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Gertrud Brinn (née Schindler) * 1873

Bismarckstraße 16 (Eimsbüttel, Eimsbüttel)

JG. 1873

Gertrud Brinn, née Schindler, born 21 Nov. 1873 in Breslau, deported 15 July 1942 to the Theresienstadt ghetto, 15 May 1944 to Auschwitz

Bismarckstraße 16

Gertrud Brinn, the daughter of Adolf Schindler and his wife Emilie, née Schäfer, was married to Paul Daniel Brinn. Both were Jewish. Her husband was eight years her elder. He was born on 1 August 1865 in Schippenbeil. They had three children: Hans Werner, the eldest, was born on 2 August 1896; Erna Hildegard was born on 31 July 1899, and Hertha Ilse one year later on 7 June 1922. All of the children were born in Lübeck.

We do not know when the family came to Hamburg. Paul Brinn’s name is listed for the first time in the Hamburg address book in 1906, where his profession is given as merchant, and his address is Bismarckstraße 64. The family moved frequently until 1916, when they lived at Bismarckstraße16 for a longer period. Paul Brinn’s profession changed as well: in 1917 he is listed with the designation "Agency and Commissions” and in 1919 as a sales representative, both of which indicate that he was self-employed. In 1921 he is listed as the manager of a textile wholesaler (import and export) at Königstraße14/16, and his home address had changed from Bismarkstraße 16 via Brahmsallee 27 to Löwenstraße 52. This was the address given for a new business, a textile sales agency – the textile wholesale company was no longer listed and had evidently been given up. In 1935 he was listed as a merchant, with his home address in the Bergedorf district of Hamburg at Adolf-Hitler-Straße 142 (formerly Lohbrügger Reichstraße, today Lohbrügger Landstraße). It seems that Paul Brinn was successful in his profession. The address book indicates that he owned several pieces of real estate that were held in his wife’s name. This was not unusual for those who were self-employed, so that the property would not be used to cover debts in the event of commercial failure. Restitution proceedings after the war also indicate the ownership of this property.

The Jewish Religious Organization (Jüdische Religionsverband) opened a church tax file for Gertrud Brinn in 1939. (Paul Brinn had died in Hamburg in 1937.) All persons considered "Jewish” according to the Nazi definition were required to become members of the Reich Association of Jews (Reichsvereinigung der Juden), and the Jewish Religious Organization was its local branch office. From this point onwards, Gertrud Brinn, like all other compulsory members, paid the mandatory taxes. Later, in restitution proceedings, her son Hans-Werner stated that his parents had been "Protestants for many years.”

The Hamburg authorities nevertheless considered Gertrud Brinn a Jew, and she was thus subject to the government’s anti-Jewish policies and the everyday persecution that all Jews faced. She was also affected when the "Aryanization” of Jewish businesses and movable and immovable assets began in 1938. She still lived in Bergedorf at Lohbrügger Reichstraße 142/152, a property for which she had 40 percent ownership. On an absurd pretense, the police searched the property in August of that year. Members of the Nazi Party also took part in this search. The police search was obviously meant to intimidate the Jewish owner into selling her property. Her son Hans-Werner described the situation in 1952 in a letter to the State Press office, protesting his treatment by the tax office. The letter states: "The massive harassment, which had as its purpose the theft of my family’s property, included a charge against my mother, who at that time was over 60 years old, of ‘nudism.’ In a search of our house undertaken by the police and the former Nazi Party, police confiscated three resort brochures from Westerland, Travemünde and Italy as ‘highly incriminating material.’ The victors’ left the house, after they had voiced the phrases ‘eyesore’ and ‘robber’s den’ several times, since these same authorities, in preparation for the theft of the property, had housed a number of degenerate elements on the 52,000m² property.”

This incident was not just a blunder by incompetent authorities. It was officially acknowledged, in that a police officer who had taken part in the search used the same words in his report of 27 August 1938 – a fact that did not hinder the revenue authorities’ property-management division from discounting this report in 1952: for them it was a "thoroughly objective report by the head of the precint – a captain with the uniformed police.”

