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Paula Bundheim 1930
© Nathan Ben-Brith

Paula Bundheim * 1924

Brahmsallee 19 (vormals Hansastraße 57) (Eimsbüttel, Harvestehude)

1941 Minsk

further stumbling stones in Brahmsallee 19 (vormals Hansastraße 57):
Kela Bundheim, Max Bundheim

Max Bundheim, born 4/23/1889 in Altona, deported to Minsk on 11/8/1941
Kela Bundheim, née Bamberger, divorced Schwarzschild, born 1/31/1900 in Sulz, deported to Minsk on 11/8/1941
Paula Bundheim, born 3/22/1924 in Hamburg, deported to Minsk on 11/8/1941

Brahmsallee 19 (Hansastrasse 57)

Max Bundheim was the eldest son of Nathan und Caroline Bundheim. His younger sister Henriette, born 1890, was handicapped from birth. Max had another brother, Ernst, born 1895, and two sisters, Frida, born 1892, and Gertrud, born 1896. The family were proud of their Sephardic origins and cultivated family relationships. A nephew of Max, Joseph Ben Brith (formerly Bundheim), in his later years did intensive research into the history of the Bundheims and reconstructed it back to the time of the expulsion of the Jews from the Iberian peninsula.

Max’ father Nathan Bundheim (1855–1915) was a private banker in Altona. His children remembered him as the tall, gaunt and strictly religious patriarch who with likeminded family fathers completed a pensum of the Scriptures on every Sabbath. On April 11, 1888, he married Caroline Gelle Wertheim, ten years his junior, whose father in Hesse was also a banker, whom Nathan Bundheim had met in the course of business. His young wife died in 1865 at the birth of Caroline Gelle, who was given the name of her mother, and her twin sister. Joseph Ben Brit (Bundheim) described his grandmother Caroline Gelle Wertheim as a stately, kind woman, who survived her husband, who died in 1915, by twenty years. Two of her grandchildren, children of her son Ernst and his wife Johanna, were born at her home in Hansastrasse 43.

Max Bundheim attended the Talmud Thora School in Hamburg. After graduation, he followed in his father’s footsteps and trained as banker. In 1914, he was drafted into the Reichswehr and served on the western front until the end of the war. Siegfried Glückstadt, his same-aged friend, was lost in action at Verdun in the summer of 1916. In 1920, Max Bundheim married Erna Levi, born in Hamburg in 1895. Max’ siblings also started families; in 1914, his sister Frida married Martin Wolkowsky from Upper Silesia, Gertrud became the wife of Max Sommer, and Ernst conjoined the only daughter of the Glückstadt family. In 1918, Max Bundheim registered as a bond trader and took over the office of his late father at the Ludwigshof, a grand turn-of-the century office building at Hohe Bleichen 20. The business flourished, so that in 1923, Max was able to buy the large apartment building at Hansastrasse 57, on the corner of Schlüterstrasse from E. Süth, who gave Hohe Bleichen 20 as his home address.

Whereas Max Bundheim’s career was a great success, the life of his young family was stricken by a series of tragedies. The Bundheims’ first son Norbert Nathan, born 1/3/1922, died before he reached the age of two. And Gerhard, born 1926, and his sister Lotte, born 1930, only lived for a few months. Of the family’s five children, only the two girls Paula, born 1924, and Hilde, born 1929, grew up in good health. Max’ and Erna’s marriage did not survive these blows of fate, and they were divorced.

Hilde, the younger daughter, stayed with her mother, who managed to send her to England on a children’s transport and later to emigrate to Britain herself and to establish a business there. After the war, Erna and Hilde became British citizens. In his second marriage, Max Bundheim conjoined Kela Schwarzschild, née Bamberger. Kela had two sons from her previous marriage to the Cantor Ignaz Schwarzschild, Leopold and Salomon (Schlomo). Schlomo suffered greatly from his parents’ divorce, so that he spent a year with relatives in Switzerland before joining the Bundheim family together with his mother. Like his brother Leopold, Schlomo attended the Talmud Tora School, and then both absolved training as farmers in Blankenese in the scope of the Hachshara, the preparation for the Alija, the emigration of Palestine. But only 14-year-old Schlomo was accepted by the Junior Alija – the 17-year-old had exceeded the official age limit. Schlomo Schwarzschild, Max Bundheim’s stepson, survived the Shoa in Palestine.

In Hamburg, Max Bundheim’s situation rapidly deteriorated due to the new anti-Jewish Nazi laws. He lost his "Aryan” customers, and Jewish clients were severely limited in the command of their assets. From 1935, Bundheim’s business was practically incapacitated. He dabbled in healing arts and gave massages to make some money, and learned English, but it seems he didn’t seriously consider emigrating. As the eldest, he felt responsible for his widowed mother and his handicapped sister Henriette, and he was bound by his real estate. In August 1938, he was fined 50 RM in lieu of five days in jail "for not using the [middle] name ‘Israel.’” From then on, he made serious efforts to emigrate to the USA, because the complete ruin of his civil existence proceeded with frightening speed.

The details of Max Bundheim’s financial situation were already stored in the "Jews’ register” of the Chief Finance Administrator’s currency office. The currency law passed by Reich Chancellor Brüning in 1932 was amended on December 12, 1938. Subsequently, all declarations of Jewish assets were checked again. The result basically established that the company had been founded by Max Bundheim as a one-man firm in 1918. The owner, "a Jew with German citizenship”, had worked as a bond trader. The business had been idle since 1936 and officially closed on December 31, 1938. As it had been a brokerage whose only assets were the owner’s connections, "aryanization” proceedings were not pending.

