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Selma Henschel (née Fröhlich) * 1870
Gademannstraße /Struenseestraße (Gademannstraße 10) (Altona, Altona-Altstadt)
Selma Henschel, née Fröhlich, born 14 June 1870, deported 18 Nov. 1941 to Minsk, killed
Betty Rosenberger, born 27 Jan. 1900, deported 18 Nov. 1941 to Minsk, killed
Max Rosenberger, born 6 Sept. 1897, deported 25 Oct. 1941 to Lodz where he died
Gademannstraße/Struenseestraße (Gademannstraße 10)
Erwin Mattio, born 14 June 1920, deported 25 Oct. 1941 to Lodz where he died on 3 May 1942
Nanny Mattio, née Rosenberger, born 29 Nov. 1894, deported 25 Oct. 1941 to Lodz where she died on 12 Apr. 1942
Breite Straße/Ecke Kirchenstraße (Kleine Papagoyenstraße 1)
Selma Henschel, widowed Rosenberger, lived from the mid 1920s at the edge of the poverty line in old town Altona until her deportation. Her file at the welfare office gives an impression of her living conditions, dominated by sickness and poverty, and her relationship to her children during the time of her persecution.
Selma Henschel was born on 14 June 1870 as the daughter of David and Rosalie Fröhlich, née Hausmann, in Ratibor in Silesia. She lived with her first husband Emil Rosenberger in Katowice, which was a Prussian district in Upper Silesia until it was transferred to Poland in 1922. All four children from her first marriage were born in Katowice, her daughter Nanny on 29 Nov. 1894, her son Herbert in July 1896, her son Max on 6 Sept 1897, and her youngest daughter Betty on 27 Jan. 1900.
After the death of her first husband, Selma Rosenberger married the 22-year-younger Richard Henschel in 1913. He had been born in Charlottenburg and was a waiter who also earned a living as "an independent market seller”. Both were of the Jewish faith. Around 1920 the couple moved into a three-room basement apartment at Weidenstraße 65 (today Virchowstraße), where Richard Henschel opened an "ironing establishment”, according to the entry in the Altona address book.
In 1924, Richard Henschel became sick which forced him into a long hospital stay. Selma Henschel, unemployed and without an income, applied for support from the Welfare Office in July 1924, which she received.
One year later Richard Henschel left his wife and moved to Hamburg. Selma Henschel stayed in the apartment at Weidenstraße 65. Her daughter Betty Rosenberger lived with her and earned a living as a laborer; her three other grown-up children lived on their own.
In the coming years, Selma Henschel received welfare support of six Reich Marks (RM) per week as she was no longer able to work due to an illness. The Israelite Humanitarian Women’s Association, located at Grüne Straße 5, also helped her buy food.
Selma Henschel had to prove that her husband and her children did not support her or only to a marginal extent. Thus, the employee at the Welfare Office noted on 25 Nov. 1929: "The 59-year-old, separated woman repeatedly sued her husband for support, yet allegedly has received neither a response nor money. She allegedly suffers from a heart condition and is unfit to work.” In her welfare file it was noted that her unmarried daughter Betty Rosenberger worked at a hotel in 1929 and could only provide her mother with clothes and money now and then.
Her daughter Nanny Mattio, née Rosenberger, married Angelo Mattio from Wiesbaden, a musician, in 1925. Before they were married she had already had a son Erwin on 14 June 1920 who took the name of his stepfather, Mattio. His biological father, by the name of Steike, had been in the Strecknitz Mental Home in Lübeck since 1926. Nanny Mattio worked since 1918 as a prop manager, as an employee in the prop room of the Hamburg Theater, and – as it was noted in the file – she had "to feed her husband who was constantly out of work”; furthermore it stated: "the three live in rented accommodation”.
The whereabouts of Herbert Rosenberger, Selma Henschel’s eldest son, was not known to the Welfare Office. Her son Max Rosenberger, a trained baker, was employed as a farm worker in Silesia and Walsrode and apparently was unable to support his mother.
Besides her modest welfare support, Selma Henschel also tried to generate an income by renting two furnished rooms in her basement apartment. Perhaps she also took on ironing from the neighbors; in 1930 the Altona address book again lists an "ironing establishment” in her basement apartment at Weidenstraße 65.
In 1932 the Welfare Office again chased up her daughter to pay her mother’s support. Nanny Mattio pointed out that her son was housed at the Alsterdorf Asylum and she bore the costs for him. The eleven-year-old had been admitted there on 6 May 1932.
