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Carl Theodor Griesel * 1879

Ifflandstraße ggü. Einmündung Schröderstr. (vormals Schröderstraße 5) (Hamburg-Nord, Hohenfelde)

JG. 1879

Carl August Theodor Griesel, born on 27 Nov. 1879 in Kassel, died of the effects of imprisonment on 5 Feb. 1942

Ifflandstrasse across from the junction of Schröderstrasse (formerly Schröderstrasse 5)

In the family of Johanna and Bruno Beger, the memory of "Grandpa” Carl Griesel has always remained alive and found its expression in the laying of a Stolperstein for him next to the "Schwimmoper” (an indoor pool nicknamed "Aquatic Opera”) in Hamburg. This used to be the location of the residential building at Schröderstrasse 5, where Carl Griesel lived for a long time. When Johanna Beger asked her daughter Renate about her grandfather’s memories shortly before her death in Oct. 1989, these had condensed into "love and kindness.” Renate Beger, married name Tubenthal, lives with inner pictures of her grandfather. She does not own a photo of him, and apparently, none seems to exist.

Carl August Theodor Griesel was born in Kassel on 27 Nov. 1879. His mother Anna Elisabeth, born near Fritzlar in 1850, had worked as a maid and shepherdess before moving to Kassel and gave birth to her first son, Adam, in 1871. While nothing is known about Carl’s father, he was apparently a well-off member of the middle class. When Carl was six years old, his mother, who in the meantime had also made a living as a nurse and launderer, married the tailor August Alsfeld. He was 13 years her senior and had already been married. He did not adopt his stepson Carl Griesel. One year after getting married, Elisabeth Alsfeld gave birth to her son August, the following year to her daughter Anna Katharina Maria Elisabeth, and in 1890 to another son who died as an infant. Carl was 14 years old and already attended high school when his youngest half-brother, Johann David August Ernst, was born in 1894. The family belonged to the Reformed Church and was strictly religious.

Instead of studying, as his biological father had apparently wished, Carl Griesel sought a way to become independent as quickly as possible. He went into the commercial field as a sales representative, joining a Christian publishing house, presumably Oncken-Verlag, which had moved its headquarters from Hamburg to the more central city of Kassel in 1899. At the beginning of 1901, Carl Griesel resided temporarily in Hamburg. He returned to Kassel repeatedly between his travels and then lived in the household of his mother and his stepfather. This did not change with his marriage. Shortly before his twenty-second birthday, on 23 Nov. 1901, he married Augusta Maria Degenhardt, who was also from Kassel. Their first child, their daughter Hertha Maria, died in the first year of her life, as did their third daughter Johanna Elisabeth. Both girls were born in Kassel. The second daughter, Elsa, at least survived infancy. She was born in Düsseldorf, where Carl and Maria Griesel resided in 1902. In 1903, Düsseldorf became the base to which both returned repeatedly until Carl deregistered with the authorities for good in 1909. He wished to go "traveling.” His wife stayed in Düsseldorf for another year. The marriage was divorced on 6 Aug. 1911.

Carl Griesel’s mother Elisabeth Alsfeld had already died in Kassel on 16 Apr. 1911 at the age of 61. In Nov. 1911, his only sister married a typesetter. The stepfather, August Alsfeld, outlived his widow by 13 years and died in 1924 at the age of 87.

Carl Griesel met the seamstress Martha Pauline Strauch on a business trip to Breslau (today Wroclaw in Poland) on the Oder River. She was born on 1 Dec. 1886 in Ohlau/Lower Silesia (today Olawa in Poland) and came from a large Roman Catholic family. For professional reasons, Carl Griesel moved to Hamburg, where Martha Strauch took a job in a cleaning business. On 20 Mar. 1915, the only daughter Johanna Charlotte, also called Hanni, was born. The parents got married much later.

In the early 1920s, Martha Strauch moved to Breslau with her then school-age daughter, who attended school there for three and a half years. Afterward, they both returned to Hamburg and Johanna changed to the girls’ high school on Lerchenfeld. Martha Strauch took over the management of a branch of a women’s finery store and converted to the Lutheran faith. On 27 Oct. 1927, she married Carl Griesel. Both lived in what was then Stellbergstrasse 19 (today Starstrasse) in Barmbek-Nord. Their witnesses to the marriage were a messenger and an office assistant from the state almshouse on Oberaltenallee/Uhlenhorst.

