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Erwin Berlin * 1906
Gneisenaustraße 10 (Eimsbüttel, Hoheluft-West)
Erwin Berlin, born on 13 Dec. 1906 in Hamburg, deported on 8 Nov. 1941 to Minsk
Ilse Berlin, née Hildesheimer, born on 19 July 1906 in Schlüsselburg, deported on 8 Nov. 1941 to Minsk
Hildegard Berlin, born on 4 July 1934 in Hamburg, deported on 8 Nov. 1941 to Minsk
Erwin Berlin was the son of Alexander and Frieda Berlin, née Heyn (see corresponding entry). He married Ilse Hildesheimer probably in the early 1930s. Apparently, Erwin Berlin felt a particular affinity to his native city of Hamburg, for he had already joined the Society of Hamburg History (Verein für Hamburgische Geschichte) at the age of 18.
The parents of Ilse Berlin were Julius and Jenny Hildesheimer, née Goldschmidt. Ilse Berlin was from Schlüsselburg, a village on the Weser River (today a quarter of Petershagen/Minden-Lübbecke District), where she would visit her family now and then. The documents contain a reference to a doctor’s bill from Stolzenau, a small market town north of her home village.
In July 1934, Ilse’s and Erwin’s only daughter Hildegard was born. For a short period, the girl was among the last students of the Jewish School in Hamburg that was forced to close on 30 June 1942 like all other Jewish schools. At that time, Hildegard was no longer in Hamburg. In Nov. 1941, at least 80 Jewish schoolchildren were deported to Belarus together with her.
The family had lived at Gneisenaustraße 10 since 1936. Earlier addresses were Schlankreye 13 II and Moltkestraße 57. The Jewish religious tax (Kultussteuer) card file indicated as Erwin Berlin’s profession "merchant,” the deportation list specified "[lottery] collector.” The business address was initially Königstraße 21/35, subsequently Curschmannstraße 30. Just as his father Alexander had done, Erwin Berlin worked as a distributor of lottery tickets. In Jan. 1929, he had taken over the Friedrich Jessen Company, which from then on was called Friedrich Jessen Nachf. ("Friedrich Jessen Succr.”) and existed until Jan. 1937. In the 1937 directory, Erwin Berlin was listed with a candy wholesale business.
Erwin Berlin’s mother owned the property on Wrangelstraße 17, which he inherited after her suicide, selling it on 10 May 1939 to Otto Hoffmann, probably to support himself from the proceeds. In July, the Hamburg Reich Governor (Reichsstatthalter) approved the sales on condition that the purchase price be deposited in an account whose funds were available only with consent by the proper Chief Finance Administrator (Oberfinanzpräsident) (foreign currency office). The sales proceeds of approx. 13,000 RM (reichsmark) were transferred to a blocked account at the Hamburger Sparcasse von 1827. An application for unblocking the assets dated July 1939 was not granted. The family was merely allowed to withdraw 400 RM per month from the account, a sum calculated from payment of the rent including extra costs amounting to 100 RM, the sum assessed for subsistence at 200 RM, as well as miscellaneous expenses at 100 RM.
In 1939, Erwin Berlin enlisted the services of a "Jewish legal adviser (Konsulent),” as Jewish lawyers had to call themselves by then. He was considering giving up the Jewish religion and possibly converting. The last will of his parents contained a provision stipulating Jewish denomination as a prerequisite to the inheritance. The Konsulent wrote to him, "If you give up the Jewish denomination, the result will be that you will have to surrender that part of your parents’ inheritance you received over and above the statutory share to the heir next in line.” In addition, he pointed out to him that relinquishing membership in the Reich Association of Jews (Reichsvereinigung der Juden) was impossible and remained unaffected by withdrawal from the Jewish religious organization. On 11 Sept. 1939, Erwin Berlin nevertheless left the Jewish Community. This step did not save him from being deported. The deportation list for the transport on 8 Nov. 1941 to Minsk shows only an entry for Erwin Berlin. His wife and daughter appear only in the supplement listing those that had reported for the deportation "voluntarily.”
At least five more members of the Berlin family were murdered, that is, two aunts, two female cousins, and one male cousin of Erwin Berlin. Three male cousins survived. Ilse Berlin’s parents were also deported and went missing in Minsk.
Translator: Erwin Fink
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.
© Susanne Lohmeyer
Quellen: 1; 2 (R1939/2880); 4; 5; 8; StaH 231-7 Handelsregister A1 Band 121 HRA 27410; StaH 351-11 AfW AZ 040313 und AZ 131206; Ursula Randt, Carolinenstraße 35; StaH 522-1 Jüdische Gemeinden 992e2 Band 1 Deportationsliste; StaH 621-1/82, 5 (Konsulent Alexander Bechur); HAB II 1937; Joist Grolle und Ina Lorenz, Ausschluss, S. 105–107; Herbert Obenaus (Hrsg.), Historisches Handbuch der jüdischen Gemeinden; Recherchen zu den Familien Berlin und Meyer von Johann-Hinrich Möller.