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Chaim Isaak Berger * 1884
Kalischerstraße 20 (Harburg, Harburg)
BENTSCHEN / ZBASZYN
Debora (Dvora) Berger, née Kornreich, born on 23 Nov. 1887 in Neu Sandez (today Nowy Sacz in Poland), expelled to Zbaszyn on 28 Oct. 1938
Isacher (Yitzkhak) Berger, born on 24 Feb. 1884 in Buchach (today Buczacz in Poland), expelled to Zbaszyn on 28 Oct. 1938
Manfred (Moshe) Berger, born on 10 Jan. 1923 in Hamburg, expelled to Zbaszyn on 28 Oct. 1938
Kalischer Strasse 20 (formerly Feldstrasse 30)
Debora and Isacher Berger came from two Jewish families in what was then Galicia, the easternmost province of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. As in other areas of Eastern Europe, the Jewish proportion of the population (11 percent) was very high in this frontier region of the Danube Monarchy as well. The majority of Galician Jews lived in poor circumstances and they were characterized by a distinctive cultural and religious identity. They mostly spoke Yiddish among each other and expressed decidedly orthodox attitudes in matters of faith. In search of a better future, many Galician Jews left their home westward in the years before and after the First World War. For the time being, it remains unclear when exactly Debora and Isacher Berger arrived in Harburg. They were by no means the only Jewish immigrants settling near the urban center of Hamburg during these years and contributing to a substantial increase of Harburg’s Jewish population. Jewish communal life did not remain unaffected by this either. There were tensions between the old-established, mostly well-off Jewish families in the city, many of whom had German citizenship and strove for far-reaching adaptation to mainstream society, and the Eastern European immigrants that attached more importance to Jewish rites and traditions. However, these differences were of less significance in the face of anti-Semitism, drastically increasing even before 1933. Debora and Isacher Berger settled down in the Phoenix quarter of Harburg. This area of new housing had been developed in the last years of the nineteenth century on the Krummholzberg, a hill located south of Wilstorfer Strasse. The name of this new part of town comes from the Harburger Phoenixwerke, a plant built at the foot of the hill. The new, multi-story apartment houses accommodated predominantly heads of families who worked at this plant. Initially, Debora and Isacher Berger resided with their four children on Mittelstrasse (today Beckerberg) and then on Feldstrasse (today Kalischerstrasse). Isacher Berger probably ranked among those Eastern European immigrants that achieved a modest degree of prosperity by means of retail and petty trading in the 1920s and 1930s. On Grosser Schippsee in the Harburg city center, he ran a small specialty store selling wallpaper. We do not know whether by these means alone he was able to earn a living for the family or whether his wife, as in many Eastern European immigrant families, had to participate in working as well. Just how fragile this basis of livelihood was manifested itself in Harburg, too, during the onset of the world economic crisis and after the start of the official anti-Jewish persecution after 1933. The negative consequences were considerable. Isacher Berger was affected by this as well. One cannot pinpoint when he gave up his wallpaper specialty store and moved to Hamburg’s Grindel quarter. Nor do we know whether other children of the family – except for Manfred Berger – were transported with their parents and more than 1,000 Hamburg Jews to the German-Polish frontier near Neu Bentschen (Zbaszyn) in the course of the state-organized expulsion of Polish Jews ("Polen-Aktion”) on 28 Oct. 1938 and left to their fate. The Polish government protested vehemently against this provocation, initially interning the expellees in several camps in the border region. They stayed there until the dissolution of the camps in the summer of 1939, unless able to produce a permit for departure abroad or an invitation to stay with Polish relatives. It is no longer possible to clarify whether the three older children of Debora and Isacher Berger managed to use this last opportunity to flee to a safe country of exile – provided they had not succeeded in fleeing before. Their parents and their brother Manfred were still in Poland when the country was invaded and occupied by German troops in the fall of 1939. Only little is known about the subsequent fate of the expelled persons. Their traces disappear in one of the numerous ghettos that the German occupational authorities set up across the entire country shortly afterward. Debora, Isacher, and Manfred Berger did not survive this period of genocide of the Jews. No further details are known about the circumstances of their deaths.
Translator: Erwin Fink
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.
Stand: April 2018
© Klaus Möller
Quellen: Hamburger jüdische Opfer des Nationalsozialismus. Gedenkbuch, Jürgen Sielemann, Paul Flamme (Hrsg.), Hamburg 1995; Gedenkbuch. Opfer der Verfolgung der Juden unter der nationalsozialistischen Gewaltherrschaft in Deutschland 1933–1945, Bundesarchiv (Hrsg.), Koblenz 2006; Yad Vashem. The Central Database of Shoa Victims´ Names: www.yadvashem.org; Staatsarchiv Hamburg, Magistrat Harburg-Wilhelmsburg, 430-5 Religionswesen, Synagogen-gemeinde; Matthias Heyl, Vielleicht steht die Synagoge noch. Jüdisches Leben in Harburg 1933–1945, Norderstedt 2009; Kurt Horwitz, Erinnerungen eines jeckischen Akademikers, o. A.; Das Phoenix-Viertel in Harburg, Bezirksamt Harburg (Hrsg.), Hamburg 1981; U. Becher, W. Borodziej, R. Maier (Hrsg.), Deutschland und Polen im 20. Jahrhundert, Bonn 2004.