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Deborah Ehrenzweig (née Driller) * 1877
Dillstraße 3 (Eimsbüttel, Rotherbaum)
Dora Deborah Ehrenzweig, née Driller, born on 4 Sept. 1877, deported to Lodz on 25 Oct. 1941
Dora Deborah Driller, born on 4 Sept. 1877, probably grew up with her parents Salomon and Regina Driller in Landshut (Lancut), Poland. Nothing is known about her school and professional career. Nor are any details available as to when she came to Hamburg and how she met her future husband David Ehrenzweig.
David Ehrenzweig was probably born on 19 Dec. 1879 in one of the two Polish cities of Drohobytsch or Boryslaw. Nothing is known about his parents. He arrived in Hamburg in 1902.
David and Deborah Ehrenzweig got married on 10 Nov. 1911. Their four daughters were born in Hamburg: The oldest, Caroline, on 15 Jan. 1910; Rosa on 29 Oct. 1911; Fanni on 12 Apr. 1914; and Regina on 20 Dec. 1915. The family members had Polish citizenship, but spoke only German with each other.
From Oct. 1915 to Nov. 1918, David Ehrenzweig did his wartime service in the Austrian army. Unemployed between 1919 and 1921, he received welfare benefits. Starting in 1921, he worked as a lathe operator for Hapag-Lloyd, receiving a weekly wage of about 35 RM (reichsmark).
Deborah and David Ehrenzweig separated in 1920, but still lived in the same apartment. Regina Ehrenzweig states that Deborah was ill and therefore did not work and only looked after her daughters. Family life had been intact despite the separation of the parents. According to daughter Rosa, on the other hand, there was "occasional unrest at home.” However, the parents did not divorce despite the unhappy marriage. Her childhood and youth, though, had been "happy and carefree” due to the good relations between the sisters. After the separation, David Ehrenzweig had rented a room in his wife’s apartment, for which he paid 3 RM a week, and "took meals outside the house.” Rosa describes her parents as "very free” Jews, not orthodox.
The family seems to have been rather poor, so the daughters Caroline and Rosa lived for years in the Jewish orphanage of the Paulinenstift, a charitable foundation, as their parents could not feed them. In the first known shared apartment at Carolinenstrasse 34, the family always rented one of the three rooms to subtenants. It is not known when they moved to Dillstrasse 3. In the family’s file, the welfare worker noted that the apartment on Carolinenstrasse was only "furnished in a makeshift manner,” whereas the apartment at Dillstrasse 3 had featured better furnishings and had made a "clean impression.” This was presumably due to the fact that some of the daughters had been working since 1933 and they were able to contribute to the maintenance of the family. Nevertheless, the family had to be supported by "public welfare” and the Jewish Community.
Daughter Rosa had attended the eight-grade elementary school (Volksschule) in Hamburg, completed a three-year apprenticeship as a dressmaker, and then worked in various positions as a dressmaker. One of these positions was in a Jewish children’s home. Regina had attended the Israelite girls’ secondary school in Hamburg, and she wanted to become a kindergarten teacher. Being Jewish, however, she was not allowed to pass the necessary exams in 1934, so she worked as a nanny. Caroline passed her exams at the Fröbel Seminar in the spring of 1933 and worked from then on as a kindergarten teacher in the Jewish Community. Fanny Ehrenzweig had attended the Israelite girls’ secondary school from 1921 to 1930 and afterward began an apprenticeship as an accountant. She then worked in various positions as an office worker until 1936. In Oct. 1936, she went to Brazil as a tourist. Her fiancé, Lothar Berlin, had already been there since May of that year. The two married in Dec. 1937 and continued to live in South America, where their son Gerhard was born.
In 1936, David was dismissed for alleged statements against the Nazi party (NSDAP). Being Jewish, he then found no more work until his arrest in 1938. In Oct. 1938, he was taken to the Fuhlsbüttel concentration camp, where his daughter Regina visited him. After four months, he came back and was "mentally and physically broken.”
Regina Ehrenzweig states that the father was to be forced to leave Germany within a limited time; otherwise, he would be taken back to the concentration camp. Shortly after his release, he went to Boryslaw in Poland to visit relatives, but intended to return to Hamburg. Apparently, he had taken his mother’s passport along with him to Poland, whereupon she had been declared stateless. From the end of 1938 onward, the sisters believed to remember, no more news of their father had come. In the Jewish religious tax (Kultussteuer) card file of Hamburg’s Jewish Community, however, his departure is recorded as of 27 Apr. 1939.
