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Magda Benzihn * 1870
Caspar-Voght-Straße 84 (Hamburg-Mitte, Hamm)
Edgar Benzihn, born on 20 June 1873, deported on 15 July 1942 to Theresienstadt, death date there 15 Jan. 1943
Magda Benzihn, born on 19 June 1870, deported on 15 July 1942 to Theresienstadt, death date there 16 Nov. 1942
On 4 Jan. 1934, Magda Benzihn wrote – not for the first time – to the German-Israelitic Community Hamburg (DIGH – Deutsch-Israelitische Gemeinde Hamburg): "I have to share my teacher’s pension among five family members.” She supported her mother, her older sister Hedwig, her younger brother Edgar, his adopted daughter, Liselotte, and probably his wife, Anna Wilhelmine, as well.
Edgar Benzihn, a merchant by profession, had become unemployed in 1933 and was unable to find a new post after that. Before moving in with his sister, he lived in the Saling neighborhood. The sister, Hedwig, a Protestant, was also a teacher but worked at the private Augusta-Schule, which did not exist for long, however. She received only a modest pension. The brother, Edgar, described himself as "not being of any faith” and was married to a "Protestant Aryan;” the adopted daughter was also Protestant.
Since 1924 at the latest, Magda Benzihn was a member of the DIGH. She had attended the female teachers college in Münster, receiving her appointment to teach at Hamburg public elementary schools (Volksschule) on 1 Dec. 1907. At least since 1920, she taught at the school at Eilbecktal 37, a girls’ elementary school, also living in the Eilbeck [today: Eilbek] quarter; no documentation exists about the preceding years. A former student remembers her as an attentive, approachable, and "obviously demanding” teacher.
Until her dismissal from school teaching, Magda Benzihn was a member of the local teachers’ association, at the time "Society of Friends of the Patriotic School and Education System” ("Gesellschaft der Freunde des Vaterländischen Schul- und Erziehungswesens”). She was 63 years of age then and received the pension she was entitled to, though cut several times over the following years. In Oct. 1937, Emma Hornemann moved in with Magda Benzihn as a subtenant. In 1938, her mother died.
Located on the ground floor of the residential building was the Nazi Office for People’s Welfare (NSDAP-Amt für Volkswohlfahrt). Nevertheless, the apartment-sharing community remained intact until 25 Oct. 1941, when Emma Hornemann was deported to Lodz. The Benzihn siblings were allowed to stay for another half year.
A former neighbor remembers his mother telling him the following: When Magda Benzihn came to buy something in their pastry shop after the introduction of the "Jews’ star,” she would cover up the star with her purse. And when Mrs. B. handed her [the shopkeeper] the food ration card, she would fiddle around with it, acting as if she were cutting off a stamp, and give it back to her. In Apr. 1942, Magda Benzihn apparently showed up at the shop one last time to say goodbye to the mother, when she and Edgar Benzihn had to move to Frickestraße 24, being quartered at Martin Brunn-Stift, a residential home that now served as a "Jews’ house” ("Judenhaus”). From there, she was deported to Theresienstadt on 15 July 1942. Her sister Hedwig followed four days later on a second major transport. She was the first of the siblings to die in Theresienstadt, on 13 Nov. 1942. Three days later, Magda followed, according to the death notice dying of thrombosis. When her brother Edgar died two months after her on 15 Jan. 1943, the cause of death indicated was "phlegmon and sepsis.”
Translator: Erwin Fink
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.
© Hildegard Thevs
Quellen: 1; 3; 4; 5; 7; StaH, 522-1, Jüdische Gemeinden, 390 Wählerverzeichnis 1930; 391 Mitgliederliste 1935; 992 d Steuerakten Band 3; BA Bln., Volkszählung 1939; Hamburger Lehrerverzeichnis 1920/21, Nr. 736, 1927–30, 1930/31, hrsg. von der Gesellschaft der Freunde des Vaterländischen Schul- und Erziehungswesens; Jüdische Stätten in Hamburg. Hrsg. vom Institut für die Geschichte der deutschen Juden und der Landeszentrale für politische Bildung Hamburg 1995, Nr. 73; mündliche Mitteilungen von P. B.