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Walter Löwenthal
© Dieter Guderian

Walter Löwenthal * 1898

Schäferkampsallee 41 (Eimsbüttel, Eimsbüttel)

JG. 1898
ERMORDET 18.2.1943

further stumbling stones in Schäferkampsallee 41:
Helene Löwenthal, Anna Zucker, Gusti Zucker

Walter Löwenthal, born on 10 Feb. 1898, murdered on 18 Feb. 1943 in Auschwitz

Walter Bernhard Löwenthal was born on 10 Feb. 1898 as the youngest son of Eduard and Helene Löwenthal. From 1905 until 1913, he attended the Talmud Tora Realschule on Kohlhöfen. He did a commercial apprenticeship from 1913 until 1916 with the Louis Fontheim Nachf. [Succrs.] Company, located at Altenwall 64. After that, he worked as a commercial clerk with the M.J. Emden Company on Rödingsmarkt. In the years from 1917 until 1919, he completed his military service as an artilleryman in the 45th Field Artillery Regiment in Bahrenfeld. After the demobilization, from 1919 until 1922, he was again employed as a commercial clerk in the company that trained him. From 1922 onward, he decided to become an established merchant, initially as an export representative, later as a window-dresser. In the last years, he lived with his mother.

Walter Löwenthal’s homosexuality cast a cloud over his life story. On 15 Nov. 1933, he was sentenced to six months in prison on charges of "unnatural sexual offenses” ("widernatürliche Unzucht”) for the first time, though being pardoned due to an amnesty. He was sentenced again on 19 Apr. 1938 due to an offense against Sec. 175 of the Reich Criminal Code (Reichsstrafgesetzbuch – RStGB) to one year and six months in prison. He served his sentence in the Fuhlsbüttel prison and the Glasmoor penitentiary. When he was released from detention on 30 Sept. 1939, the Second World War had started. Fleeing was out of the question by then.

His petition for clemency to the Public Prosecutor’s Office with the District Court (Amtsgericht) in Hamburg dated 11 Apr. 1939 was rejected on 9 May 1939. In the plea, he had indicated to have already made all necessary preparations toward leaving Germany. The statement of the director of the Glasmoor penitentiary near Glashütte dated 16 Apr. 1939 recommends refusal of the request, adding that, "He can still emigrate later.” On 26 July 1939, Walter’s mother Helene Löwenthal submitted another petition for clemency. In it, she explained, among other things, that "My oldest son [author’s note: John] was killed in action in the war. My second son [author’s note: Kurt Iwan] lives abroad, and my son Walter will also depart Germany for a foreign country immediately upon his release. Since I will celebrate my seventy-fifth birthday on 31 August and would like to have my son with me one more time on that day, I ask that…” The plea was rejected by the senior public prosecutor with the Regional Court (Landgericht) in Hamburg on 9 May 1939.

Further biographical details can be gathered from the file held in the Hamburg State Archive entitled "Staatsanwaltschaft Landgericht - Strafsachen- 4174/38, Walter Löwenthal, Vergehen gegen § 175 StGB, 1938-1939”:

1905 – 1913 Attendance of Talmud Tora Realschule on Kohlhöfen,
1913 – 1916 commercial apprenticeship with Louis Fontheim Nachf. Company, Altenwall 64,
1916 – 1917 commercial clerk at M.J. Emden Company, Rödingsmarkt,
1917 – 1919 military service (combat unit F.A.R. 45 in Bahrenfeld, artilleryman),
1919 – 1922 employee at the training company,
from 1922 onward established merchant, initially as an export representative, later as a window-dresser.

The personal description of the Fuhlsbüttel prison dated 1938 indicates that Walter was 1.63 meters (approx. 5 ft 4 in) in height. His stature was slender, his face oval-shaped, his hair light brown, and his eyes brown. From the statements during preceding police interrogations, one can gather that Walter knew since his thirteenth birthday that he was homosexual and that with the exception of one friendship, which ended because the partner emigrated, he always maintained casual and continuously changing relationships. Probably this was substantially influenced by the fact that due to Sec. 175 of the Reich Criminal Code (Reichsstrafgesetzbuch – RStGB), he reckoned with criminal prosecution throughout.

No documentation exists as to what Walter did after his release from prison on 30 Sept. 1939. In Germany, circumstances for Jews had escalated further to such extend with the beginning of World War II on 1 Sept. 1939 that departure from the country was hardly conceivable. Most likely, Walter also lacked the necessary means. As a soldier, too, such a course was out of the question under the prevailing conditions. In the minutes of the interrogation on 17 Mar. 1938, he is described as a "person liable for military service on leave status.” Under Nazi rule, he was in effect denied any regular practice of his occupation. His mother was also unable to support him. By then, she was herself dependent on "welfare,” that is, "social assistance payments” in today’s terminology. Perhaps the same applied to Walter as well. Thus, the question remains unanswered as to how he eked out an existence until criminal persecution began once again in 1941.

On request, the International Tracing Service [of the Red Cross] in Bad Arolsen on 6 Mar. 2008 provided the information based on the documents available there that Walter Löwenthal was committed to the Hamburg-Fuhlsbüttel police prison by the state criminal investigation department on 26 June 1941. On 3 July 1941, the "protective custody prisoner in the Fuhlsbüttel police prison” was brought in to the pretrial detention facility. Based in the court decision of the Hamburg Regional Court (Landgericht) dated 12 Dec. 1941, Walter was committed to the Wolfenbüttel penitentiary on 12 Feb. 1942. In the local register book of prisoners, he was entered under number 904. Also documented there is that fact that, being the criminal prosecution authority, the Hamburg Public Prosecutor’s Office kept the matter under file reference number 2 Js 1933/41. In the register book of prisoners, the column "type and, as far as possible, duration and maximum duration, respectively, of the sentence to be executed” contains an entry indicating two years and six months in prison. In the column "pretrial detention to be calculated against the sentence,” the entry reads "170/18/32.”

Ten months later, on 19 Dec. 1942, Walter was transferred to the Auschwitz concentration camp. He died there on 18 Feb. 1943 at 8 a.m. In the death certificate, the registrar in Auschwitz noted as the cause of death "purulent pleurisy.” This was apparently "entered based on the written report of the physician Dr. med. Rohde in Auschwitz dated 18 Feb. 1943.”

Walter Bernhard Löwenthal was Dieter Guderian’s uncle

Translator: Erwin Fink
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.

Stand: March 2017
© Dieter Guderian (†)

Walter Bernhard Löwenthal war der Onkel von Dieter Guderian

Quellen: Dieter Guderian, Die Löwenthals – Eine jüdische Familie aus Mecklenburg, Cardamina 2005.
Dieter Guderian, Die Hamburger Originale Tetje und Fietje – Lebensgeschichte der Gebrüder Wolf und ihrer Familie Isaac, Cardamina 2006.
Auskunft des IST – Internationaler Suchdienst in Bad Arolsen, Bearbeitungszeichen T/D – 225 652, vom 6. März 2008.

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