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Bertha Cohen (née Simon) * 1857

Großneumarkt 56 (Hamburg-Mitte, Neustadt)

JG. 1857
ERMORDET 13.10.1942

further stumbling stones in Großneumarkt 56:
Sella Cohen, A(h)ron Albert Cohn, Thekla Daltrop, David Elias, Theresia Elias, Louisa(e) Elias, Helene Martha Fernich, Martha Minna Fernich, Camilla Fuchs, Siegmund Josephi, Robert Martin Levy, Hertha Liebermann, Fritz Mainzer, Elsa Nathan, Ruth Nathan, Siegfried Neumann, Fanny Neumann, Lieselotte Neumann, Mirjam Neumann, Max Leo Neumann, Therese Neumann, Bela Neumann, Josef Polack, Bertha Polack, Eva Samuel, Rosa Therese Weil, Bernhard Weil, Rosa Weinberg, Siegfried Weinberg

Bertha Cohen, née Simon, born 8/18/1857 in Hamburg, deported to Theresienstadt on 7/19/1942, died there on 10/13/1942.
Sella Amalia (Amalie) Cohen, born 10/7/1893 in Hamburg, transferred from the Hamburg-Langenhorn mental hospital to the killing institution in Brandenburg/Havel on 9/23/1940
Bernhard Weil, born 7/23/1886 in Altona, deported to Minsk on 11/8/1941 (planned)
Rosa Therese Weil, née Cohen, born 3/1/1896 in Hamburg, deported to Minsk on 11/8/1941 (planned)

Grossneumarkt 56

Bertha Cohen was born on August 18, 1857 as the daughter of the "gold and silver worker” Isaac Behr Simon and his wife Sara, née Frank at their home in Neustädter Neustrasse 86 (today Neustädter Strasse). The family moved to Schlachterstrasse 20 when Bertha was two years old. In 1879, her father was able to buy the building. Isaac Behr Simon owned a jewelry shop in Wexstrasse 1c. When he died on June 29, 1896 at the home of his eldest daughter Emma Marbach, née Simon (born 12/28/1849, died 12/5/1932), in Grindelallee 184, he was laid to rest at the old Jewish burial ground next to his wife Sara, who had died already on March 22, 1871.

Bertha Cohen was married to Joseph Hirsch Cohen, a travelling salesman born on September 12, 1845 in Wesselburen. They had five children. Henry Jire, the eldest, was born September 12, 1892 at the family home in Altonaer Strasse 60, his sister Sella on October 7, 1893 at Rosenhofstrasse 10, also in the St. Pauli district. Rosa Therese was born in March 1, 1896 at the Cohen home in Alter Steinweg 63. The two youngest daughters, Minna Lea, born February 14, 1897, and Ella Wilhelmina, born May 22, 1899, died within their first year.

In 1907, the Cohen family moved to the Hertz-Joseph-Levy-Stift at Grossneumarkt 56. a Jewish retirement home. Joseph Hirsch Cohen had been heavily injured during his military service in 1876 and received an invalid’s pension. He died on August 2, 1915.

After finishing school, Sella and her sister Rosa absolved an apprenticeship as office clerks; both lived with their mother. On October 23, 1918, Sella was transferred from the Israelitic Hospital to the state mental Hospital in Hamburg-Friedrichsberg diagnosed with "Melancholy.” She was discharged three weeks later, but three further admissions were to follow. Finally, she was permanently hospitalized with the diagnosis ”dementia praecox" premature dementia) on August 7, 1920.

According to her brother, her illness began in October 1918, when she started hearing voices and seeing apparitions. She engaged in religious matters, claimed to be a clairvoyant, a higher being, an angel. Sella Cohen was highly restless and excited. Her delusions and hallucinations went with mood swings – she would be cheerful one moment and crying the next. Often, she demanded to be released, threw fits and turned violent. After several attempted escapes, she was sedated with drugs and enduring baths.

On April 30, 1923, Sella Cohen was transferred to the state mental hospital in Hamburg-Langenhorn. A "fever treatment” with malaria germs in 1928 did not produce the improvement of her condition the doctors had hoped for. Further therapeutic attempts were not recorded during her 14-year stay in Langenhorn.

On October 28, 1937, Sella Cohen was taken to the state care home Oberaltenallee, and returned to Langenhorn on August 30, 1940. The institution was then the collecting point for Jewish patients from all over northern Germany who were to be murdered in the scope of the "Euthanasia” operation. On September 23, 1940, Sella Cohen was transferred to the killing institution in Brandenburg on the Havel river and murdered by gas the day of her arrival.

