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Clara Feldberg, geb. Löwenstein
© Privatbesitz

Clara Feldberg (née Löwenstein) * 1870

Rondeel 41 (Hamburg-Nord, Winterhude)

JG. 1870

Clara Feldberg, née Löwenstein, born 9 Apr. 1870 in Witten on the Ruhr, death by suicide 25 Oct. 1941 in Hamburg

2nd, revised edition, July 2012

Clara Feldberg was born in 1870 in Witten on the Ruhr, one of seven children born to the merchant and synagogal officer Ascher Löwenstein (1825-1908) and his wife Mathilde, née Kohlberg. The family lived at Bahnhofstraße 14. In September 1892 Clara Löwenstein married the Hamburg merchant Seelig (Sally) Feldberg (*15 Apr. 1857 in Sageritz, near Stolp in Eastern Pomerania, modern-day Slupsk, Poland) in Witten, and moved with him to Hamburg. Their son Carl was born in 1893, daughters Hilde and Alice followed in 1894 and 1901. The family were members of the Hamburg German-Israelitic Community since at least 1912, and of the Liberal Temple Association.

Sally Feldberg had moved to Hamburg from Stettin in 1888. In that year he and his brother Emil (*24 Apr. 1859 in Sageritz) founded the Feldberg Bros. Company, a ladies’ clothing store, at Rathausstraße 21. The business prospered and the brothers were able to expand the shop within just a few years. Ten years after the founding of the company, they bought the building at the corner of Rathausstraße and Knochenhauerstraße. In June 1912 they also bought the corner property at numbers 15-19 in the newly constructed Mönckebergstraße. A company brochure from around 1930 says: "On 6 September 1928 the company moved to the new location at Mönckebergstraße 15-17, which boasts the most modern facilities. The store, which remains the only one in Germany with an exclusive selection of ladies’ coats, furs, and suits, and which can fairly be called Germany’s largest specialty store for ladies’ coats, has exceeded the expectations we had for the relocation.”

Clara and Sally Feldberg and their family lived at Grindelhof 3-4 (Rotherbaum) from 1896 to 1898, and then at Grindelhof 19 from 1900 to 1904. They then moved to Werderstraße 65 (Harvestehude), and finally bought the house at Frauenthal 11 (Harvestehude). The house, with its brick and plaster façade and veranda with columns, was a typical example of an upper middle-class townhouse. Sally Feldberg’s brother and business partner Emil and his family lived nearby: from 1895 to 1900 at Schlüterstraße 12 (Rotherbaum) and from 1904 to 1911 at Oberstraße 109 (Harvestehude).

Emil Feldberg died in 1914, leaving Sally Feldberg the sole owner of their successful business. When Sally Feldberg died in 1920, the company’s business manager Hermann Goldmann became a partner, as did Alexander Feldberg (*1899 in Hamburg), Emil’s son, in January 1927. Both partners were active in the Jewish Community, and endorsed the Liberal ticket in the 1930 Board of Representatives election. Alexander Feldberg emigrated to Monteviedeo in October 1938 with his second wife Margaretha, née Lissner, their two-year-old son, and their nanny, Ilse Neugarten. In 1939 they moved to Buenos Aires. In June 1940 Nazi authorities revoked Alexander Feldberg’s German citizenship. Alexander Feldberg’s siblings also emigrated. Dr Wilhelm Feldberg (1900-ca. 1990), an Assistant Professor at the Physiological Institute at the Berlin University, moved to Melbourne in April 1936 with his wife, two children, and their nanny, then in 1938 to Cambridge. Lore Feldberg Eber (1895-1966), a painter, joined them there at the end of 1938 on a two-week visitor’s visa.

Clara Feldberg’s younger daughter Alice married the businessman Herbert Lasch in February 1924. He had worked at the Buenos Aires branch of the Deutsch-Südamerikanische Bank from 1912 to 1914. The couple and their two sons lived at Inselstraße 22 in Hamburg-Alsterdorf. They emigrated to Chile in 1939. The elder daughter Hilde Frank-Kindler was able to emigrate in 1939 or 1940 thanks to her marriage to a Swiss citizen. She was not able, however, to take her two children from her first marriage with her. They were fostered with a Jewish family in Berlin. Anita Frank (*9 July 1921 in Leipzig) was deported from Berlin to the Theresienstadt Ghetto in June 1943, then transferred to the Auschwitz Extermination Camp in October 1944. She died in April 1945 at the Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp. Reinhard Frank survived the concentration camp, but never saw his mother again, who had died on 1 August 1945.

