Carl Bruns 1885-1945

My great uncle Carl Bruns was born on February 10, 1885, the son of the farmer Johann Heinrich Bruns (1851-1920) and Katharina Bruns, née Willers (1858-1955) in Hollerdeich in the former district of Kehdingen, (today the community of Oederquart, district of Stade). Five of the twelve children in the family died at an early age from childhood diseases.

Carl attended the village school in Oederquart for eight years, until 1899. After completing a commercial apprenticeship, he worked ever since in the textile industry as a merchant and moved to Hamburg (about 90 kilometers from Kehdingen) later. (>Kaiserreich)

He took part in the First World War from 1915 till 1918, finally as a gunner in foot. Regiment 45 Hamburg-Altona, and received the "EK II, Verwundetenabzeichen (Wound Badge) und Frontkämpferehrenzeichen".

"My homosexual predisposition only really developed during the World War. (...) After my military service I never approached women again.” (from Carl Bruns' statements at his arrest in April 1942)

Perhaps he got to know his later business and life partner Otto Schildt (1882-1943) during the First World War, because as early as September 1919, shortly after the founding of the Weimar Republic, they became managing directors, and from 1927, owners of the "Tuchlager Welzien & Co” in Hamburg. The owner of the cloth shop until December 1927 was Emma Margaretha Welzien.

The shop "Tuchlager Welzien & Co." was located first at Graskeller 3, then at Neuer Wall 103 in downtown Hamburg. Both buildings having been destroyed by bombs during the Second World War.

Otto Schildt became sole owner of the company in December 1942, after Carl had been arrested, but died in July 1943.

From 1921 to 1924 they lived in Barcastraße in Hamburg-Hohenfelde, and in 1925 they moved to Papenhuder Straße 33 in Hamburg-Uhlenhorst, near the Alster Lake.

On April 1, 1933, shortly after the beginning of the Nazi dictatorship, Carl and Otto, together with Carl's mother (my great-grandmother), moved into an upper middle-class 8-room apartment in Papenhuder Strasse 32, 2nd floor, opposite the previous apartment.

My mother, Hannelore Schreiber, née Busse, (1922-1966) and my aunt Ursula Becker, née Busse (1924-2019) often visited "Onkel Carl und Onkel Otto" as children.

Carl Bruns was not politically active and not a member of the NSDAP, which was recorded in the Gestapo files.

In the photo from left to right: Otto, Carl, Carl's mother, my great grandmother). Photo probably taken by Heinrich Roth.

In 1929 Carl had met the photographer Heinrich (Heinz) Roth (1907-1945) in a gay bar (Die Goldene 13 in St. Pauli) and had had a relationship with him for several years. As the photos testify, Heinz Roth ("Onkel Heinz" for my aunt and my mother) visited Carl's family members together with Otto and Carl (here with his sister Käthe and her husband Julius Strauch).

As a child in the 1960s I still met Aunt Käthe!

In the photo from left to right: Heinz, Otto, Julius, Käthe. The photo was probably taken by Carl.

Kaffee und Kuchen, early 1930s

In the photo from left to right: Käthe, Otto, unknown, Carl's mother, unknown, Heinrich (Heinz), Carl. The photo was probably taken by Julius, Käthe's husband.

On these photos you can see how totally accepted and loved my great uncle and his partners were! Before the National socialists destroyed everything ...

Tip: "Schwule Lieder (Gay Songs)" Historical recordings from the years 1908 to 1933 - Pearls of Cabaret - with artists like Otto Reutter, Gustaf Gründgens, Claire Waldoff and Marlene Dietrich

Disc 1 (YouTube)

Disc 2 (YouTube)

Perlen der Kleinkunst 2

Am 30. Januar 1933 wurde Adolf Hitler zum Reichskanzler ernannt.

Am 1. September 1935 trat die vom nationalsozialistischen Regime verschärfte Fassung des Paragraphen 175 in Kraft.

Paragraph 175

Am 15. September 1935 wurden das "Reichsbürgergesetz" und das "Gesetz zum Schutze des deutschen Blutes und der deutschen Ehre" verabschiedet. Beide "Nürnberger Gesetze" stempelten die jüdischen Mitbürger zu Menschen minderen Rechts.

Carl Bruns wurde am 9. Juni 1936 zum ersten Male „wegen fortges.(etzter) widernat.(ürlicher) Unzucht in zwei Fällen zu 4 Monaten und 2 Wochen Gefängnis“ verurteilt.

After the version of paragraph 175 which was tightened by the National Socialist regime, came into force on September 1, 1935, Carl was sentenced for the first time on June 9, 1936 to 4 months and 2 weeks imprisonment in two cases "for continued unnatural fornication".

