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Max Chassel * 1886
Uhlandstraße 37 (Hamburg-Nord, Hohenfelde)
further stumbling stones in Uhlandstraße 37:
Hilde Adda Chassel, née Weber, born on 3 Nov. 1894 in Breslau (today Wroclaw in Poland), deported on 25 Oct. 1941 to the "Litzmannstadt” (Lodz) Ghetto, murdered there on 13 Sept. 1942
Max Ewald Chassel, born on 8 Sept. 1886 in Brody, deported on 25 Oct. 1941 to the "Litzmannstadt” (Lodz) Ghetto, murdered there on 12 June 1942
Betty Chassel, born on 13 June 1877 in Brody, deported on 25 Oct. 1941 to the "Litzmannstadt” (Lodz) Ghetto, deported from there on 15 May 1942 to the Chelmno extermination camp, murdered
Geisslertwiete 12 (Grotjangasse 4), Winterhude
Oscar Chassel, born on 17 Jan. 1881 in Brody, committed in early Oct. 1940 to the Warsaw Ghetto, deported on 6 Aug. 1942 to the Majdanek concentration camp, perished there
Fuhlsbüttlerstrasse 669, Ohlsdorf
Ekiwa Meyer Chassel, who later called himself Max Ewald, was still a young boy when his parents moved to Hamburg with him and his siblings from Galicia in 1892. His father, the merchant Nathan Josef Chassel, was married in his second marriage to Sara Rebeca, née Guttmann. His first wife, Sabine "Biene,” née Heilpern, had died young in Brody in 1880. Max’ older half siblings Hillel (born in 1876; see Stolpersteine in der Hamburger Isestrasse and www.stolpersteine-hamburg.de) and Ester Beile (born in 1877) came from this union. He also had two brothers, Osias Beer (born in 1881), five years his senior, and Abraham Israel (born in 1887), one year his junior. Nathan and Sara Rebeca Chassel settled with their children in the St. Georg quarter at Baumeisterstrasse 3, and two years later, they found a new home at Steinstrasse 129, where they did not stay for long, however. The following year, they moved to Münzstrasse in Hammerbrook. They lived there for the next eleven years.
Shortly after the family’s arrival in Hamburg, Max was enrolled in the Talmud Tora School. At that time, it mainly offered schooling to boys from socially disadvantaged Jewish families. The school was based in Hamburg-Neustadt on Elbstrasse, a street that still existed in those days. In 1902, at the age of 16, Max left school with a school-leaving certificate from Realschule [a practice-oriented secondary school up to grade 10]. Afterward, he learned the trade of merchant with the Frank Brothers, based at Vierländerstrasse 272, who traded with foreign timbers. The company hired him on a permanent basis after his training period and he stayed there without changing jobs again.
His siblings, too, all received commercial training, following which Hillel worked first for a shipping agent and then self-employed as an agent and businessman. Later, he became secretary of the "Relief Organization of Jews in Germany” ("Hilfsverein der Juden in Deutschland”). Ester Beile trained as an office clerk and was employed at the Otto Bruhn Company on Spitalerstrasse for about 15 years starting in 1899. Osias was a merchant just like Abraham; the latter worked as an assistant at the Doller Bros. Company, corset components and garter manufacturing, in Berlin-Charlottenburg from 1914 to 1916 – until he was drafted as a soldier.
Whereas the parents lived strictly according to Jewish Orthodox rules, the children were liberal in orientation. Just as Max had changed his first name, so his siblings Hillel, Beile, Osias, and Abraham had themselves called different names. Hillel chose Henry as his new first name, Beile chose Betty, Osias chose Oscar, and Abraham Israel chose Adolf Ismar.
In 1906, the family moved back to Spaldingstrasse 128. At this time, Henry, the oldest, had already moved out and found an apartment on Sophienallee in Eimsbüttel. In May 1913, Max’ second oldest brother Oscar also left the family. He had married in Hamburg in 1911 and moved to Copenhagen with his wife Meta Caroline Christine, née Grünwald, who was almost of the same age and a native of Altona. She came from a non-Jewish family. When they got married, both indicated their religious affiliation to be "non-denominational.”
The following year Betty Chassel changed jobs and found a new job at the C. L. Petersen export company on Neuer Wall, which produced straw hats, flowers, and plumes. She still lived with her parents, who had moved to Eimsbüttel in the meantime, residing at Bundesstrasse 7. In 1913, her father, Nathan Chassel, also joined the Jewish Community in Hamburg.
