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Clara Hamburger (née Seckel) * 1859

Wandsbeker Stieg 12 (Hamburg-Nord, Hohenfelde)

JG. 1859

Clara Hamburger, née Seckel, born on 19 June 1859 in Hamburg, deported on 19 July 1942 to the Theresienstadt Ghetto, deported further on 21 Sept. 1942 to the Treblinka extermination camp, murdered there

Wandsbeker Stieg 12

When she was deported to Theresienstadt, Clara Hamburger was already 83 years old. An elderly woman, who by then was surely suffering very much from the circumstances and strains of the deportation – not to mention what awaited her in terms of hunger, cold, and diseases in the ghetto.

Clara Hamburger was born as the daughter of the leather merchant Herz Seckel and his wife Johanna, née Goldstein. While Johanna came from Bad Kissingen in Lower Franconia, Herz Seckel was a native of Walsrode, a small town in Lower Saxony where the Seckel family had lived for a long time. Herz was the great-grandson of the first Seckel in Walsrode, and his father Moses had already traded in cloth and fabrics sold by the yard there as well as in leather on top of that. In 1856, Herz opened his own leather shop in Hamburg-Neustadt, on 1st Elbstrasse (today Neanderstrasse). The following year, he moved a few hundred yards further down Mühlenstrasse (today Ludwig-Erhard-Strasse) and from that time onward, he offered his services not only as a leather dealer but also as a leather dresser. He prepared tanned leather for further processing by removing excess tannins, and by greasing, waterproofing, and dyeing it. In 1868, when Clara was already nine years old, the family moved one more time within Hamburg-Neustadt, to Grosse Michaelisstrasse (today also Ludwig-Erhardt-Strasse). Four years later, in 1872, Herz Seckel passed away. His wife Johanna continued to reside at the same address. She died on 28 Oct. 1913, outliving her husband by more than 40 years.

On 4 Mar. 1894, her daughter Clara married in Hamburg the lottery ticket vendor Julius Hamburger, born on 5 Nov. 1856 in New York. For him, it was the second marriage. Only one day earlier – also in Hamburg – his brother Edwin David had married. His wife was Alma, née Gutmann. Julius and Edwin’s parents were David Hamburger and Mathilde, née Tuerkenkopf. However, David Hamburger did not live to see his sons’ weddings, as he had already passed away by that time.

Clara and Julius Hamburger had two daughters: Ilse Irma was born on 30 Dec. 1894; Emilie one and a half years later, on 30 July 1896. The following year, Julius Hamburger handed over his business on Lange Reihe for health reasons to a successor named Ludwig Serke. Julius died on 4 Nov. 1897 at the age of 40. He was buried in the Jewish Cemetery on Ilandkoppel and he left behind his wife Clara widowed with two small children. Emilie was only one year old, her sister two and a half years. Clara moved with her two daughters to Lübecker Strasse 1.

Upon finishing school, both girls were trained to become office employees in order to earn their own living. After Clara had already lost her husband early on, she also had to mourn the death of a daughter: Emilie Hamburger, the younger one, died on 23 Feb. 1920 in the Catholic Marienkrankenhaus hospital. She had worked as a general manager until her death. Ilse, employed as an office clerk, at this point supported her mother on her own and continued residing with her on Lübecker Strasse for more than 30 years overall. Then, in 1929, she moved temporarily to the Swiss town of Davos, to the Sanatorium Bernina – which suggests that she was possibly suffering from a lung condition. She did not return to Hamburg until 1936. Clara Hamburger was completely on her own when the Nazis came to power in 1933 and had to deal with the humiliations and harassment, exclusion, and persecution of Jews in Germany that began immediately afterward.

After Ilse’s return to Hamburg, the mother and daughter could not afford their own apartment anymore, as Ilse, no longer able to work for health reasons, only received a small pension. Thus, after almost 40 years, mother and daughter had to leave the familiar surroundings. During the next years, they lived as subtenants at Wandsbeker Stieg 12 with a Mrs. Kastler. At the end of Oct.1939, Ilse left Hamburg again. In 1941, her mother Clara had to move into the Daniel-Wormser-Haus at Westerstrasse 27 in Wandsbek. (The Jewish teacher Daniel Wormser had founded it in 1909 as a home for impoverished Jewish emigrants from Eastern Europe and Russia who wanted to flee from the pogroms there via Hamburg to the USA but had no place yet on an overseas ship and therefore often had to stay in Hamburg for weeks; since 1939, it served as a "Jews’ house” ("Judenhaus”), for which the Hamburg Jewish Religious Organization (Jüdischer Religionsverband) was responsible by then.)

In the Daniel-Wormser-Haus, Clara Hamburger was also called upon to report to the Moorweide on 18 July 1942 for "relocating residence” ("Wohnsitzverlegung”) – as the Nazis officially euphemized it. The next day, she was first taken together with over 700 other Jews by truck to the Hannoversche Bahnhof train station and then on the second transport from Hamburg to the "ghetto for the elderly” ("Altergetto”) in Theresienstadt, on trains of the Deutsche Reichsbahn, the German Reich Railroad Company. Two months later, together with almost 2,000 other Jews, she was driven on trucks again and first taken from Theresienstadt to the Bohusovice railway station. From there, the Deutsche Reichsbahn transported them in cattle cars to the Treblinka extermination camp. None of them survived.

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

Stand: December 2019
© Frauke Steinhäuser

Quellen: 1; 4; 5; 8; 9; StaH 522-1 Jüd. Gemeinden 390 Wählerliste 1930; StaH 522-1 Jüdische Gemeinden 696 e Geburtsregister 1852–1860, 128/1859; StaH 522-1 Jüdische Gemeinden Nr. 992 e 2 Bd. 5 Transport nach Theresienstadt am 19.7.1942; Hamburger Adressbücher; Meyer, Verfolgung und Ermordung, S. 42ff. u. S. 70ff.; Ursula Randt, "Wormser, Daniel", in: Institut für die Geschichte der deutschen Juden (Hrsg.), Das Jüdische Hamburg. Ein historisches Nachschlagewerk, online unter: (letzter Zugriff 19.3.2015); Transport Bp von Theresienstadt, Ghetto, Tschechoslowakei nach Treblinka, Extermination Camp, Poland am 21/09/1942, in: Das Internationale Institut für Holocaust-Forschung, Yad Vashem, Zugfahrten in den Untergang. Datenbank zu den Deportationen im Rahmen der Shoah (Holocaust), (letzter Zugriff 19.3.2015); für den Hinweis zu Herz Seckels Vorfahren in Walsrode herzlichen Dank an Dr. Stefan Heinemann, Berlin.
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