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Already layed Stumbling Stones
Leopold Graff * 1874
Großneumarkt 38 (vorm. Schlachterstraße) (Hamburg-Mitte, Neustadt)
further stumbling stones in Großneumarkt 38 (vorm. Schlachterstraße):
Hanna Aghitstein, Julie Baruch, Ludwig Louis Baruch, Julius Blogg, Rebecca Blogg, Kurt Cossmann, Mathilde Cossmann, Frieda Dannenberg, Alice Graff, Flora Halberstadt, Elsa Hamburger, Herbert Hamburger, Lea Heymann, Alfred Heymann, Wilma Heymann, Jettchen Kahn, Adolf Kahn, Curt Koppel, Johanna Koppel, Hannchen Liepmann, Henriette Liepmann, Bernhard Liepmann, Johanna Löwe, Martin Moses, Beate Ruben, Flora Samuel, Karl Schack, Minna Schack, Werner Sochaczewski, Margot Sochazewski, verh. Darvill, Sophie Vogel, Sara Vogel
Leopold Graff, born on 23 Aug. 1874 in Altona, deported on 18 Nov. 1941 to Minsk and murdered
Grossneumarkt 38 (formerly Schlachterstrasse 46/47, Lazarus-Gumpel-Stift)
Leopold Graff was the son of the traveler (representative) Heinrich Waldemar Robert Graff (1846–1907) and his wife Betty, née Plättner (1841–1902). We know nothing about his childhood and youth.
A few weeks before the death of his father, on 8 Oct. 1907, Leopold, or Löb, as his Jewish first name was, had married Martha Goldberger, born on 3 Oct. 1875 in Hamburg. Until then, she had lived with her parents Moises and Jette Goldberger in the Samuel-Levy-Stift, a residential home located at Bundesstrasse 35.
Before the Graff couple moved into an apartment of the Lazarus-Gumpel-Stift, another residential home, at Schlachterstrasse 47 in 1912, they lived at three different addresses: Abendrothsweg in 1909, Falkenried in 1910, and Quickbornstrasse in 1911/1912. Leopold Graff was a trained salesman, but from 1914 to 1921, he worked for the Zoological Society in the Zoological Garden, on the present-day site of Planten un Blomen. When the Society was dissolved, he was dismissed. Until the end of 1923, he was then employed in the prison administration in Fuhlsbüttel, and thereafter, he pursued various activities: as a traveling salesman, messenger or packer, at the Jewish Cemetery (in 1927), and at times, he was unemployed. In between, he carried out so-called "public relief work” (Notstandsarbeit). From Apr. 1933 onward, he and his wife received "ongoing [welfare] support;” for instance, in Dec. 1933, they got coal ration cards and food.
The couple had no biological children. In 1922, they adopted 14-year-old Erika Therese Rosenthal, an illegitimate child born on 15 Mar. 1908, as their daughter. Her father remained unknown. Her mother Rosa Rosenthal, born on 5 Mar. 1887 in Altona, and like the Graffs of the Jewish faith, worked as a saleswoman according to Erika’s birth certificate, remained single and lived together with three of her siblings. On 25 Oct. 1941, she was deported with her sisters Lina and Elsa, as well as her brother Leopold to the "Litzmannstadt” (Lodz) Ghetto in occupied Poland and murdered in May 1942 in Kulmhof (Chelmno). A Stolperstein at Lerchenstrasse 104 in Altona (see www.stolpersteine-hamburg.de) commemorates them.
We do not know whether Erika lived with Martha and Leopold Graff even before her adoption. Two years after the adoption, her parents registered her for a convalescent leave, for "summer care.” As they were neither able to pay the required allowance nor to provide her with the necessary clothing, they applied for funds toward this end from the welfare authority in charge. It contacted the employment office because the 16-year-old had already worked as a seamstress. However, Erika Graff did not recover, dying of tuberculosis at the age of 20 in May 1928 at the Langenhorn Hospital. According to an entry in the death register of the registry office, she was single and a worker by profession.
