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Bertha Engers (née Valk) * 1866
Eppendorfer Landstraße 46 (Hamburg-Nord, Eppendorf)
further stumbling stones in Eppendorfer Landstraße 46:
Alfred Aron, Bertha Margaretha Haurwitz, Dr. Rudolf Haurwitz, Henriette Hofmann, Siegfried Marcus, Martha Markus, Elsa Meyerhof, Käte Meyerhof, Olga Reyersbach
Bertha Engers, née Valk, born on 5 Feb. 1866 in Hamburg, deported to Theresienstadt on 15 July 1942, died there on 23 July 1943
Stolperstein at Eppendorfer Landstrasse 46
Bertha Engers’ parents were Abraham Joseph Valk (9 Aug. 1831–29 Jan. 1908) and Betty Valk, née Hertz (8 July 1833–19 Aug. 1918). Abraham Joseph Valk, born in Emden, moved to Hamburg around 1852 and acquired civic rights (citizenship) there in 1857 as a master tailor. In July of the same year, he married Betty Hertz, a native of Altona, in the Hanseatic city. The couple had at least six children. Those known to us are: Hanna, later married name Goldfarb (1862–1911, died in Budapest); Bertha, later married name Engers; Joseph Valk (1867–1942, died in Britain); Rosa, later married name Hirschel (1868–1940, died in Brazil); Frieda, later married name Karseboom (1871–1942, perished in the Theresienstadt Ghetto); and Moritz Valk (1873–1922, died in Hamburg).
We know nothing about Bertha’s childhood and youth. At the age of 21, she married the merchant Emil Engers (born on 16 Jan. 1862) from Altona. The Hamburg directory of 1887 lists him as co-owner of "Engers & Gumplowitz, Metall, Eisen und Bergwerks-Producte,” a company dealing in metal, iron, and mining products. In 1890, he founded his own company, Emil Engers, "Agentur und Commission,” importing ores and metals.
In Aug. 1889, Gertrud, the couple’s first daughter was born, followed in May 1891 by their second daughter named Anita. Bertha Engers probably fulfilled her role as mother and housewife, and nothing is known about any occupational employment. Starting in 1908 at the latest, the family lived at Klosterallee 39. Gertrud, the older daughter, left her parents’ home in 1913. She married Alwin Julius Brady, a merchant from Ritzebüttel. Their children Kurt and Irmgard were born in Hamburg in 1916 and 1917.
Bertha’s younger daughter Anita received private lessons in languages, shorthand and typing after obtaining her secondary school certificate (mittlere Reife) and worked as a secretary, from 1912 in the parental business. In 1919, she married the civil engineer Ernst Ehrenhaus, born in 1884 in Oberglogau, Silesia (today Glogowek in Poland). The couple had a daughter, Liesel, born in 1921.
When Emil Eger’s health deteriorated, Ernst Ehrenhaus joined his father-in-law’s company as co-owner. He also ran his own technical office under the name of "Engers und Ehrenhaus” and he worked as a sworn stock auctioneer and commercial broker.
In 1924, Bertha Engers suffered two heavy losses. In September, her daughter Gertrud died of sepsis. Only three months later, in December, her husband passed away as well. His grave, like that of daughter Gertrud, is located in the Jewish Cemetery in Ohsldorf.
At the age of 58, she had become a widow. Her son-in-law, Ernst Ehrenhaus, took over to provide for her living. Until 1932, she is listed in the Hamburg directory as residing at Klosterallee 39, but her household was liquidated by late summer 1931. According to a written declaration dated 30 Sept. 1931, Bertha left her son-in-law her "entire estate of furniture, linens, clothes, pictures, jewelry, etc. [...] at his free disposal.” The document states, "[...] Mr. Ehrenhaus is entitled at his own discretion to sell the items or to keep them as his own property. The sale of the apartment furnishings, which has been carried out in the meantime, was done at my express wish.”
In the following years, Bertha Engers lived at Loogestieg 21, at Eppendorfer Landstrasse 36 with Heymann and, probably since the end of 1939, in the five-room apartment of Anita and Ernst Ehrenhaus on the third floor at Eppendorfer Landstrasse 46.
As marginalization and deprivation of rights made living conditions for Jews increasingly unbearable, Bertha’s descendants and relatives also looked for ways to flee abroad. Her niece Margot Valk, daughter of her brother Joseph, realized early enough that she had no chance of ever working as a teacher in Nazi Germany and found a job in Britain. In 1934, she married a British man and later, with the help of her husband, she was able to bring her brother and parents into the country. In doing so, she saved their lives. Her brother Anselm Herbert Valk had been imprisoned for several months in Hamburg for "preparation to high treason” ("Vorbereitung zum Hochverrat”).
Bertha’s grandson Kurt Brady left for South Africa in 1936 to join friends of his stepmother. After the death of Gertrud, Bertha’s older daughter, her son-in-law Alwin Brady had remarried in 1926 and had another son with his second wife. Following Kurt to South Africa as planned was impossible because of an entry ban on the Brady family that had come into effect there in the meantime. They were finally able to flee to Chile in 1939. Bertha Engers’ sister Rosa had already moved to South America in 1938 to join her children.
