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Clara Beschütz, Mutter Bertha und Marie Beschütz
© Privatbesitz

Marie Beschütz * 1882

Husumer Straße 37 (Hamburg-Nord, Eppendorf)

1941 Riga

further stumbling stones in Husumer Straße 37:
Clara Beschütz, Olga Beschütz, Bertha Beschütz

Marie Frida Beschütz, born on 11 Feb. 1882, deported on 6 Dec. 1941 to Riga

Husumer Straße 37

There are many memories of Marie Beschütz. Maria Holst, the daughter of teacher Elisabeth Flügge, remembers "Tante Mariechen” well. One image in particular is imprinted in her memory, a summer’s day in her grandmother’s garden on Erikastraße. The year was probably 1930 or 1931. "We children were playing in the garden, grandmother was doing needlework, when Aunt Mariechen, the friend of my striking Aunt Hedwig, appeared: very kind, not very tall, wearing a pince-nez, old-fashioned, not elegant but dressed respectably.” In closing, she characterizes Marie Beschütz as "approachable and modest.”

This characterization fits with the recollections of former students. Like her sister Olga, Marie Beschütz was also a teacher. In Feb. 1903, she had completed her training in Hamburg, and from 1903 to 1908 she worked as a teacher at Margarete Fleck’s private secondary school for girls (Höhere Mädchenschule), Milchstraße 22/23. From 1908 to 1919, she taught at the Mädchenschule Hübbe, a girls’ school located at Maria-Louisen-Straße 13, from 1922 onward at An der Koppel, and from 1928 at the school located at Ericastraße 21/23.

Minutes of a staff meeting dated 3 Feb. 1928 at the school on Ericastraße reveals that the school was looking for a replacement for a retiring teacher. "After Ms. Beschütz was proposed by Ms. Schultze, it is decided to make the request with the senior school authority [Oberschulbehörde – OSB],” the minutes read. The conference proceedings do not indicate when she came to the school; at any rate, her predecessor retired at the end of May.

Two copies exist of conference minutes taken by Marie Beschütz herself, prepared in very neat handwriting, one dating from 1 Dec. 1930, the other one from 16 Mar. 1932. They record problems definitely still familiar today, such as class size and the number of teaching staff.

One hint that Marie Beschütz’ standing among teaching staff was good emerges from conference minutes dated 9 June 1931, indicating under point IV, "The persons designated for the liaison committee, to be elected anew every year, are Ms. Beschütz and Ms. Schultze.” Moreover, the minutes dated 1 Mar. 1932 record that "for the time being, Ms. R. … and Ms. Beschütz are put down as homeroom teachers of homerooms 8a and 8b.”

However, the atmosphere overall deteriorated increasingly, when the school’s self-administration was revoked on 22 Aug. 1933. The Hitler salute was supposed to be used in class as a salute in the morning and at noon, and the tribute to the flag also made its arrival at the school, as the minutes indicate. Based on the "Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service” ("Gesetz zur Wiederherstellung des Berufsbeamtentums”) dated 7 Apr. 1933, most Jewish teachers – and Marie Beschütz was considered a Jewish teacher because of her Jewish grandparents – were immediately dismissed and retired. Since the conference minutes from 31 Oct. 1933 still record that Marie Beschütz was excused from attending due to illness, she still appears to have worked at the school then. The minutes contain no indication about her dismissal from teaching. However, under point 15), the record of proceedings on 2 Mar. 1934 tersely states: "Teaching staff retiring on 1 May 1934 may already be beurlaubt [i.e., depending on the interpretation, "granted leave of absence” or "suspended”] on 1 Apr.” A dismissal at this time would fit to the fact that the 1935/36 Teachers’ Directory does not list her anymore. That she was a member of the "Association of Hamburg Female Elementary Teachers” ("Verein Hamburger Volksschullehrerinnen”) and of the "Society of Friends of the Patriotic School and Education System” ("Gesellschaft der Freunde des Vaterländischen Schul- und Erziehungswesens”) could not help her. Here, too, the Nazis’ "forcible coordination” (Gleichschaltung) had taken effect.

Marie Beschütz was in her early fifties and had been a committed teacher for 30 years when she was dismissed because of National Socialist legislation.

