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Max Daniel * 1879
Hallerstraße 6 (Eimsbüttel, Rotherbaum)
Max Daniel, born 2/29/1879 in Rawitsch, deported to Lodz on 10/25/1941, died there on 8/22/1942
Wally Daniel, née Kronheim, born 5/20/188 in Samotschin, deported to Lodz on 10/25/1941, died there on 12/4/1942
The Daniels were among the 1,034 persons of the first great deportation transport of Jews from Hamburg. On the way to Lodz, the train passed the western part of the then Prussian province of Posen (Poznan), from where Max and Wally Daniel came. It is even likely that it passed through the district capital town of Rawitsch on the main road and rail line from Posen to Breslau, where Max Daniel was born. The German name of his mother, "Neustadt”, is recorded in the town’s Jewish community before 1800.
His wife Wally was born in the "three Kaisers year” 1888 in Samotschin, north of Posen. Both towns are situated in the fiercely fought over German-Polish border region, where German free corps doggedly combatted great-Polish insurgents after World War I until the area definitely fell to Poland after the demarcation line was drawn in the treaty of Versailles in 1920.
Ernst Toller, one of the leaders of the Munich council republic of 1919, described the relationship between Germans, Jews and Poles in this part of the Posen province in the memories of his childhood in Samotschin, where he was born in 1893, five years later than Wally Daniel. "Samotschin was a German town”, Toller wrote, "a fact of which Protestants and Jews were equally proud. They spoke with disdain of those towns in Posen province where Poles and Catholics, whom they lumped together, called the shots… In all the fights against the Poles, Jews and Germans formed a united front… On the Kaiser’s birthday, the Jews sat at one table drinking beer and schnaps and hurrahed the Kaiser with the reserve officers, the veterans’ association and the marksmen’s club.”
At the same time, there was virulent anti-Semitism among the Poles and the Germans in Posen province, which Toller experienced physically.
From the turn of the century, and increasingly in the 1920s, many Germans and Jews left the west of Posen province and moved to the center of the German Reich. The reason for this was the decline of the important textile trade due to the protective tariffs in Russia and the increasing animosity of the Polish majority against Germans and Jews in the area.
Around 1900, Max Daniel went west, absolved a banker’s apprenticeship in Halberstadt and then proceeded to Hamburg, where he got a job in a bank. In 1902, he is first mentioned in the Hamburg address book with the note "bank business.” He was 23 years old then. His first business address in Hamburg was: Kaiser Wilhelm Strasse 16. In the following years, he moved to Grosse Reichenstrasse 23, Admiralitätsstrasse 12, and Grosse Bleichen 23/27. In 1914 – when Max Daniel had a family to support, back to Kaiser Wilhelm Strasse, now number 76, where the "Danielbank” (telegram address) remained until 1928/29.
Max Daniel’s private bank specialized in trading bonds. As currency specialist and member of the stock exchange, he many important clients among industrialists, merchants and major banks, including the M.M. Warburg bank. Many of his clients were in the east, where he himself had come from. In the Hamburg records on Max Daniel, there is a passport application from 1910 with the remark "to Russia, Poland.” Later passport applications of Max and Wally Daniel from the period between the wars contain the remark "to Poland” or "domestic.”
Max Daniel’s business model was so successful that, in his heyday, he had more than a dozen employees. During the hyperinflation of 1923 and the world economic crisis of 1929, he had to scale down his business, but altogether, he seems to have survived these major crises well.
From 1906, Max Daniel’s home addresses are also registered in the Hamburg address book, starting in St. Georg Strasse 19 , then Grindelallee 47, Innocentiastrasse 61, Oberstrasse 14 and – in 1920 – Hansastrasse 65, where the family stayed until 1935. Due to the world economic crisis, Daniel gave up his office in Kaiser-Wilhelm-Strasse and moved his business to his spacious home in Hansastrasse. The term Bankgeschäft ("bank business” under his name was still present in the 1939 Hamburg address book. In 1935, family and offices moved to a stately seven-room apartment in Hallerstrasse 72. Max and Wally Daniel lived there until the end of 1939 (their children had already left the country), when they moved to their last residence, as subtenants at Hallerstrasse 6 in the three-room apartment of the widow Biram, who was also later deported and murdered.
An overview of the moves of Max Daniel and his family shows that they spent most of their Hamburg life in the Grindel quarter.
In the year 1909/1910, Max Daniel had married Wally Kronheim, daughter of a wealthy real estate agent and landowner in Samotschin.
