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© Fotoalbum Lutz Lichtheim, JosephCarlebach-Institut, Bar Ilan Universtity, IL
Walter Lichtheim * 1919
Palmaille ggü. Nr. 56 vor Zebrastreifen (vormals Nr. 25) (Altona, Altona-Altstadt)
ermordet in Chelmo 1942
further stumbling stones in Palmaille ggü. Nr. 56 vor Zebrastreifen (vormals Nr. 25):
Margarethe Lichtheim, Gertrud Monasch
Margarethe Lichtheim, née Monasch, born 01/15/1881, deported to Lodz on 10/25/1941, murdered on 05/15/1942 in Chelmno
Walter Lichtheim, born 11/21/1919, deported to Lodz on 10/25/1941, murdered on 05/15/1942 in Chelmno
Gertrud Monasch, born 11/29/1878, deported to Lodz on 10/25/1941, deported further on 10/15/1942
Margarethe Lichtheim was of Jewish descent and a native of Stettin. Her parents were Julius and Fanny Monasch, née Sternberg. Margarethe Lichtheim was trained as a pianist, She married Dr. Georg Simon Lichtheim, a Jew from Stettin, who was 16 years old than her. Lichtheim was the director of the Altona communal gas and water works. The couple had two sons; Walter, born November 21st, 1919, and Ludwig, called Lutz, born on December 26th, 1921. The family lived on the third floor of Palmaille 25, an elegant upper middle class street overlooking the Elbe River. The family enjoyed making music; Walter played the violin, Lutz the flute.
When the Nazis came to power in 1933, Georg Lichtheim was dismissed without notice. Evidently, he succeeded in suing the City of Altona for a pension.
The story of the Lichtheim family was recorded by Werner Flocken, born 1925, who had lived in the same house as the Lichtheims with his family and was a friend of their sons. In his narrative, Flocken describes Frau Lichtheim as a sophisticated, erudite woman who greatly impressed him. She was the exact opposite of what he had been told about Jews in the Hitler Youth, he said, remembering that one day Margarethe Lichtheim came to his parent’s apartment with Lutz, so that her son, who was able to leave for England with a Jewish children’s transport, should say good bye to his friends. When Werner Flocken’s mother said she was sorry that Frau Lichtheim had to let her son go out into the world on his own so early, the boy’s mother replied that, on the contrary, she was glad he was able to leave Germany. Werner Flocken never forgot those words.
Like her husband, Margarethe Lichtheim was active in the Altona Jewish Community, where there was extraordinary organizational activity in the Community institutions as well as in private associations. She was a member of the council of Israelitic Humanitarian Women’s Association, which was devoted to Jewish welfare work. At the beginning of 1939, the Association was forced to disband, and she signed the last orders that provided that the remaining assets be used to support the children’s transports. Georg Lichtheim died in the first days of World War II, on September 5th, 1939.
In February of that year, Margarethe Lichtheim had put up her elder sister Gertrud Monasch. The unmarried woman came from Stettin and had last lived penniless in Berlin-Schöneberg.
As a widow, Margarethe Lichtheim inherited the estate of her late husband, which, however, was put under a security order in February, 1940. She was allowed to dispose of 410 reichsmarks for herself, her son and her sister; later, the allowance was reduced, and she had only 368 reichsmarks to pay the rent and manage her household with three people.
Werner Flocken recalls that his father, wearing the badge of the Nazi party on his lapel, fled to the bomb shelter in the basement during air raids together with the two women with the "Jew’s star” sewn to their overcoats. Once, Margarethe Lichtheim showed photos of her brother, who had been awarded an Iron Cross as a naval officer in World War I, and said that they had always felt to be good Germans, just like everybody else.
Her son Walter attended the Christaneum in Altona, a very prestigious high school, where he was esteemed as an especially talented violinist. But the boys Walter and Lutz grew up in an environment that was already increasingly charged with anti-Semitism before 1933. Thus, the class teacher recorded that Walter had shown him a note with the words "Juda verrecke! Deutschland erwache” ("Juda peg out! Germany arise!”). The teacher punished the instigators, whereupon Walter was followed and beaten by several classmates after school. The brothers were also confronted with accusations that their father, the Jew, was poisoning the Altona water supply. In 1935, Werner Flocken’s parents forbade their son to play with the Lichtheim boys. Walter and Lutz were not only threatened by danger at school and in their dwelling, but also on the street. From 1933 on, Palmaille, a wide representative street, had become a favorite exercising ground for marches of the Hitler Youth and the SS. Jewish children on their way to the new Israelitic elementary school at Palmaille 17 were often threatened, harassed or ridiculed or even had stones thrown at them. Walter and Lutz, who lived only a few steps away from the school, always had to pass the lurking gangs of Hitler Youths on their way home.
