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Porträt Paul Schwarz, von einer Pflegerin gehalten, Januar 1937
Paul Schwarz, Januar 1937
© Evangelische Stiftung Alsterdorf

Paul Schwarz * 1935

Efftingestraße 39 (Wandsbek, Wandsbek)

JG. 1935
"VERLEGT" 1943
ERMORDET 16.9.43

Paul Schwarz, born on 21 Mar. 1935 in Wandsbek, admitted on 9 Jan. 1937 to the then Alsterdorf Asylum (Alsterdorfer Anstalten), "transferred” on 7 Aug. 1943 to the "Eichberg State Sanatorium” ("Landesheilanstalt Eichberg”) near Eltville, murdered on 16 Sept. 1943

Efftingestrasse 39 (formerly Eduardstrasse)

Paul Schwarz was the third and youngest child of the motor vehicle driver Alwin Berthold Schwarz, born on 17 May 1905, and Albertine Elisabetha, née Hessig, born on 3 Nov. 1909 The family lived in what was then Eduardstrasse 25 (now Efftingestrasse) in Wandsbek, where the father ran a haulage business. The then independent town of Wandsbek belonged to the District of Stormarn until passage of the Greater Hamburg Act in 1937. Paul Schwarz was born on 21 Mar. 1935 as a home birth – not uncommon at the time – and was baptized on 26 May 1935 in the Christuskirche (Christ Church) in Wandsbek. He had two older siblings, Margot, born on 27 Sept. 1930, and Valentin, born on 10 May 1933.

On 19 Nov. 1936, Paul Schwarz was admitted to the municipal hospital in Wandsbek for observation, as the then 21-month old did not show mental and physical development appropriate to his age. His medical file shows that he had been under medical treatment since birth. Paul was described as an extremely lively child who was in a state of "constant motor restlessness” and made "inarticulate” sounds. He could only sit up with support and showed symptoms of rickets (growth disorder caused by vitamin D deficiency, among other things, involving deformation of the bones). Paul was also suffering from jaundice in his second year. During an almost two-month stay in hospital, his diagnosed "restlessness” could be "favorably influenced,” as it was put, by medication, including Phenobarbital (Luminal) tablets. At this time, Paul was able to sit up when he supported himself on one side.

The attending doctor diagnosed "Little’s disease” (cerebral movement disorder) and suspected that Paul had birth defects. "[A]s the case no longer required hospital treatment” and "after consultation with the family,” he referred him to what was then the Alsterdorf Asylum (now the Protestant Alsterdorf Foundation) on 9 Jan. 1937.

On 12 Jan. 1937, the following was noted in his medical file: "Pat.[ient] is very lively, observes his surroundings, if one pays attention to him, he fidgets with hands and feet out of joy. He is a good eater, requires feeding, and needs complete care regarding his personal hygiene. He does not speak yet, he has no toys, playing with his fingers [...].”

Four days later, Paul was transferred to the infirmary with influenza and in poor general health. The following March, he contracted gastroenteritis (inflammation of the mucous membranes of the stomach and small intestine).

On 3 May 1937, Paul returned to his ward. He was then described as friendly, calm, and as having a good appetite. The report continued: "As soon as he hears the clattering of dishes, he straightens up in bed and follows every movement of the girls or nurses until he is fed.”

In October, Paul fell ill with chickenpox and was isolated because of the danger of infection. In Feb. 1938, he suffered from pneumonia. Paul remained physically very susceptible, and he was transferred to the infirmary several more times with gastroenteritis, influenza, or bronchitis.

On 11 July 1939, Paul suffered a left-sided fracture of the forearm bone, which went without complications.

Progress was recorded in his development. On 15 Aug. 1942, Paul was then seven years old, a report to the welfare authorities stated that Paul could not walk, but felt his way around objects. He understood what was being said to him and he managed to make himself understood through signs. He had to be fed because of his restless, agitated movements. He was of a friendly nature, but very easily excited. A further stay in an institution was necessary.

During the heavy air raids on Hamburg in the summer of 1943, the then Alsterdorf Asylum also sustained damage during the night of 29 to 30 July 1943 and then again on 3 to 4 Aug. 1943. The director of the institution, Pastor Friedrich Lensch, asked the health authorities for permission to transfer 750 patients, allegedly to make room for the wounded and for bomb victims. With three transports between 7 and 16 August, a total of 468 girls and women, boys and men were transferred to the Eichberg "State Asylum” ("Landesheilanstalt” Eichberg), the Kalmenhof in Idstein in the Rheingau, the "sanatorium and nursing home” in Mainkofen ("Heil- und Pflegeanstalt” Mainkofen) near Passau, and to the "State Asylum Am Steinhof” ("Landesheilanstalt” Am Steinhof) in Vienna.

Paul Schwarz was among the 76 children and men who were transferred to the Eichberg "State Asylum” on 7 Aug. 1943. The last entry in the medical file was dated 6 Aug. 1943 and read, "Transferred, as the Alsterdorf Asylum has been destroyed.”

The then Eichberg "State Asylum” had served as an intermediate institution for the Hadamar killing center in "Operation T4” ("Aktion T4”). After the official termination of the "euthanasia program” in Aug. 1941, the killing continued, namely through systematic malnutrition and overdosed medication combined with nursing neglect – also in Eichberg itself. Twenty of the children from Alsterdorf were immediately taken to the "children’s special ward” ("Kinderfachabteilung”) that had been in existence since 1941. The general term "children’s special ward” was used in the Nazi German Reich as a euphemism for special psychiatric facilities in hospitals as well as in sanatoriums and nursing homes that served the purpose of "children’s euthanasia,” i.e., research into and killing of children and adolescents who had severe physical or mental disabilities.

Paul Schwarz died on 16 Sept. 1943, just over a month after he had been removed from the Alsterdorf Asylum. On his death certificate, the cause of death indicated was "infirmity with heart failure, mental enfeeblement.” Paul Schwarz only reached the age of eight years.

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

Stand: September 2020
© Susanne Rosendahl

Quellen: Evangelische Stiftung Alsterdorf, Archiv, Sonderakte V 19, Schwarz Paul; Michael Wunder, Ingrid Genkel, Harald Jenner, Auf dieser schiefen Ebene gibt es kein Halten mehr. Die Alsterdorfer Anstalten im Nationalsozialismus, 2. Aufl. Hamburg 1988, S. 189 ff.; (Zugriff 20.8.2019); Sterbeurkunde von Paul Schwarz vom 16.9.1943 (Zugriff 20.8.2019).
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