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Elsa Borower (née Buttermann) * 1900

Grindelallee 24 (Eimsbüttel, Rotherbaum)

JG. 1900

further stumbling stones in Grindelallee 24:
Veronika Bartels, Harald Ehrmann, Rifka Gänser, Max Gänser, Emma Stern, Franz Stern

Else Borower, née Buttermann, born 20 Apr. 1900 in Mistek, Moravia, deported 18 Nov. 1941 to Minsk, died there

Grindelallee 24

Between 1900 and 1902, Dorothea and Moses (later Moritz) Buttermann and their two children Leonhardt (also called Leon or Leo, *12 Feb, 1899, see and Elsa (sometimes spelled Else, *20 Apr. 1900) moved from Mistek in what was then Moravia (now the Czech Republic) to Hamburg. The youngest child, Dina, was born in Hamburg on 17 Nov. 1902. Moritz Buttermann earned a modest existence as an independent plumber and mechanic, though the family occasionally had to turn to the city’s welfare office for help in making ends meet. All three Buttermann children contributed to the family income or lived on their own. Leon became a stoker and glazier, Dina worked for a photographer and Elsa made a living as a housemaid.

Two of the children married in the 1920s. Dina married Willi Hensel (*10 Aug. 1895 in Berlin) on 25 Mar. 1925, and four years later Leon married Flora Selig (*20 Apr 1896 in Friedrichstadt, North Frisia). Dina moved to Berlin with her husband, and thus lived in her mother’s hometown. Dorothea Jottkowitz was born there on 2 July 1875. Her husband Moritz, born on 18 Mar 1872, came from Radelna in Austria. Dina and Willi Hensel were well-off and could afford to travel abroad, for example to Spain and Italy. Flora and Leon Buttermann lived in a 4 ½-room apartment in Hamburg for 75 Reichsmarks (RM) a month. They rented out two of the rooms for 30 RM. Neither couple had children.

Elsa and her siblings were able to support their parents financially. Elsa lived with them and took care of her ailing mother, although she had her own health problems to deal with. Welfare records on Moritz Buttermann show that he had contracted an eye disease in the early 1930s, his wife Dorothea suffered from a heart condition and Elsa to abdominal complaints. Elsa helped her mother in the household where she could. At that time, Moritz had no fixed income, but earned some money from smaller orders to his workshop. The three lived together at Grindelthal 13. Grindelthal was the piece of Grindelallee between the present-day house numbers 14 and 16; the buildings there had the numbers 10 to 15.

After the transfer of power to the Nazis, the Buttermans’ situation, which was already difficult, became even more desperate. Moritz's workshop was inspected and declared "hardly viable." Dorothea, now in her mid-fifties, also took a turn for the worse. Among other ailments she had to be hospitalized repeatedly for an upper-arm fracture.

In 1937 Elsa took on two different jobs as a housemaid: the one for a Frau Lewin on Isestraße for three mornings a week from 9am to 1pm for 4.50 RM a week, including breakfast; the other for a G. Müller for 7 RM a week. At that time Elsa was living with her parents at Grindelallee 24. A year later they moved to Schlachterstraße 46/47 near Großneumarkt, more precisely, to the Lazarus Gumpel Trust residence, where they rented three rooms for 10 RM a month. This Trust was founded in 1838 as the Marcus Nordheim Trust, a residence for Jewish families, at Schlachterstraße 40/42. In 1882 it moved to new buildings, and the name was changed to the Lazarus Gumpel Trust. Anti-Jewish regulations forced its closure and sale in 1942. The buildings at Schlachterstraße 46/47 were destroyed during air raids in 1943 and were not rebuilt after the war.

1937 was a fateful year for Elsa's younger sister Dina Hensel. Her husband Willi died on August 10 in Berlin of natural causes. He must have left her a small sum of money, because she began preparations for her emigration to Australia, probably to relatives of her mother. However, the arrangements dragged on until after the outbreak of the Second World War, at which point she was no longer able to leave Germany.

On 2 Nov. 1939, Elsa Buttermann married Siegbert Borower, a Jewish merchant and pianist. He was born on 21 July 1891 in Kempen in the Allgäu and came to Hamburg in 1918 after having served in the First World War. He worked at first as a merchant, and then, from 1 Oct. 1927 to 16 Nov. 1935 as a pianist in various establishments run by the A. F. Nagel company, a wine wholesaler and distillery, earning up to 400 RM a month. He had two children from his first marriage to Alwine Lolle. They were born ca. 1918 and 1920, and both survived the Second World War.

