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Hermann Wolff * 1899

Wohlers Allee 50 (Altona, Altona-Altstadt)

JG. 1899

Hermann Wolff, born 14 Dec. 1899, deported 8 Nov. 1941 to Minsk

Wohlers Allee 58 (Wohlersallee), Stolperstein in front of house number 50

Hermann Wolff was born on 14 Dec. 1899 in the small town Neumark in the vicinity of Marienwerder in former East Prussia near the Baltic coast. Nothing is known about his parents Bernhard and Bertha Wolff, née Jacob. Hermann Wolf evidently had five siblings, only four of whom are known by name: his brothers Julius and Arthur and his sisters Eva Weiss, née Wolff, and Paula Wolff. All of them survived the Holocaust.

According to his registry certificate, Hermann Wolff moved from Berlin to Hamburg on 28 October 1925 and on 19 Nov. 1925 married Hertha Happ, born 11 May 1902 in Berlin. Both of them belonged to the Jewish Community. During his time in Berlin, Hermann Wolff was successful professionally. He worked his way up to managing director at the fabric company Finkelstein, according to his brother Julius, and earned a monthly salary of roughly 400 Reich Marks (RM).

Initially the Wolffs must have done well in Hamburg too. He ran a business selling manufactured goods. The business was located at Burggarten 4 in Hamburg-Borgfelde. The first tax entry on his culture tax card for the Hamburg Jewish Community dates from the year 1927. Hermann "lived independently and carefree,” his brother Julius recalled. In 1928 the couple moved to Eilbek and lived at Hasselbrookstraße 96 where they sublet from the widow C. F. Möller. From May 1930, the Wolffs lived in Dulsberg, first at Probsteier Straße 35, then from the beginning of 1932 at Probsteier Straße 33. Between 1934 and 1939 the Hamburg address book notes their residence at Probsteier Straße 23, in 1937 with the comment "window dresser”.

During their Dulsberg years, their living conditions deteriorated. During the world economic crisis, independent trade became less and less lucrative to the point that Hermann Wolff "had stamped at the employment office for placement” from 1931. The family was now receiving support from public funds. Moreover, the Wolffs’ were in poor health. Their situation was further exacerbated by the fact that Hertha Wolff’s mother now lived with the family. In 1932 Hermann Wolff became unable to work. From 1937 he undertook so-called support work, with some interruptions. Support work or compulsory work was imposed on unemployed men and women who received unemployment or welfare support. During one such job, Hermann Wolff sustained a bruised rib. Later he developed heart problems, bronchitis and gastric trouble.

From 1935, the Department of Employment Aid at Hamburg’s Health and Human Services Office set up special work for Jewish people who were called upon to do heavy excavation work. In 1938 Hermann Wolff worked for a short time in Waltershof where he and other men had to turn a muddy area into an athletic field and playground for the adjacent childcare center and lay out garden allotments. He also worked on the Horn race track and on a construction site in Buxtehude in 1938. In 1938/39 the Employment Aid office exclusively supplied Jews to work at two, and temporarily three, external sites in the district Stade. Here too they were separated from the other workers. Up to 90 Jewish unemployed welfare recipients were tasked with heavy excavation work in these special camps near Buxtehude. In 1939 Hermann Wolff worked for a company in Altona for about eight months. In 1940 he was requisitioned to work for a construction company in Stade. In April 1941 he worked at the hemp spinning mill Steen & Co. in Lokstedt, an enterprise that had several branches in Hamburg. It employed Polish forced laborers in 1944 as well as Soviet and Belgian female forced laborers.

Hertha Wolff’s health was severely compromised. She suffered from terrible back pain, tremors in her hands and heart palpitations. She easily became dizzy, had rheumatoid arthritis and was altogether "terribly weak”. Nevertheless, in 1938 she was rigorously pressured to search for work. She ostensibly should be able to find work in a Jewish household within a short period of time. From mid June 1938 she was unfit to work. It is reported that she still was urged to continue to look for work. In 1940 she then had a cleaning job at Mittelweg.

The family had been living in old town Altona since the end of Jan. 1939, at General-Litzmann-Straße 93 (today Stresemannstraße in Sternschanze Quarter), later they lived in a basement apartment at Adolphstraße 71 (today Bernstorffstraße) in Altona. The Wollfs were given notice to vacate that apartment on 1 July 1940 due to their Jewish faith. Their last known address before their deportation was Wohlersallee 58 (today Wohlers Allee).

The Wolff Family had frequent contact with Hamburg’s welfare office. According to special instructions, their personal circumstances were to be continuously monitored "more than the usual amount”. From 6 Feb. 1939, the "Special Office B” began work in St. Pauli. They were exclusively responsible for Jewish welfare recipients whose support was now paid by the Jewish Community. The Wolffs were assigned to that office. On 18 Apr. 1941 a member of staff from that special office paid the family a visit. The welfare file stated: "An infant is now part of the household. The couple occupied a small basement apartment for 20 RM per month, the building belongs to the J.R.V. [Jewish Religious Association]. Rent is paid regularly.” On 16 Jan. 1941 their only son Uri was born. The basement apartment at Wohlersallee 58 mentioned in the welfare file was located in a "Jewish house” where Jews were concentrated and forced to live in extremely tight quarters. In 1941 the family was deported from the Hannoversche Train Station to Minsk, Hermann Wolff on 8 Nov., Hertha and her ten-month-old son Uri followed on 18 Nov. There was no further sign of life from them. Hermann, Hertha and Uri Wolff were declared dead by the Hamburg District Court in 1965. Their date of death was set as 8 May 1945.

The Hamburg Electricity Works (HEW) demanded, in a letter dated 6 Jan. 1942 addressed to the "Administrator of Jewish Assets” at the Hamburg-Dammtor tax office, payment for electricity used by "Jews recently evacuated”, a list several pages long, including 2.73 RM for Hermann Wolff.

Stumbling Stones for Hermann Wolff and his family are also located at Hasselbrookstraße 96 in Eilbek.

Translator: Suzanne von Engelhardt
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.

Stand: April 2018
© Ingo Wille

Quellen: 1; 2 (29 HEW) 4; 5; 9; AB Hamburg und Altona; 332-5 Standesämter 6637-582/1925; StaH 351-11 Amt für Wiedergutmachung, 22241 (Erbengemeinschaft Wolff, Hermann); Standesamt Hamburg-Eimsbüttel, Geburteneintrag Uri Wolff; Standesamt Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg von Berlin 1324/1902 Geburtsurkunde; Lohalm, Fürsorge und Verfolgung, S. 35, 52; Littmann, Ausländische Zwangsarbeiter; Lohalm, Völkische Wohlfahrtsdiktatur, S. 403ff.; Rosenberg, Jahre des Schreckens.
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