The guardian, Landgerichtsrat a.D. Dr. Gerson, tries to save Irene...

Up until now the youth Welfare Office in Harnburg had guardianship of both children. 

Ingrid was classed as a 'Mischling' (half-cast) first degree, Irene, because she had been born after 31st July 1936, as a 'full Jew' (Nurernberg Laws). 

§ 5, 2 d applied to Irene. Accordingly, a guardian was sought who conformed to the following directive: 

In May 1940, the Jewish Landgerichtsrat (member of the district court) Dr. Gerson (retd.), was proposed. He accepted the guardianship of both children and undertook the complicated case of racial classification. He wanted to achieve the recognition of Irene as a 'Mischling' in order to give her more protection against persecution. Up until 1944, 'Mischlinge' and even Jews who lived within mixed marriages, were not generally deported.

The retired Landgerichtsrat Dr. Hermann Israel Gerson had been forced to retire in 1933 because the law of 7th April 1933 for the "Restoration of the Professional Civil Service" demanded: 

The description "Restoration of the Professional Civil Service" was misleading. Its purpose was to get rid of politically and "racially" undesirable civil servants. The decree of 17th August 1938 facilitated persecution of Jews and their disenfranchisement: 

"... Jews without a fIrst name in accordance with those listed in the Ministry of Interior directive of 18th March 1938 for Jewish first names, are, as of 1st March 1939, to add the first name 'Israel' (for males) or 'Sara' (for females)." 

Accordingly, Dr. Hermann Gerson now had to add Israel to his name.


In his letter of 25th June 1940 to the Amtsgericht, Dr. Gerson tried to clarify the "racial" category of each farnily member. 

Although grandfather Arthur Eckler officially left the Jewish religious community in February 1939, according to the first supplementary decree to the Reich Citizenship Law of 14th November 1935 he was still classified as a Jew. 

In his efforts to have Irene declared a 'Mischling' it would have been an advantage to have had the father, August Landmesser, acknowledge paternity in a public declaration and pay maintenance for Irene. This explains his exposition. 

Likewise, his suggestion that the mother should lose custody of the children. In his letter he wrote:

But the mother, in concentration camp, did not understand the reason. She feared she would lose the children completely (see her letters from KZ). One could not write too overtly, however, or the letter would not pass censorship.

... I should like to draw your attention to the following: The Youth Welfare Office applied for the appointment of an individual guardian taking into account that, according to § 5, paragraph 2 d, the children are classified as Jews. In my opinion, this premise does not apply, at least not to the eIder child, Ingrid. Both children were born out of wedlock to the Jewess Irma Eckler. Father of both children is the Aryan August Friedrich Landmesser. In this case, according to the above decree, only those born after 31st July 1936 are Jewish, so Ingrid Eckler is 'Mischling', first degree. PIease check if I should nevertheless continue as guardian for both children or whether in the case of Ingrid Eckler the guardianship should be transferred back to the Youth Welfare Office, Hamburg. The birth certificate of Ingrid Eckler, which verifies paternity, is enclosed with the request that it be returned. Dr. Gerson
:..with reference to my recent consultation with the 'Vormundschaftsrichter' (Judge from the Family Division of the High Court), I should like to add to my report of 12th June 1940:

1. Ingrid Eckler resides with her grandmother. The grandmother is an elderly woman of about 60. She is divorced from her first husband, the commercial traveller Arthur Eckler, and has been married to the onetime accountant Nicolaus Ernst Graumann since 22nd March 1932. The apartment is in Hamburg 19, Rellingerstr. 11 p. The grandmother is of Jewish race, however, baptised as Protestant Lutheran on 28th April 1931; the child was similarly baptised on 3rd November 1935. Ernst Graumann is Aryan and Protestant. The child is welllooked after there, and can remain in this foster home. 

Irene Sara Eckler is fostered out to the married couple Ernst Krause, porter, and Auguste Krause. She was billeted there by the Welfare Office. The husband, an invalid of the Great War, is 42 years old and devout, his wife is 41 years old, Protestant. The Krauses are Aryan. The apartment is in Hamburg 22, Hamburger Str. 15 d IV. I intend to leave the child at her present address. At the behest of the Infant Welfare Office she is presently at the Infant Convalescent Home, Haus Lauenstein in Hittfeld near Harburg-Wilhelmsburg, but will be returning to her foster parents next week. The child's grandmother, Mrs. Graumann, told me that the child has been baptised, however, I have not yet been able to verify this information.

