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Already layed Stumbling Stones
Lina Bernstein (née Gattel) * 1869
Parkallee 2 (Eimsbüttel, Harvestehude)
further stumbling stones in Parkallee 2:
Lina Bertha Bernstein, née Gattel, born on 27 May 1869 in Sommerfeld, Upper Lusatia, deported to Theresienstadt on 19 July 1942, died there on 11 Apr. 1943
Lina Bertha Bernstein, 73 years old, concluded a "home purchase contract” ("Heimeinkaufsvertrag”) with her remaining assets of 24,000 RM (reichsmark) on 14 July 1942. With such contracts, the Gestapo made German Jews older than 65 years believe that in future they would receive lifelong free accommodation, food, and medical care in a retirement home in Theresienstadt in return.
On 19 July 1942, Lina Bernstein boarded the train to Theresienstadt with about 800 other persons from northern Germany, not knowing what conditions prevailed at that place, far from her home address in Hamburg. In fact, the deportees found extremely overcrowded and barely heatable quarters, malnutrition, and completely inadequate medical care. Lina Bertha Bernstein died there on 11 Apr. 1943.
Until the Nazis came to power, she had lived in relative prosperity. She had been born on 27 May 1869 in Sommerfeld/Lower Lusatia (today Lubsko in Poland). Her parents, Lazarus Gattel and Henriette, née Wolfski, came from Fraustadt/South Prussia (today Wschowa in Poland). It was in this center of the German cloth industry that Lazarus and Wilhelm Gattel, Lina’s brother born in 1865, found their professional field of activity. In 1862, Lazarus Gattel became a partner in the Wolfski Company in Sommerfeld and built up his own hat factory there. The three brothers Moritz, Bruno Leopold, and Borchard Gattel, cousins of Lina, founded the Gattel hat factory in Berlin, soon well known and successful.
Lina Bertha Gattel had met Adolf Bernstein, who was also Jewish and born on 5 June 1864, in Kirchohsen, Hameln District. He had already behind him a first marriage, with Susanne Blumenthal, a union that had produced nine children. Adolf Bernstein married Lina Bertha on 5 June 1904 in his second marriage, the Bernstein couple settled in Hamburg, and on 8 Feb. 1906, their child Ruth Ingeborg was born.
Adolf Bernstein built up the Hamburger Bleiwerk AG, a prospering metal factory located at Süderstrasse 43/47. The couple bought a house at Parkallee 2 and moved into an apartment there. A family member later described the second floor as follows: "There was a large living room with adjoining sun room, a dining room with balcony, a large bedroom, and a guest room; two further rooms accommodated daughter Ruth Ingeborg Meyer with her son Ralph. All rooms were furnished with heavy furniture and valuable Oriental carpets.”
Daughter Ruth Ingeborg moved to London with her first husband Leonhard Meyer. In 1925, her son Ralph was born there. In 1926, the family returned to Germany and the marriage was divorced soon after. Ruth and son Ralph moved back to Parkallee 2.
In the 1930s, Adolf Bernstein fell ill, and when his health deteriorated, a nurse was hired. Adolf Bernstein passed away in 1932.
Beginning in 1933, Lina Bernstein had to cope on her own with the increasingly negative changes in her life situation, caused by the continually new and drastic laws and regulations of the ruling Nazis, because daughter Ruth married Ernst Karger in her second marriage and emigrated with him to Great Britain in 1934.
Her son Ralph Meyer initially stayed in Hamburg with grandmother Lina. From 1931 to 1936, he attended the state-operated school on Binderstrasse. In 1936, he changed to the Talmud Tora School. He actually wanted to study, become an engineer, and work in his grandfather’s metal factory. However, when the political situation became more and more threatening, the housekeeper took him to Britain in 1936 to join his mother and stepfather. The non-Jewish domestic worker Helene Zietschmann had been working for the Bernstein family since 1914 and remained loyal to Lina Bernstein during the Nazi era. Helene Zietschmann also succeeded in secretly bringing part of Lina’s jewelry to Ruth Ingeborg.