Max was Austrian by birth, just like his parents and siblings. Thus, during the First World War, his brother Adolf and he were also drafted by the Austro-Hungarian army. From Feb. 1915, Max belonged to the 80th Infantry Regiment. He was wounded by a shot to the thigh and awarded the Bronze Medal for Bravery (Tapferkeitsmedaille) and the Karl Troop Cross (Karl-Truppenkreuz). Adolf was deployed starting in Jan. 1917, after three months of training in communications zone behind the Romanian front. Both Max and Adolf were members of a gymnastics squad of the Hamburger Turnerschaft von 1816 (HT 16). The military letters the 30 men of this squad sent to maintain contact with each other during the war show how Max Chassel’s "pride” in "wearing the Emperor’s uniform” and fighting for "the fatherland” did not abate even after the deaths of several gymnast friends; instead, undaunted, he wrote of "heroic death” and that his friends had "fallen for the most sacred cause.”
When the Habsburg monarchy fell apart after the First World War, Galicia was ceded to Poland. This was the reason for Max and Adolf Chassel and their sister Betty to apply for Hamburg citizenship in 1920. All three justified their move by the fact that they only spoke German and did not want to belong to the Republic of Poland. Their brother Henry had already applied for naturalization in 1906, but his application had been rejected at the time. Max, Adolf, and Betty encountered no difficulties. Among other things, they proved that they were doing well financially due to many years of professional activity, savings, and life insurance policies, and that they would not be a burden on the state. Henry Chassel again filed an application for naturalization in 1926, which was successful this time – despite a clearly anti-Semitic attitude expressed in the statements made by representatives of the authorities involved.
Max’ mother, Sara Rebeca Chassel, had already died in the Israelite Hospital in late Aug. 1916 at the age of 59. Since then, the siblings supported the father as much as possible. First Max, Betty, and Adolf lived with him. They moved together to Durchschnitt 1 in the Grindel quarter. Soon afterward, Max’ employer, Max Frank, offered him a room as a subtenant in his apartment on Parkallee in Harvestehude. Nevertheless, he continued to support his father financially, as did Oscar, who sent him food from Denmark. By that time, Adolf worked as an independent textile representative out of his father’s apartment. Betty set up her own company in 1923, a business specializing in linen goods at Eppendorfer Weg 192. She sold mostly lingerie and corsets. In 1924, Betty and Adolf moved together with their father one more time, to Meissnerstrasse 26.
The following year, on 24 Dec. 1925, Nathan Chassel died in the Israelite Hospital at the age of 81. He was buried next to his wife at the Jewish Cemetery in Langenfelde, which was reserved for Orthodox members of the Hamburg Jewish Community.
In the following year, Max married. His wife Hilde came from Breslau (today Wroclaw in Poland), and her parents were Leopold and Pauline Weber, née Sprinz. Max and Hilde found their first own apartment at Alfredstrasse 49 in Eilbek. In 1926, Hilde had a miscarriage, and afterward, she could no longer have children. In the same year, Adolf Chassel moved to Hindenburg in Upper Silesia (today Zabrze in Poland). There, he continued to work as an independent merchant and married Walli, née Pollack, who was born in Berlin; she ran a store selling foundation garments in Hindenburg. By this time, Betty Chassel lived in her father’s apartment on Meissnerstrasse on her own. In 1928, her brother Oscar and his wife Meta returned to Hamburg and temporarily stayed with her. In 1931, Oscar became the director of Jordan & Berger Nachf. AG, an international shipping company located on what was then Bahnhofsplatz in Hamburg-Altstadt (today’s Deichtorplatz). In the same year, he found an apartment for Meta and himself in Ohlsdorf, at Fuhlsbüttlerstrasse 669, and Max and Hilde moved to Von-Essen-Strasse 24 in Barmbek-Süd. In 1935, Oscar Chassel acquired the Wilhelm Andrews shipping agency from the internationally active Hamburg-based Andree & Wilkerling shipping company, and he continued to operate it under the established name. Both the parent company and the subsidiary had their headquarters in the Sprinkenhof on Burchardtstrasse.
