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Iwan Hesse * 1872
Jungfrauenthal 8 (Eimsbüttel, Harvestehude)
GEDEMÜTIGT / ENTRECHTET
FLUCHT IN DEN TOD
Iwan Hesse, born 31 Jan. 1872 in Hamburg, committed suicide 28 Oct. 1941 before his deportation
Jungfrauenthal 8 (Harvestehude)
According to census of 3 Dec. 1867, Iwan Hesse’s parents Siegesmund (1838–1878) and Bertha Hesse, née Heimann (1840–1923), lived in the Grand Duchy Mecklenburg-Schwerin in the western Mecklenburg town Grevesmühlen, about 10 km east of Lübeck. The census data gave their address as Vogelsang 218, where the couple lived with their daughter and a wet nurse. In the column showing nationality, "American” was noted next to the 29-year-old man of private means Siegesmund Hesse. That indicates on the one hand that he must have spent time in the USA, and, on the other hand, that he was able to live off of his own inheritance or that of his father Jakob Hesse. Bertha Hesse, née Heimann, came from Grevesmühlen. The couple had married in Grevesmühlen in July 1866 and likely moved to Hamburg in 1870 with their three-year-old daughter Anna, born on 31 May 1867. Their son Ivan Hesse was born in the Hanseatic city in Jan. 1872.
His father first appears in Hamburg’s address book in 1871 at the address Ferdinandstraße 17 (Altstadt), with mention of his share in the commission agency (banking business) M. Jonasson & Co. The company itself only appeared in Hamburg’s address book from 1871 to 1874. Born in Gadebusch, Mecklenburg (roughly 20 km southeast of Grevesmühlen) and of the Jewish faith, the 34-year-old Siegesmund Hesse probably launched the investment company Brüssel & Hesse (Börsenbrücke 2) together with Siegmund Brüssel in Hamburg in 1872/73. He gave his first name as Siegmund in Hamburg’s address book and also used it in his official signature. He likely started his own company in 1876. A year later his entry in the address book read "Investment Company” at the address Glockengießerwall 17. In 1878 he was registered as a businessman at the same address.
The brief economic boom following the founding of the German Reich in 1871 was followed by a severe economic crisis from 1873 to 1879 which affected the banks, industry and agriculture in Germany – the effects appear not to have posed an existential threat to Siegmund Hesse.
On the morning of 26 Jan. 1878, the police found his body in Hamburg’s tributary Außenalster at Pantelmanns Steg (at the intersection of Alsterwiete, today a side street of the Atlantic Hotel). Details on the circumstances of his death were published in the Hamburgische Correspondent in the Sunday edition of 27 Jan. 1878 in the section "News of the Day”: "The investment manager Sigmund Hesse, residing at Glockengießerwall No. 17, was found dead in the Alster this morning near Pantelmann’s Steg. H., who was very well off (he is estimated to have left behind a fortune of 130,000 dollars), was at the stock exchange until 8:00 p.m. Friday evening and left it in the company of a friend to whom he said goodbye in the vicinity of his home, allegedly to attend to some business. After waiting in vain for his return home, his family entered his home study and found his watch along with a chain, his wallet and his briefcase all arranged on his desk, creating the impression that he had already decided he would not be returning home after he left. It is unlikely that his death was an accident. The hat and coat of the deceased were found in the immediate vicinity of the landing stage. Over the past few days he had suffered from severe melancholy.” He was buried at the old Jewish cemetery in Ottensen (near Altona Train Station). Iwan Hesse had become a fatherless child at the age of six.
Following the death of her husband, Bertha Hesse lived with her two children at Dammthorstraße 40 (Neustadt) from 1879 until 1886. The street was characterized by town houses and above all the City Theater (today the State Opera House).
In Feb. 1886, Iwan’s sister Anna Hesse, not quite 19 years old, married the Hamburg tailor Philipp David Messias (1858–1917) who was a member of the German-Israelite Community. In 1889 he received Hamburg citizenship, which suggests a solid income that will have come from his share in his father’s business J. D. Messias & Sohn, Master Tailor, Clothing Storeroom, at Alsterdamm 42 (today Ballindamm). From 1900 to 1906 and 1909 to 1917, the family of four lived in Prussian Klein Flottbek, outside the gates of the Hanseatic city. After the death of her husband, Anna Messias moved back to Hamburg to Rothenbaumschaussee 71 (Rotherbaum). From 1932 her address was listed as Jungfrauenthal 8 (Harvestehude), a four-storey tenement with 10 renting parties (landlord Joh. F. Fahrenkrug, Rothenbaumchaussee 73).
