Search for Names, Places and Biographies

Already layed Stumbling Stones

back to select list

Max Bernstein und Erbina Mahnke in Scharbeutz (Ostsee) Juli 1921
Max Bernstein und Erbina Mahnke in Scharbeutz (Ostsee) Juli 1921
© Privatbesitz

Max Bernstein * 1896

Agnesstraße 2 (Hamburg-Nord, Winterhude)

KZ Neuengamme
ermordet 14.10.1938

Max Bernstein, born 29.1.1896 in Hamburg, died on 14.10.1938 in Hamburg in the remand prison

Agnesstraße 2

Max Bernstein was born in 1896 in Hamburg's Neustadt (Gänsemarkt 22), he was the youngest son of the entrepreneur Adolf Bernstein (born June 5, 1864 in Kirchohsen, district of Hameln) and Susanna Camilla Jenny Bernstein, née Blumenthal (born Dec. 7, 1863 in Berlin). Adolf Bernstein, who was Jewish, and Jenny, who was not Jewish, had met through a friend of Adolf Bernstein, probably in 1881. In August 1882, their son Adolf Jr. was born in Hanover, still out of wedlock, and in 1887 the couple married in Hamburg.

The groom's father, Seckel Bernstein (1828-1903), who lived in Hanover, was not present at the wedding as best man. He disapproved of his son's marriage to a non-Jewish woman, as he wrote in a letter, because Seckel Bernstein lived religiously. According to the address book, he had formerly run a produce store (selling regional agricultural products) in Hanover, but in 1887 he traded as the owner of a Hebrew bookstore there and, according to the address book entry, also worked as a ritual slaughter. Instead of him, a neighbor of the 23 year old attended as witnesses, another may have been a maternal uncle of Adolf Bernstein.

At the time of the marriage, Adolf Bernstein lived in Hamburg as a subtenant at Grabenstraße 1 (St. Pauli). The couple then moved to Neuer Steinweg (Neustadt), where they lived in house No. 95 (1888-1889) and No. 13 (1890-1894), each in the rear building. Neuer Steinweg, near the Großneumarkt, was one of the streets in the Hanseatic city predominantly inhabited by Jews at that time; a synagogue and a Jewish cemetery were also located here.

Adolf and Jenny Bernstein had eight children: Adolf (born 1882), Minna "Mieze" (born 1888), Bertha (born 1890), Elsa (1891-1891), Emil (born 1893), Georg (1894-1895), Max (born 1896) and Martha (born 1897). However, the marriage broke up. In January 1899, Jenny Bernstein, now 35, signed out for New York. Her passport application had also been signed by Adolf Bernstein "as the husband's consent." In July 1899, the marriage was divorced. Son Max Bernstein believed that his parents' divorce was "mainly due to her (mother's) Protestant parents, or rather her Protestant ancestry, because my father's parents did not approve of this marriage."

In 1904, Adolf Bernstein married Lina Gattel (born May 27, 1869 in Sommerfeld/Lusatia), a Jew, in her birthplace. Her father was a hat manufacturer and also a member of the synagogue board of the Sommerfeld Jewish community. Max's half-sister Ruth Ingeborg was born in 1906. Max Bernstein developed a distant relationship with his stepmother Lina Bernstein (see, while that with his half-sister Ingeborg was friendly, as were his brother Adolf and his sister Minna.

The family moved from Hamburg's Neustadt to St. Pauli to Carolinenstraße 9 (1897-1899). The eldest son Adolf had already left the family and lived in Altona from 1898 to 1901 during his apprenticeship and then moved to Vegesack near Bremen in 1901.

From 1900 to 1904, the family lived in Altona at Gustavstraße 47 (today Gilbertstraße). From the spring of 1903, the ten-year-old son Emil attended the boarding school of the Jacobson School in Seesen (Lower Saxony), from which he graduated in the spring of 1911. He then completed an apprenticeship as a grain merchant and founded his own company in 1915.

After Adolf Bernstein's remarriage, the rest of the family had moved to Hamburg-Rotherbaum to Hallerstraße 44 (1905-1907), before Adolf Bernstein purchased the house Parkallee 2/ corner Hallerstraße 49 (built around 1895) in Hamburg-Harvestehude and the family moved there in 1908. The residential addresses and finally the real estate ownership prove the economic rise of Adolf Bernstein and his company. In 1901, Adolf Bernstein acquired Hamburg citizenship.

Adolf Bernstein also invested his money in real estate and companies, for example from 1917 to 1929 in the Plauer Industriewerke Bernstein & Rothenburg oHG (Plau, Vogelsack 10), which operated an electricity plant and a potato flake factory. In Hamburg-Hammerbrook, he acquired a plot of land with two front houses and a factory building on the canal (Süderstraße 43-47) in 1906 and the "Sternhof" office building (Hohe Bleichen 8) in Hamburg's Neustadt district in about 1921.

