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Gustav Levy * 1883
Wilmans Park 4 (Altona, Blankenese)
Gustav Levy, born 07/26/1883 Hamburg, 1942–43 Fuhlsbüttel concentration camp, deported to Auschwitz 02/12/1943, murdered in Auschwitz 02/20/1943
Gustav Levy was the son of Eduard Levy and Betty Levy, née Bresslau. There are no sure records of the first decades in the life of young Gustav who, following his father’s footsteps, became a merchant. We do know that in or around 1910 he married Margarethe Marie Sophie, née Weidt, who was there years younger. A daughter was born to the couple in 1913. According to the report of a recently interviewed witness to history from the environment of the Levy family, Gustav’s daughter, who later bore the name Clara Horwitz, emigrated to Palestine. Her emigration to America is recorded on the culture tax card of the Jewish Community in 1939, together with her husband Heinz Horwitz. According to ships’ passenger lists, she reached New York on April 16th, 1939 aboard the "Hansa” from Hamburg – perhaps the first station of her emigration.
Various entries in the Hamburg company register concern the company D. S. Levy & Söhne, Pfeifen und Rauchrequisiten en gros, a general partnership with registered office at Rödingsmarkt 76, in the city center. After Eduard Levy’s death in 1919, Gustav Levy appears as CEO of the public company four years later. The type of business of the obviously flourishing company with a capital of 14,400 gold marks in 1924) was described as "purchase and distribution of smoker’s utensils and all associated activities.”
Several entries on the name, company and street lists of the Hamburg address books refer to the address Wilmans Park 4 in Blankenese. From 1933 on the pensioner Carl Weidt was registered there, the father of Margarethe Marie Sophie Levy, wife of Gustav Levy, the owner of the property.
At the end of 1935, Gustav Levy left the Jewish Community, but was later probably forced to join again on account of his Jewish descent. His culture tax card was marked "Dissident”; on that card, his wife was called an "Aryan/dissident”, i.e. she had converted to Judaism, but was "racially” considered as non-Jewish.
In 1940, Gustav Levy, who now forcibly bore the middle name Israel, was forced to move to Isestrasse 96 (borough of Harvestehude), presumably with other members of his family; the building belonged to the NS Fliegerkorps of Berlin. From Isestrasse 96, he was again relocated to the "Jews’ house” at Dillstrasse 15, not far away.
In February, 1940 the Currency Bureau of the Chief Finance Administrator blocked Gustav Levy’s accounts. His assets were now subject to "security”. He declared that he needed 520 RM per month for himself and his wife: 150 for the rent, 250 for their livelihood and 120 for taxes, health and other insurances. The assets of his company "Pfeifen Grosshandel D. S. Levy und Söhne” were also subject to security, so that he required special permission for every transaction. Gustav Levy argued in vain that he urgently needed the 5,000 RM in his depot to purchase goods and to pay his bills. As he had no business premises and no employees, he was told, he would have to make do with the 2,500 RM in his checking account. In March, he was denied the release of 2,500 RM from his depot for purchases at the Leipzig trade fair. Finally, in November, the office for commerce, shipping and trade ordered him to liquidate the company before the end of the year and have it deleted from the company register. The deadline was extended to the end of March, 1941. Levy declared he wanted to leave the country alone and tried to transfer his business to his "Aryan” wife. He was, however, forced to transfer it to another "Aryan” proprietor. On July 25th, 1941, there is an entry in the Hamburg company register that Levy’s company was defunct.
On November 17th, 1942, the Jewish Affairs Department of the Gestapo admitted Gustav Levy to the Fuhlsbüttel police prison for unknown reasons. Two months later, on January 25th, 1943, Gustav Levy requested the release 4,000 RM from his blocked account from the Chief Finance Administrator, giving "securing the livelihood of the Aryan wife after the imminent divorce” as designated use. 2,000 RM was approved. It is likely that the Gestapo had pressured the couple living in a "mixed marriage” to agree to a divorce or used false promises to cozen them into agreeing to a divorce. On February 10th, Gustav Leo asked for a further 500 RM from his account – he needed them to reimburse his divorced wife for the costs of her attorney.
Jews from dissolved mixed marriages, however, were immediately deported. Only two weeks after the divorce, on February 12th, 1943, Gustav Leo, together with 23 other Hamburg Jews, was first taken to the Berlin detention camp at Grosse Hamburger Strasse and there assigned to a transport to Auschwitz; his name appears on Transport List no. 29 of the Reichssicherheitshauptamt of February 19th, 1943
Of the 997 men, women and children who arrived in Auschwitz on February 20th, 1943, 775, among them Gustav Levy, were immediately murdered in the gas chambers of the extermination camp.
Gustav Levy’s wife took her own life by falling from a fifth-floor window of the "Jews’ house at Dillstrasse 15.
Translated by Peter Hubschmid
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.
© Barbara und Friedemann Hellwig
Quellen: 1; 2 R 1939/2606; 4; StaH, 331-1 II Polizeibehörde II, Ablieferung 15, Band 1 (Abrechnungslisten über Schutzhaftkosten des KZ Fuhlsbüttel); Bajohr, "Arisierung", S. 364; Auskunft des Staatlichen Museums Auschwitz-Birkenau, 2.3.2004; Handelsregister der Stadt Hamburg; Schiffspassagierliste New York, www.ancestry.de, Zugriff 15.8.2007.
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