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Arnold Cohn * 1884
Mittelweg 16 (Eimsbüttel, Rotherbaum)
Arnold Cohn, born 17 Apr. 1884 in Hamburg, deported 8 Nov. 1941 to Minsk, murdered 21 July 1944 at the Reichshof Concentration Camp
Rosa Cohn, née Baer, born 31 Dec. 1885 in Lübeck, deported 8 Nov. 1941 to Minsk, murdered there 21 Jan. 1943
Born the son of the bookkeeper Joseph Cohn and his wife Dorothea (called Doris), née Wehl, in Hamburg, Arnold Cohn opened his own business in August 1919 after he returned from the First World War. His stationers’ shop at Gneisenaustraße 23 in Hoheluft-West had a three-room apartment attached. He was also a photographer, and printed his photos as postcards, engraved with his initials A.C., to sell in his shop.
Arnold Cohn was a member of the Hamburg German-Israelitic Community and of the Synagogue Association. He had married Rosa Baer from Lübeck in 1914. Their wedding ceremony was performed by the rabbi Dr. Joseph Carlebach (1883–1942) in the bride’s home. Her parents, Minna, née Mannheim, and Levy Louis Joseph Baer had married in 1870 in Lübeck. All six of their children were born there.
Arnold and Rosa Cohn’s son Edgar was born in Hamburg in 1929. Arnold’s business was suffering under the effects of the Great Depression, and in March 1930 he was forced to move his business from Große Burstah 44 to his private residence. But by 1932 his business had still not regained its old profitability, and he took on a second job as a sales representative for paper goods. In addition to the financial problems, his situation as an independent businessman became increasingly precarious after 1933. In order to explore the possibility of starting a new life for his family abroad, he submitted a request to the Foreign Exchange Office in January 1936 for the release of some of his funds to finance a business trip, probably to the US. The Foreign Exchange Office’s reply is unknown.
When Edgar began school in the spring of 1936, school segregation decrees were not yet in effect ( they were issued on 15 Nov. 1938), but the situation in Nazi Germany was already so tense that his parents felt they had no choice but to send him to the Jewish Talmud-Tora School on Bornplatz in Rotherbaum. When the state forced the school to close in 1939, the children were sent to the Jewish Girls’ School on Karolinenstraße, where they received only a rudimentary education. Edgar’s cousin Hedi Baer (see Biography, Hedi Baer) was also a pupil there. From October 1941 onwards, when the deportations began, the school was no longer classified as a secondary school. It, like all Jewish schools in Germany, was closed in June 1942.
As a result of the systematic discrimination and the administrative obstruction, and of his imprisonment in the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp on 9 November 1938, Arnold Cohn was forced to give up his business. He was released from Sachsenhausen on 21 December 1938, under threat of further imprisonment if he spoke about his treatment there. Most of his rights as a German citizen were abrogated, his livelihood was destroyed, he was without work and income. By December 1938, it seemed that his emigration to the US was imminent – furniture was packed in three large shipping crates, tickets were bought for the family.
The emigration was noted in the church tax records with the German-Israelitic Community with the entry "U.S.A. 31/12.38.” But for reasons unknown the Cohn family never departed the country. The shipping crates, which were probably stored at the port, were partially plundered. Edgar later told the Restitution Board of his father’s attempt to report the theft to the authorities: "When my father tried to raise a claim against the moving company for his losses, it was made clear to him that, as a Jew, he could expect no compensation.” Arnold Cohn necessarily postponed the family’s departure and sold the tickets in order to purchase new furniture and household goods for a two-room apartment at Mittelweg 16 as an interim solution. The apartment had previously belonged to an aunt, who had moved to a home for the elderly. The Nazi authorities conscripted Arnold Cohn, who was now 55 years old, to forced labor as an excavation worker. The family once again attempted to raise money for the passage to the US by selling their household goods. As a consequence, they lived with relatives at Grindelallee 21, at Beneckestraße 16, and with one of Rosa (Baer) Cohn’s four sisters at Heinrich-Barth-Straße 8 in Rotherbaum.
Arnold Cohn’s company was officially struck from the trade register in May 1940. On 8 November 1941, Arnold Cohn, his 55-year-old wife, and their 12-year-old son were deported to Minsk. The family of Rosa Cohn’s brother Joseph Baer (see Biography, Joseph Baer) was also deported on this date. After about one year in the Minsk Ghetto, Edgar was sent to twelve concentration camps over the next two-and-a-half years. In late April 1945, he was sent to Flensburg, where he, emaciated to a weight of 39 kg (86 lbs), was liberated in mid-May of that year. He was able to tell the Restitution Board the exact dates and places of his parents’ deaths.
There are Stolpersteine for Rosa Cohn’s brother Joseph Baer (*19 Apr. 1884 in Lübeck), his wife Else (*1888), and their daughters Ingrid (*1922) and Hedi (*1928), who were deported to Minsk on 8 November 1941, at Isestraße 61.
Rosa (Baer) Cohn’s youngest sister, Elsa (Baer) Strawczynski (*11 June 1892 in Lübeck) fled with her husband David (*1899 in Olszowka, Poland) and sons Fred (*1923 in Lübeck) and Leon (*1924 in Lübeck) to Brussels. On 11 August 1942, the entire family was deported from the Mechelen transit camp to Auschwitz. Most of the Mechelen deportees were murdered in the gas chambers immediately upon arrival. It can be assumed that this was also the fate of the Strawczynski family.
Translator(s): Amy Lee
Translation kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg
© Björn Eggert
Quellen: Staatsarchiv Hamburg (StaH), 351-11 (Amt für Wiedergutmachung), 49386 (Edgar Sch.); StaH 522-1, 992b (Kultussteuerkartei der Deutsch-Israelitischen Gemeinde Hamburg); Archiv der Hansestadt Lübeck, Personenstandsregister der Israelitischen Gemeinde Band 2 (Eheschließungen) No.278; Gedenkstätte Sachsenhausen, Archiv, Anweisung der Politischen Abteilung und Sonderliste; Yad Vashem, Page of Testimony/ Gedenkblatt für Elsa, David, Fred u. Leo Strawczinski (1999 eingereicht); Gedenkbuch Hamburger Jüdische Opfer des Nationalsozialismus, Hamburg 1995; Gedenkbuch Opfer der Verfolgung unter der nationalsozialistischen Gewaltherrschaft in Deutschland 1933-1945, Bundesarchiv Koblenz 1986; Christa Fladhammer /Maike Grünwald, Stolpersteine in der Hamburger Isestraße – Biografische Spurensuche, Hamburg 2010 (Joseph Baer); Amtliches Fernsprechbuch Hamburg 1920, 1931; Handelskammer Hamburg, Firmenarchiv; (Handbuch) Hamburger Börsenfirmen 1935, S. 138.