Here you can find some translated biographies.
Translators were Eva Gehle and Dr.Stephen Pallavicini.
Translations and family names:
Beith - Delle, Gustav - Freytag, Alfred - Gerson, Dr. Alwin - Goldschmidt, Paul - Herzberg, Albert und Sally - Hirsch/Michelsohn - Kümmermann/Grube/Pünjer -
Pohl, Hedwig and Professor Julius Pohl
Josef Beith, born 24.6.1897, deported on 25.10.1941 to Lodz, and on 10.5.42 to Chelmno
Martha Beith, nee Fränkel, born 29.6.1905, deported on 25.10.1941 to Lodz, and on 10.5.42 to Chelmno
Harald Beith, born 19.10.1927, deported on 25.10.1941 to Lodz, and on 10.5.42 to Chelmno
Günther Beith, born on 14.6.1933, deported on 25.10.1941 to Lodz, and on 10.5.42 to Chelmno
Uri Beith, born on 23.9.1938, deported on 25.10.1941 to Lodz, and on 10.5.42 to Chelmno
Stumbling Stones: Wandsbeker Marktstaße 20-22 (former Hamburgerstr. 13)
The photo, taken in an atmosphere of departure and renewal, hope and fear, shows a wedding party in the autumn of 1934, one of the last large gatherings of the family Beith. The family portrait was taken in the living-room on the second floor, 13 Hamburg Street, at the marriage of the youngest daughter Cora with Kurt Abraham, a medical practitioner. Of the 24 people shown in the photo, which included three children, none were living in Germany 8 years later. The well-off family had lived in Wandsbek for generations. Eight were deported; they either died in ghettos or murdered in the death camps. The remainder were successful in emigrating to the USA before 1940. Erika Freundlich, the girl wearing the sailor’s blouse and niece of the bride, successfully reached England in 1938 on one of the transports for children. After the war she settled in the USA.
On the right hand side of the photo Josef Beith is standing; next to him his wife, Martha. Both were born in Wandsbek. His father was the Altona based real estate agent, (Benjamin Wolf) Benny Beith, who for decades had been Chairman of the Wandsbek Jewish Community. His mother, Selma, nee Auerbach, was also born in Wandsbek, as was her mother, Dina, nee Hirsch. Benny and Selma Beith married in June 1891 (both are sitting to the left of the bride). The pair had five children, the boys Siegfried and Josef, the daughters Irma, Else and Cora, all born between 1894 and 1907.
Josef Beith was the second youngest. He lived, save for a short break before the First World War, until 1926 with his parents in the house, which Benny Beith owned sinced 1914. The poet, Matthias Claudius lived here once and his old linden tree is said to have stood in the garden until the mid 1930s. Also at this address for many years was the seat of the Jewish Community. The real estate agency operated here having commenced business in Wandsbek in 1905. The Claudius building was divided into three sections: the Beith Family lived in the middle section. On the ground floor was the real estate agency and in the two upper floors lived the family. The building today bears no historical markings; a tablet recalls the Claudis period and the cobble stones recall the Beith Family.
Josef Beith lived in Mainz for two years from 1912. As an 18 year old he took part in the war and was so severely injured by gas that he was only partially fit for work. Although he was a real estate agent he required financial support from his father. At the beginning of the 1920s he was the chair of the newly established Community club of the Jewish Community Wandsbek.
As he intended to marry he moved in November 1926 into the ground floor at 1d Jüthornstr.. At the beginning of 1927 her married Martha Fränkel, the daughter of a Jewish businessman. Her father, Jacob Fränkel, who sold shoes, lived with his family in 2 Schillerstr. (see the chapter Fränkel). At the end of the same year the first child was born: Harald Beith was born on 19 October 1927 in Wandsbek. His cousin, Erika Freundlich, described him as a pretty and very intelligent boy, who sufftered from breathing problems causes by asthma. In order to give the growing family a more appropriate home, the Beiths moved in 1929 to a villa at 16 Bärenallee. Josef Beith had bought the home of the Seligmann family (see the chapter Seligmann). However, with the back drop of the Great Depression he could only raise part of the purchase price so that the sale was reversed two years later and Helene Seligmann was registerd as the owner of the property. The Beiths moved to Von-der-Tann-Str. Josef Beith lived his whole life in a period racked by crises as was shown a year later in the Wandsbek Jewish Community. At the end of December 1932 he made a complaint about Rabbi Bamberger. He was accused of falsely accusing him while Beith was reading a religious text in the synagogue, and of making a fool of him before the congregation. In his complain to the Jewish Community Beith went so far that his complaints were regarded as libelous and were regarded as untrue by the Community’s recorder. At any event the Community did not have high regard for Josef Beith – he had not paid the Community’s charges so that he had to endure the following lecture: “Whoever does not fulfil his duties does not have the right to criticise the Community leadership.“ A second attempt by Beith to deal with his complain was rejected by the Community. The reasons given show that it was only out of consideration for his father, the long-serving Community Chairman, Benny Beith, that prevented further measures being taken. Josef Beith, who felt “as someone lying in the dirt“, could not have felt better after this defeat.
With the birth of his son Günther on 14 June 1933 (on the photo to the left of his grandmother) the family again moved home and moved into 121 Lübeckerstr., close to the business of the parents-in-law Fränkel. Josef Beith must have worked in the following years as a real estate agent as his hame and address were on an anti-semitic National Socialist flyer – as were those of his father, brother and father-in-law.
In 1934 there was a further move to 10 Löwenstr. Uri, the third son, was born on 23 September 1938, in Wandsbek. Erika Freundlich recalled two events around his birth: the parents were required by law to choose a name from a list. The first names on that list were hardly accepted by the Jewish Community as names out of the Bible were excluded because they were frequently used by Christian families. In addition, at this time, the birth of a Jewish boy burdened the family with the stigma of his “Jewish” name making an already difficult situation even worse. Uri’s birth had the expected effect on the family as Erika Freundlich recalled: “I remember my mother and grandmother weeping because my aunt had another child in such a terrible time.” A few weeks later the family saw no future for itself in Wandsbek. After Jewish real estate agents were banned from their professing the Beiths moved at the beginning of 1939 to the Grindelviertel, Heinrich-Barth-Str. 11 III., their last address before they were deported.
I was given the marriage photo by a former household servant. As a young woman she worked for several years at 13 Hamburgerstr. She recalles that the family was spied upon by a hostile neighbour. It is possible that local offices or party organs were behind this as Jews were generally held in suspicion of wanting to emigrate and get capital out of the country. Benny Beith aparently did not have intentions to emigrate as in the 1930s he completely renovated his home and the business section was shifted from fronting the street to the upper rear section of the building.
A few years later some family members made firm plans to emigrate. In 1937 the married couple Cora and Kurt Abraham emigated and in october 1938 followed Siegfried Beith (standing in the middle of the photo), who, too, had been severely traumatised by the war. Benny and Selma Beith who remained in Wandsbek suffered from further tribulations after the November 1938 progms. Their property, business and house came under the scrutiny of the Currency Office, which pursuant to a security order removed their ability to freely deal with their propery on 19 November. The busines S.&J. Hirsch, owned by Benny Beith, and which had been founded by his predecessor Sally Hirsch in 1875 was liquidated by a notary.
A few months later there was a new owner of 13 Hamburgerstr. The new owner, the optometrist, Bruno Weser, who lived at 25 Marienstr., Wandsbek, paid the purchase price into Benny Beith’s blocked bank accout. According the contract the Beiths could remain in their homw until 30 September 1939. However, they left Wandsbek on 7 September. Prior to their emigration in April 1940 they lived their last months at 43 Werderstr as tenants of Mr. Neustadt. Their belongings were stored with the furniture removalist Keim, Kraut & Co.
Benny Beith had been the bread winner of his family for years and he continued to look after his family. The property that he had to leave behind in Germany would have been enough to look after his need children and grandchildren but the authorities had blocked his accounts and forced him to sell his real estate. However, while he was in the country, he tried until the very end to support his family.
Two months before he emigrated he applied for the release of RM 3,600 for the Josef Beith family and as he stated “for my daughter-in-law Martha Sara Beith and her 3 children, 1½ - 12 years old, and her war-injured husband Josef Israel Beith... Those named have no property. The RM 3,600 are to be deposited into a savings account in the name of Martha S Beith and she is to be allowed from 1 April 1940 to withdraw the first monthly withdrawal of RM 150.“ He similarly acted for his grandson Rolf and his daughter Else Salmon, whose husband had only one arm and lived off a war pension. Both applications were granted by the Currency Office on 19 March 1940.
Even when overseas Benny Beith appears to have done all he could do (limited though it was) to assist his relatives who had no income. At the beginning of October 1941 the Commerzbank asked the Currency Office whether it would approve a payment of RM 150 in instalments of RM 25 from the blocked account of Benny Beiths in favour of his grandson Harald Beith. The transaction with the relative small sum had previously been accepted as a gift for her son who was not yet an adult.
By the time the Currency Office granted its approval on 11 November 1941 the family had already been in the Lodz Ghetto for a fortnight. On 25 October they had boarded the deportation train. The Hamburg Gestapo List registered Josef Beith as a laborer, presumably a reference to his status as forced laborer. On the other hand the Lodz inhabitants‘ register shows him, as for most German arrivals, with his old profession, businessman. They lived in the ghetto at Flat 8, 25a Franzstr. Until the end of April 1942 the German Jews were excluded from the transports to the Kulmhof (Chelmo) Death Camp but between 4 and 15 May 1942 they almost exclusively dominate the transport lists. They did not realise that they were going to their certain death. After the word had spread that they were to go to an even worse camp Joseph Beith made a request to the Ghetto Administration. In a letter dated 8 Mary 1942 he attempted to reverse the “resettlement“ of himself and his family. To support his application he attached a copy of this war-injury medal, a medal from the First World War. He also added that since 22 March 1942 he had worked as a sanitary workman, i.e. a lowly regarded but important job. He convinced the Commission who granted his request which was stamped “considered“ However, the whole family was transported between 9 and 11 May 1942 to the Chelmo Death Camp. Documents which have only recently been able to be accessed from archival material, which include Jospeh Beith’s applicationl, show that contrary to what has generally been regarded, the three year old Uri was still alive and also left Lodz in the direction of Chelmno.
As with other deportees the five member family was stripped of its German citizenship.
Two sisters of Josef Beith were also deported: Irma Freundlich and her husband Paul Freundlich were transported in 1942 to Auschwitz. They are to be seen on the extreme left hand side at the front of the photo (their story is to be read in a brochure on Hamburg-Eimsbüttel which will be publish in 2012.) Else Salmon was sent to Auschwitz via the Theresienstadt Ghetto (she is standing with her husband, Emil, to the right behind the wedding couple), together with her son, Rolf (in themiddle of the picture between the Rabbi Bamberger and his wife).
Relatives of Martha Beith were also deported in 1941 – her mother and brother, Ida und Max Fränkel were sent to Riga (see the chapter, Fränkel).
Let’s go back to the photo: it shows a German-Jewish family, shortly before it was destroy by political events. Neither service nor sacrifice, which the Beiths as other Germans had made – including the three World War 1 injured – protected them. As Jews they were marked and excluded and received the same fate as those of their faith. They were forced to leave their country; few succeed in reaching safe foreign shores while other found death in the ghettos or the death camps.
Translator: Dr. Stephen Pallavicini
Gustav Delle, born on 20.09.1880, was imprisoned in Fuhlsbüttel concentration camp in 1933 and in Neuengamme concentration camp in 1944. He died on 25.04.1945 from the consequences of the arrest.
Schlossstraße 60 (district administration of Wandsbek)
The local politician Gustav Delle is the only non-Jewish person, persecuted for political reasons, whose life is dealt with in this connection. Being regarded as politically intolerable opponent due to his membership in the Social Democratic Party (SPD), he was arrested in 1933, excluded from public services and finally imprisoned in the concentration camp of Neuengamme.
Born in Botnang/district of Stuttgart in Baden-Württemberg on September 20, 1880, Gustav Delle started the skilled trade of a painter after having finished school. He married Luise, née
Nobes who was of his age and who also came from the Württemberg region. In 1905, their daughter Grete was born; followed later by a brother and a sister: Hans and Hilde. In 1911 Delle joined the SPD and, according to the registration card, in 1913 the family moved from Stuttgart to 34 Erikastraße in Wandsbek-Gartenstadt where they stayed until 1916. Afterwards they lived in 71 Rosenstraße for 10 years and finally they moved into a house in 168 Bramfelder Straße, which probably was their acquired property. They inhabited this house until 1934.
Gustav Delle’s career developed continuously: He was municipal councilor and since 1919 he had occupied the position of a salaried alderman and head of department for the public welfare in Wandsbek. In this function he acquired an excellent reputation, as he was hard-working as well as competent and popular. In 1931 he ran successfully for the office of Second Mayor of Wandsbek. Immediately after coming into power, the National Socialists started to eliminate opposition and appointed their own people for public positions and functions. Also Delle was affected by this action; he and three other Wandsbek Social Democrats were arrested on May 6, 1933 and imprisoned for so-called “protective custody” in Fuhlsbüttel concentration camp for 14 days. Also Delle’s son-in-law was dismissed from public service in Wandsbek due to “political unreliability”.
