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Alice Graff (verw. Sochaczewski), undatiertes Porträtfoto
Alice Graff (undatiertes Foto)
© Privat

Alice Graff (née Müller) * 1887

Großneumarkt 38 (vorm. Schlachterstraße) (Hamburg-Mitte, Neustadt)

JG. 1887

further stumbling stones in Großneumarkt 38 (vorm. Schlachterstraße):
Hanna Aghitstein, Julie Baruch, Ludwig Louis Baruch, Julius Blogg, Rebecca Blogg, Kurt Cossmann, Mathilde Cossmann, Frieda Dannenberg, Leopold Graff, Flora Halberstadt, Elsa Hamburger, Herbert Hamburger, Louis Hecker, Max Hecker, Marianne Minna Hecker, Lea Heymann, Alfred Heymann, Wilma Heymann, Paul Heymann, Jettchen Kahn, Adolf Kahn, Curt Koppel, Johanna Koppel, Hannchen Liepmann, Henriette Liepmann, Bernhard Liepmann, Johanna Löwe, Martin Moses, Beate Ruben, Flora Samuel, Karl Schack, Minna Schack, Werner Sochaczewski, Margot Sochazewski, verh. Darvill, Sophie Vogel, Sara Vogel

Alice Graff, née Müller, widowed name Sochaczewski, born on 18 Feb.1887 in Hamburg, deported to Minsk and murdered on 18 Nov. 1941
Werner Sochaczewski, born on 16 Feb. 1914 in Hamburg, deported to Minsk and murdered on 8 Nov. 1941

Grossneumarkt 38 (formerly Schlachterstrasse 46/47, Lazarus-Gumpel-Stift)

Alice Graff’s grandfather Siegmund Sußmann Haarburger was the first "cemetery inspector” and administrator, respectively, of the Jewish Cemetery on Ilandkoppel in Ohlsdorf, which was newly opened in 1883. Since he had already held this office at the Grindelfriedhof, he had asked for his dismissal in Ohlsdorf, recommending his assistant Siegmund Müller to become his successor, a "young man of pleasant appearance ... [a] solid, diligent and hard-working man,” who in his main job was a "cigar sorter.”

Siegmund Müller’s parents were the cigar worker Aron Müller and his wife Jette, née Marcus. Besides, Siegmund Haarburger wanted him to marry his daughter Emilie. (More details about the Haarburger family are available in the biography on Martha Polack.)

Emilie Haarburger (born on 29 Sept. 1858) and Siegmund Müller (born on 7 Aug. 1858) married in Jan. 1885, and one year later, the first of their nine children was born. Ernst Aaron, the oldest, was followed by Alice, whose life is to be traced here. After three more daughters (Hedwig Jeanette in 1888, Gertrud Flora in 1889, and Margaretha Emmi in 1890), the sons Carl Hertz, Hans Josef, Paul Edgar, and Willi Leopold were born in 1891, 1893, 1894, and 1897.

At the latest since 1892, the family lived on the site of the Israelite burial ground. Siegmund Müller’s employment contract dated 1895 states that he was obliged to live in the rent-free official residence. The building still exists today. The inspector earned 2,500 marks a year plus fuel. In return for this, he had to fulfill a multitude of tasks and was not allowed to engage in trade or any job on the side.

The family lived according to Jewish rites, with the father saying a prayer before each meal. We do not know what it meant for Alice to grow up in a cemetery, nor are any details known about her education. She probably worked as a domestic help until her marriage. In Dec. 1907, she was 20 years old and married Heinrich Sochaczewski (born on 1 Sept. 1869), a native of Breslau (today Wroclaw in Poland). He was the son of the merchant Hermann Sochaczewski and his wife Ernestine, née Brieger, who had both died by the time of the wedding.

On 3 Oct. 1908, Edith, the oldest daughter of Alice and Heinrich, was born. Heinrich, as the head of the family, was listed in the Hamburg directory with frequently changing addresses during the first years of marriage, almost always in the area around St. Michael’s Church. The period from 1920 to 1929 was apparently somewhat calmer, with the family living in the same apartment in the Steinhöft 6 during these years. Heinrich’s occupational designation was "agent,” also: general manager, commercial agent, merchant, and representative. Son Werner Hermann was born on 16 Feb. 1914, the second daughter Margot on 8 July 1918.

