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Ella Budge
© Wolf Kahn, New York

Ella Budge (née Mayer) * 1875

Milchstraße Musikhochschule (Eimsbüttel, Rotherbaum)

JG. 1875
ERMORDET 6.11.1943

further stumbling stones in Milchstraße Musikhochschule:
Dr. Siegfried Budge

Steine des Anstoßes als späte Geste:

Dr. Siegfried Budge, born 18 June 1869 in Frankfurt am Main, died 1 Sep. 1941
Ella Budge, née Mayer, born 8 May 1875 in Frankfurt am Main, murdered 6 Nov. 1943


Two Stolpersteine at the Budge-Palais as a memorial to Dr. Siegfried Budge and Ella Budge, née Mayer

In the summer of 2007, two Stolpersteine were placed in the sidewalk on Milchstraße in Hamburg-Harvestehude – in front of the main entrance of the Academy for Music and Theater in the large, white mansion on the Alster, the Budge-Palais. Although the Stolpersteine in Hamburg’s sidewalks are a common sight, unexpectedly stumbling over two new stones when entering the Budge-Palais may prompt many of the students, teachers, and staff to pause for a moment and reflect.

The Stolpersteine make it unmistakenly clear that the Budge-Palais is one of the many thousands of buildings in Hamburg whose former residents were victims of Nazi persecution. It is a little-known fact that unnamed relatives of Henry and Emma Budge, for whom the mansion is named, lived in the house and suffered personally under Nazi persecution. A plaque installed in 1993 next to the main entrance of the Academy informs visitors about the history of the building, but its few lines mention nothing of the crimes that were actually committed: the illegal confiscation by the Nazis of the immense Budge estate, the sham restitution proceedings after the war which excluded the rightful heirs, the irregularities that have still not been cleared up, not to mention the deaths. The memorial plaque, which was installed when the building was officially renamed the "Budge-Palais,” does not, by any means, fulfill its function, even though its inscription serves to remind the citizens of Hamburg of the name Budge.

The two Stolpersteine, placed a few steps away from the memorial plaque in the path of all who enter the building, are a necessary addition. The names engraved on them, however, may surprise those who read them. While most people who have anything to do with the Academy know the names of the former Jewish owners Emma and Henry Budge, Siegfried and Ella Budge, the last rightful residents of the Budge-Palais, are not widely unknown. The Stolpersteine serve as an impulse to inquire into the fate of these victims of the Nazi regime, and in so doing, to retrieve them from the darkness of forgotten history.

Siegfried Budge, born on 18 June 1869 in Frankfurt am Main, was Henry Budge’s nephew, the son of his brother Max and his wife Rosalie, née Samson, a native of Hamburg. After receiving his law degree and marrying Ella Henriette Mayer in 1897, he set up a law firm in Frankfurt. He took an additional degree in economics in 1921 at Frankfurt University, and did post-doctoral work under Franz Oppenheimer. He was a professor of economics at Frankfurt University from 1925 to 1933. He was recognized as an expert in the field of monetary economics. Following the Budge family tradition of philanthropy, he was a board member of the "Max and Rosalie Budge Foundation,” a charity for the needy. He was also an art collector.

Because he was Jewish, he was banned from teaching in 1933 – by the same university that thanked its establishment to large donations from his uncle Henry Budge. Siegfried Budge attempted to find a job outside of the country, but was unsuccessful. In 1934 Emma Budge invited him and his wife Ella to come to live with her in the Hamburg mansion. They were forced to leave the house when Emma died on 14 February 1937. The following four years were a constant, humiliating search for accommodations. Siegfried Budge died on 1 September 1941 after a severe illness.

Little is known about Ella budge. It seems that the Nazi regime robbed her not only of her life but also of large parts of her life story. A single record survives, archived in the Institute for City History in Frankfurt (Institut für Stadtgeschichte Frankfurt), from which some basic information can be gleaned: Ella Henriette Mayer was born on 8 May 1875 to a Jewish family in Frankfurt am Main. Her parents were Louis Mayer and Marie Mayer, née Strauß. She married Siegfried Budge on 16 August 1897 in Frankfurt. The record lists one daughter, Nelly Budge, born on 30 June 1898 in Frankfurt.