Clara Feldberg retained her deceased husband’s shares in the company, as well as in various properties in downtown Hamburg. Her son Dr. Carl Feldberg, who also worked in the family business, died in May 1936. In October of that year Clara moved to a 2nd floor apartment at Rondeel 41, in a townhouse designed in 1895 by the well-known architects Lundt & Kallmorgen for the banker Max Magnus. The house had been converted to a multiple-family dwelling with four apartments in 1931.

The financial and political pressure put on the Feldberg Bros. Company by the Nazi regime resulted in the owners finally being forced to sell it to "Aryans.” On 17 May 1938 the firm of Eichmeyer & Co., owned by Heinrich Eichmeyer, bought the well-respected company and the building on Mönckebergstraße. The Feldberg Bros. sign vanished from the building. A document in the case file with the Restitution Office makes the "Aryanization” sound like a normal business transaction: "The selling price (of the building) was adjusted in part by the Eichmeyer Limited Partnership’s assumption of the outstanding mortgage on the property, in part by the payment of a sum to the Commerz- und Privatbank AG as trustee, on the condition that it be transferred to the accounts determined by the Foreign Exchange Office after the seller had renounced ownership and the Reich Flight Tax, Jewish Property Levy, fees due to the Jewish Religious Organization and all fees, taxes, duties, commissions, expenses, etc. were deducted.”

Hamburg’s National Socialist Gauwirtschaftsberater (district economic advisor) was directly involved in designing the contract. He dictated amendments to the contract that further encumbered the Jewish owners: "Section 7 – the sales tax is to be paid by the seller. Section 8, Number 2 – the seller may remain employed by the company until no later than 1 October 1938, for purposes of familiarizing the new owners with the business. The agreement (Number 2) reached in an addendum to the contract from 17 May 1938 that the purchasing agent Karl Franken could remain with the company until the expiration of his term of notice cannot be approved.” Karl Franken (*1908) probably emigrated to Brazil in February 1939.

For the Jewish employees, the forced sale of the company automatically meant the loss of their jobs. In this particular case they received a severance payment, which was unusual. The telephone book of 1939 (published in December 1938) already had the entry "Eichmeyer & Co., formerly Feldberg Bros., specialty store for ladies’ coats, suits, and furs, Hamburg 1, Mönckebergstraße 15.” The annual income of Heinrich Eichmeyer, who had formerly been the manager of the Rudolf Karstadt A.G. in Wandsbek and Lübeck, rocketed to eight times his previous salary.

The Hamburg telephone book of 1939 lists Clara Feldberg at the address Hamburg 39, Rondeel 41. After the assets of Jews had been inventoried and valued, special levies like the "Jewish Property Levy,” a doubled residential property tax, exorbitant fees for the Jewish Religious Organization, and the confiscation or forced surrender of gold and silver objects and jewelry were imposed. These pseudo-legal instruments of calculated, state-sanctioned theft were imposed on Clara Feldberg. With the "Jewish Property Levy” alone, the National Socialist state enriched itself with 190,000 Reichsmarks of Clara Feldberg’s fortune.

On 23 October 1941, the Feldberg’s maid Erna Juhnke (*1904), who had worked for the family since 1923, found Clara Feldberg unconscious in her bed. An empty bottle of sleeping pills and a suicide note, addressed to Erna, were on the nightstand:

"Dear Erna, Please be assured that you have my heartfelt thanks for your loyalty. I can no longer face the future. For my peace of mind, please fulfil your promise and stand by my grandchildren and Frau Kindler, as well as you are able. My final, heartfelt regards. Yours truly, Frau Feldberg.

