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Leo Gerson * 1893

Dürerstraße 1 (Altona, Groß Flottbek)

JG. 1893
ERMORDET 23.2.1942

Leo Gerson, born on 25 Feb. 1893, from 20 Sept. 1939 onward imprisoned at Hamburg-Fuhlsbüttel, Düsseldorf, Wuppertal, Fuhlsbüttel, from 27 Nov. 1941 onward in the Sachsenhausen concentration camp, died there on 23 Feb. 1942

Leo Gerson was born in Rogasen near Chemnitz as the son of Moritz and Dorothea Gerson, née Cohn. After attending high school (Gymnasium), he completed a commercial apprenticeship and worked in a management position in subsequent years. After the First World War, he served as a commercial agent for major companies. He settled in Hamburg and became a member of the Hamburg Jewish Community in 1919. He was registered with the authorities as living at Flemingstrsse 1, Husumerstrasse 11, Sierichstrasse 54, Neuer Wall 19, and Bergstrasse 7.

In 1918, he married Gertrud Grüner, an accountant from Altona one year his junior. The couple had two children: daughter Hilde in 1921 and son Hans two years later. At the end of 1929, the family moved to the Gross Flottbek quarter in Altona, living at Dürerstrasse 1. Since 1929, Leo Gerson worked as a merchant and commercial agent for the Rappolt & Söhne Company in Hamburg.

In Sept. 1938, the family moved to Bogenstrasse 15 in Hamburg.

In Dec.1938, the marriage of the Gersons was dissolved. Leo Gerson continued to pay alimony for the family.

In the spring of 1939, he was banned from practicing his profession, and he had to give up any gainful employment. The measures marginalizing Jews escalated. Whereas emigration of Jews from Hamburg had been below the national average until Nov. 1938, after the November Pogrom it rose abruptly. In June 1939, the nearly 18-year-old Hilde and the 17-year-old Hans Gerson also managed to escape to Britain. Intending to emigrate as well, their mother filed an application for the required tax clearance certificate (Unbedenklichkeitsbescheinigung) in July 1939, and a few weeks later, she followed her children to Britain. These events are also documented by the handwritten notes by Mrs. Geercken, who had lived with her husband in the house at Dürerstrasse 1, having worked as a housekeeper for the Gersons. She testified that Mrs. Gerson, along with her children Hans and Hilde, fled to Britain in mid-1939, subsequently emigrating from there to the USA. According to her recollections, Mr. Gerson was "taken away.”

Indeed, Leo Gerson was committed to the Hamburg-Fuhlsbüttel prison on 20 Sept. 1939. In his prisoner’s file card, clearly labeled with "Jew!,” the reason for imprisonment indicated was that he was accused of "racial defilement” ("Rassenschande”). The Nuremberg Laws on race outlawed extramarital relationships between persons of Jewish and non-Jewish descent. One denunciation sufficed to bring persons accused into pretrial detention and then before court.

Leo Gerson remained in pretrial detention until 3 Nov. Afterward, he was transferred by Hamburg police to the Düsseldorf-Darendorf prison. In his case, the Düsseldorf court followed the public prosecutor’s line of argument, sentencing Gerson to two years in prison for "racial defilement” on 2 Apr. 1940. The 206 days in pretrial detention were calculated against his overall sentence. Initially, Leo Gerson was committed to Wuppertal prison on 15 Apr. After more than 16 months in prison, he was again transferred to Hamburg on 30 Aug. 1941 and imprisoned in the Hamburg-Fuhlsbüttel men’s prison. According to the verdict, the term of imprisonment was actually to end one week later, on 8 Sept. 1941, but Leo Gerson was not released anymore. As his brother-in-law stated after the war, he was certainly officially released that day but immediately afterward picked up by two police officers, i.e., he was taken into "protective custody” ("Schutzhaft”). The official record indicates that he was committed to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp, division II D, on 27 Nov. 1941. Receiving prisoner number 040385 within the prisoner classification of "racial defiler” ("Rassenschänder”), he was detained in Block 14.

In the Sachsenhausen concentration camp, Jewish prisoners were subjected to a grueling drill, having to exercise for hours and days, doing hard physical labor, and receiving insufficient nourishment. The guards degraded and tortured them. Leo Gerson perished in the Sachsenhausen concentration camp on 23 Feb. 1942. The cause of death noted was circulatory weakness as well as suppurative peritonitis.

Translator: Erwin Fink

Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.

© Birgit Gewehr

Quellen: 1; 2 (R 1939/2353); 4; StaH 332-8 Meldewesen, A 50/1 (= 741-4 Fotoarchiv, K 394); StaH 351-11 Amt für Wiedergutmachung, 44619 (Ogbe, Hilde); StaH 242-1 II Gefängnisverwaltung II, Ablieferung 13 (Strafhaftzeiten) und Ablieferung 16 (Untersuchungshaftzeiten); StaH 331-1 II Polizeibehörde II, Ablieferung 15, Band 1 (Abrechnungslisten über Schutzhaftkosten des KZ Fuhlsbüttel), Band 1; StaH 621-1/83 Firmenarchiv Edgar Haas, Nr. 1; Stiftung Brandenburgische Gedenkstätten/Gedenkstätte und Museum Sachsenhausen, Sterbezweitbuch des Standesamts Oranienburg Nr. 381/1942 (II), Bl. 98 und Veränder-ungsmeldung des KZ Sachsenhausen vom 23.2.1942, JSU 1/98, Bl. 050; AB Altona 1937; Ogbe, The Crumps; Informationen von Pastor Zühlke, Melanchthongemeinde Bahrenfeld, im Jahr 2007, beruhend auf handschriftlichen Aufzeichnungen der Haushälterin Frau Geercken und auf Erinnerungen von Frau Hoffmeister, einer Mitschülerin der Kinder.
Zur Nummerierung häufig genutzter Quellen siehe Link "Recherche und Quellen".

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