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Hugo Gowa * 1877
Peterstraße 33b (Hamburg-Mitte, Neustadt)
Louise Simon, née Gowa, born 16 Aug. 1878 in Hamburg, deported 6 Dec. 1941 to Riga-Jungfernhof
Hugo Gowa, born 5 Apr. 1877 in Hamburg, deported 8 Nov. 1941 to Minsk
The siblings Louise Simon and Hugo Gowa came from a Jewish family long established in Hamburg. Their father Siegfried Gowa (born 14 Oct. 1849) ran a small store selling toys and linens at Elbstraße 61 (today Neanderstraße) and he also sold from a market cart. He had married Laura (Sara) Katz (born 20 Sept. 1849) on 21 June 1876. Their older son Hugo was born on 5 Apr. 1877, his sister Louise on 16 Aug. 1878. Louise attended the Israelite Daughters School established in 1884 on Carolinenstraße and afterwards worked in her parents’ shop, which she continued to run with her mother following her father’s early death. He died on 9 Apr. 1901 from the effects of consumption (tuberculosis). On 1 June 1906 Louise married the Jewish businessman Martin Wilhelm Simon (born 15 Feb. 1878) and stopped working.
The Simons had a son on 14 Apr. 1907 who they named Siegfried William. Since Louise soon separated from her husband, she raised Siegfried on her own. Their official divorce came through in May 1913.
Originally Louise Simon was well off, but losses from a large war bond caused her financial difficulties after the end of World War I. In 1918 she moved out of Elbstraße 21/23 (today Neanderstraße) to Peterstraße 33b. It was there that she began to take lodgers into her 5½-room apartment. Over time her home turned into a boarding house. Louise Niebuhr, a former neighbor, recounted after the war, "We had a handicraft club with six ladies as of 1927, and Louise Simon was one of them, we kept up friendly relations which led to daily visits at each other’s homes. Louise Simon rented out rooms with breakfast and room cleaning, she also ran errands and mended clothes for money. She gave an older gentleman full room and board. She also earned money by selling handmade handkerchiefs, pillows and tablecloths. In 1933 the tenants changed, non-Jewish tenants had to move out, apart from the elderly gentleman, and Jewish tenants moved in instead.”
Louise’s son Siegfried Simon graduated from school in 1924 with a diploma and started an apprenticeship as a commercial clerk at a wholesaler for teas and coffee and other imported goods. At the same time he attended business school and after his training he stayed on as an assistant for another year at his training company Holland. As an office clerk, statistician, and accountant, he left his job at Rudolf Karstadt A.G. and changed to Epa A.G. Berlin, who dismissed him at the start of 1933, like all Jewish employees. On 26 Aug. 1933 he married the Hamburg native Hertha Voss (born 28 May 1908) who was not Jewish. The businessman Martin Nau, a family friend, was his best man. The young couple moved to Alsterdorferstraße 94. Their son Werner was born in Oct. 1934. He never met his grandfather Martin Simon because he had passed away on 10 Feb. 1932.
Louise Simon’s "lodgers” usually lived with her for long periods. Although she was only allowed to take in Jewish lodgers since implementation of the Reich Law on Renting to Jewish Tenants on 30 Apr. 1939, she still hosted an "Aryan” tenant who had been with her since 1938. When he was arrested for theft, she came under suspicion of receiving stolen goods. With the help of all residents on Peterstraße who attested to her irreproachable reputation, her legal counsel, the former lawyer Walter Schüler (born 11 Aug. 1899, died 29 Apr. 1945 in Mauthausen), who was still allowed to work under the title of "Jewish consultant”, managed to get her acquitted on 22 Oct. 1940, if only due to lack of evidence.
On 8 Nov. 1941 Louise Simon had to watch as her brother Hugo Gowa was deported from the Jewish old age home "Nordheim Foundation” at Schlachterstraße 40/42 to Minsk Ghetto at the age of 64.