According to their son Gerhard, his parents had met in Bad Kissingen, an elegant spa in the Rhön mountains. Wally Kronheim had attended select schools in Bromberg (now Bydgoszcz, Poland) and Berlin, where her family owned a spacious residence in Lietzenburger Strasse in Charlottenburg. Wally, her sister and their three brothers were partly raised by a housekeeper close to the family, as their mother died when Wally was 10 years old.
Max and Wally Daniel, née Kronheim, came to Hamburg in 1910, where they had three sons in short succession: Wilhelm (1911), Norbert (1914) and Gerhard (1916). Gerhard, 100 years old and living in the USA, recalls his mother as a warm-hearted, musical and socially engaged woman. Gerhard’s daughter Miriam bears her grandmother’s name Wally as her middle name. Wally Daniel worked in the management of the Hamburg Jewish Community, was a member of the PTA of the Talmud Tora School and of the management of Hamburg’s Jewish infirmary. The whole family was involved in social activities: the father supported the Community and impoverished families financially – a fact he kept secret – the sons by visiting patients in the infirmary and giving private lessons to children who weren’t good at school.
In 1932, the family suffered a severe blow of fate when Norbert, the middle son, died. He had just graduated with honors from the Talmud Thora highschool – as a member of the first class who had absolved the whole curriculum up to the highschool degree – and begun studying medicine. His brother remembers him as especially talented.
The two other sons also attended the Talmud Thora School. Unlike their parents, they succeeded in escaping the Shoa by fleeing to the USA, respectively Palestine. Gerhard, the youngest, had joined a Zionist youth group in Hamburg. In 1939, aged 19 and a few weeks after his brilliant graduation from highschool, he went to Palestine, where he began training as a banker in Tel Aviv. Due to the war, he was forced to quit his apprenticeship at the bank in 1940, and went into business as a junk dealer. His parents had visited him in Palestine in 1938, returning to Hamburg after a few weeks – Max and Wally Daniel refused to believe the Nazi regime would last long.
In 1947, a few months before the proclamation of the State of Israel, Gerhard Daniel moved to Paris, and, two years later, to New York, where he was successful as a merchant. From 1980 to 1988, he was President of the World Union for Progressive Judaism, a globally active organization that founded liberal synagogues, also in
Tel Aviv, which is named "Beit Daniel” for him. He still maintains close ties to Israel and actively supports Jewish-Arabian understanding. A youth center for Jewish-Arabian cooperation in Jaffa is named for his late wife, "Mishkenot Ruth Daniel."
The Daniels‘ eldest son Wilhelm attended the Talmud Thora School when it only went up to junior high, and after graduating absolved an apprenticeship in the metal and junk trade at the Gotthold company that belonged to friends of the family. In 1937, he was able to emigrate to the USA. In reacting to his parents’ cabled calls for help in January 1941, he tried to obtain a Cuban visa for Max and Wally, an effort that succeeded with the help of major donations, but failed to save his parents, because in October 1941, the Nazis had started systematic deportations of Jews, i.e. their policy of forced displacement was succeeded by the "final solution.”
"In spite of the many exhortations to leave Germany that reached them, my parents long believed that the Nazi government would not last long, and chose to stay in Hamburg”, their son Gerhard wrote from the USA, and his daughter Miriam added that many Hamburg Jews seemed to have had the impression they would be treated better, i.e. less aggressively in Hamburg than their brothers and sisters in faith elsewhere in the German Reich.
The Daniels’ sons lost their trust sooner than their parents, when their future was cut off, when they were forced to leave regular schools or not admitted to the university. For the parents, it took the brutal plundering of their financial resources to make them realize where the Nazi regime’s policy was heading for.
In 1938, Max Daniel was banned from trading at the stock market. As he refused to take advantage of a clause of the Reich economics minister’s decree of June 21, 1938 to appoint a non-Jewish procurator as his representative, he was stricken from the list of visitors of the Hamburg stock exchange, and his agency was deleted from the company register on December 28 of that year.
Already on October 28, the Chief finance Administrator had issued a "security order” against Max Daniel with the standard reasoning: "Herr Max Daniel is a Jew, and it is to be expected that he will emigrate in the near future. In view of our recent experiences, it is necessary to only allow dispositions of his assets with special permission.” In the course of the subsequent financial plundering, he was also forced to sell his property in Zeughausstrasse 49/52 far below its value. It yielded less than the "levy on Jewish assets” he had to pay.
Wally Daniel’s share in the large apartment block in Joachimsthalerstrasse in Berlin met the same fate. In spite of these unmistakable signals, Max Daniel only asked his eldest son in the USA to try to get a visa for his wife and himself at the beginning of 1941. But then, it was too late.
Max and Wally Daniel were served the deportation order for the first large transport to the ghetto of Lodz in Poland, where they managed to survive for about another year. If you read the ghetto chronicle or other reports of the circumstances there you will realize why Max and Wally Daniel perished in Lodz after a short time.
