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Hilda Gutmann (née Wiener) * 1892
Grindelhof 9 (Eimsbüttel, Rotherbaum)
Sally Sielcer, born 20 June 1886 in Berlin, deported 25 Oct. 1941 to Lodz, died there 15 Dec. 1941
Fritz Norbert Sielcer, born 18 Oct. 1922 in Hamburg, deported 25 Oct. 1941 to Lodz, died there 15 Mar. 1942
Margot Hanna Sielcer, born 19 Dec. 1923 in Hamburg, deported 25 Oct. 1941 to Lodz, died there 15 May 1942
Rutschbahn 33 (Eimsbüttel, Rotherbaum)
Hilda Gutmann, née Wiener, formerly Sielcer, born 3 Oct. 1892 in Hamburg, deported 25 Oct. 1941 to Lodz, died there 17 Feb. 1942
Ilse Blume Gutmann, born 9 Mar. 1937 in Hamburg, deported 25 Oct. 1941 to Lodz, died there 14 Feb. 1942
Grindelhof 9 (Eimsbüttel, Rotherbaum)
Sally Sielcer was born on 20 June 1886 in Berlin. His parents were Abraham Sielcer, a shoe salesman, and his wife Johanna. Sally did a commercial apprenticeship in Berlin, then moved to Hamburg. He became a member of the Jewish Community in Hamburg on 14 October 1920. He moved to Hamburg in order to marry Hilda Wiener. The wedding took place one month after his arrival, on 25 November 1920.
Hilda Wiener was born on 3 October 1892 in Hamburg. She was the eldest daughter of Martin and Blume Wiener. Together with her sister Senta, she ran an electronics shop at Bülcherstraße 5.
Sally and Hilda Sielcer’s first child, Alfred, was born on 13 September 1921, but he died just one month after his birth, on 30 October 1921. One year later, on 18 October 1922, their son Fritz Norbert was born, followed by their daughter Margot Hanna the next year, on 19 December 1923.
Hilda’s sister Senta had married the wealthy leather goods merchant and furrier Benjamin "Benno” Kurz in 1921. The sisters transferred the ownership of their electronics shop to Sally Sielcer, but he gave it up a short time later. The Sielcer family moved to Humboldstraße. When their financial situation worsened they moved in with Hilda’s mother Blume Wiener on Goebenstraße. They were now dependent on welfare subsidies. Both Sally and Hilda were looking for work, but Sally became ever more frustrated. He had given up hope of finding an office job, and tried to find work as a manual laborer. The children, who were two and three years old, attended a pre-school for children of needy families. The family received 24 Reichsmarks per week from the welfare office. After the rent of 10 Reichsmarks and the school fees of 5.40 Reichsmarks, the family was left with 8.60 Reichsmarks for living expenses. Because of their financial difficulties, Sally began selling sewing notions door-to-door. But because he did not report his income from these sales to the welfare office, they cancelled their support payment in 1927, despite Sally Sielcer’s official protest.
The family changed addresses often in the following years. Sally Sielcer was admitted to the Eppendorf Hospital on 6 July 1932, where the doctors diagnosed multiple sclerosis. Hilda chose not to continue to live with her ill husband, and moved out of the apartment at Rappstraße 18 with the two children. The landlord attempted to confiscate her furniture as compensation for unpaid rent, but the chairman of the Jewish Community negotiated a settlement.
Hilda Sielcer was only able to pay the rent for the new apartment at Kirchenstraße 7 with the help of her well-to-do brother-in-law, the leather goods merchant Benno Kurz, and the support of the Jewish Community. Sally Sielcer, who was still in the hospital, supported his wife’s choice to move out of their apartment. After he was released from the hospital, he lived just a few houses away, at Rappstraße 40. There is no information available about the progress of his illness. The couple divorced on 13 December 1932.
Because Sally Sielcer was not a German citizen, he was expelled from Hamburg in May 1933 and he returned to Berlin. A few months later he returned to Hamburg and began to sell shawls, stockings and sweaters on commission. After his rent and child support payments, little remained of his weekly earnings of 10-12 Reichsmarks.
Hilda Sielcer also had financial problems. After working for a short time as a stenographer, she planned to go into business for herself. She did not have the necessary start-up capital, however, and was once again forced to depend on welfare. The children Fritz and Margot attended a day-care on Johnsallee in the afternoon after school.
In 1935, the family moved to Schanzenstraße 41. Both children were now in the upper grades at the Talmud Tora school, which had been opened to girls when the Nazis came to power in early 1933. They spent their holidays in 1935 at the Ruggenbergen day camp.