Hugo Gowa was described as "retarded” in his development. Following the death of his mother (Laura Gowa passed away on 14 Feb. 1919), he lived as a lodger at various addresses, primarily in Neustadt and St. Pauli. He received 300 Reich Marks (RM) annually, the interest from a war bond that his mother had left him. His sister managed the money – she paid her brother 5 RM every week and bought food for him. By her accounts, her brother did not go to school, apart from a few hours of private tutoring, and could not read or write. Hugo Gowa was described as a calm person who had a hard time finding a job in the work force. Since the death of his mother, he suffered from "deprivation, sickness and hunger”. He muddled through as a street vendor, selling used books and newspapers, working at the dockyard, wearing a poster to advertise for a restaurant in Mühlenkamp, cleaning and washing glasses at the zoo, then selling lottery tickets outside the Hamburg Cathedral. For a time, he drew small welfare payments and was housed at a state care facility. In 1937 Hugo Gowa lived in a room without heating at Venusberg 20 and had to do compulsory work at Waltershof. His business license had been revoked by order of the National Socialist authorities. His welfare file ended in Dec. 1938 with a letter from the Jewish Religious Association which certified that they would support him each month with food and a meal card. An official at the welfare office had written on the cover of the file in red ink, "imbecile” and "not Aryan”. His last freely chosen homes were at Rosenhofstraße 13 in the neighborhood of St. Pauli as a lodger of Mr. and Mrs. Brosius and in 1938 with his sister Louise on Peterstraße.
It was at this last address that he was arrested for "repeated racial defilement” on 12 Jan. 1939 and taken to the court prison in Altona. He was accused of having an extramarital affair with an actress for whom he had worked on a temporary basis. On 19 Apr. 1939 Hamburg District Court sentenced him to a relatively mild sentence of nine months, taking into account time served while under investigation. During his time in prison, Hugo Gowa was examined as to whether he could be imprisoned at a concentration camp. A medical officer confirmed that he could. However Hugo Gowa was probably admitted to the old age home "Nordheim Foundation” after his release from the court prison in Altona on 4 Oct. 1939. He received his deportation orders to Minsk at the home.
Louise Simon must have been an especially determined woman. Shortly after she had received her deportation orders to Riga for 6 Dec. 1941, she sought "action for annulment of legitimacy”. Four days before her deportation, she testified to the Hamburg Local Court under oath "that her son Siegfried was not the son of Simon but the son of the Aryan businessman Martin Nau”. In a notarized transcript dated 12 May 1941, Martin Nau acknowledged his paternity. The transcript continued, "The child’s mother stated that at the time she had intercourse with Simon, she was already pregnant with Nau’s child.” At that, the Racial Policy Office applied to the Hamburg senior public prosecutor for an investigation to determine paternity. However Martin Nau passed away during the course of the investigation. Through the ensuing court decision on 18 Mar. 1942, Siegfried Simon achieved recognition as a "half-breed of the first degree”, but he had to use his mother’s maiden name.
The verification of his "half-Aryan” heritage and his "privileged mixed marriage” may have protected him from deportation but not from repressive measures. He had to perform forced labor alongside French and Belgian prisoners of war until he was arrested for "not following an order from the state police”. He survived the end of the war, took back the last name Simon in 1946 and surmised about his mother’s fate in Riga, "After I heard nothing more from my mother as of 1941, I unfortunately came to the conclusion that she was no longer among the living.” Louise Simon was declared dead as of 8 May 1945.
The Stumbling Stone outside the building on Peterstraße today was laid according to outdated research. The former building number 33b was located across the street, at the corner of Peterstraße and Hütten.
Translator: Suzanne von Engelhardt
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.
Stand: June 2020
© Susanne Rosendahl
Quellen: 1; 4; StaH 351-11 AfW 32270 (Simon, Siegfried William); StaH 332-5 Standesämter 2560 u 768/1876; StaH 332-5 Standesämter 1906 u 1697/1877; StaH 332-5 Standesämter 1934 u 3760/1878; StaH 332-5 Standesämter 416 u 1879/1897; StaH 332-5 Standesämter 492 u 285/1901; StaH 332-5 Standesämter 8644 u 131/1906; StaH 332-5 Standesämter 13950 u 587/1933; StaH 352-5 Todesbescheinigungen 1901 Sta. 23/285; 213-11 Staatsanwaltschaft bei den Landgerichten 0615/41; StaH 351-14 Arbeits- und Sozialfürsorge 1231 (Gowa, Hugo); StaH 424-110 Gefangenen-Personalakten 263.
Zur Nummerierung häufig genutzter Quellen siehe Link "Recherche und Quellen".