Max's oldest brother Adolf (born Aug. 7, 1882 in Hanover), whose occupation was listed as "iron shipbuilder" at his 1902 muster, emigrated to New York in 1912, allegedly due to tensions in the family. A few months after his emigration, he had his surname, which was Blumenthal because of his illegitimate birth after his mother, changed to Bernstein. In 1917 he worked as a "manager" of a restaurant and lived in Manhattan. In 1924 he became a U.S. citizen, at which time he worked as an "assistant supervisor". It is not known whether he kept in touch with his family in Hamburg.

His father Adolf Bernstein groomed his youngest son Max to succeed him as head of his own company, which he had founded in 1885. It consisted of a lead factory (as a joint stock company) and a buying and selling business for metals. Initially, the company had also operated as an agency (business broker), but had abandoned this. From 1897 to 1920, the business office was located at Rödingsmarkt 32 Parterre (Old Town), while the factory and warehouse were located at Süderstraße 45 in the "Süderhof" (Hammerbrook) from 1907.

Max Bernstein obtained his secondary school leaving certificate at the Oberrealschule Hegestraße (Eppendorf) and began a two-year apprenticeship in his father's company in 1912. In 1914, while he was in Great Britain as a volunteer, the First World War began. Max Bernstein is said to have been held on the island as a civilian internee until its end. Afterwards, when he returned, he is said to have worked again in his father's company. This later statement of Max's fiancée, however, contradicts the version of the lawyer of his father's company, Albert Wulff from Hamburg: "Max Bernstein had been brought over from New York, where he had had a good position, by his father somewhat after the war. The old Adolf Bernstein wanted his son to be active in his company, especially since he saw him as his successor." Max's brother-in-law Siegfried Salomon Nathan (born Oct. 21, 1879 in Hamburg) also worked in the company as an authorized signatory, married to Minna Bernstein (1888-1959), but he left in 1921.

Although differences of opinion often led to disputes between the senior boss and the junior boss, they did not hinder Max Bernstein's advancement in the company. From 1927, the Hamburg address book listed him as Director of Adolf Bernstein AG and as Managing Director of Hamburger Bleiwerke von Adolf Bernstein GmbH. The Hamburg Stock Exchange Handbook of 1926 also listed him with these positions - in both companies together with Ludwig W. Simon (1879-1956). The latter left the companies in 1930 and was replaced by the authorized signatories Heinrich Klein (1884-1937) and Fritz Goldschmidt (born March 9, 1901 in Stolzenau/Weser). Nevertheless, it was Adolf Bernstein, who was hard of hearing, who represented the company at the metal traders' meeting in the Uhlenhorster Fährhaus on the river Alster in May 1928. In that year, the downturn in the economy, also on the metal exchange, caused four North German companies in the lead industry to move closer together by contract (lead quota association), including Adolf Bernstein's company.

In September 1932, Adolf Bernstein, whose health had been failing for some time, died in his home at the age of 68. In the years before, as his son Emil stated, he had visited sanatoriums near Blankenese, in Mölln, Reinbek, Holm-Seppensen as well as Wiessee (Bavaria) and Oberschlema (Erzgebirge). In Oberschlema, gout, rheumatism, joint diseases and "old age diseases" were treated. The death was reported to the registry office by Mendel Josias (1886-1944/45) of the funeral brotherhood of the community "Chewra Kadischa", which conducted funerals according to the Orthodox rite. Adolf Bernstein Senior was buried in the Ohlsdorf Jewish Cemetery.

On February 8, 1933, Max Bernstein concluded an agreement with the executors of his will, attorney Albert Wulff (1866-1941) and attorney Bernhard David (1878-1949), regarding the takeover of the company - for 10,000 RM he acquired all shares in the Bleiwerk. An authorized signatory of the Vereinsbank in Hamburg, which had extended loans to both of Adolf Bernstein's companies, considered the purchase price to be appropriate, "because the balance sheet of June 30, 1932 showed a loss of RM 221,000 on a capital of RM 200,000. (...) It was a risk for (Max) Bernstein to take over the lead works (...)."

Sixteen months later, however, his brother Emil Bernstein and his brother-in-law Manfred Nathan (1880-1936) claimed that they had only given their consent on the basis of fraudulent deception. In addition, Emil Bernstein accused his stepmother of having drawn up Adolf Bernstein's wills from 1930 and 1931 herself. The clarification of the remaining inheritance also dragged on for years. Finally, Wilhelm Prochownick (1878-1943), a member of the Higher Regional Court, was appointed executor of the will, since Wulf had resigned in 1934 and both lawyers had emigrated in 1939.

Starting in June 1934, Max Bernstein got into a dispute with some of his siblings, which mixed unpleasantly with other conflicts: Shortly before, three leaders of member companies of the North German Lead Works Syndicate had filed a criminal complaint against Max Bernstein and Heinrich Klein, based on false accusations made by Emil Bernstein. The proceedings, in the course of which Max Bernstein and his fiancée Erbina Mahnke were remanded in custody for six weeks, were discontinued in 1935 "for lack of suspicion of a crime." In July 1934, Max Bernstein had had to pay a penalty of RM 22,500 for breach of contract to his three former partners from the lead quota association. A year later, board member Klein stated that a contractual penalty had generally been due in the past for violations of the convention statutes, but that criminal charges had never been filed. In addition, the criminal investigation department had falsely recorded statements made by him, which were then used to construct financial irregularities against Max Bernstein that did not exist.

