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Porträt von Alba Franzius
Alba Franzius
© Staatsarchiv Hamburg

Alba Anna Franzius (née Silbiger) * 1879

Geffckenstraße 30 (Hamburg-Nord, Eppendorf)

JG. 1879

Alba Franzius, née Silbiger, born on 26 Jan. 1879 in Vienna, flight to death on 12 Dec. 1941

Geffckenstrasse 30, Eimsbüttel

"Please save me from the worst!” Alba Anna Adele Franzius wrote these lines to the Reich Governor (Reichsstatthalter) of Hamburg on 18 Nov. 1941, referring to her feared deportation.

Who was this woman? The oldest of four girls, Alba was born on 26 Jan. 1879 as the child of the Jewish married couple Adolf Silbiger and Alexandrine, née Servi. She was followed by Manuella on 3 Jan. 1882, Felicia on 3 Oct. 1883, and finally, Edith on 4 Apr. 1885. All children were born in Vienna. We know nothing about Alba’s childhood, adolescence, and education – nor about those of her sisters.
Her father Adolf Silbiger was buried on 13 Nov. 1905, her mother Alexandrine on 9 June 1910 at the Jewish Central Cemetery in Vienna.

Alba had married Johann Albrecht Franzius in Durban/South Africa. It is not known whether the couple met in Germany or India. Nor is there a definite date for the wedding. On the death certificate, 28 Jan. 1904 is noted, while the file card of the residents’ registration office in Bremen indicates 28 Feb. 1903.

Johann Albrecht Franzius was born as the seventh of nine children of the non-Jewish married couple Folkmar Rudolph Stephan Franzius and Antoinette Dorothea Emilie Auguste, née Meyer, in Norden on 15 Apr. 1871. His father worked as a lawyer and notary and held the office of senator.

Apparently, Johann Franzius lived in India. From 30 July to 12 Aug. 1902, however, he was treated in the General Hospital on Norderney for reasons unknown to us. He then traveled back with Alba to India, where they got married. The marriage remained childless.

Alba’s husband worked as a merchant in the grain trade in India. During his stay in India, he asked his brother Edmund Friedrich August Franzius to buy the house at Geffckenstrasse 30 in Hamburg to spend his old age there. This brother was a judicial council and a notary public. He bought the house for 45,000 RM (reichsmark). When the Franzius couple returned from India, they lived in Wiesbaden and Bremen.

By then, Johann Albrecht Franzius worked for the "Hansa” steamship company in Bremen. For that reason, the couple resided there from 21 Aug. 1914 to 8 Apr. 1915, from 8 Feb. 1921 to 1 Sept. 1921, from 4 Oct. 1922 to 28 Oct. 1922, and from 1 Apr. 1930 to 31 Mar. 1937. By the latter date, Alba was already widowed; her husband, having passed away on 11 Nov. 1936 in Wiesbaden, was buried in Bremen. After his death, Alba moved to Hamburg, into her house at Geffckenstrasse 30.

Alba wrote the line cited above in her letter to the Hamburg Reich Governor and Nazi party (NSDAP) Gauleiter Karl Kaufmann. She explained that she and her husband had run a very hospitable house in Calcutta and had taken care of sick Germans there. She had never felt Jewish and ought to be regarded as a "Jewish crossbreed of the first degree” ("Mischling ersten Grades”), because her mother had been a Catholic and her father a Jew. The fact that she confused her parents’ religious denominations in this letter had no effect: the Nazi state classified Alba as Jewish and the Gestapo photographed her as such.

Until then, the "mixed marriage” ("Mischehe”) had protected Alba from the anti-Jewish measures, but with the death of her "Aryan” husband, this protection lapsed. The "levy on Jewish assets” ("Judenvermögensabgabe”) that she had to pay in five installments of 2,350 RM each every three months, eventually drove her to financial ruin. In order to stay afloat, she gradually sold valuable items that the couple had acquired during many stays abroad. She could not even make the small contributions to the Jewish Religious Organization (Jüdischer Religionsverband) and often asked for deferral.

However, she still owned the house on Geffckenstrasse featuring several rooms. Thus, she tried to find tenants, which was almost impossible for her as a Jew. The fifth installment of the "levy on Jewish assets” had meanwhile become due. The Robert Götz banking house put Alba Franzius under great pressure by writing that "she should obtain the money from a Jewish party.” Since she had no more assets, she was forced to sell the house. For 30,540 RM, it went to the new owner far below value.

She also had to pay the realtor’s fees of 300 RM. The buyer had to pay the proceeds into a blocked account with the Robert Götz bank. A "security order” prevented Alba Franzius from disposing of the funds. She was only permitted to use the authorized allowance of 350 RM of her own money. Her pension of 330 RM, which she received due to her deceased husband Johann Albrecht, also went into this blocked account. In the meantime, because of her deteriorating health, she needed considerably more money for medication, so that she suffered financial hardship.

On 18 Nov. 1941, she wrote the above-mentioned request. She had been served notice by mail regarding action for eviction from her house on 30 Nov. 1941, complying with this ultimatum with a heavy heart. She then had to move to the "Jews’ house” ("Judenhaus”) at Papenhuder Strasse 53-55. At this location, residents were granted a maximum of six square meters (nearly 65 sq. ft.) of living space.

Alba Franzius could no longer endure this life situation, which was unbearable for her.

Thus, she committed suicide with sleeping pills in the "Jews’ house” on Papenhuder Strasse on Friday, 11 Dec. 1941, dying the next day in the Jewish hospital on Johnsallee.

On 15 Dec. 1941, three days after her suicide, the buyer’s attorney, Mr. Floerke, probably not yet informed of this, obtained action for the eviction concerning her house on Geffckenstrasse.

Enno Franzius, her nephew, arranged for Alba Franzius’ mortal remains to be buried next to her husband in the non-Jewish Riendsberg cemetery in Bremen on 14 Apr. 1942.

The Robert Görtz banking house reports on 12 May 1942: "Since the securities account holder is deceased and her heirs are not Jews, the securities account is no longer subject to obligation to offer.”

Translator: Erwin Fink
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.

Stand: June 2020
© Bärbel Klein

Quellen: StaH, 1; 4; 8; 213-13_9439; 351-11_38807; 621-1/84_7UA1; 522-1_ 992b;331-5_428/1942; 332-5_8174;332-5_1829/1936; 332-5_444/1941; 741-4_K6087; 741-4_K4426; Einwohnermeldeamt Bremen, Zusendung der Karteikarte 12.12.2017; Stadtarchiv Wiesbaden, Sterbeurkunde Johann Albrecht Franzius am 12.12.2017; Geburtsurkunden aus Wien RGNR195/1882; RGNR 450/1883; RGNR 617/1885; RGNR 2267/1889; Einsicht beim Amtsgericht ins Grundbuch am 18.12.2018.
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