... IV Further, I consider it my duty to draw your attention to the following: According to § 1707 of the Civil Code, custody of the children Ingrid and Irene Sara lies with the mother. As she is in protective custody in the women's concentration camp Ravensbrück near Fürstenberg in Mecklenburg, and is likely to remain there for a considerable time before her release, she is, in fact, prevented from exercising this right. Therefore, I ask the Court to consider whether the mother should be relieved of her right to custody or that it be declared suspended. In this case, I would ask that the right of custody for the children be given to either myself or the children's foster parents. Dr. Gerson
In the case of the Eckler Guardianship, your request of 13th July 1940, re. recognition of paternity by Friedrich August Landmesser, Prison Camp 1, Börgermoor, has been sent to Amstgericht Sögel (Hümmling) within whose jurisdiction it lies.
The prisoner was brought forward and declared: Today, I will not voluntarily recognize paternity. I will be released from prison on 19th January 1941. I shall then find out if I am really the father of the child. When I am convinced of paternity, I will voluntarily recognize paternity and undertake to pay maintenance. I admit to having had relevant sexual intercourse. I request that the matter rests until after my release from prison. 

[V.g.u. =  Vorgelesen, genehmigt, unterschrieben] 

Read, confirmed, signed 

August Landmesser

In the matter of Guardianship Eckler 112 VII E 83 I draw your attention to the decree of 15th August 1940 that neither child is in possession of any assets. 

I request the return of August Landmesser's personal letter acknowledging paternity re. Irene Eckler which I submitted to the Court with a statement on 25th June 1940. 

I further request the issue of a Statement of Means for Irene Sara Eckler because the father refuses to make a public declaration of paternity and I am therefore forced to take proceedings against him with respect to paternity and maintenance payments. 

Dr. Hermann Israel Gerson


Erst ihr Vormund Dr. Gerson hat dafür gesorgt: 

"Die Taufe der Irene, die bisher unterblieben war, ist inzwischen nachgeholt. Sie hat am 1. September (1940) durch Herrn Pastor Dr. Uhsadel in Harnburg 24, Immenhof 4, stattgefunden."   

Weitere Hilfeleistungen seitens der evangelischen Kirche waren damit nicht verbunden. 

Am 19. Januar 1941 wurde der Vater August Landmesser aus der Strafhaft nach Harnburg entlassen.  

Am 30. Januar 1941 erschien folgender "Runderlass des Reichsministeriums der Finanzen": 

Am 8. März 1941 teilte Dr. Gerson dem Amtsgericht mit, dass 

  1. die Sozialverwaltung seit dem 1. Februar 1941 die Unterstützung für Irene abgelehnt hat, da das Kind als Jüdin gilt 
  2.  der Jüd[ische]. Religionsverband Harnburg jetzt die Unterstützung zahlt.  

Die Zeit drängte, denn jeder weitere Monat brachte Verschlechterungen für die Situation der Juden. Endlich, am 31. März 1941, erkannte August Landmesser die Vaterschaft an dem Kind Irene an.  

Auf dieses Anerkenntnis gestützt, wollte Dr. Gerson versuchen zu erreichen, dass Irene als "Mischling" anerkannt würde, vor allem auch deshalb, weil die Pflegeeltern sie sonst nicht mehr behalten könnten.  [Quelle] (A 35)



On the 5th May 1941, Dr. Gerson wrote a four page letter, containing twenty enclosures to the Reich Interior Ministry, Dept. for Race Research (Sippenforschung) - Berlin. [document in the archives]

He received notification from there that the present classification was correct. He then made use of the final possibility according to § 7 of 'The First Supplementary Decree to the Reich Citizenship Law of 14th November 1935': 

and addressed a petition for clemency to the "Führer and Reich Chancellor" on 3rd June: 

With what courage these words were spoken!

Gerson went on...