Search for Names, Places and Biographies

Already layed Stumbling Stones

back to select list

Else und Otto Geiershoefer in Marienbad in den 1930er Jahren
© Sammlung Familie Geiershoefer/Schulenburg

Else Geiershoefer (née Kann) * 1879

Heinrich-Barth-Straße 6 (Eimsbüttel, Rotherbaum)

JG. 1879
ERMORDET 22.10.1942

Else Amalie Geiershoefer, née Kann, born on 9 Nov. 1879, deported on 25 Oct. 1941 to Lodz and died there on 22 Oct. 1942

Immenhof 10 (pastorate of St. Gertrud Church) / Heinrich-Barth-Strasse 6

Else Amalie Kann was born as the daughter of the Jewish couple Mayer and Pauline Kann, née Dreyfus, in Nuremberg. Her father was a merchant and traded in textiles. On 10 June 1902, Else Kann married the businessman Otto Geiershoefer, also a native of Nuremberg. Although he also came from a Jewish family, he had converted to the Lutheran faith already prior to the wedding. His wife Else, already widowed by then, converted only on 28 June 1936 during a visit to Merano.

The married couple had two children: Erik Ludwig was born on 24 May 1903, and Herbert Theodor followed on 20 Jan. 1906. Both children were baptized and grew up in the Christian faith.

In 1894, the Geiershoefer family had acquired the Jacob Gilardi Company, which had its headquarters in Allersberg near Nuremberg. Managed by Otto Geiershoefer, who took over the company as a sole proprietor from his brother Anton in 1904, the enterprise produced primarily ornaments for Christmas trees made of tinsel yarn (silver, brass, or gold-plated thin wires). The Geiershoefer family lived in the Baroque Gilardihaus attached to the factory buildings.

Not only was the Gilardi Company the major employer in Allersberg, but the Geiershoefers were also actively involved in social causes. For instance, among other things, they gave to the municipality of Allersberg endowments: 5,000 marks in the year 1918 for needy disabled war veterans and 3,000 marks in the year 1927 for needy elderly men and women formerly employed with the Gilardi Company. The Geiershoefers also donated the bells for the Lutheran church in Allersberg built in 1933.

When Otto Geiershoefer died on 11 Mar. 1936, the company passed into the hands of his widow Else and their sons; the oldest son, Erik, became general manager. In July 1938, Else visited her brother Charles in New York for a few weeks, returning, however, to Allersberg despite conditions in Germany.

On 10 Nov. 1938, Else and her son Erik were arrested. Else was taken into "protective custody” ("Schutzhaft”) for eight days. During this time, powers of attorney were extorted from the Geiershoefers that served the NSDAP district leadership to sell the Gilardi Company to Hermann Gutmann, a Nazi from Weissenburg. Even before, the Gilardihaus, where the widowed Else continued to live, was almost completely ransacked by the district leadership. After her release from prison, Else immediately moved from Allersberg to Hamburg. There she found new accommodation at Heinrich-Barth-Strasse 6, as Erik Geiershoefer reported in 1939:

"Even though in Hamburg, like in almost all other cities, no settlement permits were issued, my brother managed to get one for Mother. One of the crucial police officers in this matter happened to be an old acquaintance of his. He also succeeded in holding on to his previous apartment for mother – he had already given notice since he intended to emigrate to Basra, Irac [sic] in the course of December.”

Already in Nuremberg, parts of the assets of the Geiershoefer family had been confiscated. For instance, Else had to cover the "Reich flight tax” (Reichsfluchtsteuer) for her sons. Nevertheless, when she moved to Hamburg, she still had assets amounting to about 122,000 RM (reichsmark). The situation changed with the "security order” ("Sicherungsanordnung") that was issued against her in Dec. 1938. From then on, she was no longer allowed to dispose freely of her own assets because she was Jewish. Her account was blocked and she received a monthly allowance of only 350 RM.

Else Geiershoefer was barely able to handle this restriction. She had to refurnish her household and she was simply not used to have so little money at her disposal. Another problem for Else was the lack of acquaintances and friends in Hamburg who could have supported her. She did not get credit in any store. Therefore, she had to ask the Hamburg foreign currency office for more money almost every month. Eventually, the foreign currency office prohibited Else Geiershoefer from submitting invoices retroactively in May 1940. Instead, she was ordered to list all of her expenses already at the beginning of the month, which seemed nearly impossible to her.

When Erik Geiershoefer emigrated to Britain along with his wife Magda and their daughter Susanne in Apr. 1939, Else considered emigrating as well. To this end, she deposited her valuables in a safety deposit box of the Deutsche Bank. The jeweler Otto Hilcken based in Spitalerstrasse estimated the value items contained in the safety deposit box at 2,000 RM. Based on the "security order,” she was not allowed to dispose freely of the items in the safety deposit box either.

With the outbreak of World War II, all hopes for Else Geiershoefer of emigration faded. During these difficult times, she found a certain degree of support in the St. Gertrud parish in Uhlenhorst and with the local pastor Walter Uhsadel. In addition, she apparently received a modest additional income from her work in the parish office. After the end of the war, Pastor Uhsadel remembered Else Geiershoefer:

"The most painful recollections connect me with Mrs. Else Geiershoefer, who had been deprived of her large fortunes and now led a meager life under the supervision of the Gestapo. She was at my house almost every day to take on paperwork and other things for me. Her only consolation was regular attendance of church service and Holy Communion. One Wednesday in the fall of 1941, she sent me the horrifying news that next Friday, leaving behind her modest belongings, she would have to report to the collection point for deportation. I was with her on Wednesday afternoon to console the despairing woman, and I also looked after her almost the entire Thursday. On Friday morning at 7 o’clock, she came to my house for the last time. I had invited a small flock of parishioners and we celebrated Holy Communion. Accompanied by our intercessions, she set out in firm belief on the difficult journey. A few notes with words of thanks from the freight train taking her away were the last signs of life. Shortly before Easter 1942, she must have been murdered in Poland along with many thousands of fellow sufferers.”

On 25 Oct. 1941, Else Geiershoefer was deported on a transport to the Lodz Ghetto. There she lived at Steinmetzstrasse 21, apartment no. 2. Actually, Else Geiershoefer was scheduled for "resettlement” to Chelmno on 7 May 1942, which would have meant her certain death in a mobile gas van. However, due to a femoral neck fracture, which she had sustained in the ghetto, she was deferred from the transport. Else Geiershoefer died in the Lodz Ghetto on 22 Oct. 1942. Today a Stolperstein in front of Heinrich-Barth-Strasse 6 commemorates her.

After the end of the war, Erik Geiershoefer and his family returned to Allersberg in 1946 and commenced rebuilding the Jacob Gilardi Company and the partially destroyed buildings. Herbert Geiershoefer and his wife Rita spent the war abroad and later lived in Uganda.

Translator: Erwin Fink

Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.

© Carmen Smiatacz

Quellen: 1; 2; 4; 5, 8; StaHH 314-15, OFP, F 664; StaHH 314-15, OFP, FVg 2306; StaHH 314-15, OFP, FVg 2307; StaHH 314-15, OFP, R 1938/3551; Uhsadel: Persönliche Erinnerungen an St. Gertrud 1928–1943; USHMM, RG 15.083 301/1123; Dr. Alexander Schulenburg, Sammlung Familie Geiershoefer/Schulenburg (England).
Zur Nummerierung häufig genutzter Quellen siehe Link "Recherche und Quellen".

print preview  / top of page