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Salomon (Sigmund) Baumwollspinner * 1889
Oberstraße 3 (Eimsbüttel, Harvestehude)
FLUCHT 1939 SAMBOR
Benjamin (Benno) Landau, born 1 May 1893 in Lipica Gorna (present-day Ukraine), expelled 28/29 Oct. 1938 to Zbaszyn, imprisoned several times, 5 Sep. 1940 in the Dachau Concentration Camp, murdered there 31 Jan. 1941
Sara (Sala) Landau, nee Baumwollspinner, born 5 Jan. 1892 in Sambor (present-day Ukraine), deported 25 Oct. 1941 to Lodz, died there 13 July 1942
Karin Landau, born 13 June 1930 in Hamburg, deported 25 Oct. 1941 to Lodz, from there 11 Sep. 1942 to the Chelmno Extermination Camp
Hohe Weide 25
Amalia Rosa Baumwollspinner, née Nussbaum, born 11 Feb. 1898 in Przemysl (present-day Poland), fled 17 July 1939 to Sambor, Poland (present-day Ukraine), murdered 1942 in the Belzec Extermination Camp
Salomon (Sigmund) Baumwollspinner, born 13 May 1889 in Sambor, expelled 28/29 Oct. 1938 to Zbaszyn, fled 17 July 1939 to Sambor, Poland (present-day Ukraine), murdered 1942 in the Belzec Extermination Camp
Oberstraße 3, Harvestehude
"My father was about 1.80m (6 feet) tall. He had shiny blue eyes, dark hair, and a mustache that always tickled when he kissed me. He was charming, dynamic, and he laughed a lot. He was an intelligent man, generous and loving. I thought other fathers could never be like him.”
"Mother was calm and much more reserved than Father, but she was caring, warm-hearted, and loving. She was only about 1.50m (5 feet) tall and a little plump. She had a very pale complexion, dark brown eyes, and silky hair. She stayed at home, cooked and bought fresh groceries every day.”
These are the memories of Sara and Benjamin Landau’s eldest daughter. Stolpersteine for her parents were placed on Hohe Weide. What is the story of the Landau family, which was persecuted, terrorized, and murdered during the Nazi regime?
Benjamin Landau and Sara Baumwollspinner were both born in the region of Galicia, which today lies in Ukraine. Benjamin and Sara were their given names, but they were called Benno and Sala. These are the names that their daughter remembered them by, for which reason these names will be used here.
The wine merchant Benno Landau was the son of Leon and Cipa Landau, and was born in Lipica Gorna in Galicia (present-day Verkhnya Lypytsya in Ukriaine), about 50km (30 miles) north of modern-day Ivano-Frankivsk. Lipica Gorna was a former shtetl with just over 1000 residents. At that time, this part of Galicia belonged to the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and Benno Landau was a soldier in the Austro-Hungarian army in the First World War from 1914-1918. He came to Germany in 1921. According to his daughter, he finished his secondary schooling in Vienna and then did a one-year commercial apprenticeship. He and Sala Baumwollspinner married in Hamburg in March 1922 and lived in an apartment at Bismarckstraße 105. He joined the German-Israelitic Community in March 1923. Their first daughter Cecilie (called Cilli) was born five years later, and another five years later came Karin. All family members had Polish citizenship. German was spoken in the home, but sometimes the parents spoke Polish or French to each other, especially when the children weren’t supposed to understand what was being said.
Both of Benno Landau’s brothers, Max (Mechel) and Hermann (Hersch) lived in Berlin. They emigrated to Palestine in the 1930s. Max had worked for a number of years as a sales representative for Benno’s wine shop. Hermann Landau was physically handicapped – his feet were crippled. After the brothers emigrated, Benno Landau had a Berlin shoemaker, who had made Hermann’s shoes when he lived there, send him shoes to Palestine. The emigration to Palestine, which was not yet highly developed, must have been difficult for Hermann.