When in the end of April 1933 the Second Mayor was to be elected, the SPD was ignored and the district leader Eggers, member of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party NSDAP, was put into this position. However, Gustav Delle had not officially been dismissed from his position and therefore a pretext was sought to dispose of him by means of judicial ploy. This action was controlled by Lord Mayor Ziegler who had been Second Mayor for many years until he succeeded Lord Mayor Rodig in 1931 – supported by the SPD. Ziegler had survived the change of political powers without any damage. In the course of Delle’s dismissal, the lawyer already demonstrated his national socialist disposition. He prepared the legal action by applying the infamous law for the reintroduction of the salaried officialdom. However, Ziegler relied on the wrong statement of grounds, i. e. article 2. This article provided a dismissal without a pension, in case the person concerned was not sufficiently trained or qualified for the position he occupied. This was not the case with Gustav Delle and therefore the Prussian Home Secretary intervened and objected to the statement. The city of Wandsbek was obliged to pay a pension for Delle. The objection to Ziegler’s request stated that Delle’s integrity and his actions, his impeccable administration and the services he had rendered to the city within 13 years were beyond any doubts. Being reprimanded in such a way, the Lord Mayor decided to apply article 4 of the law mentioned above. According to this article, persons should be dismissed if their previous political activities could not guarantee that they would wholeheartedly defend the nation’s interests at any time.
The Delle case and the way he had been treated disturbed some Wandsbek citizens who still had a sound sense of justice. In 1934 the former Lord Mayor Rodig, who had held this position for many years, made another attempt and pleaded for Delle’s return to the civil service. In his letter to the Prussian Home Secretary he attested Delle excellent expert knowledge and the ability to incite his employees, despite his amiable attitude, to give maximum job performance. In his opinion it had proved of value that Delle came from a skilled trade.
Rodig’s efforts not only remained unsuccessful, on the contrary, they provoked a scornful comment of Lord Mayor Ziegler stating: “Should ex-mayor Delle be willing to offer his cooperation in the public welfare service of his present residence Ahrensburg, he will find ample opportunities with the winter care program organized by NS social services.”
The excited political atmosphere that went along with Delle’s dismissal, forced him in 1935 to leave Wandsbek and to give up the scope of functions he had executed for many years. He moved with his family to Ahrensburg, 16 Am Tiergarten, where they occupied three rooms on the upper floor of the house. As he had planned to buy the house later on, Delle had leased it with purchase option.
The failed attempt to assassinate Hitler on July 20, 1944 was followed by the so-called operation thunder-storm, entailing a series of raids and detentions all over the Reich, in the course of which also former oppositional politicians were arrested. Gustav Delle was detained at his residence on August 22, 1944. The head of the local police Gramm and the police officer Claussen turned him over to the Gestapo who admitted him to the concentration camp Neuengamme on August 27, 1944. During his imprisonment he had to undergo experiments with pure salicyl, the agent of the pain killer Aspirin. With substantial dosage and long-term taking, this substance could lead to gastric disorders and hemorrhages. The side effects caused an aggravation of Delle’s existing gastric troubles. Furthermore, he got on the brink of collapse as a consequence of physical mistreatment. Due to the intervention of a friend who thought highly of him, he was released from the concentration camp on November 1, 1944. However, it was too late. Gustav Delle did not recover. He died in Bad Oldesloe on April 25, 1945.
The social democrat Heinrich Wichelmann was one of Delle’s companions during his time in Wandsbek. He, too, had been arrested in 1933. After the war he worked as editorial journalist of the “Hamburger Echo”, a daily newspaper edited by the SPD. In 1955 he published an article of appreciation on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of Delle’s death.
Delle’s place of work, the municipal administration of the township of Wandsbek, had been
in the city hall of Wandsbek, 12 Königstraße (Wandsbeker Königstraße), the same place where also the offices of the two mayors Rodig and Ziegler had been. Thus, there had been a long lasting cooperation not only with Delle’s advocate Rodig, but also with his successor Ziegler. However, since March 1933, former alliances had become worthless.
As the former city hall does not exist anymore, the cobble stone for Gustav Delle was placed directly in front of the entrance of the district administration Wandsbek, 60 Schlossstraße.
Translator: Eva Gehle
Albert Freytag, born on April 28, 1916, murdered in the mental home Meseritz-Obrawalde
Schädlerstraße 1 (Neue Bahnhofstraße 1/Horst-Wessel-Straße 1)
The first impression upon opening the patient record of Albert Freytag is conveyed by the photo of a good-looking young man in his early twenties, looking provokingly into the camera. His mien does not betray anything about the fact that his life had been ill-fated already from the outset. Albert Freytag was an illegitimate child, born in Wandsbek on April 28, 1916 during the hunger crisis of WW I. His protestant mother, Olga Freytag, worked as a clerk; his Jewish father, Sally Herzberg, was a butcher and carter in Wandsbek. The parents had been engaged, but the father did not want to get married during the war. This became an issue of dispute between the couple and finally they separated. Albert Freytag was baptized and grew up as an illegitimate child.
According to his mother she gave birth to him in precipitate labor. At the age of one the right side of his body was paralyzed. When he was two and a half he fell out of the window and had a brain concussion. He was vaccinated at the age of 3 1/2 and on the same day he had convulsions. At first there were only slight convulsions; but the (epileptic) seizures gradually became more and more frequent and serious. As a student he sometimes had six to eight seizures per day.
The patient record also contains information from Albert Freytag himself, given on the occasion of an interview about his school years: He attended the school Königsland (Wandsbek), presumably a school for children with learning difficulties. However, he had to leave this school. “There were always these seizures interrupting while I was reading or writing.” Therefore, he came to Schleswig, i. e. the mental home Schleswig-Hesterberg. At the time of his institutionalization, Albert Freytag was eight years old. The diagnosis was “mental deficiency with epilepsy”. Apart from few interruptions, he spent his short life henceforth in mental homes.
The patient records describe him as headstrong and insolent, physically weak, violent towards objects and fellow patients. According to the records his cognitive ability did not make any progress, particularly since he got no special education. After nine years he was released shortly before Christmas 1933, for his condition had “ameliorated” and his seizures had decreased owing to the medical treatment.
In 1934 the “Act for the Prevention of Genetically Diseased Offspring” came into force. Physically handicapped, retarded and mentally ill persons had to be reported to the authorities by doctors and other health personnel and presented to a so-called Hereditary Health Court for assessment, without obtaining the previous consent of the persons involved. Those who did not meet the criteria of the court for “normality” were registered for enforced sterilization. A district judge, a public medical officer and an approbated doctor acted as assessors. Albert Freytag, suffering from mental illness and epilepsy, belonged to the group of people affected by this law and, in July 1934, he was sterilized in the general hospital in Wandsbek. Since he had not been in a hospital before this operation took place, it is likely that he was denounced by a resident doctor. After the operation the epileptic seizures increased again. In December Freytag’s health had apparently weakened, for he was taken to the general hospital in Wandsbek and in January 1935 transferred to the mental home of the Alsterdorfer Anstalten. The entries in the local patient record are similar to those of the Schleswig record. Nevertheless, they also reveal Albert Freytag’s own view of his situation: He complained to his mother and talked about his “fate he had to bear.”
Towards the end of February his doctors declared that he had “positively changed” and now described him as a calm and industrious person who was seeking work. However, some days later he had an argument with a male-nurse and insulted him while his mother was present. When he also threatened her with the coffee kettle, he was transferred to a single room. Even the slightest misdemeanor was now entered in his record, e. g. his special interest in magazines, from which he stole some copies. The medical staff observed a certain drive for collecting things: e. g. he stole some tomatoes to store them in a box. According to his record he obviously did not realize that such actions were wrong. In 1936 he was involved in brawls with fellow patients. Apparently he had been assigned to a gang, where he broke into a sweat with the slightest activity and suffered from pathological agitation. Reduced employability along with “violent behavior” did not lead to a positive prognosis. Therefore, in 1937 a proceeding for incapacitating Albert Freytag was initiated. According to the medical estimate made by the assistant medical director of the Alsterdorfer Anstalten Albert Freytag should be hospitalized in a secure institution, as he was at risk of committing suicide so that a permanent stay in a medical institution was inevitable. Furthermore, the doctor declared that Albert Freytag was not able to handle his personal affairs and thus the preconditions were given for incapacitating his patient because of insanity. Additionally, the doctor referred to the family register (“Sippenkartei”), which had already been set up in medical institutions since November 1934. This register stated the names of all families with “hereditary defects” in order to finally establish a “Register for Hereditary Health” all over the Reich. Apparently, also Albert Freytag was to be included in this pattern.
For, with their research of the medical history of Freytag’s father, the doctors had encountered relatives who came within the persons or disease patterns referred to in the respective act.
On August 19, 1937 the Local Court in Wandsbek enacted the incapacitation of Albert Freytag. A legal guardian for this time is not mentioned in the files; only many years later a guardian was appointed for his support.
On April 12, 1938 Albert Freytag was moved to the public mental hospital in Langenhorn on the basis of the following statement: “Transfer from the Alsterdorfer Anstalten since he is half-Jew”. Another explanation was: “Albert Freytag was moved, because all Jewish patients are to be hospitalized in public institutions.”
In Langenhorn Albert Freytag had to work in a gang in the garden or on the farm which was a rather barren activity and considered as one of the lowest levels within the working hierarchy. At the beginning of 1939 his work performance was rather poor, particularly since he could not work for some days owing to his epileptic seizures. As a consequence he now was described as an easily irritable and demented invalid with a disposition to aggressions who caused difficulties for the medical staff.
In 1939 the patient and his family had to cope with dramatic changes. In January his mother had a fatal accident. The grandmother, Emma Freytag, now looked after her grandson and took him into her home sometimes. In the midst of May he returned to the hospital after a three weeks’ leave, whereupon his condition worsened considerably. When he refused to obey the nurses and assaulted them instead, he was transferred to another station.
In autumn 1939 the “enabling law for euthanasia” came into force. The campaign “T 4” which had been prepared by means of the registration documents was started. Mentally ill persons could be taken to killing centers that had been set up in the meantime and killed in mobile gas vans. After national and international protests an official statement was published in April 1941 that the “campaign” against mental patients had been stopped. However, 70000 patients had been killed during this campaign.
The registration form containing the data of Albert Freytag had been sent to the “national health leader” (Reichsgesundheitsführer) in Berlin on April 20, 1938. These date as well as the five patient categories such as “nonproductive”, “incurable”, “worthless” were recorded in a central data file and provided the basis for the euthanasia plans. Warned by the extensive collection of patient data, many relatives intensified their efforts for the patients. Obviously, also Albert Freytag’s grandmother tried to get his grandson out of the mental home as often as possible. Perhaps she felt that the integration into the family would provide a certain protection against willful deportation. However, her request for a Christmas vacation for her grandson was turned down by the doctor in charge.
It is particularly noticeable that Albert Freytag was frequently moved, either to another ward within the Langenhorn institution or to other institutions in the Hamburg area. Meanwhile, the Langenhorn institution was overcrowded. Mentally ill persons who had not been deported so far, had to make room for physically ill persons, since the hospitals and the old people’s homes within the Hamburg city area were being evacuated due to impending bomb attacks. In this process, Jewish patients were kept under special observation, for, since September 23, 1940 they no longer were gathered with other mental patients, but collected separately and deported to killing centers. In Langenhorn 36 Jewish women and 30 Jewish men were registered for the transport to killing centers.
However, Albert Freytag was not among them. He was transferred, together with a group of 50 men and 50 women to Neustadt in Holstein in March 1941, to one of the institutions the Hamburg health authorities had concluded takeover agreements in order to save money. Already one week later his grandmother Emma Freytag sent a letter to the directors and asked for the permit to visit her grandson. The reply said that she could visit him any time.
At the end of March she sent another letter asking for the permit to take her grandson for a leave on 9 April until 2 May, if possible, as his birthday was on 28 April. Her request was turned down, probably because another transfer was planned. On 3 May 1941 Albert Freytag came back to Langenhorn and was immediately forwarded with a collective shipment to Lüneburg where he arrived on 5 May. The frequent relocations disturbed and upset particularly those patients who were dependent on a regulated daily routine, all the more as these changes always led to a worsening of accommodation and food conditions and thus also of their health situation. Albert Freytag still suffered from mood swings. He became extremely upset when his pocket watch was not immediately handed over to him and threatened to knock the doctor with a chair. This doctor then made a strange entry into his clinical record which revealed his anti-Semitic attitude: “Particularly when being provoked, it becomes clear that F. is half-Jew …” Apparently he got regular visits from his grandmother who obtained the permission to walk with him around the hospital grounds whenever his health situation allowed. According to a note in his clinical record, however, Albert Freytag seemed to become more and more apathetic. Though he rose most of the days, he had little contact to others and always showed a “friendly, expressionless smile” during the medical round. He had five to ten epileptic seizures every month, after that he was irritable and stayed in bed for several days.
On 3 September 1943, he was transferred back to Langenhorn together with 246 other patients, since they had to make room in Lüneburg for further people who had been evacuated from old-age homes and infirmaries in Hamburg. The few entries in the clinical record made in Langenhorn at the end of 1943 did not mention any noticeable incidents; he was described as calm and indifferent. Apart from his seizures – which diminished after taking the drug Luminal – Albert Freytag seemed to feel quite healthy. However, the doctors attested disorientation in time to him, which was certainly inevitable in view of the monotonous day-to-day routine. After all, the patient was able to specify when he had returned from Lüneburg to Langenhorn. Nevertheless, on 1 February 1944 Albert Freytag was transferred to the “Sanitorium Meseritz” and thus condemned to death. Apparently, the Langenhorn institution cooperated with Meseritz on its own initiative (until the middle of 1944) and on request from Langenhorn the local administrative director in Meseritz had sent a positive reply. As a result, 50 women from the psychiatric ward Langenhorn were deported on 25 January 1944, followed shortly afterwards, on 1 February, by a transport of 50 men who arrived in Meseritz one day later. Among them was also Albert Freytag.
The mental hospital Meseritz-Obrawalde was one of the four institutions that had been built in the former Prussian province of Posen (today Polish territory) between 1901and 1904. Afterwards the institution had been expanded for as many as 2000 patients. Due to the rural site and the isolation of the hospital as well as the good transport connections with the German State Railroad the institution was predestinated for the execution of the euthanasia mass murders. In the course of the “T 4” campaign Meseritz had been turned into a killing center under the management of the NSDAP activist Ferdinand Grabowski since autumn 1941.
