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Already layed Stumbling Stones

Markus Beck * 1887

Bernstorffstraße 131 (Altona, Altona-Altstadt)

JG. 1887

further stumbling stones in Bernstorffstraße 131:
Hena Beck, Benjamin Beck

Markus Beck, born 2.1.1887 in Lesko/Galicia, imprisoned in the Fuhlsbüttel police prison on 28.10.1938, deported to Zbaszyn/Poland on 28.10.1938, murdered in occupied Poland.

Hena Beck, née Eisik, born 25.8.1889 in Jankowce/Galicia, deported on 28.10.38 to Zbaszyn/Poland, deported on 25.10.1941 to Litzmannstadt (Lodz), murdered

Benjamin Beck, born 3 8. 1921 in Hamburg, deported to Zbaszyn/Poland on 28.10.1938, imprisoned in Fuhlsbüttel police prison on 15.2.1940, transferred to Sachsenhausen concentration camp on 24.2.1940, deported to Auschwitz in 1943, murdered there on 17.2.1943

Bernstorffstraße 131 (formerly Adolphstraße/Adolfstraße) (Altona-Altstadt)

The Jewish couple Markus and Hena Beck, née Eisik, immigrated from former Galicia to the then still independent city of Altona about towards the end of 1919. According to their own statements, each of them had Polish citizenship. Markus Beck was born on 2 Jan. in Lesko, Hena Eisik on 25 Aug. 1889 in Jankowce, two kilometres away. Both places are in former Galicia (today the Carpathian Foothills Voivodeship in south-eastern Poland). Their son Benjamin was born in Altona on 3 Aug 1921.

Markus Beck traded in furs and skins. His business must have developed well. From 1930 onward he was listed in the Altona address book as the owner of the property Adolphstraße 131 (from 1938 Adolfstraße, today Bernstorffstraße) with the reference " Furs ". This was a combined residential and commercial property with five tenants. As of the 1931 edition of the address book, the Beck family was also listed as residents.

We do not know further concrete circumstances about the Beck family's life in Altona in the years up to 1938. It can be assumed that they also suffered from the discrimination and restrictions on Jews in the German Reich that began with the National Socialists' coming to power on 30 Jan. 1933.

Criminal proceedings initiated against Markus Beck on suspicion of "racial shame" led to his imprisonment in the Fuhlsbüttel police prison (known as the Fuhlsbüttel concentration camp or KolaFu) in July 1938. The proceedings apparently came to nothing. He was released on 19 Oct.

On 28 Oct. 1938, about 17,000 Jews of Polish origin were deported from the German Reich to Poland as part of the so-called Poland Action (Polenaktion). The Polish government had previously threatened not to renew the passports of the Poles living abroad. This would have turned them into stateless persons. The Nazi government feared that thousands of "Eastern Jews" would stay permanently on German territory. Without warning and distinction of person, men, women and children were taken from their workplaces or homes throughout the German Reich, gathered together in various places and deported on the same day by rail across the Polish border at Zbaszyn (Bentschen), Chojnice (Konitz) in Pomerania and Bytom in Upper Silesia. The cost of the deportation operation were to be borne by the Reich budget "insofar as they cannot [...] be collected from the deported foreigners".

From Hamburg, to which Altona belonged since 1 Jan 1938, about 1,000 people were taken to the German border town of Neu Bentschen (today Zbąszynek) and from there forcibly driven across the German-Polish border to Zbaszyn (Bentschen). Among them was the Beck family.

We do not know how the deportation actually took place in the case of the Beck family. Reports from their immediate neighbourhood tell us that the people were woken up by the police at five in the morning and usually the men were taken first. They were held in various places in Hamburg. The Hütten police prison in Neustadt and the then riding and drill hall of the Viktoria barracks, the headquarters of the Altona police station, at Haubachstraße 62 are well-known. Later women and children followed. In the evening - it was a Friday (Sabbath evening) - the people finally had to go to Altona station and to get on the waiting trains. Under German guarding they went to Neu-Bentschen.

After arriving there, the expellees were forced to march about six kilometres in the dark with their belongings under police guarding and threatened by beatings and rib jabs, towards the state border. In the Polish border town of Zbaszyn (Bentschen), which previously had about 5,000 inhabitants, more than 8,000 of these displaced persons arrived within a few hours. They had to be cared for in the cold. An old mill, the school, a dance hall and military barracks were made into emergency accommodation. The people lived there in disastrous conditions, some had to stay in Zbaszyn until the middle of 1939.

