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Arno Bleich * 1928
Lübecker Straße 110 (Hamburg-Nord, Hohenfelde)
Arno Bleich, born on 22 Jan. 1928 in Hamburg, deported on 9 June 1943 to the Theresienstadt Ghetto, from there on 28 Oct. 1944 to the Auschwitz concentration and extermination camp, murdered there
Jacob Bleich, born on 13 June 1926 in Hamburg, deported on 9 June 1943 to the Theresienstadt Ghetto, from there to the Auschwitz concentration and extermination camp, murdered there in Oct. 1944
Markus Bleich, called Perlmutter, born on 15 Jan. 1891 in Skalat/Galicia (today in Ukraine), from 28 Oct. 1938 until 31 Mar. 1939 forced stay in Zbaszyn, from 9 Sept. 1939 until 21 Mar. 1940 detained in the Fuhlsbüttel concentration camp, deported on 25 Oct. 1941 to the "Litzmannstadt” (Lodz) Ghetto, deported from there on 25 Apr. 1942 to the Chelmno extermination camp, murdered
Lübecker Strasse 110
"The applicant’s fate is unique in that her non-Jewish ancestry could not prevent her own children from dying a death of extermination as Jews.” This statement from restitution file (Wiedergutmachungsakte) of Olga Bleich, née Köhler, describes the hopeless situation of this family, which initially seemed protected by the "privileged mixed marriage” ("privilegierte Mischehe”) of the parents.
When Arno and Jacob Bleich were deported in the summer of 1943, their father Markus had already been sent to the "Development in the East” ("Aufbau im Osten”) almost two years earlier. Markus Bleich was 50 years old when he was "resettled” ("ausgesiedelt”) on the first transport from Hamburg to the "Litzmannstadt” (Lodz) Ghetto on 25 Oct. 1941 and was further deported to the Chelmno extermination camp on 25 Apr. 1942, classified as unfit for work. Previously, he had already survived deportation to Poland and internment in the Fuhlsbüttel concentration camp.
Markus Bleich, called Perlmutter, came from Skalat in Galicia, which at that time belonged to the Habsburg monarchy and today to Ukraine. His name came about due to his illegitimate birth as a child of Chana Bleich and Josef Perlmutter. He had one brother.
He grew up trilingual, speaking German, Polish, and Russian, and attended elementary school (Volksschule). After graduating, he completed an apprenticeship in the leather industry. He was unsuitable for military service with the Austrian army and apparently planned to emigrate to the USA in 1914, but because of the beginning of the First World War, he did not get beyond Hamburg. Neither his brother nor his parents followed him there. Initially, he lived on savings for two years. Then, in 1916, he registered a "trade with sacks and rags en gros” under the name of Bleich, called Perlmutter, located at Rutschbahn 21. He did not change his trade license when he founded two shops for footwear supplies on Grindelallee, nor did he do so anytime later.
At the beginning of 1918, he was treated for leg problems at Eppendorf General Hospital. Later that year, he had to stand trial for "exaggerating prices” and pay a fine of 1,000 marks. This put an end to his self-employment for the time being. He took a position as a traveling salesman (agent) for a shoe supply company, a job that ended in late Mar. 1920. Before opening his own new business on 1 Oct. 1920, he applied for naturalization. This was turned down without any reasons provided. He had indicated "Austria” as "former nationality.” At that time, however, his birthplace Skalat was no longer Austrian, but Polish, which is why he was now regarded as Polish.
However, even without naturalization, he managed to establish himself professionally and in terms of family matters. The new business was a leather goods store on Winterhuder Weg 2, which he also navigated through the inflation period, only giving it up when he married on 9 May 1923. His wife Olga was an office clerk by profession. She came from Eimsbüttel, where her parents, the machine technician Heinrich Köhler and his wife Bertha, née Geissler, lived with their five children. One of Olga’s brothers had died in the First World War. By the time she married Markus Bleich, she no longer lived with her parents, but at Hamburger Strasse 6. Her family belonged to the Lutheran Church.
After closing the store on Winterhuder Weg, Markus Bleich opened two new stores. One was located at Volksdorfer Strasse 18, a basement floor with an apartment. Olga Bleich worked here. The other was at 74 Hammerbrookstrasse, Moreover, he joined the shoemakers’ guild.
The couple’s first child was born in 1924, dying, however, before the first birthday. Jacob was born on 13 June 1926, Arno on 22 Jan. 1928. The working parents employed a domestic help, who also took care of the two sons. They were brought up Jewish and enrolled in the Talmud Tora School in 1933 and 1934, respectively. Jacob suffered from the effects of polio and stood in his younger brother’s shade, who was a healthy child.
At the beginning of 1938, Markus Bleich gave up his business on Hammerbrookstrasse. In late March of that year, the Polish government deprived him and all other Polish citizens who had lived abroad uninterruptedly for more than five years of Polish citizenship. Thus, he was stateless. Together with his wife, he was deported to the German-Polish border area near Zbaszyn on 28 Oct. 1938 with a transport of around 1,000 Jewish residents of Hamburg. The parents had just been able to place their sons with their non-Jewish grandparents in time.