It may be assumed that the medical personnel in Langenhorn knew about the killing function of Meseritz. In spite of that they selected their patients for the deportation to Meseritz and thus condemned them to death. The death rate in Meseritz was approximately 90 %. The transports were executed by the personnel of the Langenhorn hospital and many of the nurses came into contact of the euthanasia centers, as they accompanied the patients in the railway cars into the Meseritz institution.
Most transports arrived between 11 and 12 p.m. Sick and frail persons were immediately brought into the killing houses; the others were accommodated in different houses. Their daily life was ruled by malnutrition, mistreatment on the slightest pretense and extremely hard work. The patients were selected for the killing house when they became physically ill, their working capacity decreased, they showed disruptive behavior or refused to subordinate themselves.
The killing was mostly executed with injections by the nursing staff in so-called isolation chambers of the houses no. 18 and 19 on the men’s side. The medicines used were Luminal, Morphine or Veronal. Nearly all patients lived in constant fear as they knew the meaning of the isolation chambers. The guards were equipped with pistols and clubs. Communications with outsiders were prohibited and visitors were not allowed to enter the grounds on their own. Every morning the dead were collected out of the houses and taken on handcarts to the morgue. After the extraction of their gold teeth, the bodies were buried in mass graves on the cemetery of the mental hospital.
Albert Freytag reached Meseritz with the 9th transport. In the beginning he was accommodated in house 19. He was bedridden and had epileptic seizures from time to time. In the following days he was able to get up and was described as obedient and calm. Apparently he tried to adjust to the daily routine of the hospital without attracting any attention.
The following entry in the clinical record was only made two months later, describing him as irritable and bedridden, with frequent serious epileptic seizures. According to the record he had extremely grave seizures one day before his death. After that he was transferred to house 18 which contained an isolation chamber. The last, almost illegible entry was made on April 24, 1944 and said: Ex(itus) let(alis), increased epileptic seizures.” Also in this case, the cause of death was described as usual with the standard explanations.
Albert Freytag was given the lethal injection four days before his 28th birthday. He had to die because his medical condition reduced his working capacity and required intense care and nursing. Apart from that the doctors in the Alsterdorf and Langenhorn mental hospitals had examined him, classified him as “hereditary defective” and with these diagnoses they finally selected him for the euthanasia program.
In March 1944, the district court of Wandsbek believed that Albert Freytag was still living in the Lüneburg hospital. They meanwhile had assigned him a (new?) legal guardian, a judicial inspector of the social administration Hamburg. However, at this stage the guardian was no more able (or willing) to support him.
translator: Eva Gehle
Gerson, Dr. Alwin
Dr Alwin Caesar Gerson, born on August 24, 1866; deported to Theresienstadt on February 24, 1943, where he died on April 11, 1943.
Schleusenredder 23, Wohldorf-Ohlstedt
People who visit the former house of Alwin C. Gerson in Wohldorf may ask themselves how he had come to live in this remote place surrounded by forest and meadows. Was it the contemplative country life that appealed to him or was he driven by other ambitions?
When, in 1900 he settled down in the village with its approx. 500 inhabitants, he was 34 years of age and had just received a doctor’s degree as a general practitioner. With his career choice Gerson continued the tradition of his male ancestors who had been doctors in Hamburg and Altona since the 17th century. One of them was Hartog Hirsch Gerson who had joined the philosophers of the enlightenment circle influenced by Spinoza.
Alwin Caesar Gerson was born in Hamburg-Rotherbaum 23 on August 24, 1866. His father, Hartog Caesar Gerson, who was also born in Hamburg, had a doctor’s degree and practiced as a surgeon and ophthalmologist. His mother Julia, née Jonassohn, was 34 years old and born in Sunderland, Great Britain. The wedding ceremony of his parents had taken place in London in 1861; two years after Hartog C. Gerson had taken an oath to be acknowledged as citizen of Hamburg. Though it cannot be proved by reliable sources, it can be assumed that Gerson’s parents belonged to a Christian religion. Their son was baptized and later he was sent to the renowned Johanneum High School.
After having finished his studies and fulfilled part of his military service in the infantry regiment no. 116 in Gießen, serving as reserve assistant in the military hospital, he had returned to Hamburg in 1893. As “Candidatus Medicinae,” i. e. a student who has passed his first state examination, he lived as subtenant until his final exams and applied for German citizenship. In 1896 he obtained the license to practice medicine. Afterwards he completed his military service as volunteer for 12 months in the infantry regiment no. 76 in Hamburg. In 1900 he earned the doctor’s degree with a dissertation on the issue “The frequency of vesical calculus affliction in Thuringia along with remarks about its treatment”. In the same year he settled down in Wohldorf, a commune situated in the Hamburg woodland called “Walddörfer”. Perhaps there had already been enough doctors in Hamburg and Wandsbek, but it is also possible that young Alwin Gerson had a rather popular natu
re and tried to escape from the formal Hamburg bourgeoisie with its social necessities. Another reason might be that he wanted to live near the Hamburg lunatic asylum in Langenhorn, founded in 1899 as a branch of the asylum Friedrichsberg, in order to study a new medical field: psychiatry.
Alwin Gerson and his wife Elsa, née Behrmann, moved into the recently completed house in 23 Schleusenredder. In December, their son Alwin Caesar Joachim was born and two years later their daughter Elsa. The family was member of the Protestant Reformed Church. In 1901 Alwin Gerson acquired the Hamburg citizenship.
In spring 1900 he applied for the permission to set up a private hospital for convalescent patients who suffered from neuropathy. Apparently he favored the concept of a double –tracked base for practicing his profession: on the one hand he worked as a country doctor with a rather low income, although in the rural area where he lived there was always plenty of work for a general practitioner, obstetrician and surgeon; on the other hand he treated mentally ill, well-off patients who preferred the loneliness of the Wohldorf forest to the asylum in Friedrichsberg or Langenhorn – hoping to find peace and health and thus providing extra revenues for their doctor.
The concerns over the hospital raised by the Wohldorf municipality and the district admini-stration (Landherrenschaft) were settled quite soon and the authorization given on the “grounds that no new building was planned for the hospital, but rather it was to be integrated in the house of Dr Gerson and accommodate only about five patients.” The estate comprised a horse stable, a carriage depot and an accommodation for the coachman. There are no reports about complaints of the villagers concerning the hospital; it seems that the distance between the estate and the village center was far enough. Gerson wanted to treat “persons suffering from neuropathy, convalescent patients, patients with mental diseases, persons suffering from slight epilepsy and inoffensive aments. Persons with acute psychoses will not be accepted.”
A representative of the medicinal council (Hamburg public health authority) came once a year in order to check the medical care of the patients. The reports, always stating the unob-jectionable state of the patients’ rooms, also contained the number of patients in treatment: at the beginning the “Villa Elsa” accommodated two to three regular female patients, one of them being mentioned as longtime patient. In 1909 two female patients were recorded as living in Schleusenredder. Between 1910 and 1914 only one female patient lived in the house, in a living room and bedroom of considerable dimensions. The corresponding report stated as follows: “Presently, only, a deaf-mute, degenerated psychosis, a young relative, has been looked after for a long time.”
The construction of the local railway Alt-Rahlstedt – Wohldorf did not seem to affect the hospital business, although from 1907 there was a large terminal station nearly opposite the estate, consisting of goods dispatching facilities, a carriage hall and a switching railway track system. In 1909 Gerson had the villa reconstructed, more precisely, he had another gable added, and thus giving it the symmetrical look which still today is a distinguishing feature.
The living space was enlarged by adding a conservatory on the west side of the house. The reconstruction plans were designed by the architect Fritz Hoeger who later also built the Chile-House in Hamburg and the cigarettes factory Haus Neuerburg in Wandsbek. At the beginning of World War I Gerson shut down the hospital. It remains unclear when Alwin and Elsa Gerson started to grow away from each other; finally they got a divorce. In the 1920ies Elsa Gerson lived in Armgartstraße, together with her son who meanwhile had began to study law. Alwin Gerson stayed in Wohldorf and married his second wife, Hildegart, née Bodendieck. This marriage as well resulted in a divorce.
From 1911 the Wohldorf doctor also practiced as district physician for Wohldorf-Ohlstedt as well as Gross-Hansdorf and Schmalenbeck; these two villages belonged to Hamburg at that time. Also Hoisbuettel was part of this district. Up to the end of the 1920ies Alwin Gerson was the only doctor in Wohldorf. There are some families who still remember him today: “My grandparents’ family doctor was Dr Gerson …. My grandfather was the parson of Tangstedt (1896 to 1930) and then moved to Hoisbuettel …. Dr Gerson also had other patients in Hoisbuettel. … If I remember well, he practiced as doctor as long as possible … When the keyword “Schleusenredder” was mentioned, we were told that Dr Gerson used to live there and we were also reminded of him when we walked past his former house. Thus, the name of Gerson was always present.”
Alwin Gerson was also active in local politics. As “commune deputy of the right wing” he was member of the local executive body of Wohldorf-Ohlstedt, probably as a member of the DNVP, the “Deutschnationale Volkspartei” (German National People`s Party), which was strongly oriented towards the Imperial Era. He was also member of the so-called “Steel Helmet”, an association of front-line soldiers and a paramilitary organization of the DNVP where Jewish front-line soldiers were not admitted. Furthermore, Alwin Gerson held municipal honorary posts such as commissioner for lodging and treatment and at last also as president of the public welfare office. Temporarily, he probably also worked as police doctor in the Prussian area (possibly in Wandsbek). However, he lost this job for political reasons as he was reputed to be against the democratic system. Due to his right-wing political commitment he thought his position as district doctor at risk and assumed that only his
good relations to the district administration (Landherrenschaft) protected him from being dismissed. The “Walddörfer” belonged to the district administration of the Geestlande and were governed by the county of Hamburg; however they did not belong to the city of Hamburg.
Most likely, Gerson was not particularly alarmed by the National Socialism, as his attitude was more in line with the new powers than with the politics of the unloved republic. However, his political attitude and his religious denomination could not prevent him from being hit by the “Nuremberg Race Laws” in 1935, and he had to give up his post as district doctor. He was succeeded by the physician Heinrich Fleck, a colleague who temporarily had cooperated with him in his house. Gerson’s old age pension was converted into a so-called pension of mercy in 1935 and allotted to him until further notice by the Hamburg Gauleiter Karl Kauf-mann. As a consequence of this deprivation of personal rights, Gerson fell into a serious crisis, as now he had to learn that neither religious nor political attitude protected him from becoming a social outcast. In 1936 he had a nervous breakdown which took him rather long to recover so that he was forced to give up his practice. All his meri
ts – his own and those of his ancestors – suddenly seemed to have become worthless and, what was more, his financial situation was endangered. Owing to his tenuous health condition and economic circumstances he could no longer keep the house in Schleusenredder and, on September 29, 1937 Alwin Gerson left his longtime domicile. However, he stayed in his adopted region and moved to Ohlstedt, where he lived as subtenant in the house of “Frl.” (Miss) Walsberg in 2, Korte Blök.
Obviously, he led a rather isolated life. From time to time he visited former patients; maybe they gave him financial support. In fact, the law enforced in 1938, depriving all Jewish doctors of their license to practice medicine, should have remained without any conse-quences for him, as he had already shut down his practice. However, this very law was the reason that the 75 year old doctor without a practice and without any criminal record so far, should be convicted.
What had happened? Gerson often went to see a former patient, the farmer Karl Bruhn who had become his friend. In September 1940 Bruhn had him called to his farm Ziegelhof in Duvenstedt, because he had heart troubles. The doctor wrote a prescription in his name and provided the necessary drugs from the pharmacy Piepenbring in Poppenbüttel. Gerson called again on his patient in the morning of September 14. Two hours later, Bruhn’s son informed him that his father had suddenly died and he asked him to make out the death certificate. Gerson refused to do so and referred him to two other doctors. However, one of them was out of town; the other, a female doctor declined the request, as the deceased had not been her patient. Thus, the health office in Wandsbek had to be contacted, and the medical officer (Medizinalrat) Dr Mainz instructed Gerson to make out the death certificate. Gerson had to admit that he was not allowed to do so, because he was “non-Arian” (i. e. Jew). Fi
nally, Dr Mainz made out the death certificate; however, on the same day he also sent a report to the public health officer of the health office in Wandsbek. He described the incidents as follows: “I drove to Duvenstedt and the son, who was wearing the campaign button (of the NSDAP; A. L.), led me to the body of his father.” The son had told him that Alwin Gerson had visited his father once a week, in order to pass his time. When his father fell ill, he had insisted on being medicated by Dr Gerson and nobody else. “Mr Bruhn claimed that he could not do anything against his father’s will. Apart from the fact that a former, non-Arian doctor has medicated an ethnic German (Volksgenosse), it also has to be mentioned that a pharmacy actually had agreed to prepare the prescription of the said person.” The physician Mainz reported the incident to the medical association in Hamburg where it was confirmed that Gerson was not registered as “somebody who treated sick people
” (i. e. a doctor who had the permission to treat only Jewish patients). The leader of the medical association, Lochmann, forwarded the report of Dr Mainz to the Public Prosecutor’s Department of the Hamburg Higher Regional Court with the request “to take further steps”. Thus the denunciation had become a legal case. On October 28, 1940 a police officer came to take Alwin Gerson’s personal data, on December 18, the senior prosecutor asked the Local Court to remit a penalty order and on January 6, 1941 a fine of 50 RM (reichsmark) was remitted plus process costs, on account of illegal practice of medicine (after revocation of the license).