Sala Landau was originally from Sambor in Galicia – present-day Sambir in Ukraine. Her parents were Elias and Rachela Baumwollspinner. Sala had four brothers and sisters. Before she married, she lived in Cottbus, where her brother Josef (*1883 in Sambor), his wife Josefa, and their children Erna (*1913), Gotthard (*1918), Alfred (*1920), and Max (*1925) also lived. Josef was a partner in the wine dealership Schröder & Co. He and his family emigrated to Palestine in 1939. Another brother, Salomon (called Sigmund), became Benno Landau’s business partner in Hamburg.
Not long after Benno and Sala married, they moved to a new apartment complex in Eimsbüttel, developed and run by a cooperative building association. The complex included buildings on both sides of Hohe Weide between Bogenstraße and Bossdorfstraße and on Heymannstraße (formerly Liliencronstraße), between the elevated train tracks and the Isebek Canal. The Landaus lived at Bossdorfstraße 1 for several years, on the corner of Hohe Weide, and then at Hohe Weide 25 until 1937. Both buildings were built during the first phase of the development, and finished in 1922.
Like other Jewish families, they were forced to leave their apartment. The "Edict to Eliminate Jews from German Economic Life” of 12 November 1938 required all Jews to leave the building cooperatives in Hamburg by the end of the year. The Landaus moved to the building at Hoheluftchausee 25, which was owned by a Jewish man named Heilbut.
Benno Landau was a wine wholesaler. In the 1920s he had his office and warehouse in the basement of the building at Henriettenstraße 6. B. Landau & Co. was founded and entered in the trade register in June 1922, with Benjamin Landau and his brother-in-law Salomon Baumwollspinner listed as general partners. The business apparently flourished. The partners employed office workers and sales representatives, and eventually had to expand the premises. At first the company expanded into the buildings at Henriettenstraße 9 and 15, then later moved to Lindenallee 28. In late 1922 it opened a branch office in Bingen am Rhein, and another 10 years later in Oppenheim. After the Nazis came to power in 1933, the company, like all Jewish firms, experienced difficulties. The branch offices had to be closed in January 1935. The Hamburg company was officially dissolved at the end of January 1939, but it had probably closed down in 1937.
Benno Landau and his brother-in-law Sigmund Baumwollspinner both owned real estate in Hamburg. They had equal shares in the lots and buildings at Scheideweg 37/37a and at Alsenplatz 5. Benno Landau, his brother Hermann, and Sigmund Baumwollspinner bought the lot and building at Gärtnerstraße 54/56 in 1932. After Hermann emigrated, Benno was able to have a portion of the rental income on this property, to which the Jewish owners no longer had access, released, in order to send his brother packages with practical items that were difficult to acquire in Palestine. In this way Hermann was able to subscribe to German newspapers. Sending cosmetic articles was prohibited. Besides the real estate in Hamburg, the business partners Benno Landau and Sigmund Baumwollspinner also owned two vineyards: the Goldberg vineyard in Oppenheim, bought in 1932, and the Rochusweg vineyard in Bingen, bought in 1935.
Until the mid-1930s, the Landau family lived in well-to-do circumstances. Their apartment on Hohe Weide was large and sunny, and they had a housemaid. Beginning in 1933, however, both parents and children began to experience ostracism and animosity because they were Jewish. Whereas they had often vacationed in German beach resorts like Bad Schwartau, Duhnen, or Wyk auf Föhr, after 1936 they opted to travel to Denmark, where the atmosphere was friendlier. The family also spent vacations in Sambor, which, after the Treaty of Riga in 1921, now belonged to Poland. As a child, Sala had experienced the anti-Semitic pogroms there, and for her family, Polish anti-Semitism was part of everyday life.
