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Senta Dohme mit dem Baby Karin auf dem Arm
Senta Dohme mit Tochter Karin
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Senta Dohme * 1906

Werderstraße 43 (Eimsbüttel, Harvestehude)

JG. 1906
ERMORDET 22.4.1945

further stumbling stones in Werderstraße 43:
Gerhard Dohme, Gertrud Hahn, Max Hahn, Martha Helft, Bernhard Neustadt, Henriette Neustadt

Gerhard Ludwig Dohme, born on 7.5.1895 in Genthin, in "protective cutody” from 8.11.1944 in the Fuhlsbüttel police prison, murdered between 22.4. und 24.4.1945 in Neuengamme concentration camp
Senta Bertha Dohme, née Gröpel, born on 6.11.1906 in Hamburg, in "protective custody” from 8.11.1944 in Fuhlsbüttel police prison, murdered on 22.4.1945 in Neuengamme concentration camp

Werderstrasse 43

In the nights between April 22 and 24, 1945, 71 so-called protective custody prisoners of the Gestapo were murdered in the detention bunker of Neuengamme concentration camp (see > Glossary and Documentation: "The last dead of Neuengamme").

Among them were the married couple Gerhard and Senta Dohme. To this day, it is not clear why they were arrested by the Gestapo on November 8, 1944, committed to the Fuhlsbüttel police prison, and placed on the Gestapo's liquidation list as "dangerous elements to be destroyed at all costs" just a few days before the end of the war. As far as the dates are known, nothing can be gleaned from their biographies that could be taken as justification for their inclusion in the monstrous murder operation by night and fog.

Gerhard Ludwig Dohme was born on May 7, 1895 in Genthin near Jerichow in Saxony-Anhalt. His parents were Frieda Albertine Dohme, née Hennig (Sept 2, 1873 – Nov 13, 1947) and Karl Friedrich Julius Dohme (May 3, 1868 – Aug 25, 1930), who had made it with the Prussian-Anhalt railroad to the Royal Railway Station Director. He was, what filled the son later still with a certain pride, a member of a freemason lodge. He bequeathed Gerhard, among other things, a golden pocket watch with a Masonic ball on its chain. It was found among the legacies of Gerhard Dohme. The parents later moved to Delitzsch in connection with the father's further professional advancement and finally settled down for retirement in Halle an der Saale.

As a young man, Gerhard Dohme first went to Bitterfeld, completed an apprenticeship as a merchant and then became a sales representative for a Leipzig company. He married Ilse Marianne Margarethe Kettritz on December 12, 1921, born on June 14, 1896, in Mogilno, then a small town near Gnesen in Prussian Posen, now part of Poland. Ilse was the daughter of the veterinarian Max Kettritz, but had no profession herself. This marriage initially produced a daughter, Frieda Margarethe Ilselore, born on October 15, 1925. (She later married a Mr. Sitsevis after the end of the war, emigrated to Winipeg/Manitoba/Canada, but returned to Germany and died in Pegnitz near Nuremberg in 1998). A son of Gerhard and Ilse Marianne, Karl Max Dieter, lived only barely seven months from August 15, 1927 to March 11, 1928.

Gerhard and Ilse's marriage was divorced again on November 29, 1930.
Gerhard Dohme left Bitterfeld, moved to Hamburg and became self-employed as a merchant dealing in nutrients. On October 1, 1931, before the National Socialists came to power, he joined the NSDAP/Local Group of Hamburg (membership number 647992).

In Hamburg, now almost 36 years old, he met Senta Bertha Peters née Gröpel, a woman of 25. Senta, born in Hamburg on November 6, 1906, had been married since September 2, 1930, to Werner Herbert Peters (born June 6, 1901), a department head in the Hamburg authorities and the son of a typesetter. She came from Hamburg's Neustadt. Her father was the Kontorbote Johann Edzard Gröpel (born Aug 18, 1874 in Emden), son of a quay worker and of Lutheran denomination. Her mother was Rosa Gröpel (born Apr 15, 1875 in Hamburg), a seamstress by trade. Rosa's parents were Louis Josef Levi (born 1845 in Hamburg), a locksmith, and Sara Zwie, née Hoffmann (born Febr 26, 1840 in Aurich). Both were Jews. Senta had a slightly older brother, Friedrich (born May 19, 1905).