It can be assumed that Clara Feldberg had either received a notice of deportation or that she feared she would. She committed suicide rather than go down that road. Dr. Hermann Bohm (1869-1953), a Jewish physician with offices at Grindelallee 126/128, was informed immediately. He respected the decision of his 71-year-old patient and did not have her body sent to a hospital. In doing so he ignored the regulations and rendered himself liable to prosecution. Clara Feldberg died in her apartment at Rondeel 41 on 25 October 1941, the day of the first deportations from Hamburg to Lodz. The autopsy was performed at the Hafenkrankenhaus. The Georg Wolff "burial service” (Heinrich-Barth-Straße 8) arranged the burial in the family grave at the Jewish Cemetary in Ohlsdorf.

Dr. Hermann Bohm and his wife were deported to the Theresienstadt Ghetto on 19 July 1942. He survived and emigrated to the US:

Wilhelm Feldberg was a professer of neurophysiology at Cambridge University. With the funds he received as compensation for the fortune robbed from him in Germany he supported an exchange program for British and German youth.

Alexander Feldberg died in 1977. He was buried in the family grave at the Jewish Cemetery in Ohlsdorf.

Translator: Amy Lee

Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.

© Björn Eggert

Quellen: Staatsarchiv Hamburg (StaH) 314-15 (Oberfinanzpräsident), F 504 Band 1 (Alexander Feldberg); StaH 314-15 (OFP), Strafverfahren 476 wegen abweichender Angaben auf den Umzugslisten (Alexander Feldberg); StaH 331-5 (Polizeibehörde – unnatürliche Sterbefälle), Akte 1941, Nr.1873 (Clara Feldberg); StaH 333-1/1 (Hamburger Feuerkasse), Bestand Hauptbuch Altstadt-Nord II 10, Band II Teil 1 (Mönckebergstraße 15, 17, 19 – ab 15.6. 1912); StaH 351-11 (Amt für Wiedergutmachung), 090470/alt (Clara Feldberg), StaH 351-11 (AfW), 22687 (Alexander Feldberg), StaH 351-11 (AfW), 23494 (Dr. Wilhelm Feldberg); StaH 522-1 (Jüdische Gemeinden), Kultussteuerkarten (Sally/Clara Feldberg, Karl Gustav Feldberg, Emil Daniel Feldberg, Dr. Wilhelm Feldberg, Alexander Max Feldberg); StaH 741-4 (Alte Einwohnermeldekartei), Seelig Feldberg; StaH 221-11 (Staatskommissar für die Entnazifizierung und Kategorisierung), C 8533; Bezirksamt Hamburg-Nord, Bauamt/Bauprüfabteilung, Rondeel 41; Hamburger Abendblatt 24.7.2002; Handelskammer Hamburg, Firmenarchiv (Eichmeyer KG), 1939–1966; Stadtarchiv Witten/Ruhr: Auskunft vom 10.4.2007; Gräber-Kartei des Jüdischen Friedhofs Ohlsdorf; Adressbuch Hamburg 1896, 1898, 1904, 1922, 1936; Amtliche Fernsprechbücher Hamburg 1895–1933, 1938, 1939; Hamburger Börsenfirmen 34. Auflage, Hamburg Februar 1933, S. 224; Das Buch der alten Firmen der Freien und Hansestadt Hamburg, Leipzig ca. um 1930, S. XI 10; Frank Bajohr, "Arisierung" in Hamburg. Die Verdrängung der jüdischen Unternehmer 1933–1945, 2. Auflage, Hamburg 1998, S.240 (Fußnote), 265 (Gebrüder Feldberg); Maike Bruhns, Geflohen aus Deutschland – Hamburger Künstler im Exil 1933-1945, Bremen 2007, S.106-107 (Lore Feldberg-Eber); Ina Lorenz, Die Juden in Hamburg zur Zeit der Weimarer Republik, Band 1, Hamburg 1987, S.236 (Hermann Goldmann, Alexander Feldberg); Anna von Villiez, Mit aller Kraft verdrängt. Entrechtung und Verfolgung "nicht arischer" Ärzte in Hamburg 1933 bis 1945, Göttingen 2009, S.230/231 (Hermann Bohm); Gedenkbuch Koblenz – Opfer der Verfolgung der Juden unter der nationalsozialistischen Gewaltherrschsaft in Deutschland 1933-1945 (Anita Frank); Informationen von M. L., 2012.

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