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Maximilian Rothschild * 1852
Winckelmannstraße 25 (Altona, Nienstedten)
GEDEMÜTIGT / ENTRECHTET
Florentine Rothschild, née Heller, born on 13 Jan. 1862, deported on 24 Mar. 1943 to Theresienstadt, died there on 6 July 1944
Margot Rothschild, born on 24 June 1883, deported to Riga on 6 Dec. 1941
Maximilian Rothschild, born on 13 Sept. 1852, humiliated, deprived of his rights, perished on 14 Nov. 1942
Winckelmannstrasse 25 (Hindenburgstrasse)
Maximilian Rothschild was born on 13 Sept. 1852 in Düsseldorf; his parents were E. Rothschild and his wife Rosalie, née Heller. From 1914 until 1942, the prosperous merchant Maximilian Rothschild lived with his wife Florentine, called Flora, ten years his junior, and daughter Margot, who was born on 24 June 1883, in a single-family home of their own built in 1910 at Hindenburgstrasse 25 (today Winkelmannstrasse 25) in Nienstedten. In 1927, Nienstedten was incorporated into Altona and belonged to the Hanseatic City of Hamburg based on the Greater Hamburg Act [and other territorial adjustments] (Gross-Hamburg-Gesetz [und andere Gebietsbereinigungen]) of 1937. The house was located at Hochkamp, an exclusive upper-middle-class residential area featuring park-like properties.
Florentine Rothschild, née Heller, was born on 13 Jan. 1862 in Hamburg as the daughter of Siegmund Heller and the native of Warsaw Malke (later Margarete) Heller, née Kaftal, widowed name Bergson. Florentine had three sisters: Luise (called Lilli), born on 9 Apr. 1866, Paula (called Pauline), born on 12 July 1864, and Victorine, born on 4 Oct. 1870.
Maximilian Rothschild worked in the importing and exporting business trading furs and hides. Since about 1900, he operated a commercial agency together with his father-in-law at Schopenstehl 5, which he took over in 1910, continuing to manage it with the partners Henry Schreiber and Hinrich Kruse from 1916 onward; since 1920, the company seat was located at Pferdemarkt 45/51.
When the Nazis came to power in Jan. 1933, Maximilian Rothschild was 80, his wife Florentine 71 years. Daughter Margot, who had remained unmarried, lived with her parents at Hindenburgstrasse 25 and ran the household.
In 1938, the Chief Finance Administration (Oberfinanzbehörde), which engaged in a policy of legal, systematic plundering of wealthy Jewish men and women, took notice of the well-to-do family in the Elbe suburb of Nienstedten. In December, the customs investigation department investigated with respect to "suspicion of capital flight” against the married couple Maximilian and Florentine Rothschild; the grounds were stereotypical: "The suspicion is based on the fact that the Rothschilds are Jews.” The Gestapo, the tax investigation services (Steuerfahndungsdienst), and the main branch of the Reichsbank were informed. The aim was preventing "assets being withdrawn from foreign exchange control.”
The authority established that the Rothschilds owned significant financial assets in securities with Dresdner Bank and Deutsche Bank as well as a mortgage on a property in St. Pauli at Pferdemarkt 45. On 13 Dec. 1938, a preliminary "security order” ("Sicherungsanordnung”) was imposed on the securities accounts and checking accounts, which were thus blocked. Withdrawals of duties and tax payments owing to the state certainly continued to be possible. Between Dec. 1938 and Nov. 1939, Maximilian Rothschild was compelled to pay the "levy on Jewish assets” ("Judenvermögensabgabe”) amounting to 20 percent of his overall assets.
Actually, daughter Margot Rothschild had been planning her emigration since the end of Nov. 1938. She owned the property and single family home at Hindenburgstrasse 25.
Due to her Jewish descent, she was listed since 1939 as a compulsory member of the Reich Association of Jews in Germany (Reichsvereinigung der Juden in Deutschland), though she was not a religious Jewish woman. The Jewish religious tax (Kultussteuer) card started for her noted, "without religious creed.”
At this point, a preliminary "security order” was imposed on her account, too; she was allowed to dispose of her real estate only with permission by the Hamburg foreign currency office. The authority noted tersely, "Grounds: Miss Margot Sara Rothschild is a Jewess.” She was unable to realize any plans for emigration.
On 14 Sept. 1939, the authorities ordered Maximilian Rothschild to list the monthly living expenses for the household of four. A person also living in the house since that year was the Jewish domestic servant Etelka Weisz, a native of Hungary. Maximilian Rothschild indicated monthly expenses amounting to 1,145 RM (reichsmark); the Chief Finance Administration approved an allowance of only 700 RM a month from the account that was blocked otherwise.
In Oct. 1939, Margot Rothschild was compelled to pay a 20-percent "levy on Jewish assets” on her real estate. She asked for having further payment obligations waived, arguing that she had been forced to borrow the money from her father since she had no revenues herself.
Since Nov. 1939, the household of the Rothschilds was comprised of five persons. Pauline Heller had moved in, Florentine Rothschild’s sister, who had previously lived at Bremersweg 4 in Blankenese and nearly gone blind; she was supported by her brother-in-law. Nevertheless, the allowance of which Maximilian Rothschild was permitted to dispose per month was reduced to 500 RM.