After his sister married and moved out of the family home in 1886, 14-year-old Iwan Hesse moved with his mother to Großen Bleichen 38 (1886–1887) and later to no. 48 (1888–1890). From 1891 their entry in the address book showed them as living at Gänsemarkt 30/31 (Neustadt), 2nd floor. The building belonged to the seller of new and antiquarian books J. D. Polack whose business was located at the adjacent Gerhofstraße 34. Iwan Hesse attended high school in Hamburg through the grade required for one year of military service. In the hierarchical society of the German Empire, young men who completed the "1-year voluntary” were offered the option of choosing which unit they wanted to serve in and advancing to become an officer in the reserve. Iwan Hesse finished school in 1890, then completed a commercial apprenticeship as a "shop assistant” and on 8 Nov. 1892 started his military service in the Field Artillery Regiment No. 9.
Iwan Hesse became a self-employed merchant and stayed single. We do not know any specific details about his business activities. The fact that he did not apply for a passport until 1928 suggests that he was not involved in exports. In Mar. 1914 at the age of 42, he was first noted as a member of Hamburg’s German-Israelite Community. He lived in his own apartment at Schlüterstraße 58 (Rotherbaum) from 1906 until 1919. His mother had been renting an apartment in the same building since 1902, also on the 1st floor. She was listed in the address book as "Widow Siegmund Hesse” (previously residing at Gänsemarkt 30/31). From 1920 until 1931, Iwan Hesse lived at Rothenbaumchaussee 71 with his mother until her death in 1923. From 1932 he lived with his widowed sister Anna at Jungfrauenthal 8 on the 2nd floor. Their domestic worker "Miss” Dannenberg looked after their household.
Iwan Hesse’s younger nephew Dalbert Messias (1894–1957) had in the meantime begun a career in law in the service of the Hamburg government and was appointed judge in 1925. In 1933 he was forced into retirement, and in early 1939 he was arrested, though no reason was given for his arrest. He was released under the condition that he leave Germany within 14 days. His 67-year-old uncle Iwan Hesse had appointed Dalbert Messias his chief representative and had granted power of attorney to the lawyer Max Heinemann (banned from his profession on 30 Nov. 1938, afterwards worked as estate and asset manager for Jewish clients, office at Schauenburger Straße 49, from 1943–1945 worked for the Residual Reich Association for Jews in Germany). On 24 Mar. 1939, Dalbert Messias immigrated to England. Iwan Hesse’s older nephew Siegfried Messias (1886–1934) suffered from schizophrenia and died in Nov. 1934 at the "Friedrichsberg State Hospital".
With the transfer of power to the National Socialists, antisemitism became state doctrine and gradually came to dominate daily life. Boycotts of stores belonging to Jewish entrepreneurs drove many small businesses to ruin as early as 1933/1934. Increased taxes, difficulties with trade licences and restrictions in freedom of movement were designed to coerce Jewish business owners to quit. Then in 1938/1939 the "Aryanization” of large, lucrative companies was carried out comprehensively across the German Empire by means of the "Order to Implement the Decree to Eliminate Jews from German Economic Life” (Verordnung zur Durchführung der Verordnung zur Ausschaltung der Juden aus dem deutschen Wirtschaftsleben) (23 Nov. 1938). It is not known when Iwan Hesse was no longer able to work as a self-employed merchant. In Dec. 1938 his assets totaled 108,000 Reich Marks. He also received a small monthly old-age and disability state pension of 43 Reich Marks. He was deprived of his rights in a systematic, financial looting perpetrated by the NS regime: the seizure of all account balances, the surrender of all precious metals and radios, as well as payment of special taxes (like the "Levy on Jewish Assets” introduced at the end of Dec. 1938). As of 1 Jan. 1939, men were forced to add "Israel” to their name and include it in their signature. The measures restricting the private assets of the persecuted were organized by the Foreign Currency Office of the Chief Finance President, among others, in Hamburg. On 13 Apr. 1939, Iwan Hesse was summoned in writing to a hearing at the Foreign Currency Office by its representative Howe, calling on him to: "bring along his catalogue of assets from 27 Apr. 1938, including any amendments or additions”. Six days later, the Foreign Currency Office issued a "security order” (seizure), freezing all of Iwan Hesse’s assets and instructed his personal bank, the Deutsche Bank (Klosterstern 1), not to conduct the sale of any securities from his account without approval by the state and to limit his withdrawls from his bank account to 250 RM per month (even though Iwan Hesse had reported his monthly expenses as 491 RM). Previously, on 27 July 1938, Iwan Hesse had complied with the regulations of the NS regime and turned in his "gold money” and on 15 Mar. 1939 handed over his jewelry and silver to a government purchasing office, receiving only a fraction of its value in return. The decree by the President of the Reich Chamber of Culture from 12 Nov. 1938 banned him "from attending theaters, cinemas, concerts or exhibitions”.