The area around Boryslaw was occupied after the German invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941. Starting on 1 Aug. 1941, the Jews living there had to wear the so-called "Jews’ star”; a ghetto was also built. The Restitution Office (Amt für Wiedergutmachung) assumes that David was committed to the ghetto and that he died there. There is no evidence of David Ehrenzweig’s imprisonment or death. Therefore, the date of his death was set for the end of the war.
Caroline, Rosa, and Regina were taken out of the apartment at Dillstrasse 3 on 28 Oct. 1938, when the Nazi state deported the Polish Jews from Germany, and they were taken to the pretrial detention facility for one night. Deborah Ehrenzweig remained in the apartment. The following night, the sisters were taken to the border between Germany and Poland in the course of the so-called "expulsion of Polish Jews” (Polenaktion) and there, as they recall, they were forcibly driven across the border to Bentschen (Polish: Zbaszyn) by SS men.
The sisters stayed there with about 80 to 100 persons in a barn, where it was very cold and there was very little to eat. Rosa, Regina, and Caroline remained there for nine months. According to Regina, the conditions in the camp were very depressing, and many people had died or committed suicide. People between 16 and 40 years of age could apply to leave the camp for Britain. Caroline and Regina’s departure was approved. They left the camp on 31 July 1939 and went back to Hamburg to see their mother and obtain the necessary exit papers. Regina and Caroline made a detour to the Netherlands and from there, they were put on a ship to Britain, arriving in Aug. 1939. Caroline worked in London as a teacher; Regina in various positions as a maid and domestic help.
Rosa, who remained in Bentschen with her sisters until June 1939, returned to Hamburg and emigrated to the Netherlands in Aug. 1939. There she initially worked in various households in Amsterdam. From 1 Sept. 1942 until the end of the war, she survived in hiding to evade the threat of deportation. After the end of the war, she married her helper, the Dutchman Jan Schoumann. In 1949, their daughter Marianne was born. In 1955, the family moved to London, where Caroline and Regina Ehrenzweig also lived.
Deborah Ehrenzweig, who remained in Hamburg on her own, lived at Dillstrasse 3 until 1939, from where she was transferred to a so-called "Jews’ house” ("Judenhaus”) at Bundesstrasse 35. During this forced move, she had to sell her possessions, which she could not take with her, "at giveaway prices.” On Bundesstrasse, she lived in only a small, modestly furnished room.
When she was deported to Lodz as a "Polish Jewess” on 25 Oct. 1941, her possessions were confiscated from this room. (The daughters later received 1,500 DM [deutschmarks] in compensation for the lost household effects and the mother’s possessions).
When Deborah’s daughters learned that their mother had been taken to Lodz, daughter Rosa sent her parcels there, but received no reply and therefore assumed that Deborah Ehrenzweig had died.
There is no proof of death for Deborah. After the war, her date of death was therefore also set at 8 May 1945. (Caroline, Rosa, Fanni, and Rosa together received 6,450 DM in prison compensation for their mother = 5 DM per day).
Translator: Erwin Fink
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.
Stand: September 2020
© Karin Oelfke
Quellen: 1; 4; 5; 8; StaH 213-13 Landgericht Hamburg - Wiedergutmachung 991; StaH 231-13 Landgericht Hamburg - Wiedergutmachung 572; StaH 351-11 AfW 35362; StaH 351-11 AfW 39740; Löw, Andrea: In der "Öde von Lodz". Deutsche Jüdinnen und Juden im Ghetto Litzmannstadt. In Meyer, Beate (Hrsg.): Deutsche Jüdinnen und Juden in Ghettos und Lagern (1941-1945). Lodz. Chelmno. Minsk. Riga. Ausschwitz. Theresienstadt. Hamburg 2017, S. 24-53; Meyer, Beate: Die Deportationen nach Lodz, Minsk und Riga. In: Meyer, Beate (Hrsg.): Die Verfolgung und Ermordung der Hamburger Juden 1933-1945. Geschichte. Zeugnis. Erinnerung. 2. Aufl. Hamburg 2007, S.58-67.
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