Senta's mother Rosa, like her parents, regularly participated in the life of the Jewish community around the temple on Pool Street. The Levi grandparents lived in one of the houses of the Abraham-Gumpel-Stift at Schlachterstraße 46, and the young Gröpel family lived at Poolstraße 6 on the 2nd floor, in one of the houses of the Israelite Temple Association. These houses, solidly built and well maintained, housed low-income families and were densely occupied. In addition to Gröpels, a coachman, an egg dealer, a brush maker, an upholsterer, and the representative of a profession that is probably no longer officially practiced today: a "dental artist" (Hamburg Address Book 1915) lived in number 6.

On January 16, 1908, a heavy blow had hit the Gröpel family: Johann Edzard, the father, died suddenly, 33 years and four months old. Rosa, in her 32nd year, moved with her small children to the more modest Poolstraße 11, also a property of the Israelite Temple Association. She eked out a living by doing tailoring work. An irreplaceable help during the most oppressive time was the financial and advisory support of her brother Robert Levi, a chemist who had emigrated to Ecuador in 1912 and opened a pharmacy in Guayaquil that was doing well.

We know little about the educational background of Senta and her brother. What is known is that Friedrich learned to be a druggist, left Germany at a young age, in 1924, and joined his uncle's business in Guayaquil.

Senta, too, according to her mother's later statements, completed an education in the field of chemistry and pharmacy and worked in the Packeiser drugstore at Renzelstraße 20.

In 1930, mother and daughter succeeded in leaving the cramped but also old-familiar conditions in Poolstraße and moved to Winterhude to Goldbekufer 44, 2nd floor. The apartments in the clinker brick buildings by architect and builder Eduard Siemers, originally built between 1927 and 1930 for working-class families, were in great demand: they had about 76 square meters of living space, three rooms, cost a modest rent and were considered modern, partly because of the bathroom with tub. It was not far from the city park (Stadtpark).

In the same year, on September 2, 1930, Senta married the aforementioned administrative employee Werner Herbert Peters, who moved in with her. This marriage was also abruptly destroyed: after six months and 20 days, Senta's husband died unexpectedly on April 27, 1931, at the age of 30 in the Barmbek General Hospital (AK Barmbek), probably of pneumonia.

When and how Senta and Gerhard Dohme met is not known. The NSDAP member Dohme and the "half-Jew" married on February 2, 1933, three days after Hitler came to power. Statements from Dohme's circle of acquaintances indicate that he was anything but a convinced Nazi, that he maintained contacts with Jews beyond his closer family ties, and that he joined the party more out of opportunistic considerations. But he did not resign from the NSDAP even after his marriage to Senta, but let his membership slide - or else had he perhaps become too disliked? That he was expelled on May 31, 1935, according to a note in the NSDAP central file because of an unknown address. He had not paid dues for some time. Whether the marriage with Senta played an unspoken role in the exclusion, if this was known at all, is impossible to say. Senta, who had belonged to the Jewish Community as a "half-Jew" until 1935, was classified as a "Geltungsjüdin", i.e. she was subject to all measures to which Jews were subjected, even if she had left the Jewish Community in the meantime.

Back to 1933: the young couple and Senta's mother were apparently considering leaving Germany. In May, they traveled to Ecuador to explore options with relatives in Guayaquil. All three returned in September. According to later statements by their relatives, the country was too foreign for them, too hot, too disorganized, too dirty.

Gerhard Dohme now set about vigorously developing a business in Hamburg. He gradually founded several companies for the import and export of coffee, rice, cocoa, tobacco and other nutrients and luxury foods, as well as the wholesale of these items. The companies, initially based in the private apartment at Goernestraße 12/Eppendorf, then at Mittelweg 64/ Rotherbaum, flourished after some time. Additional business premises were set up for the various areas of activity, including at Danielstraße 103 near Oberhafen and at Spaldingstraße 210. He now expanded the business to include coffee roasting and the production of substitute coffee.

