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Bertha Cremer * 1905
Rellinger Straße 6 (Eimsbüttel, Eimsbüttel)
1942 Chelmno ermordet
Martin Cremer, born on 2.4.1874 in Jever (Oldenburg), deported on 25.10.1941 to Lodz Ghetto, murdered on 4.5.1942 in Chelmno extermination camp
Pauline Cremer, née Levy, born on 11.6.1880 in Hamburg, deported on 25.10.1941 to Lodz Ghetto, murdered on 4.5.1942 in Chelmno extermination camp
Bertha Cremer, born on 11.3.1905 in Bant-Rüstringen, deported on 25.10.1941 to Lodz Ghetto, murdered on 4.5.1942 in Chelmno extermination camp
Rellinger Straße 6
When Martin and Pauline Cremer married on February 1, 1903, he was 28 years old, his wife five years younger. Both lived together in Bant, a small town near Wilhelmshaven. Martin came from Jever in the region Oldenburg. His parents, Abraham and Marianne Cremer, also lived there. Pauline was from Hamburg, the daughter of the furrier Meyer Levy and his wife Lea, née Salomon.
Martin and Pauline Cremer's daughters were also born in Bant: Leonore at the end of October 1903, and Bertha almost a year and a half later.
In 1907 the family moved to Hamburg, where the parents built up a joint professional existence. Martin Cremer had learned the butcher's trade and in 1924 opened a butcher's shop at the back of the Eimsbütteler Chaussee shopping street, which was still very busy and popular at the time: in house 130, which was almost on Fruchtallee. In the same building he had rented a three-room apartment for his family, both together for a favorable rent of 90 Reichsmark (RM) per month.
Business was good, Pauline Cremer and her husband worked almost around the clock. In addition, they had hired a journeyman butcher and a temp who came every Saturday and whenever they were particularly busy, such as before Easter and Christmas. The Cremer couple also employed a cleaning lady who took care of both the store and the house.
In addition to all types of meat, the butchery also offered poultry and game, plus some delicatessen products. Among the larger customers were a hospital and two institutions that offered lunch. The business also had its own delivery van, and Martin Cremer rented a cold storage cell in the municipal cold storage warehouse for his goods. When the register of craftsmen of the Hamburg butcher's guild was introduced on April 1, 1930, he immediately registered.
The elder daughter Leonore went to the Israelitische Töchterschule on Karolinenstraße (Jewish Girl’s school) until October 1918. She then attended the "Schreib- und Handels-Lehrinstitut Grone" to acquire commercial skills and then worked in various companies as a clerk or typist.
Her younger sister Bertha was physically handicapped. She suffered from a shortening of the left leg, a stiffening of the hip joint, and a foot deformity. She also had a learning disability and was initially sent to one of the institutions called "auxiliary schools" at the time. However, she had to leave these after the second grade. Attempts to "integrate her into working life" failed because Bertha Cremer was "feeble-minded," according to the diagnosis of a medical officer at the Hamburg employment office at the time. A placement in the Martha Helenen Home, which offered female workers a place to live and participation in courses to promote general education, was again rejected by the main welfare committee of the city of Hamburg, because a medical officer commissioned by it could not determine "any progress with regard to Bertha Cremer's earning capacity”.
In March 1929, the young woman gave birth to a dead child, which, together with the medical diagnosis in May 1934, led to her being forcibly sterilized in the Barmbek General Hospital. In addition, from 1931 onward, various welfare workers from the Hamburg nursing office were assigned to her as guardians, one after the other. This was possible because she had previously been incapacitated by the public prosecutor's office at the request of the nursing office.
In those years, she lived alternately with her parents and in various homes - first in the Alsterdorfer Anstalten, then in the Martinistraße nursing home of the Hamburg nursing office, and then in the Farmsen nursing home. She was transferred there from Martinistraße in mid-1931 because "as a result of her abnormal disposition, she places an excessive burden on the home in every way". A little later, the Farmsen nursing home was more explicit in a letter to the Hamburg welfare authorities: Bertha Cremer "conducts herself proportionately.
However, she is completely unrestrained and uninhibited, allows herself to be seduced into anything and is almost shamelessly libidinous. Work performance is low. Pronounced preservation case." This categorization fitted in with the intense socio-political discussions at the time about a so-called preservation law, behind which was the idea of demanding forced placement in closed welfare institutions for marginalized groups defamed as "asocial."
Martin Cremer paid around 10 RM every two weeks for his daughter's accommodation in Farmsen.