A few days after his release from custody, Max Bernstein appointed Erbina Mahnke as universal heir and attorney Walther Wulff as executor.

Wherever the Nazi state controlled the economy, it systematically discriminated against "Jewish" companies. At the Adolf Bernstein company, this included reducing the lead quota as well as the manufacturing quota of various types of metal. In August 1935, the subsidiary "Hamburger Bleiwerk von Adolf Bernstein GmbH", founded in December 1923, was officially deleted from the Commercial Register "on the basis of the law of October 9, 1934." The newly created "Law on the Dissolution and Deletion of Companies and Cooperatives" offered the state the possibility of forcibly deleting a company if no assets were available. The commercial register, on the other hand, showed a share capital of RM 5,000 until the end. Max Bernstein summarized the intra-family conflicts as well as the state repression in the sentence: "Envy, hatred, disfavor surrounded me like a shadow."

Since 1920 Max Bernstein belonged as a member to the Jewish community of Hamburg and within this to the moderately conservative Kultusverband of the New Dammtor Synagogue. But he did not live a very religious life: according to his own statements, he did not necessarily observe the Jewish holidays and also worked in the store on Shabbat. In May 1936 he resigned from the Jewish community. In 1938 he stated that his father had once registered and made the regular payments of the cult tax without his knowledge. The brother Emil, however, had not been registered by his father. It is possible that Max himself had joined the Jewish community and fulfilled a requirement of his father for the later takeover of the company.

The residential addresses on Max Bernstein's card of texes, Kultussteuerkarte, were Hallerplatz 11 I. Floor bei Möller, Hallerstraße 6, Lattenkamp 86 (this was the official residential address of Erbina Mahnke and her sister Johanna in 1933-1934), Agnesstraße 2 and Hallerplatz 11. They differ slightly from the addresses printed in the address book.

The first passport was issued to Max Bernstein in October 1919 for the destination Austria. The rough personal description noted in the passport was: stature medium, hair dark blond, eyes brown. In 1923, according to his own statement, he visited his biological mother in New York City. The passport applied for in January 1923 indicated "England" as the destination, from where the ocean liner probably started its journey across the Atlantic.

There are 11 photographs taken between 1921 and 1927, which presumably show Max Bernstein and Erbina Anna Minna Mahnke (born Dec. 8, 1891 in Flensburg) on excursions by motorcycle and automobile. These are different vehicle makes and models in each case: Indian Motorcycle (1921) and Harley Davidson (1925) as well as an open sports car (1923), an Adler sedan (1927) and a Mercedes sedan.

It was said in the family that Erbina Mahnke was the first woman in Hamburg to ride a Harley. In some photos, she confidently presents herself as a modern woman with a bob hairdo and fashionable knee breeches. In the Hamburg address books from 1931 to 1934, she is listed as a clerk and main tenant of an apartment.

Max Bernstein's long association with Erbina Mahnke also says something about his life plans. The two had known each other since 1913, when Erbina Mahnke began working for the Adolf Bernstein company as an office clerk. They had been engaged since at least 1921. The long-standing engagement (since 1924) to Erbina, who was five years older, did not result in marriage: for one thing, his father had written a will in which he forbade his sons to marry "people of other faiths”, non-Jews. Only after his death in September 1932 was marriage possible without loss of property. The arrest on June 20, 1934, and the criminal proceedings that dragged on until December 1935 again delayed a marriage, especially since the lawyer had advised Wulff not to marry until after the criminal proceedings. At that time, however, the "Blood Protection Law," (Blutschutzgesetz) part of the Nuremberg Laws, was already in force, prohibiting relationships and marriages between Jews and non-Jews under threat of punishment.

From 1927, Max Bernstein is listed in the Hamburg address book with his own residential addresses: Hallerplatz 11 (1928-1930) and (summer residence) Wellingsbütteler Landstraße 247 in Klein Borstel (1927-1934). In the "Amtliches Fernsprechbuch" (official telephone directory) of 1931, even the exact period of presence behind the two addresses was noted under his name: "(Sept. 16 to May 14) Hallerplatz 11, (May 15 to Sept. 15) Kl. Borstel Wellingsbüttelerlandstr. 247". After that, the residential address was Agnesstraße 2 I. Stock/ Winterhude (1935-1937). In the last apartment, the housekeeper Helene Zietschmann, who had previously worked as a "Wirtschafterin" in his father's apartment since 1914, ensured order and cleanliness. This employment relationship with an "Aryan" older woman did not fall under the legal prohibition.

Max Bernstein also rented a garage for the Agnesstraße apartment. Before moving into the rented apartment, he had various improvements made "to give the apartment my personal touch. These included the installation of a large bathtub, a modern toilet and a new sink, new flooring in the hall, dining room and forecourt, a fireplace with its own chimney, and also a new lighting system with bell system and built-in cupboards. The decision to have his new rented apartment lavishly renovated about two years after the start of the Nazi dictatorship indicates that he assumed he would still be able to live in National Socialist Germany in the future - so he was not sitting on packed suitcases. From his apartment, he had a wide view: "From the window, I always had the Alster, which so varied always captivated one." In August 1938, the apartment was dissolved.

