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Ina Behrmann (née Hoffmann) * 1882
Lenhartzstraße 3 (Hamburg-Nord, Eppendorf)
Ina Behrmann, née Hoffmann, born on 9 Aug. 1882 in Hamburg, deported to Litzmannstadt/Lodz on 25 Oct. 1941, further deported to Chelmno on 10 May 1942 and murdered there
There are only a few secured traces left of Ina Behrmann, née Hoffmann. This fate she shared with many Jewish women who were left to their own devices, eking out a living with modest incomes, for instance, as domestic workers, and who became victims of Nazi persecution.
Ina Behrmann was born on 9 Aug. 1882 in her parents’ home in Hamburg St. Pauli at Lange Reihe 93, part of today’s Reeperbahn between Davidstrasse and the Altona border. Her parents were the merchant Moses Hoffmann (born on 19 Apr. 1850 in Hagenow/Mecklenburg, died on 10 Jan. 1899 in Hamburg) and Rosalie Hoffmann, née Wolfsberg (born on 25 Nov. 1850 in Neustadt/Mecklenburg, died on 27 Jan. 1914 in Hamburg). Both were of Jewish descent. At the time of their wedding on 30 Apr. 1878, they had resided at 2nd Jacobistrasse 9 in Hamburg-Neustadt, in a neighborhood where mostly the poorer of Hamburg’s Jews lived.
There is no record of Ina’s childhood, schooling, or adolescence, or at least nothing has been found so far. Whether she had any siblings is not known either. Her father died at the age of 48, when Ina was 17.
Only for the year 1908, by the time Ina was 25 years old, some information becomes available again: On 14 February, Ina, who lived with her mother at Rutschbahn 20, married in Hamburg the Jewish merchant Isidor Behrmann (born on 9 Sept. 1878), a native of Memel in what was then East Prussia, today located in Lithuania. The two then lived in Memel at first. Their son Manfred was born on 13 Dec. 1908. However, the marriage did not last much longer: Ina returned to Hamburg and there the marriage was divorced on 20 Mar. 1914. Where Ina and the five-year-old child were accommodated and how she and the child got by in the next few years is not certain. Her mother could not have been of much help to her, for she died in Jan. 1914, shortly after Ina’s return to Hamburg.
In the so-called restitution proceedings, Manfred stated in 1957 that his mother had worked as a housekeeper in Hamburg. There is no proof of this for the 1920s and 1930s. In the records of the state insurance agency or the Reich insurance agency, respectively, contributions are registered only for 1913 (for seven months) and from 1928 to 1930 (for a total of 26 months). It cannot be ruled out, however, that Ina and her child survived with free board and lodging and low wages as a domestic worker or housekeeper in other households, without paying any social security contributions. Such employment is documented only for the years 1940 and 1941, initially as a housekeeper in the two-person household of the Jewish dentist Felix Spiro and his wife Rositta at Lenhartzstrasse 3/Eppendorf. According to her son, she received 100 RM (reichsmark) per month. This figure is probably too high, because the financial circumstances of all Jewish families were constantly deteriorating, including that of Spiro, who as a Jew had lost his license to practice dentistry and had already moved several times, to increasingly more modest accommodations. Documentation shows that in 1940, he and Rositta had a monthly income of nearly 500 RM. It is known that the oppressed tried to help each other as long as financial circumstances permitted. Not surprisingly, therefore, Ina Behrmann moved from the Spiros in early 1941 to the widow Charlotte Rosenbacher who lived on her own at Agnesstrasse 39 /Winterhude on the second floor. (For Spiro, see "Stolpersteine in Hamburg/Eimsbüttel,” Volume 2; for Rosenbacher, see "Stolpersteine in Hamburg/Winterhude” and www.stolpersteine-hamburg.de). These considerations are supported by two entries in Ina Behrmann’s Jewish religious tax (Kultussteuer) file card: For 1940, "head tax” ("Kopfgeld”) of 12 RM per year is noted, for 1941 only 3 RM. The "head tax” was the contribution by very low-income or unemployed persons to the Community. Ina paid both amounts immediately.
By this time, Manfred Behrmann had already left Hamburg and Germany. Via the Netherlands, he had emigrated to Argentina in Aug. 1936 and settled in Buenos Aires. He was just under 28 years old at that time, his mother 44. In Germany, Manfred had trained as a sales representative; in Buenos Aires, he became a waiter. In Aug. 1942, when his mother was no longer alive, he married Maria Worringen (born on 1 Dec. 1910), a Jewish woman born in Cologne. On 12 Aug. 1961, he died unexpectedly at the age of 52 in Buenos Aires. He left no descendants – which regrettably further limits the possibilities for research.
