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Margarethe Guradze (née Marckwald) * 1875
Feldbrunnenstraße 21 (Eimsbüttel, Rotherbaum)
Margaret(h)e Guradze, née Marckwald, born on 31 Aug. 1875 in Erdeborn/Mansfelder Seekreis (Lake District of Mansfeld), deported on 15 July 1942 to Theresienstadt, further deported on 15 May 1944 to Auschwitz
"Her name was Margarete Guradze and she was a member of the Zion Congregation in Hamburg of our Independent Lutheran Church – and she was Jewish at the same time. For a long time, the Congregation had managed to protect her. However, one day, Margarete Guradze was also taken away, back in those terrible years of the Third Reich. The pastor of the Congregation, Erwin Horwitz, himself of Jewish descent and only still in service because he did not belong to the Protestant state church and because he was thus not subject to the Aryan paragraph [Arierparagraph], visited her while she was still in the collection camp to comfort and strengthen her spiritually.
There he found Margarete Guradze calm and composed. She had been offered poison from all sides so that she could take her own life before deportation. However, she explained to her pastor, ‘I know that I must go on this path, just as the Apostle Paul says, ‘I have wished to be banished, in place of my brethren who have not accepted Jesus.’ I think it is important to have on this transport committed Christians who can encourage and strengthen others with the good news of Jesus Christ.’ Mrs. Guradze was murdered soon after in the gas chambers of Auschwitz.”
With this excerpt from a sermon held on 27 May 2009, the pastor of St. Mary’s Church (St. Marienkirche) of the Independent Lutheran Church in Berlin-Zehlendorf placed Margaret Guradze in a line with the Apostle Paul and Christian martyrs.
Nine years earlier, members of the Zion Congregation in Hamburg had already planted a tree to commemorate her in a grove in Israel, a result of the Congregation cherishing her memory. She was the only one among the 30 known members of Jewish descent in the Independent Lutheran Church who perished in the Shoah.
Since her birth in 1875 on a manor near Eisleben, Margarete Guradze had traveled a long life path, in both time and space, of which only individual stations are known to us. In particular, we do not know the reasons why she moved to Hamburg and joined the Independent Lutheran Church.
Margarete Ida Guradze – in the birth and marriage certificate still written with "th” – belonged by marriage to the solid middle-class Jewish-German families of Marckwald - Guradze - Liebermann - Pringsheim - Mann, families that helped shape the cultural life of Germany from the middle of the nineteenth century. Her grandfather, Naumann Wolff Marckwald, married to Fanny, née Markwald, lived as a merchant in Berlin.
His son Wilhelm, born about 1843, married to Elisabeth, called Elise, née Friedheim, acquired a manor in Erdeborn in the Mansfeld region (in today’s German federal state of Saxony-Anhalt) in 1872, where their daughter Margarete Ida was born on 31 Jan. 1875, and their daughter Käthe – later spelled "Käte” – on 17 Feb. 1877. Son Fritz Robert was born on 17 Oct. 1871 in Dresden and baptized in the Church of the Cross (Kreuzkirche). It was not possible to determine whether the birthplaces reflected the whereabouts and moves of the parents.
Margarete was baptized a Protestant after birth. Nothing is known about her education or interests. In 1893, her mother Elisabeth passed away and she was buried in the Jewish Cemetery in Halle.
At the time of Margarete’s wedding, "teacher” was entered as her profession. Presumably, she worked as a private teacher without formal training, because her name is not found in the directory of Prussian female teachers, nor is the profession listed in later documents. She was 23 years old when she married in Erdeborn Ernst Siegfried Guradze, a legal intern with a doctorate in law, on 4 Jan. 1897.
