County researches Nazi crimes Königswinter resident Josef Fuhr died in the gas chamber

Königswinter · Resident of Königswinter Josef Fuhr was a victim of the Nazis in 1941, taken to a concentration camp in Hadamar. His grandson researched what had happened, and Rhine-Sieg County has now begun a project to research Nazi medical crimes.

Wilbert Fuhr could no longer carry on without knowing what had happened to his grandfather. “I’ve always had in my mind that I wanted to research it but always, it was put on the back burner,” says the 73-year-old. No one in his family talked about the death of his grandfather. The grandson, however, succeeded in gradually uncovering the crime committed against Josef Fuhr by the Nazis - which in their words was “the destruction of an unworthy life.”

Josef Fuhr was born in Eudenbach, a part of Königswinter on January 16, 1884. He had acquired a small house on the main street in Eudenbach, now called Eudenbacher Straße and he married Anna-Maria in 1912. She gave birth to four sons and one daughter between 1913 and 1922. As a soldier, Josef Fuhr was seriously injured in the First World War. After a long recovery phase, the trained carpenter built a furniture workshop and had two employees.

Fuhr died at age 57

In 1926, Josef Fuhr had been a patient for one week in what is today known as the “Landesklinik” in Bonn. He was admitted there permanently from 1934 to 1941. On June 18, 1941, he was transferred from Bonn to the Andernach Psychiatric Clinic. On July 25, 1941, the father of five children was taken in a transport with 65 others to Hadamar and gassed there on the same day. He was 57-years-old when his life was taken.

Wilbert Fuhr has not been able to determine exactly what illness his grandfather was supposed to have. The grandson was able to have look in the Rhine-Sieg County archives and found several ailments listed, which Fuhr believes may have been related to injury in the First World War.

In 1991 he began researching the history of his family. Eight years before, his father Joseph had died. "But neither my father nor my aunt Maria said anything to me," he says. Since his parents had only married in 1944, his mother also could not tell him much about the fate of his grandfather. "It was always said that he was sick and in Bonn. I wanted and had to find the facts that my family and my relatives would not or did not want to discuss”, he says.

False certificates were the norm

According to an entry in the former registry office of Oberpleis, Josef Fuhr died in a town called Bernburg. Such false records were the norm for Nazi medical crimes. Families were often told in letters that their loved one had died of meningitis. Since the deceased suffered from a severe and incurable mental illness, they should accept the death as a salvation.

It was the memorial organization in Bernburg that informed Wilbert Fuhr in 1991 that his grandfather had been transported in a gray bus from the psychiatric clinic Andernach to Hadamar in July 1941, where he was probably murdered in the gas chamber on the same day. Bernburg and Hademar were two out of six killing centers, in which 70,253 patients from health care centers were killed between 1939 and 1941. The Nazis cynically referred to this as “walking through the chimney.”

Grandson visits rooms where his grandfather’s life ended

Wilbert Fuhr felt the topic of medical crimes had long been tabu and in 1995, he wrote to then German President Roman Herzog, who visited the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, remembering all victims of the holocaust. In the same year, Wilbert Fuhr went to Hadamar. He wanted to see the rooms where his grandfather’s life had been ended in such a horrific way. "I was glad I did not have to go alone," he says. Even today it is difficult for him to speak about this day.

County is researching medical crimes

Twenty years later, a project is again taking on this topic raised by Wilbert Fuhr. The district has commissioned a group of researchers to investigate medical crimes that took place in the district. Wilbert Fuhr will help with the project. "Until now, there has been no family history recorded. But I wanted to find out for myself and my children," he says.

(Orig. text: Hansjürgen Melzer; Translation: ckloep)

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