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Charlotte Bravo (née Aron) * 1880
Brahmsallee 16 (Eimsbüttel, Harvestehude)
Charlotte Bravo, née Aron, born 8/11/1890 in Hamburg, deported to Minsk on 11/18/1941
The life of Charlotte Bravo, née Aron, has left only sparse traces. The outline of her biography can be sketched from her genealogical data. Her family relationships provide the structure of the fate of this only vaguely discernible woman. Charlotte Bravo came from the Cassuto family, one of the most influential and most active pillars of Hamburg's Portuguese Sephardic community. Their ancestors had been driven from the Iberian peninsula for religious reasons. Sephardic families came to Hamburg via Amsterdam in the 17th century. Their community was smaller than that of the so-called German or Ashkenazi Jews, but they nonetheless enjoyed considerable economic and cultural influence. The number of the Sephardim in Hamburg had diminished during the 19th century, but this only made them move closer together and honor their heritage and tradition.
To determine in which branch of the widely ramified family Charlotte and her two siblings had their roots, we must go back two generations. Their grandfather Jehuda Cassuto married Lea Rocamora from an equally prominent Hamburg Portuguese family. Three daughters of this couple later played an important part in the life of Charlotte Bravo: in 1856, at the age of 17, daughter Sara (born 1839) married Isaak Haim Bravo, a Sephardic cigar merchant six years her senior. From 1862 to 1866, the couple had three children, but only one son, Jehuda Bravo, born 1864, is named in the civil birth registry records. Sara Bravo, mother of the three children, died already in 1868, possibly at the birth of a further child. In those days, it was not unusual for young widowers to marry a sister of their deceased wife, in order to provide a mother for their small children again. So it was in this case. In 1869, Isaak Haim Bravo married Sara’s sister Lea Cassuto. Lea, much younger than her late sister, was also only 17 years old when she married and assumed a great responsibility in caring for three motherless kids. Her only child, Abraham Haim Bravo, was born 1872. Like his father, he became a merchant, probably working at his father’s store, which he took over when Isaak Haim Bravo 1905 died in 1905, Abraham was in no hurry to get married; in 1924, he married Charlotte Aron, whom we want to introduce here along with her family.
Charlotte was born in Hamburg August 11, 1880. Her Sephardic Jewish father , the merchant Abraham Aron, born December 12, 1849 in Neustadt am Rübenberge, in 1877 married Judith Cassuto, a native of the city. Judith de Jehuda Cassuto was the younger sister of Sara and Lea Cassuto. Charlotte was also a cousin of Abraham Haim Bravo – surely the two knew each other from childhood; little Charlotte may have seen a protector in Abraham Haim – maybe she adored him, or maybe she was indifferent to him. As there are no written records of the lives of the Cassuto, Bravo and Aron families, we can only speculate. Only one thing is sure: Charlotte Aron grew up in a decidedly Sephardic family. Her sister Helene was born a year and a half before her, on January 19, 1879, her younger brother Siegmund Aron on May 9, 1883. The two sisters lived with their parents at Rutschbahn 25 until they married. Charlotte absolved an apprenticeship as a clerk, had a job and payed culture taxes until she married her cousin Abraham Haim Bravo on October 23, 1924. She was 44, her husband 52 years of age when their old familiar relationship was converted into a marriage. Two friends of Abraham Haim Bravo signed as witnesses to the civil marriage at the registrar’s office, one a neighbor who lived in the same house at Bornstrasse 10, the other a fellow merchant. Two Sephardic witnesses from prominent families are named in the in the register of the Portuguese Jewish Community: Benjamin Sealtiel and Abraham Sarfaty. The marriage of Abraham and Charlotte Bravo remained childless, as did that of her sister Helene.
The families maintained close relationships, which proved helpful when both sisters, Charlotte and Helene, lost their spouses and also their fathers. David Rabi, the husband of Helene, née Aron, died already in 1928. Abraham Aron, husband of Judith, née Cassuto, and father of Charlotte Bravo and Helene Rabi, died at an old age at his home at Rutschbahn 31 on January 2, 1936. Only half a year later, Charlotte lost her husband Abraham Bravo, who died at the Israelitic Hospital on June 26. The doctor in charge gave bronchopneumonia as the cause of death.
The penniless widows now depended on Siegmund Aron for support, their son, respectively brother. An employee of the renowned (Jewish) Bank M.M. Warburg, he was able to aliment his mother as well as his mother and sister in law – this is confirmed by entries on his culture tax card. In 1933, Siegmund lost his wife and the mother of four children by illness. He succeeded in having the children brought to England. Having married again, Siegmund and his second wife Baszion Heimann sought to emigrate, as did his sisters Helene and Charlotte. Their efforts, however, were in vain. In the years burdened by the increasing anti-Semitism Charlotte joined her sister Helen Rabi; together, they moved to an apartment in Brahmsallee 16. After her husband’s death, Helene had already made her living by subletting rooms. The sisters charlotte and Helen stayed together in Brahmsallee until they were deported to Minsk on August 11, 1941.
Siegmund Aron and his wife were deported to Lodz on the first transport of Hamburg Jews to the infamous ghetto in Poland in October 1941. From Lodz, they were deported to the Kulmhof extermination camp in Chelmno and murdered there in 1942.
Charlotte Bravo and Helene Rabi received the order to report to the Moorweide park on November 18, 1941 for "resettlement.” 408 Hamburg Jews, plus more from the nearby towns of Bremen, Bremerhaven and Stade, to Minsk, the capital of White Russia, then the German-occupied Reichskommissariat Ostland. There are no reports whatever about the circumstances under which the deported lived, neither about the place and date of their deaths.
Helene’s and ‘Charlottes mother Judith Aron, née Caputo lived at the rest home of the Jewish Community in Schäferkampsallee 29 when her daughters were deported. She suffered a stroke and died a natural death in the hospital of the Jewish Community, which then was located in Johnsallee 54.
Translated by Peter Hubschmid
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.
Stand: September 2019
© Inge Grolle
Quellen: 1; 4; StaH 332-5 (Standesämter) – 1053 6235/ 1936 Sterbeurkunde Abraham Aron, – 8180 294/1942 Sterbeurkunde Judith Aron, 8791/378 Heiratsurkunde von Abraham Bravo und Charlotte Cassuto 1924; 332-3 (Zivilstandsaufsicht 1866–1875) B26 1092 1869 Heiratsurkunde Isaac Haim Bravo und Lea Cassuto, 352-5 (Todesbescheinigung) 1936 2a 235 für Abraham Bravo; E-Mail Auskunft von Michael Studemund-Halévy v. 25.3.2013 über Abraham/Adi Haim Bravo; ders., Sefarden in Hamburg.
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