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Veronika Bartels (née Stern) * 1875
Grindelallee 24 (Eimsbüttel, Rotherbaum)
Veronika Bartels, née Stern, born 24 Apr. 1875 in Iglau, Moravia, deported 8 Nov. 1941 to Minsk, died there
Veronika Stern was the elder of the two daughters of Jacob and Franziska Stern, née Benischek. She was born in present-day Jihlava in the Czech Republic. Her younger sister Emmilie Emma, called Emma, was born on 16 Feb 1877 in Marienbad (ptesent-day Marianske Lazne, Czech Republic). Veronika was an actress, Emma took the job of a seamstress.
On 22 Mar. 1897 Veronika gave birth to her illegitimate son Franz in Berlin. He was granted Czech citizenship, which Veronika's sister Emma also kept for life. After Franz's birth, Veronika married Garry Bartels, who was German and Lutheran, thus allowing her to become a German citizen. It could not be determined if Garry was Franz's father or not. Since Garry Bartels did not adopt Franz, he kept the last name Stern.
The marriage was short lived – the couple divorced sometime before 1901. In that year Veronika, Franz and Emma moved to Hamburg into a three-room flat at Grindelallee 24. The rent was 52.80 Reichsmarks (RM) a month. The three used only two rooms and rented the third for 24 RM a month. Veronika’s and Emma's parents had moved to Hamburg as well. Jacob Stern worked at the Stadttheater, Franziska ran the household. When her father became dependent on care in the 1920s, Veronika gave up her job to take care of him. He died on 24 July 1925 in Hamburg.
Veronica's son Franz Stern worked as a messenger, but found it difficult to find a job because of his lack of social skills. The welfare office, from which he occasionally received support, described him as "nervous," "insecure," and even "simple-minded." He showed willingness to work, but was usually employed only for temporary jobs, for example with the post office.
Emma lost her job in 1929. She had worked as a seamstress at the Friedrich Lienhardt company at Hafenstraße 100 since 1924. However, since she suffered from nervous and stomach ailments, dental problems and Graves’ disease, an auto-immune disease that effects the thyroid gland, she was unable to work beginning in the late 1920s. In 1927 she was 50 years old, and Veronika was 52.
From that time onwards, Emma received an invalid pension, and the family received welfare subsidies. Since Emma had to observe a special diet, she had to buy her food separately, which incurred more costs for the family. A rent reduction in the early 1930s to 48.80 RM may have been a small relief, but the income from the rented room was likewise reduced, to 20 RM. When an agent from the welfare office inspected the family’s apartment in 1933 and determined that all three family members were undernourished, Veronika told the agent that they were also hard-pressed to pay their rent in full and on time, due to their dire financial situation.
Beginning in 1935, Franz, who was by then 38 years old, was conscripted to three days of compulsory labor per week He was assigned to work at the Tarpenbek airport and on a drainage system in Waltershof, where a garden plot and a football field were to be built. The Waltershof workplace was a source of many complaints by Jewish workers about unacceptable conditions. The men would often have to work in mud up to their hips. Like many others, Franz tried to have himself exempted from the work for health reasons, or at least to be switched to another job. But the authorities ignored the complaints and insisted that the working conditions were very good: there was a heated breakfast and changing room, the workday was only six hours long, and the mud had only once been about ankle-high, and otherwise the area was dry. Franz had to remain at this worksite, but was allowed to live at home on Grindelallee.
In February 1937 he requested a "short leave from the compulsory labor at Waltershof" because Veronika had fallen ill and needed his help in the household and with their boarder. The three-member family’s financial situation remained precarious. In the month of May 1937, for example, the family’s income was 39.80 RM from Veronika’s pension, and 26.30 RM from Emma’s. Rent was 45.60 RM. Assuming that they took in another 20 RM from the rented room, the sisters had about 40 RM left for food, clothing, and other necessities. Franz's income cannot be determined exactly, but it can be assumed that it was minimal, and he was certainly unable to provide for himself.
It is thus no wonder that the family fell behind with their rent during 1938. There were also apparently problems with the boarder. In total, they were 111 RM behind in their rent. In addition, Franz developed kidney stones in February of that year. In July and August, he was assigned to two excavation companies, until he found a job delivering newspapers for 21 RM per month in 1939.
In 1941, Veronika Bartels was charged with failing to comply with the Nazi decree, issued on 17 August 1938, requiring all Jews whose first names were of "non-Jewish origin” to add "Israel” (for men) and "Sara” (for women) to their names. On 29 Mar. 1941, she was issued a fine of 15 RM or three days' imprisonment.
A few months later, on 8 Nov. 1941, Veronika Bartels, Emma Stern and Franz Stern were deported to the Minsk ghetto. They were on the first transport that took Jews from the German Reich to Minsk, where they were housed together with Jews from Frankfurt in the "Red House.” On the day before the transport arrived, about 12,000 Belorussian Jews who were already living in the ghetto had been shot; the arrivals from Hamburg found the traces of this massacre when they arrived on 10 Nov. 1941.
All traces of the Bartels-Stern family are lost in Minsk. Hardly any of the 7,000 German-Jewish prisoners survived the ghetto. They died of hunger or illness, or were executed.
Stolpersteine for Emma and Franz Stern were placed at Grindelallee 24.
Translator: Amy Lee
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.
© Anne Lena Meyer
Quellen: 1; 5; StaH 213-11 Staatsanwaltschaft Landgericht – Strafsachen 2745/41 Strafakte wegen Nichtannahme des jüdischen Vornamens "Sara" aus dem Jahr 1941; ebd. 351-14 Arbeits- und Sozial-
fürsorge – Sonderakten 1920 Fürsorgeakte für Emma Stern; ebd. 351-14 Arbeits- und Sozialfürsorge – Sonderakte 1921 Fürsorgeakte für Franz Stern; digitales Archiv ITS Bad Arolsen, Teilbestand 126.96.36.199, Dokument ID 11198259 u. Dokument ID 11198261 – Transportlisten Gestapo; Meyer: Die Deportation, S. 62ff.
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