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Theodor Bloch in Anstaltskleidung, 1930 bei seiner Aufnahme in der Heil- und Pflegeanstalt Langenhorn
Theodor Bloch, 1930 bei seiner Aufnahme in der Heil- und Pflegeanstalt Langenhorn
© StaH

Theodor Wolff Bloch * 1884

Kohlhöfen 8 (Hamburg-Mitte, Neustadt)

JG. 1884
ERMORDET 28.1.1943

Theodor Wolff Bloch, b. 4.16.1884 in Hamburg, deported on 12.3.1942 from the Rendsburg detention center to Auschwitz, murdered there on 1.28.1943

Kohlhöfen 10

Theodor Bloch, had taken part as a soldier in the First World War. After the war ended, in the years of inflation and the general world economic crisis, he saw no other possibility of surviving than through petty theft and swindling. Certainly, he did not justify his repeated crimes against property, but they were, as he maintained, the reasons he repeatedly came into conflict with the law. After having served his twelfth sentence, Theodor Bloch spent another six years in "preventive detention.” In November 1933, the National Socialists state had introduced the "Habitual Criminal Law,” legalizing such measures.

Theodor Bloch was born the son of Jewish parents at Zeughausmarkt 29. His mother Bertha/Betty, née Meier/Meyer, came from Copenhagen, where she was born on 28 September 1853, the daughter of the agent Adam Meier and Caroline, née Bauer. Theodor’s father, Reinhold Bloch, was a cook, innkeeper, and finally a wage worker. At the age of 39, on 13 January 1886, he died in the Friedrichsberg insane asylum, from the long-term effects of an untreated case of syphilis; his son was not yet two years old.

Theodor’s mother became the sole support of the family, which included, in addition to his older sister Selma, born on 28 May 1881, his half-brother Adolph Theodor Meyer. Theodor Bloch attended primary school and, according to his own testimony, was "confirmed” at twelve years of age. Until he was 16, he worked as an errand boy, and after a short stay in the Averhoffstrasse Orphanage, he was able to complete an apprenticeship in saddle making and upholstering. He remained in this trade until being called up in 1905. After his military training, he served in the 3rd Squadron of the Wandsbek Hussars as a handyman responsible for the preparation of uniforms for the troops. After his discharge in 1907, he began to travel, selling insurance and canvassing for orders for photographic portrait enlargements. In 1914, he was mobilized and took part in the Romanian campaign. During the war, his mother Bertha died on 20 July 1915, while she was living with her daughter Pauline Dratwa, née Bloch, at Hohlerweg 21. On 9 July 1916, his sister Selma Krüger, née Bloch, also died.

After the war, Theodor Bloch traded in used clothing, "whereby he could barely make a living” and lived as a sub-lessee, in 1927 at Mühlenstrasse 34 (today a part of Gerstäckerstrasse) and finally at Strasse Kohlhöfen 10. As mentioned above, Theodor Bloch again and again fell into conflict with the law and had repeatedly been held accountable before the Hamburg District Court. Until 12 February 1930, he served a one year sentence for theft at the Fuhlsbüttel detention facility. After his release, as a welfare recipient he did "obligatory labor” and hoped for a permanent position. On 13 October 1930, Theodor Bloch made the acquaintance of the former "cow feeder” Karl Barbier and recommended to him - he did not know his way around Hamburg - a pension on Kornträgergang. In the pub next door to the pension they drank together with a few others and then afterwards at another pub, and finally at a place on Zeughausmarkt. Theodor Bloch, who did not usually drink alcohol, was like Karl Barbier quite drunk that night. On his way home in the Gängeviertel - quite dangerous for strangers - Karl Barbier got lost and was attacked at the Holstenwall fortifications.

As a repeat offender, Theodor Bloch fell under suspicion and was arrested on the basis of information from a police spy. On 23 December 1930, he was sent on grounds of possible insanity to the Langenhorn Sanatorium and Nursing Home for observation. The recording physician described Theodor Bloch as "modest and easy to lead, takes pleasure in shoe making and is skillful….The reasons for his failures in the free life, therefore, are to be sought probably with his unfavorable external circumstances rather than within himself.”

On 27 February 1931, Theodor Bloch was sentenced to eight years in prison. In a second trial on 9 May 1931, his lawyer, Kabelmann, succeeded in getting a reduced sentence of six years, because the evidence was ambiguous. In normal circumstances, Theodor Bloch would have had to have been released from the Bremen-Oslebshausen Penitentiary, where he served his sentence. But the times had changed and the Bremen penal institution requested, on 17 November 1936, that the Hamburg Chief State’s Attorney, that the "habitual dangerous criminal” ought to be put in "protective detention.”