However, Gerson was not prepared to accept the fine and ten days later he appealed to the department of mercy of the Public Prosecutor’s Department. “I am 75 years of age, have practiced as a doctor in Wohldorf-Ohlstedt for 41 years and as a district doctor for 22 years. I have been doctor in Hamburg in 5th generation and I am leading a decent live in my home town Wohldorf-Ohlstedt … I have never been informed by the medical association that I was listed as non-Arian doctor. I got to know the wording of the respective law only a short while ago in connection of the present case. I put my heart and soul in practicing as a country doctor and, after all, the difference between a big-city doctor and a country doctor is his personal relationship to his patients. During my longtime practice I made friends with many people among the rural population and they even gave me the nickname of ‘farmer’s doctor’… And now I shall be punished because I wanted to help an old frie
nd of mine without charging him? Already today I am heavily punished without being responsible of the slightest fault and now I shall be punished once more. I do not know how to cope with this situation. I am paid a pre-tax pension of 100 RM, i. e. 85 RM net. I have no property and have to manage with the money of my pension to pay for food, clothing and lodging. Therefore, I urgently appeal to the committee of mercy to exempt me from paying the fine and allow me to quietly spend my remaining years in decent circumstances. I will try not to act against the law anymore, although this will be very difficult for me. Heil Hitler Dr. Alwin Gerson, ex district doctor.”
Two weeks later he received news from district judge Hartert that his fine was adjourned until March 31, 1943 on the condition that “you lead an impeccable life during the probation period and particularly do not commit any further criminal acts.”
On April 18, 1942 Alwin Gerson had to leave this home. He moved to Hamburg into the Jewish rest and nursing home, 29 Schäferkampsallee that meanwhile was used as so-called Jews house. He spent approx. 10 months there until he was deported to the ghetto Theresienstadt on February 24, 1943. A few weeks later, on April 11, 1943 he died at the age of 77.
Three days before his death a written notice was sent to him by the district court announcing his “final amnesty after the end of the probation period.” The letter was returned with the comment “address unknown”.
His son, Alwin Caesar Joachim Gerson had participated in World War I and since 1927 he had worked as a lawyer PhD in a partnership with C. Staelin, 12/14 Große Bleichen. Due to his “non-Arian descent” he risked to lose his accreditation in 1933. However, owing to his political attitude – he had taken part in fightings against “Spartacists” – his accreditation continued and he worked as advocate for many “Mischlinge” (people related to Jews by marriage etc.). Nevertheless, after 1933 he had to give up all honorary posts which entailed negative consequences on his activities as a lawyer. Alwin Gerson joined the Hamburg district group of the “National Association of Christian-German citizens of non-Arian Descent” (later National Association of non-Arian Christians, Paulus Bund), which, later on he also presided for some time. He was married and lived in Krohnskamp. The place of residence of his mother and his sister Elsa, a secretary, was registered in Schl
ankreye in the end of the 1930ies.
After the beginning of World War II Alwin Gerson was drafted as “Mischling 1. Grades“ (first-degree relationship with Jews), but in 1941 he was dismissed from military service for “racial reasons”. In 1944 the assignment for forced laborer was ordered for “Mischlinge” and “jüdisch Versippte“ (persons from mixed relationships). Gerson and his wife escaped from this order by going underground. After the end of the war in 1945 he became member of the self-help organization “Emergency Association of the People Affected by the Nuremberg Laws”. He died in Hamburg on October 12, 1980.
Translator: Eva Gehle
Paul Goldschmidt, born on December 19, 1874, deported to Theresienstadt on February 24, 1943 where he died on December 21, 1943
Fabriciusstraße 274 (Am See 26) - Bramfeld
Paul Goldschmidt was a fierce person, endowed with a distinct sense of justice. Although he had to face the National Socialist government, he claimed the legal protection of his civil rights. Files that were preserved give information about his brave struggle against his discrimination for being a Jew, which, however, was without effect, as one might easily imagine. Nevertheless, he at least fought against it.
Paul Aaron Philipp Goldschmidt was born in Hamburg on Decemer 19, 1874 as son of Adolf and Henny, née Neustadt. About 1900 he was married to Betty Halberstadt (born in 1872). The couple had two daughters: Hertha (born in 1901) and Käthe (born in 1906). In the same year he went into business with nacre buttons and buckles. At this time the family lived in 22, Schaarsteinweg, in the expanded town of Hamburg. In 1916 his wife died and Paul Goldschmidt had to care for his daughters all by himself.
In July 1918 he married his second wife, Marie Dörge, born in 1889. She was not Jewish, but converted and was member of the Jewish congregation until 1925. They had no children.
Until about 1930, Paul Goldschmidt paid nearly unchanging taxes to the Jewish congregation which were reduced from 1933 onwards. According to a note, also voluntary contributions were made. Goldschmidt, who felt threatened by the anti-Jewish atmosphere, had his company assigned to his wife as sole owner in October 1934. Thus he wanted to secure the basis for his income and prevent his fortune from being confiscated by the state, an incident which he suspected to happen in the near future. The violent assaults against him a few months later proved that his distrust was more than justified. Before the attacks against him started, he had been accused of not having donated enough to the NS winter aid program. The press then took up the subject and as a consequence a campaign was finally led against Goldschmidt.
Paul and Marie Goldschmidt were to remember the evening of January 25, 1935 for a long time. They found out that an assault on them was planned. The head of police they called promised to protect them, if Goldschmidt was ready to let himself be arrested by the Gestapo. Apparently, he pretended to accept the proposal, as two policemen were sent to protect his estate. However, they were ordered to leave, after Goldschmidt had gone into hiding. His wife then had to watch helplessly for two hours the demolition of their summerhouse (probably by some gangs of right thugs), without getting help from the police she had called again. Paul Goldschmidt stayed in his hiding place for six weeks, in order to avoid the "protective custody" in the concentration camp of Fuhlsbüttel, he was threatened with. After his return he filed an action for damages against the Prussian State and applied for poor law on April 6, 1935. Furthermore, he requested to be supported by the attorney Walter Jaco
bsen who had his practice in Wandsbek. In his letter addressed to the district court of Altona he once again referred to the incidents of the said evening: "On January 25 I got a phone call informing me that my life and my house were in danger, as an assault had been planned against us. I therefore took the following measures:
1. I called the police headquaters for help, owing to a lack of manpower at the Bramfeld police station. This had been declined.
2. Hereupon I sent my wife to the head of the local police station.
3. Chief Ruhbach himself came to my house and we discussed the situation. He promised to send two policemen for the whole evening, provided that I would accept to go into protective custody.
4. At 7:30 pm the head of the forces Eggers draw off the two policemen Schütt and Goldberger. Soon afterwards, the demolition started.
5. At 9:30 pm, when the demolition did not stop, my wife sent a witness to the police station asking once again for help. There was no reaction to her request... Furthermore, the Gestapo, led by the commissar Wentziow from Altona, started a file with many photographs of this incident... I do not have the financial means for filing a law suit in this matter. Besides, I feel obliged to sue two newspapers with the district court in Wandsbek for serious defamation ...please find enclosed the claim for 1067.00 Mark. I request to take into benevolent consideration my poor situation as hard-pressed Jew and remain
Yours sincerely Paul Goldschmidt Hamburg-Bramfeld."
The list specifying the "costs arising from the violation of the public peace" that he submitted to the court, reveals that no less than five craftsmen of different trades had been necessary to fix the damage. Furthermore, Goldschmidt invoiced also the costs for 42 days he spent in a hiding place because of his life-threatening situation. In this connection he also mentioned the "Oldesloer Landbote", apparently one of the two newspapers that had agitated against him. In an addendum, Goldschmidt also mentioned his stay in a Wandsbek prison as well as public defamations and negative effects on his health and his business. Despite the detailed explanations his claim was turned down and Goldschmidt had to bear the court fees of 175 RM. It remains to be said that all these incidents took place before the "Nuremberg Racial Laws" that confined the civil rights of the Jews by law, came into effect.
In March 1939, the daughter Käthe Goldschmidt emigrated to Brazil. She had attended a secondary school for girls in Hamburg for 10 years and worked as secretary and wages clerk after school. Her last employment was with the Jewish manufacturer Herrenkleiderfabrik Fortschritt in Hamburg. When the company had been "arianized" after November 9, 1938, she lost her job.
One month after her emigration the exchange control office started to investigate Paul Goldschmidt. An order for securing his assets, however, was not given. In any case, it was impossible to get hold of his assets, i. e. his land property, without an authorization.
Paul Goldschmidt had declared beforehand that he did not have any property except his detached house where he lived in and a small factory (buttons in wholesale quantity) with a capital of 2000 RM that meanwhile had been transferred to his "Aryan" wife.
On 24 November 1938, i. e. after the November pogrom, Marie Goldschmidt had brought forward the motion to continue the company of Paul Goldschmidt. Half a year later, the "Reichsstatthalter" (imperial deputy) gave her the permission on the following condition: "Your Jewish husband is not allowed to exert any influence on business operations. The name of the company must explicitly reveal that you are the owner."
Though Paul and Marie Goldschmidt had the following addition printed on their business papers: "Aryan owner Mrs. Marie Goldschmidt", they apparently did not take this order too seriously, unlike some of their business partners. As a consequence, Marie Goldschmidt got a letter from the Administration Office for commerce, shipping and trade where complaints had been filed that, at the end of October, her husband had called on the company L. for orders. Furthermore, the letter said: "We point out for the last time that your company will be closed down as soon as another complaint to this respect is made."
The stress on the couple, particularly on the husband, continued unabatedly. He still was the owner of the land. On June 17, 1942 the Administration Office for Commerce, Shipping and Trade informed the exchange control office that a request had been made to "sell the land, owned by the Jew Paul Aaron Philipp Israel Goldschmidt, resident in Hamburg Bramfeld, Am See 26." The purchaser of the land was to be his wife Marie Goldschmidt.
By order of the Gestapo the land was taken over immediately by the Hamburg real estate department and the living rooms were confiscated. It is not known where the couple found accommodation afterwards. At the end of December 1942 the exchange control office allowed the assignment of the land to Marie Goldschmidt. Thus the financial administration made sure to get hold of the estate, as the cash amount of the purchase price had to be paid to an account where Paul Goldschmidt had only access with the assent of the exchange control office.
Shortly before, Marie Goldschmidt had paid the amount of approximately 4000 RM which was the last installment of the property levy, imposed on all Jews and charged by the fiscal authorities of Barmbek-Wandsbek. Thus the public authorities had got hold of the better part of the couple's liquid funds. Now, only the annulment of the bothersome "mixed marriage" remained to be settled. Until his divorce on October 6, 1942 Paul Goldschmidt lived together with his wife in his house in Bramfeld. Being forced into such a tenuous situation and facing an incalculable fate, it was of great importance to Paul Goldschmidt to remain capable of acting. He pinned his hope on the time after the end of the war. In his document he stated: "For any possible loss compensations after the war I acknowledge my wife Marie Goldschmidt as being the legitimate beneficiary. She was forced by law to divorce me in order not to lose everything. We have had a happy marriage for nearly 25 years. However, owing to the anti-Semitic goings-on I had to suffer heavy financial losses.
Hamburg-Bramfeld October 1942 Paul Goldschmidt".
His wife had their marriage annulled, a method the National Socialists had provided for such cases: She declared that at the time of her marriage in 1918 she was unaware of the circumstances that "presently militated against such a marriage". She reverted to her maiden name. Paul Goldschmidt move into the Jewish old-age home in Schäferkamps-allee 25/27 and later to his daughter Herta. From time to time he went to see his wife in Bramfeld. On the occasion of his visits, however, he was denunciated by his neighbor Clausen and Goldschmidt was imprisoned in the concentration camp Fuhlsbüttel. After his discharge he had to stay in the Jewish old-age home until his deportation.
The anti-Jewish measures had deprived Paul Goldschmidt of his rights and estranged him from his family. After his divorce he was on par with the so-called "Volljuden" and therefore he was no longer protected against deportation. On February 24, 1943 he had to enter the train to Theresienstadt where he was registrated two days later. Still in February, his property was confiscated for the Reich and his complete expropriation was concluded. He died on December 21, 1943 at the age of 69. The divorce had been annulled retroactively after the war. Marie Goldschmidt continued the button trade until September 1945. At this time the date of Paul Goldschmidt's death was not yet known. He was declared to have died on May 8, 1945. Later it turned out that he had died 1,5 years before.
Their first daughter Hertha, a seamstress who was married to a gentile husband had to work as forced laborer in several Hamburg companies from September 1942 until February 1945. On February 14, 1945 she was deported to Theresienstadt with the last deportation from Hamburg which was masked as "external fatigue duty". In May 1945 the concentration camp was liberated by the Allies and Hertha Goldschmidt returned to Hamburg.
Translator: Eva Gehle
Herzberg, Albert and Sally
Albert Herzberg, born on June 6, 1887; deported to Minsk on November 8, 1941
Sally Herzberg, born on October 3, 1889; deported to Minsk on November 8, 1941
stumble-stones: Kattunbleiche 30 (Bleicherstraße 6 – 10)
Albert Herzberg and his brother Sally were born in Wandsbek as sons of Semmy Herzberg (born in 1852) and Henriette, née Moses (born in Hamburg in 1852). They spent most of their life in Wandsbek, actually in the former Bleicherstraße. Between 1892 and 1928 the Herzberg family changed lodgings several times within the Bleicherstraße, which implies that their financial situation was insecure. They lived in the houses no. 11, nos. 6 – 10 and again in no. 10. Their father’s family came from Lower Saxony. He was butcher/shochet by trade and came to Wandsbek, where he established a (probably) kosher (poultry) butcher shop. The Herzberg couple had been married since 1884 and apart from the two sons they also had a daughter, Johanna, born as first child in 1885. The sons attended the school of the Jewish Community Wandsbek, the Israelite Elementary School. When it was closed down – as it could no longer fulfill the demands made at the standards of an elementary school – th
e brothers changed to the public grammar school in Wandsbek in 1900. The family’s financial situation was probably rather awkward, since Semmy Herzberg was paid 28 Reichsmark in 1903 for his son Sally by the Homann’sche Stiftung, a foundation for the support of poor school children. The other members of the community and the Herzberg family did not agree with this allowance and only after the Lord Mayor of Wandsbek had reprimanded all people involved in this matter, it was accepted by the family.