Like her, Ernst Guradze came from a manor, Czyste near Inowraglaw (Inowroclaw-Neubreslau), 40 kilometers (nearly 25 miles) southeast of Bromberg (today Bydgoszcz in Poland), where he had been born on 12 June 1871. His mother was the daughter of a manorial lord from Masselwitz (today Maslice, part of Wroclaw, in Poland). This was also the birthplace of Paul Guradze, who played a great role in Ernst’s and therefore Margarete’s later life.
At the age of nine, Ernst had been baptized in the Lutheran church of Bromberg. He had then graduated from the high school in Inowraglaw and had studied law and economics in Jena. His education had taken him to Mogilno in the regional court district of Gnesen (today Gnieznoin Poland), to Naumburg, Wittenberg, and Egeln, and eventually to Halberstadt. There he was working at the time of his wedding. His father, Manfred Guradze, was already deceased, and his mother resided in Dresden.
The witnesses to the marriage were young, like the bride and groom: Ernst’s brother Paul Guradze, at the time working in Strasbourg in Alsace, and 27-year-old farmer Felix Marckwald from Erdeborn. In Nov. 1897, their son Manfred was born, and in Sept. 1899, Ernst Guradze received the appointment as probationary judge.
Margarete’s brother Fritz married his brother-in-law’s sister Agnes Guradze, born on 8 Jan. 1881 in Czyste, who was ten years his junior. Their marriage produced a son, Wilhelm. The family moved to Dresden later. This was not the first marriage connecting the two families.
Around the turn of the century, Wilhelm Marckwald passed away in Erdeborn. An obituary from the church register has been preserved and it provides information about his social status and attitude:
"On 11 Nov. 1900, the patron of the church died: the manorial lord Wilhelm Marckwald. He was of Jewish descent and came from a Berlin banking family. Originally, he was far from Christian thinking; but at all times, he was the paragon of nobility, selflessness, charity, and modesty to the congregation. He was a generous, dutiful patron of the church and the school, and the longer he lived, the closer he became to Christianity. His death cast the whole congregation – without distinction of class – into deep mourning. His coffin lay in state at the church, where a funeral service was held on 13 Nov. 1900, with enormous attendance. He was buried in Halle, next to his wife. In memory of their father, the children gave – as he had stipulated – the church 300 marks, for which, at his request, two painted stained glass windows were placed on either side of the altar.”
Ernst Guradze’s subsequent work took him first to Altona and Kiel. In Altona, his brother Paul worked as an assistant physician at the municipal hospital. Whether Margarete went with him to Altona could not be determined from the existing registration records.
In Kiel, she gave birth to their two daughters Sophie Elisabeth Charlotte (born on (geb. 12.April 1902), called Ise, and Hedda Margarete (born on 12 July 1904). In June 1905, Ernst Guradze took up a position as a judge at the Regional Court in Cleve, which involved another move, followed by his appointment as an associate Regional Court judge in 1912. At the beginning of the First World War, he was reactivated, by then 43 years old, as a first lieutenant of the reserve. He took part in the entire war in front-line service, returning highly decorated, but also suffering from a heart condition. His son Manfred joined the navy as a war volunteer and he was killed in the Battle of Jutland in 1917.
Ernst Guradze sought a transfer to Wiesbaden, where his brother Paul held the position of chief physician of the Orthopedic Clinic (today St. Josephs-Hospital) by then. The transfer took place on 1 Apr. 1921, which meant another move for the family.
When Hedda Guradze emigrated years later, her list of moving goods included clothes and objects that testified to the fact that she had enjoyed an upper-class upbringing in her family, pursued sports, played or listened to music, read a lot, and had been interested in art and culture since her youth. She also wanted to take a souvenir with her, an object of value weighing 10 grams, which she described as a "baby rattle” made of ivory with a silver ball, which the appraising goldsmith deemed in Hamburg’s dialekt a "Klöterbüchse” ("rattle box”).