In addition to Marcus Beck, his wife Hena and their 17-year-old son Benjamin, Hena Beck's mother, the widow Itta Eisik, born on 1 Aug. 1863 in Nowotaniec in the Carpathian foothills, was also among those expelled from Hamburg.

Apparently Hena Beck still had the opportunity to settle a few business matters in the course of 28 Oct. She brought an account book for bills of exchange to her family's lawyers and asked the bills to be collected. Hena Beck returned to Hamburg on 13 July 1939, her son Benjamin on 1 Aug. Both had permission to stay in Hamburg until 3 Sept. to "settle their personal and business affairs".

The Hamburg Real Estate Management Company (Hamburgische Grundstücksverwaltungsgesellschaft von 1938 m.b.H., Hamburg 11, Börsenbrücke 8), had previously taken over the administration for the property at Adolfstraße 131 (changed spelling). Nevertheless, Hena Beck was initially still able to live at Adolfstraße 131, but had to realize that a considerable part of her property had gone missing during her absence. An application for the release of 980 RM from her blocked bank balance for supplementary purchases was rejected by the Chief Finance President.

Hena Beck's mother, Itta Eisik, had apparently been able to return to Hamburg before her daughter. She at last lived in Altona, Oelkersallee 38 with Schander. She died on 30 June 1939 and was buried in the Jewish cemetery in Ohlsdorf. The Chief Finance President initially refused the request for release of RM 85 for a gravestone, but agreed after prolonged pleading.

Hena Beck's departure from Hamburg was delayed. She and her son initially wanted to leave by 6 Sept., the files said "emigrate", whether to Poland or another country is not apparent. During the stay of mother and son Beck in Hamburg, Marcus Beck stayed in Zbaszyn until far into 1939, then in Krakow and in January 1941 in Tarnow.

Although the deadline for returning to Poland had already passed, Hena Beck was still living at Adolfstraße 131 in 1941. She was deported from Hamburg to the Litzmannstadt (Lodz) ghetto on 25 Oct. 1941 and died there.

Benjamin Beck was taken into "protective custody" ("Schutzhaft”) in the Fuhlsbüttel Police Prison (known as KolaFu) in autumn 1939. The reason for his detention is not recorded in the files, but presumably he was imprisoned as an "enemy alien" like thousands of male Polish Jews still remaining in the German Reich after beginning of the war on 1 Sept. 1939. The accounts for the food rations of prisoners in Fuhlsbüttel show that he was held in Fuhlsbüttel from 1 Oct. 1939 to 15 Feb. 1940. On 24 Feb. he was imprisoned again and transferred to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp (prisoner number 20352).

From May 1940 onwards, his mother was allowed to transfer money to him regularly for his "living expenses" to the debit of her blocked account, initially between RM 10 and RM 15, and from July 1940 onwards RM 25 per month. After that, Hena Beck sent her son 30 RM per month for "salary" until September 1941. Each of these payments required the individual approval of the foreign exchange office of the Chief Finance President.

From Sachsenhausen, Benjamin Beck was transferred to the Auschwitz concentration camp together with other Jews. The exact date is unknown, but it is said to have been in 1943. According to matching documents, Benjamin Beck was murdered in Auschwitz on 17 Feb. 1943.

Markus Beck's further fate is unknown. According to the memorial book of the Federal Archives "Victims of the Persecution of Jews under National Socialist Violence in Germany 1933 - 1945", he is said to have been killed in Litzmannstadt (Lodz) like his wife Hena.

Translation: Elisabeth Wendland

Stand: March 2023
© Ingo Wille

Quellen: Adressbuch Altona/Hamburg; StaH 213-13 Landgericht Hamburg – Wiedergutmachung, 14076 Marcus Beck, 14167 Beck Marcus, 14947 Marcus Beck, 16045 Marcus Beck, 314-15 Oberfinanzpräsident FVg 2064 Benjamin Beck, R 1939/2851 Marcus Beck, 332-5 Standesämter 1103 Sterberegister Nr. 408/1939 Itta Eisik. Gedenkbuch des Bundesarchivs "Opfer der Verfolgung der Juden unter der nationalsozialistischen Gewaltherrschaft in Deutschland 1933 – 1945". Bothe, Aline/Pickan Gertrud (Hrg.), Ausgewiesen! Berlin, 28.10.1938 Die Geschichte der "Polenaktion", Berlin 2018. Jerzy Tomaszewski, Auftakt zur Vernichtung, Die Vertreibung polnischer Juden aus Deutschland im Jahre 1938.

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