The transfer of power to the National Socialists in Jan. 1933 posed a serious threat to Max Chassel just as swiftly as it did to his siblings Henry, Betty, and Adolf. In accordance with the new Reich Law dated 14 July 1933, the "Law on the Revocation of Naturalizations and the Deprivation of German Citizenship” ("Gesetz über den Widerruf von Einbürgerungen und die Aberkennung der deutschen Staatsangehörigkeit”), numerous persons who had been naturalized in the Weimar Republic and whose "naturalization is to be considered as not desirable” were reviewed. The main targets of the measures were the political refugees living abroad and the "Eastern European Jews” ("Ostjuden”) who were naturalized during the period in question. Thus, the corresponding passage in the ordinance implementing the law reads, "Whether naturalization is to be regarded as undesirable is judged according to völkisch-national principles. At the center are the racial, civic, and cultural aspects toward an increase of the German population through naturalization that is conducive to the interests of the Reich and the people. [...] Accordingly, the following come into special consideration for revocation of naturalization: a) "Eastern European Jews [...].” Thus, all the persons concerned ran the risk of becoming stateless. Moreover, the expatriations were accompanied by the confiscation of their property, which fell to the Nazi state. The then Hamburg police chief, Alfred Richter, who was also Senator of the Interior Administration, recommended, however, after examining the individual cases, that the four Chassel siblings remain naturalized, since "disadvantageous details, even in political terms,” had not become known about them. That probably resulted in great relief. Expatriation from the German Reich, where they had been living for over 40 years and where they had built their lives, would certainly have been a disaster for them – especially since Adolf and Max Chassel expressly professed their commitment to Germany, which became clear repeatedly in the many military letters from the front to a Hamburg friend during World War I.
In 1934, Max and Hilde Chassel moved again, this time to Uhlandstrasse 37, an almost dead straight boulevard in the Hohenfelde quarter. The following year, Max went into business for himself, which must have been a step out of necessity after working for his old training company for more than 30 years. Having set up a small store in the basement of the rear building at Billhorner Brückenstrasse 119, he now dealt in veneers. At that time, the extension of the Elbe Bridge into the city was still densely populated with residential buildings, small shops, and restaurants. A little later, Hilde and he moved again. From 1937 onward, they lived on the second floor of Schwanenwik 28 – directly on the Alster, but in a small apartment to the rear. This was the last residential address of their own choosing. In May 1938, Max’ brother Adolf and his wife Walli emigrated to Argentina.
Jewish businesses were ordered "Aryanized” or liquidated by 31 Dec. 1938. This also affected Max Chassel. He found two interested parties for his small company in Rothenburgsort, Horst Penssler and Richard Urbanek. On 18 Dec. 1938, they concluded the purchase agreement. According to the "Ordinance Concerning the Reporting of Jewish Assets” ("Verordnung über die Anmeldung des Vermögens von Juden”) and an associated regulation dated 26 Apr. 1938, the latter required the approval of the Chief Finance Administration (Oberfinanzbehörde). On 18 Feb. 1939, Max Chassel received a negative decision, without any reasons provided. His business was liquidated.
Oscar Chassel’s company, the Wilhelm Andrews shipping agency, was "Aryanized.” It went to the Lassen & Co. AG shipping company and henceforth had the same address, at Steinhöft 11. Lassen & Co. was a German company belonging to the Lassen Group, which in turn was part of the London-based LEP International transport company. In Poland, the Lassen Group included, among others, Polski Lloyd. After his expropriation, Oscar Chassel was to be employed at the latter’s branch in the Polish port city of Gdynia. Contradictory statements by Meta Chassel exist as to whether this promise was a deception or whether he was actually still employed by Polski Lloyd for a short time. It seems certain that the couple moved to Warsaw in the summer of 1939, where Oscar Chassel got a job at the Amdelta Company.
On 1 Sept. 1939, the German Wehrmacht invaded Poland. On 2 October, Ludwig Fischer, the National Socialist Governor of the District of Warsaw, ordered the construction of a "Jewish residential district” in the city, defining all the streets belonging to it. Those who lived there and were not Jewish had to leave their homes, but almost 500,000 Jews were crammed into the ghetto thus created. On 16 Nov. 1940, the SS cordoned it off from the rest of the city using a three-meter (nine-foot) wall with barbed wire on top of it.