Both girls attended the Israelite girls’ school. Edith completed an apprenticeship with Hirsch und Co. on Reesendamm from 1924 to 1927 and then worked as a sales assistant at various Hamburg department stores and fashion houses, including Karstadt and the Ostindienhaus on Neuer Wall. Werner must have been impaired by a learning disability or developmental delay. In the files evaluated, he was repeatedly described as "feebleminded” ("schwachsinnig”). (Used in psychiatry well into the twentieth century as a synonym for the graded degrees of mental retardation, the term "feeblemindedness” is today considered obsolete, judgmental, and discriminatory and it is no longer used.)

Werner was dismissed from the "special school” at Mühlenstrasse 4 in 1928, at the age of 14. Afterward, he worked as a messenger, later he was used in the context of "compulsory labor” ("Pflichtarbeit”) programs inside and outside Hamburg. As a result, he must have acquired some everyday practical skills.

Alice Sochaczewski lost her father in 1923, and her husband died in 1929. By then, her children were 11, 15, and 20 years old. Until 1933, Alice apparently managed to make a living, and then the Nazi regime affected her life as well. She found herself compelled to apply for state support. The following information emerges from the relevant file. Since Jewish companies were driven into ever greater economic difficulties and had to lay off workers, Werner lost his job as a messenger. After three months, Margot had to quit her apprenticeship, just started, at the Texta Company because "the company can no longer sustain the training of apprentices.” Maybe with Edith’s help, she got a job at the Ostinindienhaus, a women’s clothing store. At that time, Alice worked as a checkroom attendant in the Schauburg movie theater on nearby Millerntor. A difficult time began for the family. At the beginning of 1934, Werner’s unemployment benefits were to be cancelled, but his mother successfully appealed against the measure. However, she was always worried about him. In Feb. 1934, she wrote to Welfare Office I: "My son has been working for 6 marks a week for eight days now. Since he unfortunately attends special school and therefore is not able to perform like a ‘normal boy,’ I am therefore anxious every day about his impending dismissal. As well, the younger daughter, who earns 7 marks, will become unemployed again at the end of March.” One month later, in Mar. 1934, Alice must have been at the end of her tether, and she could no longer cope with Werner. A handwritten report of the welfare authority, parts of which are badly legible, reads, among other things: "Mrs. S. communicates that son Werner, who is feebleminded [!], has been enticed by other younger (students?) to surrender his things to them. Apparently, they sold everything and stole from the sister of the boy. S. then spent 5 days roaming around with the others and arrived back at the mother’s half-starved. Allegedly, he himself is not responsible for his actions. The mother has handed over the matter to the public prosecutor’s office and the items allegedly have been confiscated in six different pawnshops (?). One of the young robbers (?) has already been caught by the police. The mother urgently asks for the boy to be admitted to a home for imbeciles, but not a workhouse, since she herself is at work and cannot leave the boy alone. She fears that he will want to roam around again (?) because he cannot be influenced.” Marginalia: "Mrs. S. also wants to make an effort with the Jewish Community.”

Fortunately for Werner, it did not come to admission to a home, but he was enlisted to perform "welfare work” ("Unterstützungsarbeit”). However, this did not unfold smoothly at the beginning. On 1 Nov. 1934, for example, the report reads: "S. is a good worker and can be used here [at a sports field construction site in Neuhof],” but on 8 Nov., he was dismissed because of differences with the supervisor. In the following years, periods of unemployment alternated with periods of work at various places: in 1935, for example, in Ohlsdorf and again on a sports field in Neuhof, from 1938 onward, even in Frankfurt/Oder, Flensburg, and in Schleswig at the peat briquette plant.

The oldest daughter Edith had moved out of her home in 1934 and rented accommodation as a subtenant. In 1935, Alice lost her job at the movie theater; in 1936, she took her mother Emilie Müller into her apartment at Anberg 12. Emilie Müller died in Dec. 1937 in the Israelite Hospital. For many years, she had been financially supported by her oldest son Ernst. Alice and Werner also each received 10 RM monthly from him as a means of subsistence.

In Sept. 1938, a report by the welfare authorities after a house visit to Alice Sochaczewski showed the following situation: Alice worked irregularly as a checkroom attendant in the Jewish Community’s assembly hall and received unemployment benefits; Margot earned 60 to 70 marks a month as a sales assistant at the Ostindienhaus. Since 3 May [1938], the family lived in a one-and-a-half-bedroom apartment in the Lazarus-Gumpel-Stift, a residential home, for a monthly rent of 5 marks.

A little later, in Dec. 1938, Margot Sochaczewski lost her job as the fashion house became "Aryanized.” Shortly afterward, she managed to escape to Britain on a servant visa. Probably her cousin Margarethe, the daughter of Alice’s sister Gertrud, had helped her, because she was already working in an English household in the same area where Margot found employment.