Elsa and Siegbert Borower’s time together was short. They rented rooms in the apartment of the Gerson family at Paulinenalle 6. On 10 May 1940, Siegbert boarded a ship to Shanghai in Genoa, Italy, thus escaping the ever more threatening anti-Jewish measures implemented by the Nazi regime. After the outbreak of the war in September 1939, Shanghai was one of the only destinations that did not require a visa for European Jews fleeing the Nazi terror and, beginning in 1941, the impending deportations. Elsa's husband traveled on a ship called the Conte Verde. His second-class billet cost US$300, the Shanghai administration demanded another US$400 entry fee to prove that the émigré was not destitute. His sister Livia Fischbein, who lived in New York, provided the funds. His escape via Genoa proved to be just in time, as Italy entered the Second World War on the side of Germany in June 1940 and the Mediterranean was closed to passenger shipping. From that point onwards, destinations in Asia could only be reached via Siberia.

Elsa Borower remained behind in Hamburg. She was conscripted to forced labor at the Kühne vinegar works from May 1940 to 17 Nov. 1941. Like all others who were considered "full Jews” according to Nazi racial laws, she was forced to wear the "yellow star,” making her a public target of the anti-Semitic terror. She was deported to the Minsk Ghetto on 18 Nov. 1941, where she died.

Her brother Leon and his wife Flora had been deported to the Minsk Ghetto on the first transport from Hamburg on 8 Nov. 1941.

Dorothea and Moritz Buttermann had to watch as their children were deported. Both died a few months later – Dorothea on 1 Dec. 1941 and Moritz on 8 Jan. 1942 in their home at the Lazarus Gumpel Trust.

Elsa’s sister Dina Hensel was deported to Auschwitz on 12 Jan. 1942 and murdered there.

Siegbert Borower survived in Shanghai. In February 1953 he returned to Hamburg from Israel with his third wife Erna, nee Herzberg, formerly Sander (*1896). He submitted a reparations claim for Elsa Borower. After his escape, he had been able to earn some money as a musician. From 1943 to 1945, however, the Japanese occupiers had interned him in the Shanghai Ghetto and denied him any gainful employment. In Shanghai he learned of the murder of his second wife Elsa, "probably by gas," as he stated in the reparations claim. In 1946 he married Erna Herzberg, a book keeper, whom he had met in Shanghai. They saved their money until they were able to emigrate to Israel, then needed another three and a half years before they could afford to return to Germany. Siegbert Borower had contracted a tropical disease in Shanghai, and had not been able to find a successful treatment either there or in Israel. He hoped for help in Germany. In Hamburg he no longer worked as a musician. Erna Borower worked as a secretary for the Jewish Trust Corporation from 1953 to 1955. Siegbert Borower died on 20 June 1981, presumably in Hamburg.

Translator: Amy Lee
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.

© Anne Lena Meyer

Quellen: 1; 4; 5; 8; 9; StaH 332-5 StAH 351-11 Standesämter 1152 u. 20/1942; Amt für Wiedergutmachung 13657 Siegbert Borower; StAH 351-11 Amt für Wiedergutmachung 13658 Erna Borower; StAH 351-11 Amt für Wiedergutmachung 18934 Flora Buttermann (darin: Fürsorgeakte für Leo Buttermann); StAH 351-14 Arbeits– und Sozialfürsorge – Sonderakten 1025 Moses Buttermann; Berna: Politische Aspekte; Necker: Orte; Meyer: Die Deportation; "Siegbert Borrower" in: Lexikin verfolgter Musiker und Musikerinnen der NS-Zeit, online:;jsessionid=EE2937F6961D47FBB78F2B02CFFFCBA2?wcmsID=0003&XSL.lexmlayout.SESSION=lexmperson_all (Zugriff 25.12.2016); Hildegard Thevs, Leon und Flora Buttermann, online: http://www.stolpersteine-ham (Zugriff 25.12.2016)
Zur Nummerierung häufig genutzter Quellen siehe Link "Recherche und Quellen".

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