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Frieda und Josef Gelbart mit ihren Kindern Bernhard und Josef (rechts) 1922/1923
Frieda und Josef Gelbart mit ihren Kindern Bernhard und Josef (rechts) 1922/1923
© Privatbesitz

Frieda Gelbart (née Feigen) * 1892

Eimsbütteler Chaussee 98 (Eimsbüttel, Eimsbüttel)

JG. 1892

further stumbling stones in Eimsbütteler Chaussee 98:
Jakob Jankel Gelbart, Josef Gelbart

Jakob Jankel Gelbart, born 31.3.1894 in Kalisz/Poland, incarcerated at Sachsenhausen concentration camp 16.3.1939, died there 16.2.1940 KZ

Frieda Gelbart, née Feigen, born 4.7.1892 in Zloczew/Poland, expelled to Zbaszyn/Poland 28.10.1938, interned at Warsaw Getto 1939, "vanished" in occupied Poland

Josef Gelbart, born 28.2.1914 in Altona, expelled to Zbaszyn/Poland 28.10.1938, interned at Warsaw Getto 1939, "vanished" in occupied Poland

Eimsbütteler Chaussee 98 (formerly Eimsbütteler Chaussee 100)

Jakob (Jankel) and Frieda (Frejdla) Gelbart were immigrants from Eastern Europe.

Jakob Gelbart was born March 31st 1894 in or near the town Kalisz, which sits in the middle of the triangle Lodz - Posnan - Wroclaw. At the time of his birth, this area was governed by Russia, the Polish state was not in existence. So Jakob probably was a Russian citizen, at least before Poland became an independent state again in 1918.

Hardly anything is known about Jakob’s family background. At one time during his life in Hamburg, a certain Wolf Gelbart from Zloczew (between Kalisz and Lodz) appears in the files, so maybe Jakob had brothers or cousins. Just like this Wolf, Jakob was a tailor.

Frieda was from Zloczew. She was born July 4th 1892 as the fourth of eight children to Abram and Alta Feigen. Her parents and six of her siblings by and by emigrated to Illinois, US, during the first two decades of the 20th century.

But Frieda and her husband moved to Altona, where they stayed from March 1913 to October 1918. They lived at Große Mühlenstraße 27 (today: Amundsenstraße), which was in the centre of the old town, a poor and crowded area of neglected houses.

Both their sons were born there: Josef in 1914 and Bernhard in 1918.

In October 1918 the familiy moved to Eimsbütteler Straße 122 in Hamburg-Eimsbüttel. Accordingly they switched membership from the jewish community in Altona to the Deutsch-Israelitische Gemeinde in Hamburg.

In Eimsbüttel Jakob had a tailor shop. Josef entered the Talmud-Tora-Realschule in 1920, Bernhard followed in 1924.

For several months, the aforementioned Wolf Gelbart lodged with the family in 1925. Frieda’s sister Ester and her husband Moszek Sroka also lived near Hamburg by that time; they had moved to Harburg on the other side of the river Elbe, where Sroka ran a tailor-shop too.

In 1926 family life changed drastically, because Jakob left wife and sons and went - presumabely - to Berlin. Frieda had to feed the family on her own now. It must have been hard, as Bernhard mentioned in an interview years later. Frieda and her sons depended on welfare for quite some time. There is no evidence that Jakob sent any money at all and it looks as if it was no separation in friendship and mutual agreement. According to a secretary from the Welfare office, she tried several times for Frieda and with the support of different rabbis to get the agreement for a divorce from Jakob, but in vain. It is unclear whether Jakob refused divorce or was just not to be found in Berlin. How all this was communicated to the children stays in the dark. But as Bernhard said many years later that his father had died when he was eight years old, it is likely that contact had been broken off completely.

Frieda moved with her children to Fruchtallee 115 in 1934, and only then the family started to be listed under her name.

While visiting the Talmud-Tora-Realschule, both boys became affiliated with the jewish Jugendbund, a zionist organisation. There are no hints of an ongoing engagement afterwards as far as Josef is concerned, but he stayed a fierce supporter of the zionist idea. According to his brother, Josef was the more radical one.

