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Szaja Neuwirth * 1885

Bremer Straße 3 (Harburg, Harburg)

1941 Minsk

further stumbling stones in Bremer Straße 3:
Berl Löwi

Szaja Neuwirth, b. 2.26.1885 in Zalesy, deported on 11.8.1941 to Minsk, date of death unknown

Harburg-Altstadt district, Bremer Strasse 3

Szaja Neuwirth belonged to those Jewish business people in Harburg who, because of their remarkable economic success, enjoyed high respect. He came from Galicia, which until the end of World War I belonged to the Austro-Hungarian Dual Monarchy; after the war it became Polish. Today, this region belongs to Ukraine. In 1915, amidst World War I, Szaja Neuwirth opened a men’s clothing and shoe store at Bremer Strasse 3, directly adjacent to the great Harburg department store, Horwitz & Company. He lived there with his wife Faiga (Fanny), née Wiesen (b. 5.1.1886), also from Zalesy. They had three children, Cilli (b. 11.28.1911), Berta (b. 3.23.1913) and Isidor (b. 6.3.1916). After their birth in Hanover, they spent the greatest part of their childhood in Harburg. In their later school years, the girls Cilli and Berta attended the Harburg Lyceum at the Soldatenfriedhof (military cemetery).

The social success of their father began after the First World War. The little family concern soon became a flourishing business with five more clerks. Szaja Neuwirth was soon able to buy the land and the house that he had initially leased. In 1927 he opened another business in Neumünster, and six years later he acquired a third piece of real estate with a business in Harburg at Neuen Strasse 21.

When the National Socialists took power, the page turned for Szaja Neuwirth. His name was on the Harburg municipal authorities’ "black list," along with all the other Jewish businessmen, physicians, and attorneys, with which the city all of a sudden wanted nothing more to do. Two days later he had to experience how vigorously the local Nazi Party took part in the nationwide boycott, putting up great posters in front of his store informing the public that the owner was a Jew. Nevertheless, at first Szaja Neuwirth’s annual sales remained largely untouched by the boycott and the anti-Jewish stance of the Harburg municipal authorities.

Of greater concern were the parents’ worries about the future of the children. In autumn 1938, Isidor Neuwirth became the first of the family to go into exile to England. Both sisters and their mother left – at least partly, in helter-skelter fashion – their homeland.

Their father found it hard to leave. He certainly hoped to be able to salvage at least a part of his hard-earned wealth. Besides that, he knew from bitter experience in his early years and after his departure from Galicia what it meant to have to leave one’s homeland destitute to begin a new life in a foreign land. As of February 1938, he had to give up the business in Neumünster. After the proclamation of the "Order for the Eliminations of the Jews from German Economic Life” of 12 November 1938, he had to sell both Harburg stores for far less than their value to "Aryan" purchasers. The sale was allowed to go through under the official condition that the proceeds were to be paid into an account for which Szaja Neuwirth needed authorization from the Hamburg Chief Finance Officer in order to access. An "atonement payment" amounting to 11,000 RM was collected from the proceeds of the sale, part of the "Jewish Property Levy" to pay for the devastation wrought by the pogroms of the Night of Broken Glass. Then a sum in the amount of 7,363 RM was deducted for the Reich Flight Tax because of his announced intention to emigrate to England.

For his planned departure, the Nazi State allowed him to take only 2,000 RM of his wealth. In his need, he asked Alfred Gordon, the long-time rabbi of the former Harburg Synagogue Congregation, for a letter of recommendation that he hoped would ease his way into England. Alfred Gordon assured the unknown addressee that he could vouch for Szaja Neuwirth, and that "the family always kept a good Jewish home" and was "extraordinarily charitable." The poor and needy had always found shelter and food in the family’s home. The letter closes with these words: "Mr. Neuwirth is considered in our circles one of the most pious members of the congregation, a man who enjoys great respect. On their way into foreign lands, Mr. and Mrs. Neuwirth carry the best wishes of the congregation. We ask our co-religionists wherever they be to render them all possible help and support that they should find necessary." Yet Szaja Neuwirth’s plan to emigrate to England and rejoin his family was frustrated by the outbreak of the Second World War.

Subsequently, when he could no longer stay in Harburg, he found housing at Zeiger’s at Grossen Prinzenstrasse 35 in Hamburg-Altona. In view of the changed situation, he attempted to emigrate from Vienna over Romania to Palestine. The ship on which he was to sail to Palestine from Sulina on the Black Sea was scheduled to leave on Wednesday, 10 April 1940. We do not know why this second attempt to emigrate also foundered.

To the temporary separation from his family was added a final one, when Szaja Neuwirth, on Saturday, 8 November 1941, was deported from Hamburg to Minsk. From there he did not return.

According to the provisions of the 11th Decree concerning the Reich Citizenship Law of 25 November 1941, a Jew lost his German citizenship when he shifted his residence to a foreign land. This was unavoidably bound to be the case with "resettlement." Thus did the remainder of Szaja Neuwirth’s wealth fall to the German Reich.

Translator: Richard Levy

Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.

Stand: November 2017
© Klaus Möller

Quellen: 1; 2 (F 1862 Cilly Cerel Neuwirth, FVg 4829 Isidor Neuwirth, R 1938/3699 Szaja Neuwirth), 4; 5; 8; Heyl (Hrsg.), Harburger Opfer; Heyl, Synagoge; StaH 351-11, AfW, Abl. 2008/1, 260285 Neuwirth, Szaja.
Zur Nummerierung häufig genutzter Quellen siehe Link "Recherche und Quellen".

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