Johanna Strauch kept her mother’s former name. She finished her school education with a vocational baccalaureate diploma (Fachabitur) and subsequently completed a commercial apprenticeship; in her family, a proper education was a matter of course for girls, too.

Carl Griesel’s activities as a sales representative were repeatedly interrupted by unemployment. Several times, he also took up work in the port, which was never of long duration due to his weak physical constitution. His wife Martha’s income did not make up for the losses, which is why the family often moved and temporarily resided as subtenants. In 1930, Carl Griesel was listed in the Hamburg directory as head of the household with the family residing in their own apartment at Haynstrasse 20, after that again only starting in 1936 at Schröderstrasse 5.

Carl Griesel’s value system was based on his strictly religious upbringing. From this, he developed his humanistic view of the world, acquired his far-reaching education autodidactically, and attached importance to aesthetics. He became a member of a Masonic lodge. Politically, he was German-national, but remained non-partisan and opposed to the Nazi ideology. However, his daughter’s marriage forced him to deal with that worldview. In 1937, Johanna Strauch married Bruno Beger, born on 2 Feb. 1911 in Hamburg. He was a trained confectioner and, according to his daughter’s description, an "idealistic National Socialist.” Residing at Jean-Paul-Weg 4 in Winterhude, he became a full-time district propaganda leader of District 4 (today the central area of the Hamburg-Mitte district). Apparently, Carl Griesel managed to keep his relationship with his son-in-law somewhat free of tension. The latter left Hamburg around the turn of the year 1939/1940 to take up the post as district office leader (Kreisamtsleiter) in Kalisch (today Kalisz in Poland) in the "Reichsgau Wartheland” (Warthegau) under the local Gauleiter and Reich Governor (Reichsstatthalter) Arthur Greiser.

Carl Griesel was particularly pleased when his first grandchild, Renate, was born on 8 July 1938; however, when his second granddaughter was born in 1941, he only found out about it, but he did not get to see her anymore.

Details of the following, confused years can no longer be sorted out entirely. Carl Griesel maintained contacts with young people, debated with them, and ran a youth theater. Probably because of his non-conformism he was denounced, which resulted in police raids and two-time imprisonment. After the second prison term, from which he was released seriously ill, he was accommodated in the men’s home of the Salvation Army at Gustavstrasse 12 in Hammerbrook. His wife, meanwhile completely destitute, could not afford the cost of his treatment. In early 1942, she visited her daughter Johanna in Silesia, who stayed at a health resort there. Consequently, she was not present when Carl Griesel was admitted to the auxiliary hospital at Kaiser-Friedrich-Ufer 6, which belonged to the Eppendorf University Hospital, on 3 Feb. 1942. He died there of high blood pressure and cardiac asthma on 5 Feb. 1942 at the age of 62. On the death certificate, his original profession, "books representative,” was entered initially, then "books” was crossed out. Carl Griesel was buried in the Ohlsdorf cemetery. There was no money for a tombstone.

Martha Griesel moved in with her children in Kalisch (formerly Poland, at the time, "Reichsgau Wartheland”) and fled with them back to West Germany at the end of the war. She died in 1953 in Wehnen near Bad Zwischenahn.

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

Stand: December 2019
© Hildegard Thevs mit Renate Tubenthal

Quellen: StaH 332-5 Standesämter 6664 u. 443/1927 (Nebenregister); 8181 u. 179/1942; StaH 352-5 Todesbescheinigungen 1942 StA 2b, Nr. 179; Hamburger Adressbücher 1915–1943; BA NSDAP-Gaukartei, NSDAP-Zentralkartei; Gaunachrichten Hamburg; E-Mail 31.10.12 Ulf Bollmann; Stadtarchiv Kassel, Melderegistereinträge, E-Mail 3.7.2009, 19.11.2012; Stadtarchiv Düsseldorf, Melderegister, E-Mail 21.11.2012.

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