However, he never had specific plans to make aliya. Bernhard, who continued his political work after graduation, escorted a group of young people to Palestine after the German ambush on Poland and stayed there.

Josef was physically not strong, rather delicate, often sick and hard of hearing from early on. His school records shows a variation of grades over the years - only in "conduct" he always achieved a "1".

After graduation in 1930 Josef learned bee-keeping and worked for Hans Stockmar. This dedicated anthroposophist ran a candle and wax production in Kaltenkirchen near Hamburg.

It is not sure if Josef worked there right until his deportation in 1938, which is how a family member remembers it. Other sources indicate that Josef became unemployed in 1936. But the relationship between Josef and Hans Stockmar (who called him Jupp) was much more than a strictly professional one. Hans became something like a fatherly friend to him. He and his family invited Josef to their home and in Josef’s later letters he mentions a lot of philosophical deliberations, afternoons in the family garden and other shared events.

In 1936 Frieda and Josef moved back to the Eimsbütteler Chaussee, this time to Nr 100. Bernhard probably did not join them - he had started to work for a jewish newspaper and moved to Mannheim. But he kept in touch with Frieda and Josef and very likely helped them financially.

It is far from certain that the Gelbarts ever had acquired the Polish citizenship. Up until Josef’s birth the area around Zloczew and Kalisz had been Russian. It belonged to the renewed Polish state after 1918, but had the family ever applied for Polish papers? We know that Bernhard had a Polish passport, but about Josef and Frieda there is no such information and Jakob has been labelled "stateless" in a later police file.

So they fell victim to the so-called "Polenaktion".
Like several hundred other jews of Polish descent in Hamburg, Frieda and Josef were forced on a train on Oct. 28th 1938 and brought from Hamburg to Belschen, a tiny place near the Polish border. These people were dragged out of their homes in the early morning, They could neither prepare their departure nor bring along more than they could carry in a suitcase. At the Polish border, police forced them to cross the state-line into Poland, where they were stranded in a completely unprepared little town named Zbaszyn.

On the website a very vivid account can be found of the "Polenaktion" and the first days and weeks in Zbaszyn. Very rarely people were allowed to go back into Germany for a short time in order to clear their affairs - Josef’s uncle Moszek Sroka was one of them.

Bernhard was not deported from Mannheim to Zbaszyn because he had been traveling to Warszaw in his capacity of youth editor for the Hamburger Israelitisches Familienblatt a couple of days before. He and several jewish officials immediately went to Zbaszyn in order to help.

Bernhard met mother and brother there, but soon they went different ways because Bernhard felt he had to bring a group of Hachaluz-youngsters to Palestine. However, he still managed to support his family in various ways and it was through his connections probably that Frieda and Josef were able to leave Zbaszyn in spring 1939. They moved to Otwock, a small town 35 km southwest of Warszaw. Josef ’s plan was to take over a small apiary and subsequently develop a candle manufacture there. Bernhard stayed in Grochow on the other side of Warszaw with his Hachschara-Group.

Then the german ambush on Poland on Sept. 1st, 1939 quenched all their plans - bombs fell in Otwock. Frieda and Josef subsequently lived in Warszaw. From January 1940 on they lived in Milastr. 34, Room No. 52 - right in the middle of the later ghetto.

From then on their conditions deteriorated continuously. Regular letters from Josef to Hans Stockmar bear witness of their daily struggle to survive and the inexorable decline towards impoverishment.

Hans Stockmar and his family had been keeping in touch and faithfully sent food, candles, clothes and even batteries for Josef’s hearing-aids. Most of their letters and parcels reached their destination, as can be concluded from Josef’s reply. Bernhard somehow managed to send some money, too, until in early 1941, he finally fled to Haifa.

The garments and fabric sent from Kaltenkirchen helped Josef and Frieda for some time to get along, because they could sell at the black market whatever they didn’t urgently need themselves. But hunger, cold and disease took their toll on the weakened and crammed inhabitants of the Warszaw Ghetto. Josef writes about his mother coming down with typhus as well as later on himself. His aunt and uncle Moszek and Ester Sroka were in the ghetto too, unfortunately relations between them were not very close.