Albert and Sally took part in World War I from 1915 on, Albert Herzberg was dismissed from the army because of deafness and his brother fell ill with typhus.
According to the street directory of 1920, the father Semmy Herzberg worked as a merchant. He died in 1923. His daughter Johanna was found dead in 1931 and Henriette Herzberg died in 1935. They were all buried on the cemetery Jenfelder Straße.
Albert Herzberg did not marry and presumably had no children. He worked as assistant trader and traveling salesman. According to the register of the Jewish Community he dealt in soap. Until 1928 he lived in Bleicherstraße no. 10, afterwards he lived together with his mother in Narzissenweg no. 13 and later they moved to II. Schulstraße no. 43. After his mother had died in 1935, he moved to Hirschstraße no. 8, near Bleicherstraße and in 1938 he was registered in Langereihe no. 14, living in one of the plain front houses near the passage to the Synagogue that belonged to the Jewish Community Wandsbek. This was his last address in Wandsbek. During the year 1939 he spent most of the time in the public hospital Langenhorn. It is unknown whether he got psychiatric treatment or lived there as a person without home and relatives. After his discharge from hospital he was put under guardianship. The guardian, Hermann Frank presumably was a former member of the Jewish Community Wand
sbek who was assigned by the welfare office of the Jewish Religious Association to take care of Herzberg’s affairs. Herzberg moved to the district Hoheluft, Abendrothsweg no. 19 in the house of Hermann Semler, merchant in the textile sector, who had also moved from Wandsbek to Hoheluft, after closing down his business. Apparently, Albert Herzberg remained unable to earn his living and had no income at all. He did not have to pay Jewish cult tax; as a matter of fact he got financial support from the former Jewish Community. His last address before his deportation from a so-called Jews’ home in Grindelviertel was c/o Wolff, Heinrich-Barth-Straße no. 8. From here he was deported to Minsk on November 8, 1941, the same day as his brother Sally. The last note on his cult tax card was: “Canceled in 1941.”
Sally Herzberg, too, was registered in Bleicherstraße no. 10 until 1928. He worked as butcher, probably with the intention to continue the tradition of his father. According to an entry made later in the street directory, however, he had no slaughterhouse but a poultry shop. During the years up to WW I he traveled with horse and cart around Northern Germany and was registered in various places, from where he always returned to Wandsbek. During the war he became father of a son, however, he never married the non-Jewish mother of his child.
In 1921 he was married to Margarethe (Mary), née Lury, born in 1893. The couple got registered in Bleicherstraße no. 10, in the house of his parents. In the course of the 1920ies three children were born, a son and two daughters. The son Werner, born in 1922, in fact remembers the horse and cart business of his father, who often preferred the local pub to the narrowness of the family. Therefore, Werner Herzberg lived comfortably in the house of his grandmother in Eimsbüttel during the week and only went home to Wandsbek for the weekends. This situation changed in 1932 when he changed to the Matthias-Claudius-Gymnasium (high school) in Wandsbek. However, when the National Socialists came into power in 1933, the conditions for the Jewish pupil became unbearable. Though some teachers warned him that there might be assaults against him which could even end in bloodshed and therefore asked him to stay at home, he continued school until the end of the term. He left the Gymnasium
at the end of March although he was quite successful, and changed to Talmud Tora Realschule (junior high school) in Grindelviertel. The situation of his father continued to be precarious. As a consequence of the economic and banking crisis he suffered from a nervous breakdown which according to his son was due to the serious financial difficulties, his main client had to face in 1931. This company produced metal bedframes for hospitals and exported them to Africa and South America. With his horse and cart or a lorry Sally Herzberg had made the transports to the harbor. The bedframe manufacturer probably was the company Fischer & Eckmann, registered in Bleicherstraße 6 –13. The co-owner Max Eckmann belonged to the Jewish Community Wandsbek. While Sally Herzberg was ill, the marshal called on the family, because they could not pay the rent.
The Herzberg family was not very religious and Mary Herzberg had no kosher household. However, their three children took part in the lessons given by Rabbi Bamberger at the religious school of the Jewish Community Wandsbek.
In 1933 the family moved to Alsenstraße no. 18 in Hamburg, later to Grindelallee no. 35 and joined the moderate orthodox cult organization New Dammtor Synagogue. Sally Herzberg worked as butcher, temporarily at the butchery Sternschanze and he also was employed as aide in the Israelite hospital. However, his health condition presumably did not allow him a permanent employment. He spent some time in the mental hospital Neustadt in Holstein, where he became a target of the “court for hereditary health” in 1935, as a consequence of the “act for the prevention of hereditary defective offspring” and was registered for enforced sterilization. However, the files do not reveal, whether the sterilization actually was executed. After the death of his wife – she died of breast cancer in 1936 – the family continued to fall apart, as now they lacked the breadwinner who assured their livelihood. Therefore, the children were sent to the orphan asylums of the German-Israelite Co
mmunity Hamburg: Werner was sent to the orphanage Papendamm, Clärchen (born in 1927) and Ilse (born in 1928) were moved to Paulinenstift, Laufgraben. Sally Herzberg let the free rooms of the family apartment, obviously not only to Jewish tenants. But now, a woman from the neighborhood accused him of having a sexual affair with one of his female tenants. Normally, Jews were punished with jail house or penitentiary for such an offense, but after the said woman had been examined physically, the accusation of “racial defilement” could not be confirmed.
After this incident, Sally Herzberg gave up the apartment, thus losing the possibility of making some money. Now he himself lived as subtenant in Rappstraße no. 6 with Goldschmidt. Just like his brother Albert, Sally Herzberg now became dependent on financial support from the Jewish community and on his record card the following entry was made in 1939: “out of work, casual labor, weekly pay 13,-- RM/winter relief.” His last relocation was to Heinrich-Barth-Straße no. 17, where he lived as subtenant with Nathan.
The Herzberg brothers, aged 52 and 54, where deported together to Minsk with the second deportation leaving Hamburg on November 8, 1941. They arrived in Minsk on November 10 with 966 further citizens from Hamburg. It is unknown, whether they also suffered death together, but it is doubtful that they survived the grim living conditions in Minsk for a long time. Nevertheless, the deportees from Hamburg formed a self-contained group offering as much protection and provision as possible also to those without any relatives. However, only those who remained fit for work and were lucky to avoid the numerous firing squads and the mobile gas vans or the massacre in May 1943 were able to survive. The day of Sally Herzberg’s death was retroactively pronounced for May 9, 1945.
Nonetheless, his three children were saved: after the Crystal Night in November 1938 their aunt Hedwig Lury decided to emigrate. On December 14, she and her nephew Werner Herzberg left Germany for the Netherlands. From there the youngster struggled along to England all by himself. Nathan Max Nathan from the Jewish Community Hamburg had supplied him with money and vouchers for the passage. With the aid of the Refugee Children Movement, also the sisters of Werner Herzberg arrived in England at the end of 1938. The three of them never returned to Germany for permanent residence, and in 1954 they demanded reparation. In the meantime, Ilse had become a teacher; Werner was a student and Clärchen worked as personal secretary. Together with his wife, Werner Herzberg had run a Jewish orphanage in London in 1947, took up psychology studies afterwards and worked as university lecturer at the Reading University. He now called himself Vernon Hamilton.
In 1962, three days after the flood disaster in Hamburg, he had his lawyers communicate that he wanted to donate 10 % of the reparation sum for a laborer couple who had lost their household goods because of the flood. They were to meet the following criteria: they should be older than 60 years, live a decent life and should have refrained from persecuting the former Jewish citizens in Hamburg. Thus he set an example for reconciliation and expressed his affinity to his home town, from where at least three of his family members had been sent to death: beside his father and his uncle also his beloved grandmother Berhardine Lury, née Lilienfeld. She died on August 23, 1942; only a few weeks after her deportation to the Theresienstadt ghetto.
Translator: Eva Gehle
Sophie Hirsch, born on December 28, 1859; deported to Theresienstadt on February 24, 1943 where she died on December 12, 1943
Erna Fratje Michelsohn, née Hirsch, born on June 9, 1882; under arrest in concentration camp Fuhlsbüttel 1942 – 1943; deported to Auschwitz on February 12, 1943
Oskar Ludwig Michelsohn, born on July 13, 1904, under arrest in concentration camp Fuhlsbüttel 1942 – 1943; deported to Auschwitz on February 12, 1943
Königsreihe 32 (Langereihe 58)
When Sophie Lehmann was born in Ahrensburg in 1859, the difficult phase of life of her parents was not all over yet. So far, petitions made to the authorities and insubordinate behavior had only been successful in some parts. Finally however, it had pushed on the legal equality of all Jews in the duchy of Holstein. What had happened?
About one and a half year before Sophie was born, her father, the Protected Jew Lehmann Hirsch Lehmann from Ahrensburg had made a petition to the Royal Government in Copenhagen for the permission to establish a peddlery in his place of residence, as he wanted to start a fami-ly. However, in July 1858 his request was rejected. Despite the prohibition of new establishment he pressed ahead with his marriage plans. Furthermore, he ignored an instruction saying that the children of those Jews, who had a residence permit, were allowed to get married only among themselves, but not to out-of-towners, for his future wife was not a native of Ahrensburg, but of Hamburg. The general counsel of Ahrensburg who was responsible for the implementation of legal instructions tried to prevent the marriage. He threatened not to accept the future wife; in fact she would risk „to be removed“ by the police, unless she left the area voluntarily. In the meantime, however, Lehmann Hirsch Lehmann ha
d created precedents: on October 18, 1858 he was already in Wandsbek which was the area of responsibility of the rabbinate and where the wedding with Friederike, née Lazarus, took place. Nevertheless, this was not enough to settle the matter. Though the young couple could obtain a temporary adjournment and stay in Ahrensburg, it became clear by the end of March that the authorities apparently were not willing to set a precedent for young marriageable Jewish men.
In winter 1858/59 the „Ahrensburg case“ developed an increasing effect. While Lehmann Hirsch Lehmann presented personal petitions to the Royal Administration, the chairmen of the Jewish community in Ahrensburg made the demand with the assembly of the estates to abolish both prohibitions. The petition was on the agenda in the plenary discussion on March 3, 1859. Though no decision was taken, the Danish government and the assembly of the estates could no longer ignore the difficult situation of the Jews in Holstein. Four years later, the Jews in the duchies of Schleswig and Holstein obtain legal equality.
In the meantime, Lehmann Hirsch Lehmann had appealed to the Danish king, for his wife was pregnant with their first child. Now it apparently occurred to the authorities that the situation of the young couple was insupportable, also with regard to further children. In January 1860, about one month after Sophie Hirsch was born; her parents obtained the permission to stay in Ahrensburg. However, they had to accept the condition to live in a joint household with their parents and to refrain from pursuing their own trade. As a consequence, the young couple and their children – they had four more daughters – would have been obliged to live in the household with their parents, resp. grandparents and their father – at least according to official instructions – would have been prevented from making a living with his own trade. When the emancipation act came into force in 1863, these restrictions were abolished and the Jews obtained the civil rights. From now on, Lehmann Hirsch
Lehmann established a successful trade in cereals and achieved considerable wealth. Thus the marriage of the Lehmann couple and the birth of their first daughter contributed to slightly accelerate the tedious struggle for the equalization of the Jews.
At the beginning of her twenties, Sophie Lehmann left Ahrensburg for Wandsbek, where she was married to Naphtali Hirsch, born in 1851 as son of a long-established family. His parents, Hannchen and Michael Hirsch, had lived in Langereihe no. 71 since the 1850ies; in the mean-time they had moved into their own house no. 58 or 58a resp. The father had been butcher by trade and the son followed in his father’s footsteps.
In 1882, Sophie Hirsch gave birth to her daughter Erna and in 1894 to her son Ernst, who took part in WW I and died in Belgium on July 17, 1917 at the age of 23. His urn was transferred later and buried on the cemetery Jenfelder Straße, however, his grave does not exist anymore.
Naphtali Hirsch acted as secretary and cashier for the Jewish Community Wandsbek; in the street directory of 1913 he was entered as „man of independent means“ which means that he had already retired from work. He died in 1919 and was also buried on the cemetery Jenfelder Straße. The ancestral home of the Hirsch family was still in Langereihe no. 58; now it was owned by Sophie Hirsch who occupied the first floor. She was well-off and paid cultus tax in Wandsbek until 1937. After the dissolution of the Wandsbek Community she made financial contributions to the Jewish Religious Association in Hamburg until 1942. These donations increased considerably in 1941 and 1942 when the Jewish Community had only a small number of working members and the more well-off members had to pay more and more tax in order to allow the Community to fulfill its tasks.
Meanwhile the Gestapo had started to deport the Hamburg Jews, among others Charlotte Salo-mon (born in 1862), the younger sister of Sophie Hirsch. She was deported to Minsk on Novem-ber 18, 1941, although she had already reached the age limit for a transport to Theresienstadt. At the age of 79 she was actually way above the limit. After the Gestapo had detained her daughter Erna and her grandson Oskar Michelsohn, Sophie Hirsch lived alone in Langereihe for some months, until she moved to the Jewish retiring home Beneckestraße no. 6 in Grindelviertel. Twelve days after the deportation of Erna and Oskar Michelsohn from the concentration camp Fuhlsbüttel to Auschwitz, also Sophie Hirsch left Hamburg. On February 24, 1943 she had to board the train to Theresienstadt; her arrival was registered two days later. She spent about 10 months in Theresienstadt and died on December 19, 1943 – shortly before her 84th birthday. The grave that had been reserved for her on the cemetery J
enfelder Straße remained unoccupied.
