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Max Elias * 1886

Normannenweg 7 (Hamburg-Mitte, Borgfelde)

JG. 1886

Max Elias, born 9 May 1886 in Altona, presumed death 3 May 1945 on the Cap Arcona

Normannenweg 7

Ludwig Gustav Max Elias, born on 9 May 1886 in Altona, was, like his four siblings, christened and raised in the Christian faith, but a National Socialist judge later ruled that he was "undeniably of Jewish heritage.” This Jewish heritage was probably on his father’s side of the family, as his mother’s name was Karolina Prosch.

Max Elias worked as a salesman, a businessman, and was the founder of several trading and real estate firms in Hamburg. He was married and divorced twice and had two daughters, Therese and Ursula. His businesses did not prosper, and he eventually slid into criminal dealings. In the 1920s, he was charged several times with fraud, falsification of documents and illegal possession of a weapon.

After the National Socialists came to power, Max Elias, as a person of Jewish heritage with a criminal record, had no social standing whatsoever, and the judges described his behavior as "typically Jewish business dealings.” In July 1933 he was again charged with fraud and was sentenced to 15 months in prison. In September 1936 he was sentenced on the same charge to 18 months in prison, which he served in the Fuhlsbüttel and Bremen-Oslebshausen prisons. In November 1938 a charge of homosexuality was brought against him, for which he served six months in the Altona prison.

After yet another conviction for fraud, the Hamburg District Court sentenced him to a prison term of unknown duration. In November 1939 he was transferred from the Hamburg City prison to the Bremen-Oslebshausen prison. The next mention of Max Elias in historical documents is his registration at the Neuengamme Concentration Camp as prisoner number 12075. There he was assigned to work as a bookkeeper. The fact that he was in the hospital wards II and III from June to October 1943 indicates that he probably had serious health problems during this time. In the fall of 1944, his name was included in a punch card database at the SS Economic Administration Main Office. This database was established for all concentration camps during the summer and fall of 1944.
Max Elias is presumed to have been aboard the Cap Arcona on 3 May 1945 when it was sunk. His personal effects, a pair of white cufflinks, were delivered to the International Tracing Service in Bad Arolsen. They remain there today.

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

© Bernhard Rosenkranz(†)/Ulf Bollmann

Quellen: StaH, 213-11 Staatsanwaltschaft Landgericht – Strafsachen, 9100/36; 242-11II Gefängnisverwaltung II, Ablieferungen 13 und 16; KZ-Gedenkstätte Neuengamme, Laboruntersuchungsbücher und Effektenlisten; BA Berlin NS 3/1755, Hollerith-Vorkartei des SS-Wirtschafts-Verwaltungs-Hauptamtes Amtsgruppe D. Konzentrationslager vom Sommer bis Herbst 1944; VAN-Totenliste 1968; Rosenkranz/Bollmann/Lorenz, Homosexuellen-Verfolgung, S. 209.

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