The few known details of his private life suggest an individualist with a sense for a pleasant and stylish life, both in his choice of a rented apartment with a view of the Alster and the summer house he bought in Klein Borstel (with a garage and a garden with fruit trees). This is also indicated by his orders from the renowned men's tailor M. & W. Staben (Alsterdamm 26) or the leisure activities with his mahogany sailing boat (dinghy) and the aforementioned automobiles. In winter he went to the mountains. But despite his wealth, he appeared rather reserved. Max Bernstein described himself in a letter as follows: "In my life I have not visited coffee houses, dance halls, pubs, I have always sought nature, solitude and people who felt the same."

Nevertheless, Max Bernstein also took a caring interest in the lives of others: he continued the friendship with Gustav Calm (born Jan. 7, 1871 in Harzgerode), which had already been established by his father, who had been best man and godfather of Calm's son Hans (born 1907). Hans Calm had trained at the Adolf Bernstein company and worked there as a clerk until his emigration in 1935. Max Bernstein inquired in 1938 about the status of the emigration of Hans' sister Käte Calm, who emigrated to Chile in August 1938 like her two brothers.

He behaved in a similar manner toward the family of his uncle Josef Rosner (1872-1940). His iron and metal company in Hanover (Lutherkirche 17), founded in 1898, was in economic difficulties in 1938. Rosner's daughter Martha, née Meyer, tried to find an emigration for her son Kurtheinz (b. ca. 1921) to Chicago in 1938 and then for herself. Max Bernstein offered to pay for her emigration to the USA in September 1938. (Josef Rosner died in Buchenwald concentration camp on January 9, 1940, reportedly of "acute heart failure.")

Max Bernstein had a close relationship with his sister Bertha (born Jan. 25, 1890 in Hamburg). She had married the non-Jewish carpet dealer Alwin Popper (Jan., 17, 1885 in Hanover) in 1910 and had moved with him to Hanover and a few years later to Berlin. When her husband died in 1932, she remained in Berlin with her children. Max Bernstein supported her with 50 RM per month until his death. Her son Rudolf "Rudi" Popper (born March 11,1915 in Berlin), a skilled furrier, worked in Max Bernstein's company from January 1937, was imprisoned in the concentration camp Hamburg-Fuhlsbüttel (17.12.1937 - 20.3.1938) and emigrated to Cairo at the end of March 1938. Max Bernstein had previously tried unsuccessfully to obtain a USA visa for him through his brother Adolf Bernstein Jr. Max Bernstein gave his nephew two lead presses for the establishment of a metal processing company in exile. In his will, Max Bernstein bequeathed him further machines from Adolf Bernstein AG. But not even the two lead presses benefited the nephew: the Hamburg customs office prevented their shipment by an export duty demand for 120,000 RM, although an export license was available from the foreign exchange office of the Chief Finance President. (Bertha and son Gerhard Popper (born Jan. 25, 1911 in Hanover) were deported from Berlin-Grunewald to Riga on Nov. 27, 1941, where they and the others of the 1035 Jews on this transport were shot in the Rumbula forest upon arrival on Nov., 30, 1941).

In April 1938, Max Bernstein was arrested on charges of "racial defilement" together with his longtime fiancée Erbina Mahnke and taken to the remand prison at Holstenglacis 3. Rumors circulated that his brother Emil had denounced the two. Legally, his general agent, attorney Walther Wulff, represented him. The non-Jewish lawyers Walter Klaas and Carl Stumme had refused to take on the mandate. Conflicts arose with Wulff, but Max Bernstein was unable to find a replacement in the short time available.

His housekeeper regularly sent him laundry packages to the prison. He was allowed to read the newspaper Hamburg Fremdenblatt, which was subscribed to by the same authorities, the novel "Gone with the Wind" in the original American version, and the novel "Krongut" by Sophie Hochstetter. Other things were denied him (fountain pen, paper) or confiscated (hair tonic). The purpose of these harassing measures was probably subjugation - especially in the case of a wealthy prisoner on remand, who regularly had new clothes of upscale quality sent to his cell.

From prison, Max Bernstein, via his lawyer, tried to give his company advice by letter on buying and selling deals, as well as ideas on how the company could continue to exist if parts of it were sold off. Only a few days after his arrest, he contacted the merchant Franz Ferdinand Eiffe jun. (1896-1974) and offered him the takeover of the company "Hamburger Bleiwerk von Adolf Bernstein GmbH" by F. F. Eiffe & Co. (founded in 1896). In letters to the senior employee Frida Rönn, née Schwenck (born 1907), Max Bernstein tried to make the new company owner aware of his contacts, price estimates and strategic considerations: "Give Mr. Eiffe the Quality Conditions from the Metal Association as Sunday reading, this book gives good information for a non-expert."

