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Hedwig Baur (née Robertson) * 1894

Ebertallee 16 (Altona, Groß Flottbek)

Freitod am 19.1.1944 Hamburg

Hedwig Baur, née Robertson, born on 12 Aug. 1894, suicide on 19 Jan. 1944

Hedwig Baur was the daughter of the Hamburg merchant Henry Nathanael Robertson and his wife Emily Robertson, née Simmonds. She grew up in a typical Hamburg upper-class family in a fin-de-siècle villa in Harvestehude. Her grandmother, Estella Jesurun, came from Spain and her grandfather, Coleman Simmonds, from Britain.

In 1917, she married the non-Jewish Gerhard Heinrich Baur. Initially, the couple lived with their son Gerhard-Henry, born in 1918, and their daughter, born in 1921, in Osnabrück, where Hedwig Baur’s husband was director of the Dresdner Bank. Subsequently, the family moved to Berlin.

In 1931, Hedwig Baur returned closer to her hometown with daughter Emily Sophie. She moved to the neighboring city of Altona, back then still an independent town, and lived in the Gross Flottbek quarter at Ebertallee 16. In 1930, the couple got a divorce by mutual consent. The son stayed with his father in Berlin.

In 1931, Hedwig Baur’s father died. He left his daughter a small fortune, which allowed her to maintain a solid middle-class lifestyle. Hedwig Baur’s granddaughter, Gabriele Bröcker, infers from the stories and family photos that were passed on that her grandmother was probably an "elegant and attractive lady.” It appears she was one of the first women in Hamburg to get a driver’s license. Part of obtaining the driving permit in those days involved showing up in overalls to do small repairs on the car oneself.

In Mar. 1939, mother and daughter had to clear their apartment on Horst-Wessel-Allee, as the former Ebertallee was now called. Perhaps other occupants of the house had, as happened frequently, invoked the claim that it could not be expected of "Aryan” tenants to live with Jews in one building. That Hedwig Baur – like her mother and daughter – was baptized and belonged to the Gross Flottbek Protestant congregation did not help her. With her daughter Emily, she moved to live with her mother in the building at Heimhuderstraße 80, a classic three-story stucco villa owned by the family. The 18-year-old Emily Sophie Baur apparently moved out soon afterward. As a "half-Jew” ("Halbjüdin”), she was barred from finishing her high-school graduation diploma (Abitur). In the meantime, she had completed a course in shorthand and typing with the Lette Association, and obtained training as a metallographer.

She then worked for several years at Blohm & Voss. Her daughter Gabriele Bröcker relates that she "had to suffer harassment by her ‘Aryan’ coworkers but also had a charming, fatherly superior in her department, who held a protective hand over her and prevented worse things.” As of Oct. 1939, she was officially registered at Parkstraße 2 and from Apr. 1940 in Berlin, where she cared for her father, who suffered from cancer and died at the Charité Hospital in Nov. 1941.

Meanwhile, the anti-Semitic measures against the family escalated. In 1939, the foreign currency and asset administration office of the Chief Finance Administrator (Oberfinanzpräsident) put Hedwig Baur’s assets under "security order” (Sicherungsanordnung). What was left to her amounted to a limited sum covering living expenses.

On 19 July 1942, her sister, Margaret Herwig, was deported to Theresienstadt. In Mar. 1943, her mother, Emily Robertson, committed suicide to avoid deportation. According to Gabriele Bröcker, a family acquaintance who apparently knew details of the deportation lists had imparted the day of her deportation in advance.

Nearly one year later, Hedwig Baur also received the deportation order sent to the address at Heimhuderstraße 80. Due to her Jewish descent, she was scheduled for deportation to Theresienstadt on 19 Jan. 1944. However, a handwritten note next to her name on the Gestapo’s deportation list indicated: "no show (ill).”

Hedwig Baur took her own life on that 19 Jan. Like her mother, she chose that desperate way out to elude deportation to a place unknown to her, where she had to reckon with violence, forced labor, and death. She was not even 50 years old.

The following day, her son, Gerhard Heinrich Baur, who studied engineering in Berlin, went to police authorities and provided the death certificate for his mother. He made a statement indicating that on 19 Jan. he had received a telegram from Hamburg saying that his mother was dying. He immediately set out to see her. Half an hour after his arrival, she had died in her apartment, having poisoned herself with Barbital (Veronal). "On 18 Jan. 1944, my mother had received orders to report for evacuation. This was probably too much for my mother to bear. For this reason, she probably committed this act. No one else was responsible.”
Hedwig Baur’s dead body was transported to the Harbor Hospital.

Her sister Margaret perished in Theresienstadt in 1944. Her brother Hans Robert was displaced as a "half-Jew” ("Halbjude”) to France, but he managed to escape and survived. Hedwig Baur’s children survived the Nazi period as "half-Jews.”

The son emigrated to Canada in the 1950s; the daughter lived, married to the Hamburg pediatrician Dr. Werner Lohse and with daughter Gabriele (born in 1951), in the building at Heimhuderstraße 80 until 1966, from where they moved to Rönneburg, since Dr. Lohse was assigned a medical practice in Harburg. Emily Lohse devoted her entire life to watercolor painting. She spent the last six years of her life near her daughter in Düren (Rhineland), where she died in 2000.

Translator: Erwin Fink
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.

© Birgit Gewehr

Quellen: 2 (R 1940/509); 3; 4; Ausstellung Melanchthongemeinde; StaH 332-8 Meldewesen, A 50/1 (= 741-4 Fotoarchiv, K 387); StaH 351-11 Amt für Wiedergutmachung, 16079 (Erbengemeinschaft Baur, Hedwig); StaH 331-5 Polizeibehörde – Unnatürliche Sterbefälle, 1944/ 255 (Baur, Hedwig); StaH 214-1 Gerichtsvollzieherwesen, 133 (Hedwig Sara Baur); Informationen von Gabriele Bröcker, geb. Lohse, Kerpen-Buir (Rheinland), Oktober 2007.

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