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Already layed Stumbling Stones
Ivan Grüner * 1861
Beim Grünen Jäger 25 (Altona, Sternschanze)
further stumbling stones in Beim Grünen Jäger 25:
Flora Grüner, née Cohn, born 6 Apr. 1861 in Schwerin an der Warthe in Posen (present-day Skwierzyna, Poland), deported 15 July 1942 to Theresienstadt, died there 1 May 1944
Ivan (Iwan, Ischaie) Grüner, born 10 Mar. 1861 in Odessa, deported 15 July 1942 to Theresienstadt, died there 1 Mar. 1943
Beim Grünen Jäger 25
Ivan Grüner fled his native city of Odessa in 1880 in order to avoid serving in the military. He met his future wife, Flora Cohn, in Skwierzyna, where she had been born on 6 April 1861. They married there, and at some point in the following years moved to Hamburg, where they settled in Altona. Their first daughter Franziska was born in 1890, followed by Gertrud two years later. Gertrud’s daughter Hilde, who died in Nigeria aged 87 in 2008, wrote a short biography of her grandparents shortly before her death. This biography paints a good picture of Flora and Ivan’s relationship and their situation.
The family lived from Flora’s income, since Ivan, according to his granddaughter, had never learned a profession and spoke very little German. Flora had a shop for linen goods on Schulterblatt, until the family moved to the nearby street Beim Grünen Jäger. There they lived on the first floor of the building at number 25, and Flora opened a shop for "ladies’ blouses and frippery,” as her granddaughter called it, on the second floor. In the Hamburg address book of 1913, Flora listed her shop modestly as "inexpensive fashion,” but by 1924 it was listed as "Grüner’s Elegant Ladies’ Clothing.”
Ivan kept the shop’s books and received a small income from his wife, but otherwise stayed out of the business, and spent his days "smoking like a chimney and reading the paper from morning ‘til night.” Over the years, Flora expanded her range of products and rented a second apartment on the second floor, where she installed glass cabinets to display the "newest fashions, which she brought to Hamburg from Berlin and other major cities. Grandmother Flora was a capable businesswoman, she was pretty, although she was short and plump, and had a sense of elegance. She had her hair done every day by a hairdresser, who came to the house to curl her snow-white hair into a Marcel wave.”
Hilde also had distinct memories of her grandfather, Ival Grüner: "Grandfather must have been a very discontented man. He was grumpy, irritable, and very sensitive to noise. His favorite food was borscht, a typically Russian soup made of cabbage and bones, from which he loudly sucked the marrow. He also had another Russian habit: he sucked his tea through two cubes of sugar, which he held between his teeth.” Ivan Grüner was considered stateless, but had had a Nansen passport (a refugee travel document issued by the League of Nations) since the early 1920s, which allowed him to reside in Germany.
If the considerable religious taxes the family paid are any indication, Flora’s business must have done very well until the mid-1930s. The tax records, which began in 1923, were kept in Ivan’s name and give no indication of Flora’s business activities. According to her granddaughter, Flora did not disclose her income to her husband. He made sure, however, that both daughters received a good education. Franziska was sent to London for her last year of schooling, and Gertrud began helping her mother in the shop at a young age.
Flora and Ivan’s marriage was described as a "love-hate relationship.” "They had separate bedrooms and there wasn’t much communication.” The relationship improved somewhat when Flora’s half-sister Selma moved in with them. She not only helped out in the shop, but was also able to "keep the couple in harmony” with her conciliatory manner. According to Hilde, Flora never got over the loss of her half-sister, who died of cancer in 1936.
The Grüner family also had a cook and a housekeeper, but they were let go in 1938, when the shop had to be closed.
After divorcing her husband Leo Gerson, Gertrud and her two children emigrated to England in August 1939. As Hilde later recalled, "My mother left with a heavy heart and very conflicted feelings. But in the end it was more important to her to save her children from persecution.” A Stolperstein at Dürerstraße 1 in Groß Flottbek memorializes Leo Gerson, who was found guilty of "racial defilement” and died in the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp in February 1942.
When the Grüners were forced to close Flora’s shop in 1938, they moved first to Bogenstraße 15 and later to their last residence in Hamburg at Bogenstraße 27, a "Jews’ house.” From 1940 onwards, they were forced to rely on welfare benefits, since they had "no assets,” according to the tax records. On 15 July 1942, at age 81, Flora Grüner and her husband Ivan were deported to Theresienstadt. Ischaie, as Ivan was often called, died there on 1 March 1943. Flora survived, despite the desperate conditions in the ghetto, until 1 May 1944.
Franziska Grüner, Ivan and Flora’s eldest daughter, married Dr. Alfred Alexander in 1915. She was deported to Minsk on 18 November 1941. Both of her children emigrated to Shanghai in 1939, and now live in the US.
See also: Alfred Alexander
Translator: Amy Lee
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.
© Gunhild Ohl-Hinz
Quellen: 1; 2; 4; 8; StaH 351-11 AfW, Abl. 2008/1 100361; StaH 522-1 Jüd. Gemeinden, 992 d Band 11 Steuerakte; AB 1913, 1924; "Biography. Contribution to the story of the Grueners", aufgeschrieben von Hilda Ogbe im April 2008.
Zur Nummerierung häufig genutzter Quellen siehe Recherche und Quellen. Hier abweichend: (2) Bundesarchiv Berlin, R 1509 Reichssippenamt, Ergänzungskarten der Volkszählung vom 17. Mai 1939.
Zur Nummerierung häufig genutzter Quellen siehe Link "Recherche und Quellen".