Gertrud Brinn was forced to vacate her apartment and went to live with her daughter Hildegard in the Martin Brunn Home at Frickestraße 24. Her stay there was only temporary: she moved into Room 25 on 17 April 1942, and on 15 July she was deported to the Theresienstadt concentration camp. On 1 September, only ten weeks after she was deported, the Hamburg tax authority commissioned the auction house Carl F. Schlüter – a favorite address for cases such as these – to "sell [her] household furnishings etc. at voluntary public auction” and to transfer the proceeds, after deduction of their costs, to the tax authority.

The state was also interested in the family’s real estate and the securities in which Paul and Gertrud Brinn had invested, probably as a retirement fund, as was the usual case for those who were self-employed. The stocks were held with the Deutsche Bank. The couple owned four pieces of property in Hamburg and Berlin, which had a total worth of 126,630 Reichsmarks (RM), mortgages valued at 53,000 RM, and rental income from the property at Bismackstraße 16. They also had stocks, treasury securities and government bonds valued at 21,760 RM, a savings account at the Hamburger Sparkasse with more than 3,200 RM, and a checking account with an undetermined balance. All of these assets were stolen from Gertrud Brinn over the course of one year in five installments (the first on 15 December 1938 and the last on 15 November 1939), under the pretense of "retribution payments” for the November Pogrom (Kristallnacht).

All of Gertrud and Paul Brinn’s children were married to non-Jews and lived in Hamburg. Hans Werner Brinn was a sales representative, and lived with his wife Erna Hükefeld at Naumannsweg 4. Ilse’s married name was Thiel. She was a housewife and lived at Parkallee 84. Hildegard worked in an office; her married name was Kroll and she lived at Ludolfstraße 4. Her mother lived with her before she was deported. Their marriages protected them from such life-threatening persecutions as deportation.

They were not protected from the other repressive measures, however, that were forced upon those Jews who remained in Hamburg after the deportations. These included forced labor, for which Hildegard Kroll was conscripted in October 1944 when she was forced to work for the Max Wunder company welding submarine parts. In 1939 she had received notification from the Employment Agency that she was to "make herself available” to work at the Hamburg Statistical Office. She was not given this position, however, because of her Jewish heritage: "I was then sent to work at Dralle in 1943,” and that meant in a "Jewish work gang” doing heavy labor (which was acknowledged in the restitution proceedings in 1952 as forced labor under prison-like conditions). "At Dralle I first had to work in the port for about two weeks. When there were air raids during the day I had to stay upstairs on guard while all of the others went into the cellar. That was even too much for the [Nazi] Party. They came and got me from upstairs and told the foreman to send someone else up. Otherwise I had to do very dirty clean-up work in the port with other Jewish women, for which they never gave us any equipment. We had to dig out cans and things like that from the rubble. Later they sent us to the Dralle plant on Präsident-Krahn-Straße. There we were bombed out again. After that we had to search the upper floors of the building ruins, which could have collapsed at any moment, for cans and the like. We suffered greatly under Breckholdt, the manager, who was disparaging and hard-hearted to us. We were not allowed to eat in the factory canteen, although the other workers could.”

Hans Werner Brinn experienced similar working conditions when he was conscripted to work at the rubber footwear company Rasch & Jung and then at the glass packing company Greve & Behrens in 1941. There is no information about whether Ilse Thiel was conscripted for forced labor, but the Gestapo ordered her to vacate the room at Hochallee 45, to which she and her husband had been assigned after they were bombed out of their apartment. And she also received orders from the Gestapo on 7 February 1945 that she was to be deported to Theresienstadt. This fate was averted because she was ill.

Her mother Gertrud was transferred from Theresienstadt to Auschwitz on 15 May 1944. She had met members of her family from Berlin in Theresienstadt. A granddaughter wrote of her last journey: "My mother [Gertrud Brinn’s niece] saw Tante Trude (that’s what we called her) in the concentration camp and walked with her to the gate when she was deported. My mother came back [i.e. was liberated] in 1945.”

All trace of Gertrud Brinn was lost at Auschwitz, where the majority of those who arrived there were immediately sent to the gas chambers and murdered.

Translator: Amy Lee
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.

© Peter Offenborn

Quellen: 1; 2 (Abl. 1998 J 6/109); 4; 5; StAH 135-1 VI Pressestelle VI, 1562; StAH 351-11 AfW 2252; StAH 351-11 AfW 2253; Ab.; Schreiben von Frau Dr. Astrid Strack vom 10.11.2010.

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