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Veilchen Elias (née Blum) * 1865
Brahmsallee 13 (Eimsbüttel, Harvestehude)
Veilchen Elias, née Blum, b. 9.8.1865 in Borken (Hesse), deported on 7.15.1942 to Theresienstadt, deported again on 9.21.1942 to Treblinka
Veilchen Blum was born in 1865 in Borken, Electoral Hesse. Her parents were the master shoemaker Joseph Blum and Hannchen Blum, née Abt. In 1854, the Jewish community of the little town numbered 120 people, among 25 families. Borken at that time had 1500 inhabitants and was characteristically agricultural, with soft coal mining as well. Two years after Veilchen Blum’s birth, following the War of 1866, the Principality of Electoral Hesse was annexed by Prussia.
In August 1892, Veilchen Blum married Markus Elias, jr. (1860-1935) in her home town, as was customary in that era. Acting as witness was her brother or her cousin Moritz Blum (b. 3.21.1864 in Borken), a businessman who lived in Eldagsen, where other family members had also settled. After marrying, Veilchen Elias, née Blum, moved with her husband to Gudensberg, a little town with 2200 inhabitants in the Kassel District (Hesse).
Markus Elias came from Hessian Gudensberg, which at the beginning of 1933 had a Jewish community of 124 members and which, under the election list "Jewish community,” could send its own representative to the city council. Markus Elias ran a shoemaking business at Hornungsgasse 2, dealing in shoe materials and "wholesale agricultural goods” (such as rye straw, fodder beets, or seed potatoes). His family had resided in Gudensberg for over 150 years. His father, the businessman Itzig Levi Elias (1820–1869) and his grandfather, the tradesman Marcus Levi Elias (1790–1856), had been born there. The Elias’s had seven children, of whom five died in childhood, with only their daughters Helene Baruch, née Elias (b. 1893), and Betti Elias (b. 1900) surviving.
Working and living together proved unproblematic for the Christian and Jewish inhabitants. When Veilchen Elias moved to Gudensberg, she was helped by Elise Mildner, who lived opposite her, in the half-timbered house at Hornungsgasse 2, as well as in her garden. In 1910, Markus Elias, jr. advertised in the Gudensberg newspaper: "Footwear – at bargain prices. Having taken over the shoe warehouse of my late father-in-law, I can sell a large quantity of regular footwear significantly below price … Shopping without pressure to buy is welcome at any time.” In 1919, in the period of supply shortages following the First World War, three Gudensberg shoe dealers, Markus Elias jun., Justus Ludwig, and Wilhelm Böttger, placed an advertisement: "By order of the Reich Office for Shoe Supply, lace-up boots with leather trim and wooden soles have been significantly lowered in price …” This advertisement was placed in common by one of Gudensberg’s two Jewish and two of its Christian shoe dealers. Religion was no obstacle to common business or private undertakings. Veilchen Elias, during the imperial era, was active in the town’s approximately 40-person strong Patriotic Women’s Association and was, her daughter recalled, elected to its executive board.
From 1933, the Nazi Party, under local group leader Ludwig Herbener, established itself quickly in the town. With that came antisemitism. Boycotts and physical assaults made it necessary for Jews to give up their businesses and leave the town: "Our father’s business succumbed quite quickly. He was able to earn less and less from 1933 to 1935, and when in September 1935, he left Gudensberg with us, he was no longer in a position to get any sort of price for the business,” his daughters attested in 1957. In order to sell the house at Hornungsgasse 2 (which was renamed Adolf-Hitler-Strasse 30) for a reasonable price and to find a trustworthy buyer, Veilchen Elias reached out to the Mildners with whom she was close. It was also she who signed the sales contract before the notary on 9 October 1935, "with full power of attorney and as proxy, acting for Markus Elias, her husband.” Also unusual was the swift payment of the purchase price in cash, which made possible the Elias’s immediate departure from Gudensberg. Later, Helene Baruch stated the case more precisely: "I … traveled to Gudensberg on 9.6.1935 to celebrate my mother’s 70th birthday. I was warned by neighbors that my father’s life was in jeopardy in Gudensberg. For this reason, I prompted my parents to resettle in Hamburg with my husband, Siegmund Baruch, as hastily as possible.” Markus Elias had been mishandled by Nazis in broad daylight. He could expect no protection from state organs now that they were under Nazi control. On several occasions, his neighbor and town employee, Jacob Mildner (b. 1896), spent the night in the Elias house to stand by in case of a possible attack by storm troopers.
