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Günther Frühling
© StaHH

Günther Frühling * 1911

Breitenfelder Straße 1 (Hamburg-Nord, Hoheluft-Ost)

JG. 1911
ERMORDET 24.2.1944

Günther Frühling, born on 13 Oct. 1911, died on 24 Feb. 1944 at the Meseritz-Obrawalde euthanasia killing center

Breitenfelder Strasse 1

Johannes Alfred Günther Frühling was born in Hamburg on 13 Oct 1911 as the son of Christian Frühling, organist of the Lutheran Christ Church (Christuskirche) in Othmarschen, and Luise, née Kohlmeier. He had a younger brother as well as four half-siblings from his father’s first marriage.

At the age of 13, he sustained a fall from five meters. Since that time epileptic seizures plagued him, a condition from which his father had also suffered in his younger years.
After attending the eight-grade elementary school (Volksschule), he began training as a mechanical engineer, having to stop the apprenticeship after breaking a leg and more epileptic seizures. He was unable to complete an apprenticeship as a sales assistant due to the bankruptcy of two training companies. Since his seizures frequently led to injuries, in Apr. 1932 his parents had him admitted to the Bethel sanatorium and nursing home (Heil- und Pflegeanstalt Bethel) near Bielefeld, from which he was discharged as "improved” after just under half a year. His patient’s medical record contained a note indicating that he was still "childlike naïve” and a "weak person.” At the age of eight, he had apparently been seduced by a 40-year-old man to have homosexual intercourse; according to the file, he looked "with enjoyment at naked children, especially boys,” and found sexual satisfaction in that. In 1934, Günther Frühling was sterilized at Eppendorf Hospital.

After his stay at Bethel, he changed his occupational direction to the musical field, successfully completing training in piano and horn. Based on this training, he worked for a short time as a stand-in for the orchestra of the Volksoper on the Reeperbahn, also playing for nearly a year in an honorary capacity in the band of the Reich Air Defense League (Reichsluftschutzbund). More long-term employment failed due to his epilepsy, causing him to be dependent on his parents financially. Frühling was a member of the Reich Music Chamber (Reichsmusikkammer).

In 1939, after rumors circulated in the neighborhood of Günther Frühling, by then aged 27, that he was "approaching” boys, he was summoned for questioning by the Criminal Investigation Department to the Stadthaus on 13 Mar. 1939. To police, Frühling admitted a one-time sexual contact with his childhood friend of the same age in 1935 or 1936. Moreover, for the years from 1934 to 1938, he described four incidents with boys between ten and 14 years of age: without any exertion of force, he had asked them to expose their genitals, though he had not touched them in every case.

Following this confession, he was arrested immediately and taken to the pretrial detention facility. Frühling was charged pursuant to Secs. 175, 175a Item 3 and 176,1 Item 3 of the Reich Criminal Code (RStGB – Reichsstrafgesetzbuch). According to experts’ reports prepared by medical doctors and by the "Investigative Assistance for Criminal Justice” (Ermittlungshilfe für Strafrechtspflege), Günther Frühling was suffering, from 1937 onward at the latest, from epileptic dementia in conjunction with substantially lowered capacity to understand the wrongfulness of his deed.

The decision of the Hamburg Regional Court (Landgericht) dated 6 July 1939 was complex:
1. It [the court] sentenced Frühling to a total penalty of one year in prison.
2. With respect to a case dating from 1934, Frühling was acquitted.
3. For the sexual acts on the four children, Sec. 51,2 of the RStGB [Reich Criminal Code] was put forward: Instead of a lengthy term in prison or a penitentiary, the court ordered committal to a sanatorium and nursing home.

Frühling served his prison sentence in the pretrial detention facility at Holstenglacis 3; on 19 Mar. 1940, he was transferred to the Langenhorn "sanatorium and nursing home” ("Heil- und Pflegeanstalt” Langenhorn). There he fell ill with diphtheria in Aug. 1941, which was treated at St. Georg Hospital. He was poorly nourished, noted the patient’s medical file, and he looked "thin and pale.” At the end of 1941, Frühling’s mother enlisted the help of a lawyer in an effort to have her son transferred to Bethel, because, she argued, there was a lack of meaningful activity in Langenhorn, something that was denied by the administration there, however.

The transfer to Bethel, though supported by medical staff, did not come about. He was also not discharged to go home, with the doctors at Langenhorn refusing a discharge on the following grounds: "Frühling is a feeble-minded (schwachsinniger) epileptic inclined to commit perverse compulsive acts. … Constant supervision of the kind he requires is something relatives are unable to provide on a permanent basis.” Shortly afterward, on 17 Apr. 1943, he was transported "in the context of a general transfer operation” to the Meseritz-Obrawalde euthanasia killing center. In the patient’s medical file there, an entry for Feb. 1944 reads, "[H]as been lying in bed for an extended period by now, has an injury to the foot, is very weak.” According to official information, Günter Frühling died there on 24 Feb. 1944.

Translator: Erwin Fink

Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.

© Ulf Bollmann/Gottfried Lorenz

Quellen: StaH, 213-11 Staatsanwaltschaft Landgericht – Strafsachen, 5467/39; 242-1 II Gefängnisverwaltung II, Ablieferung 16; StaH, 352-8/7 Staatskrankenanstalt Langenhorn, Ablieferung 1995/1 Nr. 27028.

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