Olga Bleich returned to the Hanseatic city as an "Aryan” on 31 Dec. 1938 and left the Jewish Community about a month later, on 2 Feb. 1939. Markus Bleich did not return to Hamburg until 30 Mar. 1939, apparently on condition that he leave Germany within a short time. The married couple also lost the business run by Olga on Volksdorfer Strasse.
Immediately after his return, Markus Bleich moved out of his family’s home and found a room as a subtenant, possibly to protect his relatives. At the same time, he undertook efforts to emigrate without his family. His first destination was the Dominican Republic, then Poland. He received all necessary tax clearance certificates (Unbedenklichkeitsbescheinigungen) and listed his moving goods – shoemaking tools and a little clothing as hand luggage. But then he lacked the money to pay for the customs inspection of the moving goods. The next obstacle was his statelessness, which is why the Polish government refused him an entry permit. With the beginning of the war against Poland, he gave up his emigration efforts. He was probably imprisoned as a Pole in the Fuhlsbüttel "police prison” on 9 Sept. 1939 in connection with the military campaign against Poland. After six months, on 21 Mar. 1940, he was released for health reasons and accommodated in the Daniel-Wormser-Haus, the emigrant and retirement home of the Israelitischer Unterstützungsverein für Obdachlose, a Jewish benefit society for the homeless at Westerstrasse 27. It was located in the Klostertor quarter near the central station.
In order to be able to feed herself and her two sons, Olga Bleich took on a position as an accountant, but after a short time lost the job due to a denunciation that betrayed her Jewish family circumstances. For the same reason, the employment office did not find her a new job. She received welfare support and had to sew for a daily wage of 75 pfennigs.
Through the recommendation of an acquaintance, she then found employment with a ship chandler. However, he put pressure on her: She was to divorce to keep the job. The married couple agreed to state adultery as grounds for divorce. The marriage was divorced by mutual consent on 14 Nov. 1940. Markus Bleich moved to Heinrich-Barth-Strasse 8 in the Grindel quarter. At this point, he had lost the protection provided to him by the "privileged mixed marriage” ("privilegierte Mischehe”) with his non-Jewish wife, and there was no reason for the Gestapo to treat him differently from other Jews. He was assigned to the first transport of Hamburg Jews to the East. Following his imprisonment in the Fuhlsbüttel concentration camp, his health had not fully recovered. Thus, he was not able to work in the "Litzmannstadt” (Lodz) Ghetto to the extent that would have been necessary to continue living there. On 24 Apr. 1942, he was deported to the Chelmno extermination camp and murdered. He was 51 years old then.
Arno and Jacob were able to attend the Talmud Tora School until it closed in 1942. Both of them were denied to start an apprenticeship. Jacob first found employment as an unskilled worker at the Reinstrom Company, which dealt in skins and hides, and then at Thomas Eggers in the automotive wholesale trade. Arno became a gofer in the Lani photo studio.
In the eyes of the Gestapo, Jacob and Arno Bleich were "Jews by definition” ("Geltungsjuden”) because they had been brought up as Jews. In June 1943, the Gestapo sent them to the Theresienstadt Ghetto, along with many other "half-Jews.” Arno was 15 years old, and Jacob had his seventeenth birthday shortly after his arrival. During their time in Theresienstadt, they had written contact with their mother. Jacob is said to have been further deported to Auschwitz concentration camp in 1943; Arno followed with the autumn transport on 28 Oct. 1944, and both were murdered immediately upon arrival.
In 1956, Olga and Markus Bleich’s marriage was retroactively recognized as existing until his death. Olga Bleich’s bitter conclusion of the decision to divorce pro forma was, "At that point, I could certainly give my children bread, but I could not protect them from the Gestapo.” Olga Bleich died on 6 July 1973.
Jacob and Arno Bleich are remembered by their former classmate Fred Leser, who was deported to Riga on 6 Dec. 1941. Arno was his best friend. According to him, Arno had been very talented, while Jacob had suffered a disability because of polio.
Status as of May 2016
Author(s): Hildegard Thevs
Translator: Erwin Fink
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.
Stand: December 2019
© Hildgard Thevs
Quellen: 1, 4, 5, 6, 7; StaH 332-4 Aufsicht über die Standesämter, III C 50, Bd. 11, Nr. 181; 332-7 Staatsangehörigkeitsaufsicht, B VI 2477; 351-11 Amt für Wiedergutmachung 17740; 351-11 Amt für Wiedergutmachung 17293; 378-3 Zentralgewerbekartei; 522-1 Jüdische Gemeinden, 992 e 2 Bde 1 u. 5; Abl. 1993, 42, Bd. 2; Hamburger Adressbücher; fernmündliche Mitteilungen von Fred Leser.
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