Eduard and Alexander Hornemann are two of the 20 Bullenhuser Damm children who were murdered on 20 April 1945. I have written about the Bullenhuser Damm children before, but I just want to focus on the two brothers now. The reason being, at another time it could have been my boys whose names would have been on that list.
Like Eduard and Alexander’s father, I too worked for Philips at one stage in my life.
Eduard, the elder of the two Hornemann brothers, was born on 1 January 1933. He was known as Edo in the family. Alexander was born on 31 May 1936 and was nicknamed Lexje. The family were from Eindhoven in the Netherlands.
The father, Philip (aka Flip)Carel Hornemann, worked for Philips. After the occupation of the Netherlands by German forces, he and another 100 Jewish colleagues were deployed to a special department of the company. His wife Elisabeth hid on a farm with their son Alexander, whilst Eduard was taken in on another farm. When the Jewish employees of Philips were taken to the 18 Vught Concentration camp, Elisabeth Hornemann followed her husband with her two sons.
On August 18 1943, German troops surrounded the Philips plant in Eindhoven and arrested all the Jews. Philip Carel Hornemann and the rest of the Jewish employees were sent to Vught, a Dutch concentration camp, where they were put to work in a Philips operation that employed more than 3,000 prisoners.
The Philips workers received extra rations and were given the special privilege of living together with their wives and children. When a Philips Corporation representative told Alexander’s mother that the company could guarantee her family’s safety only if she joined her husband in the camp, she felt that she had no choice but to go.
But prior to that their lives had already been interrupted. In 1942 the family lived in the Staringstraat in Eindhoven. The Nazis them to move to Gagelstraat because they have to make way for a Nazi-minded family.
On 3 June 1944, the Hornemanns were deported to the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp in Poland. The two boys remained with their mother and were sent to the women’s barracks. Conditions in the camp were horrendous. There was little food and disease was rampant. Alexander’s mother contracted typhoid fever three months after their arrival and died soon after. Philip died from exhaustion on transport to another camp.
Kurt Heissmeyer was a SS physician and the nephew of the senior SS officer August Heissmeyer. He was working to obtain his Professorship, which required original research.
Although previous research was dismissed, Heissmeyer’s hypothesis was by injecting live tuberculosis bacilli into subjects, the bacilli would function as a vaccine. Another aspect of his experiment was based on the Nazi racial theory that race played a factor in developing tuberculosis. By proving his theory he injected live tuberculosis bacilli into the lungs and bloodstream of 20 Jewish children at the Neuengamme Concentration Camp. These were the 20 children selected by Joseph Mengele, amongst them were the two Hornemann boys. Eduard and Alexander Hornemann were brought to Neuengamme Concentration Camp on 28 November 1944.
On 20 April 1945, the children were taken to the abandoned Bullenhuser Schule. They were cheerful and happy to get out of the camp. The children were given a morphine injection that evening. Just before the injection, they were told that they would be “put to bed quickly.” That night, all twenty children were killed by hanging in the basement of the Bullenhuser Schule. On that same day, the British were less than three miles from the camp.
“I don’t think that the camp inmates are worth the same as other people,” said 61-year-old Kurt Heissmeyer on 21 June 1966. When asked, “Why didn’t you use laboratory animals?” he replied, “because there is no difference between laboratory animals and humans,” and then corrected himself, “between laboratory animals and Jews.”
Heissmeyer died on 29 August 1967.