The Bernstein workforce also enthusiastically supported their new boss Eiffe - the alternative would have been bankruptcy of the company caused by government intervention. Eiffe's uncle appealed to the Reich Commissioner Stinner (presumably at the Surveillance Office for Base Metals in Berlin, headed by Reichsbahnrat Stinner) in order to have the prohibited import permits for Firma Bernstein approved again. The sale of the company also had to be approved by various government agencies.

On May 13, 1938, an employee wrote to Max Bernstein: "Mr. Eiffe is still trying to expedite the matter. In the meantime, he also had a verbal notice from the supervisory authority that the takeover would be approved, but written approval is still lacking. In the meantime, the matter has also been submitted to the trade police and is now running at the Chamber of Commerce in Hamburg."

The sale of the company within the framework of the "Aryanization" of the economy sought by the NSDAP also required the approval of the NS Gauwirtschaftsberater. Otto Wolff (born 1907), the main advisor to the NSDAP, had already approved the sale for 45,000 Reichsmark on April 26, 1938. However, there were obligations attached to this: "In order to complete my file, I would also like to ask you to declare to me in lieu of an oath that you have not made any ancillary agreements with the former Jewish owner of the company Adolf Bernstein and that you will not establish any contact with him after the end of the familiarization period, whether in Germany or abroad. Furthermore, I ask you to confirm to me that all non-Aryan employees have been dismissed."

The Hamburg Chamber of Industry and Commerce gave a positive assessment to the trade police on May 13 that an entrepreneur from outside the industry should take over the buying and selling company for metals Adolf Bernstein GmbH: "The Chamber has no objections to the admission of the company (F.F. Eiffe & Co.) to the metal trade for this reason, since there is no new blood available for the Aryanization of Jewish companies in this industry."

The draft contracts outlined by Max Bernstein for the transfer of 2/3 of his company shares to the merchants Charles Bornhorst and a Mr. Michlmann (or Miehlmann) also provided that the authorized signatory Salomon Hirsch (1879-1957) was to be employed in the company for two more years as a consultant. Max Bernstein wanted to keep 1/3 of his shares. He estimated the value of the stock corporation's machinery alone at 163,000 Reichsmark. It is clear from the correspondence that even at this point he was still acting as a businessman and not as a prisoner in great danger.

The letters and greetings from employees of his company, however, did not only revolve around business matters, but they also attest to the strong mutual bond and esteem. In June 1938, he wrote to longtime employee Frida Rönn: "Give my regards to each and every one of my longtime employees, I think of you a lot and live on the hope that my other friends will not deny me their respect." Frida Rönn assured the following month: "But you can believe us, not a day goes by where your name is not mentioned or we do not think of you. Our company outing still haunts our minds because it went so harmoniously." And Max Bernstein replied: "Dear Mrs. Rönn, thank you very much for your encouraging lines of the 15th ds, it gave me a little better mood for a few days."
Under the pressure of the events he sold his summer house in September 1938 far below price for 9,000 RM to confectioner Hermann Müller. (14 years later, a court settlement was reached with Max Bernstein's heirs).

Many of Max Bernstein's family and friends had emigrated in the meantime. "Of my acquaintances, I am the last to remain here", he wrote in September 1938. Even before his arrest in April, Erbina Mahnke and he had also entertained the idea of leaving Germany, without taking any concrete steps. After the arrest, this became all the more urgent. The correspondence from the remand prison makes it clear that by now any destination would have suited Max Bernstein: German- or French-speaking Switzerland, Sweden, or even the United States and Australia.

It was not until August 18, 1938 that Max Bernstein received the indictment from the public prosecutor's office, and the main trial was opened on September 3. Although Max Bernstein was a "half-Jew" by birth according to Nazi criteria, he was considered a "Geltungsjude" because of his temporary membership in the Jewish community and was to be sentenced as such. But he did not live to see the trial: on Friday, October 14, 1938, the day of his trial in the Criminal Justice Building (judges: District Court Director Hans von Döhren, District Court Administrator Heinrich Ehlert and District Court Administrator Ernst-August Dauwes), Max Bernstein was found allegedly hanged in his cell (Sievekingsplatz 4) at 7:10 am. The time (6 hours before the trial) and the fact that, according to the cell inventory of the chief constable, there were six ties in the cell leave room for doubt about the official version.

The partial sale of the joint stock company, which Max Bernstein had considered under pressure, did not materialize. The factory property in Süderstraße was sold in December 1939 to Christian Seemann Grundstücksverwaltung (real estates), Mönckebergstraße 18, for RM 237,500, a price that was significantly below market value due to the anti-Jewish persecution policy in Germany.

From March 1940, the company name of Hamburger Bleiwerk Adolf Bernstein AG was now Hamburger Bleiwerk Mahnke & Co. KG (Süderstraße 45). The heiress, "Kauffrau Erbina Mahnke", was entered in the commercial register as a personally liable partner, as was Hans Schnibben from Berlin as a limited partner. The long-time employee of the predecessor company, Salomon Hirsch (born March 24, 1879 in Gollub/West Prussia), senior accountant since 1923 and authorized signatory since 1932, was only allowed to be employed as an assistant accountant and registrar at 1/3 of his previous salary, according to Nazi regulations.

