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Walter Bacher * 1893
Westphalensweg 7 (Gymnasium Klosterschule) (Hamburg-Mitte, St. Georg)
DR. WALTER BACHER
further stumbling stones in Westphalensweg 7 (Gymnasium Klosterschule):
Clara Bacher, née Haurwitz, born on 15 Oct. 1898 in Hamburg, died between 6 Oct. 1944 and 9 Oct. 1944 on the transport from the Theresienstadt Ghetto to the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp
Dr. Walter Bacher, born on 30 June 1893 in Halle/Saale, murdered after 29 Sept. 1944 in Auschwitz-Birkenau
Clara Haurwitz’ parents were the livestock feeds merchant Gustav Haurwitz and Bertha Margaretha Haurwitz, née Hauer. Clara’s younger brother was the lawyer Dr. Rudolph Haurwitz (1901–1936). The parents were of Jewish descent but they had their daughter baptized a Protestant on 29 July 1903.
In 1905, Clara Haurwitz was enrolled in the first grade of Klosterschule, a girls’ convent high school (Lyceum). In 1915, she finished school with the Lycealabschluss, which corresponds to today’s intermediate secondary school certificate (Mittlere Reife). Continuing her training at the female teachers college of Klosterschule, she applied for a reduction of the school fees, upon which she received a 50-percent exemption of tuition fees. In 1920, she completed her training, receiving her teaching qualification for lower and intermediate classes. However, due to the political and economic crises in the period after the First World War, she did not get permanent employment for another two years.
In 1922, she received a teaching post at the school called "Lyceum von Fräulein Predöhl” located at Hofweg 88. She taught science classes there.
On 2 July 1929, she married Dr. Walter Bacher, a teacher at the Klosterschule. Both members of the SPD, they belonged to the Social Democratic "people’s houses movement” ("Volksheimbewegung”) and to the "Socialist Young Workers,” and they took part in their events and outings.
Only a few weeks before 30 Jan. 1933, Clara Bacher was elected to serve on the executive committee of the "Association of Former Female Students of the Klosterschule.”
In 1933, her husband had to take a forced leave of absence from school duty, and he was dismissed shortly afterward. Clara resigned from the association’s executive committee. She lost her work because the "Lyceum Fräulein Predöhl” was forced to close due to financial difficulties. Her brother Rudolph had to close his law office and opened up a radio store on Grosse Bleichen. An uncle who lived in Chile made Clara, her husband as well as her brother and his fiancé the offer to emigrate and join him in Chile. They decided to stay in Germany.
Temporarily, Clara Bacher taught arithmetic and mathematics at the Israelite Girls’ School on Karolinenstrasse on a part-time basis.
She suffered the rigorous restrictions Jewish people were subjected to at the time: minimum income, no radio, no theater visits, no newspaper, shopping only in designated stores at prescribed times, no permission to use public transportation, wearing of the "Jews’ star,” seizure of clothes and valuables.
Subsequent efforts to get out of Germany failed. Her brother Rudolph committed suicide on 29 Nov. 1936. On 25 Oct. 1941, her mother, Berta Haurwitz, did the same.
In the early summer of 1942, Clara Bacher had to move with her husband to a "Jews’ house” ("Judenhaus”) on Grossneumarkt, where the two shared only one room. On 19 July 1942, they were deported to the Theresienstadt Ghetto. On the deportation list, she was referred to as a worker. Their household effects were auctioned off, including on 4 Sept. 1942 four sets of silver cutlery that had belonged to Clara Bacher. The proceeds amounting to 65.65 RM (reichsmark) were allocated to the treasurer’s office of the local tax authority. On 6 Oct. 1944, only a few days after her husband had been deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau, she was forced to set out on the same journey, together with 1,549 other men and women. The train arrived in Auschwitz on 9 Oct. 1944. Only 76 prisoners survived the transport. Clara Bacher died on the way to the extermination camp.
Walter Bacher was the son of Else Bacher, née Schlesinger, and Oskar Bacher. His father was chief engineer and head of the civil engineering authority in Halle and a member of the Jewish Community. Walter Bacher was baptized a Protestant. Following his graduation from high school (Abitur) in Halle, he studied Latin, Greek, History, and Archeology in Halle and Freiburg. He fought as a volunteer in World War I and sustained injuries. Thus, according to subsequent Nazi terminology, he was a "front-line veteran” ("Frontkämpfer”).
In 1919, he obtained a Ph.D. and completed his practical teacher training at a high school (Gymnasium). From 1921 to 1925, he did not have any permanent employment, teaching as a private tutor and substitute teacher and becoming involved in the Salaried Employees’ Union (Gewerkschaft der Angestellten). From 1925 until 1927, he worked as a teacher at Berlin high schools, subsequently obtaining a permanent position at Klosterschule Realgymnasium in Hamburg, a high school for girls focused on science, math, and modern languages. Easter 1927 saw the establishment of a classical branch there, with the school principal at the time and later senior school inspector Rost and Walter Bacher acting as initiators. Walter Bacher became homeroom teacher of the first girls’ class receiving lessons in [Ancient] Greek as a foreign language.
