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Bertha Blankenstein * 1876
Abendrothsweg 23 (Hamburg-Nord, Hoheluft-Ost)
Bertha Blankenstein, born on 8 Nov. 1876 in Dortmund, deported on 25 Oct. 1941 to Lodz, murdered on 20 May 1942 in Chelmno
Edith Blankenstein, born on 15 May 1883 in Hamburg, deported on 25 Oct. 1941 to Lodz, murdered on 20 May 1942 in Chelmno
In 1879, Bertha Blankenstein moved from Dortmund to Hamburg together with her brother Curt and her parents, the merchant Hermann (Herz) Blankenstein and his wife Emma Eleonore, née Levinger. Initially, they lived in the St. Georg quarter on Steindamm, where three additional siblings were born: in 1879 Georg, in 1883 Edith, and in 1888 Gertrud Blankenstein. A few years later, the family relocated to Altona, which was still Prussian at the time. There, at Altona’s St. Johannis Church, the parents had all of their five children baptized in 1892. They were very diligent about their children receiving a good education.
After attending the Christianeum Hamburg, a renowned Latin school, Curt and Georg completed commercial training; Bertha and Edith got training as teachers; Bertha at the female teachers college in Hamburg, Edith in Altona. Like many of their colleagues, the two sisters initially worked at private schools before being admitted to public school service. A permanent appointment such as this meant a secure, better-paid job with an entitlement for a pension. Since 1913, the sisters shared an apartment on the second floor of the house at Abendrothsweg 23. Both remained unmarried, which at the time was a prerequisite for working as a female teacher. They were active in the "Society of Friends of the Patriotic School and Education System” ("Gesellschaft der Freunde des Vaterländischen Schul- und Erziehungswesens”), the precursor of the subsequent Education and Science Workers’ Union (Gewerkschaft Erziehung und Wissenschaft). In Apr. 1920, when she was 43 years old, Bertha Blankenstein received her appointment to teach at Hamburg municipal schools.
At first, she was at Augustaschule, a secondary school for girls located at Harvestehuder Weg, then at the elementary school (Volksschule) for boys and girls on Ludwigstraße, and since 1926 at the elementary school on Laeiszstraße. From 1929 onward, Bertha taught at the elementary school for girls on Holstenwall and from 1930 to 1933 at the Tieloh Nord elementary school for boys in Barmbek. A convinced Lutheran Christian, she also taught Lutheran religious classes during this entire period.
Edith started teaching immediately after completing her training in Nov. 1903. From 1920 onward, she was employed as a municipal teacher at the school on Schleidenstraße, where she gave classes until her dismissal.
As of 7 Apr. 1933, "non-Aryan” civil servants were dismissed in accordance with the "Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service” ("Gesetz zur Wiederherstellung des Berufsbeamtentums”). Like many other teachers, the christened sisters Bertha and Edith Blankenstein were forced to retire from teaching because of their Jewish origins. For this reason, they were no longer able to hold on to their apartment on Abendrothsweg. Edith moved to Fuhlsbüttlerstraße, Bertha to her sister and brother-in-law on Sierichstraße.
Following her dismissal, Bertha Blankenstein helped in an honorary capacity with the children’s service at the Borgfelde parish, where her brother-in-law played the organ. However, she was exposed to anti-Semitic hostilities there as well: In Nov. 1935, Bishop Franz Tügel received a letter by the NSDAP advising him "to order the removal of the Jewess, since one could not expect race-conscious parents to send their children to a children’s service involving a Jewess taking part in any way.” This was not the first denunciation. A year earlier already, Paul Söhle, a member of the parochial church council, wished to remove from the parish both Bertha Blankenstein and Pastor Junge, whose political views were intolerable in Söhle’s opinion. However, the parochial church council stood by Bertha Blankenstein, despite several exhortations by the district office of the NSDAP. Bishop Tügel also refused to comply. In his reply to the NSDAP, he wrote: "The German Lutheran Church does not have an Aryan race law yet.” It is not known how long Bertha Blankenstein continued to be active in the parish.
Since 1939, Bertha and Edith as well as all people in Hamburg classified as Jews belonged to the "Jewish Religious Organization” ("Jüdischer Religionsverband”). By then only a branch of the "Reich Association of Jews in Germany” ("Reichsvereinigung der Juden in Deutschland”), the former Jewish Community was now authorized merely as an association. They had to move to Böttcherstraße 5, into a "Jews’ house” ("Judenhaus”). In Oct 1941, they received their "evacuation order” and were deported on the first transport to the Lodz Ghetto. Upon their arrival, they were sent to a room in apartment no. 18 at Zimmerstraße 6 together with five other persons. After seven months living in the ghetto in the most wretched conditions, both sisters were murdered in the Chelmno extermination camp on 20 May 1942.
Their brother Curt died in Hamburg in 1939; Georg Blankenstein was deported to Theresienstadt and died there in Apr. 1943. A Stolperstein for him is located in front of the house at Sierichstraße 70.
Translator: Erwin Fink
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.
© Maria Koser
Quellen: 1; 4; 8; StaH 522-1 Jüd. Gemeinden, 992e1, Band 1; Hamburger Lehrerverzeichnis, Jahrgänge 1918–1934 hrsg. von der Gesellschaft der Freunde des Vaterländischen Schul- und Erziehungswesens; Archiv der Nordelbischen Kirche 32.01 Nr. 2637; Amtliche Fernsprechbücher Hamburg 1912–1914,1920– 1939; AB 1933; Eggert, Björn: Georg Blankenstein in: Sparr, Stolpersteine, 2008, S. 64ff.; Groschek, Gemeindechronik, 2000, S. 50ff.; Hochmuth/de Lorent (Hrsg.), Schule unterm Hakenkreuz, 1985; Kleinau, Bildung und Geschlecht, 1997; Bake, (Bearb.) Wie wird es weitergehen, 2001; Franz Tügel (1888–1946) war ab 1916 Pastor an der St. Nikolaikirche in Hamburg. 1931 Eintritt in die NSDAP, engagiert bei den Deutschen Christen, wurde er 1933 deren Vertrauensmann. 1933 Oberkirchenrat. Nach dem Rücktritt Simon Schöffels als Landesbischof 1934 wurde er in dieses Amt gewählt, das er bis 1945 innehatte.
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