In her speech on the occasion of dedicating a commemorative plaque for Marie Beschütz on 29 Jan. 2001, the school principal of the "Schule Schottmüllerstraße,” Wally Schollmeyer, recounts former students remembering that despite the official ban on contacts, some students and parents maintained close contact to her. "For instance, five to six students regularly showed up at her place on her birthday, bringing fruits and vegetables from their parental gardens to Marie Beschütz and her sisters, who were forced after their dismissal from teaching to live off their old … mother’s pension.”

Wally Schollmeyer also told of a student who after her elementary school days switched to the school on Löwenstraße and ran into difficulties because teachers there treated students "in an ironic, mocking way.” Even though Marie Beschütz was not teaching anymore at the time, the student asked her former teacher to help her. She tutored her two to three times a week, soon compensating the serious drop in performance.

Students’ memories of Marie Beschütz of which Wally Schollmeyer heard conveyed to her that the "committed teacher … was active on behalf of her students in good times and bad, beyond the classroom.”

She showed attentiveness and approachability as a human being when she was "always prepared to listen to their worries and needs” and spoke up "above all for the weak.” Consistent friendliness, warmheartedness, and great understanding of their needs impressed the students. Apparently, at noon, she dismissed each child in her first grade with a handshake and a few personal remarks; in case of conflicts, she mediated with empathy, without embarrassing or offending any of the children.

As Wally Schollmeyer went on, she also frequently "sweetened” everyday school life by bringing home-baked cookies, thus further influencing the learning atmosphere in a positive way. Former students remember as well that she repeatedly helped those experiencing material hardships. For instance, she arranged funds for a student to join the class outing to "Moorwärder” [a greenbelt recreation area] or helped students of the graduating class get dresses for the graduation ball. One student apparently kept and treasured for a long time a "beautiful calendar image of a snow-covered market square” which Marie Beschütz had brought to class after the Christmas holidays and given to her as a gift, a reward for being the only one among the first graders able to decipher and read out the sentence written on the card.

Her nephew reports in his memoirs that she could definitely also be firm in terms of pedagogics. When he was probably eight or nine years old, Aunt Marie had once invited him "to an eagerly awaited visit to the Circus Krone.” That was around Easter when he had gone skating with a friend at Abtei Park, frequently falling through the ice and coming home with feet soaking wet, which was followed by a cold. He did not take seriously his mother’s warning to cancel the visit to the circus with Aunt Marie if he failed to stop his experiments on ice, but his mother’s phone call with Aunt Marie resulted in the visit being cancelled indeed. When hearing of the incident, the aunt in her role as a pedagogue had declared to his mother "that now you do have to be firm.”

Marie Beschütz was honored on 29 Jan. 2001 with the dedication of a commemorative plaque by the sculptor Gerd Stange, and on 11 Feb. 2002 – 120 years after her birth – the "Schule Schottmüllerstraße” was named "Marie Beschütz Schule” during a ceremony. Teachers and students designed the new inscription of the school name beautifully using mosaic technique.

Translator: Erwin Fink
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.

© Christiane Pritzlaff

Quellen: In der Taufurkunde ist der Name Frida ohne das häufig übliche "e" zu finden; Gespräch mit Maria Holst am 23. 9. 2009; Beschütz, Gert, Lebenserinnerungen, a.a.O.; StaH, Marie-Beschütz-Schule, Konferenzprotokolle Volksschule Ericastraße 28 für Mädchen, 362 – 3/111, 5, VIII 7 14b; Schollmeyer, Wally: Einweihung der Gedenktafel für Marie Beschütz am 29.1.2001, Redemanuskript, S. 3, 4, 22; Die "Schule Schottmüllerstraße 23" hieß mindestens bis zum 16.6.1939 Volksschule Ericastraße 28 für Mädchen; denn soweit reichen die Konferenzprotokolle der Schule dieses Namens. Vom 15.7.39–1.11. 42 beziehen sich die Protokolle auf den Namen Schottmüllerstraße. Die Schottmüllerstraße war bis 1937 ein Teil der Ericastraße. Nach dem Tod von Professor Hugo Schottmüller 1936 – er war Leiter der 2. Medizinischen Abteilung des Universitätskrankenhauses Eppendorf – benannte man ein kleines Stück der Ericastraße nach ihm um. Heute wird Erikastraße mit "k" geschrieben.
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