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Margitta Riess (née Bender) * 1900
Neuer Pferdemarkt 17 (Altona, Sternschanze)
LODZ / LITZMANNSTADT
Bernhard Bender, born on 17 June 1876 in Seligenstadt, deported on 25 Oct. 1941 to Lodz, murdered there on 3 June 1942
Flora Bender, née Salomon, born on 2 Mar. 1880 in Hamburg, deported on 25 Oct. 1941 to Lodz, murdered there on 3 June 1942
Ruth Helene Engländer, born on 1 Nov. 1921 in Hamburg, deported on 25 Oct. 1941 to Lodz, murdered there on 3 June 1942
Marga (Margitta) Rieß (Ries, Riess), née Bender, born on 10 June 1900 in Hamburg, deported on 25 Oct. 1941 to Lodz, murdered there on 3 June 1942
Neuer Pferdemarkt 17
Bernhard Bender was the son of the horse trader Mayer Bender and his wife Helene. He trained as a butcher, worked as a coal trader in Hamburg in about 1900, and registered the business of horse-trading there on 23 Nov. 1916. He had a good reputation in the industry. Thus, a former colleague wrote about him in 1957, "I knew Mr. Bernhard Bender for many years, and I had business relations with him as well. I liked to do business with Bender because he was absolutely solid, any disputes in trading were far from his mind. He was also respected in the circle of horse traders and had customers and many friends.” Bernhard Bender was at the Lübeck horse market every week, and Max Plaut, full-time secretary of the German-Israelitic Community since Jan. 1933, surmised after the war that Bender had his stables at the horse market. He operated a medium to large horse trading business, living comfortably with the income earned. His wife Flora drove her own car and the household had a telephone. The Benders owned gold, silver and jewelry items whose equivalent value relevant for restitution was subsequently estimated in the Federal Republic of Germany at more than 4,000 DM (deutsche mark).
From the assessments pertaining to the Jewish religious tax (Kultussteuer), one can deduce that the revenues of the Benders rose continuously until 1934/35. However, in the five years that followed, they decreased substantially. As well, "the vehicle was … probably sold already in late 1938 or early 1939 because all Jewish fellow citizens were compelled to hand in their driver’s licenses and vehicle registration documents, thus barring them from operating a motor vehicle.” In Feb. 1941, Bernhard Bender was ordered by the foreign currency office with the Chief Financial Administrator (Oberfinanzpräsident) to disclose his financial circumstances. Thereupon, he indicated that he had a bank balance.
By 1930 at the latest, Bernhard Bender lived, together with his wife Flora and their daughters Marga and Edda, in a well-furnished four-and-a-half-bedroom apartment on the second floor of the house at Schanzenstraße 14. About the turn of the year 1938/1939, the Benders moved to a one-and-a-half-bedroom apartment at Neuer Pferdemarkt 17. According to their daughter Edda Schestowitz, they did not undertake this move voluntarily, and a friend of Marga Riess, too, remembers that the couple "was relocated.” On Edda’s behalf, the authorized representative Traut wrote in 1959, "There is … no denying that in the course of their forced relocation from Schanzenstraße 14 to Neuer Pferdemarkt 17, the aggrieved parties had to sell some of their furniture far below cost.” The household goods of the Benders were valuable even after their move. Thus, in the 1950s, 3,000 DM (deutsche mark) were reimbursed for the furnishings left behind at Neuer Pferdemarkt after their deportation.
In 1922, the younger daughter Edda married Fritz Schestowitz and moved to Wendelsheim in the present-day state of Rheinland-Pfalz (Rhineland-Palatinate). After her husband was released from Gestapo detention in 1936, the couple emigrated with their two sons to Palestine. Thus, Edda lost contact with her family. In her restitution claim, her lawyer wrote she "had no opportunity any more to say farewell to her parents and sister. Owing to the escalating Nazi measures of persecution, she was not able to establish correspondence with her parents from Israel or Palestine, respectively.”
Marga attended – like her sister – the Israelite Girls’ School on Karolinenstraße. She married Wolf Leib (Willi) Engländer, the owner of the Engländer & Hinsel Company, a toy and jewelry store. With him, she had a daughter, Ruth Helene, born in Nov. 1921. The young family lived in Schanzenstraße with the Benders. The marriage was divorced. In her second marriage, Marga was married to a Christian, Paul Ries, in Oct. 1937. She moved with him to Berlin to Landsbergerstraße. Ruth Helene stayed with her grandparents and attended the Girls’ School on Karolinenstraße up to grade eight. This second marriage of Marga was also divorced. By Aug. 1938 at the latest, she lived again with her parents at Neuer Pferdemarkt 17. Between Oct. 1940 and Sept. 1941, she was employed and paid Jewish religious taxes (Kultussteuern). Her daughter Ruth did not have an income of her own. In 1941, she attended a home economics school.
When Marga received the deportation order, her parents reported voluntarily to go on the same transport to Lodz. Until their murder a few months after their arrival, the family lived at Rauchgasse 25, apartment 17, together with nine other persons – including the teacher Henriette Arndt from Semperstraße 67 in Winterhude – in one room with a kitchen.
While Flora took care of the household, Bernhard worked as a kosher butcher. Marga was a tailor and her daughter Ruth became a "fashion designer.” Besides many other things, the Lodz Ghetto also saw production of clothing for sale "in the Reich” by companies such as the Neckermann mail order company or the Alsterhaus department store. Andrea Löw writes in her study about Lodz "that the people in the ghetto, severed from contact with the outside world and thus in no position at all to register the latest trends, were producing fashion for German women that found buyers.”
The chronicle of the ghetto in Lodz contains an entry dated 3 June 1942 under the heading "To Warsaw.” It reports that in the afternoon, 160 or 187 occupants of the ghetto were taken away on trucks to Warsaw. This was the only transport documented on that day. Thus, it is very likely that Flora and Bernhard Bender, Marga Riess and Ruth Engländer, who all died on 3 June, left the ghetto on those trucks.
Translator: Erwin Fink
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.
© Christiane Jungblut
Quellen: 1; 2; 4; 5; 8; ITS/ARCH/Ghetto Litzmannstadt, Ordner 9, Seite 1061; ITS/ARCH/Ghetto Litzmannstadt, Ordner 6, Seite 58, 59; AB 1938, T. 1; StaH 314-15, OFP, R 1941/24; StaH 314-15, OFP, Abl. 1998/1, B735; StaH 332-8 Meldewesen A51/1, K 2514; StaH 351-11 AfW, Abl. 2008/1, 120701 Schestowitz, Edda; StaH 351-11 AfW, Abl. 2008/1, 240593 Engländer, Wolf Leib; StaH 362-6/10 Talmud-Tora-Schule, TT 22; StaH 522-1 Jüd. Gemeinden, 390 Wählerliste 1930; StaH 522-1 Jüd. Gemeinden, 992 e 1 Band 1; Löw, Juden, 2006, S. 315; Feuchert/Leibfried/Riecke (Hrsg.), Chronik, 1942, 2007, S. 264; Sparr, Stolpersteine, 2008, S. 33.
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(2) Bundesarchiv Berlin, R 1509 Reichssippenamt, Ergänzungskarten der Volkszählung vom 17. Mai 1939