Then came April 1, 1933, the day the National Socialists organized a boycott of the stores, law firms and practices of Jewish owners. SA men posted themselves in front of the entrances, obstructing and insulting anyone who wanted to enter or leave. Martin Cremer's butcher shop was also affected. A SA man stood in front of the door and opposed anyone who intended to enter the store.
From then on, the business went downhill. Martin and Pauline Cremer had to contend with a considerable drop in sales, as some regular customers stayed away. Also, a second, non-Jewish butcher opened a store in the immediate vicinity, which represented strong competition. Martin Cremer initially tried to make do by having his family and himself leave the Jewish community and be baptized. But by the summer of 1934, they had already left the Evangelical Lutheran Church and returned to the Jewish community.
By then Cremer had already resigned. On November 15, 1934, he sold his business. The family also had to move out of the house in Eimsbütteler Chaussee into a smaller and cheaper apartment in Eimsbütteler Marktplatz, because they now had no income. The approximately 16,800 RM that Martin Cremer received for the butcher store were quickly used up: by sales tax still due, the remaining store rent, gas, telephone, real estate agent, relocation, as well as by the continuing necessary costs for apartment rent, electricity, gas, health insurance, food and the care of daughter Bertha. Suddenly, the family was dependent on welfare.
The older daughter, Leonore, also could no longer find work and now received unemployment benefits except for brief interruptions. At that time, she lived very close to her parents on Eimsbüttel's Marktplatz as a subtenant and changed addresses frequently in the years to come.
While Pauline Cremer now took care of the household exclusively and sublet a room, her husband's health deteriorated. He suffered from chronic heart and stomach problems, was only able to do light work and could hardly earn any extra money.
Bertha Cremer had lived in the "Bewahrabteilung" of the privately run Abendroth House since the beginning of 1935. She was released from there about two years later, since she was apparently now considered fit for work after all. In the summer of 1937, the nursing office assigned her a position in the Hamburg Bürgersäle on Wandsbeker Chaussee, which included a large restaurant and a tea room. This was to enable her to pay for her own accommodation in the future.
Her parents were no longer able to do so and the state no longer wanted to pay for it. In the meantime, Bertha Cremer lived in a girls' home run by the Christian Church (Landeskirchliches Amt für Innere Mission, the forerunner of the Diakonie-Hilfswerk Hamburg), which was founded in 1934.
However, the work in the citizen's halls was apparently too hard for her, so she quit a few weeks later. The care office then placed her in the Hamburg workshops for the gainfully disabled - first to glue bags, then to weave mats.
In the following two years, Bertha Cremer changed jobs and places of residence several times, apparently only living privately as a subtenant after moving out of the girls' home. She also repeatedly fell ill, sometimes seriously, and was therefore often unable to work. The Hamburg social welfare administration argued for her placement with her parents, but Martin and Pauline Cremer, who meanwhile lived together with their daughter Leonore at Rellinger Straße 6, argued against it. Bertha was very headstrong, did not let anyone tell her anything, and "under certain circumstances even became violent.
While her parents suffered from poverty and health problems, and her sister moved from one job to another, from one lodging to the next, Leonore Cremer managed to emigrate to England by ship in July 1939. She was only allowed to take one suitcase and one hat box as hand luggage and three additional suitcases as luggage.
On October 25, 1941, Pauline, Martin and Bertha Cremer were taken to Lodz Ghetto.
Their furniture and household effects were confiscated and auctioned off by the auctioneer Jäkel. The net proceeds of RM 43.16 went to the Oberfinanzkasse Hamburg.
Also in the transport to Lodz was Sophie Cremer, Martin Cremer's younger sister, who had also lived in Hamburg. On May 4, 1942, Martin, Pauline, Bertha and Sophie Cremer were deported from Lodz to the Chelmno death camp.
Leonore Cremer did not succeed in finding her way to England. She lived there completely impoverished and lonely, was mentally unstable and repeatedly ill. A return to Germany was apparently not an option for her either. In 1948 she received British citizenship. Leonore Cremer died in March 1974 as a result of bone marrow cancer.
Translation by Beate Meyer
Stand: January 2022
© Frauke Steinhäuser
Quellen: 1; 2 (FVg 4908); 4; 5; 8; StaH 332-5 Standesämter, 8623 u. 32/1903; ebd., 1979 u. 2846/1880; StaH 351-11 Amt für Wiedergutmachung, 311003 (darin auch die Fürsorgeakte über die Familie Cremer AZ C 5410); StaH 522-1, 390 Jüdische Gemeinden, Wählerliste 1930; Bake, Wer steckt dahinter?; Freund-Widder, Frauen unter Kontrolle; Willing, Bewahrungsgesetz.