Heinz Roth was sentenced to 8 months in prison in April 1936 for his relationship with Carl Bruns. Carl Bruns and Heinz Roth had the same lawyers: Karstens & Wehner, Hermannstr.31.

On July 6, 1942 Carl Bruns is sentenced to one year's imprisonment by the district court of Hamburg, Dept. 131, for fornication between men according to § 175 (he was considered as previously convicted). He served the sentence in the prisons Hamburg-Stadt, -Fuhlsbüttel and -Altona.

Carl can obviously keep his partner Otto Schildt out of the investigation.

According to a still existing judicial file (Hamburg State Archive 213-11 Staatsanwalt Landgericht - Strafsachen, 5209/42), Carl Bruns was named as a homosexual contact by Paul Abele (1907-?) in an interrogation on 27 March 1942 and was subsequently interrogated by the competent criminal investigation department 24 (B.K.1) on 3 April 1942 and arrested on the same day. He denies all charges, only admits to sexual contact with an unknown person in the summer of 1941. He is in police custody (i.e. in the Gestapo prison Fuhlsbüttel) until 13.4.1942, when he is said to have been arrested on a warrant. While Paul Abele revokes his statement on April 30, a letter arrives at the public prosecutor's office on April 29 in which the lawyers Karstens & Wehner explain that Carl Bruns revokes his statement and wants to admit everything, which he then tragically does on May 8: He had had sexual contact with Paul Abele three times, in 1933 and 1934 and then again at the end of 1940.

On July 6, 1942 Carl Bruns is sentenced to one year's imprisonment by the district court of Hamburg, Dept. 131, for fornication between men according to § 175 (he was considered as previously convicted). He served the sentence in the prisons Hamburg-Stadt, -Fuhlbüttel and -Altona.

But his ordeal does not end there: On March 9, 1943 he is not released, but immediately handed over to the police, who arrange for his renewed preventive detention. This meant concentration camp.

Carl Bruns is sent to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp near Berlin and, according to a fellow prisoner, dies on the Death March at the end of April 1945.

His partner - Otto Schildt - had already died in July 1943, maybe during the air raid on Hamburg.

Heinrich (Heinz) Roth was killed in the sinking of the "Cap Arcona" on 3 May 1945, after many years of imprisonment in various camps, most recently in Neuengamme concentration camp.

The friendly fires of hell

7,000 Holocaust survivors were inadvertently killed by the UK a day before Germany surrendered. Jerusalem Post, April 18, 2007

More information about the Sachsenhausen concentration camp on the website Memorial and Museum Sachsenhausen

> Evacuation, death marches and liberation: The evacuation of the Sachsenhausen concentration camp began in the morning hours of April 21, 1945. 33,000 of the remaining 38,000 prisoners were marched northwest in groups of 500 prisoners. In cold and wet weather many prisoners died of exhaustion or were shot by the SS. On different routes the convoys reached the Wittstock area. In the nearby "Below Forest" more than 16,000 prisoners were rounded up in a large camp from 23 April 1945 onwards (> Museum of the Death March).


Die Links der Jahreszahlen verweisen zum "Lebendigen virtuellen Museum Online", einem gemeinsamen Projekt des Deutschen Historischen Museums (DHM), des Haus der Geschichte der Bundesrepublik Deutschland (HdG) sowie des Fraunhofer-Institut für Software- und Systemtechnik (ISST).

Im Schwulen Museum Berlin und in der Gedenkstätte Sachsenhausen fand vom 26. 3. 2000 bis zum 30. 7. 2000 die Ausstellung Verfolgung homosexueller Männer in Berlin 1933 - 1945 statt. Carl Bruns wurde in der Ausstellung und im Katalog gewürdigt.

Mehr zur Verfolgung Homosexueller auf der Website Persecution of Homosexuals des United States Holocaust Memorial Museum und zum ‚Rosa Winkel’.

Paragraph 175

Ein Film über homosexuelle KZ-Opfer von Rob Epstein und Jeffrey Friedman, USA 1999


„Totgeschlagen, totgeschwiegen?“ – Artikel von Klaus Müller in: Nationalsozialistischer Terror gegen Homosexuelle. Verdrängt und ungesühnt Hg. von Rüdiger Lautmann und Burkhard Jellonek. Paderborn 2002.