Cecilie and Karin Landau attended the Jewish Girls’ School on Carolinenstraße. Cecile recalled that her schooldays were not an easy time in her life. She was called names on the way to school because she was Jewish, and the German Jewish children made fun of her because she was a Polish Jew. In April 1939 the Carolinenstraße school was merged with the boys’ Talmud Tora School. After the war, a former teacher, Susi Lewinsky, confirmed that Karin had been an especially good and intelligent pupil.
Benno and Sala Landau considered sending their daughters to England on a children’s transport, but when they discussed it with Cecilie and she refused to go, they dropped their plans. The records at the Talmud Tora School, however, contain a final evaluation for Karin Landau dated 11 July 1939. She had been in the third grade at the school since Easter 1939. The evaluation could be an indication that the parents’ plans had progressed far enough to request a school certificate for their daughter. Unlike Benno’s brothers, Benno and Sala Landau had not considered emigrating directly after the events of 1933. After the November Pogrom in 1938, however, they reconsidered. Benno had business contacts in Italy, and the Italian General Consul offered him travel documents that were valid for three days. Benno Landau turned down the offer, even though the family probably could have remained in Italy without valid papers.
Catastrophe hit on 27 October1938, when Benno Landau was expelled from Germany in the "Polenaktion,” the large-scale expulsion of Polish Jews from Germany. He and all the other Polish Jews were sent to Zbaszyn, Poland, near the Polish-German border. From there he attempted to organize the family’s emigration to Palestine or the US, but they were not granted an entry visa. It wasn’t until May 1939 that Benno was given a temporary resident permit for Germany, so that he could return to Hamburg. Time to arrange to get the family out of the country was running out. They had a clearance certificate, which allowed them to leave the country, that was valid from 23 June to 31 July 1939. They also had boarding papers for the ship from Trieste to Haifa. But they couldn’t leave, probably because they were missing some documents. In July, Sala Landau had packed all of their belongings in two shipping crates, a carton and three suitcases, and paid the Willi Springer & Co shipping company 2500 Reichsmarks for their shipment to Haifa. But it was too late. The Second World War broke out on 1 September. Benno Landau, along with all Polish Jews in Germany, was arrested by the Gestapo and sent to a concentration camp. He was first sent to the Fuhlsbüttel Concentration Camp, then to Oranienburg, and finally to the Dachau Concentration Camp on 6 September 1940, where he was murdered on 31 January 1941. On 21 February two Gestapo agents handed Sala Landau a cigar box, which supposedly contained her husband’s ashes. Funeral services, presided over by Rabbi Joseph Carlebach, were held two days later. Benno Landau’s grave is in the Ilandkoppel Jewish Cemetery in Ohlsdorf.
In the meantime, Sala Landau and her daughters had been evicted from their apartment on Hoheluftchaussee and had to move to rented, furnished rooms. They first lived at Werderstraße 5 (c/o Ruben), then at Werderstraße 7 (c/o Kaplan), and finally at Brahmsallee 15 (c/o Behrend) until their deportation. Sala, Cecile, and Karin were deported to Lodz on the first Hamburg transport on 25 October 1941.
The family’s accounts were frozen after Benno’s death. Their lives became ever more complicated: they had to move from rented room to rented room, they had only 100 Reichsmarks per month, their food was rationed, they had to do forced labor at home. When they arrived at the collection point after receiving their deportation orders, they had no idea what lay before them. They sat on the floor with their three suitcases, waiting to see what would happen. It was crowded on the train, the doors were locked from the outside. The trip lasted several days, it was hot, children cried. The SS and the ghetto police were waiting when they arrived in Lodz. They were assigned to Apartment 19 at Pfauenstraße 24 (Polish: Pawia). Cecilie lived at Pawia 26 for a time. It was a small street in the western part of the ghetto between Lutomierska Street and Wrzesnienska Street. The living conditions in the ghetto were horrific. Eight people had to live in one small room, there was hardly any food. The ghetto was a huge labor camp, with factories and workshops. Cecile was conscripted as forced labor. In May 1942, the ghetto administration put her mother and sister on the deportation list. Cecilie was able, with great effort, to have them taken off the list so that they could remain in the ghetto. But it was only a short reprieve. In July 1942 Sala Landau died of starvation, as did many others. Her daughters buried her in the Jewish cemetery. Two months later Karin was transferred from Lodz to Chelmno. Her sister couldn’t help this time. Karin was probably murdered in a gas truck and then cremated. Cecilie was a few years older, and, in the eyes of her torturers, was able to work. She was conscripted to forced labor and survived.