In 1935, Hilda Sielcer started a relationship with her neighbor, the exterminator Josef Rosenstein, who rented rooms at Schanzenstraße 36. When a welfare agent met Josef Rosenstein while visiting Hilda’s apartment in early 1936, both he and Hilda said they were planning to marry and move in together. These plans were short-lived, however, since Hilda realized that Rosenstein would not be able to provide for her. He nevertheless continued to visit her often, and when the welfare agent inquired with a neighbor about him in December, he was told not only that Rosenstein was "a lowlife,” who "only visited S.(ielcer) when he was out of money” and who often beat her, but also that Hilda Sielcer was pregnant by him. Josef Rosenstein denied responsibility, expressed doubt that he was the father, and announced that he was leaving Hilda. The conflict could not be resolved, as he was arrested later that month on charges of "racial defilement” with an "Aryan.” He was sent to the Sachesenhausen Concentration Camp without a trial and died there on 29 June 1940.
On 19 January 1937, Karl Gutmann rented the family’s back room, which had been Fritz’ room. Karl Gutmann (*1866) had come to Hamburg in 1929. He had previously been married and was unemployed. He had received welfare benefits since 1929, but they were hardly enough to live on. There are records of several special dispensations for shoes and one for food, after he had gone without food for three days, and one instance of fraud. He had failed to report earned income to the welfare agency. He was sentenced to two months in prison in 1934. Shortly before he had moved in with the Sielcers, he had spent a year in prison at the Fuhlsbüttel Concentration Camp on charges of "attempted racial defilement.”
Hilda’s and Josef Rosentein’s, who was now in prison, daughter was born on 9 March 1937. Hilda named her Ilse Blume. When Hilda and her lodger Karl Gutmann became engaged shortly thereafter, the 14-year-old Fritz moved in with his father, who was now selling neckties. He tried to find a job for his son.
Hilda and Karl Gutmann married on 24 June 1937, and they and Hilda’s daughters moved into a larger apartment on Schulterblatt. The welfare agency remarked in the records that the marriage seemed to be good for both partners. The home was orderly, and the infant daughter was well cared-for and lively.
On 9 March 1938 Sally Sielcer found a job for his son Fritz as a delivery boy at the Textilia company. Margot finished her schooling at about the same time. The 14-year-old tried to find an apprenticeship with the help of the welfare agency. When this attempt remained unsuccessful, she made plans to attend the Women’s School in Wolfratshausen, which would be financed by the Jewish Community. But these plans failed as well. She thus took a job as household help with an unmarried woman. After only a month, her employer could no longer afford the position, and Margot had to look for a new job. Her mother was so involved with caring for the younger daughter, who had just learned to walk, that she didn’t notice that Margot had turned down a job offered by the welfare agency. Only when a welfare agent warned Hilda did she realize what had happened. Luckily Margot had already found a job as a delivery girl for the Robinson ladies’ and children’s clothing company.
In 1938, the situation for Jews in Germany worsened drastically. "Operation Work-Shy Reich,” initiated in April of that year with the intention of arresting so-called asocial persons, quickly became an instrument of anti-Semitism, and was expanded to include Jews who had a criminal record. Karl Gutmann, who had two previous convictions, was arrested on 14 June 1938 and spent ten days in the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp. One month later Fritz lost his job at Textilia. Sally Sielcer was arrested during the November Pogrom and sent first to the Fuhlsbüttel Concentration Camp, from which he was transferred to the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp on 11 November 1938. Fritz gave up the room he was renting with the Arendar family on Heinrich-Barth-Straße and moved back in with his mother. His father remained in Sachsenhausen until 21 December 1938.
Like many of the Jews who were released from concentration camps, Karl Gutmann attempted to arrange for himself and his family to emigrate as quickly as possible. This proved to be difficult, even though the expulsion of the Jews was, at this point, still the goal of National Socialist policy. Especially for poor Jews like the Gutmanns, it was nearly impossible to find the money to emigrate and to get the necessary visas. In such cases, the Hilfsverein der Juden in Deutschland (Relief Organization for Jews in Germany) and the Warburg Secretariat, founded by the Hamburg banker Max Warburg, offered help. There were only a few destinations left, among them Shanghai, which had the advantage of requiring no entry visa. But the journey by ship, train, or land cost more than the family could afford. In a letter to the welfare agency, Karl Gutmann wrote that the Warburg Secretariat was prepared to contribute to the costs if he could pay the remainder of 150 Reichsmarks. Since the welfare agency refused payment for his wife and daughter, Karl Gutmann left Hamburg alone on 10 May 1939 for Shanghai. Hilda Gutmann and her daughter Ilse were to follow later. Until 1940, Hilda took steps to follow her husband to Shanghai. She planned to send her daughter Margot to her Aunt Senta in the US. Hilda’s sister and brother-in-law and their son Gerhardt Martin (later Gary Martin) had left Germany in late 1933 after the first Nazi boycotts of their leather goods stores, first for Palestine and then later for New York. They helped their niece Margot financially – one transfer of 50 Reichsmarks in 1939 is documented.