After the Karger family had tried in vain in Great Britain to obtain a visa for the USA, they emigrated to Manila after the beginning of the Second World War in 1939. Only Ralph managed enter the USA in 1940 on a student visa. His mother Ruth Ingeborg stayed in the Philippines. Although she had escaped the Nazis, she was shot dead there by the allied Japanese occupying power in 1945. No details are available about the fate of the stepfather.
Left behind in Hamburg, Lina Bernstein moved into a room in Schlüterstrasse in 1936. In order to do this, she had to reduce her budget drastically. She gave some of the furniture to the housekeeper as a gift. She sold the rest – in some cases at far below value – to the apartment residents succeeding her, and in some cases, she stored them with a company. The receipts for goods stored were given to the housekeeper, who had to keep quiet about it, since such property donations by Jews were not permitted. A subsequent air raid destroyed the goods in storage.
Lina Bernstein came under increasing financial pressure due to Nazi financial policy: The Hamburger Bleiwerk AG company was "Aryanized” in 1938, she had to sell the property at Parkallee 2 and two other plots of land in order to be able to pay levies on Jewish assets, income tax surcharges, Jewish property taxes, and forced administration costs. In addition, she – like all Jews – had to transfer securities accounts and surrender valuable jewelry.
According to the Jewish religious tax (Kultussteuer) card file of the Jewish Community, Lina Bernstein moved several times within Hamburg starting in 1937. When on 30 Apr. 1939 the protection of tenants and the free choice of apartments for Jews ceased to apply, she moved to Haynstrasse 10, then to Haynstrasse 7, a "Jews’ house” ("Judenhaus”). The next addresses were Oderfelderstrasse 2, Curschmannstrasse, Parkallee 2, on the fifth floor, and from 1940 onward, Mittelstrasse 85. After that, she lived at Innocentiastrasse 37.
From 19 Sept. 1941 onward, she had to wear a "Jews’ star” ("Judenstern”), like all Jews. Half a year later, she received the order to "relocate her residence” to the Theresienstadt "ghetto for the elderly” (Altersgetto). The second large-scale transport from Hamburg to Theresienstadt left the Hannoversche Bahnhof train station on 19 July 1942, and among the deportees were Jews from the surrounding towns and communities. Those affected in Hamburg were first taken to the elementary school building on Schanzenstrasse, which served as a collection point. Their luggage allowance was a maximum of 50 kilograms (approx. 119 lbs); all possessions exceeding this weight had to be left behind. In the collection camp, the deportees had to undergo a degrading search. Then, those who still possessed assets were forced to sign the above-mentioned home purchase contract, by which they signed over their entire assets to the German Reich.
The deportation train reached its destination on 20 July 1942, and nine months later, on 11 Apr. 1943, Lina Bertha Bernstein perished. Her stepson Emil Bernstein later stated that she had died of typhus.
A Stolperstein at Parkallee 2 commemorates Lina Bertha Bernstein.
What fate did Lina Bernstein’s stepchildren suffer?
The youngest stepson Max Bernstein, born on 29 Jan. 1896, was the only family member to work in his father’s metal company. In Apr. 1938, he was accused of "racial defilement” ("Rassenschande”) with his long-time non-Jewish fiancée Erbina Mahnke based on a denunciation, and he was taken into "protective custody” ("Schutzhaft”). On 27 Apr. 1938, the District Court (Amtsgericht) noted that the prisoner was "to be kept separate as a Jew,” i.e., he was probably in solitary confinement. For about half a year, he had to submit to the degrading conditions of prison, where he was refused requests for a fountain pen (on 9 July 1938) and for a large sheet of writing paper for his Sunday letter (on 26 July 1938).
On 14 Oct. 1938, on the day of the main trial, he was found dead in his cell at Sievekingplatz 4 (pretrial detention facility). The prison doctor certified "suicide by hanging” and noted in his report, "The act was committed out of desperation and fear of punishment.” Based on the Nuremberg Laws [on race] dating from Sept. 1935, Max was threatened with a sentence of up to 15 years in prison, in the worst case with the death penalty.
In 1957, Max Bernstein’s relationship with Erbina Mahnke, which had existed since 1935, was subsequently officially recognized as a marriage by the authorities in accordance with the "Law on the Recognition of Free Marriages of Racially and Politically Persecuted Persons” ("Gesetz über die Anerkennung freier Ehen rassisch und politisch Verfolgter”) dated 23 June 1950.