Presumably, the couple moved as early as September 1935 to the Hamburg home of their daughter Helene Baruch, their son-in-law, the lumber dealer Siegmund Baruch (b. 1.30.1884 in Volksmassen), and their three grandchildren, Inge (1917), Ellen (1918), and Lisa (1921). In mid-October 1935, they switched to their own home at Rutschbahn 24, 3rd floor (Rotherbaum). Markus Elias joined the German Israelite Congregation and the moderate conservative religious association, the Neue Dammtorsynagoge, on 14 November 1935.
Yet, only a few weeks after closing his business, selling his house, and after moving into his new home, he died on 25 November 1935 in Hamburg, from the consequences of his mishandling. No cause of death was listed on his death certificate. The doctor who looked after Markus Elias since his arrival in Hamburg diagnosed for his death certificate hardening of the arteries as well as a heart attack; as the immediate cause of death, he gave "angina.” Markus Elias was buried in the Jewish section of the Ohlsdorf cemetery.
In September 1936, the 71-year old Veilchen Elias moved into a ground floor apartment at Brahmsalle 13. The house changed owners several times during the 1930s: in the 1932 Hamburg directory, Rudolf Karstadt, Inc. was still listed as the owner; in 1936, it was the Hamburg Real Estate Company, L.L.C. (Grosse Reichenstrasse 67); from 1937 to 1938, it was owned by H. Jahn in conjunction with the proprietor of the eponymous plumbing and installation firm Albert Ripakewitz (Heinrich-Hertz-Strasse 113; and finally from 1938 by Hilda Eversmann (Agnesstrasse 13). The composition of the renters also changed: the directory listed between two and four partial rentals: the barber Leo Galanski (1936–1940); in 1941, the commercial clerk Walter Ohland moved in; as well as the real estate broker Salomon Eschwege (1936), businessman Paul Sobisch (1937–1942), and the singing teacher Claire Chodowiecki (1938–1943). Veilchen Elias could not pay a high rent; the emigration of her older daughter in October 1938 apparently aggravated her financial problems. On her communal religion tax record for 1940, it was noted "no income, no assets.” She was able to stay in the house until the end of 1941 and beginning of 1942; then she was compelled by the housing office to move to Kielortallee 23 (Eimsbüttel) – the Kielorallee 22 building had been declared a "Jew house” and served as a collection place for those facing deportation. "German Comrades,” among whom Veilchen Elias did not belong, according to the National Socialists, were forbidden entry to "Jew houses.” Whether it possessed the good bourgeois furnishings of the Brahmsallee house (bedroom, living room, kitchen, bath) is not known.
From September 1941, Veilchen Elias, too, had to wear a visible "Jewish star” on her clothing when on the street. Because of her advanced age, she was still being held back from the great deportations, but on 15 July 1942, she was assigned to the first mass transport bound for the Theresienstadt ghetto. She was registered on the transport list to Theresienstadt (Terezin) under transport number "VI/1 c 207.” Immediately after her departure, her apartment was sealed by the Hamburg Gestapo and its furnishings were confiscated by the National Socialist state.
Four months later, on 21 September 1942, Veilchen Elias, along with 1984 other inmates, was deported again, this time to the Treblinka extermination camp. It is to be assumed that shortly after she arrived she was murdered – the exact date of death is unknown.
Her older daughter Helene Baruch, her husband and their daughters, succeeded in emigrating in October 1938 to the USA, via Switzerland, England, and Ireland.
In 1963, the then 63-year old daughter Betti Eliot, née Elias, wrote from London to the Federal Chancellor: "Highly Esteemed Dr. Adenauer, I come to you today with a big request. (Please do not throw this letter into the waste basket before you have read it. For I must first tell you a bit of my life story, before coming to my request.) At the end of 19(32), I went to Paris to live with a French family, in order to refresh my French somewhat. I then wanted to return home (home was Gudensberg, Kassel District), where my father had a business … My mother was on the executive board of the Patriotic Women’s Association since the First World War. I had two aunts in Cologne, who had a shoe store on Severinstrasse, when you, Dr., were chief mayor, and I have such lovely youthful memories of Cologne. In 1933, I wanted to travel home from Paris, but my father wrote me, I had better remain abroad. It’s been 30 years, and I have scraped along. I am now 63. In 1935, I traveled to Hamburg, where my parents had meanwhile moved. My sister was married there. After 6 weeks, my father died of injuries he had received from the Nazis in Gudensberg. I never again saw him alive. In 1939, my siblings emigrated to New York, in order to make new lives for themselves, leaving my mother temporarily in Hamburg. She was 77. None of us ever saw her again. She supposedly died in Theresienstadt. Meanwhile, in 1938, I converted to Catholicism in Rome; I have been in England since 1939.” … Her request for financial support was not answered. Betti Eliot, née Elias, received neither compensation nor a pension, because she had had no residence in Germany during National Socialism.
