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Nina Müller * 1921
Falkenbergsweg 62 (Harburg, Neugraben-Fischbek)
Nina Müller, born on 23 Aug. 1921 in Prague, deported further from Theresienstadt several times, perished in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp on 17 Apr. 1945
Neugraben quarter, Falkenbergsweg 62
In the first years of her life, the village where Margarethe Meissl [Nina Müller’s mother] was born as the child of Jewish parents still belonged to the Austro-Hungarian Empire. After the First World War, it was officially renamed Vysehorovice. The young woman experienced the beginnings of the Czechoslovakian state after 1918 together with her husband Karl Müller (born on 21 May 1883) in the new capital of Prague, where he ran a law firm. He came from a Jewish family residing in Horschitz (today Horice v Podkrkonosi) and took some time to get used to life in the "Golden City” on the Vltava (Moldau) River, where the two daughters Nina and Melitta (born on 27 Apr. 1927) grew up after the First World War. During their childhood and youth, they were accompanied by a governess. Knowing that behind the scenes a cook and a maid were employed as well, one gets a good idea of the lifestyle that this family maintained.
The sisters attended one of the city’s many German-speaking high schools and were able to communicate just as well in German as they could in the Czech mother tongue. Nina also learned English at school. In the summer of 1937, she took summer school in Britain in order to improve her language skills. During her spare time, she liked to play tennis and was very enthusiastic about dancing.
The family’s good fortunes were shattered in 1939. First, Nina Müller fell seriously ill in January. For six weeks, doctors fought for the life of their young patient. Just as she was doing reasonably well again, the German Wehrmacht occupied the country.
Being Jewish, soon afterward her father had to vacate his law firm and hand it over to an "Aryan” successor. Not long after that, the spacious apartment where the family had lived for years became too expensive and relocation to a substantially smaller one, shared with another family, inevitable. After graduating from high school (Abitur), Nina Müller was not admitted to university studies in chemistry. With a bit of luck, she managed to find a job as a beautician at a salon, until one day she was "not welcome” there anymore either. In the summer of 1939, her sister Melitta was excluded from attending her school any longer. Initially, her parents were able to organize private lessons for her but that too was over with soon. Apart from the occupational opportunities, the recreational sphere of Czech Jews was increasingly restricted. They were allowed neither to attend concerts and theater performances nor to set foot in swimming pools and movie theaters. At the same time, their freedom of movement was continually curbed.
Soon they were banned not only from entering public parks and from going to nearby forests but from using public transportation and leaving their places of residence. Personal jewelry and works of art were confiscated the same as private radio sets and phones. After their passports had been stamped with a "J” [for "Jew”], Karl, Margarethe, Nina, and Melitta Müller had to wear, clearly visible in public, the "yellow star” on their clothing starting in Sept. 1941.
While the conversion of the old garrison town of Terezin (Theresienstadt) was still fully under way, the first large-scale transports with Jews from Prague were already arriving at the fortifications. On 2 July 1942, Karl and Margarethe Müller as well as their two daughters were also deported to Theresienstadt. They were quartered in one of the dilapidated barracks. The constant hunger left deep marks. The working conditions to which the parents and their children were exposed during their daily work duties in wood workshops, splitting mica, and farming, ruined their health. This held true particularly for Nina Müller, who was soon more often ill than healthy. However, Theresienstadt was only an intermediate stop for the family of four. On 18 Dec. 1943, Karl, Margarethe, Nina, and Melitta Müller were deported to the large Auschwitz concentration and extermination camp. Karl Müller suffered most intensely from the inhuman living and working conditions at this place. On 17 Feb. 1944, he died of pneumonia.
Five months later, more than 7,000 Czech Jews from Theresienstadt were driven into the gas chambers, after those still fit for work, including Margarethe, Nina, and Melitta Müller, had been sorted out in advance. In July 1944, the three women arrived along with 997 other female prisoners at the external camp of the Neuengamme concentration camp on the Dessauer Ufer in Hamburg Harbor, where they were used for clearing work. In the process, after only a few days, Margarethe Müller suffered sepsis, which was treated far too late and inadequately. Helplessly, Nina and Melitta Müller had to look on while their mother was worn down with pain more and more, closing her eyes forever on 27 July 1944.
Two months later, Nina and Melitta as well as 498 other girls and women were transferred to the Neugraben concentration subcamp on Falkenbergsweg in the south of Hamburg. In this external camp, also under the command of the Neuengamme concentration camp, they were employed in the production of prefabricated components and excavation work associated with the construction of a prefabricated housing development. At times, they also had to help with clearing work, winter road clearance, and completing an antitank ditch.
The next station of their ordeal was the Tiefstack external camp, where Nina Müller was seriously injured during an air raid. In the course of the evacuation of all external branches of the Neuengamme concentration camp, she and her sister ended up in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Apr. 1945, even though she was actually not transportable at all.
In this inferno, Nina perished on 17 Apr. 1945, two days after the guards had quit the scene. Her 17-year-old sister returned home an orphan.
Translator: Erwin Fink
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.
Stand: October 2017
© Klaus Möller
Quellen: 8; Liste der Bewohner des Lagers Theresienstadt, Theresienstädter Gedenkbuch; Schriftliche und mündliche Mitteilungen Melitta Steins, geb. Müller, vom 23.8.2010, 27.12.2010, 9.1.2011, 18.1.2011; Czech, Kalendarium, 2. Auflage; Oprach, Judenpolitik.
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