Florentine Rothschild’s sister Victorine Heller, who had been supported by the family, had died as early as 1937.
On 6 Dec. 1941, the Rothschild couple had to witness the deportation of their 58-year-old daughter. Margot Rothschild was transported to Riga-Jungfernhof, a subcamp of the Riga Ghetto in German-occupied Latvia. The domestic help Etelka Weisz was "evacuated” on the same transport.
The property at Hindenburgstrasse 25 was confiscated to the benefit of the German Reich.
On 14 Apr. 1942, the Rothschild couple had to move into an apartment in the "Jews’ house” ("Judenhaus”) at Sonninstrasse 12. The Chief Finance Administration seized the Rothschild’s household effects and had them sold off cheaply by the Elsas auction house. Silverware and jewelry had been confiscated.
Florentine Rothschild’s sister Pauline Heller was deported to Theresienstadt on 15 July 1942.
In mid-September, the Rothschild couple was quartered in the "Jews’ house” at Beneckestrasse 6, where Maximilian Rothschild died two months later, on 14 Nov. 1942, at the age of 90. He was buried on the Nienstedten cemetery on Elbchaussee near Nienstedten church. Only shortly before his death, he had been compelled to spend nearly two thirds of his assets for the "home purchase” ("Heimeinkauf”) in Theresienstadt. For the miserable accommodation in the Theresienstadt Ghetto in German-occupied Czechoslovakia, many elderly people were forced to conclude so-called "home purchase contracts” ("Heimeinkaufsverträge”) to secure an alleged old age retirement home.
The widowed Florentine Rothschild stayed at Beneckestrasse 6 for another four months.
Leading up to her imminent deportation to Theresienstadt, she had to sign over the mortgage on the property in St. Pauli toward the "home purchase contract” already concluded. She was forced to surrender her entire remaining "movable assets” as a purchasing sum for the supposed retirement home in the Theresienstadt Ghetto. On 24 Mar. 1943, she reached Theresienstadt. Most of the older persons perished rapidly of the cold, hunger, and infectious diseases in the ghetto. However, 81-year-old Florentine Rothschild survived for nearly 16 months.
Seven months after her arrival in the ghetto, on 14 Nov. 1943, she wrote a postcard to Max Plaut, the Head of the Jewish Religious Organization (Jüdischer Religionsverband), apparently asking him, indirectly to circumvent censorship, to dispatch a food package; sending parcels into the ghetto was permitted and they were essential for survival:
"Dear Mr. Plaut, I have recently learned of your address and I would very much look forward to hearing something about your wellbeing and that of your mother. I am healthy and in good care in a nursing home here. A rather prompt reply would be very desirable and I would be very grateful for it. I hope the two of you are as desired, especially your dear mother, and I send her my warmest regards. Florentine Rothschild.”
On 4 May 1945, Julie Sostheim, who was saved from Theresienstadt, wrote from a refugee camp in Switzerland to Margarethe Katzenstein, the daughter of Florentine’s sister Lilli: "I saw your aunt Flora twice, whom I visited – she was movingly intrepid – husband dead – Margot sent from Hamburg to Poland a long time ago – she overcame the dreadful Theresienstadt, but her sister Lilli did not.”
After this message, the family initially supposed that Florentine Rothschild might have survived, but Julie Sostheim had apparently referred to her mental strength to rise emotionally above the misery in the ghetto.
As noted on the Theresienstadt arrivals list beside her name, Florentine Rothschild perished in the ghetto on 6 July 1944 at the age of 82.
Luise (Lilli) Rothschild, née Heller, Florentine Rothschild’s sister and the wife of Maximilian Rothschild’s brother Arthur – the Rothschild bothers had married the Heller sisters – had been deported from Düsseldorf to Theresienstadt on 21 July 1942, dying there two months later, on 10 September.
For Pauline Heller, who perished in Theresienstadt on 4 Aug. 1942, a Stolperstein is located at Bremersweg 4/Strandtreppe 3 in Blankenese.
Translator: Erwin Fink
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.
Stand: April 2018
© Birgit Gewehr
Quellen: 1; 2 (R 1938/ 3525 Maximilian Rothschild, Florentine Rothschild, geb Heller, Margot Rothschild) 3; 4; 5; 6; 8; AB Altona; StaH 522-1 Jüdische Gemeinden, 992 e 2 Band 3 (Deportationsliste Riga 4.12.1941); StaH 351-11 Amt für Wiedergutmachung, 602 (Rothschild, Maximilian); StaH 522-1 Jüdische Gemeinden 992 m 1 Band 3 (Ankunftslisten der von Hamburg in das KZ Theresienstadt deportierten Juden, Ankunft 26.3.1943); StaH 622-1/173 Familienarchiv Plaut, D 38 (Dr. Max Plaut, Dienstliche Korrespondenz und privater Schriftwechsel); StaH 522-1 Jüdische Gemeinden, 1027 (Heimeinkauf Vermögenserklärung Rothschild, Florentine, geb. Heller); StaH 332-3 Zivilstandsaufsicht, A 97 (Eintrag Nr. 6199, Geburt Victorine Heller); Nagel, Gegen das Vergessen.
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