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Amalie Malka Langsner

Amalie Malka Langsner was born in the city of Brzezany in Galicia at the end of November 1901. Documents indicate different dates for her birth, that is the 29th, 30th or even as early as the 24th of November. The ambiguity of the date of her birth is not the only thing that is uncertain about her life. There are many other specifics that still remain unclear to this day.

DOCUMENT: Map of Galicia, found in the Internet
DOCUMENT: Map of Galicia, found in the Internet

Amalie lived for several years, with a few interruptions, with her father and his family, first at Hüxstraße 81 and then in 1913 at Marlesgrube 52. As of this time there has been no material found describing her childhood and youth.


In 1925 the 24 year old Amalie Malka Langsner had her own registration card, since she had returned to her family on Marlesgrube from Berlin on 25 February 1925. There was a second short trip to Berlin at the end of July 1926. What were the circumstances for these trips to Berlin? Had a special examination taken place in an institution for mentally handicapped people?


In the cultural tax records for the Jewish Community in Hamburg one finds a record for Amalie Langsner indicating she had spent time in Hamburg in 1932. Except for an address of “Königstraße 221, Third Floor” it is noted on the card “Langenhorn.” Therefore it can be assumed that Amalie had been at the Langenhorn Rehabilitation and Care Institution for an examination. Perhaps she had been at the institution as a patient for several months. But with whom did she live at the Altona Königstraße? The old Hamburg address books do not provide any clue. Apart from the fact that an “Obergerichtsvollzieher” ( a senior bailiff) living there played a role in her stay.


Amalie returned to her family in Lübeck in 1932. As of 18 January 1934 she was registered as living at Triftstraße 139-141, which was the location of the long time Vorwerk Reformatory and Care Home. Had her condition deteriorated so that she could no longer live at home? Or was it related to the beginning of the Nazi Regime, which pressured her family to admit their emotionally handicapped daughter to an institution?


As a so called “Institution for Idiots” the Vorwerk was founded in 1906 by the “Association for the Care of the Emotionally Weak” first at Klosterstraße 10 and then in 1914 outside of the city in the suburb of Vorwerk. In the Vorwerk “Reformatory and Care Home for the Mentally Defective” the mentally ill were not viewed as medical cases but rather their behaviours were to be changed as far as possible through educational measures. One of the founding members, the educator Johann C.H. Strakerjahn, described this philosophy in 1902 as: “The responsibility of the institution is to discover a child’s developmental potential whenever possible and so far as possible to encourage and train that potential: to supervise and develop the complicated will and emotions of the child; to lay the foundation for later useful employment through simple manual, technical and practical exercises and to teach the “idiot” child a certain elementary knowledge of things. At the same time the child needs to develop the skills of organization, cleanliness, good manners, and good habits such as an independence concerning personal care (dressing and undressing, eating, drinking, washing, combing and similar things).” (quote from Häckermann) In order to put this philosophy into practice a teacher was hired. Paul Burwick started in this position in 1913 and worked at the Vorwerk Home until 1950.

The majority of the patients at the Vorwerk were children and youth. Grownups like Amalie Malka Langsner were the exception.


Amalie might not have been taught at the Vorwerk. She had to be dealt with according to Burwick as a “Stepchild of nature,” who “received work in our Home” and the Home’s goal for her was that she “would earn her keep” but in an “environment, which understands her peculiarities, which attempts to bring sunshine into her poor and dark life, but which knows how in an energetic manner to focus and harness all her abilities for an occupation, that can bring peace and promises a definite result.” (Quoted from the Vorwerk’s 1917 Yearbook by Jenner)

3 FOTOS: Kitchen, laundry, and mangeling room in the Vorwerk Home around the 1930’s (Photo Archive of the Museum für Kunst and Kultergeschichte der Hansestadt Lübeck)
3 FOTOS: Kitchen, laundry, and mangeling room in the Vorwerk Home around the 1930’s  (Photo Archive of the Museum für Kunst and Kultergeschichte der Hansestadt Lübeck)

It is possible the Amalie Langsner worked in the kitchen, the laundry or in the gardens. That still leaves the questions, how was she treated and what were her accommodations since the Vorwerk had to follow the 22 June 1938 directives of the Reich Interior Minister that Jewish people were to be accommodated in a special manner in order to prevent “defilement of the German race.”


