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Gertrud Becher (née Thilo) * 1884
Beim Andreasbrunnen 9 (Hamburg-Nord, Eppendorf)
Gertrud Becher, née Thilo, born on 29 Aug. 1884 in Berlin, deported on 6 Dec. 1941 to Riga
Haynstraße 15 and Beim Andreasbrunnen 9
Few facts are known about Gertrud Becher’s parents. From the burial records of the Jewish Cemetery in Berlin-Weissensee, it was possible to ascertain the following details: Her father, August Gerson Thilo, born on 29 Mar. 1843, a merchant by occupation, died at his home in Berlin at Wilhelmstraße 8 on 2 Nov. 1893. Almost exactly two months afterward, on 6 Jan. 1894, her mother Elise Thilo, née Pieck, died there as well. Both were buried in the Weissensee Cemetery, with four underage children indicated as surviving dependants. However, since they could not be made to pay for the burial, their names are not listed. Gertrud was ten years old at the time, her brother Fritz, born on 13 May 1888, not even six years old.
Besides Gertrud, there was another daughter, whose first name and date of birth we do not know, though she was probably older than Gertrud. She subsequently married a man by the last name of Weil and gave birth to a son named Hans in June 1900. Hans Weil and his sister Frieda Elisa (born in 1907) survived the Nazi persecution, as did Fritz Thilo. He died in Mainz in 1956. Nothing is known about the fourth child of August and Elise Thilo.
No details are available about Gertrud’s childhood. Did relatives take in the orphaned children? We have no information about their schooldays and possible training, nor do we know when and where Gertrud and her future husband met. He – Martin Becher – was Jewish and was born in Schrimm (near Posen [present-day Poznan in Poland]) on 17 Dec. 1877. He worked as an authorized signatory at the Meyer Adolph Nathan Company, which was listed in the stock market index as "yard goods wholesale and export” ("Manufakturwaren engros und Export”). On 26 Aug. 1935, he died "after a long and serious illness.” One of the obituaries published two days later in the Hamburger Fremdenblatt reveals that Martin Becher had been employed in his company for 38 years. Thus, he must have lived in Hamburg by 1897 at the latest.
Gertrud and Martin Becher had two sons, Kurt August, born in 1909 (see entry in "Stolpersteine in Hamburg-St. Georg”), and Heinz, born in 1919 (see corresponding entry there).
The family lived at Beim Andreasbrunnen 9. Gertrud Becher did not go to work, but she had assets. There were credit balances in accounts with the Dresdner Bank, and a securities account existed with the Berliner Handelsgesellschaft – her husband had made solid financial provisions.
As indicated by the Jewish religious tax (Kultussteuer) card file, she paid 243 RM (reichsmark) in dues to the Jewish Community in 1939 and 1287 RM in 1940. By Mar. 1939 at the latest, her assets were under "security order” ("Sicherungsanordnung"); according to the Chief Finance Administrator (Oberfinanzpräsident), she "was allowed” to dispose "freely” of 800 RM a month. In Sept. 1939, the foreign currency office ordered her to disclose her assets once again because apparently the monthly "exemption limit” was to be redefined. In her written reply she pointed out that she had already paid the "levy on Jewish assets” ("Judenvermögensabgabe”) in full. In terms of monthly expenses, she indicated 80 RM for a domestic help as well as 20 RM in gratuity without consideration to Arnold Becher, Berlin, probably her husband’s brother, born on 1 July 1869 in Schrimm. On 16 June 1943, he was deported from Berlin to Theresienstadt, where he died four months later.
Gertrud’s son Heinz was on hachshara, the older son Kurt was in the Netherlands since Nov. 1938. Gertrud was subjected to so many dues and taxes that she was unable to maintain her standard of living. As early as July 1938, she had been forced to sell the property located at Am Andreasbrunnen 7–9 in order to be able to pay the "levy on Jewish assets” ("Judenvermögensabgabe”). She was ordered to pay 35,000 RM as "Reich Flight Tax” ("Reichsfluchtsteuer”). She had to give up her apartment, living as a subtenant of Benny and Käthe Nathan (see corresponding entry) at Haynstraße 15 from Feb. 1940 onward.
In Nov. 1941, the "legal adviser (Konsulent) M. Israel Samson,” a Jewish lawyer, filed an application with the Office of the Chief Finance Administrator (Oberfinanzpräsidium) on behalf of Gertrud Becher for the unblocking of 175 RM a month. The payee and purpose of payment indicated is: "Kurt Becher, Amsterdam Zuid, Deurloofstraat 121 Beletage (Netherlands); support for penniless and needy son.” Upon this, the authority demanded, with typical German thoroughness, "officially certified proof of neediness.” On 24 Nov., Samson submitted the corresponding certification issued by the mayor of Amsterdam with the attached note "very urgent.” "Since Mr. Becher’s plight is also very serious, I would request that permission be granted early enough so that the transfer of the support payment can still be arranged for the current month.”
It is extremely questionable whether Kurt Becher still received any financial assistance from his mother – she was deported to Riga on 6 Dec 1941. Kurt was murdered together with his wife Lili Becher-Baar in Sobibor, Heinz in Auschwitz.
Translator: Erwin Fink
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.
© Sabine Brunotte
Quellen: 1; 2; 4; StaH 351-11 AfW 7551; StaH 314-15 OFP, R 1939/746; StaH 314-15 OFP, 1938/748; StaH 332-8 Meldewesen A 51/1 (Becher, Gertrud); Auskunft Archiv Centrum Judaicum Berlin, E-Mail vom 7.7.2010; Verzeichnis Hamburger Börsenfirmen von 1933; Hamb. Fremdenblatt 107 vom 28.8.1935; Gedenkbuch Koblenz online 30.5.2010;URL www.Joodsmonument.nl/person-522449, Zugriff 18.7.2009.
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