The younger daughter Anita and son-in-law Ernst intended to emigrate to Britain. With the help of English business friends, they were already in possession of the necessary documents. In the course of the November Pogrom, however, Ernst Ehrenhaus was arrested in 1938 and imprisoned in the Sachsenhausen concentration camp. (In the spring of 2020, the St. Nikolai Memorial in Hamburg presented a special exhibition on the November Pogrom prisoners of the Sachsenhausen concentration camp. Ernst Ehrenhaus’ name was also on one of the documents on display). He was released on 7 Dec. 1938, and threatened with re-arrest if he failed to leave the country by a certain date. Due to the mistreatment he had suffered, however, he was not fit to travel.
In order to bring at least their daughter Liesel to safety, Anita and Ernst sent her to Great Britain on a children transport (Kindertransport). Three quarters of a year later, World War II began with the German invasion of Poland, and the escape route across the English Channel was cut off. By this time, only Shanghai remained as a place of refuge, because Jews did not need a visa for the Chinese port city. The Ehrenhaus couple arrived there in 1940 on the last Italian ship.
Bertha Engers and her sister Frieda Karseboom, both already elderly, stayed behind with Frieda’s granddaughter Ellen Ingrid Berger (see www.stolpersteine-hamburg.de). For Bertha, the departure of her daughter and son-in-law also meant the loss of her accommodation. Ernst Ehrenhaus placed them in a Jewish retirement home and, as he later stated, paid for their accommodation there in advance for the next three years. The Nazis later converted the house at Hochallee 66 into a so-called "Jews’ house” ("Judenhaus”).
The Ehrenhaus family’s household goods, including various art objects, a private library, and Bertha’s entire possessions comprised of small furniture, linens, clothes, a Persian fur coat, and silver cutlery, were loaded into large wooden transport containers and stored in Hamburg’s duty-free port. These "lifts” were to be sent to a neutral port, with Ernst Ehrenhaus paying for shipping in advance. The couple never got their property back, however, because in June 1941, the contents of the crates were auctioned off to the benefit of the German Reich.
Anita and Ernst Ehrenhaus survived the Second World War under difficult conditions in Shanghai, and starting in 1943, they had to live in the ghetto there. Their daughter Liesel had married a member of the British military in Britain and had a daughter, Bertha’s great-granddaughter. Since Liesel’s husband was to be transferred to Karachi (today in Pakistan), Anita and Ernst decided to emigrate to Australia after liberation to be closer to their daughter instead of moving to the U.S. as they had originally planned. After eight years apart, parents and daughter would finally reunite in 1947. However, Liesel fell ill with typhoid fever during the ship journey to Australia and had to be taken to a hospital in Colombo (today in Sri Lanka). She died there a short time later at the age of only 26. Her parents remained in Australia and adopted their then motherless granddaughter. Ernst Ehrenhaus died in 1967, Anita Ehrenhaus in 1974.
Back in Hamburg, Bertha Engers and her sister Frieda Karseboom had to move into the "Jews’ house” at Beneckestrasse 6 in Apr. 1942. There the two women, 76 and 71 years old, received the deportation order for the Theresienstadt "ghetto for the elderly” ("Altersgetto”). The assembly point was the elementary school on Schanzenstrasse.
The transport left Hamburg on 15 July 1942. Frieda Karseboom died on 22 Nov. 1942, Bertha Engers on 23 July 1943 in Theresienstadt. Since the part of Klosterallee where she had lived with her family for many years no longer exists, the Stolperstein for Bertha Engers is located where she last lived with her daughter and son-in-law.
For Bertha Engers’ sister Frieda Karseboom, who was five years younger, Stolpersteine are located in Hansastrasse in Hamburg as well as at her longtime place of residence in Wismar. Research on the family done by Bertha’s brother Joseph Valk helped to establish contact between his granddaughter in Great Britain and the descendants of Frieda Karseboom in the USA. Previously, the two branches of the family had not known anything of each other.
Translator: Erwin Fink
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.
Stand: August 2021
© Sabine Brunotte
Quellen: 1; 3; 5; Adressbuch Hamburg 1887, https://agora.sub.uni-hamburg.de/subhh-adress/digbib/start, letzter Zugriff 16.06.2020; StaH 332-5_2713; StaH 332-5_2191; StaH 332-5_8690; StaH 332-5_9809; StaH 332-5_9064; StaH 332-5_8728; StaH 332-5_8078; StaH 332-5_7992; StaH 332-5_ 9765; StaH 314-15_F408; StaH 213-13_3127; StaH 213-13_3129; StaH 351-11_12948; StaH 351-11_13097; StaH 351-11_41407; StaH 351-11_10956; Schriftliche Auskunft Jürgen Sielemann, E-Mail vom 11. 2.2019; https://www.holocaust.cz/de/datenbank-der-digitalisierten-dokumenten/ betr. Bertha Engers Todesfallanzeige Getto Theresienstadt, Zugriff 9.6.2020; jfhh.org zu Jüdischer Friedhof Ohlsdorf, letzter Zugriff 16.6.2020; https://www.medienberatungev.org/?p=6320 zu Rosa Hirschel, letzter Zugriff 7.7.2020.
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