But Hilda’s emigration plans never came to fruition. She had to remain in Hamburg, and she and her two daughters and her son Fritz had to change residences again and again. One of their many addresses was Grindelhof 8. Sally Sielcer, who had, in the meantime, lost his job, lived at Rutschbahn 33 as a lodger with the Markus family. New regulations forbade him from working as a door-to-door salesman, so he did construction work in Blankenese. He left the house at 5:45 in the morning and didn’t return until 6:00 in the evening.
In October 1941 the situation of the Jews who remained in Germany became dramatically worse. The goal of the National Socalist policy was no longer the expulsion of the Jews – emigration was prohibited and systematic deportations were initated. There was no longer any chance for Hilda Gutmann to flee the country and join her husband in Shanghai.
In early October, the first deportation orders were issued in Hamburg. Jews were instructed to gather at the former Freemasons Lodge on Moorweidenstraße. Among the 1,037 persons who were deported from there to Lodz on 25 October 1941 were Sally Sielcer, Hilda Gutmann, their children Fritz and Margot Sielcer, and Hilda’s daughter Ilse Gutmann.
When they arrived in the Lodz Ghetto, the entire family was housed in a room at Hanseatenstraße 48 (the street was also called Sonnenleite). The Lodz Ghetto was established as a production ghetto – the residents manufactured textiles for the Wehrmacht and for clothing companies. Because of the overpopulation and the difficult supply situation, the death rate was very high. Sally Sielcer, aged 55, was the first member of the family to fall victim to the catastrophic living conditions. He died on 15 December 1941. On 14 February 1942, four-year-old Ilse died of starvation, as did her 49-year-old mother three days later. Only Fritz, aged 19, and Margot, aged 18, remained. They died on 15 March 1942 and 15 June 1942, respectively.
Sally’s sister Bertha Rosenstein, who had remained in Berlin, was deported to Theresienstadt in 1943. She was murdered there on 4 May 1943.
Stand Februar 2015
© Louis Wörner
Translator: Amy Lee
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.
© Louis Wörner
Quellen: Hamburger Adressbücher (HAB) 1922–1941; StaHH, 522-1 Jüdische Gemeinden, 992b, Kultussteuerkartei der Deutsch-Israelitischen Gemeinde Hamburg, Sally Sielcer, (Karl) Hilda Gutmann, Fritz Sielcer, Margot Sielcer, (Martin) Blume Wiener; StaHH, 351-14 Fürsorgeakten, 1999/2, 1832 Sally Sielcer; 861 Gutmann; 862 Sielcer; 863 Margot Sielcer; StaHH, 332-5 Standesämter, 8743 (792/1920), Trauschein Sally Sielcer und Hilda Sielcer; StaHH 353-34, Band 2, Häftlingslisten Fuhlsbüttel; StaHH, 351-11 Amt für Wiedergutmachung, 9679 Wiedergutmachungsakte Benno Kurz; Beate Meyer: Das "Schicksalsjahr 1938" und die Folgen, in: dies. (Hg.) Die Verfolgung und Ermordung der Hamburger Juden 1933–1945. Geschichte. Zeugnis. Erinnerung, Hamburg 2006; Dorothea Hauser: Zwischen Gehen und Bleiben, Das Sekretariat Warburg und sein Netzwerk des Vertrauens 1938–1941, in: Susanne Heim, Beate Meyer, Francis Nicosia (Hrsg.): "Wer bleibt, opfert seine Jahre vielleicht sein Leben", Deutsche Juden 1938–1942, S. 115–133; Sarne, Fritz: Bericht über die Deportationen nach Lodz, Erinnerungen aufgezeichnet am 8. Januar 1990 von MatthiasHeyl, in: Meyer (Hg.): Verfolgung, S. 131; www.bundesarchiv/gedenkbuch (Zugriff 26.2.2014); Archiwum Państwowe w Łodzi, An- und Abmeldungen.