A commemorative stone was laid for Markus Elias in 2012 at Straße Rutschbahn 24.
Translator: Richard Levy
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.
Stand: September 2019
© Björn Eggert
Quellen: StaH 314-15 (Oberfinanzpräsident), R 1938/3029 (Sicherungsmaßnahmen, Vermögen Helene Baruch); StaH 332-5 (Standesämter), 8131 u. 534/1935 (Sterberegister 1935, Marcus Elias); StaH 351-11 (Amt für Wiedergutmachung), 892 (Helene Baruch); StaH 351-11 (AfW), 893 (Betti Elias); StaH 352-5 (Gesundheitsbehörde – Todesbescheinigungen), 1935 Standesamt 3 Nr. 534 (Markus Elias); StaH 522-1 (Jüdische Gemeinden), 992b (Kultussteuerkarteikartei der Deutsch-Israelitischen Gemeinde Hamburg), Siegmund Baruch, Veilchen Elias, geb. Blum, Salomon Eschwege; Hessisches Staatsarchiv Marburg, Standesamt Borken (Hessen), Heiratsnebenregister 1892 (HStAMR Best. 920, Nr. 828), einsehbar im Internet unter www.lagis-hessen.de; Stadtarchiv Springe, Meldeakten aus Eldagsen (Blum); Bundesarchiv Koblenz, Gedenkbuch, Opfer der Verfolgung der Juden unter der nationalsozialistischen Gewaltherrschaft in Deutschland 1933–1945, Internet (Veilchen Elias, geb. Blum); Staatsarchiv Hamburg, Gedenkbuch. Hamburger jüdische Opfer des Nationalsozialismus, Hamburg 1995, S. 90; Jüdischer Friedhof Ohlsdorf, Gräberkartei (Grabstelle 03-176 Markus Elias); Yad Vashem, Page of Testimony (Gedenkblatt, 2011); Handelskammer Hamburg, Firmenarchiv (Siegmund Baruch, HR-Nr. A 17027); Hamburger Börsenfirmen, 1935, S. 43 (Baruch, Siegmund, gegr. 1912, Mönckebergstr. 17, zugeschnittene Kisten); Hamburger Adressbuch (Straßenverzeichnis, Brahmsallee 13) 1937–1941; Handbuch für den Gau Kurhessen der NSDAP, Kassel 1934, S. 25 u. 29 (Kreis Fritzlar, u.a. Gudensberg); Gudensberger Zeitung (Inserate von Markus Elias jun.) 1910, 1911, 1912, 1916, 1921, 1922; Kurhessische Landeszeitung, 5.5.1938 (Gudensberg – Ein fünfjähriger, zäher Kampf gegen das Judentum in der Stadt Gudensberg ist nun endlich von Erfolg gekrönt); Hessische/Niedersächsische Allgemeine, 22.3.2012 (Reise in die Vergangenheit. Lisa Eyck war zu Gast in Gudensberg, aus der ihre Familie einst vertrieben wurde); Arbeitskreis Synagoge Gudensberg e.V., Aus dem Alltagsleben der jüdischen Gemeinde in Gudensberg (Ausstellung und Broschüre), November 1988; Initiative Stolpersteine für Gudensberg; Hans-Peter Klein, Stammbaum der Familie Levi-Elias, unveröffentlicht, 2012/2014; Charlotte Heil, Judenverfolgung und Arisierung in den 30iger Jahren – am Beispiel eines Hausverkaufs in Gudensberg, Hausarbeit im Geschichtsleistungskurs, unveröffentlicht, 2005; http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Borken_(Hessen) (eingesehen am 27.11.2014)