This venture gained momentum, especially with the start of the war, as he was able to supply the Wehrmacht. Dohme is said to have employed over 20 people at times and had his own trucks. In 1936, Gerhard Dohme had already established a branch office in Lübeck for his Hamburg companies.

Senta would have liked to help build up the food and beverage company, but her daughter Karin Rosa was born on November 25, 1933, and Senta first devoted herself to domestic tasks. This was not to remain the case. A major, and as it turned out, drastic change came at the end of 1938: Senta's mother Rosa Gröpel, who felt increasingly insecure as a Jew in Germany, emigrated to Ecuador on December 17 to join her son Friedrich (Federico).

Since Senta was urgently needed in the store, Rosa took the almost five-year-old Karin with her - in a year's time she was to be picked up again by her mother. As planned, Senta was with the family in Guayaquil in August 1939. On September 1, however, Hitler's Germany invaded Poland, threatening a major war. Senta, who still remembered the years of the 1914-18 war, preferred to see her daughter in safe circumstances with her mother and returned alone to Europe on an Italian ship in early September. Karin never saw her mother or father again. (She built a successful life in Ecuador, married and had a daughter. She died Oct. 3, 2016, in Guayaquil at the age of 83. Rosa Gröpel died in 1958).

Back in Hamburg, Senta became increasingly involved in the management of Gerhard's company. From 1942, and even more so in 1943, business became increasingly sluggish. On the one hand, the bombing raids on Hamburg, especially in June and July 1943, caused severe damage to the warehouses and production facilities, and on the other hand, the usual orders failed to materialize, especially those from the military, which were particularly important.

How did this decrease in orders come about? We do not know. There are indications that the former NSDAP member Gerd Dohme had been denounced to the party and the Gestapo for living in a secret "mixed marriage" and for allowing himself to make disparaging remarks about the NS regime on various occasions. Where these possible accusations might have come from - perhaps from a business competitor, from among the employees in the company, from a fanatical National Socialist - is not known.

What is certain is that the Gestapo man Walter Mecklenburg, who worked in the so-called Judenreferat at the Hamburg State Police Headquarters, appeared at the Jewish community office on April 23, 1942 and confiscated Senta's tax card. The copy of the card with the note of the procedure has been preserved. Senta, as mentioned and noted on the card, had already left the Jewish community on December 5, 1935, and she had adopted the Lutheran denomination. However, this could not protect her from racial persecution.

However, no measures were taken against the couple at that time. It was not until years later, on November 8, 1944, that the two were arrested in the apartment at Werderstraße 43 and taken to the Fuhlsbüttel police prison. Which department of the Stapo headquarters in Hamburg, which case officer then placed them on the list of "dangerous persons, persons "absolutely to be eliminated" and why - for political reasons, for reasons of racial ideology, in order to eliminate witnesses of other outrages? - We do not know that either. The Gestapo destroyed almost all records in Hamburg (as elsewhere), including those of their prison in Fuhlsbüttel.

Even documents from the British military court trials of 1946/47 ("Curiohaus trials") and from the Hamburg Regional Court against Henry Helms and other Gestapo officials (1949) give no clue about Dohmes. In any case, both spouses were murdered in the Neuengamme concentration camp during the April days.

As puzzling as the reasons for the arrest and murder are, as irritating - to say the least - are the events surrounding the whereabouts of the Dohmes' legacies, both private and business. The handling of the inheritance matters was taken care of by the lawyer Capelle (Hamburg-Basel), who had a general power of attorney from Gerhard Dohme. In his letters to Rosa Gröpel, the grandmother and guardian of the thirteen-year-old Karin Dohme, Capelle repeatedly emphasized the great and indissoluble friendship that bound him to Gerhard and that he had nothing else in mind than to work for the benefit of the heiress. It is surprising then how he goes out of his way to portray the value of the inheritance, both the private property and the commercial and manufacturing enterprises, as so small that it would be better to dispense with all obligations and dispense with the legacy altogether. He could pick out and keep some of Senta's and Gerhard's private items "for dear Karin" as mementos. And so it happened.

