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Ernst Rosenschein * 1897

Bleicherweg 2 (Harburg, Harburg)

JG. 1897

further stumbling stones in Bleicherweg 2:
Johanna Rosenschein

Ernst Rosenschein, born on 25 Jan. 1897 in Harburg, detained in 1939 in the Fuhlsbüttel concentration camp, deported on 8 Nov. 1941 to Minsk, date of death unknown
Johanna Rosenschein, née Mannheim, born on 17 May 1867 in Hannover, deported on 15 July 1942 to Theresienstadt, deported further to Treblinka on 21 Sept. 1942

Bleicherweg 2 (District of Harburg-Altstadt)

"I saw in front of the businesses owned by Jews the bellowing SA hordes around Fritz Konerding, who had a store on Wilstorfer Strasse and was a full-on Nazi. They stood in front of the Horwitz Department Store, in front of Stein’s bedding store, in front of M. M. Friedmann, all of which were beleaguered by the SA,” Fritz Sarne later recalled the so-called "defensive boycott” (Abwehrboykott) throughout the Reich by the Nazi party against Jewish enterprises on 1 Apr. 1933. It affected, among others, the Harburg-based M. M. Friedmann Department Store on Lüneburger Strasse mentioned above, as well as other Jewish stores, law offices, and medical practices in Harburg.

Despite the intimidation, Johanna Rosenschein, the owner of the M. M. Friedmann Department Store at the time, refused to be deterred from opening her business that Saturday as usually and serving her customers obligingly as she did every day. Many Harburg residents appreciated this decision. They ignored the call for boycotting the store because they knew where they could shop for good value and received good service. A female staff member stated, "We had a back entrance on Grosser Schippsee, and no one was posted there; they had probably overlooked that. This was where people called on us in the store unobserved, saying, ‘We are coming anyway.’”

Johanna Rosenschein had taken over the M. M. Friedmann fashion goods store after the early death of her husband, Bernhard Rosenschein (28 Feb. 1862–2 June 1911), at the same time taking care of the wellbeing of her four then underage children, Ernst, Friedrich (born on 3 June 1898), Ilse Fanny (born on 8 Mar. 1900), and Hans (born on 26 Aug. 1909). Later, all four of them fondly remembered their childhood and youth at Bleicherweg 2, the family’s residential address, even though it was impossible to fill the gap Bernhard Rosenschein’s death had left.

Together with her brother Arthur Mannheim, Johanna Rosenschein successfully managed the business on Lüneburger Strasse through the First World War, the turbulent post-war years, and the major world economic crisis at the end of the 1920s. In the two years prior to the Nazi assumption of power in 1933, the fashion house with its 90 employees had turned over 1,208,030 RM and 927,739 RM, respectively. By this time, Friedrich Rosenschein had taken many responsibilities off his mother’s hands. For two years, he had been married to Edith Guttmann (born on 21 Nov. 1909) (see corresponding entry) from Wilhelmsburg.

As a lawyer, his brother Ernst Rosenschein, too, was affected by the call for boycott throughout the Reich on 1 Apr. 1933. His law office at Wilstorfer Strasse 34 also appeared on the list of Jewish companies compiled by the Harburg city council at the end of Mar. 1933. Since receiving his license to practice as a lawyer in 1926, he had stood by his clients in trials before the Harburg District Court (Amtsgericht) and the Stade Regional Court (Landgericht). After 2 June 1933, he was no longer allowed to pursue this work based on Sec. 1 of the occupational licensing act (Zulassungsgesetz). Afterward, he took on the accounting in the department store his mother owned.

To be sure, the boycott across Germany on 1 Apr. 1933 lasted for only one day, but it did have repercussions. The agitation against Jewish businesses continued unabated even afterward. Repeatedly, the Harburg SA urged its members to carry out anti-Jewish propaganda campaigns. For instance, in July 1935, the shop windows of nearly all stores in the city were smeared with slogans hostile to Jews or labeled with anti-Semitic agitation posters.

Confronted with this poisoning of the public atmosphere, Jewish businesspeople increasingly had a difficult time maintaining their regular clientele. Many members of the Nazi party and civil servants gradually turned away from them, taking their business elsewhere instead. Furthermore, the M. M. Friedmann Company suffered from the fact that welfare recipients, too, stayed away from one day to the next since the Harburg welfare office had added a note to all coupons at the end of Mar. 1933 indicating, "Not valid for Jewish shops, department stores, and one-price stores.” Married couples, who had received a low-interest bank loan given to newlyweds, were not allowed to redeem coupons covering their needs (Bedarfsdeckungsgutscheine) in Jewish stores either.

An additional weapon used in the fight of the Harburg Nazi party (NSDAP) against the M. M. Friedmann Company was the attempt by means of repeated summons to force a store employee, who temporarily had a relationship with Friedrich Rosenschein, the junior owner, into admitting to having been coerced into this relationship. However, the young woman stood up to the pressure, sticking to the truth.