The factory was completely destroyed during the air raids in July 1943. The office was then moved to the private residence of Franz Ferdinand Eiffe jr. at Haynstraße 2 (Eppendorf).

In April 2008, a stumbling stone was laid for Max Bernstein in front of the house at Agnesstraße 2.

In 2021, 54 letters from Max Bernstein's imprisonment period surfaced together with the aforementioned 11 photographs, which Erbina Mahnke's sister Johanna "Hanna" Täger, née Mahnke (born Sept. 21, 1890 in Flensburg) and, after her death, her husband Hermann Täger (1893-1977) had kept. The letters, which are now archived at the Forschungsstelle für Zeitgeschichte (Research Center for Contemporary History) in Hamburg, were the starting point for this biography. They make it possible to use some quotes from Max Bernstein and thus let him speak for himself.

Translation by Beate Meyer
Stand: January 2022
© Björn Eggert

Quellen: Staatsarchiv Hamburg (StaH) 113-6 (Staatsverwaltung Wirtschaftsabteilung), 610 (Abwesenheitspflegschaft für Minna Nathan geb. Bernstein in Straßburg, 1940); StaH 213-11 (Staatsanwaltschaft Landgericht), 50382 (Max Bernstein, 1934); StaH 213-11 (Staatsanwaltschaft Landgericht), 50383 (Max Bernstein, 1934-1936 Band 2); StaH 213-11 (Staatsanwaltschaft Landgericht), 53798 (Emil Bernstein, 1937-1939); StaH 213-13 (Landgericht Hamburg, Wiedergutmachung), 4692 (Max Bernstein); StaH 213-13 (Landgericht Hamburg, Wiedergutmachung), 4695 (Adolf Bernstein Senior Erben); StaH 213-13 (Landgericht Hamburg, Wiedergutmachung), 4696 (Adolf Bernstein Senior, Süderhof); StaH 213-13 (Landgericht Hamburg, Wiedergutmachung), 1046 (Hans Calm); StaH 213-13 (Landgericht Hamburg, Wiedergutmachung), 9002 (Dr. Frederick/ Fritz Goldschmidt); StaH 231-7 (Handelsregister), A 1 Band 166 (Adolf Bernstein, A 36958); StaH 231-7 (Handelsregister), A 1 Band 214 (Hamburger Bleiwerk Mahnke & Co., A 47183); StaH 231-7 (Handelsregister), A 2 Band 18 (Adolf Bernstein AG, B 1098); StaH 231-7 (Handelsregister), A 2 Band 43 (Adolf Bernstein AG, B 2689); StaH 231-7 (Handelsregister), A 3 Band 74 (Adolf Bernstein GmbH, C 5933); StaH 242-1 II (Gefängnisverwaltung II), 11116 (Max Bernstein, 1934 u. 1938), mikroverfilmt unter 741-4 (Fotoarchiv) A 251; StaH 332-4 (Aufsicht über die Standesämter), 676 (Max Bernstein u. Erbina Mahnke, 1956-1957); StaH 332-5 (Standesämter), 2704 u. 171/1887 (Heiratsregister 1887, Adolf Bernstein u. Jenny Blumenthal); StaH 332-5 (Standesämter), 2182 u. 5430/1888 (Geburtsregister 1888, Minna Bernstein); StaH 332-5 (Standesämter), 2223 u. 500/1890 (Geburtsregister 1890, Bertha Bernstein); StaH 332-5 (Standesämter), 8668 u. 23/1910 (Heiratsregister 1910, Alwin Popper u. Bertha Bernstein); StaH 332-5 (Standesämter), 8697 u. 183/1914 (Heiratsregister 1914, Siegfried S. Nathan u. Minna Bernstein); StaH 332-5 (Standesämter), 8025 u. 404/1915 (Sterberegister 1915, Gustav Joseph Calm); StaH 332-5 (Standesämter), 8765 u. 243/1922 (Heiratsregister 1922, Manfred Nathan u. Martha Bernstein); StaH 332-5 (Standesämter), 8112 u. 413/1932 (Sterberegister 1932, Adolf Bernstein); StaH 332-5 (Standesämter), 1053 u. 449/1936 (Sterberegister 1936, Manfred Nathan); StaH 332-5 (Standesämter), 11840 u. 543/1937 (Sterberegister 1937, Heinrich F. F. Klein); StaH 332-5 (Standesämter), 1087 u. 300/1938 (Sterberegister 1938, Max Bernstein); StaH 332-7 (Staatsangehörigkeitsaufsicht), A I e 40 Bd.13 (Bürgerregister 1899-1905, A-H), Adolf Bernstein, 23.1.1901 Bürgerrecht T No. 430; StaH 332-8 (Meldewesen), Einwohnermeldekartei Altona, K 4389 (Adolf Bernstein jr.); StaH 