Rosa Gröpel, as Karin's guardian, agreed. Dohme's businesses in Hamburg and Lübeck were transferred in April 1946 under the old name and without any remuneration to an employee of the companies, the daughter of the authorized signatory Lüders. The details of the transaction are unknown. In 1950, the companies went bankrupt. The Dohme files at the Chamber of Commerce are no longer accessible: they were duly destroyed on August 1, 1978.

Karin Dohme received some memorabilia, as promised. She later felt cheated of her inheritance.

Translation by Beate Meyer
Stand: January 2022
© Johannes Grossmann

Quellen: StaH 522-1, Jüdische Gemeinden, 992b, Kultussteuerkartei der Deutsch-Israelitischen Gemeinde Hamburg, Nr. 11763, Senta Dohme; StaH, 332-5 Standesämter, _13615, 1350/1901; StaH 332-5 Standesämter, _3035, 73/1905; StaH 332-5 Standesämter, _603, 76/1908; StaH 332-5 Standesämter, _13484, 640/1930; StaH 332-5 Standesämter, _7126, 687/1931; StaH 332-5 Standesämter, _14092, 44/1933; 332-5 Standesämter, _10704 (Neuengamme), 9 und 10/1946; Standesamt Genthin/Jerichow, Geburtsregister 1895, Nr.42; Standesamt Bitterfeld, Heiratshauptregister 1921, Nr. 179; Standesamt Bitterfeld, Geburtenbuch 1925, Nr. 262; Standesamt Bitterfeld, Geburtenbuch 1927, Nr. 204; StaH 351-11 Amt für Wiedergutmachung, _50475 K. Carmigniani; _17217 G. u. S. Dohme; _2723 R. Gröpel; StaH 231-7 Handelsregister, _A1 Handelsregister A, Band 175, Nr.39253; ebd. Band 223, Nr. 49194; Schreiben der Handelskammer Hamburg vom 17.11.2015; StaH 332-8 Meldewesen, K 2434, 2447, 2451, 2438, 4664, 4999; BA Berlin, NSDAP-Zentralkartei, Gerhard Dohme; Hamburger Adressbücher 1900 bis 1950; Niedersächsisches Landesarchiv/Standort Aurich, Register der jüdischen Gemeinde Aurich: Rep. 248, Nr. 942, 306 Geburtsregister und Rep. 248, Nr.945, 106 Heiratsregister; Mariella Carmigniani de Ibanyez, Guayaquil/Ecuador, E-Mails, u.a. 28.2.2016; Christa Riemann, Hamburg, E-Mails, u.a. 22.1.2016, 19.11.2015, 6.5.2015; Carmen Suro-Bredie, Washington/USA, Gespräch am 15.8.2016 in Hamburg; Curiohaus-Prozess, Verhandelt vor dem britischen Militärgericht in der Zeit vom 18. März bis zum 3.Mai 1946 gegen die Hauptverantwortlichen des KZ Neuengamme, Herausgeber Freundeskreis der Gedenkstätte Neuengamme e.V., Hamburg 1969, drei Bände; StaH 213-11_2694/56, Staatsanwaltschaft/ Landgericht/Strafsachen gegen Henry Helms und Andere, 23 Bände, besonders 1 bis 5, 8, 9, 18, 21, 23 (Urteil); Ursula Puls, Die Bästlein-Jacob-Abshagen-Gruppe, Hamburg 1959; Ursel Hochmuth/Gertrud Meyer, Streiflichter aus dem Hamburger Widerstand 1933–1945, Berichte und Dokumente, Frankfurt am Main 1980; Herbert Diercks, Gedenkbuch Kola-Fu/Für die Opfer aus dem Konzentrationslager, Gestapogefängnis und KZ-Außenlager Fuhlsbüttel, Hamburg 1987; Herbert Diercks, Dokumentation Stadthaus/Die Hamburger Polizei im Nationalsozialismus, herausgegeben von der KZ-Gedenkstätte Neuengamme, Hamburg 2012; Beate Meyer, "Jüdische Mischlinge", Rassenpolitik und Verfolgungserfahrung 1933-1945, Hamburg 1999;, zuletzt eingesehen am 9.8.2016.

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