Alice’s daughters then mastered their lives in a faraway place, despite the most difficult of conditions, but Alice could not save herself and her son. No country of refuge would have accepted Werner because of his disability. However, she did not stay all by herself. In 1937, she got engaged to Leopold Graff (see corresponding entry), and in Mar. 1939, the two got married. One last official piece of information about their lives emerges from a form for the employment office from Oct. 1939: Werner had been placed for work to Frankfurt/Oder. "In case of renewed unemployment, there is no need for assistance, since the stepfather is gainfully employed and earns 35 RM [reichsmark] per week.” Two years later, Werner Sochaczewski and Alice and Leopold Graff received the deportation order to Minsk for 18 Nov. 1942. All traces of them disappear in the ghetto there.

How did the other members of the family fare?
Alice’s brother Ernst Müller (born on 3 Feb. 1886), an accountant by profession, had emigrated to the USA as early as 1906. After working for an uncle in Texas for a short time, he moved to New Orleans, married a Danish woman and had four children with her. Following the death of his first wife in 1920, he entered a second marriage, to a widowed childhood friend from Hamburg. According to one granddaughter, Ernst and his wife helped many family members arrange their saving immigration to the USA. He later transferred the special connection to Alice to her daughters. Ernst Müller died in New Orleans in 1963.

Her sister Jeannette Hedwig, born on 22 Feb. 1888, was married to the commercial clerk Hugo Ludwig Kauffmann, who belonged to the Lutheran denomination. Although Jeannette was not directly threatened by deportation during the Nazi era, she and her husband were "forced to leave their apartment, which they had occupied for almost 25 years, upon being reported to police by their neighbors.” From Oct. 1944 until the end of the war, Hugo Kauffmann had to perform forced labor as a "person interrelated to Jews” ("jüdisch Versippter") in clearing rubble. Her son was not allowed to marry his "Aryan” girlfriend and was under constant Gestapo surveillance after the marriage was refused. Jeannette Kauffmann died in Hamburg in 1963.

Another sister of Alice, Gertrud Flora, born on 4 May 1889 and a cleaning worker by trade, had been married in her first marriage to the non-Jewish Protestant office clerk Nikolaus Konrad Horn. Their only child, daughter Margarethe Emilie, was born on 5 Feb. 1910. The family had lived in Berlin since 1911. After the divorce in 1921, mother and daughter had moved back to Hamburg. Two years later, Gertrud had entered into a new marriage with a non-Jewish man who was also a Protestant, Gustav Friedrich Dawartz (born on 28 Aug. 1869 in Bujendorf/Lübeck), a travelling salesman. Gertrud completed a cosmetics course and treated customers in her apartment on Fuhlsbütteler Strasse starting in the mid-1920s. After the Nuremberg Laws came into force, she was no longer allowed to treat "Aryan women.” Her daughter, a trained infant and visiting nurse, emigrated to Great Britain in 1937 because she did not see any career prospects in Germany. She worked as a domestic help.

Since their apartment in Fuhlsbütteler Strasse 5 was totally destroyed in July 1943 as a result of an air raid, Gertrud and Gustav Dawartz were evacuated to Parsberg near Regensburg. According to her husband, Gertrud was arrested in Sept. 1943 due to a denunciation. In Apr. 1944, she was transferred from Regensburg prison to the Auschwitz extermination camp, where she perished on 12 Aug. 1944. Her husband died in 1946.

Alice’s youngest sister, Margaretha Emmi (born on 27 June 1890) had married the Protestant sales clerk Martin Anton Gach in 1912. The couple had two children. From Oct. 1944 until the end of the war, the son was also "enlisted for labor duty” as a "half-Jew” ("Halbjude”) in clean-up and salvage operations, and he was only able to marry his "Aryan” fiancée in 1945. Margaretha Gach had no vocational training and worked as a housewife. At the end of 1942, she was employed for a short time in the Jewish retirement home on Schäferkampsallee. In 1943, she lost her apartment in an air raid and found shelter with the divorced first wife of her brother Paul Edgar. On one of the last transports, she was deported to the Theresienstadt Ghetto in Feb. 1945. On 30 June 1945, she returned to Hamburg. Her husband died in 1966; she herself passed away in 1976.

Alice’s brother Carl (born on 11 Aug. 1891) had joined the Hamburg German-Israelitic Community in 1920. His Jewish religious tax (Kultussteuer) file card indicates his occupation as that of a "casual laborer.” Carl remained single and lived temporarily with his parents, but also as a subtenant at various addresses. Since Jan. 1938, he lived in the Farmsen "care home” ("Versorgungsheim” Farmsen). We do not know whether the death of his mother a month earlier was connected with the date of his admission to this institution and for what reasons he was accommodated there. On 20 Sept. 1940, Carl was transferred to the Langenhorn State Hospital (Staatskrankenhaus Langenhorn), from where he was transported to the Brandenburg/Havel euthanasia killing center three days later and murdered.