The youngest stepdaughter, Martha Bernstein, born on 18 Sept. 1897, had married Manfred Nathan in her first marriage and in 1925, she gave birth to son Gerd Martin Nathan. He first attended the school at Papendamm 5, but changed to the Talmud Tora School in 1935. Manfred Nathan died in Oct. 1936.
Martha worked as a nurse. As the political situation became more and more threatening, on 1 Dec. 1938 she sent her son on a children transport (Kindertransport) to Great Britain. She herself hoped to join him soon. In Apr. 1939, however, she was arrested and taken to Fuhlsbüttel for "protective custody,” allegedly because she had taken in an "Aryan” as a subtenant. She was released in Aug. 1939 on condition that she leave the country immediately. She managed to escape to Britain. There, in 1941, she married in her second marriage a Norwegian by the name of Pederson.
Lina’s stepson Emil Bernstein, born on 4 Apr. 1893, attended the Jacobson School in Seesen up to the intermediate secondary school certificate (mittlere Reife). This institution, founded in 1801, was the first local school where Jewish and Christian children were taught together. Israel Jacobson’s aim was to make agricultural and handicraft occupations accessible to the children of Jewish residents. Emil Bernstein completed a two-and-a-half-year apprenticeship as a grain merchant.
In early 1914, he traveled to London to improve his language skills. When the First World War began, he was interned in Newbury, Great Britain.
He returned to Hamburg via the Netherlands and initially lived at Parkstrasse 2 as well, where he reoriented his career and established a company recycling old packaging.
In 1926, Emil ran into financial difficulties with his company. In that year, he married the non-Jewish Berta Crome and signed the company over to her in order to have the possibility to continue working. After the death of his father Adolf Bernstein in 1932, he quarreled with his brother Max. Emil, who felt himself and the other heirs of Adolf Bernstein were considerably disadvantaged by Max, sued him for fraud in 1934. In 1937, however, Emil himself was accused of defamation by a former employee of his barrel recycling company, who in the meantime had founded a competing company, and he was convicted. According to his own information, he was first imprisoned in Glasmoor near Hamburg, then became a victim of the "June 1938 operation.” This arrest operation, which involved so-called "work-shy” persons, was also intended to include male Jews who had been charged with petty crimes in the past and who had served at least a one-month prison sentence. They were subsequently taken to a concentration camp. Emil, like the other North German prisoners, was committed to Sachsenhausen. He was released after five months.
In the meantime, his wife, together with her sister, had applied to the "Reich Genealogical Office” ("Reichssippenamt”) for his recognition as a "Jewish crossbreed of the first degree” ("Mischling 1. Grades”). This was successful at first. However, on 25 June 1942, an official notice of descent declared him a Jew, and he had to wear the "Jews’ star.” Because of his mixed marriage, he was deferred from deportation until Feb. 1945, when Jews living in mixed marriages also received the "work deployment order” to Theresienstadt. There the Red Army liberated him.
Translator: Erwin Fink
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.
Stand: July 2020
© Susan Johannsen
Quellen: StaH: 213-13_13605 (Lina Bernstein); 242-1II_Abl.12,25 (Max Bernstein); 351-11_47290 (Ralph Meyer); 351-11_934 (Adolf Bernstein); 351-11_14864 (Emil Bernstein); 351-11_47316 (Gerd Martin Nathan); Kultussteuerkartei; www.statistik-des-holocaust.de; www.luckauer-juden.de; www.wike-de.genealogy.net: Amtsblatt der königl.Preuß.Reg.zu F.a.O.; jbc.jelenia-gora.pl: Verzeichnis der in Hirschberg wohnenden Judenfamilien; db.yadvashem.org/deportation/transportDetails; www.spinnenwerk.de/gattels.pdf; www.thefedoralounge.com; www.carl.kulturen.com; Frank Bajohr: "Arisierung" in Hamburg, Hamburg 1997; Beate Meyer: Die Verfolgung und Ermordung der Hamburger Juden 1933–1945; ancestry; geni; myheritage.