Frida Schoenberner

Hagelberger Str. 26
Historical name
Hagelberger Str. 28
11 August 1888 in Berlin
12 April 1944 in Meseritz-Obrawalde
  • Stolperstein für Frida Schoenberner.
    Stolperstein für Frida Schoenberner. Foto: OTFW.

    Stolperstein für Frida Schoenberner. Foto: OTFW.

Frida Schoenberner was born on 10 August 1888 in Berlin. She was the daughter of Reinhold Schoenberner, a Protestant priest and later superintendent. He was particularly committed to helping the deaf since having been commissioned to work for the city’s “deaf-mutes” as a curate in 1866. In the 1880s he taught sign language, an innovation which encountered resistance before eventually gaining acceptance some years later.
Frida Schoenberner grew up with eleven siblings. One of them was the renowned author Franz Schoenberner, who from 1929 to 1933 was the last editor-in-chief of the satirical weekly Simplicissimus, and was forced into exile immediately after the Nazis came to power.
Frida Schoenberner worked as a secretary for various clients, including the alliance of German land reformers (Bund Deutscher Bodenreformer). She lived for many years in Berlin-Kreuzberg, apparently together with her mother. Her father died in 1898.
The death of her mother and the trauma of bombing raids on her hometown had such an intense impact on Frida Schoenberner that she was admitted into a psychiatric hospital for treatment. Later she was transferred to the Meseritz-Obrawalde hospital without her family’s knowledge. Here she was killed by an injection of phenol poison on 12 April 1944, a victim of the Nazis’ policy of “euthanasia”: the mass murder of patients in care and nursing homes.
Her nephew Gerhard Schoenberner, founding director of the House of the Wannsee Conference memorial and education site, later visited the place of his aunt’s murder and wrote the following poem in her memory:

From afar
I recognize her
Amidst the bustle on the platform
Breathless I run
Into her open arms
Waiting for me
We kiss and smile
And hold each other tight
I smell the familiar perfume
And stroke her hair
Cheerfully she looks at me
Through her small eyes
Again and again I see this film
Until it goes black and breaks off
This is where she was
This is where they took her
This is where she died
Killed by doctors
I note silently
What I see and hear:
House 9
The tablet dosage
The lethal injection
The morgue cellar, the lift
The clothes, the gold teeth
Black wrapping paper for coffins
The urnfield
The number signs
The mass grave

(Translated from the German, in: Gerhard Schoenberner: Fazit, Prosagedichte. Argument-Verlag, Hamburg)
In another of his poems, Gerhard Schoenberner describes the violent deaths of other family members: Paul, shot as a hostage; Ernst who emigrated and was shot as a spy by the Russians; Albert who was deaf and shot by a patrol of soldiers; and Ida, lost on a transport from Pomerania.