In 1922, Margarete and Ernst Guradze separated, but both remained in Wiesbaden. Their daughter Elisabeth married Werner Lieber, a Wiesbaden-born mining councilor ten years her senior, and lived with him and their son, born in 1924, in Krefeld; the daughter Hedda initially followed her inclinations and studied art history, German literature, archaeology and philosophy in Kiel, Freiburg and Munich with the aim of obtaining a doctorate, but then had to bow to economic necessities. Her parents had lost their fortune during the inflationary period and, living in the French-occupied Rhineland, could barely support their daughter. She decided to train as a librarian, which took her to Bonn, Elberfeld and Berlin, where she graduated with good grades. Her experiences persuaded her to apply for a job as a public librarian instead of a position at an academic library. At a time of great unemployment, she was immediately offered a position at the Hamburg Public Library on March 1, 1930.
Apparently, Margarete volunteered with the Red Cross in Wiesbaden, for which she received an "award for faithful service.”
With the transfer of power to Adolf Hitler, the material situation of Margarete and Ernst Guradze did not change at first, since he, as a front-line fighter and father of a son killed in World War I, was not affected by the "Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service” ("Gesetz zur Wiederherstellung des Berufsbeamtentums”) dated 7 Apr. 1933.
Margarete Guradze moved in with her daughter in Hamburg and, together with her, moved into a two-room apartment on the second floor of a city villa at Feldbrunnenstraße 21 in Rotherbaum on June 4, 1934, and joined the Zion congregation of the Independent Evangelical Lutheran Church in Hohenfelde.
In the fall of 1935, however, Ernst Guradze was suspended from judicial service "until further notice” based on the Reich Citizenship Law. He objected to this decision on the grounds that he was an "Aryan.” The Presiding Judge of the Higher Regional Court (Oberlandesgerichtspräsident) then obtained an expert opinion from Professor Richard Merkelein of the Seminar for Oriental Languages at the University of Berlin, who argued that the Guradze family ranked among the oldest Georgian nobility, which is why Ernst Guradze had to be recognized as an "Aryan.” Nevertheless, not being "German-blooded” enough, he was retired on 31 Dec. 1935 with a pension amounting 75% of his salary.
In 1939, her landlord changed. When Margarete Guradze had to join the Jewish Religious Organization (Jüdischer Religionsverband = Hamburg branch of the compulsory organization Reich Association of Jews, Reichsvereinigung der Juden, of which she had to become a member as a "racial full Jew”) in the same year, she stated that she was living as a subtenant with the house owner. He occupied the second floor with his housekeeper.
Hedda Goldschmidt became unemployed in 1937 and in the same year, she passed the examination in German and English standard shorthand and in ten-finger typing administered by the Hamburg Chamber of Commerce. In 1938, she found a position as a secretary. She pursued her emigration to the U.S., with financial support from her father, and left Hamburg in Apr. 1939, able to take a full household with her. Her mother was left behind in the apartment on her own.
As can be seen from the above obituary of Margarete Guradze, she was deeply rooted in the faith and in the Congregation. A congratulatory card for a confirmation has survived and, in addition to her participation in the life of the Congregation, it attests to her spelling of her name as "Margarete.” Her pastor Erwin Horwitz was a "Jewish crossbreed of the first degree” ("Mischling 1. Grades”) and married to a non-Jewish woman. Unlike Margarete Guradze, he was therefore not forced to join the Jewish Religious Organization, but he and his children suffered repression. Having such a pastor required the Congregation to take a stand, both spiritually and politically. Erwin Horwitz stood by his hard-pressed co-religionist.
When Ernst Guradze died on 10 June 1941, Margarete received the pension amounting to 203 RM (reichsmark) per month to which she was entitled, and she was thus financially secure.
However, on 17 Apr. 1941, her landlord moved to Stuttgart, and his apartment was taken over by an assistant doctor from Oldenburg with his family. After the Ordinance on the Identification of Jewish Apartments came into force in Mar. 1942, Margarete Guradze
had to give up her apartment in Feldbrunnenstraße and move into a "Jews’ house” ("Judenhaus”).
