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John Hasenberg
© Yad Vashem

John Hasenberg * 1892

Schwanenwik 29 (Hamburg-Nord, Uhlenhorst)

1943 aus NL nach Bergen-Belsen
tot 23.1.1945

further stumbling stones in Schwanenwik 29:
Harald Seligmann, Harald Seligmann jr.

John Hasenberg, born on 8 Oct. 1892, deported on 16 Feb. 1944 from the Netherlands to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, died of the effects of his imprisonment on 23 Jan. 1945

Schwanenwik 29

John Hasenberg was born in Neumünster as one of seven children of the Jewish married couple Julius and Henny Hasenberg, née Lippstadt. Toward the end of the nineteenth century, the family had moved to Elmshorn, where Julius Hasenberg ran a real estate agency at Kirchenstrasse 40.

From 1902 until 1909, John Hasenberg attended the Bismarck School and finished it with a diploma equivalent to graduation from Realgymnasium [a high school focused on science, math, and modern languages]. In the First World War, he fought as a soldier and was awarded the Iron Cross Second Class for his services.

After the end of World War I, John Hasenberg did not stay in Elmshorn much longer. He moved to Hamburg, where he first lived at Hammer Strasse 27 and then at Schwanenwik 29. He found a job as a management assistant at the bank of Willi Seligmann at Gänsemarkt 35.

In 1927, John Hasenberg left Hamburg to settle in Berlin. There he married Gertrud Meyer, eleven years his junior, and had two children with her. His son was born in 1928 and daughter Irene arrived in 1930.

Ten years after his move to Berlin, John Hasenberg had the opportunity to leave Germany. Due to their Jewish descent, life in Germany became increasingly more difficult and threatening for the Hasenberg family. The American Express Company now offered its employee John Hasenberg the chance to escape this country. He was given the option of working either in Curaçao or in the Netherlands. The family opted for the Netherlands and moved to Amsterdam in 1937.

When the German Wehrmacht invaded the Netherlands, too, in 1940, persecution began anew for the Jewish people. Since the Hasenberg family had used a streetcar, they were arrested and released a short time later only by a stroke of luck. The American Express Company was not allowed anymore to employ Jewish staff and was forced to dismiss John Hasenberg as well. Shortly afterward, he started working at the Joodse raad, a Jewish council set up by the National Socialists. One of his assignments was sending baggage of Jews deported in the course of police raids after them to the transit camps. He hoped to be able to help the deported Jewish people somehow through his work.

On 23 June 1943, the SS combed through the part of town where the Hasenberg family lived. Around 10 a.m., SS men knocked on the front door. The family was permitted to take a small amount of baggage and food supplies before being driven to the collection point along with other Jewish people and crammed into freight cars. The train then went to the Westerbork transit camp, where the Hasenberg family spent the next eight months.

While still in Amsterdam, John Hasenberg had learned from a friend about a Swedish man who was able to procure forged papers. Upon John’s written request, the Hasenberg family received four Ecuadorian passports. It remains unexplained how the forged ID papers could reach the family at all. It is certain, however, that the passports helped them immensely. The family was actually scheduled for deportation to Auschwitz but since they were no longer German citizens now, they were deleted from the list.

On 16 Feb. 1944, the entire family was deported to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. Conditions prevailing there were even more dreadful than in the Westerbork transit camp. The people imprisoned in Bergen-Belsen suffered from malnutrition, had to perform hard labor, and endured corporal punishment. All of this weakened the Hasenberg family very much, too.

At the beginning of 1945, the family suddenly had a stroke of luck. In the course of a prisoner exchange between the Americans and the Germans, there happened to be too few captured American soldiers on the German side, forcing the Germans to fall back on foreign prisoners. The Ecuadorian passports helped the Hasenberg family once again, as they were among the prisoners released. They were taken to Switzerland by train. However, John Hasenberg was injured so seriously by the latest corporal punishments that he passed away on the train ride near Laubheim on 23 Jan. 1945. His family reached the safety of Switzerland, subsequently emigrating to the USA.

A Stolperstein was also laid for John Hasenberg in Elmshorn at Kirchenstrasse 40.

Translator: Erwin Fink

Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.

Stand: October 2016
© Carmen Smiatacz

Quellen: 1; 4; 5; 8; ITS/ATCH/Durchgangslager Westerbork/5146036#1 (; ITS/ ARCH/Konzentrationslager Bergen Belsen/3394120#1 (; ITS/ARCH/Verschieden Konzentrationslager/5165765#1 (; "Aktion Stolpersteine: Die Serie. Doppelt so viele Elmshorner Juden ermordet wie bisher angenommen", in: Elmshorner Nachrichten vom 5.4.2008; Stolpersteine in Elmshorn:­berg.htm, Zu­griff am 25.6.2009.
Zur Nummerierung häufig genutzter Quellen siehe Recherche und Quellen.

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