By police regulation, Iwan Hesse was also forced to wear a yellow "Jewish star”, clearly visible on the left side of his chest, as of 19 Sept. 1941. The years of harrassment and humiliation had broken his will to live. To escape the impending deportation he feared but was not yet ordered, on 28 Oct. 1941 in a public lavatory at Hamburg’s city park near Waldring in the vicinity of Jahnkampfbahn, he used a straight razor to cut open his carotid artery and windpipe and died shortly after being delivered to the Israelite Hospital (Johnsallee 68).
A seargent in the security police from the 16th Police Station (Heidberg 64 in Winterhude) called on Anna Messias that same day. Her statements were recorded in the dispassionate language of the police protocol: "My brother was afraid of being evacuated and as a result had lately become a fearful soul. To the outside world he presented himself as though he had resigned himself to his fate, but he hadn’t yet received the evacuation order. He had already packed his things because he was convinced he would be deported. This morning he left home at 9:30 a.m., supposedly to run some errands. He didn’t tell me anything about his plans to commit suicide, otherwise I wouldn’t have let him go. He was also calm, at least I didn’t notice anything unusual about his behavior. If my brother put an end to his life, then it could only have been because of his fear of being evacuated.” It is safe to assume that some people in Iwan Hesse’s circle of friends will have already received an "evacuation order”. This account highlights the anguish of those who had to expect a similar fate. Iwan Hesse was buried in the Jewish part of the Hamburg-Ohlsdorf Cemetery.
Max Heinemann (born 4 Jan. 1885 in Vechta), resided at Jungfrauenthal 24, was a lawyer in Hamburg from 1920 to 1938 and afterwards worked as testament executor and estate and asset manager, possessed Iwan Hesse’s general power of attorney which continued to be valid even after Hesse’s death. He took care of the settlement of his estate which was left to Anna Messias as his sole heiress. Julius Saladin (born 1 Nov. 1883 in Hamburg) of Isestraße 89, former owner of his father’s company A. Saladin (Heymannhaus, Neuer Wall 42) which was struck from the trade register in Sept. 1939, also assisted Anna Messias with her upcoming visits to government offices.
Anna Messias, a wealthy widow with rental income from two houses (Schanzenstraße 81 and 85/87), was systematically pillaged like all Jewish Germans. With the newly minted instruments "Levy on Jewish Assets” (84,000 RM), surrender of securities to the state-controlled Jewish Religious Association (51,000 RM), and handing over objects of silver and gold to state purchasing offices, the NS regime was already able to appropriate large parts of her moveable property. Following the forced sale of both houses in Dec. 1938 and Feb. 1939, the NS government also seized the proceedings from the sales. With the housing decree, the housing office forced Anna Messias to move to Heimhuderstraße 70 (Rotherbaum) which was used by the NS rulers from late 1941 through the end of 1942 as a "Jewish house” to prepare for deportations. Space was tight at Heimhuderstraße 70, so large parts of her furnishings had to be left behind or stored in an overseas box at the Hamburg port, including the dining room furnishings, furniture and book inventory of the library and an oil painting by Zeller. Gerda Rudolphi, widowed Adler, and her daughter Renate Adler (see biography of Walter Rudolphi), Bertha Cohn, née Hirschfeld (see biography of Benno Hirschfeld), and the couple Ludwig Trebich (born 2 June 1885 in Dresden) and Martha Trebich, née Weinberg (born 12 July 1891 in Oldenburg) were also housed at Heimhuderstraße 70. They were deported from there on 15 July 1942. That deportation train also transported the 75-year-old Anna Messias to Theresienstadt ghetto. On 21 Sept. 1942 she was deported on to Treblinka extermination camp and killed. The exact date of her death is not known.
After her deportation, the NS regime took possession of her remaining household goods (and probably those stored in the overseas box) which included among other items carpets, oil paintings and Iwan Hesse’s stamp collection. The stamp collection was auctioned off on 3 Nov. 1942 for the benefit of the German Reich. The purchaser Kitzerow paid 7,600 RM for the valuable collection packed in three parcels. Prior to the auction in the rooms of "Hamburg’s court bailiff, at Drehbahn 36, Hall 19”, the bailiff Gerlach announced, as was customary, "The objects on auction are sold voluntarily.” In light of the NS reign of terror both at home and abroad, closed national borders and the mass deportation of Jews, the buyers will have recognized the word "voluntarily” for what it was, a formal self-serving declaration which allowed the buyer to acquire the merchandice with a supposedly clear conscience. The remaining balance on Anna Messias’ account at Deutsche Bank was also appropriated for the benefit of the NS regime.
A stumbling stone was laid for Anna Messias, née Hesse (see her entry) in front of the house at Jungfrauenthal 8.