After Emma Budge’s death in 1937, Ella Budge and her husband were the rightful residents of the Budge-Palais, before it was confiscated by the Nazis later that year. The Hamburg Gauleiter (party leader of a regional branch of the Nazi Party) Karl Kaufmann used the mansion as the Regional Governor’s headquarters. The Hamburg Gestapo arrested Ella Budge on 11 April 1942 and sent her to the Fuhlsbüttel concentration camp, where she was held for more than three weeks on no apparent grounds.

It is probable that she was accused of an infringement of the foreign currency exchange law, a pretext often used by the Gestapo to persecute the Jewish population. That Ella Budge was imprisoned in the Fuhlsbüttel concentration camp, constructed by exactly that person who was now using her home as the seat of his power, illustrates the cynicism of the Nazi tyranny.

She received notification that she was to be deported just a few weeks after she was released from Fuhlsbüttel. On 19 July 1942, 700 citizens of Hamburg, among them Ella Budge, left for Theresienstadt. She became a casualty of the inhumane conditions in the camp on 6 November 1943.

Hers is one of the 8877 names listed in the memorial book "Hamburger jüdische Opfer des Nationalsozialismus” (Jewish Victims of National Socialism from Hamburg). It documents the large number of Jewish citizens of Hamburg who were persecuted and died during the Nazi tyranny.

There are still living members of the Budge family. The grandchildren of Ella and Siegfried Budge, the children of their daughter Nelly Kahn, née Budge, live in the US. Nelly’s husband, Emil Kahn, was a famous conductor in Stuttgart. He and the children Hans, Peter, Eva and Wolf were able to flee to the US in the 30s. Nelly had died in 1931. The four children are the grandnieces and -nephews of Henry and Emma Budge. As children they spent their summer holidays at the Budge-Palais on the Alster.

They have vivid memories of this time. Peter Kahn remembers the grand hall of mirrors, where his father often played the cello. It was in this hall, which now stands in the courtyard of the Hamburg Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe, that Wolf Kahn (*1927), who now lives in New York and is a famous landscape painter, opened an exhibition of his work in 2001 at the invitation of the museum’s director Wilhelm Hornbostel.

His brother, Peter Kahn (*1921) was an art historian and professor at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. He died in 1996. During a professional stay in Hamburg in 1985/86 he thoroughly researched the history of the Budge-Palais and published the results, along with memories of his childhood in Hamburg, in Eine Wiedergutmachungsangelegenheit: Das Budgehaus, Harvestehuderweg 12, Hamburg. Without making accusations, and in fact pleased that the house is now a public academy and that the grounds are open to the public, Kahn comes to the disappointing conclusion that a restitution for the many injustices suffered by his family never took place.

The dedication ceremony for the Stolpersteine for Dr. Siegfried and Ella Budge took place at the Hamburg Academy for Music and Theater on 26 May 2008. The grandchildren, who were at that time all over 80 years old, were not able to attend the ceremony. Wolf Kahn contributed a photograph of his grandmother Ella Budge to be displayed at the ceremony. It is fortunate that the Stolpersteine were placed during their lifetimes, so that they were aware that their grandparents were honored with two memorial stones, part of a collective monument which to date includes more than 13,000 Stolpersteine.

Translator: Amy Lee
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.

© Livia Gleiß, Mai 2008

Anmerkung: Ausführlicher informiert die Broschüre "Die Familie Budge in Hamburg und ihr Palais an der Alster" (von Livia Gleiß, 2008) über die Personen Henry und Emma Budges einerseits und Siegfried und Ella Budges andererseits sowie über den zeitgeschichtlichen Hintergrund in Hamburg unter dem NS-Regime.

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