Thus, neither cash nor other assets could be directly siphoned off the business, so that Bundheim’s real estate and his private assets were seized: the property at its book value of 55,000 RM, various securities and insurance policies, the contents of a safe deposit box and claims against the mortgage debtor Leo Brummer. Pursuant to Art 59 of the currency law of December 12, 1938, all these assets were "restrained” and had to be demonstrably transferred to a special blocked depot at the Vereinsbank within three days. The yields from the blocked assets were supposed to suffice for the family’s subsistence.

Pursuant to the Reich Economics Ministry’s decree on the valorization of Jewish assets of February 6, 1939, Bundheim learned, the state administration had received "an application for the sale of the property Hansastrasse 57 belonging to the Jew Max Israel Bundheim.” The act of sale to Dr. med. Albert Sophus Henneberg, a Nazi-oriented general practitioner, represented by his nephew Albert Adolph Hermann Otto Henneberg, was enacted on June 17, 1939. The real estate agent involved paid the purchase price of 46,767.03 RM directly into Max Bundheim’s blocked account at the Vereinsbank. The new owner did not live in the house in Hansastrasse, but at Ostmarkstrasse 48 (now Hallerstrasse).

Since Max Bundheim no longer received rent after the sale of the building, but had to pay rent for his apartment, the monthly income from his blocked assets fell to 200 RM and was no longer sufficient to support the family. Bundheim applied to the finance administration to be allowed to receive 700 RM per month from his blocked account, and was given permission to withdraw 500 RM monthly. For all other expenses, from the plumber’s bill to his stepson Schlomo Schwarzschild’s endowment for emigration, Bundheim had to submit a formal application with a full and exact documentation of the details, and was obligated to pay such expenses by direct bank transfer.

Bundheim now lived on the first floor of Hansastrasse 57. When he had owned the property, there had been little fluctuation of the tenants. But the 1942 issue of the city address book (that reflected the situation of the previous year), eight Jewish tenants were listed, identified by their middle names "Israel” and "Sara.” Besides Bundheim, only two of them had lived there the year before: "S. Israel Wolff” and "Prof. F. Israel Adler”. All of these eight names had disappeared in the following year’s (1943) address book. This abrupt change from sudden abundance to subsequent vacancy cannot have escaped the other tenants.

Max Bundheim waited in vain for a chance to emigrate. After the official prohibition in October 1941, there was no longer any hope of escaping. On November 15, 1941, the Chief Finance Administration started the proceedings for distributing the property of Leo Brummer, "presently sojourning in Litzmannstadt [Lodz]”. This, however, was only a delusion, since Leo Brummer, like Max Bundheim, had by then been "evacuated.” The assets of the deportees, however, continued to be meticulously managed and recorded. The Vereinsbank confirmed that "Max Israel Bundheim” had bestowed 4,500 RM in bonds on his mother "Frau Gela Sara Bundheim.” Since, however, "no permission had been obtained and the transfer therefore was illegal”, the transfer to the 76-year-old, utterly penniless widow was "only allowed as an exception.” Max Bundheim was no longer able to comment the disposal of his assets. The asset valorization office closed its proceedings with the lapidary statement: "Max and Kela Bundheim were evacuated in November 1941 and their assets confiscated.”

Max, Kela and daughter Paul Bundheim were served the order to "stand by for resettlement” on November 8, 1941. The transport with 965 persons was bound for Minsk, the capital of white Russia. We can only imagine what was in store for the three Bundheims by reference to the general reports. In the newly established Minsk ghetto, 12,000 Jewish inhabitants had previously been killed to make room for Jews from the Reich. The deportees from Hamburg were quartered in the "red house” together with those from Frankfurt. There, they set up an emergency kitchen, which became essential for all inhabitants of the ghetto. Some of the Jews were deployed to work for the Wehrmacht, in workshops or in private companies. Little is known of individual fates. Those who had survived the inhumane exertions were shot in the massacre of March 8, 1943 or suffocated in gas trucks.

Grandmother Caroline Gela Bundheim last lived with a relative in Hamburg-Blankenese. She was deported to Theresienstadt on July 19, 1942, where she died on October 2 of the same year. Her name is inscribed on a wooden staff of the memorial at Grotiusweg 36.

Kela Bundheim’s first husband Ignaz Schwarzschild, his second wife Betty, their children born 1939 and 1939 and Betty’s son Leopold from her first marriage were deported to the Jungfernhof farm near Riga on December 6, 1941 and murdered there.

Schlomo Schwarzschild survived in Palestine/Israel. He kept in contact with relatives who had also survived. He visited Hamburg several times and reported the fates of the members of the family. Hilde, Max Bundheim’s daughter from his first marriage, also stayed in constant touch with the relatives who had survived. She deposited the memorial for her father page at Yad Vashem and helped her cousin Joseph Ben Brith (Bundheim) with his family research.

Translated by Peter Hubschmid
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.

Stand: September 2019
© Inge Grolle

Quellen: 1; 2; 3; 4; 8; StaH 314-15 OFD Oberfinanzpräsident R1939/62; 351-11 Amt für Wiedergutmachung 1116, 141029; Grundbuch Harvestehude Bd 66 Bl. 157; Meyer (Hrsg.), Verfolgung, S. 62–64; Guth, Erinnerungsbuch, S. 40ff.; Joseph Ben Brith, Die Odyssee der Henrique-Familie. In: Kieler Werkstücke Reihe A Nr. 26. 2001; Nathan Ben-Brith: Mein Gedächtnis nimmt es so wahr, Erinnerungen an den Holocaust; Göttingen 2015; WdE/FZH, Sybille Baumbach und Susanne Lohmeyer: Interviews (Audio und Video) mit Schlomo Schwarzschild 10.11.1988. Kela Schwarzschild (geb. Bamberger) geb. 1900; (eingesehen 6.6.2014).
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