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Betty Levi
© Privatbesitz Herta Grove

Betty Levi (née Lindenberger) * 1882

Klopstockstraße 23 (Altona, Ottensen)

1942 Auschwitz

Betty Levi, née Lindenberger, born 3/10/1882, deported to Auschwitz on 7/11/1942, date of death unknown

Betty Levi, daughter of Isaac und Ernestine (Esther) Lindenberger, came from Labiau in East Prussia, a center of the fishing industry. Named Berta in the birth register, she always called herself Betty Lindenberger, later Betty Levi.

The family moved to Berlin when her father bought a business in the fish processing and canning industry. Betty received a profound education as a pianist with possibly professional intentions, which, however, she quit when she got married.

In 1905, aged 22, she married Dr. Moses Levi, an attorney from Altona, then not yet incorporated into Hamburg. The couple had met at a wedding party. Moses Levi belonged to a well established Altona family whose maternal ancestry reached back to the very beginning of the Jewish Community in Altona and were related to a number of Rabbis either directly or by marriage.

The Levis had four children, born between 1908 and 1916; the family lived in an apartment at Königstrasse 76 until they moved to a house above the Elbe River in Ottensen bought in 1920.

Betty Levi lived the life of a respected middle-class housewife who excelled in cooking and baking, devoted her spare time to playing the piano and her second great talent, fiber work. She was a perfectionist and attached great importance to doing everything the best as possible. And she was a woman who did not duck when the Nazis had come to power; thus, she obstinately refused to utter the name of the newly renamed "Adolf-Hitler-Platz”, or to react to it.

In May, 1932, her eldest daughter Elisabeth married a college friend and moved to Copenhagen with him. Herta, her youngest daughter, was expelled from high school in the fall of 1932; she went to Berlin, where she had found a training course in musical education where no high school diploma was required. The Levis‘ son Walter emigrated to England in 1936 to complete his studies in engineering, which was no longer possible in Germany.

On March 4th, 1938, Betty Levi was widowed; her husband, the renowned trial lawyer and former notary public who had been banned from the Bar in 1933, succumbed to cancer. In 1939, her daughters Käthe and Herta were able to emigrate to England with housekeeper’s visas. An application for such permission for their mother, an experienced housewife, failed on account of her age.

Thus, Betty Levi stayed back alone; her living circumstances became hopeless, she went hungry. Since 1938, the house she lived in belonged to the City of Hamburg, who had forcibly bought it at a menial price – it was to be demolished to make way for the monumental buildings of the "Gau Capital” the Nazis planned to erect along the waterfront. Betty was also forced to surrenders all her remaining money and material assets.
The only person who still stood by her before and after her "relocation” to the Jewish retirement home at Sedanstrasse 23 was a courageous former servant who remained faithful to Betty and supported her the best she could.

On July 11th, 1942, Betty Levi, aged sixty, was deported from Hamburg to the Auschwitz extermination camp.

On January 27th, 1997, the commemoration day of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp, a street sign marking the "Betty-Levi-Passage” visible from Klopstockstrasse was unveiled by Betty’s daughter Berta Grove from Philadelphia following a ceremony at the Altona City Hall. This honor also commemorates the large group of victims from Altona and all of Hamburg who led an everyday life as housewives and mothers as equals among equals until a state decree deprived them of their right to human dignity and their right to live.

Translated by Peter Hubschmid
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.

Stand: March 2017
© Ulla Hinnenberg

Quellen: 1; 4; Informationen von M. Edelmann, Enkel; Familiäre Dokumente; Gespräche und Korrespondenz mit Herta Grove geb. Levi; Grove, "Unauslöschliche Erinnerungen"; StaH 351-11 Amt für Wiedergutmachung, 5720 (Berta Levi, geb. Lindenberger).
Zur Nummerierung häufig genutzter Quellen siehe Link "Recherche und Quellen".

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