Oscar Chassel was also taken to the ghetto in early Oct. 1940. The Gestapo picked him up from his and Meta’s apartment and confiscated all household items. "To save at least something,” Meta Chassel later said, both agreed to separate. Upon this, Meta received the confiscated belongings back with the remark, "If we encounter the Jew with you, something will happen to you, we will make checks at night.” The divorce filed by her became final in Mar. 1941. She stated as a reason for divorce that when getting married she had been mistaken "about an essential personal characteristic of the defendant,” namely "about the special features peculiar to the Jewish race.” Had she known correctly, the statement continued, she would not have married him. Thus, her reasoning matched Section 37 of the Marriage Act (previously Section 1333 of the German Civil Code [Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch – BGB]), "Misconception about circumstances that relate to the person of the spouse,” with which Nazi lawmakers, in accordance with their racial ideology, intended to simplify the annulment of "mixed marriages” ("Mischehen”) by the non-Jewish spouses. Nevertheless, Meta Chassel later also said that she and her then former husband, who lived in the ghetto on Sliskastrasse, continued to have contact.
In Hamburg, Max Chassel and his wife Hilde moved to Grindelallee 68 in 1940. In Aug. 1941, Hilde was sentenced to two months in prison in Fuhlsbüttel. She had stolen clothes several times. On 25 Oct. 1941, Max and Hilde Chassel, Max’ brother Henry, and his wife Irma, as well as Max and Henry’s sister Betty were deported to the "Litzmannstadt” (Lodz) Ghetto. The Gestapo had appointed Henry Chassel as transport overseer. Henry, Irma, and Betty were quartered in the ghetto together with seven other persons in a room at Hohensteiner Strasse 43; Max and Hilde Chassel with four other persons at Siegfriedstrasse 2, room 27.
About a month after his arrival in Lodz, Max Chassel got a job in the vegetables section of the ghetto. Half a year later, in early May 1942, 11,000 of the Jews taken to Lodz in the fall of 1941 were to be "resettled” ("ausgesiedelt”). This term, in conjunction with deliberately scattered rumors, was intended to make them believe that they were going to another camp to do forced labor there. In fact, it meant deportation to the Chelmno extermination camp and their immediate murder. However, anyone who received an order to "resettle” could apply for exemption. In certain cases, this was approved, and unofficially, persons "not fit for transport” were also crossed off the list. Max Chassel had broken his ankle at work, putting him in hospital when the "resettlement order” was issued on 7 May. His wife Hilde then wrote a letter to the "resettlement commission” ("Aussiedlungskommission”) of the "Eldest of the Jews” ("Älteste der Juden”) in the ghetto asking to repeal the order for her husband, who was "not fit to be transported.” The Commission granted her request. Still, Max Chassel only lived for another month. He died in the ghetto on 12 June 1942.
Another "resettlement” was planned for Sept. 1942. However, since material from those murdered in Chelmno (shoes, clothing) had arrived at the Lodz Ghetto for further processing by then, the Jewish ghetto administration refused to carry out the selection procedure. As a result, the Gestapo took over the selection operation. Mostly children as well as old, sick, and weak adults were transported off. This group included 48-year-old Hilde Chassel, who was apparently considered no longer fit for work by the Gestapo. The deportation to Chelmno took place on 13 Sept. 1942, where she was murdered immediately upon arrival.
Henry, Irma, and Betty Chassel were also to be "resettled.” Henry Chassel managed to have the order for himself and his wife and sister rescinded because he had rendered outstanding services to Judaism and he had also received a prestigious award in the First World War, the Knight’s Cross of the Emperor Franz Joseph Order. However, the "resettlement commission” rejected the application for his and Max’ sister Betty. Betty Chassel was deported to Chelmno on 15 May 1942, where she was murdered immediately upon her arrival.
Irma Chassel died of "heart failure” on 30 June 1943 in the "Litzmannstadt” (Lodz) Ghetto; Henry Chassel died of "cardiac insufficiency” on 14 July 1943.
Max Chassel’s brother Oscar also died in the Shoah. On 22 July 1942, deportations from the Warsaw Ghetto began in the course of "Operation Reinhardt” ("Aktion Reinhardt”), the aim of which was the murder of all Jews within the General Government (Generalgouvernement). The transports led mainly to the Treblinka extermination camp, about 100 kilometers (approx. 62 miles) away. Oscar Chassel belonged to a relatively small group of Jews who were taken from the ghetto to the Majdanek concentration camp. His wife Meta later reported that she had last spoken to him on 4 Aug. 1942; two days later, he was deported. She never heard from him again. Since she was alone in Warsaw, she returned to Germany in mid-1943 and lived in Buchholz near Hamburg after the war.