The Jewish Community placed her at Frickestraße 24 in Eppendorf. This was the Martin Brunn-Stift, a residential home founded in 1897, which remained in the possession of the Jewish Community. Margarete’s sister Käte, who lived in Berlin, took her own life there on 1 Apr. 1942.
When Margarete Guradze wanted to report her change of address, she made herself liable to prosecution "for offenses against Sec. 3,4 of the Third Announcement concerning compulsory identification card requirement [Kennkartenzwang] dated 23 July 1938 (RGBl [Reich Law Gazette] J S 922) in connection with Sec 13 of the Ordinance concerning identification cards dated 22 July 1938 (RGBl J S 911)”: Out of ignorance, she had "not presented her identification card without being asked when submitting an oral application to the residents’ registration office.” Although she presented the identification card immediately afterward, she was sentenced to a fine of 20 RM.
The personal information form indicates her religious affiliation as being "Lutheran” and the "racial affiliation” of her parents and grandparents as being "non-German-blooded.” The address on the postal delivery certificate read, "The Jewess Margarete Guradze.”
Two months later, Margarete Guradze received the summons to "transfer” to the "ghetto for the elderly” ("Altersgetto”) in Theresienstadt on 15 July 1942. Her assets were not sufficient for a "home purchase contract” ("Heimeinkaufsvertrag”), which all persons with more than 1000 RM in assets had to conclude with the "Reich Association of Jews in Germany,” but her last assets amounting to 446.42 RM were confiscated.
The police transported her, together with about 60 other residents of her accommodation, to the Volksschule (elementary school) Altonaer Straße/Schanzenstraße set up as a collection center, where Pastor Horwitz still paid her a visit. In the school, the more than 900 people comprising this transport were concentrated and taken to the Hannoversche Bahnhof train station by truck the following day. One day later, the train arrived in Theresienstadt. Nothing is known about Margarete Guradze’s fate there.
Her oldest, physically disabled brother Fritz and his wife Agnes were deported to Theresienstadt two months afterward, where Fritz died just one week later, shortly before his seventy-second birthday. One may assume that the siblings still met up.
After almost two years of life in the Theresienstadt Ghetto, Margarete Guradze was taken by transport to Auschwitz on 15 May 1944, and presumably, she was murdered there immediately upon arrival. She reached the age of 68.
She has been commemorated by a Stolperstein at Feldbrunnenstraße 21, and her grandson Hans-Werner Lieber submitted a Page of Testimony for her to Yad Vashem.
Her sister-in-law Agnes was sent on the same journey on 15 Sept. 1944, perishing at the age of 64.
Translator: Erwin Fink/Changes Beate Meyer
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.
Stand: June 2023
© Hans Bove/Hildegard Thevs
Quellen: Quellen: 1, 2 4, 5, 7, 9; 314-15 FVg 4092; Hamburger Adressbücher; StaHH 213-11 Staatsanwaltschaft Landgericht – Strafsachen, 4286/42; 332-8 Meldewesen, K 2442; 351-11 Amt für Wiedergutmachung, 2932; 552-1 Jüdische Gemeinden, Kultussteuerkartei; 992 e 2 Deportationslisten Band 3; Abl. 1993, Ordner 10; Archiv der Gemeinde Mansfelder Seekreis in Röblingen, Geburts- und Heiratsregister, Frau Höschel; http://www.erdeborn.com/history; http://www.erdeborn.com/kirche/?page_id=125, Interessantes aus dem Kirchenbuch Erdeborn von 1896 bis 1936; Stadtarchiv Wiesbaden, Sterberegister, Jochen Dollwet; Faber, Rolf, Karin Rönsch, Wiesbadens jüdische Juristen, Wiesbaden 2011; Klemperer, Victor, Tagebücher 1933-1941, Berlin, 3. Aufl. 1995.
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