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Ruth Bukschnewski * 1937
Domstraße 21 / Ecke Willy-Brandt-Straße (Hamburg-Mitte, Hamburg-Altstadt)
Dr. phil. [Ph.D.] David Israel Bukschnewski, born on 20 Dec. 1872 in Wolkowysk, deported on 25 Oct. 1941 to Lodz, died there on 3 Apr. 1943
Erwin Eisik Bukschnewski, born on 18 July 1936 in Hamburg, deported on 25 Oct. 1941 to Lodz
Grete Bukschnewski, née Steiner, born on 21 Dec. 1900 in Hamburg, deported on 25 Oct. 1941 to Lodz, died there on 18 Jan. 1944.
Ruth Lea Bukschnewski, born on 11 July 1937 in Hamburg, deported on 25 Oct. 1941 to Lodz, died there on 13 June 1944
Intersection of Willy-Brandt-Strasse 21 and Domstrasse, in front of the Zürichhaus (Gröningerstrasse 6)
When David Bukschnewski was born on 20 Dec. 1872 in Wolkowysk (today Vilkaviskis/Lithuania), his native town belonged to the Russian Empire. His parents were the farmer Eisik/Isack Bukschnewski and Lea/Lina, née Lurie. A younger sister, Miriam Paisner, was born on 15 July 1887 in Neustadt (today Kudirkos Naumiestis/Lithuania). She later lived in New York, though it is not documented since what time.
David Bukschnewski had spent his first school years in his homeland. At the age of 20, on 3 Dec. 1894, he began studying philosophy, mathematics, physics, botany, mineralogy, and technology at the Royal Friedrich Wilhelm University in Berlin (today Humboldt University in Berlin). His main interest was in chemistry and the related natural sciences. His doctoral thesis entitled Über die Wanderung der Jonen ("On the Migration of the Ions") was published in Apr. 1901 in Berlin. He had dedicated it to his parents, especially to the memory of his "unforgettable mother” who had died in Wielkawiecz (today Wladyslawow in Poland), a village in West Prussia. Later he wrote further scientific papers, e.g., in 1925 a "Contribution to the quantitative determination of chlorine in benzaldehyde” ("Beitrag zur quantitativen Bestimmung von Chlor in Benzaldehyd”).
Around 1902, David Bukschnewski had taken up an assistant position with the chemist Gustav Weiss, who was well known in his field at the time, at Brandstwiete 46 in Hamburg. The "Public Chemical Laboratory” had existed since 1879 and had been founded at Mattentwiete 35. David Bukschnewski was first registered in the Hamburg directory in 1904 as residing at Gänsemarkt 60. Two years later, he lived at Alsterdamm 3 (today Ballindamm) on the fourth floor and then in the historic downtown at Schmiedestrasse 22. He became a member of the local German-Israelitic Community in 1910, the year in which Gustav Weiss took him into his company as a sworn commercial chemist and co-owner. In 1913, the company headquarters were moved to Gröningerstrasse 28 (today Willy-Brandt-Strasse).
David Bukschnewski married Valentine Kauffmann (born on 14 June 1883) on 14 Mar. 1912. The daughter of the divorced couple Lazar Kauffmann and Henriette, née von Block, came from Zabern (today Saverne/France) in Alsace. Gustav Weiss and the merchant Simon Arendt acted as witnesses to the marriage.
The Bukschnewski couple moved to Meldorferstrasse 11 in Hamburg-Eppendorf. In 1916, David Bukschnewski was drafted as a soldier. After his return from the First World War and the death of company founder Gustav Weiss, David Bukschnewski became the sole owner of the laboratory in 1918. He modernized it "according to the latest achievements of modern times” and expanded the laboratory by setting up a metal and metallurgical department as well as a precious metal testing facility. In 1919, the Allgemeine Deutsche Ölhändlerverein E.V., an association of oil traders, in Bremen chose it as a "trusted laboratory.”
For one year, from 1920 to 1921, David Bukschnewski maintained a "chemical school” at the former location of the laboratory at Brandstwiete 46. Since 1924, he was sworn in as a sampler for metals, ores, and metallurgical products. In 1931, David Bukschnewski acquired a four-story office building at Gröningerstrasse 6 and moved his workplace there. His wife Valentine was given power of attorney. She died early, on 3 Apr. 1934, at the age of 51 and was buried in the Ohlsdorf Jewish Cemetery on Ilandkoppel. Their marriage produced no children.
In 1935, David Bukschnewski entered into a second marriage with the music teacher Grete Steiner, who was 28 years his junior. Their first child, Erwin Eisik, was born on 18 July 1936, Ruth Lea followed one year later, on 11 July 1937. Both children were named after their deceased paternal grandparents. At this time, the family lived on the third floor of Gröningerstrasse 6.
After the Nazis assumed power, the displacement of Jewish entrepreneurs from German economic life began. David Bukschnewski was first deprived of his oath as a commercial chemist. He was still allowed to accept orders, but only from foreign customers. In Jan. 1939, his assets were examined by the customs investigation department and placed under a provisional "security order” ("Sicherungsanordnung”); this process was confirmed by the Hamburg Foreign Currency Office of the Chief Finance Administrator (Oberfinanzpräsident). On 9 Mar. 1939, the "Aryanization” began; his laboratory was officially closed, placed under trusteeship, and only a few days later, taken over by the new owner, Otto Kohlmeyer. Until 31 October, David Bukschnewski remained employed by his former company, apparently to ensure a smooth handing over. His salary of 300 RM (reichsmark) was transferred to a "security account” ("Sicherungskonto”). Likewise, after high compulsory levies, such as the "levy on Jewish assets” ("Judenvermögensabgabe”) and the "Reich flight tax” ("Reichsfluchtsteuer”), his assets had been fixed in this largely inaccessible blocked account. He was allowed to dispose of 500 RM per month. All other expenses required a special permit from the Chief Finance Administrator.