After 1933, relations between management and staff became tenser as well. The German Labor Front (Deutsche Arbeitsfront – DAF) used any means available to strengthen the position of the non-Jewish employees in all major and minor conflicts with the company executive, not even shrinking from keeping the courts busy with numerous disputes. Over time, these tactics increasingly narrowed the company administration’s room for maneuver in terms of time and finances, poisoning the working atmosphere.

When it was no longer possible to stem the decline in turnover, at the end of 1935 Johanna Rosenschein and her brother Arthur Mannheim had no other choice but to terminate sales in the premises of the department store and to dismiss all employees – including many Harburg Jews – because the company was insolvent. The M. M. Friedmann Company was deleted from the company register on 8 Feb. 1936. The new owner, who operated the business under a different name, continued to employ only the non-Jewish staff members.

This fate overtook Hans Rosenschein as well. Afterward, he was the first family member to leave the country where he had spent many years of his life. On 28 Oct. 1936, at the age of 27, he emigrated to Brazil.

His mother and his older siblings tried to follow him. If the administrative obstacles required to overcome when entering many other countries were not exactly trivial, these were surpassed by far by the number of hurdles one needed to surmount prior to departing Germany, even though in those years emigration of the Jewish population from Germany was among the avowed aims of Nazi racial policy.

Despite these impediments, Friedrich Rosenschein still managed to leave for the USA after his temporary detainment in the Sachsenhausen concentration camp in the spring of 1939, and his sister, Ilse Fanny Marcuse, née Rosenschein, married name prior to divorce Silberstein, was able to reach safety in Shanghai a few weeks later, at the very last moment.

After the night of the November Pogrom of 1938, Ernst Rosenschein was detained for several weeks in the Sachsenhausen concentration camp, where the new arrivals were treated with a brutality virtually unknown until then, many of them having been maltreated already with kicks and blows in the Stadthaus, the Hamburg Gestapo headquarters. Ernst Rosenschein was released on 24 Dec. 1938.

In order to pay off the mortgages on two properties she owned at Heimfelder Strasse 80 and at Bleicherweg 2, and to raise the funds for the numerous compulsory charges imposed on Jews, Johanna Rosenschein found herself compelled to sell her real estate in 1938. Being Jewish, she had little chance of getting any fair offers on the real estate market at the time. When selling her developed property on Bleicherweg, she had to accept a depreciation of approx. 25 percent. The sales revenues for both properties, amounting to 10,661.95 RM after paying off all mortgages, debts, and dues, were deposited into the account of Johanna Rosenschein with Dresdner Bank; however, due to a "security order” ("Sicherungsanordnung”) imposed by the Hamburg Chief Finance Administrator (Oberfinanzpräsident) she was denied free disposal of these funds. She was granted a monthly allowance of 280 RM toward her living expenses.

After selling the two Harburg houses, Johanna Rosenschein and her son Ernst relocated their residence – surely not of their free will but out of necessity – to Hamburg, where they were taken in as subtenants by two families.

On 8 Nov. 1941, Ernst Rosenschein boarded the second Hamburg deportation train that reached the Belarusian capital of Minsk three days later. Just when and under what circumstances his life ended far away from home is not known.

His 75-year-old mother was deported, along with about 800 other Hamburg Jews, to Theresienstadt nine months later, on 19 July 1942. However, she did not stay there for long. Only two months later, she left this place again. The death transport she was forced to join ended in the Treblinka extermination camp. This "death factory” served exclusively to murder immediately all persons taken there. Jews getting off there were directed to rooms where they had to take off everything they carried before being driven into the gas chambers concealed as "shower halls” and murdered. Afterward, their corpses were thrown into mass graves. Often, the entire process did not even take two hours.

Although Johanna and Ernst Rosenschein are mentioned by name on the granite stele marking the grave of the family in the Harburg Jewish Cemetery, one can say with certainty that they did not find their final resting place at this location.

Translator: Erwin Fink
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.

Stand: October 2018
© Klaus Möller

Quellen: 1; 2 (R 1939/293 Rosenschein, Johanna, FVg 3416 Rosenschein, Friedrich); 4; 5; 7; 8; StaH, 351-11 AfW, Abl. 2008/1, 030698 Rosenschein Friedrich, 080300 Marcuse, Ilse, 260809 Rosenschein, Hans; StaH, 430-2 Bestand Harburg, 2 Stadtbücher, III 1 Bd. IX, S. 54b, 430-5 Signatur 1900-02, Personenstandwesen; StaH, 430-5 Dienststelle Harburg, 1810-08, 430-74 Polizeipräsidium Harburg-Wilhelmsburg II, 60, 40; StaH, 430-5 Dienststelle Harburg, Ausschaltung jüdischer Geschäfte und Konsumvereine, 1810-08, Bl. 89ff.; Heyl (Hrsg.), Harburger Opfer; Heyl, Synagoge, S. 44, 50, 105, 119, 132f., S. 199; Ellermeyer u. a., Schalom, S. 51ff.; Schriftliche Mitteilung der Gedenkstätte und des Museums Sachsenhausen vom 3.3.2011; Kändler/Hüttenmeister, Friedhof, S. 13f., S. 213f.; Friedenberger u. a., Reichsfinanzverwaltung, S. 10ff.
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