It can be assumed that soon after her arrival at Vorwerk the state required her to be sterilized since on 1 January 1934 the 1933 “Law for the Prevention of Hereditarily Diseased Offspring” came into effect. The educator Paul Burwick was a definite proponent of this measure. Thus he wrote in the 1934 Yearbook: “In this year the Law for the Prevention of Hereditarily Diseased Offspring came into effect. For years we have been offering the evidence as to the benefits and necessity of this urgent procedure. Forty seven patients of the Vorwerk Home have therefore under gone this procedure.” (Quoted according to Jenner)


The names of those on whom the procedure was performed are not known but with all probability the 33 year old Amalie Malka Langsner would have been one of them. (Files of the relevant “Hereditary Health Commission” in the Lübeck Courthouse do not provide any help. The registry “Concerning the Hereditary Health Commission’s Legal Proceedings 1935-40” which is located in the Acrchiv der Hansestadt Lübeck (Archives of the Hanseatic City of Lübeck) does not contain the name of Amalie Malka Langsner as well as the name of any other patient at the Vorwerk Home.)


Already in 1933 Amalie’s father, Baruch Langsner, quickly found himself in the sights of the National Socialists. His business was hugely affected by the boycott efforts and he was arrested on 24 May 1935 on Race Defilement charges because he had come into conversation on the street with a young Lübeck lady, who was canvassing for the Deutschen Caritasverband (a German charity organization). Langsner was picked up by SS personal, placed in a small hand cart and hauled through the streets before he was taken to the headquarters of the Secret Police (Gestapo). Beginning in October 1935 the newspapers devoted many articles as to the proceedings against him.

DOKUMENT: Article of the "Volksbote" (a newspaper) of 10 October 1935
DOKUMENT: Article of the "Volksbote" (a newspaper) of 10 October 1935

“Der Stürmer” (The Attacker was an extremely Anti-Semitic weekly tabloid) labelled Baruch Langsner as the “manifestation of the evil reputation” of Jews as well as the “Monster of Lübeck.” He was sentenced to four months in prison. At the same time - since he was a Polish citizen - the procedure for his immediate deportation occurred and was completed. He then lived in Kattowice and Sosnowiec, Poland, and then Lodz after which there is no sign of him. He purportedly died on 7 February 1942.


Did his daughter, Amalie, while in the Vorwerk Home, find out anything of this incident? Did she know that her father had been sentenced to prison and then expelled from Germany?


After the arrest of her husband Laura Langsner continued to manage the second hand shop on Marlesgrube and the rental properties as best she could. We do not know if she visited Amalie in the Home, brought Amalie home for special occasions or had any contact at all with Amalie.


At the end of October 1938 Amalie Malka Langsner along with Laura and Sophie Minna Langsner and 20 other Jewish people from Lübeck, all of whom were Polish citizens, were deported in accordance with the so called Operation Poland. Some 15,000 people in Germany were deported at the order of the Office of Foreign Affairs. These people were trained to the German-Polish boarder then driven on foot into Poland but then they driven back by the Polish military. In this “no man’s land” they had to wait, some for weeks, not knowing what would happen to them. This highly dramatic situation at the boarder was the reason the train from Lübeck was stopped in Berlin and later was sent back to Lübeck, so in turn the Lübeckers on the train were able to return to their homes and Amalie Malka Langsner to the Vorwerk Home.

Polenaktion (Operation Poland).
Polenaktion (Operation Poland).

In the coming months all Jewish people, who were from Poland or had no citizenship in any country, found themselves under intense Gestapo pressure to promptly leave Germany.

Beginning in December of 1938 Laura Langsner was pressured to close her store. Moreover a Lübeck lawyer was given the power of attorney over her rentals and other property by the Foreign Exchange Office, so that even her former rent money, which provided for her everyday living expenses, was denied her.

In this connection one finds a second but short document in Amalie Malka Langsner patient file. It was writen by Paul Burwich on 18 Febraury 1939:

“Most Honourable Mr. Piper, Concerning the inquiry about Amalie Langsner, daughter of the Langsners, I gladly provide you herewith that at the beginning of each month the sum of 48 Reichmarks for her care has been deposited into the Home’s account. We request that as has been done in the past the payment continue to be made at the beginning of the month and deposited into the saving and loan account of the Vorwerk Home. Heil Hitler!”

