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Erna Behr (née de Vries) * 1891
Schäferkampsallee 61 (Eimsbüttel, Eimsbüttel)
GEB. DE VRIES
Erna Behr, née de Vries, born on 28 Nov. 1891 in Leer, deported on 8 Nov. 1941 to Minsk
Louis Behr, born on 16 Oct. 1881 in Celle, deported on 8 Nov. 1941 to Minsk
Susanne Behr, born on 19 Dec. 1922 in Berlin, deported on 8 Nov. 1941 to Minsk
Rika Elfriede de Vries, née Rosenberg, born on 7 June 1868 in Neuenkirchen/Westphalia, deported on 15 July 1942 to Theresienstadt, died there on 4 Mar. 1943
Aron de Vries, born on 22 Aug. 1860 in Leer, deported on 15 July 1942 to Theresienstadt, died there on 16 Oct. 1942
Louis Behr was a native of Celle. His parents were Meyer (Meier) Behr (born in Vilsen in the County of Hoya in 1858) and Rieka (Friederike) Behr, née Marcus (born in Walsrode in 1859). They operated a shoe store in Celle. At the time of Louis’ birth, the Behrs lived in Celle at Mauernstrassse 43, where another Stolperstein for him is located. He had three younger sisters: Erna (born in 1883) and Martha (born in 1888), both still born in Celle, and Margarethe (born in Hamburg in 1893). Erna, future married name Pohl, subsequently lived in Berlin and was deported from there to the Sobibor extermination camp on 13 June 1942.
When the midwife announced the birth to the recording official, the parents had presumably not yet come to an agreement regarding their son’s first name, for the certificate reads that "on the eighteenth of October of the year one thousand eight hundred and eighty one in the afternoon at a quarter to six, a child of the male sex was born, who has not yet been given a first name…” The first name Louis was not added until 27 Oct.
Louis attended the eight-year elementary school (Volksschule) as well as middle school [Mittelschule – a practice-oriented secondary school up to grade 10] and then did a commercial apprenticeship with his father. In 1892, his father, Meyer Behr, turned over the shoe store to a successor and moved to Hamburg in Nov. According to this, Louis must already have done his apprenticeship in Hamburg. In Dec. 1897, the father founded Behr Bros. (Gebr. Behr), a company operating branches in Wandsbek and Hemelingen, and a little later in Lehe (today: Bremerhaven) and in Cuxhaven as well.
In about 1919, Louis Behr opened a shoe store in Berlin. In 1925, he returned with his wife Erna, whom he had probably married in Berlin, from Berlin to Hamburg. Both daughters were born in Berlin – Gerda in July 1920 and Susanne in Dec. 1922. Gerda later recalled that the family lived in Schöneberg on Bozener Straße, and Bozener Straße 5 is indeed documented in the death certificate for Rieke Behr. Her son Louis gave notice of her death to the authorities when she died in June 1921. Meyer Behr died two years later, in Aug. 1923.
Subsequently, until 1939, Louis Behr and his family lived in Hamburg in a large apartment house at Schäferkampsallee 61 in a four-bedroom apartment until he was forced to move out. The Behrs relocated to the fourth floor of the house at Eppendorfer Baum 10. At this time, all Hamburg Jews were gradually forced to live together in cramped conditions in houses owned by Jews. The Behrs did not have an apartment of their own; instead, they had to share it with the married couple Bertha and Hermann Sonn. On 6 Dec. 1941, shortly after the Behrs, the Sonns were deported to Riga.
As early as Nov. 1921, one Louis Behr had joined Behr Bros. as a partner, the company Meyer Behr had founded in 1897. However, that person could also have been a namesake or a relative. At the time, Behr Bros. Footwear (Gebr. Behr Schuhwaren) was located on Grosse Burstah 23, which at the beginning of the twentieth century was a much more important shopping street than it is today.