The life of Sophie Hirsch gives some indication of the rise and the extinction of German Judaism. While her parents still had to struggle for the right of residence and free exercise of profession, the following generation was able to achieve wealth and participation. However, being now citizens on equal terms, many of them lost relatives in WW I, such as Sophie Hirsch who lost her son Ernst as combatant in the war. At the end of her life she was once more subjected to special legislation related to Jews that – more barbarous than ever – brought death to her and her fellows in faith and misery.
In 1903, the daughter of Sophie Hirsch, Erna Fratje, was married to the merchant Moses Moritz Michelsohn, born in Bauska (nowadays part of Latvia) in 1871. He followed his father Sawel Urel (Samuel) Michelsohn, a wholesale trader who was born in 1840 and had moved to Hamburg where he had become a successful businessman.
Erna and Moritz Michelsohn married in Hamburg, three days later the religious ceremony took place in Wandsbek. The young couple lived in Harvestehude, Isestraße no. 45 III. They had two sons, Oskar who was born on July 13, 1904 and Werner, born on July 28 1907.
Moritz Michelsohn had entered the company of his father. He dealt in rubber foot ware and man-aged to gradually extend his range of products. In 1920 the company of S&M Michelsohn Rubber Foot Ware occupied the 1st floor of the Merkurhof, Kaiser-Wilhelm-Straße no. 89/91 in Hamburg-Neustadt. According to the street directory of 1928 the range offered comprised „rubber and gym shoes, fashionable and convenience shoes, sneakers, canvas shoes, sandals, indoor slippers“.
The youngest son, Werner, was registered as sales representative in Von-Essen-Straße no. 5. Moritz Michelsohn died in 1930, his son in 1931.
Also their son Oskar Michelsohn worked as sales representative. For the time being, he retained his address in Isestraße, while after the death of several family members his mother at first went to live with her mother in their parental home in Wandsbek. As of the middle of the 1930s, how-ever, she lived with her son in Schlankreye no. 67 III in Eimsbüttel.
In April 1939 the exchange control office in Hamburg set its sight on both of them. On June 14, 1939 Oskar Michelsohn had been asked to attend a „meeting“ where he had to disclose his fi-nancial circumstances. Thereupon the president of the regional tax office ordered to immediately secure his assets, i. e. they were blocked. They were forced to transfer their securities in a blocked deposit; only the proceeds of these papers were to be made available to them. This action was based on the explanation usually given in such cases: „As member of the Jewish people, Mr. Oskar Israel Michelsohn is likely to emigrate in the near future. Due to the experience gained with emigrating Jews recently it is considered necessary to grant access to the assets only on the condition of an administrative decision. Complaints to this respect may be filed with the Reich Secretary of Commerce in Berlin.“ However, this complaint would have been without any delaying effect.
As was always the case in similar situations, many authorities, offices such as the Gestapo Ham-burg as well as the bank involved (here the Dresdner Bank) were informed of the incident. While the owner of an asset had to apply for any withdrawal from his account with the authorities, the government was able to directly debit the account with taxes and public charges, such as „repa-rations“ and also the Jewish Religious Association was entitled to directly deduct contribution fees and special allowances.
At the end of September 1939 Oskar Michelsohn moved to Hamburg-Wandsbek into the house of his grandmother where also his mother had meanwhile been living for some time.
Oskar Michelsohn respected all restrictions imposed by the financial authorities. For his living he applied for RM 175 per month as tax-free allowance, giving the following reason: „I only have income from interest and do not intend to avail myself of any capital“. Therefore, the amount in question was granted to him. In October 1939 he was forbidden to accept any other cash than his monthly allowance. In 1940 the blockage of his assets seemed to be relieved, particularly with regard to expenditures for a possible emigration – however, after the beginning of the war this was hardly feasible anymore.
After the exchange control office had secured the property of the son, they now concentrated on the assets of the mother and blocked them as well. Erna Michelsohn had to open a security ac-count with Dresdner Bank. The amount she could draw from this account without the consent of the authorities came to 300 RM per month which included the rent of 60 RM, plus associated costs, and the living costs for herself and an unmarried housemaid by the name of Koenig.
There is little evidence about the poor financial situation the three of them – grandmother, mother and son – had to get along with in their home in Langereihe during the following period of nearly two years.
When the „Stolperstein“ (stumbling block) was laid, a former neighbor remembered Oskar Mi-chelsohn, who, on leaving the house, used to carry his briefcase right in front of his him in order to hide the Yellow Jews Star on his jacket.
Erna and Oskar Michelsohn were member of the Jewish Religious Association. On their mem-bership card the comment „evacuation on November 8, 1941“ had been entered and crossed out again later. Maybe, this was the date for the intended deportation of mother and son, but for some reason they were deferred to a later transport.
In July 1942 both of them were arrested by the Gestapo and taken to the Gestapo headquarters in the Town House for questioning. Information giving the reason for the imprisonment is no longer available, since the Gestapo destroyed all documents shortly before the end of the war. The only evidence still existing is about the period of the so-called protective custody. According to this Erna and Oskar Michelsohn were transferred from the Town House to the concentration camp Fuhlsbüttel on July 21, 1942 where they stayed until February 12, 1943. Pursuant to the order that Jewish prisoners had to be transferred to the extermination camp Auschwitz, mother and son were deported to Auschwitz at the age of 60 and 38 respectively. Their property was immediately confiscated by the Deutsche Reich.
The destiny of Erna and Oskar Michelsohn once again reveals the methods of the foreign ex-change office that, in cooperation with banks and the Gestapo, financially hogtied Jewish people, so that any emigration plans were not considered at all or only when it was too late. As soon as the deportation of the owners out of the country got under way, the authorities robbed the residual assets left behind.
Translator: Eva Gehle
Lina Kümmermann, nee Korn, born 18.12.1872, deported on 15.7.1942 to Theresienstadt, and on 15.5.1944 to Auschwitz
Ilse Grube, nee Kümmermann, born 10.5.1899, deported on 6.12.41 to Riga, from 9.8.1944 in Stutthof Concentration Camp, where she died
Mary Pünjer, nee Kümmermann, born 24.8.1904, 1940–1942 held under arrest in the Fuhlsbüttel and Ravensbrück Concentration Camps, murder on 28.5.1942 in theBernburg Death Facility (Tötungsanstalt Bernburg)
Wandsbeker Marktstraße 57, Corner Wandsbeker Königstraße (Lübeckerstraße 1/ Königstraße 94)
The three cobble stones in front of the corner block in the centre of Wandsbek are a reminder of the rise and murder of the family Kümmermann, who established here a „Special Building“ for female fashion. The well know clothing business, which operated under the business name of the Brother and Sister Korn became during the 40 years of its existence an institution, which is substantiated by its large customer base, which extended beyond the Wandsbek borders, and the character of its female founder.
The family Korn originated from an area inhabited by Germans and Poles and settled in Wandsbek at the end of the 19th century: the brother and sister Lina and Oskar (born 1880) and their father.
Lina Korn was born on 18 December as the daughter of Ludwig Korn (born 1850) and his wife Rosalie, nee Glass, in the upper Silesian city of Kattowitz. She arrived in May 1898 in Wandsbek, where she was registered as living in the 16 Hamburg Street. In August of that year she married the businessman Joel (Julius) Kümmermann; they lived at 19 Litzowstraße. Their first shop was at 13 Lübeckerstraße, close to the Wandsbek Market Square; the registered proprietor was Lina Kümmermann. On 10 May 1899 the couple had their first child, a daughter, Ilse. In the following years they relocated their business to 6 Hamburgerstraße, the husband now being the registered proprietor. From 1906 the family lived in the above mentioned corner block known as 94 II Königstraße. They owned the building. The address of the shop was at 1 Lübeckerstraße. A few building further away lived Ludwig Korn.
Lina Kümmermann in the meantime was a mother of three children. In addition to Ilse was a son, Herbert (1901) and on 24.August 1904 the daughter Mary was born. The well off family was able to offer their children the best possible schooling. Herbert, until he was 16, attended the Matthias-Claudius-Gymnasium. Ilse and Mary were students at the Schneiders School for Well Born Daughters; Mary finally finished her schooling at the Wandsbeker Lyceum, where she matriculated in 1922.
Julius Kümmermann as the owner of a prosperous business was also active in the Wandsbek Jewish community where he was elected as a deputy and appointed treasuer. He died in 1926 and was buried in the Jenfeld Street Cemetery. His father-in-law had been buried there in 1917.
Herbert Kümmermann, the son, operated as a co-de-facto owner of the business after the death of his father. He too was active in the Wandsbek Jewish community. He had spent a number of years in Remscheid and Hamburg, returning to his parents‘ home in 1921. In 1930 he married Margot Michel and together they had a son, Julius, in 1931. The young family also lived 94 II. Königstraße.
Ilse, the daughter, married Hermann Grube, a non-Jewish businessman and had one son. She and her family lived at 22 Manteuffelstraße.
After the younger daughter Mary left school she spent 6 months in Segeberg. A note in her registration card states that she was employed at the „Niendorf Branch“; probably what was meant was Niendorf on the Baltic. In this seaside resort there may have been a subsidiary of the Wandsbek business, where Mary Kümmermann worked during the summer. In November of the same year she returned to her parents‘ house. In 1929, after a long engagement, she married Fritz Pünjer, who she had known from her school days. There were no children. Her non-Jewish husband had attend the Realschule and had been apprenticed to an export and import business. He had then progressed to book keeping, his father was also a book keeper, and had received official confirmation to act for a number of different book keepers who were involved in gaming on horse races..
The business run by the Brother and Sister Korn changed over the years. On one photo there is a two-story “closed-looking“ building. On the facade is written the name of the business. The building must have been renovated in the 1920s as lighting offered more “glamour“ appropriate to the leading clothing store in the Wandsbek business world, located in the best location – a foundation which seemed secure. Until the change in government in 1933 the yearly turnover was between RM 300,000 and RM 400,000.
It was during this period that there was the first sign that this favourable situation would worsen: on 1 April 1933 the business became the victim of the boycott of Jewish establishments. Around two years later the name of the owners and their address appeared in an anti-Semitic paper, which circulated in Wandsbek and aimed to intimidate Jewish business owners and terrify their customers. By 1938 the business had suffered losses of DM 120,000;this amount is based on estimates made in 1961 during proceedings for compensation.
Herbert Kümmermann emigrated with his family at the end of September 1938 via Rotterdam to Los Angeles – a consequence of the anti-Jewish political climate. His mother-in-law, Cäcilie Michel, had emigrated here in 1935. A fortnight prior to their departure their belongings were examined by the customs office at 94 Königstraße. “No objection to the quantity and composition“, wrote the customs officer and determined the Dego charge. Part of this compulsory charge for emigrants was transfered by Lina Kümmermann to assist her son’s emigration. She had often stepped in to financially support her children.
During the November 1938 pogrom the clothing business of the Brother and Sister Korn was attacked: windows were broken, stock ended upon the footpaths and building suffered damage. After 40 years Lina Kümmermann was forced to relinquish her business. That must have been difficult for her as she was always the last to leave, had personally greeted every customer and helped to sell to each customers their purchases. According to her grandson Julius, she once employed three female sales assistants, a seamstress and a storeman.At first the business woman was able to keep her house and its land. The situation was strange: The family, who was being persecuted, lived in the upper floors, below business continued as usual. The new owner, Marie Petersen, literally made steps to put the business into her name. She removed the „Jewish name“ and renamed it “Petersen Fashion House“ or “Modenhaus Petersen“. Around 18 months later she acquired the land. At the end of 1938 there were still in Wandsbek 25 parcels of land still in Jewish ownership, approximately 0.3% of all land in Wandsbek. Lina Kümmermann tried to keep her land in family ownership in that, at least in part, she transferred it to her “aryan“ son-in-law. A week after the November pogrom, on 19 November 1938, she appeared at the Wandsbek Land Titles Office and stated that she owed her son-in-law, the businessman Friedrich (Fritz) Pünjer RM30000 RM. She requested that the land be mortgaged to secure this amount and that the mortgage be registered on the title. The mortgage was to be given to the creditor.
At the same Fritz Pünjer went to the Foreign Currency Office and presented a power of attorney from his mother-in-law and a copy of a list of her assets. According to the list Lina Kümmermann owned 50% of the OHG Geschwister Korn. The other half was owned by her son, Herbert, who had emigrated. Fritz Pünjer was advised that his debt could not be secured with a mortgage; the Foreign Currency Office and successfully stopped the Land Titles Office from making the recording on the title.
On 25 November 1938 Lina Kümmermann was made subject to a security regulation. She could only deal with here land if she had the written permission of the Foreign Currency Office; she could deal with the income from the land without permission. The standard reasoning was as follows: “You are a Jewish. Therefore there is the probably that you will soon emigrate.“ With that there was implied the usual suspicion that capital would be taken out of the country, a suspiction based on supposed “experiences” learnt from emigrating Jews in recent times.
In May 1939 the Wandsbek Finance Office informed the Foreign Currency Office that Lina Kümmermann had not paid the due charges required from the Jewish Property tax and probably would not be able to pay the third and forth instalment. Further, “In the interest of securing payment of the full Jewish Property Tax I inform you of the restriction imposed on the Frau Kümmermann’s property.“ With this statement the Finance Office was trying to get the Foreign Currency Office to allow the registration of the mortgage. The land could then be sold and sale proceeds used to pay out Lina Kümmermann‘s tax debts.
In October 1939 she had filled out a questionnaire detailing here current assets. She required RM 355 monthly to live. This included support for her daughter Mary Pünjer, whose husband had been called up to the Wehrmacht and for her sister Frieda Berger, who was in a hospital in Berlin. Lina Kümmermann signed the standard clause: “I confirm the accuracy and completement of the abovementioned details“ – intentionally adding the words„“to the best of my knowledge“.