The last trace of the family from the Nazi era is a letter from the Office of the Four-Year-Plan, Main Trust Division East, Special Department Altreich, to the Hamburg Chief Tax Authority: "The Jew Sara Landau is a citizen of the former Polish state. As such she is subject to the regulations for the handling of the assets of citizens of the former Polish state, dated 17 September 1940, which gives me sole responsibility for the confiscation and collection of the assets of said person.” After the assets were confiscated, the lot at Alsenplatz 5-7 was sold in late November 1944, at the order of German authorities, to Wilhelm and Margareta Otteni. The apartment buildings at Scheideweg 35 and 37 were destroyed by bombs. Restitution proceedings after the war granted all of the property to the heirs.
Sala Landau’s brother Sigmund Baumwollspinner, who had lived in Hamburg since 1921, had an apartment at Hagedornstraße 53 in 1922. After he married and started a family, they lived in Eimsbüttel at Sillemstraße 17. His last address in Hamburg was the fourth floor at Oberstraße 3. Like her husband, his wife Amalia Nussbaum was from Galicia. They married on 15 February 1925 in her hometown of Przemysl. By that time the city belonged to Poland. Their son Alfred was born in Hamburg on 29 December 1925. He attended the Talmud Tora School on Grindelhof.
Like his brother-in-law, Sigmund Baumwollspinner was also expelled to Zbaszyn in the "Polenaktion.” His wife and son remained in Hamburg. In the spring of 1939 Sigmund was given permission to return to Hamburg for a short time. The family attempted to emigrate to the US. In July 1939, Sigmund Baumwollspinner had booked the family’s passage on a Hapag ship to San Francisco, and had paid a 1000 Reichsmark deposit. The family’s belongings were packed in two shipping crates, and he paid the Springer & Co shipping company 2700 Reichsmarks for their transport. The family were not able to leave the country, however. On 17 June 1939, the Foreign Exchange Office blocked the family’s passports. They were able to find a place for their son Alfred on a children’s transport to England, and he left Hamburg in June 1939. One of Amalie’s brothers and his family had already emigrated to England, where he worked with the Jewish Relief Agency, and was able to procure a place for Alfred on the children’s transport. Unfortunately, Alfred’s suitcase was stolen, so that he was destitute when he arrived.
Sigmund and Amalia Baumwollspinner left Hamburg shortly after their son’s departure and travelled to Sambor, Sigmund’s hometown. They may have planned to return to Hamburg to travel to the US by ship, but that was no longer possible after the war broke out on 1 September 1939. Sigmund and Amalie had affidavits for the US, but the quota for Polish immigrants had already been filled, and they had to wait.
Sambor was under German control until it was ceded to the Soviet Union in the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact (also known as the Hitler-Stalin Pact or the Treaty of Non-aggression between Germany and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) and occupied by Soviet troops. In the summer of 1941 the Wehrmacht retook the region, and the atrocities, mass shootings and the systematic extermination of Jews began. Poles and Ukranians often considered the Jews to have been agents of the Soviet Union, and when the Red Army withdrew from Sambor in July 1941, 50 Jews were beaten to death by an angry mob.