The Jewish religious tax (Kultussteuer) file cards reveal that the name Louis Behr existed three times in the Hamburg Jewish Community, with all of the namesakes working in the shoe business. In addition to the Louis Behr born in Celle in 1881, there was a Louis Behr born in Schwerin on 29 May 1896, the son of Bernhard Behr and his wife Frieda, née Kramer, as well as a Louis Behr born in Lüneburg on 28 Dec. 1877, married to Frieda Behr, née Lewisohn. The two other persons named Louis were able to emigrate to the USA in Oct. 1938 and May 1939, respectively. In the summer of 1938, a "security measure” ("Sicherungsmassnahme”) was taken against the Louis Behr from Lüneburg, and in June 1939, the Bremen Tax and Revenue Office informed the Hamburg Secret State Police (Gestapo) about the sale of a property in Bremen that belonged jointly to Louis Behr, Erna Pohl, née Behr, from Berlin, the widow Martha Meyer, née Behr, from Hamburg, and Margarete Levy, née Behr, residing in Johannesburg. The co-owners were the sisters of Louis Behr from Celle. It is conceivable that the identical names resulted in a mix-up among the authorities as well, for it seems more logical that the four children of Meyer Behr jointly owned a property in Bremen than that the three daughters together with Louis Behr from Lüneburg (born in 1877) and his wife Frieda, née Lewisohn, were the owners. Incidentally, Louis Behr from Lüneburg probably had a sister named Minna (born in 1885), who was married three times, with all three husbands working in the shoe business as well. A Stolperstein for Minna Gottschalk, née Behr, is located at Grindelallee 6.
Thus, a regular Behr "shoe merchant dynasty” seems to have existed in Hamburg. It is difficult, however, to find out whether all of the families were related to each other.
According to the 1920 Hamburg directory, Düsternstraße 22/26, for instance, was the location of the large store for footwear owned by N. Behr, which subsequently was entered in Eimsbüttel at Schulterblatt 128 in the year 1923. Located next to the grave of Meyer Behr and Rieke (Friederike) Behr at the Jewish Cemetery on ???Ilandkoppel is a large gravestone with the names of Nathan Behr (1854–1923) and Auguste Behr, née Marcus (1854–1932). Nathan and Meyer Behr were likely brothers and had perhaps married two sisters. Nathan Behr lived at Isestraße 7. Alfred and Friedrich Behr in turn worked in the Bebe Shoe Company (Firma Bebe Schuhe). According to the Hamburg directory, the Bebe Shoe Company was located at Valentinskamp 90 in 1937, and this address appears on the Jewish religious tax (Kultussteuer) file card of Louis Behr as well. Friedrich Behr, by the way, lived at Isestraße 6 I. For some time, Bertha Abrahams (see biography of the Beit family) lived with him as a subtenant or domestic help. Alfred and Friedrich Behr were the sons of Bernhard Behr (born in Osterholz-Scharmbeck in 1871). Bernhard may also have been a brother of Meyer Behr. He lived at Haynstraße 11, earlier on at Eppendorfer Baum 10 and at Beim Andreasbrunnen 3. Then there was Philipp Behr (born in 1850), who was married to Jeanette, née Marcus, and had four children, and finally, Max Behr (1861–1931) with his wife Friederike. This Behr lived at Brahmsallee 23 and operated a shoe wholesale on Kaiser-Wilhelm-Straße and later on Hopfenmarkt.
According to his daughter Gerda, Louis Behr had to give up his store probably as early as the beginning of the 1930s, and then worked as a sales representative for stationary and candy. The company register indicates that Behr Bros. ceased to exist only in Mar. 1939. His daughter later reported that customers had told his father that they would like to shop in his store but were afraid.
The maiden name of Louis’ wife Erna was de Vries and she came from Leer in East Friesland. Her parents were Aron de Vries and Rika (Recha) Elfriede de Vries, née Rosenberg. The father was born in Leer in 1860 and the mother in Neuenkirchen/Westphalia in 1868. Aron and Rika had four daughters and one son. Together with his brothers Moses and Israel, Aron de Vries operated a livestock trade in Leer. In 1898, they founded a branch in Bochum, and in 1908, Aron de Vries moved to Bochum in order to take over the branch as a sole owner. He withdrew from the company in Leer. Ten years later, in 1918, he left Bochum and went to Insterburg in East Prussia as a livestock dealer. After the Nazis assumed power, his trading license was revoked in 1934 based on "racial reasons.” From mid-1936 onward, Aron and his wife Recha Elfriede then lived impoverished in Hamburg, from where they were deported to Theresienstadt in Oct. 1942. The Hamburg directory of 1939 indicates Grindelallee 178 as their address. The address from which they were deported was Bundesstraße 35.
