Search for Names, Places and Biographies

Already layed Stumbling Stones

back to select list

Ilse Silbermann
Ilse Silbermann
© Matthias Weber

Ilse Silbermann * 1920

Godeffroystraße 42 (Altona, Blankenese)

1942 Auschwitz

Ilse Silbermann, born March 26, 1920 in Berlin, deported to Auschwitz July 11, 1942, Death July 13, 1942

Godelfroystraße 42

Ilse Silbermann was born in Berlin as the daughter of Theodor and Helene Silbermann, née Blumenthal. Her father was, according to Nazi terminology, a half Jew and her mother a Jew. After the divorce of her parents in January 1923, her father and his second wife, who was not Jewish, brought up llse. In the twenties, the Silbermanns moved to Hamburg, where they found an apartment in the Steinbecker Straße 29 (today Steinbeker Straße) in the neighborhood of Hamm. Ilse Silbermann attended the Osterbrook School. Her stepmother brought Ilse up as a Lutheran and on December 17, 1929, Ilse was baptized in the St. Johannis Church in Hamburg-Wilhelmsburg. On April 14, 1935, Ilse was confirmed by Pastor Ernst Moser in the Jerusalem Church in Hamburg-Eimsbüttel. This congregation, founded by Irish Presbyterians, had made the conversion of Jews to Christianity its mission in earlier times. After 1933, the congregation took care of the "non-Aryan” Christians in its congregation. In addition to spiritual guidance, they provided social gatherings. Ilse was a member of the Youth circle.

With Nazi rule, first difficulties emerged for Ilse. According to the Nuremberg Laws from 1935, she was categorized as a Jew (Geltungsjude) because of her three Jewish grandparents. Some of her fellow pupils at school began to distance themselves from her. She was no longer allowed to participate on class trips. In 1936 she received her secondary school level I certificate from the Osterbrook school. She completed her apprenticeship in an export firm that was headed by one Jewish and one non-Jewish manager. Because of her excellent knowledge of English and French she became foreign language correspondent clerk. After the Jewish managers flight from Germany, Ilse was terminated by this firm. She began to search for work as a maid in Jewish households.

First Ilse worked for Gerhard Alexander, who was a librarian with a Ph. D. and lived in Godeffroystraße 42 (today 48) in the neighborhood Blankenese. He was baptized as Ilse but had become a Jew under the Nuremberg Laws. He was deported to Theresienstadt on February 14, 1945. In contrast to his parents Walter and Hedwig Alexander, he survived the camp. During the 1939 census Ilse Silbermann was still registered as a member of the household Godeffroystraße 42. Beginning this year she had to adopt, like all other Jews the name "Sara” and from September 1941 she had to wear the Yellow Star. We do not know how long she lived in the house of Alexander. Eventually she moved on to the lawyer Walter Schüler’s house at Siemersplatz in Lockstedt. He was one of the few accredited legal advisors for Jews. (Walter Schüler was deported to Auschwitz on October 10, 1943 and died on April 24, 1945 in the camp Ebensee which was part of Mauthausen. See, Biography Walter Schüler). She did not stay long at his house because she was committed to forced labor — probably in 1941 — at the rope factory in Lockstedt and the spinning works of Steen & Co. In the context of the forced housing of the Jewish population, Ilse was moved to the so called Judenhaus (Jew house) at Wohlersallee 58 in Hamburg-Altona.

Her father Theodor Silbermann reported the following events in a letter from February 23, 1971 to the workshop of persecuted Social Democrats: "Ilse received several evacuation orders. We were lucky to negotiate the deferment of her deportation with a humane officer of the Gestapo. He postponed her evacuation two or three times. Despite her Yellow Star Ilse visited us in our "Aryan” house during her free time. Christmas 1941 she was with us and we spent the holidays quietly together. As she bid us farewell on the third holiday, she sobbed heartbreakingly. Our questions revealed that she had received another evacuation order and had to leave immediately. Negotiating with the same officer, we managed again to defer her evacuation order. Then happened what we had feared for a long time. All the Jewish workers at Steen had received evacuation orders and had to appear at the collective point at Hartungstraße 9–11 (today there is the theater Kammerspiele). Thus Ilse was lost for us. A friend of mine and I accompanied her. I have not forgotten the devastating scene as she bid farewell to my wife at our apartment. At Hartungsstraße her suitcase and her belongings were searched. I saw that the Gestapo took soap away from Jews and I also saw how one Gestapo man took away a wrist watch from a Jewish woman and put it into his pocket. The company Steen had sent the working papers and the remaining wages of the workers to Hartungstraße. Nobody received either the papers or a penny of their wages. That was probably pocketed by the Gestapo.” And he continues:

"July 9th 1942 is the date of Ilse’s evacuation order which instructs her to report to the collective point Hartungstraße immediately. Ilse still wrote us postcards from the collective point on July 10th and 11th 1942. She wrote very optimistically, probably in order to comfort us, that she had met several acquaintances and that she was convinced that she would be able to handle everything.”

Theodor Silbermann, as a "half Jew,” formerly married to a Jew, had to perform forced labor during the war. According to information from the Jerusalem Congregation he survived the concentration camp with his number burned into his skin. Until their death in the seventies, the Silbermann couple lived in Rendsburgerstraße 1, in the neighborhood of Hamburg-St. Pauli. They both continued to be active members of the Jerusalem Congregation. The only thing they learned about the fate of their daughter was that she had departed on the fifth transport with about a thousand people and a sanitation facility on July 11th 1942. There was no information were this transport had gone. Indeed the destination of this transport was not recorded and nobody survived this transport. They learned this from the Jewish Congregation of Hamburg in 1945. Only much later did Max Plaut’s statement under oath and other documents reveal that Auschwitz was the destination of this transport.

On September 13, 1949 a court in Hamburg officially declared Ilse Silbermann as dead; the time of death of the "aforementioned missing” was given as "May 8th 1945 at 12 pm.” Ilse Silbermann was deported to Auschwitz and murdered there at the age of twenty-two on July 11th 1942.

Translated by Dr. Marie-Luise Gaettens

© Matthias Weber

Quellen: 1; 4; 5; Privatbesitz Matthias Weber: Unterlagen des Ehepaares Theodor und Luise Silbermann, darunter Geburtsurkunde, Taufe- und Konfirmations-Urkunden sowie Sterbebescheinigung von Ilse Silbermann; Auskunft des Archivs der Jerusalem-Gemeinde in Hamburg, Februar 2015; Jürgen Sielemann, Der Zielort des Hamburger Deportationstransports vom 11. Juli 1942, online unter;jsessionid=0DBF730274CBC228B6A9945AF8CD4FBA.jvm1?type=pdf&did=c1:59761 (Zugriff 27.3.2015).
Zur Nummerierung häufig genutzter Quellen siehe Link "Recherche und Quellen".

print preview  / top of page