In 1935, Selma Henschel moved to Große Bergstraße 111. She continued to receive welfare support of six RM a week, which was increased to seven RM in 1937. Her daughter had found work as domestic help. Betty Rosenberger, who lived with her mother, was a "day girl” for the Jewish family Nachum on Eppendorfer Landstraße. Nanny Mattio, who was dismissed by the German Theater in 1936 for being Jewish, was now working as a "single girl” for the Jewish family Horowitz on Isestraße and additionally received crisis support from the Welfare Office. In 1937 she lived in an apartment at Hammerbrookstraße 48 where she rented out a furnished room. She had divorced Angelo Mattio in 1929, and he, in the meantime, owned a snack bar at Spielbudenplatz in St. Pauli.
On 31 Oct. 1938, her eighteen-year-old son Erwin Mattio was transferred along with 14 other Jewish residents of the Alsterdorf Asylum to the state Care Home Oberaltenallee. The asylum management wanted to rid themselves of the Jewish patients.
Betty Rosenberger applied to the Welfare Office for support in 1939. During that year, both daughters lived with their mother in a joint household at Großen Bergstraße 111. Neither of them had any income. Selma Henschel received minimal support from her son Max who worked as a public relief worker in Buxtehude, and she rented out a furnished room in her apartment. Finally the social services administration approved her welfare payments "in exchange for support work”. Erwin Mattio, in the meantime, was housed at the public care home Farmsen.
At the start of 1939 Selma Henschel again applied for additional welfare support to supplement the meager earnings of her daughter who lived with her. Their living circumstances and household were scrupulously checked by the Welfare Office during home visitations: "The domestic situation does not make the best impression. Ms. H. appears not to place a high value on tidiness or cleanliness. The beds were not yet made at 12 noon.” Welfare recipients classified as "antisocial” were threatened with having their payments canceled along with housing in work houses and asylums. Special mention was made in her welfare file that Selma Henschel’s tenants were not Jewish. Since enactment of the "Law on tenancy with Jews” from 30 Apr. 1939, Jewish tenants were only allowed to sublet to other Jews.
The same year, Selma Henschel, like all people of Jewish heritage, was forced to become a member of the Reich Association of Jews in Germany, whose district office was now the former Jewish Community of Hamburg. Her husband had died. The Community noted the 69-year-old widow’s final residence on her newly created culture tax card: Gademannstraße 10, at the corner of Grüne Straße 5, on the first floor of an "Isaac Hartwig Legacy” residential home. Isaac Hartwig was a wealthy man in Hamburg’s Jewish Community who, upon his death in 1842, ordered that a large part of his assets should benefit Jewish charitable services. Gademannstraße was located in old town Altona, in a quarter between today’s Kirchenstraße and Hoheschulstraße with a high percentage of Jews in the population and many Jewish establishments. Selma Henschel lived there along with her daughter Betty and her son Max who was forced to work in excavation and supported his mother.
Erwin Mattio had by now been released from the Farmsen Care Home and was working as a gardener and living (according to his culture tax card) with his mother Nanny Mattio. In Nov. 1939 she had found a job as "day help” with the Levin Family at Klosterallee 13 and lived at Kleinen Papagoyenstraße 1, with the Worms; the house belonged to the Jewish Religious Association, as was now the official name of the Jewish Community.
When the large-scale deportation of Hamburg’s Jews to ghettos in the East began, Selma Henschel and her family members made it onto the transport lists.
On 25 Oct. 1941, Max Rosenberger, Nanny Mattio and her son Erwin, who sometimes lived with his grandmother Selma Henschel at Gademannstraße 10, had to board the train headed to Lodz in German-occupied Poland. In the Lodz Ghetto the inhabitants suffered from cold, hunger and diseases; many died during the first months after their arrival. Max Rosenberger perished, Nanny Mattio (erroneously recorded as Naomy at the Memorial Yad Vashem) died on 12 Apr. 1942, her son Erwin Mattio on 3 May 1942 at the age of 22.
Selma Henschel’s name was also on the deportation list for transport to Lodz on 25 Oct. 1941, but it was crossed out again. After she was forced to experience the deportation of two of her children and her grandchild, she was deported at the age of 71 with her daughter Betty Rosenberger on 18 Nov. 1941 to the Minsk Ghetto in German-occupied Belarus where both met their death.
Translator: Suzanne von Engelhardt
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.
Stand: April 2018
© Birgit Gewehr
Quellen: 1; 4; 5; 8; AB Altona; StaH 351-14 Arbeits- und Sozialfürsorge – Sonderakten, 1267 (Henschel, Selma), 1748 (Rosenberger, Betty) und 1521 (Mattio, Nanny); StaH 522-1 Jüdische Gemeinden, 992 e 2 Band 3 (Deportationsliste Minsk); Archiv der Evangelischen Stiftung Alsterdorf, V410; Wunder, Auf dieser schiefen Ebene, S. 160.
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