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Gerda Pulka (née Naphtalie) * 1921
Bernstorffstraße 99 (Altona, Altona-Altstadt)
Erwin Pulka, born 27 Mar. 1938 in Hamburg-Altona, deported 25 Oct. 1941 to Lodz, died there
Gerda Pulka, née Naphtalie, born 19 Feb. 1921 in Berlin, deported 25 Oct. 1941 to Lodz, murdered 12 Apr. 1942 at the Chelmno Extermination Camp
Hella Pulka, née Cuckinowski, born 2 Dec. 1898 in Dynow, Poland, deported 25 Oct. 1941 to Lodz, died there
Hermann Pulka, born 8 Dec. 1924, deported 25 Oct. 1941 to Lodz, died there
Isaak Pulka, born 15 May 1921 in Hamburg-Altona, deported 25 Oct. 1941 to Lodz
Markus Pulka, born 31 Mar. 1931, deported 25 Oct. 1941 to Lodz, died there
Szlama Pulka, born 2 Mar. 1896 in Cernocice, Poland, sent to Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp 26 Feb. 1940, died there 25 June 1940
Bernstorffstraße 99 (Adolfstraße)
Szlama (Salomon, Szlame, or Schlaume) Pulka, born 3 March 1896, was from the Polish town of Cernocice. He was a shoe-maker and lived with his wife Hella, née Cuckinowski, who was from Dynow in Galicia, and their four sons Isaak, Hermann, Marcus, and Erwin in Altona in the neighborhood around the Johanniskirche (St. John’s Church), where many Jewish families from Poland had settled. In the Altona address books from 1925 to 1934, Szlama Pulka’s residence and business were listed at Jacobstraße 8, Jacobterrasse 6. From 1934 to 1938 the Pulkas lived at Adlerstraße 77 (present-day Scheplerstraße). In 1939 the family was registered at Adolfstraße 101 (present-day Berstorffstraße).
In 1939, shortly before the outbreak of the Second World War, the 18-year-old Isaak, who worked as a manual laborer, married Gerda Naphtalie. She was born on 19 February 1921 in Berlin to the Polish-born Elka Haber Naphtalie, née Haber, a furrier, and Hugo Naphtalie, the owner of a fur shop in Berlin. Hugo Naphtalie died in 1933 and was buried at the Jewish cemetery in Berlin-Weißensee. Gerda had come to Hamburg in 1937 with her mother, who had taken over a fur shop from Gerda’s aunt Regina Jägermann.
Wolf and Regina Jägermann owned several fur shops in Berlin and Hamburg, all of which suffered under the anti-Jewish discriminatory measures, and some of which had to be closed. Wolf Jägermann became severely ill as a result of the difficult situation. Gerda and her mother ran the Jägermanns’ last shop in Hamburg, located at Gänsemarkt 13. In 1940 it also had to be closed.
Gerda and her mother lived in the Jägermanns’ apartment at Lehnartzstraße 3 in Hamburg-Eppendorf. The Naphtalie family, including Gerda’s elder brother Manfred and younger sister Margot, had often visited the Jägermanns on Jewish holidays.
In 1940, the Hamburg address book listed the Pulka family’s address as Breite Straße 52 in Altona. The building numbers 44 to 56 were owned by the Jewish Religious Association of Hamburg, as the Hamburg Jewish Community was now called. They were used as "Jews’ houses,” in which Jews were forced to live, so that the Gestapo had them under better control.
After the Wehrmacht invaded Poland in September 1939, all of those Polish Jews in Germany who had not been expelled or who had not returned to Poland in 1938 became stateless and were sent to concentration camps. Szlama Pulka was among the several thousand men affected by this action. He was sent to the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp in Oranienburg on 26 February 1940, where he was registered as a "Polish Jew” with the prisoner number 020362 in Block 19. The men suffered under particularly harsh living conditions. Szlama Pulka died four months after his arrival at Sachsenhausen. The official cause of death was pneumonia.
Isaak Pulka, who also became stateless in 1940, and who was by that time so destitute that he was exempted from paying taxes, received his deportation orders for 25 October 1941. He was to appear at the collection point at the Masonic Lodge on Moorweide to board the train for Lodz. In order to accompany her husband, Gerda Pulka volunteered to go with him. Isaak’s mother Hella Pulka and his three younger brothers – Hermann, who was nearly 16, ten-year-old Markus, and three-year-old Erwin – were deported on the same transport.