On 2 July 1929, Walter Bacher married the teacher Clara Haurwitz.
Walter Bacher’s standing among the teaching staff at Klosterschule seems to have been controversial. He was progressive in attitude, dress, and methods, came from the "rambling bird” (Wandervogel) youth movement, and stood for the ideas of progressive education (Reformpädagogik). According to the school records, the liaison committee became active twice to resolve conflicts with fellow teachers rooted in the Wilhelmine tradition and adhering to it. Walter Bacher belonged to the SPD, was involved in the "People’s Home” and "Friends of Nature” movements, and he held lectures at group meetings of the Socialist Young Workers. Even before 30 Jan. 1933, a "National Socialist cell” comprised of several teachers had formed among the teaching staff at Klosterschule, four of whom taught subjects in Walter Bacher’s homeroom class. At Easter 1931, he was stripped of his role as homeroom teacher. He continued to teach Greek. At Easter 1933, the first graduating class enrolled in the classical branch completed their high school diploma. After that, Walter Bacher was suspended from teaching and dismissed from school service altogether as a result of the Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service (Gesetz zur Wiederherstellung des Berufsbeamtentums) dated 7 Apr. 1933.
His appeal against this decision was unsuccessful. He applied in vain for a job at the Talmud Tora School. His income had dropped drastically from 530 RM (reichsmark) to a pension of 183 RM, the sum granted to him as a "front-line veteran.” At this time, he would have had the opportunity to emigrate to relatives in Chile together with his wife Clara, but he wanted to stay in Germany, the country to which he felt attached so deeply. He clung to his view that nothing could happen to him and his wife.
On 14 Nov. 1935, he joined the Jewish Community. The remarks section of his Jewish religious tax (Kultussteuer) file card contains the following entry: "(born a Jew) certification by Dr. Stahmer was presented. Since 1 Apr. 1927 in Hamburg.” He held lectures at the Jewish Community and taught at the Talmud Tora School on a temporary basis. In 1938, he received a permanent teaching post there.
In the mid-1930s, Walter Bacher and his wife maintained contacts to a resistance group comprised of former Christian scouts who produced and distributed flyers and helped Jewish people escape to Denmark. There are clues that the Bacher couple was under police surveillance.
In 1940, the Talmud Tora School, where the students were boys, was merged with the Israelite Girls’ School on Karolinenstrasse. Walter Bacher taught not only Latin and History but also English, French, Geography, German, and Modern Hebrew. Since he was no longer allowed to use public transportation, he walked from Gottschedstrasse to Karolinenstrasse every day.
Following the first large-scale deportations in the fall of 1941, attendance at the school had dropped to very few students. The number of teachers had decreased by half. From Apr. 1942 onward, it was no longer possible to pay Walter Bacher any salary, but he continued to work nevertheless. In May 1942, the school premises were assigned to a school for speech therapy, and the teachers relocated with their students to the Jewish orphanage on Papendamm. On 30 June 1942, all Jewish schools eventually had to be closed.
In the early summer of 1942, Walter Bacher and his wife Clara had to move to a "Jews’ house” ("Judenhaus”) at Grossneumarkt 56, rear house 3. On 19 July 1942, they were deported to the Theresienstadt Ghetto. Walter Bacher participated there in organizing the cultural program.
On 29 Sept. 1944, Walter Bacher, designated on the collection list as an unskilled worker, was deported from the Theresienstadt Ghetto to the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp and murdered there. In memory of Clara and Walter Bacher, a street was named after them in Hamburg-Niendorf.
Translator: Erwin Fink
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.
© Stolperstein-Initiative Hamburg-Winterhude
Quellen: 1; 8; AfW 210916; Archiv Stiftung Neue Synagoge, Centrum Judaicum Berlin, Auskunft vom 23.8.2007; Archiv der Klosterschule, Anmeldung zur Aufnahme in den Unterrichtsanstalten des Klosters St. Johannis; Rita Bake, Wilfried Rottmann, Wer steckt dahinter? Landeszentrale für Politische Bildung Hamburg, 2. Auflage, Hamburg 2000; Barbara Brix, "Land, mein Land, wie leb’ ich tief aus dir", Dr. Walter Bacher – Jude, Sozialdemokrat, Lehrer an der Klosterschule, Hamburg 1997, S. 21; Barbara Brix, Festschrift 125 Jahre Klosterschule, Schulverein des Gymnasiums Klosterschule e.V. 1997, S. 69 f.; Ursel Hochmuth, Hans-Peter de Lorent (Hrsg.), Schule unterm Hakenkreuz, 2. Auflage, Hamburg 1986, S. 159 f; Schulverein des Gymnasiums Klosterschule (Hrsg.), 125 Jahre Klosterschule, Hamburg 1997; 65 Jahre Ehemalige der Klosterschule e.V. (Hrsg.), Spiegel der Erinnerung, 125 Jahre Klosterschule, Hamburg 1997.