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Wilma Landshöft * 1913
Eilbeker Weg 83 (Wandsbek, Eilbek)
Wilma Landshöft, born 22 Mar. 1913 in Hamburg, transferred 9 Apr. 1943 to the Meseritz-Obrawalde Institution, murdered 17 Apr. 1943
Eilbeker Weg 83
When Wilma Landshöft was admitted to the Langenhorn Institution in March 1943, the staff wrote on the cover of her file "Father is a Jew!” It cannot be determined if or how this comment determined her fate. What is known is that before she was transferred to the Meseritz-Obrawalde Institution, Wilma was not a victim of the special measures for Jews, as defined by the Nuremburg Race Laws.
Wilma Landshöft was the fifth and youngest child of Martha (née Wierig, *11 May 1883) and Wilhelm Engelhard Landshöft, an office worker. Wilhelm Landshöft was born on 19 September 1874 in Hamburg. His father was Jewish and his mother was Protestant, so he was not considered Jewish according to Jewish tradition. He was, however, raised in the Jewish faith and joined the Hamburg German-Israelitic Community. Wilhelm’s father, Friedrich Landshöft, was a manual laborer, and his mother Caroline, née von der Wall, called herself "von der Walde.” Martha Landshöft remained Protestant after she married Wilhelm, and her children were also raised Protestant.
Wilma’s maternal grandparents were Richard Wierig, a lithographer, and his wife Auguste Johanna Rebecka, née Ellerbrock. When Martha, Wilma Landshöft’s mother, was 18, she was admitted to the Friedrichsberg State Mental Institution with seizures and hallucinations. She was released to her parents’ care when the symptoms subsided. The Wieirg family moved to Peterskampweg in Eilbek, where Martha was still living when she married Wilhelm Landshöft on 19 October 1905. When Martha became pregnant, the couple moved to Eilbeker Weg 83, which was also in Eilbek.
Their first child was born in 1906. She was named Martha after her mother. There were difficulties in the marriage, and Martha returned to live with her parents for five months. In 1908 the twins Wilhelm, Jr. and F. were born, and in the following year another son, Rudolf. Their last child, Wilma, was born on 22 March 1913.
Nothing is known about Wilma’s childhood and youth. Her mother developed abdominal cancer, and her father suffered from the effects of a syphilis infection. When Wilma Landshöft’s mother died on 9 July 1919 in the Eppendorf General Hospital, she left behind five children, aged 6 to 13. The eldest daughter probably took care of her younger siblings, with the help of relatives, especially the grandparents. Wilhelm Landshöft remarried. His second wife was also non-Jewish. They had no children and later divorced. When Wilma was 14, her grandmother Caroline Landshöft and her grandfather Richard Wierig died. Wilhelm Landshöft’s financial situation worsened during the Great Depression, and he remained unemployed until he was of retirement age in 1939.
Wilma Landshöft apparently had no schooling or training at all. When she was admitted to the Alsterdorf Institution on 29 March 1935, aged 22, she was helpless in many respects, and displayed a behavior that we would today call hospitalism. Wilma could not speak, but used idiosyncratic sounds to make her wishes known. The attendants noted in her file that she sought no contact to them, and that she sought no occupation other than to tear up everything she could reach, or to chew on it and then swallow it.
The meager records do not indicate how much the family tried to maintain contact to her. Her brother F. remained in Eilbek, but her father moved several times after his divorce. The May 1939 census shows him living with Wilma’s elder sister on Rentzelstraße in the Grindel Quarter. Her brothers Wilhelm and Rudolf were deceased, and her maternal grandmother died in 1941.
Between 1940 and 1945, the Alsterdorf Institution transferred more than fifty seriously ill or difficult to care for patients to the Langenhorn Institution. Wilma Landshöft, in a condition of extreme helplessness, was one of eight women who were transferred from Alsterdorf to Langenhorn on 9 March 1943. When she was admitted, the staff noted clearly on her file, as mentioned above, "Father is a Jew.” There is no indication of whether her status as a "second-degree Mischling” had any effect on how she was treated. After a short period of acclimatization, Wilma could spend several hours out of bed and could eat alone. The diagnosis listed in her records was "idiocy.”
When the war broke out in the fall of 1939, the "euthanasia” program T4 was initiated in mental institutions, then officially stopped in August 1941. Under pressure to make more room for other war victims, a wave of transfers to regions less threatened by air raids began in early 1943. In Hamburg, the Langenhorn Institute served as a collection point and temporary holding point. The Hamburg Public Health Administration and the T4 "euthanasia” center in Berlin arranged for 50 beds for men in the Meseritz-Obrawalde in Pomerania, about 180km (110 miles) east of Berlin. The logistics for the transfer were to be managed by the two institutions. Misunderstandings between the institutions and various offices in Berlin led to the transfer of a total of 100 men and 50 women in three transports to Meseritz-Obrawalde.
After only one month at Langenhorn, Wilma Landshöft was transferred to Meseritz-Obrawalde on 9 April 1943. It cannot be determined if the reasons for her transfer were her inability to work and the extensive care she needed, the unpromising prognosis, the lack of contact to her family, or her Jewish heritage.
In Meseritz-Obrawalde, obedience and the ability to work were vital for survival, for which reasons the chances of survival there were very slim. Wilma Landshöft was murdered on 17 April 1943. The official cause of death was listed as "pleurisy after a three-day illness.” In all likelihood, she was taken to one of the rooms in Buildings 6, 8, and 9 on the women’s side of the institution that were especially designed for the purpose of murder, and given a lethal dose of a medication like morphine or luminal. At her death she was thirty years old. She was buried in a mass grave in the institution’s cemetery.
Wilma’s father Wilhelm was living in the Salvation Army men’s home at Gustavstraße 10-12 in St. Georg. According to the register of deaths, he died of suffocation during the firestorm on 28 July 1943. In fact, he actually died, frail and senile, in December 1945 in the Farmsen Care-Home. Wilma was not forgotten: In the early 1960s, her sister, who no longer lived in Hamburg, inquired about her with the Langenhorn Institution. All trace of her brother F. were lost after he moved to Schleswig-Holstein in 1940.
Translator: Amy Lee
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.
Stand: March 2017
© Hildegard Thevs
Quellen: 1; Ev. Stiftung Alsterdorf, Archiv, Aufnahmebuch; StaH 213-12 Staatsanwaltschaft Landgericht, NSG 0013/001; 332-5 Standesämter 2043-2087/1883, 3042-718/1905, 9775-1914/1919, 1210-1452/1944, 4294-582/1945; 352-8/7 Staatskrankenanstalt Langenhorn Abl. 1995/1, 31302 und 31 305 (Anna Bollhagen) darin: Erbgesundheitskarteikarte, 31307 (Wilma Landshöft); 522-1 Jüdische Gemeinden, 350 Wählerverzeichnis 1930; Rönn, Peter von, Die Entwicklung der Anstalt Langenhorn in der Zeit des Nationalsozialismus, in: Böhme, Klaus, Uwe Lohalm, Hg., Wege in den Tod; Wunder, Michael, Die Transporte in die Heil- und Pflegeanstalt Meseritz-Obrawalde, in: Wege in den Tod.
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