There was still no decision on her application to register a mortgage in favour of Fritz Pünjer. She continued to argue for this in a letter to the Foreign Currency Office. “My application still has not been decided. My assets are to be reduced by the sum of RM 30,000.“
Initially the Foreign Currency office reduced Lina Kümmermann’s application for an allowance to RM 270. She appealed applying for an additional RM 50, to support her daughter and son-in-law, which she could not do without the additional money. In January there were developments when the Administration for Trade, Ships and Businesses (Verwaltung für Handel, Schifffahrt und Gewerbe), which was responsible for transfers of land, informed the Foreign Currency Office, that a sale had been registered for the transfer of land owned by the Jewess Lina Kümmermann at Königstraße 92/ 94 and Lübeckerstraße 1–3. The buyer of both parcels of the corner land was Marie Petersen, who had already purchased the business, and Julius Heese from Malchow in Mecklenburg. The sale had occurred at the instigation of the Wandsbek Finance Office, which wanted payment of RM 15,000 owing for the Jewish property tax. Payment of this amount and other tax debts was to be made from the purchase price and in cash. Without the registration of the mortgage the cash component would have increased RM 30,000 to RM 65,000. This amount could not be paid by the buyers and the sale was threatened. A sale to other interested parties was out of the question because the interested buyers had acquired the business operated on the land. They then were granted a long term lease until 1946. In addition they were also given a first right to buy the land.
There was now nothing in the way to stop the registration of the mortgage in favour of Fritz Pünjer, who together with his wife and mother-in-law, were recorded as living on the land. This occurred in May 1940. The Wandsbek Finance Office received from Marie Petersen RM 16,000 as security for the balance of the Jewish property tax and other taxes, thereby sec
ring the tax debts owed by Lina Kümmermann. The new owner was now the sole purchaser for both parcels of land as her partner had terminated his role in the contract. Marie Petersen profited in the web of official and private interests. She was able to use the desparate need of the long-term owner of the land and take possession of the parcel of land located in a good condition.
However, the matter was not yet over for Lina Kümmermann. She appealed the amount of the sale price, saying it should be RM 122,000. The Valuation Office (Schätzungskommission) considered the matter. The price was finally set at RM 115,000. The purchaser took on the mortgage debt of around RM 85,000 as well Fritz Pünjer’s mortgage. Lina Kümmermann received in cash RM 35,100. After payment of fees, taxes and charges it was reduced to RM 21,800. After deduction of the Jewish property tax of approximately RM 21,800 she was left with around RM 13,300. That was only 10% of the sale price. Lina Kümmermann has no control even over this amount. It was paid into a blocked security account at the Commerzbank, Depositenkasse Wandsbek.
At the end of her business current Lina Kümmermann was left with nothing even though she had tried to use every possibilty to negotiate as an equal and not as some who had less rights. After the forced sale of her land in the summer of 1940 Königstraße 94 became rather loneley. Only Lina Kümmermann and her daughter Mary lived here now. Fritz Pünjer had been called up in September 1939 as a lorry driver for „police security“ in Poland. Ilse Grube lived in Eppendorf. Two years before both daughters were living in their parents‘ house, Mary Pünjer with her husband and from 1937 the older daughter with her son, Klaus.
Ilse Grube was a co-owner of a trading business. Lina Kümmermann had invested in the business, her son-in-law, Hermann Grube, invested in the firm Schatt-Wachler, a wholesaler of chemical supplies in Hamburg, Große Bleichen 31, which was renamed Schatt-Wachler & Grube. However, the ambitious National Socialist Hermann Grube divorced his wife. She lost the protection of a “privileged“ mixed marriage. Their son, Klaus (born 1924) was baptised in May 1933 in the Wandsbek Evangelical-Lutheran Church. When the anti-Jewish policies reached their peak after the Nuremberg Racial Laws his father implemented a plan which today seems macabre: as a preventative measure he wanted to sterilise his son so that he would be a “citizen of the Reich“. However, Ilse Grube did not have confidence in the obscure plans of her ex-husband and their finer legal points. She organised a bribe so that her „half-Jewish“ son could join a transport of Jewish children in 1938 to England. With the departure of her son the now divorced Ilse lost her last means of protection which had been based on two pillars: her duty of care for a minor under the age of 18 and the status of here son who had been classified as a “Mischling First Degree“. Ilse Grube was now officially regard as a „full Jewess“ and was treated accordingly.
In April 1939 she was required to hand in a list of her property to the Foreign Currency Office. According to the list she owned a house at 23 Schimmelmannstraße; she had little cash so that a security order was initially not required. She stated that „in the account of my son I deposited RM 1,000. From this sum I had to pay a RM 900 Jewish contribution.“
Her property was sold at the end of 1940 to a H. Hövermann. The original price of RM 28.000 was reduced to RM 20,000. After the deduction of taxes and charges she was left with RM 8,000 which was deposited in Ilse Grubes blocked accout at the Hamburger Sparkasse 1827 in Wandsbek. She could only access the account with the permission of the Foreign Currency Office. For her monthly allowance as for even the smallest special withdrawal she had to obtain permission. The Foreign Currency Office reduced her amount to RM 250. She earned her income on a hourly basis by working as a secretary for her (supposed) relative, Hermann Glass. On 3 December 1941 she requested RM 300 for her „imminent evacuation“. The sum was handed to her personally on the same day. From 1 June 1940 Ilse Grube lived in Eppendorf, Haynstraße 13 with (the Family) Eller. She appears to have had in her possession the larger part of her furniture and household items. In a letter to her former husband two days before her deportation which deals with the financial security for their son she wrote the following: „Dear Hermann, you have perhaps heard that the transport has been delayed by one day and I had thought that there would be a favourable development in the mean time. I have to be there at 11am and tomorrow we will be “loaded“; I remain full of hope until the last moment.“ She waited for a decision from Berlin that would postpone the deportation and remained full of hope that she would be able to emigrate to the USA. The letter gave her the opportunity to deal with the separation from her son. “Who knows how long I will hear nothing from the boy, yesterday I wrote to him a Red Cross letter, hopefully he will have it by Christmas or his birth day. I asked my brother not to tell Klaus anything about me so that he will not get upset; otherwise it would have been too horrible to imagine. If I can stay here I will let you know.“ However, Ilse Grube did not get a reprieve. Her “evacuation“ – as the deportations were called – had long been finalised as the Foreign Currency Office had confiscated her property alreay at the end of November 1941.
The train departed for Riga on 6 December. The people from Hamburg could not yet be taken into the Ghetto as the shooting squads were still in the process of murdering the inhabitants. So they were taken to the nearby city farm Jungfernhof. There they were housed with later arrivals in barracks and cattle barns, exposed to the cold and hunger. In March 1942 the remaining 2000 survivors were shot in a forest not far from Jungfernhof. A few people from Hamburg were sent to the Riga Ghetto and Ilse Grube must have been one of them. In the summer of 1944 the SS evacuated the ghetto in face of the advancing Soviet Army and transferred the prisoners to the Stutthof Concentration camp near Danzig. This camp was soon overfilled; the prisoners were forced to march in the direction of Germany. Ilse Grube, who arrived in Stutthof on 9. August 1944, was not one of them. The date of her death is unknown.
Let us return to 94 Königstraße 94. In the summer of 1940 the 35 year old Mary Pünjer lived with her mother in the house that no longer belonged to them. The feeling of being caught in a trap, the suffocating control exercised by an uncertain neighbourhood as well as the brutal laws with bans of working and nightly curfews must have given rise to the desire for some relief. Why not go with the tram into the city? Mary Pünjer probably did this quite often, visiting pubs that were banned not only for Jews, including those that were solely for women. Whether she went there because she was a lesbian or felt safe in this subculture is beside the point. On the evening of 24 July 1940 she was arrested. She spent almost three months in the Fuhlsbütteler Police Prison. On 12 October 1940 she was tranferred to the female concentration camp Ravensbrück. The admission list states that she is “asocial“; under notes is the word “lesbian“. This daughter „from a good home“ was marked with a black triangle, which was fixed to prisoner jacket. The symbol for knocking about, non-conformists, mostly from poor family backgrounds, stigmatised the so-called community aliens. If Mary Pünjer did not belong to this category and lesbian relations were not a criminal offence as were male homosexual relations, she still was despised just as much. Relationships between femals contradicted the National Socialist ideal of the woman as a mother of many children and the word „asocial“ questioned the relationship to the “Volk community“. Research has shown that lesbians were admitted to concentration camps as “asocials“. The women, who were accused of so-called sexual offences such as prostitution, abortion, so-called racial defilement or as lesbians were held in the Ravensbrück Concentration Camp. Within the camp hierachy the Jewish women were in the worst position. They received the least rations and were not adequately cared for in the hospital. Often they lived isolated from the other prisoners in overcrowded barracks in horrifying conditions. The forced labour that they had to do was marked by the maximum force and physical deprivations. We do not know what work Mary Pünjer had to do as only the admission list with her name and a photo in prisoner uniform is held in the Ravensbrück Archive.
Between the end of November 1940 and the middle of March 1941 Mary Pünjer was again transferred to the Hamburg Police authorities where she was questioned by the Criminal Squad 23 responsible for sexual crimes. On 15 March 1941 she was transferred back to Ravensbrück. In November 1941 a medical practioner began his infamous work there: Dr. Friedrich Mennecke, an SS-Obersturmbannführer in 1941 was part of “Aktion 14 f 13“. Jewish prisoners were to be taken from the concentration camps and killed. In January 1942 he returned to Ravensbrück for a second time. His reports with “diagnoses“, the equivalent of a death sentence, included a reference to Mary Pünjer. He wrote about her as follows:
„... a married full Jewess. An active (saucy) lesbian. Constantly visiting lesbian pubs and flirting in the pubs.” From this we can conclude that she was arrested in a pub. Mennecke chose Jewish prisoners after reviewing their files only, basing his characterisations on the entries made in the Criminal Police and Security Police files. This means that in this case the Hamburg Criminal Police or Gestapo determined whether Mary Pünjer was characterised as a lesbian. The question remains open whether she was in fact a lesbian or simply regard
d by the Hamburg officials as a lesbian. The women selected by Mennecke did had no means to avoid their murder in the Bernburg Heil- und Pflegeanstalt. Did Mary Pünjer give any indication that she had been selected by Mennecke and was to be transferred to the Bernburg Death Institute. A passage in a letter from December 1941 regarding the deportations from Hamburg reads as follows: “I believe that I will soon go the way that many people from Hamburg have gone!“ In her other letters to her relatives this theme was not mentioned again. Four of these letters have survived. Mary Pünjer probably wrote other letters. A single envelope from Ravensbrück dated 30 August 1941 indicates that this is the case. On the envelope is a note that at that time she was held in Block 14a. Each month she was allowed to receive and write one letter or a post card – each was a vital piece of mail. The number of pages and lines was prescribed and were subject to censorship.The first two letters mentioned here from July 1941 and November 1941 were addressed to Fritz Pünjer as was the January letter of 1942. The December 1941 letter was addressed to her mother. The letters show how Mary Pünjer was torn between hope and dark foreboding. The desire to be close to her husband is clear; between the lines there are constant hints that he should continue contact with his mother-in-law and thereby keep in contact with the family. Here there was probably the fear that he could divorce her which would worsen her status as a Jewess in a „privileged mixed marriage“ and which would have negative effects on her mental and physical condition as a concentration camp prisoner.
(November probably 1941)
My dear Fritz!
I have your letter and RM 20,– many thanks!
Nice that you have had a coat made. Hopefully you and mother are well and have enough to eat! I am glad that you had a wonderful party for papa’s birthday; i am glad that you are well! One day I will be free, but hopefull (page ends A.L.)
Hopefully mother is spending a lot of time walking with Fuchsi, I am so sorry for her, but such trivial matters can and should not shake us!
It is already winter her, do you have enought fuel?
Is Miss Petersen now the sole owner of the house?
Mama could write to me otherwise I will think that she has forgotten me!
What has happened to the car? Sell it so that Brockmann can get his money back or has this already been done? Here I am thinking about this !
Peterle, when will we be again happy together? I hope mother’s letter comes soon.
Have a cup of coffee with her in the morning! Best wishes your Mary
(Papa, probably her father-in-law A.L.)
(Fuchsi, probably a dog. Jews were not allowed to have pets. A.L.)
(Tante Frieda, is probably Frieda Berger, her mother’s sister, A.L.)
(Frl. Petersen, Marie Petersen, A.L.)
Many thanks for your November letter, I have also just received Fritz’s letter. Am glad that he still thinks about me. I am very worried about you as I have heard about the Hamburg people. Now I can rest knowing that you are well at home.
Hopefully Ilse will be ok, nevertheless it is not the worst!
Dear Mother for your birthday today I wish you health, confidence and stamina! I believe that I will soon go the way that many from Hamburg have gone! I have been away from home for 16 months. Does Fritz still visit Aunt Frieda?
He has not written whether there is still hope. I can’t receive small packets, send instead in the next letter a post card of 1 Lübeckerstr. Post cards are allowed!
Hopefully you will spend Christmas with Fritz at his parents! Best wishes to you and my dear Fritz! Mary
(Lübeckerstr. 1, the address of the business and home in Wandsbek, A.L.)
(...Ilse is ok. Probably a reference to her sister being spared from the deportations. A.L.)
(„...the way that many from Hamburg have now gone. Probably a reference to the four deportations of Hamburg Jews Lodz, Minsk and Riga – October to December 1941. A.L.)
(Aunt Frieda, meant is Frieda Berger, her mother’s sister A.L.)
My dear Fritz!
Hopefully you and mother had a pleasant festive holiday! Naturally I think always of home where two years ago we celebrated our last New Year’s Eve and were still happy! Will it ever happen again?
The mail has just been distributed and again there was nothing for me, the last letter from you was a month ago, I got the letter from mama!
I have not heard anything from mother and I am very down! (Paragrahps cut out by the censor A.L.) ... Time?