Walter Lichtheim attended the Christianeum from 1931 to 1936 and then entered a commercial apprenticeship. His brother Lutz was forced to leave the Christianeum in his junior year in 1938, when Jewish children were banned from state-owned schools. When Lutz was able to escape to England on a transport of Jewish children on December 1st, 1938, three weeks before his 18th birthday, his brother Walter, who was over 18, accompanied him. His mother had been threatened with imprisonment in a concentration camp if he didn’t come back. He did come back.
Then, Walter also tried to flee. In 1940, he absolved training at a metalwork shop at Weidenallee 8-10. The shop was one of the training facilities run by the German-Israelitic Community to prepare young people for emigration to Palestine. On May 9th, 1940, his mother applied for the release of 150 reichsmarks from her account for "my son’s emigration efforts”, furnishing proof of cable costs demanded by the Hamburg America Line. The money was approved. But the emigration plans failed for unknown reasons. In October of 1941, emigration was categorically forbidden.
Margarethe and Walter Lichtheim and Gertrud Monasch received their deportation orders to Lodz for October 25th, 1941.
When Margarethe Lichtheim said good bye to the Flocken family, she hinted that she knew what was in store for them: "Such a great injustice is now occurring in Germany that you wouldn’t believe me if I told you…” The next morning, Werner Flocken’s mother heard liturgical singing from the Lichtheims’ flat, accompanied by the harmonium. Then, Margarethe Lichtheim, Walter Lichtheim and Gertrud Monasch left the house.
On October 25th, 1941, they were taken to the Ghetto in Lodz in occupied Poland on the first large transport of 1,034 Hamburg citizens of Jewish descent. On May 15th, 1942, Margarethe Lichtheim was transported to the Kulmhof (Chelmno) extermination camp and murdered there. Gertrud Monasch was deported further on October 15th, 1942 and also perished.
In May, 1944, Walter Lichtheim wrote a post card from the Lodz ghetto to Harry Goldstein of the Jewish Religious Association – it was his last sign of life.
"Dear Uncle Harry, I am happy that finally I can write to you to tell that that I am well and continue to work as before. Time goes so fast, especially now that I have been all alone for 1 ½ years, because Mother and Auntie have departed.
Please write to me soon – if possible – about your dear wife, all the friends and yourself. With dearest greetings from your Walter.”
On June 30th, 1944, Walter Lichtheim left the Lodz ghetto, where he had worked in a metal shop up to the last day. In the departure form, the reason for leaving was given as "Request for work outside the ghetto.” Actually, Himmler had ordered the evacuation in view of the advancing Russian army. In June and July of 1944, approx. 7,200 men, women and children were transported to the Kulmhof (Chelmno) extermination camp to be murdered in gas trucks. Walter Lichtheim was one of them.
Ludwig Lichtheim survived the war. Later, he went to Australia, studied and became chief engineer of the water works of the state of Victoria. He died in 1978. He was never able to overcome his traumatic experiences, and was especially depressed by the fact that he had been unable to prevent his brother from going back to Germany.
Translated by Peter Hubschmid
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.
Stand: March 2017
© Birgit Gewehr
Quellen: 1; 4; 2 (R 1940/139); StaH 332-8 Meldewesen, A 50/1 (= 741-4 Fotoarchiv, K 5043); StaH 351-11 Amt für Wiedergutmachung, 44872 (Layton, Louis Simon, früher Lichtheim, Ludwig); StaH 522-1 Jüdische Gemeinden, 1035 (Postkarte Walter Lichtheim, Lodz, 16.5.44); Arbeitskreis der Seniorenakademie der Elbgemeinden, Jüdische Bürger; Goldberg, u. a., Die Verfolgung der Juden in Altona; Gillis-Carlebach, "… damit die Kinder in die Schule gehen", S. 127; Stadtteilarchiv Ottensen: Flocken, Werner, "Abgereist ohne Angabe der Adresse". Geschichte einer Spurensuche (Unveröffentlichtes Manuskript), Hamburg o. J.; Stadtteilarchiv Ottensen, Interview mit Werner Flocken, 12.12.1989; Informationen von Miriam Gillis-Carlebach, Joseph-Carlebach Institut der Bar-Ilan-Universität, Israel; Archiwum Panstwowe w Lodzi, Ankunfts- und Abgangsdokumente des Gettos Litzmannstadt; USHMM, RG 15.883, 302/ 122-126, Last Letters from Lodz, Lichtheim.
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