Her sister Rosa Cohen in the meantime had set up her own leather goods shop, which, however, she had to give up at the end of 1926 because of an illness. For a time she worked in a photo shop at Reeperbahn 137 that belonged to her uncle Jacob Cohen. Thereafter, she worked as a "travel lady” and subsequently at the theater ticket office in the Hermann Tietz department store until she lost her job. Her mother Bertha had worked for the funeral brotherhood of the German-Israelitic Community, where she sat wake for the female deceased, until she had to quit the job because of her ill health in 1931.

On September 2, 1935, Rosa Cohen married Bernhard Weil, a divorced bookkeeper ten years her senior. Bernhard Weil was born July 23, 1886 in Altona as the son of Barthold Weil (born 6/20/1850, died 4/20/1910) and his wife Rachel, née Cohen (born 9/29/1857, died 11/13/1928); his parents lived at Breitestrasse 117. His father, a merchant, initially ran a binding twine depot at Karolinenstrasse 37 in Hamburg’s old town. In 1889, the family moved to Steinwegpassage 28, where Barthold Weil opened a lottery shop, which he later moved to Karolinenstrasse 25. His son Bernhard absolved a commercial apprenticeship and lived for some years in Cologne with his first wife Fanny, née Simons (born 12/12/1883 in Cologne) at Hauptstrasse 227 in the Kalk district, where he worked as a payroll accountant at the Citroën automobile factory. However, the marriage failed, and after the divorce, Bernhard Weil returned to Hamburg at the end of December 1928. From 1933, he worked at the Kohlenhandlung Wienke & Co., a coal merchant business. (Fanny Weil was deported from Cologne to the ghetto in Minsk, White Russia on October 30, 1941 and murdered there.)

As the rules of the Hertz-Joseph-Levy-Stift would not allow Bernhard Weil to join the household of his mother-in-law Bertha Cohen, Rosa and Bernhard rented a room with the Müller family at Carolinenstrasse 5a (today Karolinenstrasse). In March 1936, they lived as subtenants with the Scheffels at Peterstrasse 23. For a short time in 1938, their official residence was at Poolstrasse 8. The couple was only allowed to move in with Rosa’s mother Bertha Cohen after Bertha had had to move from the third floor of the Hertz-Joseph-Levy-Stift to an apartment on the ground floor on account of her age and thus needed assistance. In the pogrom night of November 9/10/1938, Bernhard Weil, like so many other Jewish men in Germany, was temporarily taken into "protective custody.” In May 1939, he lost his job and was assigned to forced work at a company in the Tiefstack quarter of Hamburg. On November 8, 1941, he and his wife Rosa were served the order for deportation to the Minsk ghetto.

Two days later, Bertha Cohen was forced to leave her home at the Hertz-Joseph-Levy-Stift at Grossneumarkt 56 and move to the Jewish nursing home Nordheim-Stift at no. 40/42 of the street then called Schlachterstrasse.

At that time, her son Henry Cohen had already left Germany. After finishing the Talmud Tora School, he had begun an apprenticeship at the Seligmann & Frank company at Deichstrasse 20 and subsequently worked there as a clerk, and later as a travelling salesman. From 1914 to 1918, he took part in the Great War as a rifleman; he was wounded three times, was decorated and after the war returned to Hamburg. On June 15, 1920, he married Karoline Michaelis (born June 24, 1897 in Berlin-Adlershof) in Berlin. Karoline’s father Benno was a merchant, her mother Johanna’s maiden name was Cohn (born 9/6/1874 in Berlin). After finishing elementary school, Karoline had absolved a commercial school and then worked as a stenotypist; up to her marriage, she worked for the Reich agency for fruits and vegetables.

Their sons were born in Hamburg: Joachim on April 7, 1922, Norbert Nathan on September 29, 1924. In 1921, Henry Cohen, partner in the company Wagenknecht & Co. with offices at Hopfensack 8, had taken on the general representation of "Der Anker Allgemeine Versicherungs A.G”, an insurance company, with Karoline working in the sales force. From February 1929, the family lived in a 5 ½ room apartment at Rentzelstrasse 5. On June 15, 1938, Henry and Karoline Cohen were arrested by the Gestapo and taken to the Fuhlsbüttel Police Prison. Henry Cohen later only reported that he had been arrested "for racial reasons”, and that he and his wife had been released on June 24, 1938 following a brief trial at the criminal court (before a judge wearing an SS uniform) – Henry Cohen with orders to leave Germany as quickly as possible.