332-8 (Meldewesen), Alte Einwohnermeldekartei (1892-1925), Rollfilm K 4234 (Susanna Camilla Jenny Bernstein geb. Blumenthal); StaH 332-8 (Meldewesen), A 24 Bd. 77 (Reisepassprotokoll 79/1899, Jenny Bernstein); StaH 332-8 (Meldewesen), A 24 Bd. 265 (Reisepassprotokoll 7523/1922, Erbina Mahnke); StaH 332-8 (Meldewesen), A 24 Bd. 318 (Reisepassprotokoll 24514/1924, Erbina Mahnke); StaH 332-8 (Meldewesen), A 24 Bd. 260 (Reisepassprotokoll 309/1922, Max Bernstein); StaH 332-8 (Meldewesen), A 24 Bd. 279 (Reisepassprotokoll 69/1923, Max Bernstein); StaH 342-2 (Militär-Ersatzbehörden), D II 108 Band 1 (Musterung von Adolf Bernstein jr.); StaH 351-11 (Amt für Wiedergutmachung), 13255 (Erbina Mahnke verw. Bernstein, 1957-1969); StaH 351-11 (Amt für Wiedergutmachung), 14864 (Emil Bernstein); StaH 351-11 (Amt für Wiedergutmachung), 30702 (Käte Holländer geb. Calm); StaH 351-11(Amt für Wiedergutmachung), 40631 (Hans Rudolf Popper); StaH 351-11 (Amt für Wiedergutmachung), 4432 (Salomon Hirsch); StaH 351-11 (Amt für Wiedergutmachung), 4185 (Ludwig W. Simon); StaH 424-13 (Liegenschaftsverwaltung Altona), 1178 (Gustavstraße 47, Tausch eines Streifens für Straßengelände, Adolf Bernstein, 1897-1898); StaH 442-2 (Bezirksamt Hamburg-Nord), 761 (Übernahme der Firma Adolf Bernstein durch Firma F.F. Eiffe & Co, 1938-1946); StaH 522-1 (Jüdische Gemeinden), 992b (Kultussteuerkartei der Deutsch-Israelitischen Gemeinde Hamburg), Max Bernstein, Gustav Joseph Calm, Käte Calm, Salomon Hirsch, Manfred Nathan; Jüdischer Friedhof Hamburg Ohlsdorf (Adolf Bernstein, Grablage N2 Nr.107); Gedenkbuch Hamburger jüdische Opfer des Nationalsozialismus, Hamburg 1995 (Lina Bernstein geb. Gattel, Max Bernstein, Berta Popper geb. Bernstein, Dr. Wilhelm Prochownick); Gedenkbuch Hrsg. Bundesarchiv Koblenz, Opfer der Verfolgung der Juden unter der nationalsozialistischen Gewaltherrschaft in Deutschland 1933-1945 (Gerhard Heinz Popper, Josef Rosner); Forschungsstelle für Zeitgeschichte in Hamburg (FZH), Zugangsnummer ZV 2021.5 (Korrespondenz von Max Bernstein während der Haftzeit, 13. Mai –12. Oktober 1938); Amt für zentrale Meldeangelegenheiten, Hamburg (Johanna Täger geb. Mahnke, Hermann Heinrich Täger); Niedersächsisches Landesarchiv, Abteilung Wolfenbüttel (Inskriptionsliste der Jacobson-Schule und Einwohnermeldekartei, Emil Bernstein); Handelskammer Hamburg, Handelsregisterinformationen (Hamburger Bleiwerk von Adolf Bernstein GmbH, C 5933; Hamburger Bleiwerk Adolf Bernstein AG, B 1098 und B 2689; Adolf Bernstein, A 36958; Emil Bernstein, HR A 25042; F.F. Eiffe & Co., HR A 4353); Hamburger Börsenfirmen, 1910, S. 54 (Adolf Bernstein, gegr. 1885, Metallgeschäft, An- u. Verkauf alter Metalle, Im- u. Export, Zink-, Zinn- u. Bleischmelzerei, Bleirohrfabrik, Rödingsmarkt 32 u. Süderhof/ Süderstr. 45, Prokurist: G. J. Calm), S. 245 (Hamburger Bleiwerk von Adolf Bernstein, gegr. 1907, Bleirohrfabrik, Lötzinn m. Colophoniumeinlage, Bleitrapse, Inhaber Adolf Bernstein, Prokurist Gustav Calm u. Fürchtegott Gust. Herm. Schmidt, Süderstr. 45, Börsenpfeiler zwischen 47 u. 56); Hamburger Börsenfirmen, 1926, S. 247 (F. F. Eiffe & Co, gegr. 1896, Inhaber: Franz Ferdinand Eiffe, Export, Import u. Kommission, Adolphstr. 45); Hamburger Börsenfirmen, 1926, S. 380 (Hamburger Bleiwerk von Adolf Bernstein GmbH, gegr. 1907, Geschäftsführer: Max Bernstein u. Ludwig Wilhelm Simon, Fabrikationsabteilung der Hamburger Metallhandel AG vormals Adolf Bernstein, Süderstr. 