Ernst Ulrich Piper was the lawyer engaged by the Foreign Exchange Office and given the power of attorney and was to assure that payment for the care of Amalie Langsners came from her father’s funds, which were confiscated by the Regime. It is also possible that he was the one, who wrote to Amalie’s biological Mother, “Mrs. Schneid,” who in turn requested information from Paul Burwick.

If the assumption is correct, that Marie Schneid, nee Beer, was Amalie's biological mother then her letter to the Vorwerk Home was either sent from Leipzig or after her 5 June 1939 letter which was sent from Lemberg in Poland.

“. . . you may reckon with, that soon your child will be transport back to her home country.” Thus wrote Paul Burwick on 22 August 1939. (Marie Schneid’s husband, Max, and their daughter, Rosel Regina, had been forced back to Poland from Leipzig on 28 October 1938 in accordance with “Operation Poland”.) It is also possible that Laura Langsner could have appealed to Marie Schneid in order to find help for Amalie in her tentative situation and was ready to give up custody of Amalie. Or Marie Schneid herself had taken the initiative to get her daughter out of Nazi Germany and back to Poland to a more stable and safer place.

Laura Langsner and her daughter, Sophie, were repeatedly ordered to appear before the Gestapo in 1939 and pressured to leave Germany. Police files reveal: “The daughter, Sophie, tries to immigrate to England as a house servant and thinks that once established there she can have her mother come to England as well.” (24 June 1939)

All her efforts to immigrate were for nought. A short comment in a letter of two neighbour Jewish women on Marlesgrube to relatives in Shanghai reads: “Sofie L. failed to pass her final exam and now has to take a 6 week remedial course. She decided against it and certainly will have no chance for a permit.” (p. 61, Letter of 21 August 1939). Accordingly if Sophie Langsner had to complete a training course it was so she could get a permit from the British Employment Ministry, that is a work permit for Great Britain.

With the outbreak of the war on 1 September 1939 all her efforts were voided and the “transportation” of Amalie Malka Langsner back to her “home country” was no longer possible. She remained at the Vorwerk Home until the beginning of September 1940.

On 16 September 1940 she, along with several other patients of the Vorwerk Home, was transferred to the Hamburg-Langenhorn Home for Mental Patients, which functioned as a marshalling place for the so called Action T4 or T4 Program in Schleswig-Holstein. “The murdering of sick Jewish individuals was a part of Hilter’s decreed “Action T4.” This program of murder was in operation from January 1940 to August 1941 during which 70,000 patients of mental homes and care homes fell victim. It was a secret program of the Reich and was coordinated from a central office on Tiergartenstraße 4 in Berlin, thus the code name “T4.” However, in March or April of 1940 the central T4 office in Berlin decided to give special attention to the killing of Jewish patients.” (Lilienthal)

In 1959 Paul Burwick, who had been the administrator of Vorwerk at that time, said the following at a compensation hearing: “A few days before 15 September 1940 I was told by telephone by the already mentioned city hall that I had to have the 15 Jewish children ready for transport. . . Possibly the call came from the Youth Authourity. A bit later, how many days it was I cannot say now, the Jewish children were picked up by large buses. This was supervised by a group of men and women wearing hospital staff type clothing. Anyways they were not members of the SS or SA. By way of rumour we heard that the children were to have been taken to Langenhorn . . . It just came to me that this transfer was directed by the so-called Transportation Company. I do not know anything more about this Transportation Company . . .”

But in fact there were 10 Jewish people, eight children and two adults, which included Amalie Malka Langsner, who were transferred out of the Vorwerk Home on 16 September 1940. Paul Burwick had provided the names of those transferred to Berlin ahead of time in accordance with the 15 April 1940 order of the Ministerialdirektor (head of a government department) Dr. Herbert Linden, who was responsible for coordinating the euthanasia measures, which included recording and registering all Jewish patients in private and public institutions: “Herewith I request, as to the required question put to the appropriate institutions, that is to know how many Jews (according to men and women) are patients in the institution and are retarded or mentally ill. The information is to be provided to me within 3 weeks.” (quote from Jenner)

One cannot discover an explanation for the discrepancy between the 15 children reported by Burwick and the ten people who were actually transferred.

