27 September 2016

Clara Bauerle is Finally Laid to Rest

Clara Bauerle
Clara Bauerle
It has taken me a few years, pursuing many leads, but I can finally say that Clara Bauerle has been laid to rest.

Clara did not die stuffed into a Wych Elm in England. She was not Bella in the Wych Elm. She was a German actress and singer who passed away in a Berlin hospital on December 16, 1942.

A while ago, I ordered the birth registration for Clara, from the Standesamt in Ulm. That record gave her death registration number in Berlin.

With that in hand, I wrote to the relevant Standesamt in Berlin and, after a lengthy wait, received her death registration in the mail last week. Translation follows below...

Death Registration of Clara Bauerle
Death Registration of Clara Bauerle

The actress Hedwig Klara Bauerle, Protestant, living in Berlin, Bleibtreustrasse 32, did, on 16 December 1942 at 12:15 in Berlin-Oberschoneweide, Konigin-Elisabeth-Hospital, die.
The deceased was born on 27 August 1905 in Ulm (Standesamt Ulm/Donau Nr.../...).
Father - Fruitseller Adolf Bauerle, deceased, last living in Ulm.
Mother - Dorothea Barbara Bauerle, born Schaufele, deceased, last living in Ulm.
The deceased was not married.
Registered upon written notification of the Amtsgericts Berlin on 19 December 1942.
...
Cause of Death - lung infection (pneumonia?), Veronal poisoning.

A few things are of note. The first obviously being that Clara Bauerle, actress and singer, did not die in England, a sad casualty of Abwehr incompetence. Clara passed away in a Berlin hospital, a victim of Veronal poisoning.

Veronal was a barbital known for its hypnotic properties. In the early half of the 20th Century, Veronal was a popular sleeping aid as it could be acquired without a doctor's prescription. Unfortunately, prolonged use of the drug could cause the user to develop a tolerance for it, requiring larger and larger doses in order to achieve the same effects. This could be dangerous. There were many reports in German and British medical literature of severe poisoning and fatalities associated with Veronal. One could, naturally, wonder if perhaps Clara passed away through suicide, consuming a large dose of Veronal. The truth will likely never be known. Her death would not, however, have been a pretty one. An account from an American doctor in 1914 outlines the progression of Veronal poisoning:
A CASE OF VERONAL POISONING. By EDWARD SWIFT, M. D., Los Angeles.
The patient was a woman of 42 years. She had always been in good health, but was of a highly neurotic temperament. At 11 a.m. I was called to see her, though I had seen her the night before when she was apparently in perfect health but somewhat worried over some domestic troubles. I received the telephone call from her brother, who informed me that though his sister had gone to bed the previous night at 10 o’clock, she had as yet shown no evidence of awakening. On examination I found the patient in coma from which it was impossible to awaken her; no response from pressure over supraorbital nerve. There was no cyanosis; pulse 60 and of good quality; temperature normal; respirations 22. I immediately washed out her stomach with warm water, after which six ounces of black coffee and one egg was administered through the tube. Normal salt was given per rectum by the drop method (two quarts at this time). When I saw her a few hours later she was in the same condition, though her respirations were slightly deeper. About 4 a. m. the following morning she became cyanotic, her breathing, which had gradually been getting deeper, became stertorous, her pulse weak and irregular, being intermittent at times. Her temperature still remained normal. Caffeine sodium benzoate in doses of gr. i and camphor and ether in doses of m. x were given for cardiac stimulation. This treatment only improved the pulse temporarily. Her respirations gradually became more and more stertorous, and by three in the afternoon she developed signs of pulmonary congestion. This gradually increased until there were signs of well marked edema of the lungs. Her cyanosis gradually increased in spite of oxygen inhalations and hypodermic injections of atropine. Adrenalin was given without benefit. At 4 p.m. her stomach was washed out and the return consisted of brown fluid with a decided fecal odor, and containing some particles of fecal matter. There seemed to be a loss of tone of the intestinal tract, for enemas given were not expelled. The patient died at 5 p.m. Just before death her temperature gradually increased to 105°, respirations developed into the Cheyne-Stokes type. Her pulse became weaker and weaker until it was imperceptible at the wrist. The function of the kidneys was lessened and in the last twenty-four hours of her life only two ounces of urine were to be obtained by catheter. Altogether she received one gallon of normal salt by the drop method, but this seemed to have no effect upon the secretion of urine. Hot packs and dry cups over the lungs were used, but nothing seemed to be of any avail. On investigation it was found that she had taken one hundred (100) grains of Veronal just prior to retiring for the night.
    Read before the Los Angeles County Medical Society. January 15, 1914.
While her death registration notes that Clara's place of residence was Bleibtreustrasse 32, a few blocks from the home of Josef Jakobs' parents, she actually passed away in the southeast corner of Berlin (see my Google Maps). Why did she die so far from home? That mystery that will likely remain unsolved. The K├Ânigin Elisabeth Hospital was moved to another location after the war and the former site on Treskowallee only has a few sad ruins as a memorial to all those who passed through its doors in search of hope and healing.

I have written many blogs on Clara Bauerle, links below. A summary of her life is also available on this blog page.

Blogs arranged in order of oldest to most recent.
  1. Josef Jakobs & Clara Bauerle
  2. Who put Bella in the Wych Elm?
  3. The Truth about Clara Bauerle
  4. BBC Radio 4 - Punt PI - Who put Bella in the Wych Elm?
  5. Express & Star Newspaper - Punt PI Investigates Midlands Riddle
  6. Follow-up to Clara Bauerle & Bella in the Wych Elm
  7. BBC - Unsolved English Murder Mysteries
  8. Update on the Elusive Clara Bauerle and Bella in the Wych Elm
  9. Clara Bauerle's Music
  10. Another Clue in Tracing the Enigmatic Clara Bauerle
  11. False Alarm with Clara Bauerle
  12. Errors Abound around Josef Jakobs
  13. Clara Bauerle - How Speculation can quickly turn to Fact
  14. Break in the Hunt for Clara Bauerle
  15. Clara Bauerle is Finally Laid to Rest (this blog post)