When they arrived in the ghetto on 27 October 1941, Gerda Pulka was assigned quarters in Apartment No. 2 on Siegfriedstraße. According to the registry documents, she shared the room with six other people – possibly other members of the Pulka family. On 12 April 1942, Gerda Pulka was de-registered from the Lodz Ghetto – which means she was sent to the Chelmno Extermination Camp and murdered. Her husband Isaak, his three brothers and his mother all died in the Lodz Ghetto.
The Pulka family’s belongings were confiscated by the German Reich. A letter from 20 February 1942 from the Chief Tax Authority, office of confiscated assets, to the repossession agency reads: "I herewith authorize you to sell the items confiscated from the Pulka residence at Breite Strasse 52 F, Hamburg at public auction, with the proceeds to go to the German Reich.” The furniture transport company Witwe Mussil & Son shipped, among other things, a bedroom lamp ("bought by Freiberger”), a colored round lamp ("bought by Petersen”), "five pieces of glass,” two candleholders, two pictures, diverse small items, one oil painting ("bought by Koopmann”), and a wall mirror to the auction.
Gerda’s mother Elka Naphtalie was arrested on 8 November 1941, and deported to the Riga Ghetto on 6 December 1941. The Riga security police classified her as a political prisoner and transferred her into "protective custody” to the Stutthof Concentration Camp near Gdansk on 1 October 1944. Her prisoner number was 95336. According to Oskar Salomon, a Stutthof survivor, typhoid fever was raging in the over-crowded camp at the time. Elka Naphtalie’s date of death, like that of many other "missing persons,” was declared as 8 May 1945.
Gerda’s sister, Margot Katz, a seamstress, emigrated to Belgium. She first lived in Antwerp, then she and her husband moved to Brussels. She was arrested on 5 May 1943 and sent to Malines (Mechelen) in the Antwerp province and held at the "SS transit camp for Jews” there. The camp was used as a detention camp for Jews, Sinti, and Roma who were to be deported from Belgium to extermination camps, generally Auschwitz. Margot Katz was deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau on 31 July 1943. She did not survive the transport.
According to a letter from the "Aide aux Israelites Victimes de la Guerre,” her husband, Julius Nathan Katz, was deported from the Drancy Camp in France to Auschwitz on 2 September 1942, where he was murdered.
Regina Jägermann fled to her daughter Thea in London shortly before the outbreak of the war. Wolf Jägerman was murdered in the Hadamar Euthanasia Center in 1943 (see Biographies: Wolf Jägermann). Manfred Naphtalie, Gerda’s brother, was one of the children on the first Children’s Transport to London in 1939. He emigrated to the US in 1948, where he trained as a furrier, in the family tradition. In 1954 he opened a fur business in Detroit. In 2006 he returned to Hamburg on the occasion of the placement of the Stolpersteine for his mother and sister.
Translator: Amy Lee
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.
Stand: April 2018
© Claudia García
Quellen: 1; 2; 4; 5; 7; 8; StaH 522-1 Jüdische Gemeinden, 992 e 2 Band 3 (Transportliste Riga, 4.12.1941); Archiwum Panstwowe w Lodzi, Ankunfts- und Abgangsdokumente des Gettos Litzmannstadt; Angaben von Manfred Naftalie in: Eppendorfer Wochenblatt, 28.11.2006; Briefwechsel Manfred Naphtalies mit Peter Hess und Johann-Hinrich Möller; Stiftung Brandenburgische Gedenkstätten/Gedenkstätte und Museum Sachsenhausen, Auskunft zu Szlama Pulka, 8.11.2013; Internationaler Suchdienst Bad Arolsen, Brief an Heinz Kern, 26.9.2000; Jüdisches Deportations- und Widerstandsmuseum Mechelen, Auskunft, 12.4.2010; Gedenkstätte Hadamar, Auskunft, 14.6.2010; siehe Biographien von Gerda Pulka, und Elka Naphtalie, in: Koser, Stolpersteine, S. 318 ff. und 335 ff.
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