Bernhard Rosenkranz mit Gottfried Lorenz: "Hamburg auf anderen Wegen - Die Geschichte des schwulen Lebens in der Hansestadt" mit vielen Fotos und Zeitzeugen-Interviews. Das Buch mit 383 Seiten erschien im November 2005 in der Lambda-Edition. Die 3. Auflage (2012) ist als eBook erhältlich.

In Google Books > Heinrich Roth und Carl Bruns

Ebenfalls in Google Books: Mann für Mann: biographisches Lexikon zur Geschichte von Freundesliebe und mannmännlicher Sexualtität Teil 1. B.-U. Hergemöller (Hg.) > Heinrich Roth und Carl Bruns

von Nicolai Clarus

Mit Ulf Bollmann gründete Rosenkranz die Initiative "Gemeinsam gegen das Vergessen - Stolpersteine für homosexuelle NS-Opfer".

Ausstellung Homosexuellen-Verfolgung in Hamburg

März / April 2007 - Universität Hamburg,

Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek

Dezember 2009 - März 2010 Schwules Museum, Berlin

Bernhard Rosenkranz, der Mitbegründer der Initiative, verstarb 2010.

2013 Wie Schwule in Hamburg verfolgt wurden

June 19, 2006

Inauguration of a "Stolperstein" for my great-uncle Carl Bruns in front of his residence at 32, Papenhuder Straße, Hamburg,.

The Gay and Lesbian Business Association of Hamburg SLW Hamburg e.V. adopted the "Stolperstein" for Carl Bruns and invited my aunt, Ursula Becker, my cousin Heidi Becker and me to Hamburg.

The patroness of the ceremony, bishop Maria Jepsen, spoke. PHOTO follows

Eine Bewohnerin des Hauses, die damals als junges Mädchen bereits dort wohnte. FOTO follows

There was a lot of media coverage in June 2006. Unfortunately all podcasts and articles are not online anymore.


45. Stolperstein für Homosexuelle in Hamburg

Sendezeit: 19.06.2006 14:12

Autor: Nording, Werner

Programm: Deutschlandfunk

Sendung: Deutschland heute

Länge: 04:15 Minuten

14.06.2006: Bischöfin Maria Jepsen enthüllt Stolperstein

Erinnerung an den homosexuellen Kaufmann Carl Bruns

>> Artikel auf der Website der nordelbisch evangelisch-lutherischen Landeskirche.

20.06.2006: bitte stolpern!

Stolperstein für Hamburger Kaufmann Carl Bruns verlegt

>> Artikel auf der Website der nordelbisch evangelisch-lutherischen Landeskirche.

Stolperstein für Carl Bruns

>> Artikel im Hamburger Abendblatt am 22.6.2006

Auf den Spuren von Hamburgs verdrängten Opfern

"Schwule, Lesben: Auch nach dem Ende der Nazi-Herrschaft gingen Schikanen für Homosexuelle weiter. Der Forscher Bernhard Rosenkranz hat das Schicksal von Homosexuellen in Hamburg während des Dritten Reichs und nach dem Krieg dokumentiert. Seine "Stolpersteine" und ein historischer Stadtrundgang sollen an die Opfer aus der Zeit erinnern." >> Artikel im Hamburger Abendblatt vom 28.7.2006

Stolperstein für Heinrich Roth am Steindamm 91/97, Hamburg - St. Georg. Heinrich (Heinz) Roth (1907-1945) war ab 1929 Carls Freund.

Gedenkstätte Neuengamme - Biographie Heinrich Roth (PDF, 11 Seiten)

7,000 Holocaust survivors were inadvertently killed by the UK a day before Germany surrendered. Jerusalem Post, April 18, 2007

STOLPERSTEINE ('Stumble Stones')

"The artist Gunter Demnig reminds us of the victims of the Nazi-dictatorship by placing small brass memorial stones in the sidewalk in front of their last self-chosen residence.

Until the end of 2006 he had laid about 9000 stones in more than 190 towns.

"A man is only forgotten when his name has been forgotten", says Gunter Demnig.

The stones in front of the houses keep the remembrance alive of those people who once lived here. On the stones it is written:

HIER WOHNTE... HERE LIVED... A stone. A name. A human being.

For 120 Euros you can adopt the production and lay of a STOLPERSTEIN."



Newspaper articles:

Tragedy of the prison ships sunk by the RAF – 75 years on, The National, May 2nd, 2020

Commemoration of death marches 75 years ago: Shot dead onthe death march (in German)

Shortly before the end of the war, the SS drove prisoners from concentration camps through Brandenburg. These death marches have left their mark.

Taz, April 18, 2020

Canceled: Memorial service on 19 April 2020

A "state danger like communism"

Homosexuals as political prisoners in Sachsenhausen