On 15 December 1936, Theodor Bloch was transferred to Hamburg and on 15 March 1937 committed to the Rendsburg detention facility. It took three years before the sentence was reviewed for the first time. In Theodor Bloch’s prison records there are three letters to the Hamburg State Court. One he wrote from the Bremen-Oslebshausen Penitentiary in December 1936; two were written from the Rendsburg detention facility at the end of February 1938 and the beginning of December 1939. In all he repeatedly protests his innocence in the matter of the attack.

Rabbi Paul Holzer (b. 1892, d. 1975) of the Neue Dammtor Synagogue, who was c. 1937 the pastor for Jews under investigation and those convicted, supported him in his efforts to be released from "protective detention.” These efforts were in vain. A notation from the Rendsburg prison directorate on 6 June 1942 recorded: "the inmate in protective detention, Theodor Bloch, has adopted Israel as his first name.” Since 1939, Jews had to take the first name of Israel or Sara. Without ever regaining his freedom, Theodor Bloch on 3 December 1942, by order of Heinrich Himmler that all jails and penitentiaries should become "Jew free,” was sent to Auschwitz. A brief two months later, on 28 January 1943, he was murdered there.

Pauline Dratwa, née Bloch, had also attempted to help her brother to get released from prison. She stayed in contact with him, write the one letter a month allowed. Pauline Dratwa and her Catholic husband Johann Alois August Dratwa (b. 4.14.1883) ran a rooming house at Hohlerweg 21. In early 1920, they had moved to Sternstrasse 47 in the St. Pauli district. Johann Dratwa died on 21 November 1922. Pauline later was a live-in maid at the Parkallee 84 home of District Judge Felix Gorden (b. 1863, d. 1939) and his wife Elisabeth, née Wolfers (b. 12.23.1879); bother were originally of the Jewish faith but had joined the Evangelical Lutheran Church. Pauline received her deportation order for the Lodz (Litzmannstadt) ghetto on 25 October 1941, while she was living in the "Jew house” at Kielortallee 22. In the Lodz ghetto she was assigned to lodgings at Richterstrasse 9, dwelling 11. Just a half year later, on 10 May 1942, Pauline Dratwa and 260 other Jewish women and Jews of Christian faith were "resettled” to the Chelmno (Kulmhof) extermination camp an there murdered in gas vans. Her former employer Elisabeth Gorden and her son Herbert Otto (b. 9.24.1902) were also deported to Lodz. In their memory, stones have been placed at Parkallee 84 in Hamburg-Harvestehude (see "Stolpersteine in Hamburg-Barmbek und Hamburg-Uhlenhorst”).

Theodor and Pauline’s half-brother, Adolph Theodor Meyer, after having committed a theft, was declared insane and transferred from interrogation detention to the Langenhorn Sanatorium and Nursing Home. From there, on 23 September 1940, he was deported to the killing center at Brandenburg on the Havel River and murdered in a gas chamber. A commemorative stone was placed for him at Clemens-Schultz-Strasse 43-45 in Hamburg-St. Pauli (see "Stolpersteine in Hamburg-St.-Pauli”).

Translator: Richard Levy
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.

Stand: April 2020
© Susanne Rosendahl

Quellen: 1; 4; 5; StaH 213-11 Staatsanwaltschaft Landgericht-Strafsachen 0863/37; StaH 213-11 Staatsanwaltschaft Landgericht-Strafsachen A12 169/31; StaH 352-8/7 Staatskrankenanstalt Langenhorn Abl. 2/1995, 18970; StaH 332-5 Standesämter 1956 u 3123/1879; StaH 332-5 Standesämter 2077 u 1906/1884; StaH 332-5 Standesämter 2003 u 2349/1881; StaH 332-5 Standesämter 723 u 720/1915; StaH 332-5 Standesämter 9745 u 1786/1916; StaH 332-5 Standesämter 856 u 630/1922; StaH 522-1 Jüdische Gemeinde Nr. 992 e 2 Band 1; Riegel: Leidensweg, S. 37, S. 77 über Paula Dratwa; Mosel: Wegweiser, Heft 3, S. 144 über Rabbiner Dr. Paul Holzer; Jungblut/Ohl-Hinz: Stolpersteine, S. 138 über Adolf Theodor Meyer; Rönn: Langenhorn, S. 70f.
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