Translator: Erwin Fink
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.
Stand: December 2019
© Frauke Steinhäuser
Quellen: 1; 2; 4; 5; 8; 214-1 Gerichtsvollzieherwesen 200; StaH 241-1 II Gefängnisverwaltung II 297 Chassel, Hilde; StaH 314-15 Oberfinanzpräsident R 1939/776; StaH 332-5 Standesämter 8675 u. 44/1911; StaH 332-5 Standesämter: 899 u. 528/1925; 940 u. 363/1928; 749 u. 750/1916; StaH 332-7 Staatsangehörigkeitsaufsicht B VI, 1920, 2103; StaH 332-7 Staatsangehörigkeitsaufsicht B VI 2108; StaH 332-7 Staatsangehörigkeitsaufsicht B VI, 1920, 2118; StaH 522-1 Jüd. Gemeinden 390 Wählerliste 1930; StaH 351-11 Amt für Wiedergutmachung 6394; StaH 622-1/202 Waldemar Weidehaas, 7 Feldpost von Adolf Chassel 1915–1918; StaH 622-1/202 Waldemar Weidehaas, 8 Feldpost von Max Chassel 1915–1918; Archiwum Panstwowe w Lodzi, An-, Um- und Abmeldedokumente des Gettos Lodz ("Litzmannstadt") für Max, Hilda und Betty (Ester Beile) Chassel; USHMM, The Eldest of the Jews in the Lodz Ghetto, RG 15.083M: 0224-00000442; 301/437–438; 301/419–421; 301/437–438, 133–1334; 301/419–421; Hamburger Adressbücher; Christa Fladhammer, Hillel Chassel, in: Fladhammer, Grünwaldt, Stolpersteine in der Hamburger Isestraße, S. 190ff.; Meyer, Verfolgung und Ermordung, S. 29ff.; Walk, Sonderrecht, S. 36, 223, 231, 258, 265, 269; Bajohr, Arisierung, S. 351; Philipp Münch, Bürger in Uniform. Kriegserfahrungen von Hamburger Turnern 1914 bis 1918, Freiburg i. Br., 2009; Marius Hetzel, Die Anfechtung der Rassenmischehe in den Jahren 1933–1939. Die Entwicklung der Rechtsprechung im Dritten Reich: Anpassung und Selbstbehauptung der Gerichte, Tübingen, 1997, Beiträge zur Rechtsgeschichte des 20. Jahrhunderts, Bd. 20; Markus Roth, Andrea Löw, Das Warschauer Getto. Alltag und Widerstand im Angesicht der Vernichtung, München, 2013; Beate Meyer, "Jüdische Mischlinge". Rassenpolitik und Verfolgungserfahrung 1933–1945, München, 2011; Barbara Schwindt, Das Konzentrations- und Vernichtungslager Majdanek. Funktionswandel im Kontext der "Endlösung", Würzburg, 2005, S. 134ff.; Andrea Löw, Das Warschauer Getto, online auf: www.bpb.de/geschichte/nationalsozialismus/ geheimsache-ghettofilm/141785/das-warschauer-ghetto (letzter Zugriff 20.10.2015); Kobenhavns Stadsarkiv, Station 7, Filmrolle 0005, Politiets Registerblad 483, Oscar Chassel, http://www.politietsregisterblade.dk/index.php?option=com_sfup&controller=politregisterblade&task=viewRegisterblad&id=2157894&searchname= (letzter Zugriff 15.8.2015); Bundesverwaltungsamt, Köln, Ausstellung "Menschenschicksale", http://bva.bund.de/DE/Themen/Staatsangehoerigkeit/AusstellungMenschenschicksale/ausstellungmenschenschicksale-node.html (letzter Zugriff 15.8.2015); www.dasjuedischehamburg.de/inhalt/friedhöfe (letzter Zugriff 20.12.2013); Jüdisch-orthodoxer Friedhof Langenfelde, PDF-Download von: www.jüdischer-friedhof-altona.de/hhfriedhoefe.html (letzter Zugriff 20.12.2013); Jüdischer Friedhof Langenfelde, Grabregister, PDF, Download, jüdischer-friedhof-altona.de/img/Datenbanken/langenfelde_grabregister.pdf (letzter Zugriff 20.12.2013).
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