After the war, their emigrated sons demanded compensation. On December 12, 1946, William Daniel angrily wrote to the information center on claims for compensation: "It is bad enough to have your parents murdered, but I should at least expect sufficient understanding and sense of duty from your agency to give me an answer to my query.” But the proceedings dragged on into the 1960s.
Translated by Peter Hubschmid
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.
Stand: September 2019
© Bruno Lowitsch
Quellen: 1; 2; StaH: 351- Amt für Wiedergutmachung_4313, _4314;314-15 Oberfinanzpräsident_F338; 332-5 Personenstandsunterlagen_993/220/1932; Geschichte der jüdischen Gemeinde Rawitsch von Rabbiner Dr. John Cohn, Berlin 1915, S. 57; Toller, Jugend, S. 11; Scheffler, Getto Lodz, in: Unser einziger Weg ist die Arbeit; Briefwechsel mit Gerard Daniel, dem jüngsten Sohn von Max und Wally, und mit seiner Tochter Miriam Daniel, div. Daten; www.ns-quellen.at (www.alex.onb.ac.at/cgi-content/alex?apm=0&aid=dra&datum=19380004&seite= 00001709&zoom=2)
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My memories of the Grindel
Letter from 100-year-old Gerard Daniel (USA)
While the free city consisted of fairly tightly defined neighborhoods, the "Grindel" was really just a term, or rather an area. I remember this "area" as being fairly central to a lot of Jewish families and so, after almost 80 years, street names like Hansastrasse, Klosterallee, Werderstrasse, Hallerstrasse, Grindelberg, Grindelallee, Innocentiapark (roughly the "border" of the Grindel area), Hochallee, Oberstrasse, Parkallee, Schlump, Bornplatz (The main synagogue) - among others - come to mind.
The Grindel was already somewhat more densely populated with Jewish families than other parts of the city. This area consisted of families that we would call "upper middle class" in English today. Businessmen, doctors, lawyers, bankers, but also higher clerks. (A few very wealthy Jews had villas on the Alster).
Many of the families knew each other and most were what was then called "pious," so belonged to the Bornplatz Synagogue. Their sons went to Talmud Torah school and many were friends with each other. (The Jewish girls' school - there were even two - was also a part of the Grindel group - but did not play the quite leading role of the boys' school Talmud Tora). It is clear that the location of the Talmud School and the Bornplatz Synagogue determined the Jewish character of the Grindel.
Not all Jews from the Grindel went to the Talmud Tora school, but still most of the approximately 800 pupils came (on foot) from the Grindel. The school was recognized as a Jewish Realschule by the city and was upgraded to an Oberrealschule in 1934 (i.e., a Gymnasium with a baccalaureate degree).
The curriculum was remarkably broad and deep. A concentrated Jewish curriculum was offered from the Hebrew alphabet to deep Talmud study - with Jewish philosophy and history. Most of the teachers were from the Frankfurt area (Hesse for the most part). - In parallel, we enjoyed a first-class Gymnasium program that even included philosophy. It should be emphasized that the teachers were mostly specialists in their subject, not all were Jewish. When I compare the quality of American colleges today (schools of my grandchildren) I agree with those who say our education in Talmud Torah was unique. We brought home knowledge, some of which was entirely new and eye-opening to our parents.
While the Bornplatz synagogue was the religious center of the predominantly pious (Modern Orthodox) community of Hamburg, there were also small "daily" synagogues (schuls) in Grindel, for example. These were visited by the pious for daily prayers once or twice. e.g. "Klaus" and "Heinrich Barth Str." (now transferred to Stockholm by the Lehman family, a kind of memorial.
There was also a non-pious large temple in Oberstraße, the liberal Jews belonged to it. (In Hamburg - unlike in most cities - pious as well as liberals belonged to the Jewish unity congregation!)
In the Grindel area most stores of Jewish character were to be found, like kosher butchers, stores for religious articles, pastry stores with typical Jewish offers etc. etc..
There was a Jewish old people's home and also a Jewish home for the sick. I don't know if their localities could still be counted as part of the Grindel.
But one should not call the Grindel a "ghetto" under any circumstances. Externally, except for the school and the synagogue, there was no sign. The Jewish inhabitants lived in "mixed" houses, and the neighborly relations between Jews and non-Jews were quite friendly until the Nazi period slowly spread its poison.
The name "Grindel” had nothing to do with the Jewish population, I do not know the history of the name.
Yours Gerard Daniel
(to the history of the name see introduction to the book "Stolpersteine in Hamburg-Grindel I”)