On his last postcard from May 20th, 1942 Josef remarks on feeling extremely frail and that his mother had been taken to the "hospital" for surgery.

It is not known whether Josef and Frieda perished from weakness in Warszaw or if they were murdered in Treblinka. The deportations from Warszaw to Treblinka started in Juli 1942.
Stockmar’s letters to Warszaw have vanished, but Josef’s letters to Kaltenkirchen were saved and in the late 1990s published by the jewish museum Göppingen.

Jakob Gelbart most likely did not fall victim to the "Polenaktion", although his name was on the relevant Gestapo-list in Hamburg. But he - as mentioned above - lived in Berlin since the mid-twenties, probably unregistered and therefore most likely on no list . His last address in Berlin had been Weinbergsweg 1, ℅Klewe. (Jakob Klewe, with whom he shared a flat there, was deported to Lodz in 1941, where he died in March 1942.)

After the beginning of World War Two the Gestapo arrested all Jews of Polish decent in Germany as "enemy aliens" and forced them into concentration camps. Life conditions there were even more miserable for them than for the other prisoners, so the death toll was extremely high.

Jakob Jankel Gelbart was arrested in Berlin and incarcerated at the concentration camp Sachsenhausen as prisoner No 9573 on September 16th 1939. He died on February 16th, 1940 - allegedly from enteritis.

His ashes were sent to Berlin, where a "non-aryan acquaintance", a certain Meta Gedatus, saw to it that the urn was buried at the jewish cemetery in Berlin-Weissensee. Here, at field G 7, a stele carries the name Jankel Gielbart in his remembrance.

His death is the only trace he left in the files of the jewish community of Berlin.

Stand: March 2021
© Carola von Paczensky

Quellen: 1, 2, 5, 8, StaH - 11 Amt für Wiedergutmachung 42162; StaH A 30 Fremdenkartei K6117; StaH 522-1 Geburtsregister Hochdeutsch-Israelitischer Gemeinde Altona, 1914 Nr. 4 und 1918 Nr. 6; StaH 326-6 (741-4 Sa 1244) Talmud-Tora-Schule 5183; StaH 522-1 Jüdische Gemeinden 992 f 3; Feigen Family Tree (letzter Aufruf 8.6.2020); (letzter Aufruf 16.6.2020); Klaus Möller Biografie Ester und Moszek Sroka; Holmer Stahncke: Altona - Geschichte einer Stadt, Hamburg 2014, S. 219f.; Rosa und Koppel Friedfertig: Bericht über ihre Abschiebung aus Hamburg in: Beate Meyer (Hrsg.): Die Verfolgung und Ermordung der Hamburger Juden 1933 - 1945, Hamburg/Göttingen 2006 S.115 – 118; Gerhard Hoch: Gerechter unter den Völkern - Hans Stockmar, Sonderdruck aus dem Heimatkundlichen Jahrbuch für den Kreis Segeberg, Bad Segeberg 2003; Konrad Plieninger: Ach, es ist alles ohne Ufer - Briefe aus dem Warschauer Ghetto, Göppingen, 2. Aufl 2002; Stephan Stockmar: Nur ziehen Sie Ihre Hand in dieser dunklen Stunde nicht zurück, in: Die Drei, 11/2002 (Stuttgart), S. 63; Werkstatt der Erinnerung in der Forschungsstelle für Zeitgeschichte in Hamburg, FZH/WdE Interview 402; Auskunft der Gedenkstätte Sachsenhausen vom 27.03.2019; digitales Archiv ITS Bad Arolsen, Teilbestand Dok ID 12654901; Teilbestand Dok ID 4118211 und 4094443; Teilbestand Dok ID 11231979; Hamburger Adressbücher 1921 – 1938; Berliner Adressbuch 1938.
Zur Nummerierung häufig genutzter Quellen siehe Link "Recherche und Quellen".

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