There was no contact between Sigmund and Amalia in Sambor and their son Alfred in England. In December 1941 Sigmund was able to send a card through the Red Cross to his son, and Alfred received it. He replied on 19 April 1942. On 31 August 1942, one last card was sent from Sambor to England. But Alfred was never to see his parents again. Between March and December 1942, more than 200,000 Galician Jews were murdered in the Belzec Extermination Camp in the southeastern Polish district of Lublin. According to Alfred’s research, his parents were deported from Sambor to Belzec and murdered there in October 1942.
In England, Alfred Baumwollspinner didn’t live with his relatives, who were in difficult circumstances themselves, but rather in a camp in Suffolk for one year, and then in a youth hostel in Sheffield for two years. After finishing his schooling he became an electrician. His cousin Cecilie Landau (Lucille Eichengreen) helped him emigrate to the US in 1953. Alfred Baumwollspinner, who has since changed his last name to Cotton, lives in California.
The last trace of the family in Hamburg is – as is so often the case – a file with a repossession agent. On 6 October 1941 the Gestapo commissioned a repossession agent to auction off Sigmund Baumwollspinner’s confiscated belongings, a shipping container and a carton. The auction took place on 29 October. A small part was bought by the Hamburg Social Services Administration, the rest was sold to private buyers. The auction brought a total of 5,243.30 Reichsmarks.
Benno and Sala Landau’s eldest daughter Cecilie (*1925) survived the Holocaust. She was first able to speak of her experiences and her family’s fate in the mid-1970s. Today she lives in the US. She changed her first name to Lucille, and took her husband’s last name, Eichengreen. In 1994 her impressive book From Ashes to Life. My Memories of the Holocaust was published. She left Germany and Europe shortly after the end of the war, and did not return for 50 years. In 1995 she and her husband Dan Eichengreen, who was also originally from Hamburg, accepted the Senate of Hamburg’s invitation to visit the city. Since then she has often spoken in schools about her experiences. Her highest priority is to educate young people about the Holocaust and to encourage them to stand up against oppression. In 2009, on the occasion of the exhibition "In den Tod geschickt. Die Deportation von Juden, Roma und Sinti aus Hamburg 1940 bis 1945” (Sent to death. The deportation of Jews, Roma and Sinti from Hamburg 1940 to 1945), Lucille Eichengreen received the Hamburg Gold Medal of Honor from mayor Ole von Beust in recognition of her work in the area of the history of Nazi persecution of Jews in Hamburg.
Translator: Amy Lee
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.
Stand: March 2017
© Susanne Lohmeyer
Quellen: 1; 2 (F97 und F97b); 4;5; StaH 213-13, Z 276-4; StaH 214-1, 132; StaH 231-7, A1 Band 123, HRA 28004; StaH 351-11 AfW, 14938, 47265 und 47782; StaH 362-6/10 Talmud Tora Schule Best.Nr. 741-4 Fotoarchiv Sa 1248; StaH 522-1 Jüdische Gemeinden 992e2 Band 1 Deportationsliste; StaH 741-4 Fotoarchiv, Sa 1248; HAB II 1926 und 1937; HAB IV 1926; HAB IV 1938; USHMM 299/301-302; Lucille Eichengreen, Rückkehr nach Hamburg; dies., Von Asche zum Leben; dies., Rumkowski, der Judenälteste von Lodz; Martin Doerry, Nirgendwo …, S. 220-228; Beate Meyer (Hrsg.), Die Verfolgung und Ermordung, S. 179f.; KZ Gedenkstätte Neuengamme Videoarchiv 7132/7133; Sascha Feuchert u. a., Die Chronik des Gettos Lodz/Litzmannstadt; KZ-Gedenkstätte Dachau; Deportationsliste Litzmannstadt, Gedenkstätte Lodz Radegast; www.jewishgen.org; www.luckauer-juden.de/Namensverzeichnis.html; Mitteilungen von Alfred Cotton; Manfred Körner u. a., Die Geschichte der Wohnungsbaugenossenschaft Kaifu-Nordland, S. 5ff.; Gesche-M. Cordes, Stolpersteine …, S. 200.