By 1926 at the latest, Martha Graff had also contracted tuberculosis. In August, she had started a cure in the Edmundsthal-Siemerswalde sanatorium in Geesthacht. This "sanatorium for destitute tuberculosis patients” had been donated by the Hamburg merchant and ship owner Edmund Siemers. However, Martha did not recover from the disease, which is to no small measure attributable to poor housing and nutritional conditions due to poverty. 1928 and 1930, further stays in lung sanatoriums followed. In 1934, she was admitted to the Israelite Hospital and St. Georg General Hospital, and on 6 Jan. 1935, she died in the Barmbek hospital.
Leopold Graff lived by himself after the death of his wife. Periods of unemployment continued to alternate with periods of "welfare work” (Unterstützungsarbeit), and his financial situation was precarious.
A long friendship connected him with the Wächter family (see Johanna Löwe and www.hamburg-stolpersteine.de, biographies of Minna and Gustav Wächter). At his wedding to Martha, Gustav Wächter’s father Hermann was the best man. Two years after Martha Graff’s death, in Jan. 1937, Gustav Wächter wrote: "In the meantime, Mr. Graff has become engaged, namely to the daughter of the former cemetery inspector Müller.” And in August of the same year: "Leopold Graff called on us with his bride last week as well. At 63, he is still very much in love with his 50-year-old bride. She is quite pretty ... I also hardly think they will get married, because both of them received crisis assistance. From Graff, too, I am to extend greetings to you...”
When and where Leopold Graff and the likewise widowed Alice Sochaczewski (see corresponding entry) met is not known. In May 1938, one year after the engagement, she and her children Werner and Margot also moved into an apartment in the Lazarus-Gumpel-Stift. Leopold lived there at that time in an attic room without heating and took a daily lunch at Alice’s against payment of a fee.
Since Alice Sochaczewski worked irregularly as a checkroom attendant in the Jewish Community’s assembly hall and also received unemployment benefits, they would have become mutually dependent on each other upon marriage. Leopold would also have been obliged to support Alice’s son, too. Probably for this reason, the welfare file on Alice stated: "Mrs. S. is not yet sure whether she wants to marry this man.”
On 23 Mar. 1939, the couple was married after all, and the "retired Chief Tax Inspector Gustav Israel Wächter” served as the witness to the marriage. In Oct. 1940, he counted "Graff and wife” among his birthday guests. After that, there are no more written testimonies about the lives of Alice and Leopold Graff. On 18 Nov. 1941, they received the deportation order to Minsk. They did not survive.
Leopold Graff had a sister, Hanna Graff, five years his junior, who remained unmarried and worked as a brush maker. She died in 1939, at the age of 60, in the Israelite Hospital in Hamburg.
Translator: Erwin Fink
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.
Stand: May 2020
© Sabine Brunotte
Quellen: 1; 5; StaH 332-5_6207, StaH 332-5_8651; StaH 332-5_ 1103; StaH 332-5_6873; StaH 332-5_9837; StaH 332-5_7170; StaH 351-11_9436; Beglaubigte Abschrift aus dem Geburtsregister Standesamt Hamburg-Eimsbüttel Nr. 679 vom 24. März 1908; Beglaubigte Abschrift aus dem Eheregister des Standesamtes 3a Hamburg, jetzt Hamburg-Mitte, vom 23. März 1939; Jungblut/Ohl-Hinz: Stolpersteine; zu Lungenheilanstalt Edmundsthal-Siemerswald s. http://www.geesthacht.de, Leben und Kultur in Geesthacht, Zugriff 27. Oktober 2016; www.agora.sub.uni-hamburg.de/subhh-adress/digbib betr. Adressbücher Hamburg 1909–1913, Zugriff 27.10.2016; schriftliche Auskunft Torkel Wächter, E-Mail vom 22.4.2015; Wächter: 32 Postkarten, S. 58.
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