Who do you meet up with? Hopefully you sometimes have a nice time with mother! Even though I have been away from home for 17 months, I think daily of you and mother and our beautiful home. Hopefully we will see each other there soon! But you don’t write often so I doubt everything!
Best wishes to you and mother! Your Mary
(Mama, the mother-in-law A.L.)
In a Warsaw archive there are a few letters or copies of letters from former Ravensburg prisoners which indicated that on 28 May 1942 that Mary Pünjer was selected and murdered by gas in the Bernburg Death Facility. Questions remain: if Mary Pünjer was chosen by Mennecke no later than in January 1942 was is her date of death 28 May 1942? Could it be that she was selected but not immediately killed out of consideration for her non-Jewish husband? Were there other reasons?
She was taken to the concentration camp categorised as a “Black Triangle“ not because she was Jewish. The protection that her privilege “mixed marriage“ offered against deportations was lost when a Jew or a Jewess was regarded as a criminal. Two days after Mary’s death her husband received news from the Hamburg Criminal Police: „The urn can be supplied at the cost of the relatives.“ Fritz Pünjer arranged for this. It took three months before the urn was interred. On 3 September 1942 the Jewish Religious Association sent a letter to the Wandsbek address: „In accordance with your wishes the remains will be interred this Friday at 4pm..“
Lina Kümmermann could not attend the interment at the Jenfeld Street Cemetery, where a plot was reserved also for her. She had already left her home, ceasing to be registered from 27 April 1942 at 94 Königstraße. She was now living in the so-called Jewish Home at 43 Bundesstraße. She remained there for around 6 weeks. On 15 Jul.y 1942 at the age of 70 she had to board a train to Theresienstadt, where she was registered a day later. It is not known how she survived in the overcrowed “Ghetto for the Aged“, which was certainly not a place for a quiet life. For many it was a place to die, for other a transit camp on the way to a death camp. So it was Lina Kümmermann. On 15 May 1944 she was transported to Auschwitz. There all trace of her is lost. In 1951 she was declared dead.
Mary Pünjer is the only Jewish Wandsbek deportee who has been buried. Her grave is not to be found as is that of her father and uncle; the graves were probably destroyed during the war during earth works. Today there is a memorial paver with the names and dates of the three dead.
Mary Pünjer‘s letters were attached to a claim made Fritz Pünjer in 1947. The arrest of his wife in July 1940 possibly had an impact on him in that his superiors became aware that a “Jewish-related“ person worked for them. In September 1940 he was dismissed from his war job at Königstraße 94 II and began work as a scribe at Brockman Bookmaker. In July 1942 he was allowed to work as a bookmaker’s assistant – afte the deportation of his mother-in-law and a month after his wife’s death. He married again at the end of 1943 and in the summer of 1944, no longer “Jewish related“, was called up to the Wehrmacht. In February 1945 he was captured by the British. In November 1947 he was released. Back in Hamburg he applied to the “Association of Nuremberg Law Sufferers“ (“Notgemeinschaft der durch die Nürnberger Gesetze Betroffenen“). He based his application on Mary Pünjer’s arrest for purely “racial grounds“ and stated that the marriage was harmonious.Ilse Grube’s emigrant son took British citizenship and named himself Clive Graham. He took part in the war, working for the British intelligence service, counter-espionage and lived for many years in Bonn as a member of the Rhine Army. He married three times and had two sons. He died in 1996 in Austria, aged 72. He never saw Ilse Grube, his mother, again. After the war he made contact with his father but broke that off. Hermann Grube had married again in 1941. According to Clive Graham’s widow the father suffered a lot when the son broke off contact with him as he held him responsible for the death of his mother, because the father divorcing her. As the case of Mary Pünjer shows a “mixed marriage“ alone did not give absolute protection from deportations or selections. If Ilse Grube had have maintained the relationship it would have save her not only from the Riga Ghetto and the Stutthof Concentration Camp. It is likely that she would have been deported shortly before the end of the war to Theresienstadt which she probably would have survived. How were they to know that when they divorced. At the end of 1945 Ilse Grube was declared dead. The Petersen Fashion House existed until the beginning of the 1990s. The former owner and successer to Marie Petesen was not prepared in 1988 on the 50th anniversary of the business to give any information about the “aryanisation“ of the store or about the successor to Lina Kümmermann. The silence based on a professional loyalty was easier to maintain than to speak about the events which were regarded as tabu. At the end of the day Petersen had profited from the financial plunder and the murder of her predecessor and her daughters by the National Socialist state.
Thanks to Julius Kumerman, who lives in California, he has provided the photos from his family collection.
Translator Dr. Stephen Pallavicini
Pohl, Hedwig and Professor Julius
Hedwig Pohl, born on February 15, 1896; deported to Auschwitz on July 11, 1942
Prof. Julius Pohl, born on January 11, 1861; died in Hamburg on September 29, 1942
Claudiusstieg 6 (Klopstockstraße 6)
Julius Pohl was pharmacologist and engaged in tobacco researches. Unlike today, where smoking is restricted by government and employers, it became more and more common in those days and was promoted and scientifically attended by the tobacco industry. Actually, Julius Pohl had already retired when, together with his wife and daughter he moved to Wandsbek, traditionally a center of tobacco business and production of cigars. Meanwhile, however, cigarettes had become more popular than cigars. His new place of work at Haus Neuerburg, a giant of the cigarette industry, offered Pohl optimal conditions for his research activities. In 1928 he took up his work in the recently built Fritz-Höger-Building, Walddörfer Straße 103, where he had a well equipped laboratory at his disposal and held the position of a director for six years. With his family he lived in Marienthal, Klopstockstraße 6 and, since January 1, 1934 he obtained a pension of 600 Reichsmark from the University of Breslau (Wroclaw).
The Pohls came from Prague and were of Roman Catholic denomination. Julius Pohl, son of Leopold Pohl and his wife Louise, née Kantor, was born in Prague where he studied medicine. In 1884 he obtained his doctorate and in 1892 he qualified as a university lecturer. Three years later he became associate professor and in 1897 full professor of pharmacology and pharmacognosy (science of herbal pharmaceutical drugs). In 1911 he was offered a professorship at the University in Breslau. So far Pohl and his family had been Austrians, now they became Prussian citizens. Pohl worked in Breslau until he retired in 1928, meanwhile holding the title of “Geheimer Medizinalrat” (medical officer of health). Since 1926 he had been member of the German Academy of Naturalists Leopoldina. Among other works, he published together with Emil Starkenstein and Eugen Rost a standard work about toxicology in 1929.
Julius Pohl was married to Hedwig, née Wien (born in 1967) in 1895. On February 15, 1896 their daughter Hedwig was born, two years later their son Franz. Franz registered as volunteer in World War I; however he fell ill and died in 1916 at the age of 18.
There are not many information about the life of the daughter Hedwig Pohl and whether she had a job or not is unknown. When she moved to Wandsbek with her parents, she was 32 years old and unmarried. She probably led a life without financial problems in the house of her parents. The Pohls were in a rather unusual position, not only because they were newcomers but also for being Catholics in Hamburg, where most people were Protestants.
In 1935 the “Nuremberg Laws” defined them as Jews and they were subjected to all measures taken against Jews, though they never felt part of this minority. The father, who had led a successful life so far, had a break-down. On October 7, 1935 the daughter wrote on his behalf to the Wandsbek Lord Mayor Friedrich Ziegler:
“To the attention of Lord Mayor Dr Ziegler:
…Now this is my inquiry and I ask you to please send an early reply. The related dates are as follows: Already my grandparents have been buried on the Catholic cemetery in Prague. Both of my parents, born as Jews, were baptized in the Catholic Church more than 50 years ago and had a Catholic marriage ceremony in Prague 40 years ago. My late brother and I were born, baptized and brought up as Catholic Christians. Therefore our household and all our domestic servants were always led in good Christian manner. Political influences of our servants who have been employed by us for many years are to be excluded. Naturally, all donations for the Party have been given whenever they were demanded, as my father, being a former German civil servant, felt particularly obliged to do so. With regard to all these facts we cannot believe that, also for us, the new laws of September 15, 1935 by which we are suddenly considered as 100% Jews, will have the consequences indicated (no flags, 45 years old domestic servant etc.). This has caused a serious break-down to my father who has always enjoyed an excellent reputation all over the world. Now the official measures entailed by the new laws would completely destroy his life and that of my mother who is terminally ill and in hospital, as well as my future…. As the laws were not followed by any official explanation I ask you to apologize for approaching you in my despair. I ask you to be sympathetic about our situation and to decide this matter in consideration of the circumstances mentioned above. In this agonizing situation where I am trapped without my fault, I hope to hear from you soon and to receive your decision. I do not know who else of the local authorities I should appeal to.”
The confusion provoked by legislation and which did not only affect the Pohl family came to a head with the question how somebody could be Christian and Jew at the same time. The reaction of the Lord Mayor to this letter made clear that nobody at that time had an idea how to put into practice these laws: he forwarded the letter to deputy mayor Eggers “for your information and a proposal what I can send as reply.” Eggers, being county leader of the NSDAP and presumably the real disposer in the Wandsbek town hall had immediately grasped the intention of the law, as was revealed by his reply of October 26 addressed to Hedwig Pohl:
"Referring to your letter of October 7 of this year, addressed to Lord Mayor Dr. Ziegler as well as to the letter you sent on 21th of this month I herewith inform you that the regulations of the laws, enacted in Nuremberg on 15.9.1935, apply to your person, as according to your information both of your parents were born as Jews and therefore are related by blood to the Jewish race. County Leader."
However, the laws were not defined more precisely before midst of November 1935. With reference to the Pohl family who had hoped for exceptional rules, they did not have any positive consequences. From this time also all those persons who no longer belonged to the Jewish people but had at least three grandparents were defined as "Jews".
On October 27, 1935 Hedwig Pohl approached Lord Mayor Ziegler again, asking him to return the letter she wrote to him. Ziegler sent the post card to Egger and asked him to "return the letter I forwarded to you." Apparently, this had been refused, for Ziegler answered Hedwig Pohl: "In reply to your post card (letter) of 27th of this month I deeply regret having to inform you of not being able to return the letter you sent to me on 7.10.1935, as it has been the basis of our examination of the legal provisions. Therefore it has to remain in the files of the municipal administration. On the basis that you letter has become part of the files of the municipal administration the requirement of the obligation of discrection has been made sure. Lord Mayor."
It is doubtful that the Pohl family felt reassured by this reply. On the contrary, there probably remained the bitter feeling of having exposed themselves and having their confidence being badly disappointed.
One of the consequences of the "racial laws" was the fact that the family had been integrated by force into the Jewish Religious Union in 1939. Father and daughter were obliged to pay municipal tax. While, in 1940 Hedwig Pohl had only to pay a so-called head money of 12 Reichsmark, her father had to pay culture tax less proportionate church tax. The amount of the tax he paid suggests that he was fairly wealthy. In spite of that the situation in the house in Klopstockstraße had deteriorated considerably. The parents were in need of care and the daughter had to look after them.
On September 3, 1941 Hermine Leib came to support them, probably by intermediation of the Jewish Religious Union (pls. refer to chapter Leib). Up to that time she had worked in the old people's home and infirmary of the Jewish Religious Union. However, a few weeks later she received the order for deportation. On October 25, 1941 she was bound to leave Hamburg for Lodz. Now, Hedwig Pohl had to manage all by herself again.
In January 1942 the foreign currency office issued a security order. Hedwig Pohl filled in the questionnaire concerning the assets to be indicated and attached some information describing the desolate situation of the family:" Presently no domestic help, as nobody is available. Professor Pohl, 80 years of age, is crippled and Mrs. Pohl, 74, is confined to bed and permanently in need of care due to a bleeding gastric ulcer. Please take this into consideration. The daughter is the only one responsible for household and care. I urgently ask you to establish the amount allowed as high as possible, owing to the fact that the rent is extremely high and I cannot change lodgings because of the diseases of Mr. and Mrs. Pohl who, according to medical report are not transportable.“
The rent excluding service charges amounted to 275 Reichsmark. According to Hedwig Pohl, the expenditures per month for her parents and herself came to 650 Reichsmark. This sum was granted for a short while, however, from March 1, 1942 reduced to 550 Reichsmark; probably because Julius Pohl's wife had died in the meantime. In the end, father and daughter had to leave Wandsbek. On February 12, 1942 they moved to Hamburg-Eimsbuettel, Kielortallee 22 into a house of the Oppenheimer Foundation, now serving as house for Jews. Thus the Pohl family was among those who had to leave Wandsbek rather late. Five months later Hedwig received the deportation order. Now, what was to become of her father? On July 10, 1942 Julius Pohl was admitted to the Jewish rest home in Laufgraben 37, where father and daughter probably said goodbye to each other, before Hewig Pohl went to the collection point at Moorweide. She was deported on July 11, 1942 to Auschwitz at the age of 46 and was never seen again. Thus her foreboding announced in her letter to the Lord Mayor seven years before proved to be true: the Nuremberg Laws and their consequences would completely destroy her future.
Her father who was dependent on care was advised to move into the old people's home of the ghetto Theresienstadt. Like many other old Jews, Julius Pohl signed a corresponding contract for being admitted to the retirement home, agreeing to spend his entire financial means for being accomodated and cared for in the allegedly comfortable house in Theresienstadt. For this purpose he also satisfied a mortgage.
Julius Pohl did not arrive in Theresienstadt. He died in the old people's home on September 29, 1942 at the age of 81. Although the former privy councilor had not been deported, a cobble stone/stumbling block was set for him all the same, as he had to suffer from the campaign of persecution against the Jewish people for seven years.
Translator: Eva Gehle
Frontseite Flyer mit Wands. Passanten, 2004
(Foto: Eva-Maria Nerling)
Das 1. Bild der Präsentation, 2005
(Foto: Eva-Maria von Nerling)
Cover Band Stolpersteine in Wandsbek, 2008
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