On 30 August 1940 the Reich Interior Minister ordered that all handicapped Jewish patients be brought to a few selected public institutions, in order to transfer them from there to another marshalling institution. In northern Germany those patients effected were to be brought to the Langenhorn Rehabilitation and Care Home by 18 September 1940. “I place special importance upon the strict observation of this deadline date, since the late arrival of any Jewish mental patients would create more effort and work.” Thus reads the directly ordered transfer. From several small private institutions in the districts of Segeberg, Rendsburg, Plön and Pinneberg as well as larger church and public institutions namely Rickling, Neustadt, Schleswig-Stadtfeld, Lübeck-Strecknitz and Lübeck-Vorwerk 56 people were transferred to Langenhorn.

So it was on 16 September 1940 that Amalie Langsner boarded a bus of the Transportation Company and was brought to the Langenhorn Rehabilitation and Care Home, where she remained for about a week.

In his 1959 testimony Paul Burwirk also recalled that the mother of two young boys, who were also transferred to Langenhorn on 16 September 1940, had searched for them and later reported to him that she had visited her sons in Langenhorn. Did this mother seek out Burwick’s help to save her sons?

The ten people from the Vorwerk Home, including Amalie Langsner, along with all the other Jewish patients from institutions in northern Germany, were transported by the “Charitable Transport Company” to a former prison in Brandenburg, south of Berlin. On the same day as the patients’ arrival they were murdered in a gas chamber with carbon monoxide gas. In this cruel manner 39 year old Amalie Malka Langsner’s life was taken from her. The supervising doctor, Dr. Irmfried Eberl, recorded in his pocket appointment book for 23 September 1940: “Hamburg-Langenhorn, J.” (J was the letter which all Jews had stamped on their identification papers) Eberl was later the first commander of the Treblinka death camp.

The Reich Union of Jews in Germany, which since November 1939 had to bear all the costs of all the Jewish patients in care homes, was not told that the transports were going to Brandenburg but rather to a rehabilitation institution in Chelm (also known as Cholm) in occupied Poland. In the name of this none existent home the headquarters for the euthanasia program continued to collect money sometimes for months after the patients were murdered. The families and social workers of these people then received the headquarters’ officially issued death certificates with fictitious dates and causes of death.

At the beginning of February 1941 the mother of the two sons mentioned above received a death certificate four months after they were murdered. This was referred to in a letter of the sisters, Dora and Bertha Lexandrowitz.

A death certificate for Amalie Langsner was also possibly sent out by the headquarters at this time. But to whom was it sent? And when did the lawyer Piper stop making room and board payments for Amalie Langsner?

Did Laura Langsner and Sophie Minna learn of Amalie’s death before they themselves were deported to Riga on 6 December 1941? Laura Feige Langsner was at that time 59 years old, and her daughter, Sophie Minna, was 34. It is not known, whether they already died in the first winter months at the Jungfernhof Camp, or whether they were among those murdered during the mass shootings in the Bikernieki Forest in February and March of 1942, or whether they were “selected” for work as forced labourers and only later murdered.

At the end of January 1952 the retired senior social worker Georg Nupnau of Lübeck was appointed the executor of the Langsner family estate and researched the claim of a relative of Baruch Langsner regarding the buildings and plots of land once owned by Baruch. On the 14th of March 1952 he wrote “In the Matter of Recompense for Langsner” the following to the Lübeck Land Claims Court:

“In the meantime I have determined that yet another daughter, Amalie Langsner, born on 24 November 1901 in Brczany, Poland, existed. From 8 January 1934 to 16 September 1940 Amalie Langsner had her residence in the Vorwerk Training and Care Home. On 16 September 1940 she was transferred from there to the Hamburg-Langenhorn Reformatory and Care Institution. Upon directly contacting the Institution and inquiring on the whereabouts of same I was told that Amalie Langsner was transferred again by order of the Reich Interior Minister by means of a marshalling transport most likely to Chelm near Lublin, Poland, on 23 September 1940. Any proof of death is lacking. It is therefore possible, that she is still alive. Further inquiries are pending.” Further inquiries resulted in: “I received a letter from the lawyer, Dr. Sternfeld, dated 26 February 1952. I enclose a copy of it. His letter states: ‘Amalie Langsner was physically and emotionally crippled.’ How this came to be known just now and why up to this point nothing was known about Amalie Langsner? Has someone wanted to conceal this information?”

In spite of this combination of ignorance, condescendence and insinuation the executor took his responsibility seriously. He in turn painstakingly discovered which court would be responsible for issuing a death certificate for Amalie Malka Langsner so that finally in 1956 the estate could be awarded to the surviving members of the family, who were at that time living in Israel.

