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Louis Braunschweiger * 1877
Husumer Straße 10 (Hamburg-Nord, Hoheluft-Ost)
Louis Braunschweiger, born 13 Mar. 1877 in Altona, deported 8 Nov. 1941 to Minsk
Jenny Braunschweiger, née Dörnberg, born 30 Dec. 1876 in Vacha, deported 8 Nov. 1941 to Minsk
Dr. Heinz Braunschweiger, born 28 June 1906, died 3 Sep. 1939 while fleeing Germany
Husumer Straße 10
Louis Braunschweiger, the son of Abraham Lichtenstein, was adopted by Moritz and Marianne Braunschweiger. He married Jenny Dörnberg, the daughter of Heinrich Dörnberg and his wife Jeanette, née Goldschmidt, from Vacha in Thuringia.
The Dörnberg family was originally from Bavaria, but had lived in Vacha for more than 100 years. Jenny Braunschweiger’s grandfather, Feist Dörnberg, and his brother Meyer had moved to Vacha from Maroldsweisach in Franconia. In 1827, the brothers both owned houses and had stores for textiles and notions. Meyer Dörnberg was also the leader of the Jewish community. In 1882, when Jenny was a young girl, her father ran the store and led Vacha’s Jewish Community. The store finally closed when Jenny’s brother Ferdinand, who had taken it over in 1900, died in 1927.
Louis Braunschweiger was a retail salesman and had a housewares store at Kieler Straße 26, which later moved to Paulsplatz 12. Louis and Jenny first lived at Schmuckstraße 7 in St. Pauli, then moved, in the early 1920s, to a third-floor apartment at Husumer Straße 10.
Their son Heinz Braunschweiger was born on 28 June 1906. He attended the Thaer School at Holstentor, and then, from the sixth grade onwards, the Hegestraße School, from which he graduated in 1925. He went on to study law in Würzburg and Hamburg, and after passing the first state exam in the spring of 1930, worked for three years as an articled clerk with the Hamburg courts. On 10 July 1933, shortly before he registered to take the second state exam, the Nazi Minister of Justice notified him that he was prohibited from completing his clerkship because of his Jewish heritage.
He nevertheless completed his studies at Hamburg University in December 1933 with his dissertation entitled "How can the Reichstag override a referendum?” and was awarded the title of Dr. jur. Since he had no chance, as a Jew, to practice law, he opened a legal advisory service, but he hardly earned enough money to feed himself. His income improved when a Jewish grocery business hired him to handle their debt collections and he became their legal advisor. At the same time he began to work as a realtor. At first he had an office on the Reeperbahn, then moved to a smaller one in the same building in June 1935. On 1 October 1935 he moved his office to Große Burstah 23.
Heinz Braunschweiger and Gertrud L. were childhood friends. They grew up in the same neighborhood and had often played together, but later lost track of each other. Gertrud was the daughter of a ship’s captain and an "Aryan.”
In August 1927, they ran into each other at a movie theater. Their friendship developed into a love that lasted for years. Gertrud L. typed his examination paper for his first state exam for him in 1930 and his dissertation in 1933. She also did the paperwork for his debt-collecting business. They often went out, or met at one or the other of their parents’ apartments. Although Gertrud L. was engaged for a short time, and Heinz also had a relationship with another woman, they were still close when the Nuremberg Laws were declared on 15 September 1935. Braunschweiger was denounced and accused of "racial defilement.”
Although both of them testified that they had only met once after the laws had been declared, and that they were now nothing more than friends, Heinz Braunschweiger, who had been in pretrial detention since 9 December 1937, was sentenced to a year in prison on 8 June 1938. The pronouncement stated: "A prison sentence seems to be adequate in such a clearly transitional case as this. The sentence should, however, not be set too low. Firstly for general reasons: experience has shown that only severe sentences serve as an effective deterrent for racial defilement. Further, for reasons having to do with the accused himself. Neither in preliminary proceedings nor in the trial was he prepared to offer an open and honest confession of his crime, but rather he attempted, with all manner of sophistry and prevarications, to elude his just punishment…”
Heinz Braunschweiger was sent to the Altona prison on 14 June. He was due to be released on 9 December 1938, with the time served in pretrial detention deducted from his sentence. But he was transferred to the Glasmoor prison on 9 September 1938. While he was in prison he applied for a passport to travel to the US. He received it on 1 September.
In the meantime, the District Attorney at the Hamburg Regional Court was attempting to strip Braunschweig of his academic degree. In July 1938 he wrote to the Dean of the Law and Political Science faculty: "I respectfully request that you take note of the content of the judgement, and that you consider submitting a petition for revocation of his doctorate.” The dean promptly followed this suggestion.
Four days after his release from the Glasmoor prison, the Gestapo took Heinz Braunschweiger into "protective custody,” and held him at the Fuhlsbüttel concentration camp until 30 September 1938. He was probably sent directly to the Buchenwald concentration camp, where he was registered with the number 2938 as a "racial defiler.” While he was there, his father Louis secured the papers necessary for his departure from the country and the extension of his passport. Louis did not apply for permission to emigrate for himself and his wife.
Heinz Braunschweiger was released from the Buchenwald concentration camp in July 1939. One month later, on 14 August, he registered his permanent departure from Germany to New York with the Chief Finance Administrator. He travelled first to England, where he had booked passage to New York on a Cunard White Star Line ship. Due to the imminent outbreak of the war, however, the ship was requisitioned by the military. He rebooked on the British passenger ship Athenia, which was to sail from Glasgow to Montreal on 2 September. Most of the people on board the ship were Canadians and US citizens fleeing Europe and the impending war, but some, like Heinz Braunschweiger, were also refugees from the German Reich and Eastern Europe. Shortly before the ship sailed it had been modified to carry 200 more passengers. The extra passengers and the darkened ship created a crowded and threatening atmosphere on board. On the evening of 3 September, at 250 nautical miles northwest of Ireland, the Athenia was torpedoed by the German submarine U-30. Many of the passengers and crew died in the initial explosion. Several ships responded to the Athenia’s distress call, but they were unable to rescue all of the people who had escaped the ship in lifeboats. Heinz Braunschweiger was among the 112 dead.
The tragic news probably reached his parents in Hamburg, who had done everything in their power to enable their son to escape. Two years later, on 8 November 1941, they were deported to the Minsk ghetto.
Translator: Amy Lee
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.
© Maria Koser
Quellen: 1; 2; 4; 8; StaH 522-1 Jüd. Gemeinden, 992e 1 Band 2; StaH 314-15 OFP, Fvg 5669; StaH 364-5 I Universität I, L 50.06.023; StaH 242-1 II, Abl.13 jüngere Kartei; StaH 242-1 II, Abl.13 ältere Kartei; StaH 242-1 II, Abl.16; StaH 314-15 OFP, R 1938/1651; AB 1933, 1935; StaH 332-8 Meldewesen 51/1 (Dr. Heinz Braunschweiger, Louis Braunschweiger); Auskunft G. Hermes aus Vacha vom 21.1.2010; Recherche und Auskunft von Inge Wimmer aus Philippsthal vom 25.1., 31.1. und 5.2.2010; Morisse, Der nationalsozialistischen Verfolgung entkommen, in: MHR 4/2009, S.16f.; Bajohr, "Arisierung" 1998; Rademacher, Drei Tage, 2009; Juden in Thüringen, Europäisches Kulturzentrum in Thüringen, Bd. 1, 1996; Foto Studentenausweis: Universitätsarchiv Würzburg UWü StK Braunschweiger, Heinz.
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