Hans Josef Müller (born on 2 Jan. 1893), the next younger brother, had completed an apprenticeship as a hairdresser and he worked in his profession until he was drafted into the infantry in 1914. He fought on various fronts and was buried alive twice. After his discharge from the military in 1919, he lived and worked in Silesia, and from 1925 again in Hamburg. He perished on 6 Jan. 1943 in the Auschwitz extermination camp.

Paul Edgar Müller (born on 27 May 1894) completed an apprenticeship as a businessman in the Ed. Bintz Company on Ferdinandstrasse after attending Eppendorf Oberrealschule [a secondary school without Latin] and the Talmud Tora School. From May 1915 until the end of the First World War, he served as an infantryman on the Russian and French fronts. After his discharge from the military, he worked for a Dutch company for several years, before becoming self-employed in 1925. He had married in 1922 and had a daughter. In addition to his own company, "Paul Edgar Müller & Co., Hausmakler und Versicherungen,” a real estate agency for houses and insurance brokerage, Paul took over the general agency for Victoria-Versicherung zu Berlin, a pioneer in the field of so-called "people’s insurance” (Volksversicherung) and at times the largest German insurance company. According to later statements by his daughter, he earned a very good income until 1935. His marriage failed and in 1937, he was no longer allowed to manage his branch office because of anti-Jewish legislation. In July 1938, Paul managed to escape to New Orleans in the USA. Due to a lack of language skills, he did not find employment there until Mar. 1941. A year earlier, he had remarried, and this marriage, too, was divorced, in 1957. New Orleans as his refuge suggests that his oldest brother Ernst took him in or at least supported him financially. Paul Edgar Müller died in Apr. 1976 in the USA.

Alice’s youngest brother Willi (born on 5 Oct. 1899) also survived the Shoah. At the age of 18, he was drafted into the military and in 1917/1918, he participated as an infantryman in the First World War like his brothers. From 1921, he worked at the Langenhorn State Hospital, initially as an unexamined nurse. After training, he continued to work there in nursing until his dismissal in June 1936. At least, his employer paid him a "revocable maintenance allowance” of 113.88 RM (reichsmark) per month until 1939. However, his salary had been 241.96 RM a month.

In 1926, Willi had married in Garstedt Minna Ida Kock, who was not Jewish. The couple’s only child, a daughter, was born in 1928. In 1932, Willi suffered an injury and was blind in the right eye ever since. After he lost his job, his wife had to contribute to the family’s livelihood. She first worked in a private household, and in 1941, she was enlisted by the employment office as a tram conductor for the Hamburg public transit company. Although Willi enjoyed some protection because of his "Aryan” wife, he and his family suffered from anti-Jewish laws. They had to turn in their radio at the Gestapo office on Düsternstrasse and move into a "Jews’ house” ("Judenhaus”) on Dillstrasse in 1944. Willi was obligated to serve since 1939 as part of the "Jewish labor deployment” operated by the Hamburg Employment Office. The physically heavy work (excavation work in civil engineering, standing in groundwater without sufficient footwear, ten-hour shifts at night in a mill, which meant carrying heavy sacks, cleaning and repairing oil drums) left behind health problems which led to his early retirement in 1953. In addition, there was the mental strain. After the war, he stated for the record: "The threats of the foremen, who threatened to call the Gestapo if they felt that the work performance was inadequate, must in any case be regarded as harassment and difficulties. This fact became particularly evident as we witnessed on several occasions how Jewish comrades were arrested right on the spot at work by the Gestapo and have not returned to this day.” Willi Müller died in Hamburg in Mar. 1964.

Since Sept. 1936, Alice’s daughter Edith had been the senior sales assistant at the Robinsohn fashion house on Neuer Wall. There she had met her future husband Hans Kleinhon, who was her superior as department manager. The two married in Sept. 1937. Hans, born on 14 July 1895 in Dresden, had gained professional experience as manager of the fur and clothing department of a fashion house in his hometown and then took up a corresponding position in Nuremberg. From 1929 to 1936, he had been sales manager of a company in Düsseldorf. After the "Aryanization” of that business, the Hamburg fashion house hired him as sales manager of the women’s clothing department. His parents had died in Dresden in 1933 and 1936, respectively. Hans had a younger brother named Wilhelm (born on 7 Nov. 1896), who was a merchant by profession and lived in Dresden according to the 1939 national census. His fate is unknown to us.