Verzeichnis der Quellen außerhalb der Standardfachliteratur:

References in Addition to Standard Reference Materials:

Adressbücher und Meldekartei der Hansestadt Lübeck (Address and Registration Records of the Hanseatic City of Lübeck)

Archiv der Hansestadt Lübeck, Staatliche Polizeiverwaltung 8, 25, 109, 110, 124, 126; NSA XXII, 14c; Personenstandsregister der Israelitischen Gemeinde Band 6; Amtgericht, Erbgesundheitsgericht, Erw. 38/2009, 1-7

Bundesarchiv: Gedenkbuch, Opfer der Verfolgung der Juden unter der nationalsozialistischen Gewaltherrschaft in Deutschland 1933-1945, www.bundesarchiv.de/gedenkbuch

Auf dieser Internetseite ebenfalls zu finden ist:

Harald Jenner: Quellen zur Geschichte der „Euthanasie“-Verbrechen von 1939-1945 in deutschen und österreicherischen Archiven. Ein Inventar

Datenpool JSHD der Forschungsstelle “Juden in Schleswig-Holstein” an der Universität Flensburg

Deutsche Gesellschaft für Psychatrie, Psychotherapie und Nervenheilkunde (Hrsg.): „Erfasst, verfolgt, vernichtet“. Menschen mit Behinderungen oder mit Nervenkrankheiten in der Nazi-Zeit,

Begleitheft in einfacher Sprache zur gleichnamigen Ausstellung,

Berlin 2014

Herbert Diercks: „Euthanasie“. Die Morde an Menschen mit Behinderungen und psychischen Erkrankungen in Hamburg im Nationalsozialismus, Katalog zur gleichnamigen Ausstellung der KZ-Gedenkstätte Neuengamme, Hamburg 2014

Peter Guttkuhn: Kleine deutsch-jüdische Geschichte in Lübeck,

Von den Anfängen bis zur Gegenwart, Lübeck 2004

Ursula Häckermann: Biographischer Abriss Hanne-Lore Gerstle 1924-1940, unveröffentlichtes Manuskript, Lübeck 2013

Hamburger Adressbücher, Internetseite der Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek der Freien und Hansestadt Hamburg

"Hoffentlich klappt alles zum Guten...", Die Briefe der jüdischen Schwestern Bertha und Dora Lexandrowitz, bearbeitet und kommentiert von Heidemarie Kugler-Weiemann und Hella Peperkorn, Neumünster 2000

Harald Jenner: Das Kinder- und Pflegeheim Vorwerk in Lübeck in der NS-Zeit, in: Theodor Strohm / Jörg Thierfelder (Hrsg.): Diakonie im Dritten Reich, Neuere Ergebnisse zeitgeschichtlicher Forschung, Heidelberg 1990, Seite 169-204

Landesarchiv Schleswig-Holstein: Entschädigungsakten, Abt. 352 Kiel, 6312 und 8470, Abt. 510, 5115, 8720 und 8722, außerdem:

Entschädigungsakten Daicz, Abt. 761, 17959, 8146, 8147, 8148

Astrid Ley / Annette Hinz-Wessels (Hrsg.): Die Euthanasie-Anstalt Brandenburg an der Havel, Morde an Kranken und Behinderten im Nationalsozialismus, Schriftenreihe der Stiftung Brandenburgische Gedenkstätten, Band 34, Berlin 2012

Georg Lilienthal: Jüdische Patienten als Opfer der NS-“Euthanasie“-Verbrechen, in: Medaon, Magazin für Jüdisches Leben in Forschung und Bildung, Nr. 5, 2009 www.medaon.de

Lübecker Volksbote 1935

Memorbuch zum Gedenken an die jüdischen, in der Schoa umgekommenen Schleswig-Holsteiner und Schleswig-Holsteinerinnen, hrsg. v. Miriam Gillis-Carlebach, Hamburg 1996

Sabine Reh: Von der “Idioten-Anstalt” zu den Vorwerker Heimen, Lübeck 1997

Staatsarchiv der Freien und Hansestadt Hamburg: Kultussteuerkartei der jüdischen Gemeinde

Vorwerker Diakonie Lübeck, Patientenakte Amalie Malka Langsner und weitere Unterlagen

Yad Vashem, The Central Database of Shoah Victims’ Names


Heidemarie Kugler-Weiemann, 2014

Translation: Glenn Sellick and Martin Harnisch, 2014