A stumbling stone was also laid for the unmarried Emma Heinemann (born 6 Mar. 1883 in Vechta), presumably the sister of the lawyer Max Heinemann (1885–1984), in front of the house at Jungfrauenthal 24.
Information as of June 2016
Translator: Suzanne von Engelhardt
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.
Stand: November 2017
© Björn Eggert
Quellen: Staatsarchiv Hamburg (StaH) 214-1 (Gerichtsvollzieherwesen), 503 (Briefmarkensammlung Lgb. D 241/42 Anna Messias); StaH 241-2 (Justizverwaltung Personalakten), A 1207 (Dalbert Messias, 1920–1964); StaH 314-15 (Oberfinanzpräsident), R 1939/2383 (Iwan Hesse, Sicherungsanordnung gegen Vermögen); StaH 314-15 (Oberfinanzpräsident), F 1703 (Dr. Dalbert Messias, 1939); StaH 331-5 (Polizeibehörde – Unnatürliche Sterbefälle), 3 Akte 1941/1611 (Iwan Hesse); StaH 332-3 (Zivilstandsaufsicht), A Nr. 124 (579/1872, Geburtsregister 1872, Iwan Hesse); StaH 332-5 (Standesämter), 40 u. 379/1878 (Sterberegister 1878, Siegesmund Hesse); StaH 332-5 (Standesämter), 2695 u. 166/1886 (Heiratsregister 1886, Philipp Messias u. Anna Hesse); StaH 332-5 (Standesämter), 8073 u. 85/1923 (Sterberegister 1923, Bertha Hesse geb. Heimann); StaH 332-7 (Staatsangehörigkeitsaufsicht), A I e 40 Bd. 10 (Bürger-Register 1876-1896, L-Z, Phil. Dav. Messias, Schneider); StaH 332-8 (Alte Einwohnermeldekartei 1892-1925) Philipp David Messias, Bertha Hesse geb. Heimann; StaH 342-2 (Militär-Ersatzbehörden), D II 67 Band 2 (Iwan Hesse); StaH 351-11 (Amt für Wiedergutmachung), 1246 (Anna Messias); StaH 351-11 (Amt für Wiedergutmachung), 16173 (Dalbert Messias); StaH 351-11 (AfW), 5645 (Dr. Franz Goldmann); StaH 351-11 (AfW), 6467 (Julius Saladin); StaH 522-1 (Jüdische Gemeinden), 992b (Kultussteuerkartei der Deutsch-Israelitischen Gemeinde Hamburg, ab 1913) Iwan Hesse (1914–1940), Anna Messias (1917–1941), Dalbert Messias (1922–1937), Siegfried Messias (1917–1923), Emma Heinemann (1940–1941); StaH 522-1 (Jüdische Gemeinden), 992e 2 Band 4 (Deportationsliste vom 15.7.1942); StaH 741-4 (mikroverfilmte Tageszeitungen), S. 12683 (Hamburgischer Correspondent, Sonntag, 27.1.1878, Seite 13); Stadtarchiv Grevesmühlen; Hamburger Adressbuch (S. Hesse) 1871, 1875; Hamburger Adressbuch (Frau Siegmund Hesse) 1887, 1888, 1890; Hamburger Adressbuch (Witwe Siegmund Hesse) 1891, 1900–1903, 1905–1907; Hamburger Adressbuch (Iwan Hesse) 1906–1908, 1912, 1918–1922, 1925, 1929, 1931–1933; Hamburger Adressbuch (Messias) 1885–1892, 1895, 1898–1899, 1902, 1908, 1909, 1925, 1927, 1929–1932; Hamburger Adressbuch (Brüssel) 1873; Hamburger Adressbuch 1941 (Ämter, Polizeirevier); Hamburger Börsenfirmen, Hamburg 1935, S. 729 (A. Saladin); Handelskammer Hamburg, Firmenarchiv (A. Saladin); Hamburger jüdische Opfer des Nationalsozialismus, Gedenkbuch, Hamburg 1995, S. 157 (Emma Heinemann), S. 165 (Iwan Hesse), S. 283 (Anna Messias geb. Hesse); Jüdischer Friedhof Hamburg-Ohlsdorf, Gräberverzeichnis im Internet (Grab-Nr. M 3-15 Iwan Hesse); www.ancestry.de (Volkszählung Großherzogtum Mecklenburg-Schwerin, "Haushaltsliste No. 366, Grevismühlen", Rentier Hesse); Wilhelm Mosel, Wegweiser zu ehemaligen jüdischen Staetten in Hamburg, Heft 3, Hamburg 1989, S. 23–25 (Heimhuderstr. 68 u. 70); Heiko Morisse, Jüdische Rechtsanwälte in Hamburg. Ausgrenzung und Verfolgung im NS-Staat, Hamburg 2003, S. 134 (Max Heinemann, 1885–1984).