunstguss-Museum (Hrsg.), Die Heil- und Pflegeanstalten für Nerven- und Gemütskranke in Bendorf, Bendorf-Sayn 2008, S. 55–95.
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