From 11 Nov. to 6 Dec. 1939, David Bukschnewski was placed in "protective custody” ("Schutzhaft”) for unknown reasons. His office building at Gröningerstrasse 6 was "taken over” by the Hanseatic City of Hamburg on 31 Mar. 1941 for 39,000 RM and destroyed in a subsequent air raid on Hamburg. The sale of another building at Detmerstrasse 12 in Hamburg-Barmbek did not come about anymore.
On 25 Oct. 1941, the Bukschnewski couple and their two children Erwin and Ruth were deported from Gröningerstrasse 6 to Lodz. Their remaining property was confiscated and auctioned to the benefit of the German Reich by Schlüter auctioneers, located at Alsterufer 12. The multi-page list of their apartment furnishings provides insight into a well-off household. It yielded proceeds amounting to 9,035 RM; the list also included a piano. As a music teacher, Grete Bukschnewski had probably given piano lessons.
Among the Hamburgers who had to board the train to Lodz, the Polish town renamed Litzmannstadt by the German occupying forces, on 25 Oct. 1941 at Hannoversche Bahnhof railway station, the location of today’s Lohseplatz, were Grete’s parents and her siblings Marianne (born on 8 Mar. 1905) and Robert (born on 7 Nov. 1913). Her father, the businessman David Steiner (born on 13 Jan. 1871) came from Patzau/Kalischt (today Pacov/Kaliste in the Czech Republic) and had worked as co-owner of the Arnold Kahler & Co. Company in the sugar, coffee, and saltpeter trade at Brandstwiete 28/30. His wife Elsa, née Suchy (born on 20 Aug. 1881), was born in Iglau (today Jihlava in the Czech Republic). Grete was the oldest of her three children, who was still born at Göbelstrasse 10. Later, they lived at Schlüterstrasse 44, eventually in house no. 80.
The families were separated in the Lodz Ghetto. Grete’s parents and her siblings were accommodated at Rubenstrasse 2. David Steiner did not survive the first winter, dying on 1 Apr. 1942. The time of death of his daughter Marianne was recorded in the Federal Memorial Book a little later, for 25 Apr. 1942.
In May 1942, the Bukschnewski family received their "departure order” ("Ausreiseaufforderung”) to leave the ghetto, delivered to their address in the Lodz Ghetto at Hohensteiner Strasse 43. David Bukschnewski submitted a petition to the Jewish self-administration, specifically, to the "resettlement commission” ("Aussiedlungskommission”). He hoped for a deferral and justified his request by stating that, despite his old age, he had been working voluntarily since 13 Nov. 1941 and had been employed as a house watchman as well since 21 Jan. 1942. He attached a corresponding certificate. The application was approved.
On 12 Sept. 1942, his mother-in-law Elsa Steiner was among the group of elderly persons no longer able to work who were transported to Chelmno/Kulmhof in the course of the "Aktion Gehsperre” [literally, "operation walking block”] and murdered there in one of the mobile gas vans. According to an entry in the register of deaths, her son Robert had died in the ghetto shortly before, on 1 Sept. 1942.
David Bukschnewski, too, died in the ghetto on 3 Apr. 1943, at the age of 71, allegedly of heart failure, and Greta Bukschnewski perished in the ghetto as well on 18 Jan. 1944.
Their children Erwin and Ruth had to move to Hertastrasse 25 within the ghetto shortly after the death of their mother on 26 Jan. 1944. Ruth then fell ill with pulmonary tuberculosis, dying on 13 June 1944, as the prisoner physician by the name of Czernichow attested. According to the database of the Jewish Cemetery in Lodz, she was buried there.
The fate of her brother Erwin Bukschnewski is unknown.
Stolpersteine at Schlüterstrasse 80 commemorate the Steiner family.
Translator: Erwin Fink
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.
Stand: April 2020
© Susanne Rosendahl
Quellen: 1; 2; 4; 9; StaH 314-15 OFP, R 1939/0600; StaH 314-15 Abl. 1998 J1/125/28; StaH 522-1 Jüdische Gemeinde Nr. 992 e 2 Band 1; StaH 332-5 Standesämter 1024 u 148/1934; StaH 332-5 Standesämter 8682 u 118/1912; StaH 332-5 Standesämter 13277 u 2981/1900; USHMM, RG 15.083, 301/150-152, Fritz Neubauer, Universität Bielefeld; Das Buch der alten Firmen der Freien und Hansestadt Hamburg, S.2 XIV; Hamburger Börsenfirmen, 1923, S. 1139; David Bukschnewski: Über die Wanderung der Jonen, Dissertation zur Erlangung der Doktorwürde von der Philosophischen Fakultät der Friedrich-Wilhelm-Universität zu Berlin, 1901; Klein: Kulmhof/Chelmno, in: Benz/Distel (Hrsg.): Ort, Band 8, S. 301–323; diverse Hamburger Adressbücher; USHMM, RG-15_083M_0190_00000655 von Allison Zhang per Mail am 22.12.2015 und am 28.12.2015; http://www.jewishlodzcemetery.org/EN/CemeteryPlan/Default.aspx (Zugriff 25.12.2015).
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