Sophie Kleinhon, Hans’ younger sister (born on 18 Dec. 1898), had been detained at the Hellerberg assembly camp in Dresden since Nov. 1942. On 2 Mar. 1943, she was deported from there to the Auschwitz extermination camp and murdered one day later.

Edith and Hans lived on Behnstrasse in 1938. In the course of the November pogrom of 1938, Hans was "arrested away from the store” and taken with hundreds of other Jewish Hamburgers to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp. On 23 December, he was released on the condition that he leave Germany by the end of Feb. 1939. As the story went in the family, Edith bribed a guard she knew from her school days. She also managed to organize two ship passages to Shanghai. She gave up her own apartment, and until they fled, Edith and Hans lived as subtenants at Hegestieg 1 in Eppendorf. According to the file of the foreign currency office, they received 1040 RM from the Relief Organization of German Jews (Hilfsverein der deutschen Juden) toward emigration, as well as 800 RM from "Frau F. Heilbronn, Oderfelder Strasse 25.” This was Franziska Heilbron (see, who thus contributed to the survival of the couple. She herself was later deported from the Netherlands and murdered.

On 23 Feb. 1939, Edith and Hans set off on their journey to Shanghai. Upon arrival, the Jewish Refugee Committee received them. In the following years, they lived from the support of this organization and from the sale of their personal belongings. From May 1943 to 1945, Edith and Hans had to live in the Jewish ghetto established by the Japanese occupational force. After the liberation, it took more than two years until they were able to emigrate to the USA in Aug. 1947 with the help of Alice’s brother Ernst Müller. In Los Angeles, they had to get used to a new environment and learn a new language. Hans immediately began to work as a warehouse manager, so that he would no longer be dependent on the financial support of others. Edith found a job as a sales assistant in a women’s clothing store in West Hollywood and was soon entrusted with the management of a newly opened lingerie and hosiery store. She was very popular with her customers. Her niece, Margot’s daughter, remembers her first encounter: "One of my earliest memories dates back to 1953, when I was almost five years old. There was a lot of excitement in our house. My aunt, my mother’s sister, was supposed to be visiting from the USA. I was given a new dress and a bouquet of flowers to give to my aunt. My parents took the train with me to Southampton to pick them up from the ship, the Queen Mary. The embraces on the quay, the laughter, and the crying have left a deep impression on me. Only much later did I realize that this was my mother’s first reunion with her sister after 15 years.”

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

Stand: May 2020
© Sabine Brunotte

Quellen: 1; 5; 9; Speech at Lunch hosted by the 2nd. Mayor, Dr. Dorothee Stapelfeldt, in the Town Hall ‚Burgermeistersaal‘ in the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg on 13th. June, 2013 (by S. H.); Eulogy for Edith Kleinhon (born Sochaczewski) – spoken at her funeral in Los Angeles, U.S.A. – April 1991 (S.H. 2013); A Lost Story – the family and early life of Margot D. (born Sochaczewski) by S. H., August 2013; StaH 522-1_ 629d; StaH 332-5_8517; StaH 332-5 _7035; StaH 332-5_ 1070; StaH 332-5_ 3089; StaH 213-11_ 07506/39; StaH 332-5_ 7035; StaH 332-5 _952; StaH 351-11_ 32873; StaH 332-5_ 9508; Sterberegister Standesamt Berlin IV 1874–1920, Urkunde Nr. 366 (Tod Ernestine Sochaczewski); StaH 332-5_ 9549; Zugriff vom 30.10.2016; Meldewesen Karteikarten Siegmund Müller und Gertrud Flora Müller, 741-4 K 6646 und K 6641;, Hamburger Adressbücher 1907 bis 1929, Zugriff vom 10.1.2014; schriftliche Auskunft G.C., E-Mail vom 1. September 2015; StaH 351-11_ 8534; StaH 351-11_ 11219; StaH 351-11_ 38736; StaH 351-11_ 12753; StaH 332-5_ 9509; StaH 352-8/7 Staatskrankenanstalt Langenhorn, Abl. 1999/01 Kartei; StaH 351-11_16838; StaH 351-11_45379; StaH 351-11 _22011; StaH 351-11_22041; schriftliche Auskunft Stadtarchiv Dresden vom 15.1.2014; StaH 351-11_ 17511; StaH 314-15 Fvg 7115;, Zugriff vom 16.9.2015 (zum Tod von Margaretha Wooldridge, geb. Horn);, Zugriff vom 4.2.2017.
Zur Nummerierung häufig genutzter Quellen siehe Link "Recherche und Quellen".

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