In the Yad Vashem database, several entries exist on people named de Vries, who were born in Leer in the 1890s. One may also assume that Erna Behr had female and male cousins who were murdered. Erna’s brother Hermann de Vries survived as did her sister Gertrud Rosenberg, née de Vries, who emigrated to Palestine in 1938.
The Behrs were liberal Jews and members in the Central Association of German Citizens of Jewish Faith (Centralverein deutscher Bürger jüdischen Glaubens), as daughter Gerda remembered, and they belonged to the liberal Israelite Temple Society (Israelitischer Tempelverein) with the temple on Oberstraße.
Hardly any trace could be found of daughter Susanne, who was deported to Minsk when she was almost 19 years old. The surviving sister Gerda reports that for her part, she attended the private Löwenberg School, oriented on progressive educational (reformpädagogisch) ideas and existing until 1931, and then changed schools and was forced during the Nazi period to go to the Jewish School on Karolinenstraße. Her sister Susanne attended the eight-year elementary school at Hohe Weide 12 in Eimsbüttel for a short time, then, from Dec. 1930 onward, the Jewish School on Karolinenstraße, from which she was dismissed in 1937. Incidentally, the school records indicate her date of birth as 15 Nov. 1923. The parents had actually not wished to send their daughter to a Jewish school, and the mother was incensed that at Karolinenstraße, Gerda was to be taught Hebrew, a "dead language.” She had her daughter exempted from Hebrew classes. After her schooldays, Susanne no longer had an opportunity to begin any occupational training. In early 1940, she probably did enroll in a tailor’s school, run by the Jewish Community and located at Heimhuder Straße 60. She dropped out as of 1 June 1941 and began working in a job. Presumably, she had to work in a factory. Her sister, Gerda Zamory, who died in Israel in 1997, still had a few written messages in her possession, but they had been censored and reached the addressee in Palestine only in fragments.
Gerda was the only one to survive. To her, it had been clear very early on that she wanted to leave Germany. She did not find any support for such plans on the part of her parents, but she prevailed and crossed the border to the Netherlands in Sept. 1938. From there, an opportunity arose to go to Palestine illegally. Her sister Susanne was two years younger. Perhaps she was too young to realize plans of her own, or perhaps she had adopted her parents’ anti-Zionist attitude and did not wish to emigrate.
Translator: Erwin Fink
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.
© Susanne Lohmeyer
Quellen: 1; 2 (R1938/1201); 4; 5; 8; StaH 231-7 Handels- und Genossenschaftsregister A1 Band 42, HRA 10325; StaH 351-11 AfW, 20402; StaH 362-6/10 Talmud Tora Schule; StaH 741-4 Fotoarchiv, Sa 1247; StaH 332-5 Standesämter, 8112 und 195/1932; StaH 332-5, 8073 und 208/1923; StaH 332-5, 8064 und 349/1921; StaH 332-5, 2303 und 438/1893; HAB II 1915, 1919, 1920, 1926, 1937, 1939, 1940; Berliner Adressbuch 1925; Stadtarchiv Celle, Geburtsurkunde 443/1881; Meldekartei Celle; Stolpersteine in der Hamburger Isestraße, S. 168; Gesche-M. Cordes, Stolpersteine und Angehörige in Hamburg, S. 220; www.leer.de; www.dasjuedischehamburg.de; unveröffentlichtes Interview mit Gerda Zamory am 27.6.1993; Frank Bajohr, Arisierung, S. 348; Grabsteine auf dem jüdischen Friedhof Ilandkoppel.