45, Fabrikation von Bleirohren, Walzblei, Bleidraht, Bleiwolle, Fensterblei, Bleitrapsen, Bleibogen, Bleimantelrohren, Zinnrohren, Lötzinn); Hamburger Börsenfirmen, 1926, S. 386 (Hamburger Metallhandel AG von Adolf Bernstein, gegr. 1885/ 1923, Vorstand: Max Bernstein u. Ludwig Simon, Prokurist: Heinrich Klein u. Dr. rer pol. Fritz Goldschmidt, Süderhof, Süderstr. 43-47, Metallhandel, Herstellung sämtl. Bleifabrikate, Bleiraffinierwerk, Zink-, Lötzinn-, Weissmetallschmelze); Hamburger Börsenfirmen, 1926, S. 83 (Emil Bernstein, gegr. 1915, Getreide, Futter- u. chem. Düngemittel-Großhandlung, Hammerbrookstr. 10, Getreidebörse v. Pf. 32); Hamburger Börsenfirmen, 1935, S. 66 (Adolf Bernstein, gegr. 1885, neu ins amtliche Firmenregister eingetragen 1931, Metallgroßhandlung, Süderstr. 45, Inhaber: Max Bernstein, Gesamtprokurist: Heinrich Friedrich Fritz Klein), S. 200 (F. F. Eiffe & Co., gegr. 1896, Inhaber: Franz Ferdinand Eiffe, Import, Export, Kommission, Adolphstr. 45), S. 272 (Fritz Goldschmidt, gegr. 1933, Metall- u. Chemikalien-Großhandel, Semperstr. 73); Hamburgs Handel und Verkehr, Illustriertes Export-Handbuch der ‚Börsen-Halle‘ 1912-1914, Abschn. II, S. 36 (F. F. Eiffe & Co., Alsterdamm 4/5, Export von haupts. Manufaktur- u. Kurzwaren nach Süd-, Südost- und Ost-Afrika); Frank Bajohr, "Arisierung" in Hamburg. Die Verdrängung der jüdischen Unternehmer 1933-1945, Hamburg 1998, S. 349 (Adolf Bernstein, Metallgroßhandel, Süderstr. 45), S. 177, 186, 258, 308 (Dr. Otto Wolff, Hauptsachbearbeiter u. späterer NS-Gauwirtschaftsberater); Ina Lorenz/ Jörg Berkemann, Die Hamburger Juden im NS-Staat 1933 bis 1938/39, Göttingen 2016, Band VI, S. 56 (Gauwirtschaftsberater Dr. Otto Wolff bestätigt am 26.4.1938 den Firmenkauf durch Eiffe und die Umfirmierung in F.F. Eiffe & Co.); Beate Meyer, "Jüdische Mischlinge”. Rassenpolitik und Verfolgungserfahrung 1933-1945, Hamburg 1999, S. 107; Heiko Morisse, Jüdische Rechtsanwälte in Hamburg. Ausgrenzung und Verfolgung im NS-Staat, Hamburg 2003, S. 122 (Bernhard David), S. 167 (Dr. Albert Wulff, Dr. Walther L. F. Wulff); Heiko Morisse, Ausgrenzung und Verfolgung der Hamburger jüdischen Juristen im Nationalsozialismus, Band 2 Beamtete Juristen, Göttingen 2013, S. 178/179 (Dr. Wilhelm Prochownick); Verband Deutscher Metallhändler e.V., VDM Magazin No. 691, Die Geschichte des VDM, Erster Teil (1908-1934), Berlin 2019, S. 35 (Dr. Goldschmidt in der Hamburger Metallbörse, Gruppenaufnahme 1928/29), S.40 (Adolf Bernstein in Gruppenaufnahme 1928); Hamburger Adressbuch (Adolf Bernstein, Firma u. Privatperson) 1888, 1890, 1892, 1894, 1897-1900, 1904-1908, 1910, 1919, 1921, 1925, 1926, 1928, 1930, 1932-1934, 1936; Hamburger Adressbuch (Max Bernstein) 1927, 1928, 1930, 1932-1937; Adressbuch Hamburg (Dr. Fritz Goldschmidt) 1931, 1932; Adressbuch Hamburg (Mechaniker/Bauklempner C.A. Möller) 1921, 1923, 1928, 1930, 1932; Adressbuch Hamburg (Victoriastraße 16) 1887; Adressbuch Hamburg (Steinweg, Neuer 95) 1888, 1889; Adressbuch Hamburg (Steinweg, Neuer 13), 1890; Adressbuch Hamburg (Bleichen, Hohe 8) 1921, 1922, 1932; Adressbuch Hamburg (Rödingsmarkt 32) 1909, 1912, 1918-1920; Adressbuch Hannover (Seckel Bernstein) 1880, 1887, 1888, 1890, 1895, 1900, 1902, 1903; (Lina Bernstein geb. Gattel, Leopold Cohn, Lipmann/Leo Josias); (Lazarus Gattel, 1826-1906, verheiratet mit Henriette Wolfski, Hutfabrikant); (Josef Rosner, geb. 7.5.1872 in Oswiecim, Tochter Martha Meyer; Berta Popper geb. Bernstein, geb. 25.1.1890 in Hamburg, zuletzt wohnhaft Berlin-Neukölln, Prinz-Handjery-Str.49); (Adolf Bernstein jr: Passagierliste 1912, US-Einzugsregisterkarten 1. Weltkrieg 1917-1918, US-Einbürgerungsregister 1924).

print preview  / top of page