Before Henry Cohen boarded the Italian steamer "Conte Verde” for Shanghai on January 1, 1939, he visited his eldest son Joachim, who was preparing for his emigration to Palestine in Darmstadt, where he was absolving an apprenticeship as a gardener. In 1938, Joachim had been forced to abandon his plans to become a rabbi after studying for two years at the Academy for the Science of Judaism in Berlin.

Joachim was unable to realize his plan to emigrate to Palestine. At the beginning or the middle of 1942, he returned from the Hachshara center Neuendorf in Fürstenwalde on the Spree river to his mother Karoline in Hamburg. After her husband had left Germany, Karoline Cohen had again found work as a stenotypist at the Jewish Religious Association. Before her husband Henry Cohen had left Germany, Wilhelm Michel, her Landlord at Rentzelstrasse 5, who also ran a cigar store in his house, had promised him to keep Karoline and her kids as tenants as long as possible, regardless of their Jewish origin. In September 1940, however, Karoline Cohen, together with her widowed mother, was forced to move to Durchschnitt 8, one of the so-called Jews’ houses.

On July 19, 1942, Karoline Cohen, her sons Norbert Nathan and Joachim, her mother Johanna Michaelis and her mother-on-law Bertha Cohen were deported to Theresienstadt. Bertha Cohen died there not quite three months later on October 13, 1942, of enteritis, according to the official death notice. On May 15, 1944, Johanna Michaelis was deported on to Auschwitz; Joachim Cohen was forced to follow his grandmother on October 16, 1944. Karoline Cohen and her younger son Norbert Nathan followed on the transport that left Theresienstadt for Auschwitz on October 19. These deportation trains from Theresienstadt to certain death in Auschwitz were called the "autumn transports” and continued until October 28, 1944.

Henry Cohen, who eked out a living as a shoemaker in Shanghai, was the only survivor of his family. Stumbling stones were laid for them at Renzelstraße 5. Henry Cohen died on December 30, 1967 in Florida.

Bertha Cohen’s niece, the bookkeeper Selma Wally Marbach (born 10/11/1878), daughter of her late sister Emma Marbach, was deported from the "Jews’ house” at Frickestrasse 24 to Riga-Jungfernhof on December 6, 1941. A Stumbling Stone for her was laid before the house in Bismarckstrasse 80 (s.

Translated by Peter Hubschmid
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.

Stand: May 2020
© Susanne Rosendahl

Quellen: 1; 3; 4; 8; 9; StaH 351-11 AfW 14341 (Henry, Cohen); StaH 314-15 Abl. 1998 C330; StaH 352-8/7 Abl. 2/1995 Staatskrankenanstalt Langenhorn 14456; StaH 351-14 Arbeits- und Sozialfürsorge 1066 (Cohen, Bertha); StaH 351-14 Arbeits- und Sozialfürsorge 2008 (Weil, Bernhard); StaH 351-14 Arbeits- und Sozialfürsorge 2009 (Weil, Rosa Therese); StaH 332-5 Standesämter 6243 u 2182/1886; StaH 332-5 Standesämter 9082 u 2193/1892; StaH 332-5 Standesämter 9093 u 2470/1893; StaH 332-5 Standesämter 2400 u 896/1896; StaH 332-5 Standesämter 7901 u 1074/1896; StaH 332-5 Standesämter 2428 u 700/1897; StaH 332-5 Standesämter 415 u 1399/1897; StaH 332-5 Standesämter 13172 u 1722/1899; StaH 332-5 Standesämter 638 u 266/1910; StaH 314-15 OFP, Fvg 3471; StaH 522-1 Jüdische Gemeinde Nr. 992 e 2 Band 2; StaH 522-1 Jüdische Gemeinde Nr. 992 e 2 Band 3; StaH 522-1 Jüdische Gemeinde Nr. 992 e 2 Band 5; Nationalarchiv in Prag/Theresienstädter Initiative, Jüdische Matriken, Todesfallanzeigen Theresienstadt (Bertha Cohen); UKE/IGEM, Patientenakte Sella Cohen der Staatskrankenanstalt Friedrichsberg Akten-Nr. 46894; Hamburger Börsenfirmen, 1923, S. 175; Rönn: Langenhorn, S. 70f.; Hamburger Fernsprechbuch 1921.
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