The relationship between mother and son seems to have remained very close throughout, after all the trouble and worries. In the "restitution proceedings,” Manfred speaks of "active and regular correspondence.” In late 1941, however, letters were returned as undeliverable. None of the letters has been preserved.
On 6 June 1937, with Manfred having left Germany a year earlier, Ina Behrmann drew up her will and appointed her son as sole heir. For this purpose, she prepared a three-page, typewritten and very clearly arranged compilation of her belongings. It represents a manageable but also respectable inventory of a person who paid attention to quality and who guarded and cared for the things she had collected. The list includes, e.g., five duvet covers, five bed sheets, eleven large napkins, six towels, etc. Several items of silver cutlery follow, including 30 tablespoons with engraved monograms of different origins, perhaps collector’s items, perhaps gifts, then two children’s forks, a pair of sugar tongs, one bread fork, etc. On page 3, Ina’s jewelry is listed, including a golden necklace of 12 grams, a needle with two diamonds and a fake pearl, a golden ring with three small diamonds. Conceivably, some of the objects were still from Ina’s marriage or were part of her trousseau.
Ina had nothing to bequeath in terms of furniture, household appliances, or other furnishings.
The listed items and some others like clothes, underwear, etc. were to be sent to her son after her death. Manfred never got to see any piece of his inheritance. The entire bequest of Ina Behrmann has disappeared in the pockets of others, confiscated, auctioned off, and stolen.
With the first deportation train that left Hamburg, Ina Behrmann was deported to the Litzmannstadt/Lodz Ghetto on 25 Oct. 1941, along with 1033 other Jews.
Felix and Rositta Spiro, residing at Lenhartzstrasse 3, where Ina had been employed in 1940, were deported to Minsk on 8 Nov. 1941, and murdered there.
Charlotte Rosenbacher, residing at Agnesstrasse 39, where Ina had been accommodated in 1941, was also deported to Minsk ten days later, on 18 Nov. 1941, and murdered there.
Ina Behrmann was, as documented in the "Lodz deregistration card file” ("Abmeldekartei Litzmannstadt”), "expelled” from Lodz on 10 May 1942, i.e., she was taken to Chelmno, where she was forced into a gas truck immediately after arrival along with many others, and gassed with exhaust fumes during transport to the already excavated mass grave.
Ina Behrmann reached the age of 59.
Translator: Erwin Fink
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.
Stand: December 2020
© Johannes Grossmann
Quellen: StaH 351-11 Amt für Wiedergutmachung, 35505 (Behrmann, Maria); StaH 522-1, 992 b Kultussteuerkartei der Deutsch-Israelitischen Gemeinde: Moses Hoffmann, Witwe sowie Behrmann, Ina; StaH 522-1_ 992 e 2 Fotokopien der Deportationslisten, Band 1 Litzmannstadt, Band 2 und Band 3 Minsk; Archiwum Panstwowe, Lodz (Getto-Archiv), Meldekartei, Nr. 9247 Anmeldung Behrmann, Ina, Nr. 9246 Abmeldung; Fritz Neubauer, Universität Bielefeld, E-Mail vom 10.4.2018; StaH 332-5_2031 (Geburtsurkunde Ina Hoffmann, Standesamt Hamburg Mitte, 1882, Nr. 3770); StaH 332-5_8488 (Heiratsurkunde Moses Hoffmann und Rosalie Hoffmann, Standesamt Hamburg Eimsbüttel, 1878, Nr.242); StaH 332-5_8656 (Heiratsurkunde Isidor Behrmann und Ina Hoffmann, Standesamt Hamburg Eimsbüttel, 1908, Nr. 27); StaH 332-5_448 (Sterbeurkunde Moses Hoffmann, Standesamt Hamburg Mitte, 1899, Nr.36); Hamburger Adressbücher (http://agora.sub.uni-hamburg.de/subhh-adress/digbib/start); Beate Meyer (Hrsg.), Die Verfolgung und Ermordung der Hamburger Juden 1933–1945/Geschichte, Zeugnis, Erinnerung, Landeszentrale für politische Bildung Hamburg, 2007.